A group of students and staff have travelled to the Dominican Republic to enjoy an unforgettable underwater experience. The area around this part of the Caribbean offers some excellent diving experiences with a wealth of attractive reefs and interesting marine life. Opportunities for outstanding diving experiences are endless.
Updates from the trip leader, Mr Steve Gorman, are posted below and to see photos view the photogallery:
Travel Home update
Everyone is coping well with the delay. Looking at the pupils I think they are quite excited by the disruption and are looking forward to another night in the Dominican Republic. It must have been a great trip. We are being put up at the ‘Now Onyx’ Punta Cana which is a huge step up from our last place so smiles all around.
New flight details:
Check in 7am
Departs 19 October at 8am
Arrived 19 October 9.15pm
Should arrive back at school around 20 October at 12.30am
If you need anymore information please contact me by email, text or phone once we have landed. I am sorry for any inconvenience caused, however, it is out of our control.
Although the heavens threatened to open and drench us, they soon cleared and the sun shone. Everyone is tired after the exertions of the trip, but still looking forward to the last dive of the week. Heading out in the launch, the mood was very upbeat and we were all excited about what we might find waiting for us below. The reef was a delight once again, with many colourful fish of all shapes and sizes. The pupils and adults demonstrated their newly honed buoyancy skills and almost looked professional - almost! All too soon the dive was over, and it was back to the dive centre to stow kit away and start packing for the return home. This marks the third time I have used Pro Dive, and I have always been impressed by their professionalism and patience when working with our pupils. This year Malio and Igor have been a real pleasure to work with. They have been extremely professional, flexible and moved dives around to suit us and recommend suitable dive sites for all abilities.
We are planning to visit a shopping Mall on the way to the airport, which the girls in particular are very keen about... although they don’t seem to think 2.5 hours is long enough (1 hour is more than enough for me). All being well we should land in Gatwick at 7am and be back at school around midday on Friday.
The trip has been fantastic with pupils of all ages getting on well together and mixing with parents and staff. I know that for the parents here it is great to see their young ones mixing with others of different ages and sharing experiences.
For us teachers, we have enjoyed watching the young people develop during the trip, not just in terms of their diving skills but also in their maturity and independence. Growing up is partly about taking increasing responsibility for oneself and ones belongings, and the dive trip provides a good opportunity to develop both in a safe environment.
Tonight we will have our last meal together which will give everyone a chance to tell tales of daring doo!
Thanks again to all involved for their help before and during the trip.
It has been brilliant.
For some today was a four dive day – brilliant! Wrecks and reefs with lots of life were the story of today’s adventures. The amount of life on the coral gardens is amazing; nudibranch, shrimps, octopus, squid and clown fish dominate the water. Searching through the coral to find the smallest creatures possible means you need fine buoyancy control and keen eyes. Nudibranch and shrimp are very small and usually blend in amazingly well with their background. However, even these creatures can’t beat the octopus for its ability to mimic its host so brilliantly, so when you are fortunate enough to see one it is a real treat, although seeing several could be considered rude!
The day dives were enjoyed by all those that took part, and the night dive was a real treat. I was fortunate enough to join tonight’s group as they set off into the inky black depths of the sea. The pupils resembled a sack of eels climbing and slithering over each other, arms and legs everywhere. However, they still managed to see an abundance of marine life which would have been the envy of any diver. For me, watching them start to relax as the dive progressed was a real treat. All have come a long way this week and are looking much more comfortable underwater.
Tomorrow is our last day diving which I know all are looking forward to with mixed emotions. Discussions about where next year’s trip will be have dominated conversation, with many recommendations being offered, and so I have already started to research possibilities!
SHARKS, lots and lots of sharks, well three! We left our resort just after 9 am for another full day trip. The weather couldn’t have been better as wall to wall sunshine greeted us and flat calm seas made the journey a pleasure. The first diving site was another relatively flat reef, which seemed to throb with marine life. Huge crabs and lobsters stared out at us as we swam past. Everyone looked very comfortable underwater and it was difficult to tell the newly qualified drivers from the more experienced. As we surfaced waiting to get on the boat a school of flying fish decided to perform for us, some hitting us before falling back into the sea.
