Those that know me are probably amazed to see me in this picture at all. You see, I am a non-swimmer and have been afraid of water most of my life.
When we planned our activities for a recent cruise to Bermuda, I found out about Hartley's Helmet Diving and decided to learn more about it. I first saw the shore excursion listed on the cruise line's website, and then did a search to take a look at Greg Hartley's page.
As I mentioned, I'm not a swimmer, but in recent years have gone snorkeling. We got our own snorkeling gear which included a mask, goggles, mini-fins, and a life-vest for me. When I'm wearing the life-vest, I feel secure and can even enter the water from a boat and snorkel. Before getting our own equipment, the most I would do is walk into shallow water for a quick dip and then go back on the beach.
HARTLEY'S UNDERSEA WALK
Reading more about the Hartley's Helmet Diving experience, I decided to suggest the excursion to the rest of my family. They are all swimmers and thought it was a good idea, so we booked it directly with the Hartleys.
Greg Hartley, one of his children, and another crew member got us loaded onto their boat and we headed to the dive spot. After some paperwork and safety instructions, we were divided into small groups to await our turn.
The helmet pictured here looks like something inspired from Jacques Cousteau's equipment locker. In some respects, Greg Hartely is very much like him, since he too is an undersea explorer, a photographer, an inventor of diving devices, and a writer. This helmet is your life-line to the surface. Notice the reflection of the rope in the helmet glass.
Not Just a Fun Walk With the Fishes
Now for the details of the dive ... A few divers at a time donned the helmets, and walked down the boat's ladder, one step at a time, until reaching the sea floor, 10 feet below the surface. A rope marked the undersea path. Air hoses connected the divers to the boat's air supply system.
This was actually our second experience helmet diving. Our other experience was in Tahiti. Greg's undersea walk incorporates an educational element, making it more than just having fun with the fishes. There is room for fun too as you can see. Greg has trained these fish and they even did tricks for us.
Greg pointed out various fish and vegetation using a dive stick, which can be seen in the second photo above. We took our own photos using disposable underwater cameras. You could also use an underwater digital camera as long as it was good to a depth of at least 10 feet. Our equipment was no where near the level of sophistication of Greg's, so purchased his photo package to preserve our memories. We recommend you capture your sea exploration via his camera also. Watch this video to learn more.
YouTube - Hartley's Helmet Diving, Bermuda review from LookBermuda.TV
For the legal minded, this by no means is an official endorsement of Hartley's Helmet Diving, nor are we being compensated by any means. We simply had a very enjoyable time, and wanted to share our experience with you, so that you too can include this excursion in your cruise vacation if you so desire.
On our dive, there were people of all ages from young children to an elderly gentleman. Some of the children were frightened, and Greg was great with them. He got their siblings to assist in encouraging them to at least give it a try. When they decided they had enough, he respected that.
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Bermuda is a wonderful cruise destination. It is very easy to explore on your own using the public transportation, such as the ferry service and buses. The locals recently have had an uprising about tourists overtaking the bus system, so you'll want to monitor that situation closely.