Turning 30 is a milestone that often prompts reflection on life’s adventures and a desire to explore new horizons. I have been a traveller all my life, a land traveller. I was hopping from country to country, indulging in culture, food, hiking, surfing, and a little bit of snorkelling.

When I hit 30, I made a pact to embrace new opportunities and say yes to everything that came my way. What better way to embrace this new chapter than delving into the world beneath the ocean? Come along and explore the exhilarating journey of obtaining my PADI certification in New Zealand and the unforgettable experience of taking those first dives in the tropical waters of Fiji.

diver looking at the camera and giving the OK sign
diver taking selfie on front of boat

The Decision to Dive

As the big 3-0 approached, I yearned for a new challenge that would push me out of my comfort zone and connect me with the incredible mysteries hidden beneath the waves. Scuba diving stood out as the perfect opportunity to embark on a thrilling adventure and gain a new perspective on life. I have forever been obsessed with the ocean. Marine life fascinated me as a child, and I had big dreams of becoming a marine biologist and watching dolphins dance under the surface all day. My career path moved in a different direction, but my love for the ocean has always remained strong.

divers practising skills in a pool
diver being lead underwater

Learning to Dive in Wellington, New Zealand

Choosing the right diving school is crucial for a safe and enjoyable learning experience. The dive shop I worked with in Wellington offered the comprehensive PADI Open Water Diver course. My instructor was highly qualified and passionate about sharing their love for the underwater world. We bonded instantly on our first ride to the confined water session. I was put at ease instantly, and all my irrational diving fears quickly sank to the bottom as we buckled up and entered the water. I don’t think I will ever forget that first breath; it was natural – weirdly natural, and I was embracing every moment of learning from the best.

The PADI certification process was both educational and empowering. From mastering the basics of scuba equipment to understanding underwater navigation, each lesson brought me closer to becoming a certified diver. The personalized attention and hands-on training made me feel confident and prepared for the exciting challenges ahead.

Pool days were followed by two open water days. Wellington put on a show weather-wise, and the water was kind (albeit freezing cold) to us. My first taste of marine life was a little seahorse clinging to some kelp; my heart was instantly happy.

Diver standing in water and taking selfie
diver taking selfie with a fish over a reef

First Dives in Fiji

With my PADI certification card in hand, it was time to put my newfound skills to the test in one of the world’s most renowned diving destinations – Fiji. The crystal-clear waters, vibrant coral reefs, and diverse marine life awaited, promising an unforgettable experience. When I tell you it is possible to cry underwater, it is… happy tears streamed down my face and into my mask as we descended into the clearest waters.

The first dive off the shores of Taveuni in Fiji was nothing short of magical. The warm water, the colors beneath the surface, and the sensation of weightlessness created a sense of awe and somewhat of belonging. Swimming alongside schools of tropical fish and exploring intricate coral formations made me appreciate the beauty and fragility of our underwater ecosystems.

I will never forget the camaraderie among fellow divers and the shared excitement of exploring the unknown. Each dive became a story, and although we didn’t want to wish away our time under the sea, I was always excited for the break on the boat so we could chat and share stories and footage from the depths.

group of divers taking a selfie on a boat

Learning to scuba dive with PADI certification and experiencing the first dives in Fiji proved to be a transformative journey. As I reflect on my 30s, I carry with me the joy of discovery, the thrill of adventure, and a deep appreciation for the remarkable world beneath the waves.

If you’re considering taking the plunge into scuba diving, Wellington and the stunning waters of Fiji (and the rest of the world) provide the perfect setting for a life-changing experience, I promise!

Gear up, take that leap, and immerse yourself in the unparalleled joy of exploring the ocean depths. Your 30s have never looked so magically adventurous.

This article was written by Sophie Piearcey. Sophie Piearcey is a full-time​ adventure seeker, based in Queenstown NZ. Obsessed with everything outdoors on land and underwater. Sophie is a photographer and blogger based in New Zealand. She has a passion for travel and documenting what the great outdoors has to offer. You will find her out adventuring somewhere, summiting mountains or working hard to record all the experiences. Sophie originally from the UK found her passion for the mountains & travel when moving to New Zealand 10 years ago.

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