Swimming with the Fishes, an underwater expedition at Charna Island
"Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore."
– Andre Gide
Date: 13th November, 2016
As a travelling fanatics we have been to many places that includes lush green meadows, forests, wide plains, snow-covered mountains, cold water rivers, glaciers, beautiful lakes, extremely beautiful beaches, and Mughal architecture, shrines, the country borders, the largest fort on the earth and the 26th century BCE city of dead’s. But this time our tour is not to any hill station in Pakistan or a historic place in a foreign country or to the warm water beaches, instead we created a plan to swim with the fishes in the salty sea water (snorkeling) at Charna Island.
an underwater recreational activity in which a diving mask and shaped tube
(snorkel) is worn that allows the snorkeler to swim on a body of water and
observe underwater life in a natural setting for an extended period. I have
read about it in many books and on the internet but I was real surprised to
hear it from my office friends that now the deep sea snorkeling is also possible
in Pakistan, and different clubs are arranging these trips. Then after
discussing with my friends and doing research on the internet I opt for
snorkeling adventure by PALS OUTDOORS.
PALS (Pakistan’s Accredited Lifeguard Service) is a club taking ownership of saving lives along the beaches of Karachi, since 2004. PALS Outdoors a subsidiary of PALS, provide adventure tourism to individuals and corporates across Pakistan. With their fairly large lifeguard infrastructure, PALS Outdoors can easily leverage its outdoor presence and provide fun and exciting tours and events to people at large. And snorkeling is also one of the programs arrange by PALS Outdoors.
After gathering data from their Facebook page I made a phone call to PALS Outdoor on 0345-55-55689 and the call was received by a very courteous and humble person by the name “Mahesh Singh”. After knowing my interest for snorkeling at Charna Island he provides me detailed information on different packages provided by PALS Outdoors. The package includes a comfortable luxury cruise boat from the beach to Charna Island (Boat has washroom and comfortable foamed seats), JetSki ride, speed boat ride, wake tubing, banana boat ride, underwater photography, underwater diving, cliff jumping, snorkeling along with facilities of pick and drop in AC transport, life jacket, snorkeling mask, security, hot lunch, breakfast and boat refreshment.
On 13 November 2016 we all wake up at 5:30 in the morning as today is our expedition day at Charna Island. We have already packed our bags for the expedition the day before so we only have to dress up for the trip. We didn’t have any breakfast except for a single slice of bread and a cup of tea. At precisely 7:15AM we received a call from the coaster driver of PALS Outdoors that the coaster is waiting for us at the point, the point was just at the walking distance from our home, so we walk to that point and sit in the coaster.
The coaster was air conditioned and very comfy and we were the only passengers in the coaster at that time, by inquiring the drive told us that we are the first one and others will be picked from their pre-set points on the way toward Sunehra beach. Picking some more passengers from their stops we reached Karachi Port Trust and now set out our journey on Maripur Road toward the popular Hawksbay. After crossing Hawksbay we took a right turn and began traveling on Goth Mubarak road. This is the first time we are travelling on this side of Hawksbay, it is all barren land with no population in this area. There is nothing but the uneven land and mud and stone hills surrounding the region. The road toward Mubarak village is paved with only some rough patches on the way, during the journey we were catered with the breakfast boxes. Before the Mubarak village, our coaster took a right turn toward Sunehra beach, a few kilometers before Sunehra beach there are fascinating ranges of mounds and the road passes in between those mounds. Crossing these mounds we reached Sunehra beach after nearly 2 hours of drive.
As we climbed down from the coaster we were welcomed by the PALS Outdoors staff, they provided us with the life jackets and help us in wearing it. We hold to wait for the boat to arrive at the beach and we chose that time to explore the surrounding area. In front of us is the vast sea and a hill behind us, the beach is in between the sea and the hill. There aren’t any facility provided by the government at the beach, there’s only a private restaurant by the name of Blue Sea Resort that serves tea, coffee and other food stuff.
We walked to the beach and dip our legs into the water. I have planned this trip as a surprise for my family, I have only told them that we are going to beach picnic far away from the city, and they don’t know anything about deep sea diving or snorkeling until now. When they inquire me about the life jackets, I told them that as we have to travel on a boat to get to the other part of the beach therefore for safety reasons we have to wear these jackets.
After waiting for some time while we were swanning around the beach the boat arrived and anchored near the beach. We walked toward the boat and we were surprised as well as excited to know that we have to walk into the water to climb up the boat. We all walked in the water and nearly half of our body is wet before we started climbing the stairs of our boat, because of the waves the boat is continuously rocking and PALS Outdoors staff helped us in climbing up on the boat. The boat was really comfortable with the foamed seats after all the passengers got seated our boat began to sail toward deep sea.
