I’m excited to share my adventurous kayaking experience in Croatia; the blue caves off the coast of Pula are fascinating!

I booked this excursion for two specific reasons: I’d never been kayaking before, and I’d never been to an ocean cave, let alone gone cliff diving. Man, did this excursion deliver one of the most memorable experiences ever!

Discovering that I was the only novice in our group wasn’t the most enjoyable emotion to experience. As our expedition kicked off, I set out on a kayaking adventure, but it didn’t take long to realize that I wasn’t prepared for this. Kudos to anyone who does this sport; it’s real work!

While I was kayaking, I had a very close encounter with a fisherman’s line: I (somehow) missed seeing the line, and as I approached the fisherman I literally kayaked right into it! This shows how much of a rookie I truly was. It’s no surprise that I fell out of my kayak, which was extremely hilarious! Luckily, I was able use a nearby boulder as a step stool in order to hop back inside.

Once I was safely back in the kayak, we headed over to a secluded beach for a quick break and to enjoy refreshments. Walking around, getting to know more about one another, we were directed to the guides, who briefed us on cliff jumping, since that was the next adventure on our agenda. We would be jumping from roughly 50 feet above water. I was shocked to learn that everyone else had previous experience cliff diving, except for myself and one other person. This was of little concern to me, because I had absolutely no intention of jumping over the side of a cliff into the middle of the ocean. I mean, what more do you expect from a novice swimmer? I simply veered away from the topic, quietly listening to everyone else’s conversation until our guide let us know when it was time to head out.

By the time we made it to the trail, I was wiped out. I had been working muscles that I didn’t realize I had. Luckily, the guide noticed my fatigue and paired me with someone who actually knew what they were doing. Nevertheless, I was more concerned about the trail leading up to the diving point, wondering how some people could be so excited about jumping. Instead of a leap of faith, this seemed more like a plunge to death, if you asked me.

Once we arrived, the guides gave everyone instructions, which seemed simple enough: walk to the edge and STEP OFF. Don’t jump. Just step off.

Again, I had no intention of participating, especially as the only black guy in the group. Instead, I just stood in the back, watching everyone else take the plunge, one by one.

While waiting, I heard one couple’s conversation: a man was trying to convince his girlfriend to jump, but she wasn’t having it. I thought to myself, she’s smart. Several people had already tried to convince me to jump as well, but I wasn’t having it either, or so I thought. I overheard the boyfriend pleading his argument with her, which made me look at the situation in its entirety.

Everyone on the trip had jumped except this couple and me, and this guy was planning on jumping. After watching everyone else take the plunge, I thought, it does seem easy enough. I suddenly found myself arguing with my fears.

Additionally, our tour guide, who was an expert swimmer, was in the water below, as a precautionary safety measure. For me, this provided a level of comfort. I had originally only considered the fear, which, of course, became my rationale for not jumping—until now. This was also a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity, as long as we made it out alive. If this guy could convince his girlfriend to jump, I would be the only non-jumper, I realized. I remembered a promise I had made to myself: I would leave my fears at the door in order to fully embrace life and everything this trip had to offer. It was obviously now or never.

With all of these thoughts raging through my mind, I courageously told the girlfriend that if she jumped, I would jump too. She seemed to simultaneously agree as soon as the words left my mouth. “OK,” she replied, “but only if you jump first.”

Breathing deeply, I took a few seconds to “man up” before walking to the plank, nervous as all-get-out.

I instructed everyone to remain on standby just in case they all needed to jump in the water to save me. Slowly approaching the edge and muttering a quick mental prayer, I took a deep breath, hoping it wouldn’t be my last. And then I finally stepped over.

I was in butterfly heaven for about three seconds before splashing into the water.

Lesson Time: Although no one is exempt from peer pressure, including adults, you should still take the time to think things over for yourself. Don’t be afraid to go for it! Remember, life and living are two different things, and you don’t want to let the gift of life pass you by.

From the cliffs, we proceeded to a beautiful and secluded water cave. Nature’s beauty, including jellyfish and bats, had made themselves quite a home there. Sharing a few refreshments before heading back to the launch site, we were able to enjoy the simplistic beauty of all that surrounded us.

With a little time and research, you too could be planning your very own trip to Croatia, and hopefully, this shared experience has advanced you in your search to do just that.

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