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DIVE TRAVEL Adventures BE INSPIRED, GO DIVING...

AUTUMN 2018

Photo Dives

WORLDWIDE Plus:

Award-winning photographers share their favourite spectacular dive destinations from around the globe

BAHAMAS + WAKATOBI + JORDAN + MALDIVES + FARNE ISLANDS + EGYPT + CHUUK


“The reef systems here are some of the most pristine I have seen anywhere in my dive travels around the globe, and Wakatobi resort and liveaboard are second to none. The diversity of species here is brilliant if you love photography.� ~ Simon Bowen

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An experience without equal

At Wakatobi, you don’t compromise on comfort to get away from it all. Our private air charter brings you directly to this luxuriously remote island, where all the indulgences of a five-star resort and luxury liveaboard await. Our dive team and private guides ensure your in-water experiences are perfectly matched to your abilities and interests. Your underwater encounters will create lasting memories that will remain vivid and rewarding long after the visit to Wakatobi is concluded. While at the resort, or on board the dive yacht Pelagian, you need only ask and we will gladly provide any service or facility within our power. This unmatched combination of worldrenowned reefs and first-class luxuries put Wakatobi in a category all its own.

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AAFFRRI C I CAANNDDI V I VEESSAAFA FARRI S IS -Let -LetYour YourImagination ImaginationRun RunWildWildSponsored Sponsored by by Nomad Nomad Africa Africa Dive Dive Safaris Safaris

The wilds of the African continent, and the beasts that roam it, have held the imagination for centuries. It entices people from around the globe. The depths of the African waters bring the best of mega fauna diving within the grasps of divers and marine lovers. To combine an African safari with a once in a lifetime dive trip is to breathe life into your wildest imaginations! Picture yourself sitting in an open safari vehicle and watching the sunrise over the plains of the Kruger National Park. Elephants roaming slowly past you, lions gazing at you through piercing amber eyes, and rhinos grazing in the long green grass.

Imagine the moment the radio crackles to life and the captain in the skies above directs you to a fast moving bait ball on the iconic Sardine Run. The anticipation as the boat skims through the water heading for the action. You arrive and the surface is alive. Humpback whales breach beside you, while super-pods of dolphins race into the melee and apex sharks feed from the underside of the tightly packed bait ball. Back on shore you savour a cold satisfying drink as you watch the sunset over the stunning scenery of the Wild Coast.

The finale to your tour sees you arrive in the iconic city of Cape Town, a stunning city bowl surrounded by towering mountain ranges. Here penguins waddle along white sandy beaches, moments away from bustling al fresco bars playing live music and offering fresh African cuisine and world famous South African wines.

Enjoy days of safari in the African bush, ending each with a fulfilling meal cooked by your tour chef and sipping hot cocoa around a fire. Be entertained by traditional dancing and lie in bed at night listening to the sounds of the African night. Then find yourself launching a dive rib into the emerald blue waters of Protea Banks, leaving your non-diving tour mates to go on their own day’s adventure. The water is filled with hundreds of schooling hammerheads, watching you drift past in the blue. Bull sharks escort you, as the sound of dolphins approaching reaches your ears. Below you Guitar sharks relax in the sand and mantas quietly glide past.

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“The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever.” - Jacques-Yves Cousteau

In the clear waters of Cape Town the ever-playful Cape Fur Seals await you, ready to pose for your camera, and put on their show. Prehistoric 7 Gilled Cow sharks hide amongst towering kelp, and tiny slipper sharks watch you with shy shining eyes. To end your epic adventure there is one more experience awaiting you. In the cool green waters of the Cape coast lives the ‘King of the Sharks’, the star in our fin-fuelled imaginings. In a cage on the surface you wait for the call, “Down Down Down!” In a moment that will stand still in your memory, you come face to face with the majestic Great White. Her midnight black eye roves over you as she gracefully glides past, and in that moment, you are gifted with a brief encounter of momentous worth.

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W E LCO M E AUTUMN 2 0 1 8

Bahamas

Welcome...

Welcome to the first edition of Dive Travel Adventures! This exciting new quarterly magazine from the team at Scubaverse.com is packed full of incredible photography and first-person travel experiences from around the world. From amazing marine encounters to edge of your seat expeditions across the planet, Dive Travel Adventures offers you an insight into the hottest and coolest dive destinations for 2018 and beyond. Our aim is to inspire you to dust off your scuba gear and get out there... Get ready to tick some spectacular Dive Travel Adventures off your wish list!

Jane Herbert EDITOR SCUBAVERSE

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VISIT SCUBAVERSE.COM

The World’s Best Online Dive Companion Get all the latest dive, travel & marine conservation news – Equipment & gear reviews – Blogs & features – Underwater photography & videography – Competitions – Community - Events, and much more! Join us at Scubaverse.com, on social media or email us at contact@scubaverse.com – we’d love to hear from you!

CONTACT INFORMATION EDITORIAL

Publisher Dave Alexander dave@scubaverse.com Editor Jane Herbert jane@scubaverse.com Deputy Editor Caroline Robertson-Brown caroline@scubaverse.com Editor-at-Large Jeff Goodman jeff@scubaverse.com

Underwater Photography Editor Nick Robertson-Brown uwp@scubaverse.com

SALES & MARKETING Dave Alexander dave@scubaverse.com +44 (0)7469 252917

Marketing Manager Sarah Tillbrook sarah@scubaverse.com

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AUTUM N 2018 CO NTENTS

Farne Islands Jordan

s

Chuuk Lagooon

Egypt

Wakatobi Maldives

Contents

10 BAHAMAS

50 TOP 10 PHOTO DIVES

96 EGYPT

22 WAKATOBI

72 MALDIVES

110 CHUUK LAGOON

36 JORDAN

88 FARNE ISLANDS

On a two week tour of the Islands of the Bahamas, Nick and Caroline of Frogfish Photography head to Bimini in search of some serious shark action before discovering its softer side. Diving at Wakatobi National Park brings more than just short-term enjoyment for visitors. Wade and Robyn Hughes explore diving’s contribution to environmental and economic sustainability. An invitation to witness the historic scuttling of a C-130 Hercules in Aqaba proved the perfect excuse for Sean Chinn to explore some of Jordan’s incredible treasures above and below water.

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If you could photograph anything, anywhere… where would you go? We asked 10 of our favourite awardwinning photographers to share their choice of the top photo spots worldwide. Land-based or liveaboard? Richard and Hayley of Black Manta Photography enjoyed the best of both worlds when they explored the Maldives, from land and sea, earlier this year. Perfect for a UK weekend getaway, Nick and Caroline of Frogfish Photography share their tips for diving with the Islands’ famous (and friendly!) Grey Seals.

Have you seen everything Egypt has to offer? Nick and Caroline discover the Southern Red Sea on a liveaboard itinerary that shows why Egypt is such a perennially outstanding dive destination. Richard and Hayley of Black Manta Photography head to Chuuk Lagoon for some deep and meaningful dives at what is considered to be the ultimate wreck diving destination worldwide.

