I have been diving for years! My parents gave me a diving course for my 16th birthday and since then, it is all that I have been interested in. I learned to dive in the Dutch Antilles, in Curaçao, which is one of the most beautiful diving locations in the world. I was spoilt for choice, being able to do depth dives, reef dives, wreck dives, night dives, dives to feed the sharks and turtles and just recreational dives for that matter.
Unfortunately for me, however, I decided to go back to my native country of Holland to study something completely irrelevant. Diving got a bit lost after I did my first dive in the murky grey waters of the North Sea and I couldn’t join in the enthusiasm of my fellow divers who were pleased as peas because they had seen a jelly fish and a sea horse or something. Where was the colour? I honestly thought my diving career was over, until a member of our diving party told me that even in the northern parts of Europe there were some truly spectacular dives to be done, and would I be interested in an ice dive.
Shopping for Ice Diving Equipment
At first, I was seriously reluctant! I thought it was bad enough having to wear a wet suit in the summer because of the cold water, so what was an ice dive going to be like. But the diver assured me it was like nothing I would ever experience again, and to go and have a look for ice diving equipment. I was reluctant to invest large amounts of money in something I thought I would never enjoy (I’m really not into cold, in case you hadn’t noticed!), but luckily I was able to find pretty much everything I needed from sites like Amazon.
So, with renewed energy, but still slightly reluctant, I arrived in Kuusamo, Finland, for my ice diving course. I was quite excited, as the package we bought included some great things, including the opportunity to see the Northern Lights, that one was definitely on my bucket list, and a day of Beluga Whale diving.
I could have done with a couple of porters, however, to carry all the equipment I had brought with me. It turned out to be slightly unnecessary because the package holiday we had bought had most equipment present, but I like having my own stuff. Hence, I brought with me all the ice diving equipment I could think of, including:
- A dry suit exposure suit. Some people seem to think a really good quality wet suit is acceptable, but once again – I don’t really do cold!
- A regulator devised specifically to withstand sub zero temperatures
- Ropes and harnesses
- Waterproof shoes (lovely warm ones!)
- An anorak for outside, as well as a cap that covered my ears
Luckily, I did think ahead and didn’t bring my own ice diving equipment that allows you to get into the ice, I think some eyebrows would have been raised at Kuusamo Airport if I would have shown up with an array of pickaxes and a chainsaw!
The tour operators also had everything else ready for us, like tents where we could change and a nice drab of brown rum for after the dive. I was getting more excited about this adventure by the minute!
Ready for the Ice Dive
The day had finally arrived. Things could never be spoilt for me anymore, because on our first night there, I did get to see the majestic Aurora Borealis – scratched that one of my bucket list! When we arrived at the diving tent, I was happy to see that everything was ready, I thought I would have to sit through ages listening to chainsaws cutting through the ice, but that was all done thankfully. Changing was easier than I thought as well, the diving tent was lovely and warm.
So, finally, I had all my ice diving equipment on, dry suit, harness, ropes, tanks and so on, and we were ready to go.
What an experience! I don’t know what I expected, but I think somewhere on the back of mind I almost thought I was going to dive in ice rather than under ice, if that makes any sense? Although the water was slightly more viscous on this ice dive than it would be on another dive, it was still just water of course.
We saw some amazing things, including ice hummocks and cavities, soft spongy corals, starfish, crabs, sea urchins, shrimps and beautiful sea anemones. The ice dive was truly amazing!
It was slightly daunting to be underneath a thick sheet of ice, so I did hold on tightly to the rope that would take us back to the hole (although I did spend quite some time engaging in unhealthy fantasies of the hole covering back up, the chainsaw malfunctioning and us being stuck there…). Overall, however, it was amazing!
Ice Dive Conclusion
I have to say in all honesty that I loved it. However, for me, it was a onetime only experience. We were booked to do three more dives, but I declined. I had done what I came there to do, I had experienced something mesmerising and beautiful and, quite frankly, I didn’t want to ruin it by diminishing the extent of that experience by simply repeating it over and over again. I did, however, go on the Beluga Whale dive on our last day of course!
And my ice diving equipment? Well, I held on to it for a while, thinking that maybe I may be repeating an ice dive but use a different location. In the end, however, I decided that I was a warm person through and through and would continue to stick to the warmer areas of the world. I sold my dry suit and ropes on Amazon and didn’t even lose any money, so that was great! In conclusion, I would recommend ice diving to anyone, even if it is just for the experience.