Though diving has historically been a male-dominated sport, those times are no more. Enter PADI Women’s Dive Day, begun in 2014 to celebrate the increasingly large numbers of ladies who splash in, either recreationally or professionally.
This year I marked the occasion with Rich Coast Diving in Playas del Coco, Costa Rica. On arrival at the dive shop on Playas del Cocos’ main street, there was already a sizable group of women waiting. Brenda van Gestel, owner of the shop, was regaling the gathered women with dive stories while we all made introductions. Among the women diving were a mom and her two daughters (one of whom finished her Divemaster internship today with Rich Coast), and I made a silent wish to get my own mom in the water someday, at least snorkeling. Shortly, we were off to the beach to begin our own day underwater.
PADI Women’s Dive Day does Costa Rica
We headed out on the Tahonga, the shop’s dive trimaran, to Tortugas, our first dive site. There were 16 women in total diving, spread between our boat and one other. We met out at the site after just a few minutes ride from shore. Full disclosure: we had two men on the boat — the captain and our photographer, who promised to sit quietly and do as he was told. Which was to take tons of pictures of us.
The rocky, volcanic substrate below as we descended was positively covered in nesting Sargent majors and more pufferfish than I’ve ever seen. We swam among the rocks, seeing golden spotted eels, a frogfish, whitetip sharks, schooling snappers, and lots of ladies enjoying a leisurely morning underwater.
Our second dive of the day was at a site called Corridas. Where Tortugas had sharks, Corridas had rays — gigantic, sleeping stingrays nestled into the rocks and cruising over the sand like saucer-shaped birds. Other than these big boys, we again saw hundreds of pufferfish (what are they all doing here?!), stonefish, more nesting (and cranky) Sargent majors, butterflyfish and a sweet octopus engaged in some sort of excavation project under a rock. We surfaced together after a little less than an hour, all pleased not only with the morning’s diving, but also the company.
As for me and the photographer, our Costa Rican adventure has just begun, but celebrating with a boat full of women divers was a great way to kick it off. Anything that gets more women in the water is fine by us — how did you celebrate PADI Women’s Dive Day??