Helmet diving in Boracay

helmet diving apparatus

I went helmet diving in Boracay and it turned out to be one of the highlights of my Boracay trip! Heh. I’ve seen it being offered in other places with names like sea walking or reef walking but never got around to doing it.

boracay helmet diving

It’s quite an interesting experience – there are various touts independent tour operators offering helmet diving at White Beach. We were approached by one while having the famous shakes at Jony’s with Xinxian and managed to bargain it down to PHP 800 for two, which works out to 400 pesos per person (about RM 30).

sea walking

Helmet diving is called such because there’s a really long hose connecting the helmet to the oxygen tanks on top.

helmet diving boat

The journey started with a short speedboat trip to a floating sea platform on the Bulabog Beach side of the island.

helmet diving platform

The floating sea platform is where the entire operation is done. It’s anchored to a prime spot in the ocean and there’s an area at the sea bed where you can roam around.

helmet driving instructor

We were briefed by the guide on how the basics of reef walking and I have to admit, I didn’t listen to half of what he said. Posed photo. smirk

helmet diving

I was walking around instead and it’s quite interesting to see the locally made reef walking helmets. These are not the Sea Trek/Seawalker helmet diving systems but jury rigged ones made to resemble them. The helmets have clear glass plates so you can see out and you can breathe normally while you’re underwater.

sea walking platform

The experience is totally unlike scuba diving. You descend down the ladder while the helmet is fitted over you by someone on the platform. The ladder goes down 10 – 15 feet to the bottom of the sea and you get to walk around and look at the corals and feed the fishes.

reef walking

Helmet diving allows you to actually reach inside the helmet so you can equalize the pressure in your ears if you need to. I can do it without pinching my nose but I made the mistake of wiping the glass inside the screen, which made it fog up – you can see half of my face is obscured in the underwater photos. :)

There’s also a scuba diver that takes shots and videos for you. I didn’t realize the guy was taking a video so I posed for a photo instead and wondered what was taking him so long. Haha!

helmet diving photo

You have pieces of bread to feed the fish and you get to spend 15 minutes at the sea bed watching and touching the fishes. I quite enjoyed it – the only thing that bothered me was that the homemade helmets tend to drift away if you’re not holding on to it.

helmet diving boracay

I would have thought the water pressure is enough to keep it in place but the current will shift it around. The guide told us to keep one hand on it. You can take your hands off for a while if you’re standing perfectly still but once you move, you’ll have to hang on to your helmet. Heh.

Despite that minor design issue, helmet diving is quite fun! I didn’t think it would be after scuba diving but I was quite surprised to find myself enjoying the time reef walking on the sea bed and exploring the marine life. It’s a totally different experience.

reef walking boracay

I wish we had more time underwater instead of just 15 minutes and before long we had to climb up the ladder back to the platform. The CD with the photos and videos were ready by the time we were up there. Helmet diving might be commercialized and scuba divers might scoff at the restricted movement (the hose limits where you can go) but it’s still a lot of fun.

reef walking photo

I had a blast and I’ll recommend it if you come across it – helmet diving is a totally different experience altogether and I’m really glad I tried it! :D

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34 thoughts on “Helmet diving in Boracay

  1. waaaa i didn’t know they have this helmet diving thingy. how does it feel like? do i need training? cd is free or must add additional price?
    hehe sorry so many questions i’m going to boracay too at the end of the year with my family.
    oh ya is there age limit? thanks hb!

    • Hello Dora! :)

      It’s been around for quite a while, I’ve seen it in KK, Sabah last time I was there. They were using the proper Seawalker helmets though.

      I don’t think there’s any age limit to this, you don’t need a scuba diving license either.

      The CD we got was free, you can haggle with the tour operators a bit, the prices can vary, I was quoted very different prices from different people.

      Hope that answers your question. Boracay is awesome! Have fun! :D

  2. That looks heavy, man. The helmets I wonder how much they weigh? It looks like it’s made of solid steel!! Looks like you enjoyed it. Hey stranger, how you doing? ;-)

    • Hey yourself, I’m doing alright, how about you? :D

      I don’t know what the helmets are made of but I suspect it’s iron or steel and yes, it’s heavy, at least on top but the buoyancy of the water counteracts it when you’re underwater…

      …which is why they only fit the helmets on you when you’re submerged and hanging on to the ladder.

      It was a lot of fun. Thanks Cherie! :)

  3. I imagined anything longer than 15 mins is asking for trouble; given the crude oxygen supply method… (woooops there me go again.. upsetting your sponsors :) sorry sorry

    • Haha! Dude, I wish, all of these was paid out of my own pocket. :)

      It’s actually a pretty solid method of delivering oxygen, helmet diving has been around for a while, this is the standard design…

      …although they copied the Seawalker/Sea Trek designs and made it themselves, which made it a bit wonky, you can’t leave it on unless you’re standing very still, one hand has to be on the grip. It’s homemade stuff, probably at a metalworks shop at Boracay itself.

      I reckon they’ll be no problems with helmet diving for more than 15 minutes – it’s just the cost of the gas and limited area you can explore (the oxygen hose acts as a tether) which probably factored into the standardized time.

      Cheers bro! :D

      • Hey,

        Just wanted to clarify most comments non divers make. You’re not breathing oxygen! Its just normal air that’s compressed on the surface by a compressor. A typical scuba tank costs anywhere between rm2-10 ringgit to fill.