All photography unless otherwise stated is copyright © to the contributing writers/photographers herein. Copyright © for all material in this magazine remains with Scubaverse Media Limited. Use of material from Dive Travel Adventures is strictly prohibited unless written permission is given by the Publisher, Dave Alexander. If you wish to stock the magazine in your dive centre or club, please contact sarah@scubaverse.com . To download your free digital copy of Dive Travel Adventures, simply visit our website www.scubaverse.com.

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B A H A MAS B I M I NI

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B IM INI BAH BA H A M A S

Gentle

giants On a two week tour of the Islands of the Bahamas, Nick and Caroline of Frogfish Photography head to Bimini in search of some serious shark action before discovering its softer side. WORDS & IMAGES: NICK AND CAROLINE ROBERTSON-BROWN

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B AH A MAS BI MI NI

s the tiny island hopper lines up its approach to South Bimini Airport, our excitement rises. This is our third visit to this tiny pair of islands, which are nestled at the top end of the Bahamian chain, close to Florida. There really is a good reason that we keep coming back: Great Hammerhead Sharks. From December through to April, these magnificent sharks can be found in the shallow, clear waters that surround Bimini, and divers flock to see and photograph them. We do not travel light and so it is always with baited breath that we wait for our luggage to arrive from the plane. Occasionally you may have to wait for the next flight for all your bags to

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arrive, so it’s a good idea to ensure you have essentials like prescription masks and camera equipment with you on the flight if you can. Especially if, like us, you plan to get straight in the water on a Great Hammerhead dive. Bimini boasts miles of pristine beaches and has quite a notorious history, in part due to the fact that it is only 50 miles from the Florida coast. During the American prohibition period, Bimini became an offshore ‘speakeasy’, popular with

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B IM INI B A H A M A S

You may have to wait half an hour, or you might have to wait several hours, it is not an exact science… but as we peer over the side, hoping to catch the first glimpse of a Great Hammerhead, we are not disappointed. ‘rum-runners’ from Florida and the southern USA. Bimini consists of two main islands, North and South, as well as numerous uninhabited small cays, and it has a total population that comes in at just under 2000. The South island is quieter; most of the population, dive

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centres and hotels are situated on North Bimini. We were staying at the Bimini Big Game Club on North Bimini and so we arrived at the hotel via a three minute ferry crossing from South Bimini, where the airport is located. It all adds to the adventure, even more

so when you look over the side of the ferry as it pulls into the dock at Bimini Big Game Club and see four large Bull Sharks swimming slowly around the marina. It is quite a welcome! Having quickly unpacked, put together our underwater photography and videography equipment, and grabbed our diving gear, we walked to the in-house dive centre: Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center. Neal greeted us like long lost friends as we realised that the last time we met was in Las Vegas over a few beers during the DEMA Show. The early morning flight meant we arrived just in time to join in on that

IMAGES Left page, top: The Hammerhead dive is a real treat for underwater photographers. Left page, bottom: The Bimini reefs are teeming with fish. Below: Great Hammerhead Sharks in clear blue water make for an incredible dive.

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B AH A MAS BI MI NI

day’s Great Hammerhead Shark Expedition. As we got on the boat we could see the excitement in the other divers on board, most of whom had not done this type of dive before. Diving with large sharks like the Great Hammerhead is always an incredible experience, but there is something very special about this particular dive. The anticipation builds as the boat is moored up, and the dive guides start to put chum in the water to attract the sharks. You may have to wait half an hour, or you might have to wait several hours, it is not an exact science… but as we peer over the side, hoping to catch the first glimpse, we are not disappointed. A Hammerhead swims under the boat almost immediately and so it is now time to throw on the dive gear and head to the sandy seabed below. Each diver has a spot marked out in a line either side of the shark ‘wrangler’ who is in charge of the dive. Another dive guide stays

behind the divers so that you do not need eyes in the back of your head. In order that each person gets a turn out at the edge of the feed, as well as right by the bait box, you rotate positions every 15 minutes or so. It is hard to say which is the best position as the time you spend right by the wrangler can certainly be the most exciting, with 5m long sharks coming right up close. However, the time at the

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IMAGES Top: Nurse Sharks also come in close for a piece of the action. Below: The lead dive guide - the shark wrangler - reaches up to feed a passing Hammerhead Shark.

outer edges can give the best photographic opportunities, with fewer bubbles and sand to get in your shots. Wherever you are positioned on this dive, it is a real rush. Inexperienced divers are also generally surprised at what a calm and relaxing dive experience this is. The sharks swim very slowly and are quite ‘British’ in their willingness to form an orderly queue!

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“Give them a week they will remember forever.”

2019 FAMILY DIVE WEEKS

SPRING BREAK TRIPS YAP: Manta Ray Bay Resort, March 2nd through March 30th BONAIRE: Buddy Dive Bonaire, March 23rd-30th March 30th to April 6th BONAIRE: Buddy Dive Bonaire, March 30th to April 6th GRAND CAYMAN: Cobalt Coast, April 13th to 20th GRAND CAYMAN: Cobalt Coast, April 20th to 27th

THE SUMMER WEEKS PHILIPPINES: Ocean Vida Cabilao, June 15 to 20th (5 nights) or Pura Vida Homes; Dauin (7 nights) & June 20th to 27th GRAND CAYMAN: Cobalt Coast, June 15th to 22nd

ROATAN: Turqoiuse Bay Beach Resort: June 29th to July 6th ROATAN: Mayan Princess: July 6th to 13th PALAU: Sam’s Tours, and Palau Royal, June 29th to July 9th BONAIRE: Buddy Dive Resort, July 13th to 20th

BONAIRE: Buddy Dive Resort, July 20th to 27th ST. LUCIA: Anse Chastanet Resort, July 27th to Aug 3rd ST. LUCIA: Anse Chastanet Resort, August 3rd to 10th ST. LUCIA: Anse Chastanet Resort, Aug 10 to 17th FIJI: Jean-Michel Cousteau, August 10th to 17th THANKSGIVING WEEK LITTLE CAYMAN: Little Cayman Beach Resort, November 23rd to 30th

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B AH A MAS BI MI NI

IMAGES Top and Below: Bimini is now home to four new artificial reef wrecks.

