My first time to Maui was in 2008. With H. I don’t remember much from that trip with the exception of snorkeling at Molokini Crater. The visibility was fantastic, but the water was really rough at the surface which made snorkeling a bit challenging. I took in a good amount of water, which really dampened the experience (no pun intended).
So when CT initially asked to go to Maui together, I wasn’t exactly jumping at the opportunity. One, because I had already been. And two, I had already been with H. I know there shouldn’t be a problem with returning to a place that you had been with an ex, but I don’t know… it just always felt weird to do so. I was able to hold him off for about a year and a half by going to other places like Canada, Peru, and Italy. But it got to a point where I couldn’t ignore his request any longer. And besides, it would have been unfair to keep doing so.
To differentiate from the past, one of the things I thought we could do together on this trip was get PADI certified. This has been on my bucket list and it just made sense to check this off in a beautiful location with exotic marine life such as Maui. Luckily, CT was interested too!
I was considering two dive shops: ProDiver Maui and Maui Dive Shop. I ended going with ProDiver because it was cheaper and just had great reviews across all platforms (yelp, google, tripadvisor). ProDiver was $369/person for 3 days, while Maui Dive Shop was $499/person. E-learning is paid separately to PADI and the cost was $190/person.
The open water course spanned across 3 days so much of our vacation was dedicated to scuba. The first half of Day 1 consisted of taking a short quiz of the E-Learning material, practicing assembling and disassembling our gear, and then moving to the pool for the swim and float tests. These tests involved swimming for 200 meters without touching anything and floating/treading water for 10 minutes. This is non-negotiable – you must know how to swim in order to proceed. We were told that there are have been people that have signed up for the course thinking otherwise, which honestly blew my mind. People… DO YOU WANT TO LIVE?
After the swim and float tests, we put on our gear and started practicing skills in the shallow end of the pool. That first breath underwater through the regulator was such an awkward experience for me. I kept panicking and thinking, this is NOT normal. It took a while for me to feel completely comfortable underwater, but once I did, I had no issues completing skills with the exception of mask/snorkel skills. As a contact lens wearer, mask skills were THE WORST. I was always afraid that I would lose my contacts in the water.
We then moved to the deep end of the pool where we practiced additional skills such as 5 point descent/ascent, proper weighting to achieve neutral buoyancy, hover, BCD oral inflation, etc. The first day felt a little bit overwhelming, but we were really excited to take what we learned into open water.
Day 2 was the first of our open water dives. The dive site was Makena Landing, which is about a 20 minute drive from Kihei.
We set up and put on our gear, performed buddy checks on one another (CT and I) and then headed off into the water for OW Dive #1. I still panicked initially and it didn’t help that I seemed to have a difficult time descending down (our instructor had to check that I was weighted properly), but after I got over the initial descent, everything felt so natural and effortless.
After about 45 minutes or so, we headed back to our dive flag, ascended and swam back to shore. Once back on land, we switched out our tanks and discussed the dive plan and skills for the next dive. We performed buddy checks again and headed back into the water for OW Dive #2.
Once again, I was having trouble descending so our instructor tried to help by adding more weight to adjust my buoyancy. He started getting concerned when I had more weight than he did so he checked my BCD and lo and behold, the left weight that was supposed to be clipped into my BCD was missing. BUDDY CHECK FAIL, CT! Good thing one of the snorkelers near the shore found it and a ~9 lb. piece of lead wasn’t lost on the ocean floor!
The last day of OW certification was our designated boat dive. We hopped onto a boat at the Kihei Boat Ramp and headed out to Molokini Crater.
Before we could have “fun” and explore, we had to knock out a few skills. One of which was to hover via BCD oral inflation. This means I had breathe in through my regulator, switch to the BCD, blow into that to inflate my BCD (and become more buoyant), but save enough air so that when I switch back to my regulator, I can clear it with another breath out before resuming normal breathing.
Another skill was the mask removal. This involved removing my mask completely, putting it back on and clearing it. I honestly thought I was going to have a panic attack, but I somehow managed to stay calm. I kept having to remind myself to only breathe through the regulator in my mouth and not through my nose. Sounds easy, but it really did take a lot of focus. And surprise, surprise, I also had trouble clearing my mask this time and ended up opening my eyes while I still had water in my mask. Ugh. THE WORST.
After completing our skills on OW Dive #3, we spent the rest of the dive exploring around Molokini Crater before heading to another dive site, White Rock, for OW Dive #4.
The highlight of the dive was seeing a manta ray. What a great way to finish our certification!
Aaand just like that, we became PADI Open Water Certified. Bucket list ✔️
This was another great trip in the books, not only because of what we achieved but because it helped me get over my anxiety about returning to a place that I had been with an ex. Wonderful new memories of Maui have now replaced the faded old ones and I am actually looking forward to sharing the places that I love with CT and creating more memories together.