        Also at the depth you guys were at, risk of decompression sickness would be very very low. For eg the max bottom time at 18m would be 56mins. Also at 30 feet, you can still make it to the surface by swimming your way up

        • Heh! Yeah, it’s just easier to understand – it’s probably a standard mixture like Nitrox, breathing pure oxygen would be a bit hard. :)

          Oh, you remember the oxygen bars that were popular back in the days? Now that’s pure oxygen.

          Yup, there’s no risk of decompression sickness at all – don’t need certification for helmet diving.

          Cheers mate! :D

    • Heh! The feeling of fish brushing against your skin is fun! :)

      Alas, some of them do nibble though. Haha! But it doesn’t hurt.

      Well, you can wear a full wetsuit if you want although I seriously doubt they provide that.

      Thanks Wai Yan! :D

    • Hello Charmaine! :)

      Well, it looks more like 10 feet to me, but that’s what the guy said. Probably best not to trust touts too much. Haha!

      You know, looking back at the photos, I think it was more like 10-15 feet at best. I also went through my notes and realized it was PHP 800 – the additional PHP 100 was what I gave the dude for tips.

      I’m going to add it in now. Thanks for pointing that out! :D

      Nope, it’s perfectly safe – anyone at any age can do this. You don’t need training beforehand, there will be a scuba diver with you at all times and there’s a guide that briefs you on hand signals (usual ones) if you’re in trouble etc.

      It’s quite fun, worth the RM 58 (about that) I paid. :)

  4. I always find the underwater world fascinating. I would love this if I have a chance. Yea, 15 mins is a little bit too short. It would be good to spend a good 30 minutes down there :)

    • Hello Andrew! :)

      Yeah, me too! I love snorkeling, diving, swimming and anything that has to do with the water.

      It feels very serene to me when I’m in the water, particularly underwater. :)

      I reckon 15 minutes is a bit too short too – there are many tour operators (legit and touts) there, but they all go to the same sea platforms – some better than others, some worse. I would have loved to spend 30 minutes down there but the problem is the area that we’re in is cordoned off and your movements are limited by the hose going up that supplies oxygen.

      It’ll still be good to chill down there for a good hour even. Heh.

      Cheers bro! :D

    • Yup, it’s definitely worth a try bro! :)

      I wanted to try this when I went to KK, Sabah a couple of years ago – went to Pulau Sapi and they had this on offer – using the Sea Walker system if I recall correctly. The price is the same (when converted) compared to this homemade helmets based on that design too.

      It’s fun, the helmets are really heavy, I guess it’s about 20 kgs since it feels like it weighs like two bags of rice. Haha!

      It’s way lighter when you’re underwater though due to buoyancy but you can still feel the weight.

      It’s a lot of fun! Cheers bro! :D

    • Heh! Yeah, that’s the best part about it! :)

      I love being underwater too, it’s like a different world altogether – almost like a quasi semi-deprivation tank…except a huge one. Haha!

      I find it very peaceful too!

      Cheers Constance! :D

    • Haha! It’s made of quick drying material and I just went into the water with it. I hardly even realized it was my turn since I was walking around. :)

      I ended up taking it off after I got up – dried within 10 minutes when I put it on the floating platform directly under the sun though.

      Yeah, scuba diving is way better than this, no restriction of movements (there’s a hose tether to the surface). It’s still a lot of fun though, haven’t done helmet diving before.

      Cheers bro! :D

  5. never tried helmet diving before. how much is scuba diving in boracay bro? i never dive there before but a lot of my friends says its good. :)

    • Hello there! :)

      Well, the operators at Boracay has an agreement in place (of sorts) – seems that way coz every dive shop I went to quoted around the same prices. If you just want to dive and rent their equipment, it’s about PHP 1,000.

      That works out to about RM 73 per dive, cheaper if done in bulk. They call it “Fun dives” and some operators will let you choose what you want – Nitrox, Trimix and I’ve even seen Heliox on offer (for additional charges though).

      The diving spots there are pretty good, but Boracay is better known for it’s kitesurfing, especially around this time of the year, you can get IKO certification in a couple of days. Season starts in November in Bulabog Beach.

      Hope that helps bro! :D

    • Thanks Elizabeth! :)

      Good question! I wouldn’t have a clue, I didn’t really notice what camera the diver who was taking the photos was using.

      I was too busy looking around and seeing what the helmet diving system can do. Heh.

      I used my cell phone for the rest of the photos – the underwater photos are all taken by a scuba diver, it’s part of the package.

      Cheers and have a great weekend! :D

    • i went diving also, and i got a piercing on my didi you see, then my friend shouted OOiiiii got fishies like to bite on shiny stuff horrr, so i say WATTTT quickly go put on my trunks then went diving again, aiyorr almost die liao Mr. Uncle Huai Bin, almost die liaoooo…

      • Haha! That would be rather unlikely. The fish will bite (nibble rather) your fingers if you’re holding bread, but it doesn’t hurt.

        I just didn’t think of it, I was walking around and then the guide told me it’s my turn so I just went in. I only realized I was wet and had to dry my shirt at the platform by hanging it under the sun after that. Heh.

        No problems with the board shorts though, those are quick drying, it practically dries within 15 minutes max.

        Cheers bro! :)

    • Heh! It’s a lot of fun, and it’s instant diving, no need for certification. :)

      It’s fun to check out but it’s not scuba diving. Are you getting a PADI licence?

      I would personally go for TDI/SDI instead of PADI since the latter is very commercialized and the former gives you options for Solo Diving and so on.

      Cheers Eiling! :D

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