St. Thomas, USA: Below sea level

 

st thomas scubaBelow sea level: A whole new world

St. Thomas is truly beautiful. The island is home to luscious green mountaintops, amazing sandy beaches and the clearest blue water that I had ever seen. The morning we arrived in Charlotte Amalie via cruise ship was jaw dropping. I had never seen such a gorgeous landscape. The bay was peppered with small sailboats and luxurious yachts from around the world. We didn’t have long to bask in the picturesque scene of the Caribbean. We were off on an adventure; we were going SCUBA diving. We hurriedly made our way through the port area to our open-air taxi taking us to Coki Beach.

Our surfer dude instructor went over our under water signals and equipment, as well as what we could see once we started our dive. It was hard to focus on our safety briefing as we sat along a wall on the beach. We could hear the waves crashing behind us; see iguanas soaking up the morning sun on rocks. After our short lesson, our group of four was then led down to the beach. We were fitted for our masks and assigned oxygen tanks. My knees were buckling under the weight of the tank as I walked down the beach towards the surf. Our next step proved to be an even harder challenge. Once in waist deep water, we had to put on our fins. With the water moving you constantly, we were bobbling around like buoys.

Getting the breathing underwater portion down was the most important step and I was struggling. It felt extremely forced, what I imagine an astronaut must feel like preparing for his first trip into space. Once you are underwater, it is a completely different experience. So many things stand out to me about the dive. The once heavy oxygen tank makes you completely weightless as you glide along. You use different breathing techniques to keep yourself from floating too far up or too far down, ensuring that you don’t bump into the sensitive coral. You sound like Darth Vader through your regulator as you try to steady your breathing. Your eyes dart around, soaking it all in, trying to focus on every little detail. You feel like you can almost see for miles, the water is so crisp.

Tropical fish swim by, almost not even noticing that you are among them. The different varieties are endless with their colors, sizes, and temperaments. The first we saw was a school of large Parrotfish. Their vivid colors of deep blue, purple and green were striped and dotted on their scales in no general pattern. Each fish was different from the one previous. Their beauty surrounded us. As our instructor took out some doggie biscuits, schools of fish came from nowhere. Some would come right up you, looking at their reflection in your mask. Others would hurriedly take some of the snack and dart off in the opposite direction. The rock and coral formations randomly placed along the sandy sea floor were equally as lovely. Eels and fish were popping out of little coves and caves, hiding behind shells, surprising us each time.

My favorite part of the dive was being immersed completely in an ecosystem entirely different for my own. As you go through your dive the swimming and breathing with help of a tank almost becomes second nature, as if you belong in this other world. It was absolutely mesmerizing. The feeling of being part of something so fragile and stunning was breathtaking. Our dive was over too quickly and we all equally agreed it was the most amazing thing we had ever done. I wanted so badly to go back out, to experience it all again for just a couple more minutes.

About the Author: Amanda Causer is an inspiring writer who has caught the travel bug. Her preferred method of travel is cruising but would love to see the world any way possible. Follow her blog to see where she is traveling next!

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