Our holiday was spent in Langkawi, Malaysia. Of course, we visited the cablecar, mangroves, islandhopping and shopping, but the highlight for me was seeing my kids scubadive for the first time.
I was certified even before I met my husband and have waited impatiently until my kids would be old enough to dive. Since they are only 10yrs old and not always confident in new environments, I did not want to take them on a long trip on a big boat with hundreds of people around them. I choose Langkawi Scuba because of the small boat, short boatride and personal attention.
I signed myself up for some fundives and the kids for the PADI Discover Scuba Diving program. The owners Warda and Dee took us diving.
At 8:30 in the morning we were at the divecenter on Cenang beach and while I was checking my own dive-equipment, Warda took care of my twins. In easy steps she explained what was going to happen, what are the things to be aware of and what we could expect to see on the dives. She also explained how to communicate under water.
The scuba equipment looks complicated but it basically consists of a tank full of compressed air, a regulator that allows you to comfortably breath that compressed air and a jacket that can be full or empty of air depending on whether you want to float or sink. You need a mask (I wear contacts, no problem) and some fins to propel yourself. There were wetsuits for the kids, but I was just wearing my leggings and a long-sleeve divetop, the water is around 30C so not cold at all.
My kids got the smallest equipment and tiniest tanks and walked with Warda of the beach into the shallow water. They started with just their face in the water and learning to breathe and trust the equipment, and continued under water practicing getting water out of the regulator and mask. Not that that is a normal thing to happen but you still need to practice it just in case, because it is not like with snorkeling that you can just pop your head out of the water.
When they were comfortable, they joined me and Dee on the boat. The boatride was short but the view of the islands and beaches is amazing. We even saw monkeys on the rocks.
When Warda and Dee had checked a few divesites for the visibility and other conditions, they settled on a site called White Coral Corner.
We did a backroll of the boat in the water with our gear on, James Bond-style and it is amazing how little fear kids have, they just do it.
With both kids hanging on Warda’s arm, going slowly under water, I could see that only the first few minutes was scary for them. Soon, they let go of her, but stayed close, and swam by themselves. I was so proud. I was also very nervous for them, actually from the beginning that morning I was probably more nervous than they were themselves. But Warda and Dee kept me involved and assured me that the kids were doing great and soon I was able to enjoy my own dive as well. Without noticing it we apparently went to 12m depth at one point during the dive.
Dee showed me a little bambooshark hiding under some rocks, the tiniest pink crabs in a tablecoral,and little colorful slugs I would never have found on my own. About half way in the dive, drifting with a current, we got to an area full of very high, snow-white, thin soft corals. Everywhere we looked was that white coral, and schools of tiny baby barracudas and snappers were there as well, and every now and then there was a bright red, blue or yellow coral. The kids loved finding “Nemo”, the clownfish in the anemones. But for me the highlight was seeing a real-life seahorse.
We were told that seahorses are rare, there are not many places in the world where you can find them. The instructors at Langkawi Scuba know where to find them around Langkawi. And because we were diving with 2 instructors for the 3 of us, we got to spend a good amount of time with 1 of them. It was a male seahorse, you could see because it had a pouch (like a kangaroo) on his belly and it was very round, he was pregnant.
After 45 min under water, one of the kids got a bit cold and wanted to go up. He was taught how to signal this and slowly, Warda brought them to the surface where our boat was already keeping and eye out for us. We spend some time on a white sandy beach, drinking hot coffee and enjoying some traditional Malaysian snacks. I guess he immediately forgot that he was cold because he was snorkeling and playing in the water most of the time.
My daughter and I did a second dive with Warda at another divesite, we saw a lot of other weird creatures that we afterward were able to identify with the photoalbum back in the divecenter and wrote it all down in a Langkawi Scuba logbook.
We were back on Cenang beach before lunch time.
In the days after this experience and in the weeks after coming back home from holiday, the kids could not stop talking about their dives. I am sure next holiday we will get them to become certified and do the PADI Open Water Diver Course.
Marloes, The Netherlands