1. Take lots of photos. You can’t just say “I’ve been there!” With social networking and blog sites you have to provide the proof of your Duka experience. Since my digital camera does not work underwater, I stashed 800 pesos from my mother’s wallet to buy very urgently a disposable underwater camera from their souvenir shop.
2. Ignore the Rides and Water Fun for the Meantime. Duka is a haven for water sports enthusiasts. There were kayaks, a wooden banca, aquabike, snorkels, surf board and a glass bottom boat. Not to mention were two islands, waiting for conquest, Mantigue and Sipaka Islands. I snubbed all these things that would have tempted me in the past, all for the precious realization of my dream
3. Eat Light and Eat More Later. There were picnic huts in the area. There was also an area built especially for grilling and preparing food. That was where we grilled fish and pork for our big lunch, never mind the “eat light” rule. After lunch, we rested and prepared for our greatest Duka scuba diving adventure!
4. Be Very Patient. I’m not a very patient individual and I’m obsessed with cleanliness. Naturally I would eww at the thought of wearing somebody else’s clothes and especially a wet suit that clings to the skin like a second skin. Not to mention, that I will be breathing on the same breather used by hundreds of mouths who came before me. But did I ever bother with that? No, of course I did not!
5. Listen Very Attentively to the Diving Instructor. I listened very attentively to the diving instructor. Mr Diving instructor was Visayan and since we have two Tagalog speaking guests, he attempted to explain the orientation in his awkward Tagalog until he decided he is better off speaking English. Laughing at his mishap, we continued the orientation in straight English!
6. Contain Excitement. There’s nothing wrong with excitement but it can get in the way of a first timer’s focus. Remember there is the oxygen tank on your back, plus the breather or whatever you call it stuck on your mouth and that needs to be adjusted from time to time, flippers that require maneuvering, and you have to swim at least be able to swim. I was very excited but I contained it, never speaking a word, but smiling from ear to ear, which is in itself, already a dead give-away. And you cannot smile like that under water or you choke and drown. We took the glass-bottom motorized boat off Duka Bay to the diving destination. The view from below was awesome! And my heart was dancing for what could be more underwater.
7. Follow Underwater Rules. I followed the rules and tumbled down headfirst into the underwater, 40 feet below. My guide was also my photographer. He knows when to click the camera because he knows by experience the nagging excitement of a first time scuba diver and the best parts of the reef. Superb superb superb!
This time no more rules as I was touching with my hands all life forms that I never ever seen in my lifetime while my guide was gesturing me “No!”. “There are sea creatures that stings and bites,” but I forgot the caution in my excitement. I can only grunt my ohhs and wows and make the ok sign with my free hands. I fed schools of colorful fishes who not only ate the food but picked on my fingers out of their fishy excitement. They come in such a huge drove that they spoiled a very important picture taking. I did not see the shark, which I expected to brush fins with, but it was better that way otherwise I would have drowned in fright.
8. Respect Others. My companion who was not a swimmer threw up after the dive. I was worried at the mess but it will be eaten by the fishes anyway. I cannot help her but only console here. I didn’t want her to be embarrassed. I had the greatest time of my life underwater and I will do it again.
9. Stroll the Area. After the dive, and my spirit still up I combed the beach, walked the area up to their nice villas, open area restaurant and scuba diving shops and watched the perfectly calm sea, the view of Camiguin Island from afar, and adjusted my vision for the sea turtle beaching on the soft sands which all my companions saw but not me… But its okay, I have dived and I have the pictures!
Duka Bay is located in a sleepy town of Medina Misamis Oriental, about 2 to 3-hour drive from Cagayan de Oro City. For more information of Duka Bay Resort visit their website at http://dukabay.com.