One of the best decisions I ever made in my life was to learn how to Scuba Dive. Once I was underwater, in full equipment I thought to myself…. why did it take me so long to take this step? I learned to scuba dive when I was 25, in a town called Ocho Rios, in Jamaica.

Learning the theory from a hammock

So when you take your first course, usually the Open Water course, there’s quite a bit you need to study! Many people  choose to already do the theory from home, but in my case I decided to study in my hammock. Which worked out quite well! As I’d be doing my confined and OW dives in the morning and in the afternoon I’d be studying theory and relaxing. Often whilst enjoying a fresh cut coconut. Studying in paradise can be fun – especially when it’s about Scuba Diving!

Confined Water Dives in Jamaica

The Dive Shop I did my PADI OW with is called Garfield Diving Station. A dive shop right on the beach of Ocho Rios. As there wasn’t a pool available we would practice the skills in the beach – at a fairly shallow bit where it was calm and marked by floating buoys (safe from boats and other water traffic – hense the term “confined”). In confined water you practice such things as removing your mask and putting it back on, taking out your mouth piece that you breath from and recovering it – as well as how you clear it once recovered. All the confined water skills went pretty easy and before I knew it we were on the boat to go for our first dive! Oh and did I mention I had a private instructor? 1-on-1 teaching is so nice. My instructor:Richard Baddal. 

Open Water Dives

My first descend was scary and exciting. I remember struggling to clear my ears at first but my instructor gave me some easy tips to clear them, such as tilting your head with the ear pointing upwards that’s being difficult. It also helped I was descending holding a rope – so I could very easily control my descend speed. 
Once at the bottom I was so excited. Visibility in Jamaica wasn’t bad and I could see atleast 20m/70ft or so. Water temperatu was quite good too 82F/28C. 
 
As for marine life; there’s not much coral and fish. It’s not empty but you can definitely see there’s been a lot of fishing. Nevertheless for me, as a beginning diver, it was maybe better. I touched the bottom quite a few times, learning this buoyancy thing, and fortunately all I touched was sand. Oh and the sting rays! Hidden in the sand (no I didn’t touch on) – that was so much fun to discover.  And I remember one dive, we did a bit of a wall/drop off. There was quite a bit of coral and fish!

Open Water certified!

After finishing the dives and completing all the dives skills and succesfully passing the theory, I could call myself officially an OW Scuba Diver! TIP: Take a picture BEFORE your last dives….. Now we took a picture after and obviously I was a mess, haha. Though, you could argue it’s part of the charm 😉  (NOT)

Jamaica as a dive destination

With what I’ve seen from Ocho Rios I would definitely recommend you make a few dives – if only for how easy and calm the conditions are. Super easy diving in very comfortable water with good viz. Besides that, there is a nice shipwreck (Katherine) and it’s affordable diving! I think especially if you find a nice Jamaica deal with good air it could work. But don’t expect Bonaire kind of Caribbean diving. There’s just not as much life and colour. For me it was the perfect place to learn how to dive, one on one instruction….. calm conditions… yep wouldn’t change a thing! 

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