The Island of Zanzibar: Spanish Dancer Divers

We approached Spanish Dancer Divers on Nungwi beach as it was recommended by Goasis. They offered a practice dive which was an hour in 1-2 metres of water the day before the dive. As a new diver this was a great comfort, especially as I have asthma and had been told previously in Australia that I couldn’t dive. Since then, however, I had researched various companies, read travel blogs and sought medical advice. I had spoken with a friend of mine who is a dive instructor who was certain that my mild asthma wouldn’t be any kind of issue on a beginner dive. I decided I’d play it by ear. If my asthma had been bad in the days preceding the dive, I wouldn’t go.

dive4When the day came I went for it and couldn’t be more glad.

When we were getting equipped, we laughed that I was given a smaller tank than the others as I’m so short and were pleased that all four of us fitted in the same size wet suit! Vicky and I took our lesson together. We learnt three skills: how to clean your mask , how to purge your mouthpiece and how to locate your mouthpiece should you drop it. We performed all skills perfectly fine and were then allowed to go for a practice dive! It was amazing. The sight was clear, the sand was golden and I saw two pretty little zebra fish swim right past my eyes. At one point I was yanked up by my instructor as I was inches away from kneeling on a sea urchin which would have really hurt!

After a while, I realised I couldn’t see the instructor or Vicky. With slight panic, I looked up and considered making my own way to the surface. I looked up and saw them about a metre above me on the surface. When they returned I couldn’t figure out what the problem was. I offered my hand to her and she took it. I figured then that the was a problem with her Buoyancy Control Device. She couldn’t sink. I tried to pull her down but she kept floating upwards. At the end of the dive, she was very frustrated. She had dived before and had never had a problem. We joked that her big boobs were acting as a flotation device! She was told to ’empty her lungs’ which at the time, neither of us understood.

dive18Two days later, it was dive day. We took a slightly more sturdy boat than the one on dolphin diving day to a place called Mnemba. The instructors dressed us up in our scuba gear and then told us to dive backwards off the boat. This part sounded terrifying, so I did my best to ignore my instincts and follow the instructions of the experts. With one hand over my mask I toppled back into the sea and it was a lot less traumatic than I expected. I felt the water rush over me, but found myself upright in no time at all. When we were all in, we used the anchor to pull ourselves down to the bottom of the sea.

It felt so strange to be breathing under the sea, that my mask wasn’t filling up with water and that I couldn’t feel the heavy tank or tight wet suit at all. We followed the wall of coral at a depth of about 10 metres. The colours of the corals were quite dull; browns, reds and yellows, but this meant that the fish stood out even more. Bright yellow trumpet fish, orange and white two band clown fish and more stripy zebra fish. I even saw a spotted moray eel peering out from the bottom of a rock.

As a group of four, it was quite hard to get your own space and we frequently bumped into one another. On one occasion, I took a flipper to the mask. I had to stop and empty out all the water and although it didn’t hurt, it took my eyes a few minutes to cry out all the salt! After this I found myself floating up and the instructor had to pull me down a few times. I didn’t really notice as we were on our way up anyway. When we were up again, Vicky said that she figured that emptying your lungs means to breathe out and hold it empty for a second. We had a snack and a drink and after a short rest went back in for dive number two.

This time we were allowed to take our cameras in. Once we were down, I “emptied my lungs” and noticed the difference immediately. I snapped away on my underwater camera, not really paying attention to whether or not it was working and enjoyed every second. We couldn’t resist taking some selfies too, especially when Sarah had a problem with her mask and Nikki, Vicky and I were told to stay at the bottom… We took loads! Half way through this dive I began to feel quite tired and breathing became a little more challenging. I concentrated on taking slow breaths and soon got distracted by a school of fish swimming in a line, almost encircling us on their route. I could see that Nikki wanted a go with the camera, so we gingerly freed my wrist and tightly fastened it on to her. I’m really pleased that I did as she got great shots of me in the deep. This time we saw more of the same, as well as star fish, angel fish and a friendly greyish blue one that was more than happy to be tickled!

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We were well looked after by this company, and our instructors, Tanya and Roberto, were very good at answering our questions throughout. I would highly recommend this company and cannot wait to dive again sometime in the future…

We spent that afternoon lying on the beach taking in the incredible clear sands and sparkling seas of Zanzibar. The colours are so striking and unbelievably vibrant. That night I had the most delicious Carbonara at a beach side restaurant. The Cosmopolitan was great too and it was a perfect end to our time in Zanzibar.

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