Having family living in Cyprus I head out there fairly regularly, at least once every couple of years. Each time I look for different things to do, every time scuba diving pops up during my searches. Cyprus is widely recognised as being amongst the best places to dive in Europe, great conditions for beginners, loads of companies to choose from who are fully qualified and with whom you can gain qualifications, plus interesting sites for the more advanced. The Zenobia ship wreck is a site of real high regard amongst divers and is easily accessible. A Swedish cargo ferry taking tractor trailers to Syria. Beginners can dive along the side of the wreck, whilst more advanced divers can also go inside. One slightly eerie thing I’ve just found out researching this is that part of the cargo was around 40 frozen animals and their bones can be found on one of the car decks! That would be pretty spooky!!
For one reason or another I have never got around to trying diving…whether it was the cost involved or the not having the time needed, I had just never got around to doing it…despite it being on my bucket list for years and years now! When we had gone to Sharm el Sheikh we considered it, but my partner did not have much experience of swimming in the sea and was worried about the costs involved if she hated it and did not want to carry on…so we opted for snorkelling instead and had a really great time.
This time I was determined to have a go at diving. I started researching it and sent a few emails out…in general I found that to get PADI open water qualified for a depth of 10 metres it was going to cost the best part pf 400 euros and take 3 days…as usual we were a little tight on time and this would have taken up a big chunk of our time in Cyprus when the main thing was to spend time with family. But then I found introductory packages for around 55 euros per person, for a single days diving…a discover diving programme….it was on!! I booked up with Alpha Divers based on Dhekelia Road between Agia Napa and Larnaca, 10 minutes from where my family live…Trip Advisor rated them as number 1 of the diving companies. All we had to do was turn up in our swimming gear, everything else would be provided.
When we got there we went through the introductions, our instructor for the day was to be Katie…a student from Bournemouth Uni instructing scuba for 3 months during her summer break…not a bad way to spend it!! She was great. We were shown a DVD which went through the very basics, the names of the equipment, basic hand gestures to communicate and some safety information. Got measured up for our wet suits, the guys put everything in the truck and we were ready to go. We were going with someone who was on their second day of their open water course and two guys who were more advanced and another instructor called Lex. We got talking about how I didn’t really know why it had taken me so long to get round to trying it and Lex said in a strong South African accent “The world is only 30% land, that’s a lot your guna miss out on if you dont dive!” He explained that he had just been teaching diving in Mexico and Honduras and that he was going to be in Cyprus for a month before moving on. He also explained how the Zenobia wreck is such a special place to dive, that many other wrecks have been totally stripped for salvage but how the Zenobia still had so much there…furniture…some of the crews possessions, he was getting excited just talking about it.
We were told we were going to be doing a shore dive and that we would go through the basic skills…which we could credit towards qualification if we were going to do it at a later stage. We headed out to a rocky cove at a place called Xylophagu and got the kit on jamming myself inside the wet suit which just about allowed me to breath! Katie talked us through everything as we went through. Then we picked up our fins, and walked into the sea! They had said that it was a great location for diving and straight away I could see why…the water really was crystal clear!
So the first problem I encountered? Getting the fins on!! I was falling over loosing grip of them trying to grab them back, having to ask people for help finding them…then I realised everyone else was floating on their backs putting them on with ease! First lesson learnt! We swam out a little out of our depth and then were told to head under water to try the first skill…clearing our masks of water, we headed down so we were kneeling on the sea bed…I couldn’t stop looking around! I had invested in a scuba mask with a Go Pro attachment and our instructor double checked it was on for me…great stuff. The mask was really good, fitted perfectly, the camera is secure on top and I used it loads snorkelling and getting pics playing around in the surf, real good value for money.
We tried clearing the masks…for my partner it was a little difficult she does not have a massive amount of experience swimming in the sea and other then one go at snorkelling no experience of swimming underwater. She became a little panicked…scuba isn’t for everyone and it is a massive assault on the senses at first, and our instructor later told us that in a way…what we were doing was a little like jumping in at the deep end as doing the qualification is a lot more gradual and that we were pretty much jumping in and having a go.
We made the decision that we would by pass trying to do the skills and just go for a swim under the water and take it all in. On the programme we were doing there is a limit of 6 metres depth, this was fine, the experience of the weightlessness, breathing under water…taking in this whole new world…I loved every second of it! I needed more of it!!! In the first few minutes I had already made the decision that I was going to have to get qualified, Lex was right…there is way too much to miss out on.
As it was something new…I did find it a little physically tiring…One of our instructors told us that each dive they reckon you burn 300-600 calories…the person doing her qualification had done 6 dives in 2 days! I worked up an appetite (it doesn’t take much!). Despite this exertion though I found it really relaxing…being weightless, things seemed to move and happen in slow motion. A whole new world had opened up to me! I was slightly disapointed that I didn’t see much marine life during the dive, we were pretty close to the shore though, but the rock formations and this awesome blue world was still amazing!
I really enjoyed the whole experience, as soon as I had finished I was texting a mate telling them they were getting qualified with me!! The thing I found most difficult was adjusting my buoyancy, when I tried to adjust it I was either going straight to the surface, or I was pretty much hitting the sea bed…but with practice I’m sure I’d get the hang of it!
If you’ve ever toyed with the idea of trying it…put all the excuses to one side and just do it…the excuses or reasons why not are way overloaded by the reasons to do it…I’ve definitely got the bug!
Alpha divers were great, if you’re going to try it in Cyprus I would recommend them. All of the underwater pics are image grabs from video I recorded on my GoPro hero 3. Not one of the latest models, but I was still really impressed and it’s such a great way of capturing action shots, if your into any kind of adventure sports, I really would recommend getting one to capture the memories!
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Thanks for reading… get exploring!! Happy travels!