The only sound is my heart beating into my full, heavy ears as I glide weightlessly through my slippery surroundings, guided only by the beam of a flashlight.
The sense of space is endless and the world I recognise drifts further away with each meter I descend.
Above me, ethereal bodies swirl, silhouetted against an otherworldly haze. Below, just darkness and the sobering thought that there could be inches or miles between my steady legs and the soft, moving ocean floor. Suddenly: a sign of life, as the glistening gills of a giant fish dart before my torch. Both of us shrouded in the charcoal night of our underwater world.
We are regularly reminded what a small place this world has become.
Bumping into old friends at airports and idyllic temples; keeping ourselves constantly connected on smart phones, or chatting to natives of remote villages who are surprisingly up to date on Lady Gaga’s latest outfit faux pas.
Globalisation aside, it’s becoming ever more difficult for novice explorers to discover a slice of earth that remains untouched. Frustratingly, we are left to ‘discover’ vicariously through books about others who got there first, gloating with titles such as “Charting the Amazon” or “Virgin routes through Antarctica”. You get the idea.
As if this weren’t disheartening enough for wannabe adventurers, we now have to compete with our fellow novices who weren’t content with armchair exploration and have taken to revisiting common paths in a quirky manner, giving to teases such as “The first woman to cross Australia….on a Segway”.
You get the drift.
In this snowballing battle to see the unseen I’ve made a subtle, yet significant breakthrough – water my friends, is the new land.
Before becoming a scuba diver I only considered an over ground itinerary. Now every trip I take encompasses mountain high to underwater valley deep. After exploring the land on foot, I take to the sea by boat and get a view of the local coastline, before plunging underneath the waves to discover life of a different kind. Not only do I get to see a destination in its near entirety, but I also have an unusual, exhilarating adventure and make new friends in the process.
Beat the crowds – I’ve never had to queue underwater to see my favourite eel, nor buy a ticket!
Get some therapy – the cathartic silence and the obligatory slow deep breathing do wonders for stress levels.
Become the privileged few – by dropping to 18 meters you’re in a group of 0.3% of the world population.
In short, James Cameron, who recently became one of the few humans to sink to the bottom of the 9km deep Mariana trench in his submersible (more people have been into space) – has the right idea: Explore the oceans and go as deep as possible.
Not only will it enhance your next holiday, it will change the way you plan your adventures and unveil a whole new world that’s still waiting to be discovered!