The country is home to an overwhelmingly rich marine life. “The Philippines has it all. Reefs teeming with life. Deep channels funnelling nutrient-rich waters brimming with pelagic life. Add the great viz and experienced dive crews and you have the perfect place to encounter the marine world,” according to UK-based DIVE Magazine.
Before 2017 ends, book a week-long vacation to the Aklan Province and discover Boracay dive sites. Explore the Crocodile Island, Coral Garden and the Balinghai, and understand why local and foreign divers rave about Boracay's scuba diving spots.
New to this outdoor activity? Don't worry. Here are 10 scuba diving information for beginners.
1: Do I have to be a good swimmer?
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No. You swim to keep your body above water. You scuba dive to explore underwater life. There is no correlation between the two activities. The basic skill you need, which you can learn in minutes, is a kicking movement that would keep you in a neutrally buoyant state. You must be neither floating nor swimming. However, if you wish to be a certified scuba diver, you may be required to have good swimming skills for your own safety.
2: Is scuba diving dangerous?
It depends. Scuba diving is considered a low-risk activity. A study reported scuba diving results to an average of 1,092 ER admissions in the US in a year compared to 4,438 for snowboarding and 19,802 for bowling. The most common diving injuries/medical conditions are sunburn and dehydration.
However, it's worth noting that you're exposed to risks whenever you engage in an outdoor activity. The Divers Alert Network warns that “older, heavier divers with pre-existing heart or blood-pressure conditions are at elevated risk of dying while scuba diving, compared with younger, healthier divers. Fifty-three percent of male and 54 percent of female victims were 50 years old or more.” Being healthy and fit reduces your risk of diving-related injuries.
3: How do I get assistance from certified scuba divers?
You can sign up for a scuba diving course in Boracay. There are Professional Association of Diving Instructors-certified divers who offer programs and courses to first-time divers. Some of the popular groups are Boracay Island Divers, New Wave Divers Boracay, White Beach Divers, and DiveGurus. You can also ask assistance from the staff at Alta Vista de Boracay for info on affiliated professional divers.
4: What scuba gears are required?
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There are different types of gear depending on the temperature of the water. In Boracay where the water is around 24 degrees Celsius or warmer, light-weight equipment are recommended. These include the following:
- Buoyancy control device (BCD)
- Weight system
- Submersible pressure gauge (SPG)
- Dive computer
- Dive watch
- Dive knife
- Dive light
- Scuba gear bags
- Scuba tank
The basic gear include a mask, snorkel and fins, a scuba regulator, a scuba tank carried by a buoyancy compensating jacket, and a scuba wet suit. These are typically part of the fee diving schools and resorts charge. But if you wish to make this outdoor activity a professional hobby, you can buy your own gear from sports equipment stores.
5: What can I expect from a beginner's diving course?
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You can start your Boracay diving adventure with the PADI Discover Scuba Diving program which is available in PADI-certified schools and resorts. It's a 3- to 4-hour course that includes one dive. You will learn about scuba equipment and how to use them, how to breathe underwater and be comfortable with being submerged in water for a period of time, and the basic diving skills. You will also be taught about safety precautions. The Discover Scuba allows beginners to test whether they're suited for the activity. You can sign up for this course for Php3,000 (subject to change).
6: Where are the diving spots in Boracay?
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There are more than 10 diving sites in Boracay, all offer an unforgettable underwater experience. The Crocodile Island, a popular dive spot for beginners, is a secluded island with canyons, caves and a diverse coral life. This site has a start depth of 5 meters and a maximum depth of 20 meters. The Coral Garden, with a depth of up to 12 meters, is known for its magnificent fish species. You can feast your eyes on colorful and unfamiliar sea creatures. The Angol Point is another destination for first time divers. It has a start depth of 5 meters and a maximum depth of 12 meters. Its breathtaking stony corals, sea stars and reef make it a photographer's paradise.
Your PADI-certified school or diving instructor knows the best spots for beginners like yourself.
7: Can I take home marine “souvenirs”?
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No. Your diving school will inform you of the rules and regulations imposed by the local government as far as outdoor activities are concerned. Generally, you're expected to keep your hands off the sea creatures, corals, and other marine life. Be aware that taking away white sand and pebbles from Boracay is prohibited. Violators face a fine and confiscation of the collected sand and pebbles, or imprisonment, or both. Shells play an important role in the underwater ecosystem. The Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources prohibits the taking away of certain types of shells. Violators face fine or imprisonment, or both.
8: When is the best time to go scuba diving?
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Anytime! The underwater is bustling with life whether at day or night. There are various types of fish and sea creatures that only come out in the darkness. Night dive is one of the experiences you shouldn't miss in Boracay. You can inquire diving schools about it.
9: Whatever happens, don't panic
As a beginner, you will undergo at least 3 hours of training before you go for your first scuba dive. Your PADI-certified instruction shall be with you throughout the experience. There's no reason to panic. Don't feel pressured if the other people in your group go too fast underwater. It's important to feel comfortable with the entire experience.
10: Where do you go after your first scuba experience?
Aspire for a certification. You'll be surprised at the number of diving sites in the country. The next time you visit Boracay, sign up for the more advanced courses. Inquire on how to get PADI certified. Being a diver is more than getting a boost in your energy level. It's also an opportunity for you to better understand marine life and how you can contribute to its conservation.
Scuba diving is only one of the reasons why you should be flying to Boracay this yuletide season. It's an amazing activity for introvert vacationers and group adventurers. Forge a deeper relationship with nature. Explore the Boracay's incredible underwater world.