As they lowered the bulky white helmet onto my head my body sank like a lead weight beneath the waves. It felt like a tomb closing in around me… I fought for breath. And it came. And it came easily.
Highly recommended: Check out these other discounted tours and attractions in Bali...
During our visit to the Grand Mirage Resort we spotted numerous activities around the hotel from early morning yoga to fruit carving. But when the opportunity for a “seawalk” came up, well you can guess from all our other adventure-loving blog posts that Josh and I were unanimously excited.
After breakfast that morning the kids were begging for the kids club so we dropped them off and made our way to the meeting point for the Bali Seawalker. We signed an insurance waiver, which was slightly disconcerting as we imagined possible disaster scenarios, but we had sufficient trust that a reputable resort like Grand Mirage knew what they were doing (plus we are both excellent swimmers even if something went wrong).
It was a quick walk to the beach and the awaiting speedboat. Whizzing across the calm blue ocean gave me time to ponder. Yes, calm blue ocean, calm blue ocean. I kept telling myself that as we raced towards what could be my imminent death or a glorious holiday highlight.
There were a myriad of boats anchored in the middle of the ocean. Nusa Dua is famed for it’s snorkelling and water sports so there was no lack of tour operators on hand. Our speedboat pulled up to a pontoon-style vehicle and several shirtless, friendly Balinese men with wide smiles welcomed us aboard.
As part of the service we were each given a pair of rubber shoes to protect our feet and while the bright pink crocs were not a favourite of mine, least they fit. Josh, with his size 15 feet had a harder time fitting in anything they provided. He worked out the size 12 would stay on his feet if he scrunched his toes.
Finally it was time to go in.
Whir put put put. Whir put put put. Whirrrrrr…
After a few attempts, the engine running the air pump sprang to life and Josh, very graciously offered to go first. He was my heroic crash test dummy. He slowly and calmly climbed down the ladder into the cool, clear water and an astronaut styled helmet was placed on his head. He then proceeded to sink, rung by rung, to the very bottom of the ocean. All was quiet.
Then it was my turn.
I took a deep breath.
I started to descend the ladder and, when only my neck and head poked above the water, the very heavy helmet was placed over my head and onto my shoulders. The substantial weight was enough of a push to glide down the steps, almost in slow motion, the rest of the way.
I moved slowly as the pressure in my ears built up the lower I went. Once I felt I had sufficient equilibrium I floated all the way down to the floor. Blinking to adjust my eyes to the ambient slivers of light wafting down from the surface above, I carefully surveyed the underwater landscape.
Our first walk along the ocean floor involved Josh and I holding a bar consisting of 6 connected rings, and our 2 guides directed us slowly around the coral. Finally we were able to release the bar and bounce around on the spot while schools of colourful fish chased circles around us.
Unfortunately the area, which is obviously a tourist freeway, did not hold as much colourful corals as what we witnessed in in Hawaii or Thailand, but there were plenty of tropical fish.
The guides handed us plastic water bottles filled with fish food that could be squirted out in bursts to attract the fish. It important to note you cannot bring bread or your own food with you. The fish food only costs a couple dollars extra, but well worth it.
It was quite extraordinary being under the water, walking around and breathing normally. The helmet works in the same way as if you submerge an upside down glass into water. The air stays trapped inside and then through a tube in the top it is constantly topped off via the air pump on the surface.
I tried a few small jumps, which I imagined would be exactly like walking on the moon, however my ears didn’t agree with the changes in pressure. But Josh didn’t mind and proved that white men really can jump, at least underwater!
My ears were never quite the same after all the moon jumping frivolity so when Josh asked, using hand gestures, if I wanted to return to the boat I was more than happy to say yes. I cautiously climbed the ladder and as soon as I broke the surface strong steady hands lifted my helmet and helped me on board.
I turned to watch Josh climb out and we smiled at each other. Wow.
It was a surreal journey back to the mainland and as the wind whipped through my hair I grinned lazily at the water passing by.
Imminent death? I don’t think so. A Bali adventure holiday highlight?
Things to Know:
No diving skills required.
Bali Seawalker is an internationally certified water sport. The equipment is maintained in Japan.
The whole experience lasts about 1 to 1.5 hours.
You will descend around 3 to 5 metres below the surface to the sandy ocean floor.
Prices are US$75 per adults, US$65 per child (8 -12 years), under 8 are not allowed. My kids were so disappointed. You can get cheaper prices on the Internet and by booking early. Price includes equipment, insurance, transfer and those stylish rubber water shoes.
Bring some money if you want to purchase extras like – underwater photos/video, fish food, etc. And if you’ve got a waterproof camera or GoPro, bring that along too.
Oh, and don’t forget your sense of adventure!
Bali tip: Need to get from the airport to Nusa Dua... pre-book your transport online.