As the dive is usually quite shallow (anything from six to 12 metres), and as you are kneeling on the sand not expending any energy, you can stay down for as long as your tank lasts. As you start to get low on air, you can head back up to the boat and change tanks, and then head back down for more Hammerhead action as soon as you are ready. We spent well over two hours underwater on this

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expedition and had three or four Hammerhead Sharks with us for the whole duration. In addition, you might see several other species of shark at this site. The goofy and yet adorable Nurse Sharks are always trying to get closer and closer to the bait box and are chased away every few minutes. We also had a Bull Shark keeping its distance (they are not encouraged to come close) for all of our time underwater and, recently, although sadly not on our dive, they have also encountered a Tiger Shark here. The water is clear and warm, making Bimini the ideal place to come and photograph Great Hammerhead Sharks. However, you should not ignore the other dives that the island has to offer. Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center has also recently been involved in a project to sink four boats to

The water is clear and warm, making Bimini the ideal place to come and photograph Great Hammerhead Sharks. However, you should not ignore the other dives that the island has to offer.

create an underwater park of artificial reef wrecks. These were still very new when we dived them, but already you could see that they are going to become home to lots of marine life. A large school of juvenile Horse-Eyed Jacks had already taken up residence. The reefs are also teeming with life and we were taken

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B AH A MAS BI MI NI

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B IM INI B A H A M A S

We spent around four hours out at sea with at least two hours in the water in close proximity to two different pods of dolphins. It was a magical experience.

by surprise as to just how many fish we saw on a small patch of reef. Turtles and Barracuda are also common sights in the waters here. Bimini is also famous for its wild dolphins. Whilst marine life encounters can never be guaranteed, these waters are a great place to see both Bottlenose and Atlantic Spotted Dolphins all year round. You do not have to be a diver, but you do need to be confident snorkelling, as you may end up a short swim from the boat as you follow the dolphins in the water. This trip takes you to the western edge of the Grand

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Bahama Bank and everyone is encouraged to keep watch as the boat zigzags over the white sand and turquoise sea looking for these charismatic animals. It takes about an hour to get to this location, and excitement builds as the boat slows and the search begins. Once they have been located, it is time to grab your mask, snorkel and fins and slip into the water. Whilst the Spotted Dolphins are the friendliest, our trip saw us getting in the water with the usually more elusive Bottlenose Dolphins. As soon as we entered the

IMAGES Left: Bottlenose dolphins come up to see the snorkellers at the surface. Above: The dolphins were happy to play in the water around us for hours.

water it was apparent that the dolphins were hunting in the sand for small fish, using their clicking sonar to echolocate their prey. We certainly did not expect them to pay us any attention, but in between foraging in the sand, they would come up to breathe and put on a show for us at the surface. We were even lucky enough to get close to a mother and calf. We spent around four hours out at sea with at least two hours in the water in close proximity to two different pods of dolphins. It was a magical experience. When visiting Bimini, we recommend that you also

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B IM INI B A H A M A S

Visit Bimini Sharklab: a shark research establishment that has been monitoring the sharks of Bimini since 1990.

TRAVEL LOG:

BIMINI Flights Numerous flight options to Nassau but we flew Heathrow to Nassau with British Airways, and Nassau to Bimini with Westernair.

Top Tip! The small island hopper planes have tight luggage limits and sometimes cannot take everything on one flight, so ensure you have your essentials with you as hand baggage.

Transfers 5 minute bus ride and 5 minute ferry ride to the North Island.

Water temperature 26°C in December – 3mm full length wetsuits

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were fine for us.

Currency $US; credit cards widely accepted in larger resorts.

Favourite non-diving activity

make time to visit Bimini Sharklab. This is a shark research establishment that has been monitoring the sharks of Bimini since 1990. They offer daily tours to the public who are interested in learning more about sharks and shark conservation. They only ask for a minimum donation of $10 and for this you can meet the team, learn about the current research projects, and even wade out to the shark pen. We saw juvenile Lemon and Nurse Sharks that are kept for research there before being released back into the wild. At the end of a simply wonderful couple of days, we sat on the terrace of the bar at Bimini Big Game Club drinking real ale (a rare

treat in The Bahamas) and watching the Bull Sharks patrol the marina looking for discards from the fishermen’s boats. We had a stunning meal accompanied by fabulous wine at Resorts World Bimini, where you can also try your luck at the casino. All too soon it was time to head to bed and then grab a ferry back to the South Island and on to the airport. It is always hard to leave Bimini, but at least we were not heading home; we were on our way to our next Bahamian shark adventure. ■ MORE INFORMATION www.biminiscubacenter.com www. biggameclubbimini.com www. bahamas.com

Snorkelling with wild dolphins at Neal Watson’s Bimini Scuba Center.

Favourite place to eat/drink Resorts World Bimini for a great meal with wonderful wine to go with it.

Final Word! The Great Hammerhead Dive is one of the best marine life encounter dives anywhere in the world.

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WAKATOB I I ND O NESI A

Diving at Wakatobi National Park brings more than just short-term enjoyment for visitors. It makes a significant contribution to the wellbeing of local communities, in turn helping to ensure the longterm sustainable management of the globally important coral reefs within the Park’s boundaries. WORDS & IMAGES: WADE & ROBYN HUGHES

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IMAGES Below: Wakatobi III hangs on a mooring for a morning’s private diving at Wakatobi National Park. Drone pilot/ photographer : Wayne Osborn. Right: Bejewelled in pulsing chromatophores, a squid awaits its chance to seize prey at night at Teluk Maya dive site.

eep…beep… beep…” What! Already? A quick glance away from the viewfinder to my dive computer confirmed it. “50 bar,” it said, as it flashed its rain-on-theparade message at me. I doubt the damn thing has ever enjoyed a dive in its entire life. Its clinical sensors certainly don’t seem to make any allowance for the level of enjoyment or fascination pulsing through the water around it. Maybe it’s just as well. There would be a lot of bent divers if the droll gradient-bubble algorithm had a ‘fun-factor’ programmed into it. So, this dancing and dipping cleaner shrimp would have to go on the ‘to be continued’ list… I started the ascent up the sloping reef teeming with life and interest, towards the five metre safety

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stop - accompanied by more irritating beeping. Visible above, beyond the safety stop, and, by virtue of the rain thrashing down, audible too, lay the surface. It was April and the easterly and westerly monsoons were jostling for their seasonal ascendancy. For a few days the wind had veered back and forth and the unstable atmosphere had been grumbling with thunder, dumping sudden torrential rainstorms that could be clearly heard down to a depth of around 20 metres or so. We rose into the misty grey drubbing of that tropical downpour, Mali and me. It was Mali, our guide, who had pointed out the egg-bearing shrimp after we’d discussed looking for a cleaning station before the dive. The station was in the deep shade of an overhang on a section of the Sawa Island reef

Mali left me to it while he moved on along the wall to look for more macro opportunities. He knew I’d be a while.

wall that Mali knew well and he’d led me straight there as soon as we’d jumped in the water. He had then left me to it while he moved on along the wall to look for more macro opportunities. He knew I’d be a while.  I had been trying for some time to create an image of two of these cleaner shrimp in pleasing juxtaposition, doing their mid-water invitational

