Beneath the falls
One of the great things about being a Dive Instructor is meeting up with friends you have worked with around the world. You usually get to go to the best sites and when you’re on holiday it’s great to dive with people you know can look after themselves. And just occasionally you all have the same crazy urges; wanting to jump into any water that looks interesting…say, under a waterfall.
What a fantastic idea!
Now you may be thinking that diving upstream into the plunge pool beneath a waterfall might be a tad dangerous. You would be right. It can be a very bad, can get you into a lot of trouble and is generally best avoided. However, we had a Plan!
I should point out here, that we are all very experienced and generally cautious divers, wanting long and happy lives, so of course we had checked with long term residents and had our friend, Victoria, who was familiar with this waterfall. We’d checked the weather and had all agreed on the dive plan (including details on what current would be too much to handle and the distance we would keep from the base of the falls to avoid getting caught in an undertow) and generally decided we were capable of doing this exploratory dive safely as a team. Since Victoria knew the way and we had the transport, off we went.
Hefting dive gear through the woods is never the fun part, but the water was cold so drysuits, hoods and gloves were a must. And though the dive was not an overhead environment we had torches and other bits of safety equipment just incase. Thankfully the entrance pool was a fairly easy entry, so soon we were in and good to go.
The dive was incredible! It is so much fun diving in rivers!
The water was clear and blue, the rocks beautifully sculpted by the flow of water. We saw a freshwater eel before even getting to the adrenalin part of the dive. Making our way through the tighter passages to the plunge pool against the current was technically interesting, swimming against the flow, while maintaining good buoyancy and not kicking the rocks on either side. Then came the descent from 2m down into the plunge pool about 5-6m max depth. Inside we found a perfectly sculpted bowl with pebble bottom and slowly swirling leaves. In the top right corner you could see the churning white water of the waterfall entering the pool, drifting closer you could start to feel the pull towards the base of the falls and so we treated this with the respect it deserved and kept a healthy distance while enjoying the view.
I cannot accurately describe how special it is to float in semi darkness beneath the immense power of a waterfall, with clear, cold water all around and the dull roar in my ears. Amazing! This is why I do these crazy things! I am incredibly fortunate to be able to dive these incredible places, places few ever go, exploring with my friends who are as stoked about it as I am.
I could see their grins reflected in the torch light as we noticed the appearance of increased raindrops on the surface of the water and made a move to leave. It was off back the way we came, much easier now, going with the flow and back out into the entrance pool. We were greeted with a cormorant catching a fish in the water ahead and had a last look round before reluctantly heading out, ready to haul kit again and looking forward to a nice hot chocolate back at the car!
This was a fantastic dive and I would urge everyone to investigate the amazing array of fresh water diving out there, though I am not suggesting running out to jump in your nearest waterfall!
There’s great spring and river diving in many places, like Florida, freshwater bucket-list dives like Silfra in Iceland and incredible guided cenote dives in Mexico. There’s a myriad of interesting bits of water to dive in on roads less travelled. So if this has piqued your interest, ask around at the local dive centres for where there staff like to dive on their days off, maybe you’ll get taken to somewhere incredible!