Taking the Plunge Into Scuba

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Looking for a new sport to pick up this summer?

Try scuba diving – it’ll change your life.

Not that I need to say it, but “scuba” is actually an acronym for “self-contained underwater breathing apparatus.”  Certain tanks can let you stay underwater for hours at a time, letting you see all of the amazing features the ocean has to offer.

First things first: you have to get certified.  We can’t just have people jumping in the water with oxygen tanks who aren’t trained, because it actually can be a dangerous sport.  Some of the dangers are obvious, but some are not – like surfacing too quickly from a deep dive.

Luckily there are several places to learn and get certified in Newport, and it doesn’t take too long to get the hang of it.  You’ll most likely start off in a pool the first few times to get your bearings and the full experience of breathing underwater.

There are a couple different types of dives, but two of my favorites are shipwreck dives and drift dives.  Shipwreck dives are exactly what they sound like, you dive above a shipwreck.  The reason these are so cool, aside from the obvious, is that after a while, the marine life will make the ship its habitat.  Crabs and lobsters will take refuge in the crevasses, fish will freely swim in and out of the ship’s hull, and even coral will wind its way through the sunken vessel.

Drift dives are an experience all their own, as well.  Basically, you’ll drop in the ocean where there’s a heavy enough current to push you along, and the current does the swimming for you.  All you have to do is open your eyes and take in the sights until a boat, which will be conveniently located at the end of the current, picks you up.

For a nice local spot to try after you’re certified and have a dive buddy – never dive alone – head over to Crystal Cove and check out the huge underwater park off the beach.  Tons of species of fish and other marine life can be seen regularly swimming around the reef.  Just make sure you go on a sunny, calm day so you’ll get the best visibility.

If you’re not ready to completely take the plunge and get certified, there are alternatives.  Snooba is sort of a new way to see the ocean without needing classes or your own equipment.  It’s basically an oxygen tank that floats on the surface with a long air hose that reaches down to you.  Typically you’ll get 30-45 minutes of underwater time depending on the tank.

If you’re not ready for that and want to just stay on the surface, try snorkeling.  Most of what you can see is within about 50 feet of the surface anyway, so you can get great views from above.

Either way you do it, make sure you get out and enjoy the ocean – if it ever warms up that is!

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