Nemo 33, an absolute bucket list dive of mine for the past few years was fast approaching with a tight schedule of only two and half days to get there and back by car with my fabulous Photographer, Radoslaw Krol in tow. We set off early, dive masks packed, Saltrock knits on and Euro Tunnel tickets in hand. The aim for this trip was to not only dive Nemo but to also see how fast it could all be done and with how much ease it could be executed.
Finding nearby interesting, signature dives close to home can sometimes be a challenge but with connections like the Eurotunnel offering speedy transfers the commute becomes much more do able. With a crossing of only 35 mins we were in France before we knew it and driving off to Belgium.
We chose to stay at the nearby Hotel Campanile in Drogenbos after being recommended by the pool. Clean, comfy rooms with an exceptionally friendly staff team made for a happy stay and we felt welcomed and safe in secure rooms. A short drive away and we were at the pool and ready to be inducted and submerge. We ate at this hotel, hung out and had a few cheeky post dive drinks and really enjoyed ourselves.
The pool bottoming out at 33 meters is accessible by bus, tram or car and offers ample free parking on arrival. Easy to spot as you drive past we were excited to arrive and see what all the fuss was about. Walking right into the reception which sits at the side of the restaurant we were warmly welcomed. The restaurant was awesome, dive tanks hung on walls, windows next to tables peered into the pool where a vivid blue shone through. We quickly checked in and explored, heading for the dive shop and bar area. Sipping on fresh coffee and chatting about the dives, the restaurant was buzzing.
Feeling light after only needing to arrive with our dive computers, it was easy to look around without having to lug kit. The rental equipment was in great condition and staff were at hand for sizing and assistance. I loved the way the pool was used by divers, swimmers, free divers and for exercise classes. It was a real hub of activity with all sorts going on and a very refreshing vibe.
A perfectly designed pool with different levels, underwater cave type rooms and sub levels to help you descend and ascend safely, the pool is easily appropriate to investigate over an hour with the deep tube being a first stop and highlight. It is also great fun looking through the pool windows during your dive and waving at coffee sippers. I loved the design and layout of all aspects of the building and pool and the way each area corresponded to the next. The facility is ideal for all levels of divers and offers supervision at all times.
Submerging and dropping down to the 30m mark and looking up above you offers a perfect view of the depth tunnel and a stunning view of light and dark shadows and outlines of divers above. It really is quite a sight. A sense of being in the abyss or a dodgy diver film where you could disappear at any moment into the depth of the ocean is what runs through your mind at the bottom as you are unable to see the surface through the cloud of bubbles.
An ample break at the restaurant with some of the best Thai food I have ever tasted outside of Thailand came next on the agenda. I also absolutely loved the in restaurant projector running continuous dive movies on a huge white wall.
Knowing the drill for the next dive and eagerly awaiting the bell ring for the next set of divers to go off and get ready, we waited and ting, off we went. The second dive was much easier in a lot of ways because we knew the layout of the pool, the systems for getting ready and the pool rules. This dive was for exploring and enjoying and it was great!
I love that this dive is easy to get to and do from the UK and with the connections as impressive as they are, it really is easy for anyone and affordable to do. I would highly recommend it. There is so much to do on the way and so much to see in nearby cities like Brugge and Antwerp that this dive trip can easily turn into a sight seeing tour. We stopped at various places to enjoy the infamous Belgian chocolate and beer that Belgium boasts of. So much can be seen in such a short time.