E: Gaya Island

I didn’t think I was going to like it.  I thought it would be scary and hard.  But I was wrong.  Our journey began on Jesselton Point, a long pier stretching out into the blue China Sea.  We nervously boarded a boat called the Tubby Tim, one of the nicer looking ones (which was lucky for us, because most looked beaten and bare), for the short journey to TARP (Tunku Abdul Rahman Park) for our first scuba dive.

After ten minutes we arrived at Gaya Island.  The island was mostly covered with trees except a small stretch of beach with a few buildings, some under construction.  The water was lush with coral (a pale blue, glowing like it was made of sapphire and the sun was reflecting in its prisms).  We clambered out onto a wooden dock, which was under construction.  Halfway to the shore there was a big section with no decking, so we had to walk across a plank to get to the other half.  We didn’t know that the water was very shallow below us, but all the same I was shakey as I crossed the plank.  As we decided afterwards, just getting to the shore was and adventure in itself.

When we got to shore they gave us a briefing and we got “kitted out” for diving.


On our first dive we went out in the shallow water and our teacher, Roy, helped us get our equipment on.  I was awkward like a duck wearing an overly large lifejacket. There was a mountain of equipment!   First there was a BCD, which is like a giant life jacket that you can fill with air to make it floaty and empty to make it not floaty.  Attached to the BCD there was a tank, regulator, yellow buddy regulator, the thing that says how much air you have and how deep you are, and the thing that fills up your BCD and lets air out of it.  I was also wearing my swimsuit, rash guard, wetsuit, mask and flippers.   I couldn’t stand up in the shallow water because it felt like someone was pushing on my back.

Roy told us to put our regulators in our mouths and breathe the air from the tank.  Then we went under water.  It was like snorkeling but it was easier to breathe, you didn’t need to suck the air through the snorkel, the air is just there, like when you blow into a juice box and the juice squirts out.


After we got comfortable with our equipment, we went deeper.  First all we could see was sand, but as the water settled, it was like the curtain coming up when you’re watching a show.  On stage there were some black “nemo” fish and as we got deeper we started to see more coral.  This first dive was uncomfortable, my snorkel kept hitting my face and my regulator was twisted.  But at the same time it was relaxing because it felt like you could stay under the water forever.

We went out on our second dive.  This time it was not uncomfortable and I relaxed more.  It seemed like the more comfortable I got the more fish we saw.  We saw a giant puffer fish and lots of coral that we didn’t ever see in Fiji.  I was starting to like diving.


For our third dive, we went to the Coral Garden at another island. This was how coral is supposed to look!  There was coral as far as the eye could see.  There were purple corals with bright purple tips that looked like neon lights.  It seemed like an underwater city because of so many colors.  We got to see anemones, apartment buildings for lots of different kinds of anemone fish (“nemos”).  I am glad I decided to go on the third dive, it was the best of the three.


We went back to Gaya and had showers and a snack.  Max and I had SUCH a great time diving.  We can’t believe we only got to dive for one day.  It’s so relaxing to stay underwater and watch the fish. I can’t wait to go diving again.



5 thoughts on “E: Gaya Island

  1. Emma,
    I can’t believe your language!! It is fabulous…And you look so happy and beautiful. Thanks so much for letting us know about the thrill of scuba. I tried it only once and loved it (It was with Hank in Hawaii). I saw a baby octopus –nt more than 6 inches across, I think, purple and playful. It was the highlight of my dive.

  2. wow wee what a fantastic adventure you are having…we are so excited here ..when we receive a red suitcase email! love to all.

  3. Emma;
    So good to hear from you and all about your diving day. You not only got better with each dive, but it was more fun. I am imagining through your description of the coral what it must have been like.

    Each adventure you have while you are there is so different from anything you have done before and sharing that fun makes me so happy.

    Maybe you will get another chance to dive in another part of the world, now that you have had some training.

    Lots of love,

  4. Hi Max, Emma, Patty & Josh,
    Scuba diving is quite an adventure isn’t it? Once you get used to all of the equipment then you can actually feel like a mermaid/merman! Did you actually see Nemo and some of our other favorite friends? You all look fabulous. Now it’s on to the big city where you will be one of the “fish” swimming along the sidewalk with a school of people. Practice your strokes as you navigate this next adventure!


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