Missing an Opportunity of a Lifetime

Weeks prior to going to Fiji, I was told that part of my itinerary included shark diving. Divers dream of this opportunity and many of them go to Fiji solely to dive alongside dozens of different kinds of sharks. Beqa Adventure Divers is a well known company that offers this amazing experience. I started showing off on Facebook and Twitter about what I was about to do. I was excited.

I never thought I’d ever dive with sharks when I got my Open Water Certificate for diving. I was getting several tweets and Facebook messages from readers saying they were jealous. There isn’t many places in the world you could do this and I was about to do it in one of the most popular to do it in the world. 3 1/2 years of blogging has got me diving with sharks.

The problem: The last time I dove was in 2009 for my Open Water Certificate. There was a master diver in the group that was going to essentially hold my hand the entire time to make sure I was okay. The staff was super helpful and did their best to make me feel comfortable. I would have went for a refresher but we didn’t have time.  I remembered most of what I learned a few years ago so I was confident (or so I thought).

I started feeling nervous simply putting on my wetsuit. I don’t know why. Everyone assured me that it’s a safe and responsible dive. It eventually passed and we were on our way to the dive site.

The water was rough. Really rough and I wasn’t liking it. I can get pretty carsick but I can’t remember the last time I was seasick  so I didn’t think about coming prepared. I started to feel sick but I figured it was because I was still nervous and it would pass once I was in the water. The water was still insanely rough but I pulled myself together to get ready to jump in the water. Before this, the dive master did an overview of my equipment and reassured me that everything was going to be okay. I jumped in.

The water was rocking hard. I had my jacket inflated all the way but it was still hitting my face often enough that I got more nervous. I went underwater for about a half a minute before I had to come back up because I felt so sick to my stomach. The second I got on the boat, I started to vomit. I felt dizzy and the stomach pains wouldn’t go away. There was no way I could get up enough to go back in the water. I kept vomiting, was dizzy, and had no energy. I wanted complete silence and to be on land. The dive lasted for another 40 minutes or so. I felt horrible that I couldn’t go in.

Mike with Shark

The closest I got to a shark.

Once the divers came back on the boat, we moved over to another sight that had calmer water and I started to feel better. Perhaps enough to actually dive on the second and last time. Unfortunately, that wasn’t where we were going to dive. They drove us over to another spot that also had rough waters and I was again feeling like crap. The advice they kept giving me was to just dive in and I’d feel better once I was in the water but I couldn’t think straight and I felt way too dizzy. I wasn’t comfortable enough to dive feeling this way. I was given some fresh water and cookies and a few towels to lay down on the boat. So for the next few hours, it was a living hell of stomach pains and dizziness.

Here I was in Fiji where I missed out on an incredibly experience of diving with sharks. Where people from around the world come to just to be able to do this. I was so close. Instead, I saw them from the boat down the clear water as I vomited. I felt like I may even have let Tourism Fiji down since I was invited to experience this. I cried a bit inside. For most of the day, I kept thinking about how I could have been more prepared, what I could possibly write, and how I may have let people down. I kept sulking over it for most of the day.

Then I started to think of other opportunities I may have lost. I started to realize it’s just the way traveling works. There’s always going to be missed opportunity. The world is just too big for me to do it all. The fact that I even had the opportunity to dive with sharks and be in Fiji thanks to this blog still amazes me. I still got to river raft through beautiful gorges, visit villages,  and stay in beautiful resorts. Most of which I had no clue what to expect. Instead of thinking of opportunities I may have missed, I need to remind myself of opportunities I’ve gained.

castaway resort fiji

Thank you Beqa Adventure Divers and Tourism Fiji for offering me a complimentary dive.

Have you ever missed out on an opportunity of a lifetime while traveling? How did you cope with it?

33 Comments

  1. Off The Path Travel on July 17, 2012 at 10:21 am

    I tried to hitch hike from the western Mongolian border to Khovsgol Nur in Mongolia. After a few rides and realizing that it would either cost too much money to pay someone to drive us as nobody was going north or having to cross half the country to get to Ulanbataar only to backtrack, we decided to skip it even though it was one of the highlights for us going to Mongolia. We just told ourselves that we’d hit it next time as no country should only be visited once. 

  2. Off The Path Travel on July 17, 2012 at 11:21 am

    I tried to hitch hike from the western Mongolian border to Khovsgol Nur in Mongolia. After a few rides and realizing that it would either cost too much money to pay someone to drive us as nobody was going north or having to cross half the country to get to Ulanbataar only to backtrack, we decided to skip it even though it was one of the highlights for us going to Mongolia. We just told ourselves that we’d hit it next time as no country should only be visited once. 

