Alison's Writing Portfolio · On Adventure · On Places & Travel

Winter Scuba: Time to Get Tanked–The Street, 10/21/2008

It's a fairly basic principle of self-preservation: Don't jump into deep water with heavy weights strapped to your body.

And yet, there I was, preparing to jump off the back of a dive boat into the Caribbean, off the coast of Roatan, Honduras, staggering under the weight of a heavy tank attached to my back. (I was at Anthony's Key Resort, pictured at left.) Of course, that heavy tank was filled with oxygen, attached to a regulator in my mouth, and I was wearing a buoyancy vest that would pop me right up to the surface. Still, at that particular moment, the whole let's-try-scuba-diving project, from jumping off that boat, to pulling myself down a rope 40 feet below the surface to encounter who-knows-what living under there — well, it just seemed the height of insanity.

And it was insane — as in insanely fun. After a few moments of descent, I found myself kneeling on the white sand 40 feet below the surface. Accompanied at all times by a dive instructor, I pushed off into what seemed just like an aquarium, and was soon hovering above coral reef, swimming among schools of bright fish, and over a cliff of coral canyon, all through the water that was the bluest blue I had ever seen. It was like flying in slow motion. When I surfaced from my "discover scuba" experience after an hour, I knew I wanted to do it again.

In my latest column for The Street, I discuss the basics of learning to scuba and a few great places to visit for new divers: The Maldives, Curacao, Cenotes on the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico, and Sharm El Sheikh in Egypt.