I would like to include a few interesting stories every once in a while, just to give everyone a little taste of what it can be like on the road, and give a more personal glimpse into my experience. While I’m sure there will be more interesting stories to come, this is the one I have to share at this moment. I mentioned in an earlier article that I almost died in The Philippines, and I did. Let me preface this story by saying I’m decently athletic. I played sports for a long time, and enjoyed extreme sports after that (I still do!) I don’t mention this to pat myself on the back, but to paint a clear picture in your mind of this event. Maybe assuming my being in good shape is where the issue started, over confidence was definitely part of it.
The guide, Kevin, told us as we set the anchor that we were at Secret Beach, and pointed to a little hole cut out of the cliff. This hole, we were to swim through. It was maybe four foot high total. You could only barely see it once the waves went down for that brief moment before they crashed back in to the cliff base. Today it was very windy, which meant the waves were larger than usual and waters were choppy. Kevin told the group that we would go one at a time, and that you needed to be a strong swimmer. Now, from what I thought I heard he said nothing about being able to wear a life vest through it. Why would he, if you needed a life vest that wouldn’t make you a good swimmer, right? That was my line of thought anyways.
We were parked only 75ft from the entrance. I was ready to go before everyone else, and I dived off into the water with my mask and started swimming. I realized pretty quickly how under prepared I was for this, as I tired way before I could stop swimming. I was breathing very heavily, and swallowing a lot of sea water. Some how I got up to the cut in the cliffs. Because of the rather small diameter of this slit in the rocks you have to time your passage, and go through while the waves are down, in order to avoid getting caught and possible having your head smashed against the rocks at the top. Luckily, I somehow managed this, and made it in. I was absolutely exhausted though, and to make matters worse there was some coral in the way of me and the beach. So, I stumbled, light headed, over the coral to the beach, and collapsed. My friend, Sarah, soon followed with similar results.
I gained a few cuts on my feet from bashing against things on my way in, but that was the least of my worries. Much to my surprise, I see everyone else coming in about five minutes later, with their vests, and realized what I had assumed was wrong…nothing I can do about it now. If fighting the waves in was hard, I could only imagine how hard it would be to get out. Sitting at the beach, looking up at the jagged limestone cliffs spiraling towards the sky, I contemplated just making Secret Beach my new home forever. After about 30 minutes everyone was setting out to leave. I was very reluctant, and went last. Finally, I decided Secret Beach would not be my new home. After all, how could it be, I had no alcohol! No whiskey! I pushed off the edge of the rocks, made a mad dash for the exit, and started swimming. I made it past the hole of death, but already being exhausted, I could only muster a doggy paddle once I got out past the rocks. Getting hit by unrelenting waves, and going nowhere fast I decided that if I was going to live I had to fight my fatigue, and body telling me it was fading fast, and start really swimming. I couldn’t feel my arms as I swung them. After what seemed like hours, in reality only five minutes or so, I arrived back at the boat.
Utterly exhausted, and sick to my stomach from the expenditure of energy that had just taken place. I sat down, chugged some water, and sighed, relieved, I would live to tell the tale. I still can’t believe that they let us go with out vests. Whenever my mind wanders back to that day, I always think what if. Lets say I had given up, would the guides have seen it, and if so, would they have been able to save me? I hope, if you are in a similar situation one day, that this sticks in your mind. Secret Beach was indeed beautiful, but not worth dying over. Needless to say my day was pretty relaxed after that ordeal, and we quickly decided on an inland tour for the following excursion. Hope you enjoyed this little insight in to one of the scariest moments of my life. Don’t forget to rate and share if you enjoyed the read!