Interview: Scuba Diving with Wendy Kluyt
FlyKLIA had the wonderful opportunity of interviewing Wendy Kluyt who hails from the Netherlands about scuba diving. She has been a diving instructor for two seasons in Malaysia, so about a year in total. She is now back in the Netherlands working in accounting, and she just started her new studies as well.
1. What is scuba diving? And how is it different from snorkelling?
Scuba is an acronym for Self Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus, which basically means that, with the necessary gear, you can breathe underwater. The difference between snorkeling and scuba is the depth which you can reach: snorkeling is only on the surface, while with recreational scuba diving you can reach up to 30 metres deep.
2. Scuba diving sounds really interesting, but I can’t swim; can I still go scuba diving?
To get your scuba certificate you need to be able to swim at least 800 metres. This does not mean you can never go scuba diving if you can’t swim. The programme Discover Scuba Diving (Try Dive) does not have the requirement to swim. With this programme, you try diving under close supervision of an instructor. They teach you a few basic skills, and you go for a dive with a maximum depth of 12 metres. Afterwards, you do not get a certificate, but you do have a nice experience you can tell your friends about.
3. Do you need any certifications before going scuba diving? Can I go scuba diving without a license?
It is possible to go scuba diving without a certificate, it’s called a Discovery Scuba Dive. It’s a nice way to see if you actually like scuba diving. If after this Discovery Dive you like it and you want to go diving more often, it is good to get a diving certificate/license. This is to make sure you are more comfortable in the water and therefore enjoy your time underwater more. You start off with an Open Water Diver (OWD) certificate: with this certificate, you may go to a maximum depth of 18 metres. After the Open Water certificate, you can choose to get the Advanced Open Water Diver (AOWD) certificate; this allows you to dive up to a maximum depth of 30 metres.
4. Is there any school for scuba diving in Malaysia?
Yes, on the islands of the East Coast of Malaysia, you can find the most diving centres/schools where you can go for a Discovery Dive or get your scuba certificate. Islands like Perhentian, Redang or Tioman are most popular. For more experienced divers, you can go to one of the top diving sites in the world, Sipadan island.
5. How long does it take to train and get certified for scuba diving?
The first certificate (Open Water Diver certificate) takes about 3-5 days, depending on where you take your scuba classes. Most places do it in 3 days. The Open Water course consists of 3 parts. The first is the theoretical section. These are 5 videos that teach you all about scuba diving and the underwater world. The second part is the training sessions. This is training you do in a pool or sheltered shallow areas in the ocean. Here you learn all about your equipment and get comfortable with them. For the third part, you have four open water dives: the first two are up to a maximum depth of 12 metres, and the last two up to a maximum of 18 metres. If you want to go for your Advanced course afterwards, this takes around 2-3 days. It consists of five dives with a little bit of theory, but not as much as the Open Water certificate. If you don’t have the time to get your certificate but you do want to go diving, you can always go for a Discovery Scuba Dive, which usually takes between a half and a whole day.
6. What are the costs of scuba diving equipment like? Is it a hobby only for the rich or is it accessible to most people?
Scuba diving equipment can be pretty expensive, but the good thing about diving with a scuba dive centre/school is that in most areas, the rental price for equipment is included in the price for a fun dive (dives you do after you receive your certificate), and during your course, rental for equipment is always included. We usually advise people, when they want to go scuba diving more often, to buy a diving computer. Other equipment you can easily rent is included in the price for scuba diving.
7. How much time should I allocate for a scuba diving trip?
If you want to do a course, you should always check how long the course takes with the dive centre/school. Also it’s important that you do not fly on a plane in the first 18 hours after your last scuba dive. This is because flying in the first 18 hours after the last dive can cause decompression illness. So always take this into account when you plan your trip. When you go somewhere by car or bus, you don’t have to take this into account.
8. What are some of the best scuba diving spots in Malaysia?
The top number one spot in Malaysia is Sipadan. Due to conservation of the area, you need to have a certificate to be able to dive here, and preferably some experience because of the currents in the area. Along the island on the East Coast there are lots of nice diving spots as well. Perhentian island is one of the cheapest and easiest places to Discover and learn scuba diving. With low currents and great visibility, it’s a good place for beginners. There are also some nice sites for more experienced people.
9. What’s your most memorable scuba diving experience that you would like to share with FlyKLIA?
My most memorable was seeing my first whale shark. They are massive fish who can reach a length of 18 metres, but on average, the ones you can see while diving are usually around 10 metres. Being next to a whale shark makes you feel really small, and it’s really impressive. They are the gentle giants of the ocean, so they are completely harmless to us divers.
10. Where is your dream scuba diving spot and why?
There are lots of places I still want to go scuba diving in. In Southeast Asia, I would like to go to Tubbataha Reef National Marine Park in the Philippines and Raja Ampat Islands in Indonesia. These are some of the world’s top dive sites with an abundance of marine life.
11. Do you have any other tips or advice you would like to share with all our readers of FlyKLIA?
When you want to start but you’re not sure if you actually like it, do a Discovery Scuba Dive first to try it out. If you like it, this dive also counts towards your Open Water course. After you get your certificate, go places where the diving isn’t too difficult, with low currents and great visibility. When you are more comfortable, you can go to sites that are a bit more challenging and enjoy them too. Lots of people take their cameras with them underwater to film everything (I used to do this too). During the dive, tuck the camera away for a while and just look around you: you will see and enjoy your dive a lot more when you’re not staring at the little gopro screen.
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