It was on a beautiful weekend day last year in November when I finally got certified as an Open Water Diver. I never even thought about diving or getting certified as a diver. As a friend of mine told me he is an instructor and he can teach and certify me, I tried my luck and bought all the study material. After many hours of studying the book, my instructor took me to Devil’s Den, where I had my first diving experiences. Devil’s Den is an underground spring located in a cave.
Devil’s Den should be on your list. You either have to be a snorkeler or diver to get access to it, but it is so worth it. Make sure you put it on your to-do list.
However, to complete my certification as an open water diver, I needed more dives. My instructor took me and another student to Key Largo, where we did both our final dives to get certified.
We met up at Quiescence Diving Services in Key Largo. Where we would take a boat out to two different diving sites. After checking in, I met up with my instructor and the other student out back. We all got our gear and carried it down to the dock. Where we waited for our charter boat to be ready.
While waiting we had a pre-dive meeting about what skills we try to practice and just to go over general diving stuff.
The experience with Quiescence was amazing. As mentioned, they offer concierge-style service and group size is limited to 6 people. Besides the three of us, there was a young couple with us on the same boat. The crew of the boat consisted of a captain, who would stay in the boat, and a divemaster. We took our gear and brought it aboard our small boat.
Shortly after we left the dock and headed out through the canals to our first diving site – Elbow Reef. The crew was awesome and told us about the area and reef. Once we were at our first dive site, we set up our gear and jumped into the water. One by one. Everyone helped each other, the crew helped out.
Once we were in the water, my instructor and the other student and I split off from the rest of the group. While they were with their divemaster, we went underwater with our instructor. The water was only about 30 feet deep but crystal clear and great visibility.
This was an unbelievable experience, as it was my first dive in the ocean and in saltwater. My previous dives were in a freshwater spring and in pools. As this was my 3rd dive, besides the many in the pool, I was quite busy to manage my buoyancy, equalizing and in general focusing on breathing. This took most of my attention, as it still is an unfamiliar environment for me. That’s also the reason why I went through my tank like nothing and we only stayed a little bit over 30 minutes underwater.
Our group was the first to resurface near the boat. We helped each other with the gear and to get back aboard. The second group even encountered a manta ray on their dive. Such lucky guys. But on their way back on board, one of them gut stung by a jellyfish. There were quite a few all around the boat. A jellyfish sting is nothing life-threatening if you don’t have an allergic reaction.
After we were all back on the boat, the skipper took us to our next diving site. It was not far from the current one. This is a wreck site of a ship called “City of Washington”. The ship used to be a passenger and cargo ship before it became a troop transporter during the Spanish-American War. After the war, it was converted into a coal barge in 1911 and sank as it struck Elbow Reef as it was towed. The wreck is greatly deteriorated due to extensive storms. All you see now are the hull and keel shapes, not much else is left.
For me, it was the best wreck dive ever, because it was my first wreck, so no wonder it was so amazing. As earlier mentioned, I am still a rookie if it comes to diving. But still an amazing dive.
During the second dive of the day, I felt way more comfortable underwater which reflected in less air consumption. This time we stayed about 45 minutes underwater. Once back at the surface, we went back on the boat and started to head back through the canals to the dock.
It was a great day of diving with lots of new experiences. Once we had everything loaded back in our cars, we went for dinner at “The Fish House” about 1,3 miles south of the diving center. The other student and I finalized our papers to get our diving cert while enjoying a good dinner with our instructor. While waiting for the food we signed each other’s dive logbook.
Read more: How To Create your own Dive Logbook
If you are looking for an awesome diving experience and want to dive like a local and not with a big crowd. Visit Quiescence Diving Services in Key Largo. They offer trips to many different diving sites. You won’t regret it, take my word for it.
Unfortunately, I did not have an underwater camera while we did this dive. I was afraid of bringing my phone along and worst-case probably losing it. Shortly after that, I bought my beginner’s underwater camera gear. A GoPro with the essentials to take it out on dives.
Peter has a passion for Traveling, Photography, and Geocaching. These are the best ingredients for amazing adventures all over the globe. “Traveling is fun, no matter if you stay in a luxury hotel or travel like a backpacker.” Peter shares his experiences on his Blog www.gatetoadventures.com
Some of Peter’s photos are published on corporate websites, in-flight magazines, travel guides, and much more.