My introduction to scuba diving was actually helmet diving. One day, I did helmet diving then snorkeling in the morning, and then went scuba diving in the afternoon.
From the photos I had seen and descriptions I had read, helmet diving looked completely uninteresting. You just stand around and look around? Boring.
That changed, however, starting with the safety briefing. I was told to pinch my nose to equalize my ears. How am I going to pinch my nose with a diving helmet on? What do you mean I’m going to put my hand INSIDE the helmet?!?!?
For the record. I understand the physics of how the seawater does not fill the helmet, even though the helmet is open at the bottom. It looks like a terrible idea. And when I saw my guide enter the water, it looked like an even worse idea.
But, I’ve done far more dangerous things before, so there I went. I was looking forward to the “moon landing” which applies to the final step. Once you are in the helmet and you take that “one small step” off the ladder, you feel like Neil Armstrong for a moment.
Everything after that was equally cool. It really is interesting to stand on the seafloor and be able to look around in every direction. And, you don’t just stand there. We walked around and jumped around and I click-click-clicked away with my waterproof camera.
The fish welcoming committee was unexpected. Apparently, people feed the fish, so they were expecting something from me. Before I knew that, I thought the fish were collectively wondering what I was doing there.
And, there were some surprises down there. There were two fake turtles, but it took me a while to get close enough to verify if they were fake or real. There was also a sunken Jet Ski, but I don’t know the story behind it.
Walking on the seafloor is surreal. Unlike scuba diving, you feel like a crustacean in an aquarium. I picked crustacean because their heads are up as they walk along the bottom. The aquarium effect must have something to do with the helmet, because a snorkeling mask does not produce this effect.
It is worth noting that there is a safety diver behind you at all times, and there is a safety rail to hold onto as you walk around. Safety first!
If you have not gone helmet diving, even if you have done snorkeling and/or scuba diving, I recommend it! It’s easy, fun, and relatively inexpensive.