Arizona Dive Subic Blog

New: PADI Self-Reliant Diver Specialty Course

PADI Self Reliant Diver Specialty CourseAre you an UW Photographer or Videographer? A marine biologist? Are you (planning to become) a Divemaster? Or do you just want to become more self-sufficient while diving with a buddy, or in case you end up separated during a dive?
Arizona Dive Shop is proud to announce, that we are now offering the PADI Self-Reliant Specialty Course for more experienced divers which not only want to sharpen their skills and become more self-sufficient but also become a much stronger and more reliable team mate!
The course consists of three open water dives with redundant gas source (pony cylinder, twin cylinders with isolation valve or sidemount configuration), redundant dive computers and more!

Japanese Patrol Boat Wreck Video Upload…

Here’s a video we just completed which has some pretty decent views of the Japanese Patrol boat wreck here in Subic, hope you enjoy!  If you want to schedule a fun dive, do contact us!

Added An Instagram Feed…

Today we added an Instagram feed and there is a link to it on our main menu.  This should give those who have never visited us a feel for our operation and what we have to offer in terms of scuba diving in the Philippines. Hope you enjoy!

Beautiful Underwater Sea Life

One of the main reasons who so many people want to dive underwater is that below the surface, the sea life can be a breathtaking sight. All the marine animals and plants seem exotic and wonderfully strange, and they can give you a truly memorable experience. It’s for this reason that so many people try to bring video and photographic equipment underwater. Sometimes you just want a souvenir, and of course the pictures are great when you want to brag about your underwater adventures.

So what can you hope to see underwater? While caverns and shipwrecks can be fascinating, the true superstars underwater are the beautiful sea life that never fails to mesmerize divers of all levels.

Here are some examples:

  • Fish. There are so many types of fish in the water you simply cannot list them all. And in fact, you don’t even have to know their names. All you need to know is that many of them are extremely colorful, and when you encounter a school of fish you’ll feel as if you’re right in the middle of an explosion of colors.
  • Sharks. These are, of course, a kind of fish. But sharks deserve their own category. After all, there aren’t really all that many creatures in the ocean that could eat you (we’re not saying that they will!). Besides, their size and terrifying look will be great for those looking for some excitement and thrill. Most sharks however are very passive and docile, like the nurse shark.
  • Dolphins. By now you should know that dolphins aren’t fish at all. They’re mammals, and they can be very friendly and playful. Some are even known to protect people from danger. Like other water mammals such as seals and whales, dolphins are also quite intelligent.
  • Turtles. These animals don’t have legs. Instead they have fins for arms.
  • Eels. Some tend to hide in crevices.
  • Freshwater plants. For the most part, these plants aren’t dangerous at all.
  • Sponges. These aren’t plants at all. Sponges are animals without organs, and they may form balls or look flat. In shallow water they’re green but in deep water their natural color is light brown or gray.

Most sponges are not dangerous, but one exception is the Fire Sponge. It has a nice red color, but just make sure you stay away from it because it can sting like hell.

  • Sea fans. They’re also called sea whips or gorgonians. They grow several feet across and high, but they’re only a few inches thick. A lot of them have bright and pretty yellow, red, or purple colors.
  • Clams. Most people have never seen clams move, but they can especially if they don’t like the surroundings.
  • Octopi. The large ones can be especially awesome, and they can also be very smart. But the small blue-ringed octopus is extremely venomous, and there’s no anti-venom for the bite so be very careful!
  • Jellyfish. Some are small but a few are quite huge. If you see a jelly fish, you really should keep your distance and appreciate them from afar.
  • Portuguese Man-o-War. They can look quite majestic, especially with their long tentacles.
  • Squids. The Humboldt squid is a sight to behold, but they can be dangerous too.

Always make sure you do your research before you dive, so that you will know what type of sea life you’re likely to encounter in a particular area.

You Are Never Too Old to Learn to Dive

Nowadays, children as young as 10 are already learning to dive. But can you ever be too old for this exciting underwater activity? That’s a question that’s being debated in some circles.

Why Do Some People Think That Seniors Shouldn’t Dive?

Until recently, medical experts believed that seniors are not fit for diving. After all, by definition seniors are old, and old age comes with a myriad of health conditions that weaken the body and the mind. Some experts believed that because the lungs of an old person no longer work as well as that of a younger person, seniors can have difficulty when diving underwater. It was thought that their lungs may not react well to water pressure changes and to the air from a scuba tank.

