Back when I was a young diver (younger) I knew I wanted to go dive with big things. I’d done my dive qualifications in the Caribbean and the Red Sea, and loved it, but I really wanted my next holiday to be one that would blow the last one (not literally of course) out of the water.
I’d done the bucket list #1. The one thing I’d always wanted to do – see the Pyramids. How could I top something I’d wanted to do since I was a girl in the back streets of Sunderland? Well, the obvious thing was to add the next big bucket list thing to my list. If I had a week to live, what would I want to do before I met my maker?
Dive with Whale Sharks. Simple. Nothing even came close to getting on the list.
But as a single lass, looking at all the holidays to far flung hot places with whale sharks and magical experiences, with their single supplements and their double rooms, it seemed all a bit depressing. I mean, I don’t need a double bed (well, not unless it turns into a really good holiday) so I’m not bothered about paying for one. And I don’t mind sharing a room if it means I can save a bit of cash to spend on booze instead, and have someone to have a bit of a giggle with too. And I don’t care if its not 5 star; I’m there to dive with sharks, not stay in a fancy room. Plus, just because I’m travelling alone, doesn’t mean I want to sit and drink alone. In fact…I want the opposite.
So when I went on my first liveaboard, I found that a girl can have all of this, and more. Liveaboards are cracking places for single people to spend a week, meet like minded people (mostly divers, to be fair, but if you’re expecting anything else, you haven’t really understood this post…), but also have some space to yourself when you want it.
On my first liveaboard in Djibouti (look it up, it’s awesome) I was buddied up in a room with Belinda an American who’d done the Sardine Run (lucky sod, it’s on my bucket list now), and dived with her and Steve, a BSAC instructor from Belfast. In fact, I credit Steve, the coolest diver I’ve ever dived with, for teaching me how to dive properly, and calmly, and confidently.
The rest of the boat were a few nice couples, but mostly a group of 30-40ish blokes from East London who were just there to drink, dive and (as I discovered on the last night in town) visit the brothels.
What a brilliant laugh they all were. I still can’t listen to “Ring of Fire” by Johnny Cash without thinking of cockneys dressed up in Arabic dress, or forget the night we all dived into the water after a few too many vodkas with snorkels and fins to swim with the whaleshark that was circling the boat.
Liveaboards are small confined areas, in the middle of a vast unconfined areas of blue stuff, so the likelihood of you having no one to talk to is very slim – mainly because there’s 18 of you, if you pardon the terrible pun, all in the same boat. And you all have at least one thing in common. Probably two, you like to drink. And the likelihood is you’re sharing a room with one of them. It usually means, I find, that you’re never without someone to talk to about something you both have a passion in.
On a liveaboard you generally; get up, dive, have breakfast, dive, have lunch, dive, relax, dive, have dinner, relax, drink. Sometime you dive less, but I’ve been on weeks when I’ve done four dives a day (and yes, I got sick of diving). But you can choose when to dive. You can choose to stay indoors, or go up top and frazzle yourself. You can (as I sometimes do) go sit up the front and dangle your feet off the pointy bit.
Now, I’ve been on many liveaboards now, and some with couples, some with single friends, some with solo travellers, and all of them have without a doubt been an utter laugh. My first one, in Djibouti, totally sold me. I met some cracking people on that boat. I met some great people in the Maldives last year whom I’m still in touch with (one I actually work with – small world). I have people on Facebook I dived with in Egypt last year.
I can’t imagine having that same dive-camaraderie on land, mainly because there are other divers there, or people will “go off and do their own thing”. On a liveaboard you can’t. Well, you can go read, or sleep, or watch a DVD, and if you want privacy you can go find it, but you’ll never be short of interesting people, and (more usually) interesting dive stories too. Mainly from the dive guides, about the crap divers they’ve had to guide before you. I do wonder if they tell the next lot of divers about me….
So I have a week off in July (maybe, it’s in the calendar, but I don’t have to take it). I’m keeping an eye on the special offers over at Scuba Travel to see whether they’ll come down. Because if they’re looking for a single female traveller to fill their last bunk, then I’m definitely game. I can up sticks and go last minute. And I know I’ll have no problems fitting in, and I’ll meet some absolutely cracking people, and have some lovely dives.
What more could a single lass want from a dive holiday? Ok, apart from whalesharks….