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WAKATOB I I ND O NESI A

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WAKATOB I I ND O NESI A

“Did you get the eggs?” I shook my head. “Next time!” he said with a smile.* of the shrimps. That solved one problem immediately, and simultaneously raised another. With Nauticam’s supermacro wet dioptre, it’s much easier to get smoothly bokeh’ed backgrounds because of the veneer-thin depth of field. But trying to frame and then focus on the smallest detail of an erratically moving subject while hovering above, alongside, and below fragile corals and delicate reef life is, well...   Mali quietly withdrew and went off again to find something to while away the bars. But when the dive computer asserted itself and we surfaced together to wait for Wakatobi III to materialise out of the pelting rain, he pointed to the camera: “Did you get the eggs?” I shook my head. “Next time!” he said with a smile.* “Yep. We’ll stay here and try again before we go for lunch.” It’s possible to dive like this at Wakatobi - unhurriedly, repetitively on the same site, every day if you want to - by rituals against an interesting out-of-focus background: a colourful sponge; a gorgonian; the scale and skin patterns of one of the cleaning station’s customers. Anything, really, except for this particular shot: a black background.     However, on one of his periodic visits to see how I was faring with my pretzelised strobe arms and almost ceaselessly hunting lens, Mali’s laser-sharp sight picked up the eyes of embryos in the cluster of eggs tucked in under the mid-section of one

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IMAGES TOP: Heading for a brief visit to replenish its lungs, a Banded Sea Krait pauses its submerged hunt for food. Right: This Filamented Flasher Wrasse works hard to stand out amidst the kaleidoscopic diversity of Wakatobi’s reefs.

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“The more you know, the more you see.” Dr Richard Smith

IMAGES Left: Earth’s coral reefs in microcosm: Healthy corals flourish on the pinnacle of a seamount. Above, left: A trumpetfish hides in red whipcorals. Above, right (top): A moray eel awaits nightfall to go out to hunt. Above, right (below): Sponges and ascidians combine in riotous colour while I wait for something to swim into the foreground!

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using the private boat option. It adds some cost, but more than anything else, it creates the invaluable asset of time; time to spend getting to know the Wakatobi reefs in intimate detail. This is the closest you can get to diving out of your own boat at home, with the added advantage of having a friendly crew to do all the work, and an expert private guide on-hand to provide detailed local knowledge and locate hard-to-find species. Tod Papageorge, as far as I can tell, never attempted underwater photography, but as a legendary street photographer in the 1950s, he made a profound observation: “If your photographs aren’t good enough, you’re obviously not reading enough.” Dr Richard Smith, latterday marine biologist and

underwater photographer, puts the same idea into different words: “The more you know, the more you see.” In the collective local knowledge of Mali and the team of Wakatobi dive guides, there is, literally, a library’s worth of reading. It is through their understanding of the local reefs that my wife and I have been able, over eight visits so far, to see and record so much. The more we’ve seen at Wakatobi National Park, the more we’ve got to know just how effectively the resort and the local communities are collaborating to ensure that the reefs are sustainably managed, and are therefore given the best possible chance of thriving into the future. Indeed, it is this visionary collaboration that has led to the designation of the area as a National Park by the Indonesian government. To fully grasp the significance of this, it is worth reflecting a little on the role that coral reefs play in maintaining the wellbeing of the world’s seas, on which

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humans increasingly depend for food, and on the health of the atmosphere, upon which all life depends for oxygen. In some yet to be updated data, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) estimates that coral reefs account for just 0.1 percent of the total area of Earth’s oceans, yet they produce and harbour around 25 percent of all marine species. These reefs occur in more than 100 countries, with about 80 of those countries to be found in the developing world. UNEP has estimated that healthy coral reefs can generate a value of around $US1.25 million per hectare per year from the products and natural services they provide. They yield fish and other marine life for human consumption, aid coastal protection against erosion by the sea, and increasingly they are becoming the source of tested and proven drugs and medicines that cannot yet be

found nor synthesised from terrestrial organisms. And they attract and support a ballooning tourism industry. Somewhere between 850 million and 1 billion people live within 100 kilometres of these reefs and of those, probably somewhere north of 275 million depend directly on the reefs for their livelihood. Add tourists to those numbers and it’s easy to see that the economic value of those coral reefs, fragile and vulnerable as they are, is under immense pressure. And so, how best to protect them? Humanity, in general, depends and benefits from coral reefs and yet most of the people living in closest proximity to them are amongst the world’s poorest and least able to defend and sustain them. The key, I believe, lies in the economics. Wakatobi National Park survives and thrives today because it provides economic

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The (economic) value of coral reefs, fragile and vulnerable as they are, is under immense pressure. And so, how best to protect them?

IMAGES Hidden and safe under a ledge, a Peacock Mantis Shrimp uses the best eyes on the planet to scan the reef top for prey.

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World Travel Awards

Indonesia’s Leading Dive Resort 2018

2018 Indonesia's Leading Dive Resort

Set in the world-famous Bunaken National Marine Park, Bunaken Oasis offers a truly luxurious diving experience. Exceptional air-conditioned cottages with sea-view balconies. Chill-out bar, and gourmet panoramic restaurant. Custom-built spa with qualified therapists. Panoramic freshwater infinity pool From water-makers, with UV treatment, to blackwater treatment, Oasis was designed to minimise any impact on the environment.

protect yourself from the elements

www.liquidsports.co.uk

5* PADI-affiliated dive centre, designed for photographers, and dive boats that are second to none, with freshwater deck showers, toilets and, above all, space.

info@bunakenoasis.com

www.bunakenoasis.com

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www.liquidsports.co.uk

P R I VAT E | LO C A L | U N I Q U E www.k2diveresort.com

K2 Dive Resort, Lingkungan II, Kelapadua, Pulau Lembah, Bitung, Sulawesi Utara, Indonesia

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alternatives to the 18 or so local communities that are collaborating with the Wakatobi resort. They can choose between unmanaged and destructive exploitation of their reefs… or sustainable management of them. They benefit directly from revenues generated by the resort through the provision of reef lease payments, electricity, and educational support. Local people are employed

and trained in a wide range of vocations at the resort. Local fishermen have a reliable customer willing to pay premium prices for high-quality, sustainablyharvested fish. No-take areas are generally recognised and respected by those local fishermen, who understand these area’s roles in replenishing the reefs. Local villagers patrol the reefs to encourage observance of those

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IMAGES Above: *And wait it did. After a surface interval on the private boat, we returned to finally record the shrimp and her eggs. Below: Early in the morning after a full moon, a sponge spawns on a Wakatobi reef.

no-take areas. This is conservation based on sound economics. Economic growth of the resort, through its appeal to wider ranges of guests, translates as greater opportunity and choice for more local people. In turn, that translates into higher levels of protection for the core assets – the reefs themselves. Wakatobi’s reefs have been fished and exploited for centuries, so they are not pristine. I doubt that there are now any coral reefs anywhere in the world that are pristine, that’s to say ‘unaffected by human activity.’ However, thanks to the collaboration between the local communities and the resort, Wakatobi’s reefs are spectacular and have recovered to the point that they have earned their National Park status. This is their great attraction for

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DIVE WITH DUXY Join Paul ‘Duxy’ Duxfield to Indonesia in 2019. Introducing our new range of escorted safaris featuring premier dive destinations and incredible topside highlights to see Orangutans & Komodo Dragons.

