by Tan Xing Qi
Diving is as alien a concept to me as base jumping. And I don’t see myself learning how to dive in the foreseeable future.
That said, a part of me remains curious about the mysterious underwater world. So when I was offered the chance to go underwater–no diving skills required–I reached for my swimming trunks immediately.
Called Sea Trek® Adventure, it’s one of four Ultimate Marine Encounters by Marine Life Park. Participants wear a helmet filled with air and trek 3m underwater in the Open Ocean habitat. A MLP dive master reassured me, saying: “It is just breathing and walking. It is that simple.”
To make it a stroll in the park, the amiable dive masters gave me and my fellow trekkers a tour of the Ocean Dome and a thorough 15-minute brief, focusing on the dos and don’ts and informing us of the different marine animals that we will see. After which, we were handed our equipment.
I followed the instructions of wearing the uber-tight wet suit while under the shower and, voila, I was suited up in no time. With my swim wear underneath and gloves and boots in place, I’m all ready to go.
While getting into the wet suit was relatively easy, getting into the water was quite the opposite. Sudden fear of marine animals crept in after a fellow trekker mentioned about Animal Planet’s River Monsters. It was my first time and I didn’t want it to be the last.
There was no turning back. Soon, one of the dive masters laid the 32kg helmet once I was shoulder-deep in the water. Despite the hefty weight, the helmet only weighs 6kg in water and I didn’t even feel a thing.
Rather, my feelings were upended by the cacophonous sound of oxygen filling up my helmet. I couldn’t hear anything except for the hissing but thankfully I was given a crash course of the hand signals used in this trek. I mimed an okay and descended trepidatiously down the short ladder and deeper into the surprisingly clean and lukewarm water.
Before I could turn into a bundle of nerves, I was astounded by the majestic sight that greeted me: schools of fishes swam around me and a leopard shark glided past me, acknowledging my presence like an old acquaintance.
Even the elusive manta ray dropped by, which according to our dive masters, is quite a rare sight for the programme.
Before long, I was walking around with a spring in my steps, eager to explore more of the underwater world. It was special, to say the least, to see the marine animals so closely.
We trekked in a straight line, following the one in front closely. The dive masters were always on the lookout in case anything cropped up. For once, I felt like Jacques Cousteau, the famous French underwater explorer.
Like hanging out with someone you love, time flew by. The 20 minutes felt like two minutes and I reluctantly made my way up.
I was tempted to wave goodbye to the manta ray but I didn’t want to run the risk of looking like a fool in front of my fellow trekkers. So I bade a silent goodbye and re-emerged with my heart still submerged and hair still dry.
Until I pick up diving, this is one underwater memory that I will always cherish. Check out this video to see what I experienced.
Things to bring:
Almost everyone is eligible for the Sea Trek® Adventure. Here are some guidelines.
- SCUBA-certification is not required.
- Limited to a maximum of 5 guests per session. Subject to availability.
- Must be at least 15 years old to participate.
- Guests under the age of 21 must have a parent/legal guardian complete and sign the health declaration and liability forms.
- Must not be due to fly within the next 24 hours.
Sea Trek® Adventure is available Monday to Friday at 1pm.
Price: S$88 (Adult) | S$78 (Senior)
Top-up rate*: S$52 (Adult) or S$50 (Senior)
*Adventure Cove Waterpark admission ticket is required.
[This post was updated on 4 July 2016. Please check RWS website for the latest pricing.]