My First Free Diving Experience in Davao
It all started with a deep unquenchable desire to be with the ocean. As a little girl, it didn’t matter how as I could be with the ocean that was enough for me. At first it was venturing beyond the platonic admiration of what was on its surface. After all, that’s almost what we always see – the endless expanse of the ocean’s surface.
Next, I allowed myself to play with the waves on the shore. It was during these hours that I knew how dynamic the ocean could be. Chasing after fish, diving in after waves and jumping off my father’s back to the deeper waters – these were warm memories of the ocean for me.
Fast forward to the present days, I find myself still continuously drawn to the sea. Only realizing later in life, my love for the sea has earned me the moniker that probably embodies best the ocean’s daughter, a mermaid.
Saying yes to almost all forms of water-related activities, there were some that I stood by; I couldn’t get enough of being in the water.
My friend, Anne invited me to join her crew of free diving enthusiasts, Dive Ta Bai, for a day tour around Davao Gulf. Being around real free divers for the first time was intimidating. Never been one to shy away, we arrived bright and early at Sta. Ana Wharf. After the headcount, the boat took off for Talicud Island’s Mansud Wall.
While traveling, the organizers gave a short orientation and free diving tips that encouraged us to try and have fun. Traveling for an hour, we wasted no time, got our masks on, jumped out of the boat and started exploring the spot.
Starting from the shallower end, we opted to snorkel the whole length of the area first. I was surprised that Mansud Wall had wonderful reef and coral formations that stretched further than two Olympic-sized pools. I didn’t see any corals or reef damaged by anchors. There were still quite a lot of fish swimming all over the reef, mostly juvenile but they were still so breathtaking to swim with.
It felt like swimming in between the colors of the rainbow. There was so much color around blending perfectly. Even the fish seemed welcoming and didn’t try to attack us as we poked our masks among the corals.
After chasing fish around the reef, we decided to head deeper. There was a little crevice among the reefs. In the middle was like a road made of sand, with equally towering reef to either side.
It was fun playing with the sand – scooping it at the bottom and trying to hold as much while surfacing for air. Up and down we went, swimming beside corals so much bigger than myself.
The day was ending and with heavy hearts and burnt skin, we had to head back to Sta. Ana wharf before 5pm because the boats weren’t allowed to go beyond that point out in the sea.
Looking back on my first free dive, I thought I already knew a lot of fish, seeing them in pet shops and in the market. After exploring Mansud Wall for a whole afternoon, I realized I barely knew fish at all. I barely even know the names of corals and even our dive spots nearby.
Realizing this, I think I need to explore our backyard more often. Guilty of focusing too much on other places, I missed the equally wonderful underwater sights here in Davao Gulf.
Go on and explore responsibly what Davao Gulf has to offer. There are a lot of dive shops around Sta. Ana Wharf that offer tours at affordable rates. Also, don’t forget to bring extra eco-bags to place trash in and keep our oceans clean. ❤❤❤
*This story was first published in my column in EdgeDavao last August 2016.