ALOR & KOMODO SAFARI

EAST BORNEO SAFARI

RAJA AMPAT LIVEABOARD

Featuring two of Indonesia’s top dive destination this safari offers encounters with hammerheads and manta rays alongside beautiful reefs and amazing critter life.

Dive the remote sites of East Kalimantan in search of big fish and diverse marine life. Topside there’s encounters with Orangutans and a river cruise through the jungle.

Explore the soft coral gardens of Misool in southern Raja Ampat. This 11 night safari offers marine life in abundance in the heart of the coral triangle.

23rd March – 6th April 2019

11th March – 25th May 2019

14th – 25th November 2019

£3,495

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£3,465

u

duxy@divesafariasia.com

u

£3,575

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WAKATOB I I ND O NESI A

TRAVEL LOG:

WAKATOBI Flights

Currency

Wide choice of international flights into Bali. Wakatobi’s private charter flight is on Mondays and Fridays direct from Bali airport. Top Tip!  Take a private boat, or a private guide on scheduled boats or the House Reef.

$US, Indonesian Rupiah and other major currencies. Or, pay for everything on your credit card, including staff tips.

Transfers

Wakatobi restaurant patio with its spectacular ocean views. Final Word!  Take satisfaction from knowing that, in enjoying the world class diving and service, you are also contributing to the conservation of globally important reefs, while helping to support the local economy.

On arrival at Wakatobi, it’s just a few minutes by road, then 15 minutes by boat. Your luggage is delivered directly from the plane to your accommodation.

Water temperature

30*C October; 26*C August. We use 2mm skins, but we’ve seen 5mm suits used as well.

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Favourite nondiving activity

Snorkelling on the magnificent House Reef.

visiting divers, all of whom have to play their own part in protecting these exceptionally valuable reefs. No-touch, no-take, nobreak is the expectation set by the resort’s guides and led by example by them. There are no shrimp being squeezed out of their ascidian havens, no baby frogfish, pygmy seahorses, or nudibranchs popping out of plastic bottles, and no shifting of intruding hydroids or rocks to ensure trophy photographs for bucket-list visitors. In many ways, this is still a sea of Eden, and it demands that level of respect. Beauty alone though will never sustainably conserve our planet’s natural assets. We live in a world where the lottery of birth means that some people have to scavenge reef-tops at low tide for food. Meanwhile, others are able to earn the means to dive the reefs on holidays, with camera systems worth more than a local house. It’s too easy for those of us who are more fortunate to lament destructive exploitation when we see it. It’s an issue, worldwide, that is well documented. Pointing it out and calling for action from the comfort of a well-serviced home or office, removed from the realities of life on the ground, doesn’t help. What does help is putting a shoulder to the wheel and tackling local problems with local resources for local

IMAGES Above: A colony of tube worms bring beauty and sculpted form to the reef. Below: Wade and Robyn relax on Wakatobi III between dives.

benefit. Wakatobi National Park is an exemplar of that effort. Diving the reefs there brings with it the satisfaction that our hard-earned income has yielded not only pleasure and relaxation for us, but also in some small way, helped support the local communities and their visionary conservation program. That’s why we keep going back. n MORE INFORMATION www.wakatobi.com Wakatobi Flow blog.wakatobi.com

Favourite place to eat / drink

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J O R DAN AQABA

Aqaba & beyond... An invitation to witness the historic scuttling of a C-130 Hercules in Aqaba proved the perfect excuse for Sean Chinn to explore some of Jordan’s incredible treasures above and below water. WORDS & IMAGES: SEAN CHINN

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AQAB A J O R DA N

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IMAGES Top and right: The C-130 Hercules awaits her new destiny as an artificial reef in the Gulf of Aqaba.

qaba is the gateway to the Red Sea in an otherwise landlocked Jordan. It’s a port city that plays a major role in the Jordanian economy through its vibrant trade and tourism sectors. This was the reason for my visit. I had been invited by the Aqaba Special Economic Zone Authority (ASEZA) to witness the scuttling of a C-130 Hercules to create a new artificial reef in the Gulf of Aqaba. The wreck would create a new dive site to attract lots of marine life, as well as – hopefully – ocean explorers from around the world. The C-130 Hercules military transport aircraft had been donated by the Jordanian Air Force for this special occasion. All hazardous materials had to be removed before its intentional sinking in just 17 metres of water. This depth would create a perfect location for any skill level of diver: from a beginner being introduced to the wonders of wreck diving, to a seasoned diver who can potentially visit this and two other nearby wrecks in one dive.   The week in Jordan started nice and early with a 4.30am

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wake up call for my flight from Amman to Aqaba. Although very tired I was excited at the prospect of what was in store for the day. Today was a big date in Aqaba’s 2017 calendar. I arrived at my hotel in Aqaba in time to check-in, prepare my gear, and grab some quick breakfast before I had to depart for the C-130 Hercules scuttling event. Everything had been organised and timed perfectly by the Aqaba Tourism Board. On my arrival at the beach, I had not anticipated the true scale of the event. The beachfront was packed with people from all around the world eager to witness a moment in history. There were also many proud locals looking on at what will hopefully become a main attraction for tourism in the area. The sound of bagpipes and a brass band rang out as I made

my way to pick a prime spot at the edge of the sea. From here I could view the plane as it was paraded before eventually being sunk in its chosen destination. The scuttling started just after noon, whilst planes jetted past as part of a celebratory Air Show that left the crowds spellbound. In truth, the scuttling itself didn’t really last that long once the shell of the C-130 Hercules was hooked up to the crane. The vertical stabiliser stood tall and was the last part to sink beneath the waves. It reminded me of a long and distinctive dorsal fin, breaking the surface and sticking proud out of the water before eventually diving beneath it. Following the event, we had a delicious buffet lunch at the Berenice Beach Club with beautiful views over the Red Sea. Afterwards we headed

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AQAB A J O R DA N

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back to the hotel to relax but I was anxious to get in the water and explore this new dive site in a few days’ time. For now, I was to let the C-130 settle into its new home and also get a taste of what land-based adventures await a tourist visiting Aqaba. Two exciting days lay ahead, visiting Wadi Rum and the renowned UNESCO World Heritage site of Petra. Wadi Rum is a protected desert area covering 278 square miles. It is a vast wilderness featuring dramatic sandstone mountains that is little more than an hour’s drive from Aqaba. This makes it a perfect destination to add to any dive trip in the region. Transported through the desert in 4WD pick-up trucks, the endless landscape really took my breath away

We stopped along the way for a flavoursome cup of tea made in a traditional way by the Bedouin who have called this place home for many years.

