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August 8, 2010

Helmet Dive in Bora Bora

Camera Critters

This week I thought I’d combine my Camera Critters photo with a story about our visit to Bora Bora.

Helmet Diving in Bora Bora by Shelley Munro

One of the fun parts of travel is the planning of a holiday. There’s the research, both online and in books, the correspondence with travel and tour operators and the detailed discussions at home with my husband. Should we or shouldn’t we?

My husband, in particular, loves the planning part of our overseas trips. This process starts months ahead. First we decide which part of the world we’re going to explore, we look at our budget and then it’s the research.

Our latest trip was a Pacific cruise on board the Dawn Princess, the Love Boat from the old TV series. There were stops at Tonga, Rarotonga, Tahiti, Hawaii, Samoa, American Samoa and Fiji. Once we’d booked our trip and put a countdown graphic on our computer, it was time to decide what we’d see and do at each stop.

“Let’s do this,” my husband said one day.

I read the details of something called a helmet dive. “It sounds good,” I said. “But I won’t be able to see a thing without my glasses.”

“You can wear your glasses underwater. The helmet goes over the top of your head. Your hair won’t even get wet.”

“Oh,” I said. I watched a YouTube video with my husband. It did look like fun. According to the site, your head didn’t get wet, no swimming experience was necessary and the excursion was suitable for all ages. “Okay,” I said. “We should do it.” I kept my lingering doubts to myself. I can swim, but I much prefer to keep my feet firmly on dry land.

Before I knew it, we were booked for a helmet dive when our ship reached Bora Bora in Tahiti.

We traveled out to the tour company’s diving platform on a speed boat. That’s when I started to get a little nervous. What if I didn’t like it? To my relief, I wasn’t the only one who was experiencing anxiety.

Bora Bora

Bora Bora is a beautiful spot. The water is a brilliant blue, an impossible color that makes you wonder if the photographer has employed Photoshop to touchup photos. The sun shone and a faint breeze stirred the foliage on the trees. Beneath the surface, we caught glimpses of fish while we waited for our turn to descend into the water.

The helmets are large clear bubbles. Imagine a cartoon spaceman’s helmet—they’re exactly like that. They’re weighted to keep them in place, which means they’re pretty heavy.

Bora Bora

We climbed down a ladder at the end of the platform and waited for the helpers to winch a helmet in place and place it over our heads. I was surprised at the weight. With the helmet over my head, I slowly went down the ladder under the water. Initially, you have to equalize. A couple of the other women had experienced trouble. I was determined I wouldn’t end up the same so I was busy making saliva and swallowing a lot. LOL Probably more than you want to know!

Bora Bora

Under the water was magical. There were loads of fish of all colors swimming around us. A diver and a photographer swam around helping and showing us different things. Lots of different things grew on the rocks and fish darted in all directions. A stingray swam around us, floating around our helmets in a graceful dance.

Bora Bora


Bora Bora

The current was surprisingly strong, so I was glad of the added weight of the helmet. Walking along the sandy bottom was quite difficult and we all looked a bit silly flapping our arms. With so much to see, the time sped past quickly.

Bora Bora

Bora Bora

One at a time, we climbed back up the ladder and waited for the helper to attach the winch and remove our helmets. It was the first time I’ve ever swum and kept my glasses and hair completely dry.

The helmet dive ended up being one of our trip highlights. It was both exciting and magical seeing fish and a stingray in their natural habitat. I especially recommend a helmet dive to anyone who, like me, has wondered what it’s like to scuba dive. I believe helmet dives are available in a number of places now, including the Caribbean, so if you’re interested in trying one do some online research before you leave home.

To see more animal photos visit Camera Critters.


  1. mary

    I love seeing pictures of other people doing stuff like this. It’s looks like a lot of fun…for someone else. lol I love that picture of you smiling while in the helmet…

  2. Nessa

    This does sound exciting. I may add this idea t my bucket list.

  3. Lady Fi

    What fabulous pictures. The underwater world is magical, isn’t it?

  4. Susan Helene Gottfried

    WAY cool. I wonder if water-hating me would actually go through with doing it…

  5. Nikki-ann

    Sounds wonderful! It certainly looks like you had a great time :) I love reading about your adventures.

  6. Lucinda

    Oh, how beautiful! I’m afraid, though, that I’d be too claustrophobic to try that that.

  7. Kaye Manro

    The underwater pics are so cool and beautiful too. I love the closeup of your face!

    (Sorry I’ve been mia for so long– I’m trying to get back to posting and blogging now.)

  8. Debby

    Oh wow! How beautiful! I want to got here now.

  9. Shelley Munro

    Thanks! As I’ve said, I was a bit nervous about going down, but once I’d done the dive I didn’t know why I’d worried. The locals down there were certainly friendly. The last photo with all the fish — I’m behind that. :grin:

  10. Amy Redwood

    As someone who’s obnoxiously afraid of sharks, this adventure still makes me envious. Amazing images!

  11. Heather

    Great pics! Sounds like it was a fun and fascinating adventure. Alas, if the helmets are as heavy as they look and sound, I would never be able to do something like that with the ol’ neck injury. It so wouldn’t be worth the migraine. :roll:

  12. Samantha ~Holly & Zac~

    Wow, that looks an amazing experience. I wouldn’t fancy scuba diving but the helmet way looks so much easier and more comfortable.

    Thanks for sharing and visiting mine. :)

  13. Darla M Sands

    You’re such an inspiration!