Two years since getting my PADI in the Philippines, I decided to travel to Rhodes in Greece to practice my diving and get my Advanced license at the same time.
I wanted to go quickly as I could feel my confidence sapping away with time since my last dive, and I knew I couldn’t afford to travel as far as the southern hemisphere (I live in the UK). Greece seemed like one of the closest places I could go that offered great diving.
I looked at several different dive centres, each situated on a different Greek island, and emailed asking for details. In the end, I settled on Rhodes because I liked the look of the Waterhoppers diving school. It seemed professional and had good reviews.
I booked my flights and accommodation all in one go, opting for a hostel just 10 minutes’ walk from the harbour where the dive boat leaves from each day. It turned out to be a great choice; the Stay hostel was a lovely, homely and clean place that had a nice atmosphere, even during quiet season.
I was a bit nervous since it had been two years since my last dive, and I’d forgotten a lot. It was part of what motivated me to do another certification as I hoped I’d also get a recap of what may have slipped from my memory. I needn’t have worried, my Waterhoppers instructor was more than happy to take me through the basics again, and go at my pace.
I’d only dived, and probably even snorkelled, in warm water before, so the May Mediterranean was a bit of a shock. But it was wonderful to dive again. I was all over the place at first but soon gained better control of my breathing, hovering in the water as if in space.
For my Advanced qualification I needed to complete five dives, as well as theory. Each dive improved my buoyancy, and my final and favourite dive incorporated fish identification; a real treat for a wildlife nerd such as myself.
Needless to say, diving in the Mediterranean is quite different to diving in tropical waters. There is less diversity of sea life, but there’s still plenty to see if you look carefully. I spotted a couple of large octopuses cowering in crevices, and lots of lion fish (apparently, they’re an invasive species, but very beautiful!) It was better for my personal growth as a diver to experience a totally different environment.
I completed the qualification feeling much more confident, and with my passion for diving renewed.
When I wasn’t diving, I was exploring the beautiful island of Rhodes – or Rodos as the locals call it – which was a joy in itself. The sun was shining, the water was impossibly clear and turquoise, and the terrain rugged and hilly. I love Greece – it’s got everything: food, history, and a beautiful landscape.
Rhodes Old Town was a good base as I could walk around and explore the walled, medieval town. It’s a popular tourist destination, so there are loads of restaurants and bars, and most people speak English.
One day when I wasn’t diving, I went on a day trip to Lindos. It’s comparable to a less busy Santorini, with white buildings clinging to hillsides surrounding a glistening cove with sandy beach.
Ever the foodie, I treated myself to seafood pastas, sorbet, and Greek classics like tzatziki, vine leaves, flatbread, feta, olives and grilled vegetables. The healthy fresh air, sunshine and hours of swimming in the sea left me feeling relaxed and healthy.
Whether you’re planning to dive or not (though you should dive, or at least snorkel), I’d recommend giving Rhodes a go!