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as we made our way past the mountains towering above. We stopped along the way for a flavoursome cup of tea made in a traditional way by the Bedouin who have called this place home for many years. Our lunch at Rahayeb Desert Camp was again a delicious treasure trove of the Bedouin culture. Zarb is the process of cooking the food underground in earth ovens, trapping the flavour in readiness to burst in your mouth as you take a

bite. I’d love to visit the desert again but this time stop overnight in the camp and marvel at the night sky that greets you in the middle of the seemingly limitless space. Petra is Jordan’s most famous and most visited tourist attraction. Classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1985, it is another perfect addition to any dive trip to Aqaba. Take a day off from diving and step back in time to around 300 B.C. and visit the ancient carvings in the pink sandstone cliffs. Be blown away by the intricate details in the architecture and the sheer size of the rock faces that tower above the visitors below. Petra is around a two hour drive from Aqaba with a stop along the way for more amazing views across the desert canyon.

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SMART AIR

*LED Tank Module sold separately

CENTER OF INTELLIGENCE. EDGE OF PERFORMANCE. • Hoseless tank data integration for up to three transmitters • Graphic and numeric display of tank pressure • Three-row layout comprises all relevant data including tank pressure • Multigas, bottom timer and apnea modes • Option to view dive time including seconds • Two customizable fields for additional information • Logbook capacity in excess of 95 hours of dive profile at 5-second sampling rate (scuba) • Decompression dive planner with additional surface interval function Be intelligent. Take the edge of performance.

mares.com

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J O R DAN AQABA

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IMAGES Left & top: The awe-inspiring wonders of AlKhazneh at Petra.

IMAGES Below: There is plenty of life under the jetty of the dive club. Bottom: The colourful reef known as Japanese Gardens.

Unfortunately I have to admit we encountered a big crowd on our trip due to a cruise ship mooring that morning and a number of guests opting to visit Petra on their overnight stay. I was a little worried this could put a dampener on the day but luckily it’s quite a long walk through Al-Siq – a narrow canyon carved through the sandstone cliffs – of around 1.2km. This meant that the crowds had chance to spread out the further you ventured into the site. Our group took our time which allowed more chance to really get a feel for the beauty that surrounded us on our walk. Al-Siq serves as the gateway to Al-Khazneh (The Treasury), one of the most

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pool overlooking the beach and the Red Sea, this was a great place to start our diving day. Sindbad is the only dive centre in the area to have their own jetty within the marine park, which made it easy to kit up and climb aboard the boat with the luxury of having all the dive sites nearby. The furthest site is a mere 20-minute boat journey away. The wreck of the C-130 is located just a 5-10 minute journey from the jetty and was due to be our first dive of the day. However Khaled, the dive manager, used his experience to make a detour when he saw other dive boats at the site and realised it would be a little crowded. Our first dive site was called the Japanese Gardens and we made a nice relaxed

elaborate temples carved out of a sandstone rock face in Petra. No words can truly describe that feeling you get when your eyes first witness the carvings through the narrow canyon walls. The phrase ‘it takes your breath away’ is used far too easily but in this instance I did take a little gasp as I composed myself to take a photo. It’s an awe-inspiring sight. Again, this is a place I’d love to revisit with more time so I could also take a look at The Monastery. It was day four of my trip already and finally time to see the C-130 Hercules in its new home under the sea. Our dive centre of choice was Sindbad Dive Club based in the stunning surroundings of the Berenice Beach Club. With a guest pool and dive training

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dive along a colourful reef full of life that prepared us for our afternoon on the Hercules. After completing the dive it was time for lunch and I had a bit of free time to explore the jetty of the Berenice Beach Club on snorkel. The life under there is amazing and I loved working my way through the piers, following the school of sardines that call the jetty home. Lionfish would creep into view as they came away from the camouflage of the pier into the blue. I could have stayed there all day but I needed to save my camera battery for the dive on the Hercules in the afternoon,

IMAGES Above: The empty fuselage of the C-130 Hercules is easy to penetrate making it an ideal swimthrough. Right: The cockpit has a model skeleton at the controls. Bottom: Lionfish have made their home under the jetty of the Berenice Beach Club.

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and I was also feeling a little peckish. The lunch provided at the Beach Club was perfect. It was now time to explore the new C-130 Hercules dive site. Being only a shallow dive site of around 17 metres max you could see the wreck from the surface as we jumped in. What struck me straight away was the sheer size of the plane. It completely dwarfed the divers that were exploring it and was a lot bigger than I imagined it would be. The wings would disappear into the distance as you looked out

from the cargo hold, while the vertical stabiliser reached up to the surface towering over me as I swam beneath. It was easy to penetrate the wreck with numerous wide openings allowing access to explore inside and check out the cockpit, which has a model skeleton at the controls. I can really see this being an amazing dive site once the sea life and coral start making it their home. The reefs surrounding the plane are also stunning and can be explored as part of the same dive. The Tank dive

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AQAB A J O R DA N

IMAGES Left & top: The wreck of the Cedar Pride. Bottom: The Tank dive site is just a few minutes swim from the newlyscuttled Hercules.

site is just a few minutes swim away and makes an ideal spot to do your safety stop, making it possible to enjoy all this in just one dive. Personally, I’d recommend separating it and taking your time, especially when life starts forming on the wreck and there will be so much more to see. Day five allowed for more diving in Aqaba and to explore the other amazing dive sites within easy reach of the jetty. My personal favourite was the Cedar Pride wreck: a relatively shallow wreck at a maximum depth of 25m to the sea floor. In clear waters this really is a fun wreck to explore with 33 years of coral growth creating stunning areas of colour and fish life. Many lionfish can be found hiding within the nooks and crannies. It is also easy to penetrate, and you can find small schools of fish hiding inside using dark areas for protection. I only did the one dive there and was concentrating more on photographing the outside

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The Cedar Pride is really a fun wreck to explore with 33 years of coral growth creating stunning areas of colour and fish life.

from a wide-angle point of view, but I would love to get back and explore more of the wreck’s interior. The Power Station dive site is one of the furthest away from the jetty but still just a 20-minute boat ride away. This is an extremely pleasant dive site, full of coral and fish life providing lots of colour typical of the Red Sea. This is also a site where you are able to explore a little deeper if you wish, as there is a steep wall drop off. However, it also provides a nice easy shallow dive on the coral plateau for those willing to take their time and look for the little creatures that call the reef home.  These two dives were meant to be the only dives of the day but I couldn’t resist grabbing a tank and getting under the jetty again for a sunset dive. This time I wanted to explore the seafloor, to find the fun and exciting critters that come out as night falls. Peppered Moray Eels are bountiful here and are great to watch as they explore the sea grass. Keep an eye out for scorpionfish camouflaged within the reef, and if you’re lucky maybe even a seahorse

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IMAGES Left & below: It will take time for marine life to make the Hercules its home; in the meantime the surrounding reefs are ripe for exploration.