More recent findings, however, have revealed that senior divers were not much different from younger divers. Their lungs responded to the changes in water pressure about the same way. Older divers were also able to keep a good balance of oxygen and carbon dioxide.

Admittedly, some health conditions may make it more sensible for old people not to engage in diving. For example, if you have a heart problem, then diving may not be ideal for you. That’s also true if you suffer from paralysis issues, blood pressure problems, or if you’re still recovering from a recent surgery.

Diving for Older Folks

If you’re a senior and you want to learn how to dive, you’ll need to answer a medical questionnaire before you’re allowed to do so. For those who are 45 years old and above, the questions may cover lifestyle habits, any history of heart attack in the family, and your cholesterol levels. The form lists down several crucial pre-existing medical conditions. If you have any of them, you’ll need to get your doctor’s written consent before you can proceed.

But once you get that permission, you’re considered fit regardless of your age. You’ll just need to complete the swim tests that are required so that you establish your physical fitness. When you do, it won’t matter if you’re nearing 100.

Just in case you don’t know, Jacque Cousteau had problems walking or even staying upright while on land. But in the water, he was fit enough that he was able to dive well into his eighties. Today, that’s no longer rare, as 50+ year old divers are becoming much more common than before.

Conclusion

All in all, if you’re in good health then you’re not too old to learn to dive. In fact, for many people who are now well past retirement age, diving may be the perfect hobby. It’s not too expensive, and it’s an exciting way to keep the body healthy and the mind sharp. Your age may even be an advantage, as you’re probably wiser and more mature in handling problems and emergencies underwater than younger people.

Diving is for everyone, so don’t let old age alone dictate what you can and cannot do.

A Breakdown of Common Dive Gear

The main difference between an enjoyable diving experience and a miserable one is having dive gear that’s perfect for you. Here are some of the common dive gear you need to think about if you’re into scuba diving:

  • Mask. If you can only buy one piece of diving gear, this is it. A dive mask is what you need to see clearly underwater. Sightseeing, after all, is the main point of diving. It needs to fit you well, and it should have the features you need or want. For example, if you wear glasses then make sure your mask can fit prescription lenses.
  • Snorkel. This thing lets you breathe while you take a peek under water, until you’re ready to dive. You’ll want to buy your own, for hygienic purposes.
  • Fins. The fins for your  feet will help you move about in the water much more efficiently. Open heel adjustable fins are great for colder water, while tropical divers tend to go for full-foot fins that slip on like shoes.
  • Dive computer. Beginners tend to forget just about everything they know when they dive for the first few times. That increases the chance of decompression sickness. But a dive computer calculates and provides the real-time dive info for you, so that you don’t have to bother with using the dive tables, a dive watch, and the depth gauge yourself.
  • Suits. Wetsuits and dry suits are called exposure protection gear. That’s because they protect you not just from the cold of the water or the wind, but also from being cut or stung while you dive. With wetsuits, you get wet while you dive, but with dry suits you create a seal at your wrists and neck so you’re dry inside. That’s great in very cool surface temperature and also if the wind is strong.

You’ll want to buy your own suits, because in all likelihood other people have peed in rental suits.

  • BCD. The buoyancy control device gives you the control you need under water. With the BCD, you can stand on the bottom of the sea floor or float easily to the surface. This is what helps you float underwater as you take in the beautiful sights.

These things are bulky, though, so you may want to think about just renting it instead of bringing one on your travels.

  • Regulators. The scuba regulator gives you the air you need from the tank so you can breathe while diving.
  • Weights. These are usually included when you pay for diving privileges. With the weights, you can go and stay all marine life underwater.
  • Tanks. These are also included with your diving package. If you plan on scuba diving on your own, you’ll need to rent one or buy one.
  • Other accessories. You may want to bring underwater lights, video or photographic equipment, whistles that will enable you to get found sooner when you surface, and dive knives for all kinds of emergencies.

Wherever you go diving, it’s highly likely that you’ll be able to find everything you need at a dive shop. The pros there can even tell you what you need. But it’s always a good idea to know what you need, and sometimes it’s better if you own some diving gear instead of just renting them.

What It’s Like to Dive for the First Time

Have you ever wondered what it feels like to be in a completely different world? It must be a surreal experience; to move and breathe differently, and to see things that you never thought existed.

But you don’t have to be an astronaut to have such an experience. You can simply try deep sea diving. For each diver, the first time is always unforgettable. It’s a revelation, a discovery of a completely new world unlike anything they’ve ever seen before.

