“I found myself completely unsure what to expect on my very first scuba dive in the ocean; before resurfacing my life had been forever changed.”

Green Morray Eel

Everyone has moments in their life that stand out, far above and beyond all others. My first time scuba diving in the ocean was one of those.

Simply getting to that moment hadn’t come easy. I was burned out from work, life had become stale and I desperately needed something new and exciting to distract myself with. One night I came across a groupon for scuba diving lessons. I hadn’t ever given much thought to the idea of diving before then; but something about it’s complete unfamiliarity sparked my interest; I said to myself ‘give it a shot’! Living in Phoenix, Arizona there isn’t exactly a lot of water around, so I had my training lessons done at an indoor swimming pool. Before ‘graduating’ I had to squeeze into an extra thick wetsuit (which made me extremely claustrophobic) and finish my final test in a very cold, dirty and murky lake. For me, the training had come with a lot of struggle and in the beginning I had second guessed myself many times about whether this was right for me and if I could enjoy it. After completing the course I felt a sense of great satisfaction and accomplishment for overcoming the initial fear and uncomfortable feeling breathing underwater.

Knowing I hadn’t yet experienced what real scuba diving is all about, I spent dozens of hours researching where the best places to dive were. Before I knew it I was on an airplane and headed to Belize; planning to dive the world’s second largest barrier reef, and the remarkable, legendary Blue Hole. That’s right.. I wasn’t starting my new hobby out slow and steady, I was literally diving head first into the deep end.

Less than 24 hours after arriving to Belize, and minutes into my fist ever ocean dive, I found myself 80 feet underwater. The kind of extraordinary water that has such great visibility you can see clearly for hundreds of feet around you. Within minutes our 4-person dive group was surrounded by numerous nurse sharks, a moray eel, large groupers and sea turtles. Amazed, stunned and instantaneously I was madly in love with scuba diving.

As we reached the bottom a lone nurse shark swam right under me:

Nurse Shark

Nurse Shark

More started to arrive, how exciting! (The white tube is filled with bait to attract them)

Nurse Sharks

Just as I was shooting pictures of the action and not paying attention to anything or anyone else around I looked up to see a bright green menacing face headed straight for me!!

Green Eel

I was freaked out by that eel, he wasn’t the least bit shy! He has apparently never heard of personal space. After he decided to swim by me without causing any bodily harm I was both relieved and filled with excitement. How amazing is this!?

Nurse Sharks

Within minutes more nurse sharks had arrived wanting to be fed along with large groupers. None of them were the least bit afraid of us, or each other. After the divemaster pet the eel I handed over my camera and he snapped one of me groping him:

Eel Petting

We spent roughly 45 minutes underwater and every one of them were simply amazing. I could have spent the entire day down there observing all the magnificent sea creatures. Check out the video to see my freak out as the eel surprise attacks me, and see all the nurse sharks and groupers:

And some more of the eel:

This will always be that one special dive that changed everything and I get to watch it any time I find myself missing the water ­čÖé

I went on to dive the Blue Hole, and visited Roatan and Cozumel for diving trips since then. I’ve loved every minute spent underwater and cannot recommend it enough to anyone who’s interested in trying it.

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