From above to below the waves
Angie first arrived on our doorstep over a year ago to complete her PADI Open Water Diver course. As a surf instructor near Perth, Australia, we knew she wouldn’t have any problems in the water. What surprised us was how addicted to diving she became. It didn’t take long to realise she had her sights set on going the whole way to PADI Divemaster.
So Angie, I guess it’s safe to say you’re fairly comfortable in the water…
I guess so. I’m an Australian and I was born in the water. Literally. Dad had built a house and outside in the garden he installed a hot tub. And Mum gave birth to me in that. I guess it means I’ve always had a natural affinity to water. My Mum says that I learnt to swim before I learnt to walk though I don’t remember, obviously. I know I had swimming lessons at age 4 but everyone did. And to be honest, it’s not such an uncommon thing in Australia. The ocean is such a big part of our culture. We all live close to the sea and we all spend lots of time on the beach. It’s only natural that we should be comfortable in the water.
When did you learn to surf?
I was taught to surf by my Dad who bought me my first board at the age of 10. He used to write notes to my teachers at school so that I could get time off to go surfing with him! I soon became addicted to surfing and spent all of my free time on the beach.
How did you end up as a surf instructor?
When I finished school, I wanted to work with kids and the most obvious activity was to get involved with teaching them how to swim. After six months, I travelled to USA where I worked in a summer camp with kids. I was an Outdoor Education leader and I took them hiking, canoeing and bike riding. Afterwards I spent some time travelling through the States and then I hung out in the UK for a few months. When I came home I studied to become an Outdoor Education teacher and it’s a job that combines well with working as a surf coach.
What made you take the plunge and become a diver?
I became interested in scuba diving because I was intrigued by the life that exists beneath the waves. As a surfer, I obviously tried to spend most of my time on the surface.
Also, I wanted a hobby that wasn’t my job. In the past, all my hobbies have ended up becoming work.
Why aren’t there more surfers that are divers?
In Australia, diving can be an expensive sport. Added to this, surfers can be kinda lazy. They are so used to just grabbing a board and heading to the beach, that the thought of having to rent lots of gear and spend time planning dives doesn’t interest them. I think there is also a common misconception that the training takes ages.
Why did you come to Gili Trawangan?
Like many Australians interested in surfing, I’d been to Bali many times before. I came to Gili Trawangan after a recommendation from a friend who had said the diving was really good here. I arrived and instantly began the hunt for a dive shop to do my PADI Open Water Diver course. I chose Trawangan Dive because everyone was nice and friendly. They weren’t at all snobby.
How did the Open Water course go?
We went to Meno Wall on our first open water dive and I remember being fascinated by all the fish and the coral. I was so mesmerized that I completely forgot to pay any attention to my Instructor, Adam. We had a gentle telling off during the debriefing!
What made you decide to return and complete your PADI Divemaster?
It’s a relatively cheap way to get lots of diving experience. When you do your PADI Divemaster course on Gili Trawangan, you get free fun diving. So by the end of the course, I’d managed to rack up more than 90 dives.
What was your favourite part of the PADI Divemaster course?
I really liked assisting on courses and seeing people’s reactions after the thrill of their first open water dive.
How did your snorkel test go?
It was hilarious! I was dressed up as a Care Bear because it was 80s night at the Irish Bar. The IDC finished on the same day so it was a massive party. After many years of training in University, I managed to skull the jug with no hiccups. I don’t really remember much of what happened later in the evening!
What do you think about Gili Trawangan?
It’s like being in Alice in Wonderland. It’s a beautifully weird place that sucks you in. The people are so lovely and the climate is perfect. Life is super easy here. Food and accommodation is cheap and the locals are really welcoming. Ramadan can be noisy with the mosque going non-stop all day. But you just accept it for what it is.
What’s the plan for the future?
I’m going to stick around for the rest of the high season and help out around the dive shop. I’ll be heading home for summer in Margaret River and I’ll no doubt carry on with surf coaching. I’ve no plans at the moment to complete my PADI Instructor Development Course (IDC) but I’m not ruling out in the future. I just want to get a bit more experience first.