  3. Waegook Tom on July 17, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Ahh Mike, I feel you on the whole feeling like you’re missing out thing – I got within 150m of Korea’s highest mountain before I freaked out and started hyperventilating due to my kinda really, really bad phobia of heights. But you’re right though – think about all the things that you DO get to experience. Sure, you missed out on this one thing, but it was for totally valid reasons, and you can use it as an excuse to try shark diving in a different country – and with calmer seas next time 🙂

    • Michael on August 6, 2012 at 1:26 pm

      Yes! I must do shark diving sometime in my life. Perhaps I’ll go better prepared.

  4. Waegook Tom on July 17, 2012 at 11:56 am

    Ahh Mike, I feel you on the whole feeling like you’re missing out thing – I got within 150m of Korea’s highest mountain before I freaked out and started hyperventilating due to my kinda really, really bad phobia of heights. But you’re right though – think about all the things that you DO get to experience. Sure, you missed out on this one thing, but it was for totally valid reasons, and you can use it as an excuse to try shark diving in a different country – and with calmer seas next time 🙂

    • Michael on August 6, 2012 at 2:26 pm

      Yes! I must do shark diving sometime in my life. Perhaps I’ll go better prepared.

  5. Lindsay Hogg on July 17, 2012 at 10:57 am

    So true… sometimes you can’t do everything. It blows, but that’s life! Just move onto the next one!

  6. Lindsay Hogg on July 17, 2012 at 11:57 am

    So true… sometimes you can’t do everything. It blows, but that’s life! Just move onto the next one!

  7. Lauren, Ephemerratic on July 17, 2012 at 11:14 am

    Ugh, what a story. Even after a year of RTW traveling and now back home, traveling regularly, I still get tricked by expectations. I try not to look forward too hard to any part of any trip, that way if I don’t get to do it, I’m not left feeling like I missed out. This helped me not be angry that it rained almost the entire time we were at Machu Picchu. It did not help at the bottom of Colca Canyon though. There my anger won over expectation management.

    • Michael on August 6, 2012 at 1:23 pm

      It rains everywhere we go. It’s pretty much expected at this point. Still gets to me every time.

  8. Lauren, Ephemerratic on July 17, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Ugh, what a story. Even after a year of RTW traveling and now back home, traveling regularly, I still get tricked by expectations. I try not to look forward too hard to any part of any trip, that way if I don’t get to do it, I’m not left feeling like I missed out. This helped me not be angry that it rained almost the entire time we were at Machu Picchu. It did not help at the bottom of Colca Canyon though. There my anger won over expectation management.

    • Michael on August 6, 2012 at 2:23 pm

      It rains everywhere we go. It’s pretty much expected at this point. Still gets to me every time.

  9. Ryan McCoy on July 17, 2012 at 2:54 pm

    I was going to try and hit Big Bend National Park this year, but was feeling so sick I had to skip it and recover somewhere out in the plains of Texas. It was a bummer at the time, but the sting of missed opportunity faded as new destinations came up.

  10. Ryan McCoy on July 17, 2012 at 3:54 pm

    I was going to try and hit Big Bend National Park this year, but was feeling so sick I had to skip it and recover somewhere out in the plains of Texas. It was a bummer at the time, but the sting of missed opportunity faded as new destinations came up.

  11. Andi Perullo on July 17, 2012 at 9:52 pm

    What a lovely reminder! No regrets!!!

  12. Andi Perullo on July 17, 2012 at 10:52 pm

    What a lovely reminder! No regrets!!!

  13. Rease Kirchner on July 19, 2012 at 12:12 pm

    I feel like sometimes I just think of all the places I can go and do and it’s just overwhelming. That’s part of why I named my blod Indecisive Traveler – sometimes the freedom to choose it too much. I think it’s important that you TRIED you didn’t miss out because you talked yourself out of it due to finances, nerves, or anything like that. You were physically incapable at the time and that’s ok. You still had some amazing experiences!

  14. Rease Kirchner on July 19, 2012 at 1:12 pm

    I feel like sometimes I just think of all the places I can go and do and it’s just overwhelming. That’s part of why I named my blod Indecisive Traveler – sometimes the freedom to choose it too much. I think it’s important that you TRIED you didn’t miss out because you talked yourself out of it due to finances, nerves, or anything like that. You were physically incapable at the time and that’s ok. You still had some amazing experiences!

