Adventure for Divers Is Everywhere
A dolphin follows alongside a moving boat, swimming just below the water’s surface.
The California coastline is spectacular above and below the surface. Tourists flock to catch glimpses of golden sunsets, while dedicated shore divers explore nooks and crannies from La Jolla to Crescent City.
As I navigate through popular beaches toward the water’s edge in my gear, answering yes to everyone asking whether I’m going scuba diving (hint: the tank is a giveaway), a recurring thought pops into my head.
People travel from all over the globe to enjoy these beaches and coastal vistas, which I often just bypass on my way to and from that day’s dive site. The tourists put their toes in the sand and marvel. Meanwhile, I’m sweating in my wetsuit, looking forward to pushing past the toe limit and only then beginning my adventure.
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Adventure is built into the dive lifestyle. For example, many of us can relate to hopping on a dive boat and being surrounded by bow-riding dolphins or whales surfacing for air. Such moments are so special that nondivers seek them out on dedicated tours. It becomes the apex of their ocean experience. For scuba divers, it’s a bonus—a special moment you appreciate while in transit to the apex of your day’s journey.
If you dive California’s Channel Islands regularly, you’ve likely spent some time with Douglas Klug, an underwater photographer who makes trips to the islands nearly every weekend. I asked Doug about one of his favorite moments on the dive boat, and he replied, “It’s common to see whales, dolphins, sea lions, sharks and even sunfish (mola mola) when crossing the Santa Barbara Channel to visit the northern Channel Islands. I’ve personally had days where a boat captain stops for a few minutes while whales breach around the boat. On one memorable trip, we spotted a huge swordfish swimming at the surface, and the captain was able to bring the boat alongside it so everyone could watch it!”
As divers, we tend to take adventure beyond the norm when we travel. We take the standard hotel vacation and use that as the starting point to embark on exciting excursions. There’s nothing wrong with pools, books and pina coladas, but scuba divers will undoubtedly have more interesting dinner conversations replaying the day’s dives.
Dive resorts and liveaboards take things to another level, letting you complete four or even five dives a day, often in exotic locations you might not otherwise visit. These unfold as you see new marine life for the first time, crack jokes with dive guides, taste local foods, ride exotic boats and envelop yourself in each experience.
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In fact, I’m sitting at my desk thinking about a time I was with divers seeing a healthy Indo-Pacific reef for the first time. I can still vividly feel their excitement as they described everything they saw during the dive. Bubbling on top of the exotic vacation vibes, that feeling is hard to top. Throw in some land excursions to see volcanoes, local markets, hot springs and endemic wildlife, and any dive trip can become the adventure of a lifetime.
I’ve heard adventure described as beginning where things start to go wrong. But I disagree. Adventure is chasing the excitement of something new and can be calibrated to our individual preferences, dive by dive and trip by trip.