So I leave the beach house to head further down the coast to Uprising, a resort with free pick up for the Shark Dive.
The resort itself was pretty new although I didn't think it was anything that special, Carly and Becca were there when I arrived which was cool however they were heading out that day. So after chilling on the beach with them I headed back to the dorm to grab my stuff for a shower, showered obviously, then headed back to the dorm in my pants as I do ... I said hi to the women on the bunks below who had just arrived, two Hawain women in there late 40's I'd say, anyway they said hi and launched in to a full blown question session about where I had been, how much things have cost, etc, etc.... they didn't even give me a chance to open my bag and put some shorts on at least, so there I am just hanging out in my pants for about 30 mins having a chat, what other people coming in thought I don't know!!
Anyway, I left for dinner and had a choice of sitting with the crazy hawain women or on my own and made a bee line for a table outside, yeah I was on my own but after just arriving somewhere you sometimes have little choice and it seemed a little more family orientated so had little choice. So there I am having my dinner and some show starts, basically people from the local village doing local fire dances, etc, etc ... all very nice, sure! By this time the yanks came and sat with me which was cool, then the dancers said they would invite people from the crowd to join in....
Now, I couldn't have been any more low key than I was that night but ruddy typical a girl came straight over and dragged me on to dance to some Fijian number, really embarrassing however I decided to get in to it rather than look like even more of a numpty... and you know it's only one song right! ... wrong, just got top the end and another song was mixed in ... I was ready to leg it and the women said no, what was the song????
The ruddy Loccamotion ....... can you believe it?? ... I can honestly say due to the fact I pretty much knew no one there I was dying inside!!
Anyway, early night pretty much and next day had bugger all to do as no shark dives on a sunday so chilled out at beach, blah blah blah. However that evening I got chatting to a really nice girl who was relocating from Tonga to Ibiza, really cool girl from Birmingham. Anyway, after a few minutes she said I liked your dancing last night ... ahh I could have died although great ice breaker, she found the whole thing highly amusing which is always nice. Anyway I hung out with her all evening, really interesting girl who owned a dive company in Tonga with her soon to be ex husband, and ran stuff like whale watching and swimming with Humpbacks .. something I have added to my to do list!!
So that done I woke up the next day, the fateful day of my shark dive, now both Carly and Becca had done it, Zoe had done the dive also and no matter what they said to allay my fears it wasn't helping.
Yeah I had read the details on the website and the brochure, 'for safety there are divers with you with metal poles' ... ohhhh great, I can see 20 Bullsharks turning up and saying "easy boys they've got poles, back off" absolutely amazing!!
And, ok so there's a guy feeding the sharks, so 20 of the buggers down there and 19 get fed well but little Jonny for example keeps getting pushed out of the way by the big lads and then all the foods gone. Ummm no worries the divers are ascending to the boat, I'm still hungry, CHOMP!!!
These are the important questions or fears I had, but none the less I seem to feel that doing something that scares the living daylights out of me is a good idea ... conquer the fear and all that!!
So we get picked up by shark taxi's and taken to the office, please sign the waiver .. like I was gonna even begin to read that, just signed it without looking at the small print, I didn't feel it would be of any use at that point. Popped round the corner to get geared up, wetsuit, gloves etc ... yeah we have to wear gloves as any exposed skin could look like fish ....
Wow wow wow sunshine ... what about the old head, it's like a ruddy beacon underwater, a shark beacon at that!! Oh no worries son ... yeah right so that's why every instructor down there had full head gear is it !! absolutely amazing!!
So we all get on the boat, Shark boat 1 or something, and head down the river to the ocean outlet ... however just before we hit ocean we pulled over to wait for some American guy who was late. He jumped on and immediately I knew he would be irritating ... gut feeling and all that and I was bang on!!
Sitting on the boat on the way out and the clown (loud fat american guy) is talking rubbish then decides to get his wet suit on as we're already in ours. Anyway I see him struggling putting in his leg, in fact he was probably there a good 10 minutes before he asked for help ... because he was fat, nope, because the idiot was putting his leg in the arm part .. ha ha ha cracked me up if no one else.
10-15 minutes since we left the mainland and we're already slowing down (yep all the sharks are only 15 mins off the beaches, peace of mind to all those snorklers out there) and they throw a load of food off the back .... and you should have seen the spalshes at the top of the water from all the fish grabbing the food.
Again I'm luike easy boys, aren't you supposed to wait for us to reach the bottom before atracting sharks and alike ... yeah at this point i'm nervous obviously. So we have our briefing and her mentions the big boys turn up on 2nd dive, no worries.
We're all kitted up and ready to go and just looking over the side of the boat is truly amazing, so many fish around and so many different types aswell. I jumped in, looked under water and the visability was immense, litterally I could see 30 metres down to the ocean floor and more in other directions.... although between me and the ocean floor were a lot of fish and yeah I could see sharks down there already.
So we let all the air out of the BCD, we're carrying extra weight's aswell as you want to be on the ocean floor and not start floating around when the feeding frenzy begins. So down we go and get in a line behind a small man made coreal wall, just nealing down and I felt completely fine, wasn't nervous and it all felt really surreal.
It was one guy and a big box just pulling out tuna heads and 100's if not 1000's of fish circling and getting tucked in something that I have never seen before and if that was all I had seen I would have left the dive in amasement!! Next we were really lucky to see the Giant Queensland Grouper, unbelievable, what looks like a standard fish but about the size of an average car .. bloody huge but in no way threatening.