  15. Gina on July 19, 2012 at 6:06 pm

    Bummer you ended up not being able to go, but that’s awesome that you were willing to do it! I got certified a couple years ago. I still get a bit scared before each time I dive, but also love it once I’m down there. However, I’m not sure if I’m ever going to be brave enough to do a shark dive. The idea of that terrifies me. Maybe someday…

  16. Gina on July 19, 2012 at 7:06 pm

    Bummer you ended up not being able to go, but that’s awesome that you were willing to do it! I got certified a couple years ago. I still get a bit scared before each time I dive, but also love it once I’m down there. However, I’m not sure if I’m ever going to be brave enough to do a shark dive. The idea of that terrifies me. Maybe someday…

  17. Annie Andre ✈ on July 24, 2012 at 2:36 pm

    YIKES, i hate feeling see sick. Now it’s worse than morning sickness.

    I went diving in the Palau islands with a group of people. We saw some shark off in the distance and i freaked out and motioned i wanted to go back on the boat. The next day we went diving again but i totall got freaked and stayed on the boat without going in. I fell asleep on the boat and when i woke up i was totally burnt. Like crispy and had to stay in bed for a few days hardly moving because the burn was so bad. I regret not going in the water to this day. LOL. 

    • Michael on August 6, 2012 at 1:04 pm

      Oh no! I hate sunburns. They always ruin everything.

  18. Annie André on July 24, 2012 at 3:36 pm

    YIKES, i hate feeling see sick. Now it’s worse than morning sickness.

    I went diving in the Palau islands with a group of people. We saw some shark off in the distance and i freaked out and motioned i wanted to go back on the boat. The next day we went diving again but i totall got freaked and stayed on the boat without going in. I fell asleep on the boat and when i woke up i was totally burnt. Like crispy and had to stay in bed for a few days hardly moving because the burn was so bad. I regret not going in the water to this day. LOL. 

    • Michael on August 6, 2012 at 2:04 pm

      Oh no! I hate sunburns. They always ruin everything.

  19. Nathan Brown on July 31, 2012 at 9:27 pm

    That sucks, and unfortunate that you couldn’t dive with the sharks. But I’m glad you stayed optimistic and realised that it’s just a way of life, and you remembered all the good things you HAVE managed to do. 

  20. Nathan Brown on July 31, 2012 at 10:27 pm

    That sucks, and unfortunate that you couldn’t dive with the sharks. But I’m glad you stayed optimistic and realised that it’s just a way of life, and you remembered all the good things you HAVE managed to do. 

  21. Katie Baxter on August 9, 2012 at 10:59 am

    Everything happens for a reason 🙂 I was exactly the same with this waterfall tour and I freaked out and couldn’t walk UNDER this waterfall pounding on you (this was a huge waterfall in Honduras) and I don’t regret it. I was so scared that I probably would have been a danger to those around me and got hurt and that’s not what I want to remember! 

    • Michael on September 3, 2012 at 5:22 pm

      I think you made the right choice. Those waterfalls are deadly. I’ve been under quite a few and they make me pretty nervous.

  22. Katie Baxter on August 9, 2012 at 11:59 am

    Everything happens for a reason 🙂 I was exactly the same with this waterfall tour and I freaked out and couldn’t walk UNDER this waterfall pounding on you (this was a huge waterfall in Honduras) and I don’t regret it. I was so scared that I probably would have been a danger to those around me and got hurt and that’s not what I want to remember! 

    • Michael on September 3, 2012 at 6:22 pm

      I think you made the right choice. Those waterfalls are deadly. I’ve been under quite a few and they make me pretty nervous.

  23. Maximuz on November 27, 2013 at 7:36 am

    I like the positive attitude and completely agree. You missed an amazing opportunity, but who hasn’t. The difference is that people like you are always bumping into amazing opportunities and you will get another shot at it. You will be fine, and maybe this will inspire you to get back into diving.
    I just went diving in Komodo NP, where many dream of visiting in their lifetimes and completely ruined my first dive. I couldnt stay leveled and they ended my dive short. I missed so many animals but I know I will go back, or at the very least, do something similar again.
    The idea of “opportunities of a lifetime” are reserved for people who dont experience much in their lives.

    • Michael on November 29, 2013 at 10:08 am

      I definitely would like to dive more often so I’m better prepared. Never been to Komodo NP but I’ll be sure to prepare myself this time. I’m really bad at leveling myself still.

  24. Not Missing an Opportunity of a Lifetime on April 5, 2018 at 11:58 am

    […] extremely rough as I was on my way to go diving with sharks. I felt too ill to go diving so I had missed on an opportunity of a lifetime. The opportunity to dive with sharks rose again when I was invited to go shark diving in the […]

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