If you had asked me 10 years ago, while I was finding my way in the world as a diving instructor. “Do you want to be a snorkel guide?” I most likely would have laughed and said NO. 10 years on and I could not imagine doing anything else.
Like most people who choose this career and lifestyle, you start out with a lust for travel and the ocean. Even better to combine the two together. As I was making my travels and wishing I could stay in all these exotic places longer. But instead having to go back to the UK to save money for the next adventure. I kept meeting all these people that were maintaining a life I wished for. living by the sea, great tans and having a great lifestyle. Not to mention spending their days at sea looking for beautiful marine creatures. All of them were working as dive instructors or dive masters.
Without too much hesitation I decided that was the life for me. In 2009 I packed up and moved to Thailand to embark on my not so certain career in the diving industry. I was informed the best way into the industry was to do a 4 month divemaster internship. I joined a dive centre on a small island in the South Andaman sea, and began my 4 month internship. Once completed I was hooked. The ocean, and working in the dive and travel industry was my new home. I would spend the next 4 years working as a divemaster in Thailand, gaining a wealth of experience on the sea.
After 4 years it was time to transition into becoming an instructor. Again I decided a great way to gain experience as an instructor was to do another internship. I was very fortunate and accepted onto an internship program in the Maldives. I would spend the next 3 months shadowing very experienced instructors and learning the trade. While here in the Maldives I got to work and volunteer with great marine conservation projects. Helping out with Manta identifications, shark and ray projects, turtle conservation and so on.
Little did I know where this would lead. One year we received a group booking for a snorkel group, Snorkel Venture. Being our first snorkel group, I have to admit I was a bit nervous as I was unsure I could deliver the same experience as I can for the divers.
How wrong I was !! We spent the week snorkelling with Mantas,Turtles gliding over stunning reefs. Having completely different interactions with wildlife, than you would diving. Having the freedom to jump where and when we wanted, not worrying about surface intervals, or big sets of equipment. I started to see the appeal of snorkelling far more. We were seeing exactly the same if not more than the divers. The best part of the reefs were in the top 15 metres. The penny dropped. I started to enjoy snorkelling more than diving.
I started to look forward more and more to when the snorkel groups would turn up. Started to build a good relationship with the Snorkel Venture team. I was always jealous to hear the guides talking about their trips. How they would spend time in Raja Ampat , Misool , Alor Just to name a few, visiting the top resorts in these areas. Listening to stories of snorkelling in Indonesia, snorkelling in Mexico.That’s when I knew I wanted to become part of the team and be a snorkel guide.
Fast Forward to present day. I have been part of the Snorkel Venture team for the past 18 months. Leading groups to some amazing places. Spent 3 weeks on a catamaran, In French Polynesia swimming with more sharks than you could imagine. Jumped in with a Mola Mola in Alor. Glided across some of the most pristine reefs in Raja Ampat. Watched Humpback whales in Mexico. Swam with a great hammerhead in Belize.These are just a few of the experiences I have had since being a tour leader.