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?

Michael Tieso

Michael Tieso travels around the world writing, photographing, and filming his adventures. He is the Editor-in-chief of Art of Adventuring.
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