Wednesday, 3 February 2016

Diving in Oman

I will begin with a disclaimer; I still consider myself a new diver. That basically means that there are times where I find myself still flapping about rather than looking like the graceful mer-like people you see in any diving video. I am okay with admitting this because diving is a constant learning process and I really can't expect to be at dive 20 where someone on their hundredth-plus dive is.

For wiser words and thoughts on diving, I would read Captain Blue Finger's blog. He was a diving instructor here in Oman and is a fantastically witty writer.

My aim is just to get anyone thinking about diving that push to book a discovery session or even a course. Since getting certified last summer, a lot of my weekends have been spent diving, or planning when I will next dive. Hence, the lack of adventures and posts on this blog.

In my limited experience, I would say that Oman is a great place to learn and dive. The waters are relatively calm, so travelling to the dive site is bearable for anyone who is easily nauseated, like me. I also haven't experienced any strong currents here. Maybe that is just luck on my part, but having done drift dives in Bali, and clinging to a rock in the Maldives, I am aware of that feeling of not being totally in control. As a beginner, calm water does make it easier for you, although later on you may yearn for the easiness of having the sea carry you along while you admire the view.

Now, the diving schools. I have tried most of the ones located around The Wave (or Al Mouj as it is now called). I won't go into too much of a review with them, but I would say they run the operations similarly. You don't get any luxury treatment like you do in Asia, with people setting up your equipment for you while you snack on wafers and drink juice, but some are more organised with getting you your equipment than others. And some offer much newer and well-maintained kit.

I did my training with Omanta with a female instructor called Faye. She was fantastic, really calm and patient, completely understanding of how weird it is to do scuba for the first time, and keen to get you to be a good diver with good habits. I was fortunate to learn one-on-one, which I am not sure standard practice, but was great because you get all the attention. Unfortunately, Faye has now left Oman so I would suggest that whatever dive school you go with you meet whoever is going to teach you and make sure you get along. Like anything, if you are comfortable around someone you will be more responsive to the learning.

I blogged about the theory side of the learning; understanding the physics underwater, how it affects you, and the dangers. The practical is spent putting skills into practice, what happens if you lose your mouthpiece, run out of air, lose your mask, that sort of thing. You also learn things you will be expected to do every dive, such as figure out how much additional weight you will need and how to clear your mask if water leaks in.

Without wittering on too much in this post, I'll leave you with a round-up of my favourite diving pictures and a video starring yours truly.