PADI Course Director, Holly MacLeod Shares her Top 5 Best Scuba Diving Experiences!
OrcaNation works closely with renowned PADI Course Director, Holly MacLeod. Holly assists our team in ensuring we remain the best at what we do across all areas of scuba diving instruction and training as well as standards and processes. She also gives our OrcaNation Dive Professionals great advice and brilliant top-tips on how to be better divers.
Here are a few of Holly’s best scuba diving experiences :
Trying to choose the best scuba diving experiences is an incredibly difficult task! Over the last 15 years I have logged thousands of incredible dives while working across Thailand, Malaysia, the Philippines, Australia and Indonesia. As the expression goes; every dive is a great dive, but here are a few of my most favourite moments.
1. Humpback Whale, Whitsunday Islands, Australia
While working out of Airlie Beach I had my only underwater Whale encounter (to date!) with 2 incredibly lucky PADI Discover Scuba Dive (DSD) participants. We were swimming from our boat to the shallow beach area to start the DSD when the lookout went crazy pointing at a Humpback Whale swimming directly below us! In the Winter months, pregnant Humpback Whales come to the warm, protected Islands around the Whitsundays to give birth.
We were lucky enough to be swimming right next to a new Mother, giving us a few seconds of direct eye contact with this incredible animal. It’s a moment I will never forget. Needless to say, my dive student had a pretty amazing introduction to scuba diving!
2. Mola Mola and Mantas, Bali
When conducting any dive at the famous Manta Point, Nusa Penida in Indonesia, you can expect awesome scuba diving experiences. But one Deep Dive specialty course I conducted there really blew my mind; starting – as usual – at the Manta cleaning station in the heart of Manta Point we encountered at least 20 Manta’s whirling and spinning around. An amazing start to the scuba diving lesson and as tough as it was to pull away, we needed to head to the deeper part of the famous dive site to meet training requirements.
On arrival at around 35 meters, we ran directly into 4 Mola Mola at a cleaning station; an incredible sight in itself but as these 4 Mola Mola left the station they were joined by another 5; all of this with Manta’s swimming in and out of our sight the whole time! I struggle for words to describe this incredible Bali diving experience and I’m incredibly privileged to have experienced it.
3. Outer Barrier Reef – Great Barrier Reef, Australia
My first liveaboard job took me to some of the most incredible scuba diving spots on earth. Based out of Cairns, we would take 2 week trips to the Ribbon Reefs, Outer GBR and the Coral Sea. During this time, my best scuba diving experiences were diving the outer reef where a platform of coral drops at the edge of the continental shelf to 1000’s of meters below. Incredible visibility, stunning coral reefs and lots of pelagic action made this area a must see.
4. Castle Rock, Komodo, Indonesia
For diving perfection on one site, it is hard to beat North Komodo. I have dived this area on several occasions but one dive at Castle Rock stands out in my mind just for the sheer variety and volume of marine life in one area. Dive sites throughout the Komodo National Park have phenomenally beautiful, healthy and vibrant coral reefs and castle rock is no exception – the dive site itself is stunning and supports a huge amount of marine life.
On this Komodo dive, it felt like all of that marine life had gathered at one spot and the Ocean was just thick with fish. Numerous schools of Fusiliers, Barracuda, Sweetlips and Jacks swirled around us whilst Giant Trevally, White Tip Reef sharks, Grey Reef Sharks and Napoleon Wrasse darted in and out of the crowd. It was the first time that I had ever had trouble communicating with my buddy because there were too many fish in the way! Exactly the way we wish all dive sites were like!
5. Passing my PADI IE/ every IE since! Koh Tao and Gili Trawangan
Not really specific moments but certainly some of the best scuba diving experiences I can remember are those I worked incredibly hard for and which set me on a course for where I am today. Becoming a scuba diving instructor was a goal for me from the moment I completed my PADI Open Water course. I will never forget how insanely happy and proud I was to pass my IE and become a PADI Instructor in 2004.
This feeling is part of what motivates me to work as a PADI Course Director today; I love working with the next generation of PADI Instructors and can’t help but share the commitment, nerves, apprehension, excitement and an overwhelming sense of achievement that candidates go through on every PADI IDC. It is an incredible motivator and just one of the many factors that make my job so completely awesome!