A snorkelling mishap in the tropical deep end
A few weeks ago, Ben and I decided to swap the chilly Aussie winter for the sun-kissed beaches of Bali.
In-between exploring waterfalls and lazy afternoons sipping coconut water at beach clubs — we also decided to splurge on our shared hobby: an all-day snorkelling tour.
Growing up in Australia – where surf beaches were just an hour away – I’ve always considered myself a confident swimmer and a seasoned snorkeller. So I was especially excited to dive into Bali’s waters to swim with turtles, colourful fishes, and Manta Rays (the Stingray’s less toxic cousin).
But nothing prepared me for the sheer chaos at our very first stop.
After plunging into the cold ocean (sans life jacket, because I thought I was a pro) –
I was immediately thrown around and battered by the rough waves. Visibility under the water was practically non-existent, making it impossible to see where I was going. And every time I tried to put my head down and swim, a wave would send saltwater down my snorkel, forcing me to resurface and turn on my back like a helpless turtle, coughing and spluttering for air.
To add to the chaos, every other tour company had brought their snorkelling groups to the exact same spot to find the Manta Rays —
(which, btw, didn’t even show up)
So it was like being thrown into a washing machine with 50 other people, all of us thrashing around helplessly in the rough spin cycle.
In the frenzy, I lost sight of Ben and my tour guide — who’d jetted off in search for the elusive Manta Rays — so I had no one to lean on for help.
And because we were smack bang in the middle of the ocean — there was no shallow sand bed for me to stand up, catch my breath, and find our boat for refuge (because they all looked the same).
It was a literal sink or swim situation.
With my arms aching, heart pounding, and breaths coming hard and fast, I pushed through until thankfully, I spotted our boat and reunited with our group.
After clambering back on board, breathless and shaken, I turned to Ben and declared:
“Never again!” (along with a few choice words for emphasis)
I was ready to throw in the towel and retreat to the safety of our hotel’s paddle pool.
And most of the other travellers (the ones who weren’t spilling their guts over the side of the boat) nodded in agreement.
But the sea – and our tour guide – had other plans.
After a short break, the boat brought us to a more serene snorkelling spot – the kind where you could float on while the fish practically pose for selfies with you.
In those calmer waters, I could rest as the current gently pulled me along. I had time to appreciate the coral all around me and remember why I loved snorkelling so much. And I could even practice my duck dives underwater so I could get more up close and personal to the fish!