It was so marvelous to sail, we see the land slowly disappearing from our eyes, and there is nothing but the clean and clear sea water all around our boat and some other small boats either going toward Charna Island or getting back. There were many seagulls and other species of birds flying above the water, which is creating an adorable panorama of the sea. All of us were enjoying the boat cruise and none of us is feeling sea sickness, even my children are also comfortable. Sailing for almost an hour we have started to view the Charna Island.
Charna Island is a small uninhabited island located in the Arabian Sea and is about 9KM from the beach. The Island itself is 1.2KM long and 0.5KM wide and is a natural habitat for marine life. Marine life around Charna includes poisonous sea snakes, barracuda, narrow-barred Spanish mackerel, cobia, Dorado, Tuna, angel fish, sea urchin, sea fan, oyster, ray fish, rare green turtles, different species of crabs and lobsters. It is famous for water sports such as for scuba diving, freediving, underwater photography, hiking, speed boating, knee boarding, wake tubing, banana tubing, jet skiing, cliff diving and snorkeling.
My family is cheerful to view the island and still believe that we have to travel to that island for the picnic. Moving close to Charna Island our boat stopped and the staff asked us to dive into the water one at a time. This is the time when my family was shocked to know that there is no picnic spot here and we are here for underwater diving. My son was the first to leap into the deep water, followed by my daughter, my wife first hesitated a little, but then she managed to jump in the water and now it was my turn. I was guessing that it would be just like jumping into a swimming pool, and I jumped in but it was too horrible (Dil halaq mai aa gaya thaa) for first 5 to 10 seconds I don’t know what is happening and can only see water with the feeling that I am sinking and drowning, the pressure of the water was too much. But then the life jacket works and bring me back up to the water surface and the boys there helped me to manage to adrift. After that, I saw my wife, my daughter and my son all floating on the surface of the sea. The water was too salty and continuously entry in my mouth. One thing to note here is that none of us knows how to swim so the staff help us and guided us about floating on the water and handed us a rope that is floating on the water surface to break us to drift far out. We all were so amused that we were floating on the surface of the sea and the panoramic view is stunning with the water surrounding us and the big hill very near. After about 15 to 20 minutes of dive, my wife decided to revert back to the boat because of the salty water, and I likewise return to the boat to manage her to settle. Since the boat is floating on the sea, we were feeling some dizziness while on the boat.
From the boat, I observed that my son was swimming with the group toward the cliff jumping site and my daughter floating on the sea surface. I have sat on the boat for a while, then again decided to revert back into the water. I get to the edge of the boat to jump but was too scared to do so and return back to my seat. The PALS Outdoors staff continuously encouraging me to dive again and after some time there motivational lessons work and I made up my mind and I manage to jump again. This time it was not that horrible and I was able to control myself and swim on the surface with ease. At that time I also found out how to move on water by pushing water with my hands, but even so, I have no courage to jump from the cliff. My son was doing the cliff jumping and my daughter swimming on the sea surface.
I call for the PALS Outdoors staff to provide me with the snorkeling mask as my mask went off as I sprang from the boat, thus they provide me with another one. I put the mask on my face and the tube in my mouth for breathing and started exploring the underwater world. The feelings at that time were unexplainable, it was so amazing to find out so many fishes so near to me. It is like seeing into another world, the water was so clear that the seabed is clearly visible with small hills and corals inside the water and fishes of many different colors moving from here to there. I try to catch some fishes with my hand but was unable to do so because of their rapidness.
As we were all enjoying the marvelous beauty of the sea and exploring the underwater world, the PALS Outdoors team brings in the JetSki. And we all are so much thrilled to watch the JetSki, this time my wife and daughter were the first to ride on the JetSki. The JetSki was extremely fast and we all ride the JetSki in the sea one by one, it was so fabulous riding on the JetSki. Thither was a lady in our group along the boat who is not interested in a JetSki ride so she handed her token for the ride to my son and he experienced the joy of having the Jet Ski ride twice.
After being entertained with the JetSki ride and the underwater expedition we all return to the boat, on the boat we were supplied with the refreshment boxes, we took the boxes and climbed up on the roof of the boat. Then our return journey toward the Sunehra beach is set off and we determined to stay on the roof of the boat and enjoy our return journey with the open sky and the vast sea. It took about an hour to reach back to the beach. Arriving at the beach we were informed by the staff that the lunch will be served after a little while and we utilize that time to wander along the beach.
Lunch served was of Biryani with soft drinks. Finishing the savor lunch we seated on the coaster and our journey back to home started. Dropping passengers at their spot in nearly 2 hours we reach our home back with piles of memories of the day. The day that we will remember for a long time.
“Travel is the only thing you buy that makes you richer.”