“Getting wrecked” takes on a whole new meaning when you’re a scuba diver. For those of you who think exploring underwater is more fun than a big night out, read on for a woman’s guide to diving Chuuk Lagoon.
First, a confession: I used to spend more time finding Nemo and searching for sharks than I did peeling off rust and marveling at engine rooms. I am not mechanically minded at all, and my knowledge of military loss went as far as what I learned from watching “Pearl Harbor.” But I was only 26 years old when I arrived in Micronesia, and I was there to learn.
I arrived alone, a solo female diver from the U.K. As expected, I got some surprised looks and questions. “Move over men,” I thought, “this chick can dive wrecks as well as anyone.” So for all you women out there looking for some adventuresome diving, here are my tips for wreck diving as a woman.
Is Chuuk Lagoon suitable for women divers?
Of course! If anything, the diving here is more suitable for our smaller frames. We are able to dart in and out of the small spaces inside the wrecks, minus any rust scratches.
What about solo divers?
That’s a tricky one. Yes, I went alone, but I was going to work on a liveaboard, so I was able to buddy with one of the other instructors. Unless you’ve organized otherwise in advance with the dive center, I would recommend going with a buddy. While Chuuk Lagoon’s waters aren’t dangerous, wreck diving obviously requires more caution, and having someone you know and trust next to you is important.
Do I need any special equipment?
Excluding re-breathers and tec diving equipment, I would recommend the following (other than the obvious) for recreational wreck diving in Micronesia:
- Dive knife
- Full wetsuit
Do I need special training?
With the variety of wrecks in Chuuk Lagoon, you can dive within your ability at all times. Although the shallower wrecks are accessible with an open-water rating, I’d recommend at least an advanced open-water certification, with a wreck specialty, to get the most out of diving there. Also bear in mind that this is a tec diver’s heaven, and a lot of other divers may be going a lot deeper for longer. Keep that in mind if you’re going alone.
Do I need a line or reel?
No lines or reels are needed.
How deep are the dives?
Dive sites vary from 16 feet (5 m) to well, pretty deep. The most famous dive site in Chuuk is the San Francisco Maru, a passenger-cargo ship that sits upright. With a starting depth of 138 feet (42 m) and the deepest point at 209 feet (64 m), it’s accessible only to the most experienced divers.
Chuuk Lagoon’s sheltered waters provide one of the world’s most comfortable dive locations. Temperatures average 83 to 85 F (28 to 29 C), with visibility usually around 40 to 100 feet (12 to 30 m).
Can I see aquatic life as well as wrecks?
For those of you who love to see the pretty stuff as well as the rusty stuff, the answer is yes. Expect black- and whitetip sharks, rays, eels, clownfish and plenty of macro animals. Common dolphins always make an appearance in Chuuk, but rarely on a dive.
In short, although some of the Chuuk wrecks are deep, there’s plenty to keep you busy in shallower water. Or, take the plunge and explore the depths. Who knows, ladies, maybe after you arrive in Chuuk, you’ll decide that your future dive trips involve plenty of opportunities to get wrecked.