It was a startlingly blue sea, and the guidebook said that the second largest coral reef of the world was just underneath it.
The largest one is the Great Barrier Reef of Australia, but little is known about this one.
Known as the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, it stretches 600 miles along the coasts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.
We were in Cuba, the largest island country of the Caribbean, and were amazed by the green nature, wildlife, and blue sea.
While snorkelling at a few spots, we came to experience the sea life with colourful fishes and other sea creatures, and became interested in the coral reef and scuba diving.
Snorkelers remain close to the water surface while scuba divers go deeper into the sea and stay there for longer.
Getting a scuba permit is time consuming for first timers; you have to train for a few days, in both sweet and salt water.
It often starts in a swimming pool and after that the instructor will accompany you to the sea floor.
Scuba diving is also quite expensive all over the world.
We were visiting a Cuban town named Cienfuegos, which was not far from Playa Girón.
It is also known for the Bay of Pigs Invasion by American soldiers, who lost the battle to the new revolutionary government of Cuba.
At the same time, Playa Girón is a very good place to watch coral reef.
We stayed in a Casa particular, a common system in socialistic Cuba, which is a kind of private home-stay or private accommodation through which you get to meet wonderful locals.
While discussing the lengthy and expensive process of scuba diving, our host Señor Louis recommended the internationally known underwater photographer Señor Ramon – his family friend, and a licensed diving guide, who could take inexperienced people like us underwater.
Ramon showed up the next day, a well built, cheerful fellow with a dark moustache and limited English.
Ramon explained his numerous diving experiences with tourists from all over the world.
He said that there are strict rules for inexperienced people and we should not go deeper than 45 feet (15 meters).
He mentioned that the beauty of this coral reef could be enjoyed very well within this depth, and that there are sharks, not the giant, scary ones but smaller reef sharks.
Fully equipped and dressed for diving into the sea, I and Sara, my travel mate from Finland, met Ramon the next day.
At first he taught us how to use the oxygen cylinder, then he cleaned the glasses and finally, he repeatedly went over the instructions so we do not forget them easily.
He was also carrying an underwater camera and a bottle full of breads to attract the fishes.
He assured with a broad smile that the underwater photographs would be for free, as a gift to his first Bangladeshi student.
We walked till we reached neck deep water.
Then there was a gentle nudge into the sea and then the journey underwater began.
It was a completely different world, colourful and splendid, unlike anything I had ever experienced.
Immediately after taking the first dive, I could feel a new kind of joy. At the same time, I could feel life in a wholly different way.
When we were in the coral reef, we saw many different kinds of coral in every possible shape and colour.
But those were not the only beautiful things we witnessed underwater. There were fishes, millions of them, swimming in every direction.
The sea floor was covered with black and red sea urchins. Sea urchins look almost like porcupines, round and full of quill like spines.
These thorny creatures can cause extreme pain if you set foot on any of them, so we carefully avoided them and tried not to touch anything.
It was also to prevent disrupting the nature.
Ramon handed me the bread bottle when we were laying on the sea floor where depth was maximum 20 feet and the sunrays made everything clearer to see.
When I started to shake the bottle, hundreds and hundreds of fishes started to flock towards it, almost like a competition.
With so many fishes around us, I felt as if we were in a giant aquarium and not in the Caribbean Sea.
Deep into the sea, I felt that my life would never be the same again, from now on, it would be more enriched.
Even if I never dived again in my entire life, the time spent in the coral reef was sufficient to brighten up my whole life.
I would recommend underwater diving to everyone, especially those with depression and anxiety disorder.
While looking at the marine creatures, we were also looking out for sharks. It was exciting and thrilling, but not a scary moment.
At one point, few minutes after we entered a valley, I suddenly found myself all alone!
Sara was probably behind a rock wall and Ramon was well ahead of us.
I was the only human down there with a wondering soul. It was such a peaceful experience.
I did not have any trouble breathing although twice I felt a pain in my ears as we went deeper and deeper.
We also noticed a far sea turtle and a black-tip reef shark, among lots of fishes.
After an hour, the instructor gave us the sign to go up. It was time to refill the oxygen tanks.
I feel a bit empty while leaving the underwater world, but I knew that this diving experience was a life changing one.