Having dropped off those that didn’t want to do the second dive , we headed out to a shallow sandy reef. Submerging in the water we came across our first shark which was around 2 to 3 meters. It had been lying on the sandy bottom under rocky outcrops but swam off when it noticed half of Oakham school steaming towards it! With a few swishes of its tail it was gone but not before it had been photographed. Later we came across two more of these amazing creatures. They are amazingly graceful and seem to move without much in the way of effort. Meeting the others at our beach lunch stop I think there was a little bit of exaggeration and envy in equal measure. Several of the team went for a night dive which they found exciting. The remainder of the group is looking forward to night diving tomorrow night.
Today’s dives consisted of a wreck and a flat reef. The Atlantic Princess was first and at around 13 meters was accessible to all, regardless of qualifications or experience. The wreck was lying upright and flat on the bottom, surrounded by coral and swarming with fish of all shapes and sizes. I think everyone enjoyed it, with some saying it had been the best dive they had ever done! Sasha got stuck into doing her underwater digital photography course and could be seen looking for interesting angles and subject matter. Sitting back watching the others was fun as they bobbed around each other doing back flips and cork screws.
The second dive was far more sedate as we just drifted along looking for lobsters and moray eels, which were hiding in the coral garden. The weather was not at its best today with quite a lot of heavy rain, thunder and lightning, however, this did not detract from everyone enjoying the day’s activities. Tomorrow is another full day trip with beach BBQ and picnic. We are hoping for blue skies and sunshine.
With heavy rain overnight we were hoping for clear blue skies today which didn’t materialise. Instead the storm clouds seemed to be building and just as we left the hotel it started to rain! As today was going to be a full day’s diving with most of it sat on a boat it did not look too good. However, when we arrived at the port and collected our kit, it did stop raining and as the day went on, even the sun made an appearance.
The journey out to Catalina Island was quite choppy and a little chilly. Our first dive was on a wall which dropped off vertically into the deep blue sea up for around 80 meters and was very impressive. Lots of soft and hard corals lined the seabed and the fish life was prolific.
Waiting on the surface line in the swell made a couple of people feel a little sick but most felt better during the dive. Lion fish, rays, eels, clown and angle fish swarmed around us and darted in and out of the numerous fissures and holes in the coral. The second dive was on a flat coral bed and although, quite shallow, was nonetheless very impressive.
Those that didn’t want to do the second dive were dropped off on the Island at Playa Grande beach and played in the sea or went snorkelling before and after lunch. The six learner divers Iain, Holly, Ian, Stella, Vicky and Abigail are learners no more, as they all completed their final two open water dives and are now part of the diving fraternity! Tomorrow is a late start, which I know the pupils are particularly looking forward to, as it means they get a lie-in.
Meeting at 5.30 in the morning meant that we had a good start on the usual commuter traffic around the M11 and M25 so we arrived in good time at the BA check-in desks at Gatwick airport which allowed us time to enjoy a full English breakfast prior to the flight. The on board entertainment was good and the food was just about OK. Landing at Punta Cana in glorious sunshine was a treat. Once we had passed through immigration and collected our baggage, we were soon on our way to the hotel. Checking in was fine and the rooms are excellent. Fed and watered, everyone (nearly everyone) headed off to bed relatively early. The six new divers had to meet at the dive centre at 8.30am so they had to have an early breakfast but the old sea dogs managed to have a lie-in and met at 10.00am to sort kit prior to our group's first dive. The learners had a session in the pool just to check their kit and to make sure they were happy before heading to the open sea for their first qualifying dive. The Pro Dive staff were excellent and soon had everyone feeling at ease. The group's first ‘shake down’ dive was on a local reef and had quite a bit of life on it. Rays, moray eels, lobsters, shrimp, langoustines and much more. Following lunch, our second dive took us to a conservation and coral growing site which had similar life on it. In the evening we ate at the Steak House restaurant to help Emily celebrate her 13th birthday which was certainly memorable.