More fish, then we saw some white tip, black tip, and nurse sharks ... then all of a sudden a dirt great shark turns up, Bull shark and just passes the feeder casual as you like and swims off, I wasn't scared, again it just all felt surreal and a pretty controlled environment. So after 17 mins we move up from 30 metres to around 15 metres to feed the smaller reef shaerks and other fish, I left and moved up to the next shelf on the reef and parked myself next to one of the shark divers ... bugger, he only had a long tube of food tucked away so I was right in the thick of it!!
Again though it was simply incredible, so many different fish and sharks it blew my mind .. to be honest its hard to find the words. So after a good 20 mins there we headed back to the surface and back on the boat for biscuits (good ones at that) and tea, chilled out and prepared for dive briefing number 2.
"So guys, the 2nd dive .... this is one we're all here for, this is where you'll see the big guns. we saw one on the first dive which is very rare but provides a good sign that we are likely to have a busy dive. Now on this dive we'll be at 17 metres, everyone stays behind the wall, even the instructors (with their poles). Now, we do encounter Tiger Sharks down there, we haven't seen any fopr a few days so there's every chance one may turn up. You will notice the Bull sharks approach the feeder in a very orderley fashion, from left to right one after the other .... a tiger shark however doesn't follow the same protocal, it's got a mind of it own and could appear from anywhere. Also, it WILL come and check every one of you out, so don't show any fear (YEAH RIGHT MATE!!!!) as it will sense it. Also, if the tiger shark arrives you will notice all the Bullsharks dissapear, the Tiger is like a lorry under water, it's massive.
Also if the Tiger show's up we may prolong the dive to ensure it's swam off as they can be un predictable. If we do ascend to the boat it's not uncommon for the Tiger Shark to circle you on the way up, please don't be afraid (your sh*tting me ... sod the safety stop mate I'll be on that boat quicker than a rat up a drain pipe!!)"
Anyway briefing over, in the water and down to the coral wall ... a few people were there before me so I moved to the left and assumed other would arrive either side .... NOPE!! everyone was to the ruddy right hand side .. but under water no one can here you scream, so I', laying there, the furthest person to the left hand side (the direction the sharks come from) and not even a guy with a magic pole is next to me.
Luckily within 10 mins one of the pole guys did take position to my left!! Anyway, within minuites of arriving the view was incredible, I lost count of how many fish there were and we're talking about some of a serious size, but it only took a coupel of mins before there were Bullsharks everywhere.... again, not scared just blown away in amasement.
And as explained they are so orderly is amazing, they come one at a time from the left, grab the food from the divers hand quite casually and swim off to the right... again it's hard to find the words to describe it because it was that amazing!!
We're talking about bloody big sharks, biggest around 12ft long with really thick bodies, and yet I didn't feel scary, in fact you realise that they are extremely intelligent and it actually chnages your opinion on sharks, well at least it has mine.
Next up another diver grans a bag full of food and swims up a good 5 metres above the feeder, releases the food from the bag and well ... this was the icing on the cake ... all of a sudden you see a whirlwind of sharks swimming up for the food, simply incredible!! The only way you can get any appreciation for this is to see the DVD ... crazy whirlwind of maneaters!!
So, this happened a couple tiomes during the dive which was cool although at one point the sharks seemed to dissapear ... Oh bugger... t can only mean the Tiger is nearby, I slummed a little lower against the wall preparing to show no fear (no chance!!) however I'm glad to say all of a sudden the Bulls were back with a vengeance. I have to admit it would have been great to have said I swam with a Tiger Shark and survived, however the experience was out of this world as it was and at that stage I was happy to still be in one piece!!
So eventually we received the signal to begin out ascent up the line, including our safety stop where we again watched the guy swim up and release more food to the smaller fish and a few remainding sharks. By this point I have to admit, and it was the 1st time on the entire dive I felt a little wary about the sharks, we had got that far but I'm sure the Tiger shark doesn't work to a set meal time .. what happens if he's late!!!
We arrived on the surface and really I just wanted to get back on that boat but who manged to get in front of me, sorry push in front of me, mr america with all his weight, a complete clown!! So anyway I thought no big deal it only takes a couple minutes to remove your finns and jump on the boat ... or does it?.... the ruddy idiots flapping in the water, "I can't get my finns off.... could you give me a hand with my fins, I can't get them off" a ruddy joke!! I'm thinking stop flapping mate as you'll attract the sharks .. but just stopped shy off pushing him out of the way to get on the boat, but we're talking about a guty in his 30's who needed a girl from the boat to bend down and take off his fins ... absolutely amazing!!
Anyway, back on the boat and I have to say that's quite simply the most amazing experience I have ever had, I have been fortunate to do a number of amazing things on this trip but that tops the lot. I was scared sh*tless before hand but the sense of conquering your fear and seeing sharks that big within touching distance at times was out of this world.
I arrived back at Uprising and met up with Zoe again, she had to head back in to Nadi to catch a flight in the morning so we jumped in to a taxi together, checked in to the hostel and decided to head out for dinner. She's cool and an office fan so basically we ended up quoting that all evening.
The next day Zoe left and I headed to the harbour, I had just paid for a 2 week Bula pass which meant I spending two weeks island hopping around the Jasawa's and Manamucas on a jump on jump off kinda thing. So after spending one week on the mainland being pretty bored I was hopeful for more fun and better weather ......