Israel

JORDAN Egypt

Aqaba Petra

Saudi Arabia

Gulf

of A

d en

IsraelRum Wadi

Red Sea

TRAVEL LOG:

AQABA, JORDAN Flights

Currency

Heathrow to Amman, and Amman to Aqaba with Royal Jordanian Airways.

Jordanian Dinar but credit cards are widely accepted in larger resorts.

Top Tip!

Favourite nondiving activity

A mini bus transfer from Amman to Aqaba is around 3.5 - 4 hours long and could save money (and time) waiting for the next available flight between Amman and Aqaba.

Transfers The transfer time from Aqaba’s King Hussein International Airport to the Intercontinental Aqaba Resort where our group stayed was 20 minutes.

Water temperature 25°C in November ; a 3mm full length suit is more than sufficient. I wore a 3mm shorty and was toasty.

Visiting Wadi Rum desert and snorkelling under the jetty of Berenice Beach Club with schooling sardines and lionfish.

Favourite place to eat/drink Traditional Zarb style BBQ in Wadi Rum Desert Camp.

Final Word! Aqaba is an amazing place for shallow wreck diving. It’s also a great place to start your diving journey in warm clear waters. Add on some superb land-based tours to complete an amazing holiday.

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or nudibranch will make the critter-spotting extra special. Sindbad Dive Club were very accommodating and the staff more than happy to allow me the time to enjoy the diving under the jetty. We had also planned a night dive on the C-130 wreck for some of our group who were particularly interested. I experienced quite an eerie feeling as I dived into the dark waters and then suddenly the huge C-130 Hercules plane appeared in the extremes of my dive torch. With the dive site being so new, the life on or in the plane hasn’t arrived just yet, so I spent more time exploring the surrounding reefs and seeing what I could find. I do love night diving and that moment when the light of your torch reflects off an eye on the reef making you pause with excitement, before getting closer to find out what it is. This was another amazing dive in Aqaba and it certainly

made me enthusiastic to explore more of this fascinating place, above and underwater. I’m looking forward to the day I can get back to Aqaba and explore more of what I missed on this short trip. An overnight stay in Wadi Rum is top of my list for next time, as well as a lot more diving – we only did two days but we saw so much, it did feel like more. I would definitely recommend Aqaba for anyone looking for an enjoyable diving experience that is not too challenging, where the land-based adventures can really add wonders to the trip. I’m certain you wouldn’t leave your holiday thinking you didn’t make the most of your visit to Aqaba and Jordan, that’s for sure. ■ MORE INFORMATION www.sindbadjo.com www.berenice.com.jo www.aqaba.jo

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RED SEA

NEW FLIGHTS WINTER 2018/19 This winter we celebrate new direct flights to the Red Sea! Twice weekly to Eilat from Luton Airport (Sunday & Wednesday) Once a week to Aqaba from Gatwick (Saturday)

E I L A T   I S   B A C K   & S O   I S   A Q A B A DIVING  – LEARN TO DIVE – IDC`s

Crusader Travel, with over 40 years’ experience in the Red Sea, has teamed up with the two most qualified 5H PADI GOLD PALM Centres; Aqua-Sport (Eilat) and Sinbad (Aqaba). Call us for dates, prices & itineraries. Shore & boat diving – Aqaba, Eilat and Taba. Accommodation in the Dive Lodge (on the beach), 2H to 5H hotels.

A Q A B A          E I L A T           T A B A

T. 020 8744 0474 E. bruce@crusadertravel.com T8258

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www.crusadertravel.com

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Top 10

hoto Pdives The world’s top underwater photographers can take their pick from the most aweinspiring and incredible dive destinations around the globe. But if you could choose to dive and photograph anywhere, where would you go? We asked a few of our favourite award-winning photographers to share their top photo spots worldwide…

NORTH CAROLINA, USA - Tanya Houppermans SOUTH AFRICA - Nick Robertson-Brown BERMUDA - Jill Heinerth JERVIS BAY, AUSTRALIA - Jordan Robins THE PHILIPPINES - Alex Tattersall LEMBEH, INDONESIA - Alex Mustard HAWAII - Ellen Cuylaerts GOZO - Pete Bullen EGYPT - Tobias Friedrich CAYMAN ISLANDS - Susannah H. Snowden-Smith

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TOP 10 PHOTO DIVES

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TOP 10 PHOTO DIVES TONGA – GREG LECOEU R

NORTH CAROLINA, USA – Tanya Houppermans North Carolina may not be at the top of most people’s dive list, but it should be. With hundreds of shipwrecks lining the coast, an abundance of marine life both large and small, and warm, clear water, North Carolina offers something for everyone. But there’s one thing that keeps bringing divers back again and again – the resident sand tiger sharks. These ferocious-looking but docile sharks aggregate around shipwrecks, especially the wreck of the freighter Caribsea where this image was taken. No bait is used to attract the sand tigers, offering divers a unique opportunity to have natural close encounters with these sharks on, in, and around the wrecks, making North Carolina truly a world-class dive destination. EQUIPMENT: Olympus OM-D E-M1; Olympus m.Zuiko 8mm fisheye lens; Nauticam NA-EM1 housing; i-Divesite Symbiosis SS-2 strobes.

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CH R A M

19 20

Shark Photography in The Bahamas

Join Nick and Caroline on their favourite shark photography dives and other adventures! W Hammerheads & Wild dolphins in Bimini W Sharks & Wrecks, including a shark night dive, in Nassau W Optional Tiger Beach add-on 0161 9177101 info@frogfishphotography.com www.frogfishphotography.com

UNDERWATER WILDLIFE VIDEO AND EDITING COURSES WITH JEFF GOODMAN Jeff, director and award-winning TV cameraman, leads a series of courses aimed at improving the art of good underwater video production while at the same time realising the incredible wealth and diversity of our planet’s marine life. In addition, the courses are fun, where students can enjoy their diving to the full. Jeff has over 45 years experience in wildlife and underwater filming. Credits include the BBC, Channel 4, National Geographic, Discovery, Animal Planet and many others. Among his many awards he has twice been nominated for BAFTA Award for Best Cameraman and won Montana Festival Best Series as Director/ Cameraman. There are courses designed for the complete beginner through to the more advanced filmmaker. Students do need their own equipment for these courses. The full 5 day courses will take you through the entire process of making an underwater wildlife film. Each student will aim to complete a 3 minute video DVD, shot, edited and narrated by themselves. If you don’t want to edit and just concentrate on camera work, then no problem. Jeff will design a course that covers your requirements. Over recent years action cameras such as the GoPro have become well established in both the amateur and professional market. Their small size combined with very high quality and low cost make these cameras very desirable. They are easy to use even for the most non-technical people but they have more depth to them than one might first imagine. See what you can really do with your GoPro on a special GoPro course. There are 1 & 2 day special short taster courses where students can concentrate on any particular aspect of filmmaking. Camera work, editing, scripting..... you decide. Courses are held in the UK and the Red Sea.