So what is it like to dive for the first time? The experience will be different for each person, but for most people their first diving experience will have some common factors:

  • You’ll learn how to breathe differently. Breathing through a scuba regulator is not like breathing normally on land. You’ll need to learn how to exhale fully after each breath you take, or else you’ll hyperventilate.
  • Movement is not as free. You’re probably old enough to know that it’s much more difficult to move through water than to move through air or even through water near the surface. But being able to actually do it for the first time will still take you by surprise. When you dive for the first time, you’ll need to learn how to make controlled yet relaxed movements. If you don’t, you’ll tire yourself out in no time.
  • You don’t feel your weight. It’s almost like flying. It will feel as if you’re able to break-free from everything – gravity and even your everyday concerns. Under water, you can forget all your worldly problems.
  • You won’t remember most of your classroom lessons. Diving for the first time will emphasize the clear difference between theoretical knowledge and practical experience. It’s very common to forget the skills you learned when you were taught the various aspects of diving in a classroom or in a swimming pool. You may have to go to your instructor to remind you of what to do, but this is normal.
  • The deep is not silent at all. Maybe later you’ll be able to tune out the sounds you make while you breathe underwater, but on your first dive you’ll notice that it’s surprisingly noisy down there.
  • It’s a different world. What you’ll see underwater is simply different than what you see on land. You’ll realize that sunken ships don’t actually look like junk. They have this eerie vibe that pulls you in and makes you imagine what it was like they were still operational. In addition, the underwater caves hold various wonders too. Plants come in explosions of beautiful colors, and the sea animals come in all shapes and sizes. Even your vision is different, as you have no peripheral vision underwater and objects appear closer than they really are.

There are some “firsts” that people simply cannot forget, like the first time you ate an exotic dish, the first time you saw a groundbreaking film, or the first time you read a book that totally changed your perspective. Add all those feelings, and you can begin to describe what it’s like to dive for the very first time.

Learn to Dive in Subic Bay

There are many attractions in Subic Bay, and foremost among them are the numerous dive sites in the area. If you’re a novice, you don’t have to worry because some of the dive sites are rather shallow and they can be great for novices because there are no currents or visibility problems whatsoever.

But if you have never tried diving before, then that’s not a problem either. There are certified diving instructors here. Even if you are already a certified diver for open water, you can still get a few more certifications.

PADI Courses for New Divers

PADI stands for Professional Association of Diving Instructors. Their courses for new divers are excellent ways of introducing you to the world of diving.

  • Discover SCUBA Diving (Pool). This is the introductory course, and it helps you familiarize yourself with the equipment and with the feeling of being underwater. All the basics are covered here.
  • Discover Scuba (Wreck or Reef). A wreck or a reef is typically closer to shore and they’re not often that deep. Here you’ll learn how to dive for real, and you’ll have to learn how to navigate and move around properly. This is crucial for wrecks and reefs where you can explore compartments and caves.
  • PADI Open Water Dive Course. You can enroll in this course right away, as long as you’re at least 10 years old, in good physical health, and your swimming skills are sufficient. This course requires a few days to complete, but afterwards you get your certification. You’ll learn the basics, as well as diving in confined and open waters.

Advanced PADI Courses

If you already have an open water certification, there are still some advanced PADI courses you can take.

  • Scuba Review (SR). This is a refresher course for those who think that their diving skills need some brushing up. If it has been awhile since your last dive, you may want to take advantage of this course. Diving is not like riding a bicycle.
  • PADI Adventure Diver (AD). This is where you learn about different types of adventures underwater. Maybe you want to try suit diving, or perhaps you want to master how to identify fish. Or maybe you want to take lots of high-quality photos under the sea. Complete three dives and you can get your AD certification.
  • PADI Advanced Open Water (AOW). Here you expand your knowledge and try out different specialties. You need to master deep diving and underwater navigation, along with other types of dives.

PADI Wreck/Deep/Rescue Diver Courses

Once you get your certification for AOW, you’re ready for the next level. You can now become adept at diving wrecks, diving deep, or become a certified rescue diver.

Specialty Courses

These courses offer a deeper knowledge about certain aspects of SCUBA diving.

  • PADI Nitrox (NX). Nitrox allows you to stay underwater longer.
  • PADI Divemaster. Completing this course allows you to become an instructor.

There may be some other specialty courses available, so make sure to check with your diving instructor.

Top Dive Spots in the Philippines

It’s fair to say that, with more than 7,100 islands, the Philippines has its fair share of diving sites. Choosing the best among them can be a contentious discussion, but we may as well give it a shot!

