Feb 11, 2019

By Dave McBride, Instructor 

As I walked outside this morning in the blowing Fraser Valley snow, the frigid arctic outflow winds chilled my body through several layers of heavy clothing.  Although I may be willing to deal with the bitter cold on a slow moving ski chairlift, knowing that another great run is only a few more minutes away, I must admit that I didn’t last too long outside today.  Coming back inside, I lit a fire to stay warm, and decided that it would be a good time to reminisce about my recent autumn snorkeling trip to Eastern Indonesia.

From the time that I first experienced tropical snorkeling in my teens, I was hooked on the wonderful sights that were just below the ocean surface.  From that point forward, I have become an avid “underwater adventure seeker”.  I have had the good fortune to snorkel throughout the Caribbean, Hawaii, the Great Barrier Reef, the Belize Barrier Reef, Fiji, the east coast of Bali and the Solomon Islands.  In my lifetime, I have witnessed the degradation of the world’s best reefs from global warming, major storms, overfishing, pollution and poor tourism practices.  Things are getting so bad that about 50% of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef coral mass has been lost in the past few decades.  So, in my quest to visit some of the best and healthiest remaining coral reef ecosystems in the world, I visited the acclaimed Raja Ampat area off the coast of West Papua.

Every day for two weeks, I went snorkeling for up to 4 hours per day, and visited over 30 world class sites within 15 - 45 minutes of the resort.  For me, these snorkel trips provided some of the best “optimal experiences” of my life.  Never before had I witnessed so many varieties and colours of fish, coral, and other unique aquatic life.  These High Quality Recreation experiences involved amazement, wonder, delight, awe, reverence, and above all – happiness!  These type of experiences are among the most memorable, cherished and worthwhile experiences of my life.  The concept of optimal experiences includes the sub-concepts of flow, peak experiences and deep play.  Although it is challenging to accurately describe a personal experience to others, the photo below of me swimming with a large manta ray represents one moment in time from swimming freely in the wild with a group of 9 feeding manta rays.  This was easily one of the most enjoyable, happiest, fun, high quality recreation “optimal experiences” of my life. 

If you have an interest in learning more about how recreation activities can make a meaningful, positive difference in the quality of your life, consider exploring RECR 1160 – Foundations of Leisure and Recreation.