How braving the underwater world can open up a whole world of adventure, both above and below sea level

Although I’ve been diving since 2007, back in the days when I could still class myself as being ‘mid twenties’, I’m not one of those people who have racked up hundreds of dives and spent a fortune on equipment.

However, diving has had a huge impact on my life in so many ways aside from numbers and gear. From the friends I’ve made to the places I’ve travelled, life could have been very different if I’d not visited that swimming pool in the UK nearly ten years ago. It was that first lesson on a September evening which then lead to a diving holiday in Egypt, which ultimately resulted in me moving to Cairo less than a year later and beginning a life of travel and other outdoor pursuits that I previously didn’t even dream of. I’ve met people along the way who have remained good friends, and I’ve been lucky enough to dive in some of the most sought after locations around the globe.

But perhaps more interestingly, diving has given me so much more in terms of character building,and I am without a doubt a very different person now to that nervous girl fiddling with her dry suit before tentatively stepping into that freezing quarry in Lancashire, UK, on a cold February morning.


It’s given me strength. Not only the physical strength needed to propel oneself through the water and scramble back on to the boat, drenched and exhausted, but also the mental strength to face my fears and step out of my comfort zone, into an environment where I do not have total control. It has taught me to trust those around me, from my dive buddy and my equipment, to myself. When I first started diving, I was not particularly well travelled, but this soon changed as I began to ask questions such as, if the underwater world was so incredible, what else was I missing out on? Travel soon became a regular part of my life, and I frequently looked for new and exotic locations in which to dive whilst I was planning trips. The fact that I mainly travelled solo, plus the nature of diving itself, forced me to become much more self reliant, braving stressful situations with a calmness that would have been impossible before, taking as many steps as possible to minimise risk, but never using my own fear as an excuse to miss out on a spectacular experience.
Below, we hear from others about how diving has changed their lives, and find out what they love about this other worldly pursuit. Travel and meeting like minded people are themes that resonate throughout, demonstrating that whilst the underwater habitat may not be our natural environment, it’s certainly one we’re drawn to time and time again.

Angelia Keever
I got into diving as a hobby to share with my ‘would be husband.’ I loved diving in Roatan, Honduras. It has had a very positive impact on my life and has encouraged me to keep going. From the first day of class, crying about the uncomfortable feeling, to now wanting to learn more and be stronger, it has given me a strength in an area that I felt weak before.

Anna Wren
I decided to do my open water course about 12 years ago because I wanted to swim with fish. I completed that course in Dubai and did my advanced course a few years later in Egypt. As the years have passed and more dive sites have been visited, my addiction to this sport has grown and I’ve become harder to please. I’ve just spent 5 days in LayangLayang diving with Hammerhead sharks, and it was definitely the best diving I’ve ever done (so far!). It’s a remote man-made island 300km off the coast of Malaysia which is perched upon a huge atoll, surrounded by pristine reefs and inhabited by the majestic scalloped hammerhead shark. We were even lucky enough to have a school of around 100 swimming with us yesterday.

The Maldives and Sipadan are also in my top five dive sites because there is just so much to see on each dive. Diving definitely shapes my holidays now and being single it’s a great way to travel on my own and meet like minded people without having to do tours. It costs me a fortune, especially when I go to the remote destinations, but I’m happy to spend money on such an incredible sport that allows me a glimpse into an alien world full of life and beauty whilst travelling and experiencing new cultures at the same time.


Rosanna Dale
I got into diving because I booked a two week holiday to the Maldives and thought I might get bored! My favourite three places to dive are Hin Deng in Thailand for the amazing Manta Rays, the Blue Hole in Belize, and my favourite wreck called the Liberty in Bali, which we did as a dawn shore dive. It was just me and my buddy, a fantastic wreck and with phosphorescent plankton creating sparkles with our movements, it was magical! I’ve always loved travelling and the diving community are like one big family. I know I can travel on my own and meet fun people with a common interest. Divers all want each other to have the best dive each time and share stories well into the evening. I find diving very calming and a great way to relieve stress. To be able to see the beautiful corals, underwater landscapes and meet some fish is fantastic.

Claire Barker
After a disastrous ‘try dive’ one holiday in Greece, where I was thrown into open water with little to no introduction to the equipment, I was determined to overcome the bad experience and signed up to my university dive club. Despite doing my open water training in Plymouth in murky waters and freezing February conditions, I loved the challenge, the (extremely patient!) instructors and all the other people I met through the club. 200+ dives later, diving has taken me to some amazing locations around the world and given me a heap of friends and experiences I would otherwise never have met. It’s an awesome experience to share with people and allows me to combine a love of the ocean with an interest in underwater photography.

Locally, I love Musandam, where I’ve been lucky enough to see whale sharks; and Dibba Rock where you can usually count on seeing a turtle or three. Of the places I’ve been fortunate enough to visit in the rest of the world, my favourites have been Sipadan in Malaysia for the sheer variety of underwater life, and the Maldives for the ultimate luxury diving holiday experience.

Stewart Clarke
The underwater world has always fascinated me, so back in 2000 I decided to complete the PADI Open Water course whilst on holiday in Egypt. However, it was only really after spending time working in Saudi Arabia and then the UAE that I got into diving properly and bought my own gear. Then I became passionate about Underwater Photography and the rest is history.

As a keen Underwater Photographer with a particular fondness for Nudibranch (Sea Slugs), my favourite place to dive is Anilao in the Philippines. The Verde Island passage is recognised as the most biologically diverse marine habitat on the planet and is a great place for photographers.

Within the UAE, the east coast offers the best diving. Recently, a few of us have been shore diving and finding some very interesting creatures and habitats. I can’t really disclose the exact location, but we are making some very surprising discoveries. This however could be due to ballast water dispersal from the oil tankers bringing in invasive species.

Diving has certainly opened my horizons with regards to travel. I certainly wouldn’t have considered travelling to some of the remote locations like Lembeh in North Sulawesi, Indonesia if it hadn’t been for diving. Also a few years ago I took a sabbatical and spent two months living on a beach in the Seychelles carrying out coral surveys and diving three times a day. I’ve also become a full blown Nudibranch nerd; to date I have records for over 260 species found in the waters of the UAE – many of which are undescribed in science.diving



Words by: Rachael Bruford

Photos by: Stewart Clarke and Anna Wren