 

  1. Tubbataha Reef. The Tubbataha Reef is a UNESCO World Heritage site, as the area has an amazingly high density of marine species. The water is astonishingly clean, and that means the marine life lives longer—and they can grow a lot bigger. Diving here means exploring a new world of colors with almost 400 different types of fish and 300 types of coral.

The visibility can reach up to 45 meters, so bring your underwater cameras. The depths range from just 5 meters to 60 meters.

  1. Puerto Galera. There are quite a few choice dive spots in Puerto Galera. Among the more famous ones include The Canyons, and the fish here can look truly strange and wonderful. Even the plant life look marvelous, especially the sea fans and sponges. The depth can reach up to 30 meters down, and the visibility ranges from 10 to 30 meters. It can get somewhat cold, though.

Another favorite spot is Sabang Bay, where the shallow waters offer novices plenty of unforgettable sights. There’s plenty of marine life around, and further down you can inspect the wrecks as well.

  1. Subic Bay. This place has one of the largest numbers of war-wrecked ships which can be accessed by divers. Some of the ships were scuttled back in WWII, while others went down more than 100 years ago. As of last count, there were 19 wrecks here which divers can explore. Some will require a bit of skill but others are shallow and easy enough for even novice divers. Many of the sites offer good visibility, which makes the place a favorite among underwater photographers and videographers.
  2. Anilao, Batangas. Divers who live in Metro Manila invariably congregate here for good reason. Those who love nudibranch are in for a treat, and colorful crinoid abound. Photographers also have a great time here, especially at night. When the sun goes down, truly strange marine animals come out to party. The best known dive sites here include the Cathedral, with its coral and a fish feeding station.
  3. Balicasag Island, Bohol. The marine sanctuaries here offer divers a great experience. You don’t even have to stray far from the resort.
  4. Apo Island, Negros Oriental. When it’s not typhoon season, the diving here is truly topnotch. It’s considered as the best diving site by some in the entire Visayas region. The waters are startlingly clear, and this enables you to get more than just a glimpse of the more than 600 types of fish and 400 types of coral.
  5. Malapascua Island, Cebu. Dive in Monad Shoal for an experience of a lifetime. In the morning, you can wait until the weird-looking thresher sharks make their appearance. Later, you can be there when the manta rays take center stage.

Which diving spots are your favorites in the Philippines?

The Best Dive Spots in Subic Bay

Subic Bay is a diver’s paradise, especially for those who like to explore wreck sites. When you check out the wrecks, it’s like you’ve traveled back in time. Evidently, US Navy divers knew this, since they limited the diving in the area for just military personnel. It was only when the Americans left the base did diving in Subic become open to the public.

Here are some of the best dive spots here:

  • USS New York. This is arguably the most famous wreck for diving in Subic. Built in 1891, the ship was scuttled in 1941 in order to prevent the Japanese from getting their hands on it.

The USS New York rests at a depth of 30 meters. Aside from the damage due to salvage operations, it sits on its port side largely intact. Most importantly for divers, the huge propeller and the enormous turreted deck guns are in great condition. Swim along its 110-meter length, and it’s an experience you won’t forget.

This dive is suitable for experienced divers, especially for those who have an appreciation for history and delight in exploring engine compartments.

  • San Quentin. This is the “Sunken Tin” that was scuttled back during the war between Spain and the US. This dive site is well-known among those who like to take pictures and videos underwater because of the clear water here. Since it’s been underwater for more than a century, it’s now an artificial reef with lots of corals, fish and invertebrate creatures. Nudibranch are plentiful here too. There’s even a nice coral reef nearby.

One of the best features of this dive site is that it’s a very easy 16 m dive, and all this splendor can be seen by novice divers.

  • SS Oryoku Maru. This is known as the Hellship, and if you know its history during the Second World War it can be a rather sobering dive. It was used as a transport ship for allied prisoners of war by the Japanese. More than 300 prisoners died when it was bombed during a raid. The survivors endured horrific treatment from the Japanese afterwards.

This is not an easy dive, so it should be reserved only for experienced divers. This diving site has the worst visibility among all the dive sites in Subic. It lies 27 meters down, about 500 meters away the shore near Alava Pier.

  • USS Majaba. People just call it the El Capitan, and it’s also one of the more popular dive sites in Subic. Its maximum depth is only at 20 meters, and the starboard side lies just 4 meters beneath the surface.

This is also the perfect dive for novice divers. The shallow dive is easy enough, the visibility is good and there’s no current to worry you. You can dive along the 80-meter length of the ship, or enter inside the holds and the boiler room.

These are just a few of the 19 wrecks you can explore in Subic Bay.