Scuba diver, instructor and new BSAC staff member Imogen Gray shares her thoughts on why learning to scuba dive should be your next big adventure.
Saying I’ve been a scuba diver over half my life is a big statement, but it’s true. At this point, I can’t really remember my life before scuba diving came into it, as it has become so ingrained in who I am as a person. For me, scuba diving is the reason I sought out adventure and went travelling, but perhaps you’re still looking for your next adventure - let me tell you why learning to dive should be it!
1. Experience the world in a new light
71% of the planet is water, so if you want to see the world, you need to go under the sea as well as over it. You’ve seen Titanic, Atlantis, even The Little Mermaid, these may be greatly fictionalised (and I can’t promise you’ll ever see the ‘unsinkable’ White Star Liner) but there are whole new worlds beneath the waves just waiting for you. From the vibrant reefs in the tropics to the wrecks of Scapa Flow in Scotland, the underwater world has so much to give, you just have to take the plunge.
Can I dive in the UK?
Though diving in the UK is often thought to be cold and murky, we actually have some of the most incredible dive sites. Read more on top UK dive sites.
2. Find peace and calm
There is something utterly calming about being underwater. It’s a phenomenon you can experience briefly in a public swimming pool when trying to do laps on a Saturday morning surrounded by 50 children playing on inflatables – the moment your ears dip beneath the waterline and you’re suddenly in a sound vacuum. Imagine that kind of peace, but for an hour. Just being in the water has always been something that improved my mental state, but the very nature of diving taught me a mindfulness that I have been unable to secure on the surface.
3. Feel weightless
Dive kit may be heavy on land, but as soon as you hit the water all of that is gone. It’s important to note that diving does not make you weightless, it’s simply an illusion of weightlessness, but it’s a good feeling nonetheless. This is another perk that ties in with the peaceful escape of the underwater world; let go of your worries and just drift for a while.
4. Test your limits and face your fears
Whether it’s to raise money for charity, for boredom or for something to do while travelling, people face their fears (often very publicly) every day by jumping out of planes, doing the longest zip wire in the world or bungee jumping from heights of 200m. There is an unprecedented number of people who fear the ocean, mostly due to the fear of what lies beneath, so why don’t you find out? The best thing about diving is that you don’t even have to dive straight in and commit to a full course.
Try Dives can be conducted in sheltered water, meaning either a swimming pool or open water which provides similar conditions. This water will be no deeper than 4m and you will start in a shallower section called ‘standing depth’ – there you can kneel fully submerged, but also stand up comfortably with the water coming to your waist/chest. Not only can you try something new, but you can also try trying the new thing before committing to trying it!
I’m interested in doing a Try Dive, help me get started!
Send your postcode to email@example.com and we'll send you your three nearest scuba clubs. Or if you fancy a chat call us 0151 350 6226 (Mon - Fri, 9 - 5:30).
5. Join a great bunch
Becoming a diver is like joining a worldwide society. It's amazing how something can connect you to hundreds of thousands of people around the world, but diving really does have that capability. It's written into the laws of diving that it should be a social sport, as you should never dive without a buddy, but it's more than just that. You can show up at a dive club on the other side of the world and there will be someone to dive with; you will have something in common with that person and you will be able to communicate with them even if there's a language barrier. Divers come together, no matter where you are.
BSAC clubs are run by volunteers in order to foster a diving community within your local area. These clubs are often highly social and have been said to become like a family to some of our members, with weekly meetings, dive weekends and trips further afield. These clubs, while concentrated within the UK, do exist around the world as well as our overseas training centres. The BSAC network spreads far and wide.
6. A photographer’s paradise
Are you an Instagram addict? Maybe you enjoy showing off your latest adventure in a jaw-dropping Facebook album? Or perhaps a physical photobook for when your family visit? Whoever you choose to take photos for, you won’t find an activity more challenging or more rewarding than underwater photography.
In itself, the task is riddled with challenges – the most obvious being underwater. Most modern cameras now have compatible underwater housings, from your DSLR to your GoPro and even now your iPhone, you can get cases to take these cameras to depths of 60m. Though the equipment can be expensive the more high tech you get, you can get some pretty reasonable housings for basic compact cameras too.
In terms of actually taking the photos, you’ll realise pretty early on in your diving journey that colours look different underwater than they do on the surface. Due to the wavelengths of light (SCIENCE), the colour red disappears at a depth of about 5m. Other colours follow shortly after, but red is always the most noticeable. Because of this, when taking photos underwater you either need to work closely with the white balance settings of your camera or do some heavy editing once you’re on land.
But once you’ve mastered the challenges of underwater photography, you won’t be able to find subjects as beautiful as the underwater landscape and marine life beneath the waves. Plus, the UK is rife with awe-inspiring sights that deserve to see the light of day. From the playful seals in Lundy or the Farnes to shipwrecks littering the south coast. If you’re looking for something even more challenging, look up macro underwater photography and see learn the wonders of nudibranchs – tiny, vibrantly coloured sea slugs! Playing spot the nudi is always a fun game…
Want to know more about Underwater Photography?
And this is only the beginning. I could list reasons why you should learn to dive for days because honestly, it changed my life. There is so much more to the world than what we see around us, but most of it is hidden and we have to seek it out. Ultimately, the reasons I dive won’t be the same as yours, but you have to take the plunge to find out for yourself.
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About the author
Imi is BSAC's Marketing Assistant but has been a scuba diver since the age of 10, before becoming an instructor at 18 while travelling Indonesia. Despite being a diver for 14 years, she is yet to dive in UK waters and is anxious to jump back in as soon as possible. Watch this space for updates! Imi is the person behind BSAC's social media and you can often find her posting on our Facebook, Twitter and Instagram accounts.