When my dad suggested scuba diving I jumped at the idea but it wasn't until after he booked it that I started to feel slightly anxious. Even though I thoroughly enjoyed snorkelling, I did find it a bit of a struggle as there was no prior introduction or instruction on the day, leading me to give up on my flippers and snorkel, and just enjoyed looking through the goggles.
After the Dominican experience, my expectations were not very high. It didn't help that Alfie started assuming that they would take us out on a boat and start us out in the open water, with the theme tune of Jaws running through my head. Alfie's experience from a previous scuba dive in the Canary Islands was also an uneasy one, as he felt rushed, pressured to do no wrong and quite literally thrown in the deep end.
The Iskele Dive Hub experience
Upon arrival we were happily greeted and made to feel welcomed by Maria. After being offered drinks we all sat around a table outside, 20 foot from the shoreline and was introduced to Maria, the crew and what the day was to entail. Maria's introduction, reassured us that we were in safe hands and that she had plenty experience in the skills of scuba diving; I had now fully relaxed and Alfie and I were getting really excited. My parents on the other hand were starting to get nervous, especially my mother.
We then had a thorough briefing, explaining all the basic vitals of scuba diving. We were given a questionnaire to make sure that everyone fully understood everything explained before we were taken out to sea. As we were being briefed, the scuba master, Hakan, was sorting out our wetsuits and equipment. After getting into our scuba gear, all tailored to our different sizes, we had another run through of the hand signs that we may be asked underwater and how we would in return answer them.
We started to head out towards the shoreline and were individually helped to put on our fins then one by one taken down to wait under the sea. We were only about a metre in depth so were easily able to come up if anyone had panicked. On taking the first few breaths through the regulator, I started to feel at ease and excitement started to kick in for what we were about to explore.
After going through the safety procedures and signs under water, talked about throughout the briefing, we headed out further into the sea. From the start we saw school of small fish, and many hermits scurrying around the sea bed. As we got deeper we saw some beautifully coloured fish, sponges and octopus eggs. When we got to the deepest descent, I found the view looking up and around breathtaking, especially with the sunlight shining through the surface.
Having had a good amount of time exploring around, sticking with our buddies at all times, we started to head back towards the shore. As our heads popped out of the sea, we were all buzzing and talking about doing it again.
We all then had showers, sat down and had a debriefing over teas and coffees. Everyone really enjoyed it and Alfie already wants to come back in August to do the full Padi course. I was initially offered to do the Padi course at first before coming to out to Cyprus and in hinds sight I wished that I had booked it straight away for this holiday, however, I think this experience was an extremely good taster session to see whether I would enjoy diving and to see if I could see scuba diving as a part of me.
Thank you Maria for a wonderful experience! xxx
Soner's take on the Iskele Dive Hub experience.
Being the one to have introduced the family to diving on holiday had put me in a rather awkward situation, in that I felt responsible for them and hoped that everything went smoothly without any problems, we all know it is another World under the sea, one that we are not too familiar with; although having watched many deep sea documentaries over the years, actually diving in deep waters for real cannot compare or prepare.
Maria Ayca explained all that we needed to know before going out to dive, and assured us all that it was safe and we were in very good hands. Great, but there were still a few nervous looks with big great smiles trying to hide them, so I thought it was time to break the ice in order to put my family at rest once and for all, so I posed those all important and extremely crucial questions:
"Maria, are there any sharks around our shores? Have you ever been confronted by a shark? What would you do if you did?" I asked calmly so as not to panic any of my family members.
"Err, yes there are some sharks, but they are small and do not come near people as they are afraid of humans. No, I haven't been confronted by any and I have been diving for many years out here. If I had by any chance been confronted by a Shark, then I would simply keep still and watch its movements." responded maria to my good questions.
"And then?" I replied.
Maria smiled nervously, "and then, I would start moving away very very slowly, and if it was to start to come towards me....I would swim like hell".
We all laughed, and I felt that my question had now put the family group at ease as they now knew what should be expected of them should any of us come face to face with a shark. They needn't have thanked me; I felt it my duty as the head of family to ensure that all areas should be covered when it comes to having to inevitably expose them with any possible danger, just for the sake of having some fun. I did put forward another option which was to take your knife out, nick the skin of the person next to you to draw some blood and then swim away as fast as possible - in any case, it all boils down to 'survival of the fittest'.
The briefing was very good, and Maria was an expert at putting all at ease, as she had years of experience in dealing with first-timers to the diving world. My other concern was 'would the Dive Hub have a dive suit big enough for me?'. On being introduced to our kit and equipment, I thankfully realised that the Iskele Dive Hub were prepared to take on all shapes and sizes. We had practised using the breathing apparatus and Maria explained how good the regulators were, in that even if you coughed in them they were designed to deal with that action and would not therefore hinder your breathing underwater. Being a smoker (I know, will give up again soon), I found that piece of information extremely useful, as I did need to cough when I was the first to be taken down under the water and wait for the rest; if I had not been told this I would have panicked and made my way back above water level, remove my regulator and coughed frantically - wasting valuable time for the other divers as Maria would have gone through the entire process of getting back down under the water yet again.
Sticking close to our buddies, Maria leaded the way pointing out all the marvels of her under sea world, Hakan close behind us all, watching and ensuring that we were fine. Maria had her underwater camera at hand and continually snapped away so that we had captured memories to take away with us to show off to friends and family back home. Amongst the many things that we had seen we were also lucky to spot some colourful Scorpion Fish and luminous Octopus eggs. Silence, weightlessness and a breathless underwater scenery were all to die for (did I say die? Sharks comes to mind).
On getting back to terra firma, another cup of coffee whilst we sat and chatted about the whole experience. Certificates for our Padi dive experience were handed out to us of which Maria had also registered with the authority online as the training centre.
"Thank you so much for that wonderful experience, Maria" I said,
"It was a pleasure, you were all very good and we went that little bit extra to ensure you got the most out of the dive", she replied.
"Did you see that shark come at us and me punching it right on the nose", I asked Maria.
"Yes, I did Soner bey, and also saw you take the strap with the weights on, off your waist and start hitting that shark on the head with it. You saved us all, but I did not get a chance to take a photo of that one, I am sorry", Maria reported.
We all laughed. Sharks? No luck if you wanted to see them off the shores of North Cyprus, unless you were actually hunting for them.
Joking aside, if you are not sure whether you want to be an experienced PADI diver or whether you want to just try as a one off experience, then I totally recommend that you get in touch with Maria at the Iskele Dive Hub and book you, your spouse and/or entire family on one of their short intro courses; then you will know whether it is for you or not...but most importantly you would have had experienced that under water dive experience, seen some wonderful things and made that short holiday a really special one.