Monday, January 25, 2016

SCUBA Diving at Dive and Trek (Bauan, Batangas)

In high school, I  had to memorize what SCUBA means for an English exam (particularly on the topic, Acronyms). Back in 2011, I tried out helment diving in Boracay and had a panic attack. These two events were the closest I ever got to diving. The latter was not a very pleasant experience and made me fear the water more. But thanks to this memorable diving trip in Batangas, my apprehensions about diving and my fear of the ocean went away. I also got to cross out #51 on my Bucket List!

December 26, 2016
Dex and I celebrated our first anniversary of being together. Woot! Since we survived Year One of being a couple, he wanted to splurge and make me experience something new. This two-day, one-night trip was actually his brainchild. Our destination: Dive & Trek Resort and Marine Sanctuary in Bgy. San Pablo, Bauan, Batangas.

How to get there:
Being the budget traveler that I am, I would have chosen to travel by commuting. But Dex insisted on renting a car for a more convenient travel. And so, we Wazed our way to the resort. Good thing, it wasn't very hard to locate. Just search for "Dive & Trek Parking" and Waze will get you there. The trip was 3 to 4 hours long since we had several stops and we weren't really in a hurry. Once we've found the resort's parking area (which looked like a typical residential area), we secured our vehicle and hopped into a motorized boat that took us to the resort. It was a good 10-to-15-minute ride.

Things to do:
If it still isn't obvs, SCUBA diving! Lol! Let's now segue to my version of SCUBA Diving for Idiots.

The first thing we did when we got there was have lunch. (Our meals, plus the boat ride to the resort, were included in the package we availed.) We then proceeded to take up a short diving course. The PADI-accredited resort offers introduction to diving and diving certification courses. As I was a newbie, we only availed of the intro to diving course. Our dive master (and resort manager), JA Reaño, was very thorough in teaching us the essentials: hand signals, basic diving skills, using and caring for your diving equipment, breathing and equalizing techniques, etc.

We were also given all the equipment we needed: wet suit and booties, fins, weights, mask, BCD (buoyancy control device), and of course, the tank of compressed oxygen. We prepared ourselves and went to the jump off point.

The dive master got into the water first, then the diving assistants, and then Dex. Me? I had a hard time trusting my BCD to make me float. But after a few prodding, I jumped in anyway.

As a first-timer, it was a struggle to breathe through the regulator (the mouthpiece connected to the tank where oxygen flows). Compressed oxygen felt "bitin" in my lungs: I was breathing, but still not able to completely breathe. It takes a while to get used to the feeling and you have to remember the technique: breathe deeply and slowly.

The next thing we did was practice our basic diving skills. These skills come in handy for easy-to-remedy emergency situations under water. Our dive master claims that other dive sites don't teach these to students and it's a good thing Dive & Trek prioritizes their students' safety over anything else.

So we went 14 feet down the sea. JA personally assisted me as I was still apprehensive of what we'll do next. We slowly descended and once we've reached the sea floor, we had to kneel. It wasn't very easy to do this. Dex and I experienced mild cramping in our legs.

Drill #1: You lost grip of your mouthpiece; retrieve it using two techniques.
Drill #2: Water seeped into your mask; expel it.
Drill #3: You ran out of oxygen; tap your buddy and ask to breathe through his/her spare regulator.
Drill #4: Say cheeze! Remove your mouthpiece and smile for the camera. (I declined to do this. Haha!)

After completing the drills, we then started with our 30-minute exploration of the Bauan Marine Sanctuary. We were guided by the dive assistants who held on to us while we swam. Marine life down there was exquisite. Schools of fishes can be seen anywhere and the coral reefs were beautiful. Our dive master allowed us to touch some safe-to-humans corals. The best part of the dive was the fish feeding part! We held out bananas and almost instantly, hundreds of fishes surrounded us and gave us the most picture-perfect moment.

After this part, we just toured the rest of the marine sanctuary and I began to relax. The next thing I know, our 30 minutes was over and we were back to the jump off point. It was very fulfilling for me to experience that, being the coward that I am. I got excited for a "next time" that's why Dex and I promised to come back and get our diving certifications.

Other things to do:
The resort serves great food! (Their chef deserves a raise! Haha.) And they serve it buffet-style every three hours. Lol! In one day, you'd be served breakfast, AM snacks, lunch, PM snacks, and dinner. Since it was our anniversary, dinner was extra special.

Dex surprised me with a candle-lit dinner for us by the shore! It was so sweet. I was telling him that he's the first guy to set-up a candle-lit dinner for me and he readily showed his smug smile. The Dive & Trek staff helped him set-up the dinner for us. We had soup, beef stroganoff, grilled tuna, and chicken. JA also made sure that we had champagne, on the house! It was a happy dinner, nakaka-haba ng hair. Haha!

The next day, we spent our morning snorkeling. It was a relaxing activity specially since the water was so clear, all thanks to the good weather. Even without having to dive deep, there were already plenty of fish to see. The resort had bread that snorkelers could use to attract the fishes.

When you're tired of all the activities, you may choose to sleep in the resort's comfy rooms, lounge around on their homey beach beds, or catch the sun set.

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