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jeffgoodman@supanet.com / jeff@scubaverse.com

www.jeffgoodman.co.uk

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TOP 10 PHOTO DIVES

SOUTH AFRICA – Nick Robertson-Brown South Africa boasts a coastline of ragged rocks, beaten incessantly by the strength of two oceans merging. As if fighting for dominance, this has created one of the most challenging regions for diving. Even getting out to sea can be immensely difficult. It requires great skill to guide a RIB past three or four lines of mountainous, continuously incoming waves, which can flip a boat in seconds if the skipper’s concentration is lost. But once you breach the ocean’s defences, the underwater riches can be priceless. The highlight along the south-eastern stretch, as far north as Durban, has to be the Sardine Run, where the super-pods of common dolphin shepherd thousands of sardines into a manageable swirling ball before they, and numerous other predators, dive into the rotating mass of silver fish to take their fill. EQUIPMENT: Nikon D800; Nikon 16mm lens; Nauticam housing; INON Z240 strobes.

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TOP 10 PHOTO DIVES

BERMUDA – Jill Heinerth A small volcanic atoll in the Atlantic Ocean, Bermuda is riddled with remarkably beautiful underwater caves. I have been exploring and documenting these delicate environments that are the home to unique cave adapted crustaceans found nowhere else on earth. In 2011, as a part of a scientific project supported by NOAA, I was able to photograph this particular cave through a special one-time permit. With access granted for only the short visit, we had to shoot ‘on the fly’ without a plan or setup shots. The crystal palace of calcite speleothems did not disappoint. EQUIPMENT: Canon 5D MK II; Sigma 16mm lens; Aquatica housing; INON Z240 strobes; Ikelite D125 slaves.

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TOP 10 PHOTO DIVES

JERVIS BAY, AUSTRALIA – Jordan Robins “Between Two Worlds” is an over under image captured as the sun sets over Jervis Bay. An over under is an image where you can see above and below the water captured in a single exposure. Above the water are vibrant clouds, bursting to life with colour from the setting sun. Below the water are parallel lines of sand formed by the constant ebb and flow of the ocean. Jervis Bay is a small coastal town on the South Coast of NSW, Australia. Bright white sands, crystal clear water and an abundance of marine life make it a truly special place to call home. And this would have to be one of my favourite places in the world for underwater photography. EQUIPMENT: Canon EOS 5D MK IV; Canon EF 8-15mm f/4L fisheye; AquaTech water housing; twin Inon Z-330 strobes and 8” dome.

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TOP 10 PHOTO DIVES

THE PHILIPPINES – Alex Tattersall The Philippines is well and truly at the top end of my choice of favourite dive destinations. What with its archipelagic topography and tropical geographical location, it boasts some of the world's most diverse marine life experiences, centred around some of the world's most beautiful island sceneries. Professionally run dive centres with vastly extensive local knowledge are available in many of the key diving areas, although there is still much to be explored in the enormous archipelago. With underwater photography in mind, it is impossible to underplay the profusion of wildly photogenic subjects, the exoticism of many species being breathtakingly out-ofthis-world. Get me on a plane now! EQUIPMENT: Sony A6500 in Nauticam housing; 16-50 lens; Nauticam Compact Macro Convertor 2; INON Z240 strobes; Fit Pro 2600 focus light.

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TOP 10 PHOTO DIVES

LEMBEH, INDONESIA – Alex Mustard

Nowhere on the planet boasts a greater concentration of serious underwater photographers and high-end camera gear than a narrow, ten mile stretch of sheltered water between North Sulawesi and Lembeh Island. The Lembeh Strait in Indonesia is a true mecca for aquatic snappers, who appreciate the smaller things in life. All those expensive macro lenses can’t be wrong, which is why it gets my vote for the best underwater photography locale. The visibility is poor and the scenery at many of the sites consists only of mud. Then the guide pings his tank with his pointer stick and conjures the first miniature marvel from the murk with his metal wand. Lembeh dives are about subjects: hairy frogfish, pygmy seahorse, mimic octopus, ornate ghost pipefish, blue-ringed octopus, rhinopias and nudibranchs galore. And that might be just on dive one! EQUIPMENT: Nikon D4 and Nikon 105mm lens; Subsee +5; Subal ND4 housing; 2 x INON Z240 strobes; 1/250th @ f/25; ISO 200.

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TOP 10 PHOTO DIVES TONGA – GREG LECOEU R

HAWAII – Ellen Cuylaerts The moment I saw Hawaii’s Big Island – Kona – from the air, I felt it would be pretty spectacular underwater. Setting foot on Hawaiian soil with people greeting you with smiles and alohas, thanking you for no reason with mahalos, coupled with the beautiful weather and the fragrances of flowers following you onto the beaches… all these factors contribute to a great island vibe and lift your spirits to a higher energy level. That energy was needed when I took a dedicated photo trip for Spinner Dolphins by day and manta rays at night. After three 'weather' days we spent hours in the water, observing dolphins on their terms, but the true magic happened at night when manta rays came to feed on plankton attracted by the lights of our boat. Watching them perform spectacular barrel rolls in front of our lenses was a truly mesmerizing sight and I’m itching to revisit soon! EQUIPMENT: Nikon D800; Nikkor 16mm; Sola 1200; Nauticam housing.

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DIVE LEMBEH & BUNAKEN

Dive shops in Lembeh, Bunaken, Bali & Lombok Underwater photography services available PADI courses with PADI 5 Star operator Dive safaris across all our locations

60m DEPTH RATED www.TwoFishDivers.com info@TwoFishDivers.com

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Dive Malta Gozo Comino W I T H

Recreational & Technical Diving

• Guided Dive Trips Wrecks, Reefs & Caverns.

Mario Micallef

• Adult and Junior Diving Courses

THE HOME OF SCUBA DIVING AND LEARNING TO SCUBA DIVE ON GOZO!

Based in the fishing village of Xlendi, on the South West area of Gozo, Utina Diving College is based 50 metres from the beach and therefore it is very easy to reach. As a PADI 5* Instructor Development Centre, we appeal to divers and new divers who demand the personal touch. We only take small parties (maximum of 4) whether on guided dives or courses for those who want to learn/further their diving education. We are members of the PDSA (Professional Diving Schools Association) - our local governing body. We are the Malta & Gozo agents for Microdive Limited as well as being the only Microdive Experience Centre on the Islands which specialises in shallow water diving i.e. up to 9 metres. If you are an RYA Member, we can train you to the level required by the RYA for its members.

www.utina-diving.com

• Rental Packages For unguided diving. • Short Break Holidays

The Best Diving Experience In Gozo

For 3 or 4 nights stay.

Frankie van Remoortel

• Accommodation For groups of up to 35 persons

providing the highest standards in diver training

Mosta Road, St. Paul’s Bay, SPB 3114 Malta T: +356 21 571 111 or 21 572 558 E: dive@maltaqua.com

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Experienced team of young multi-lingual instructors providing guests with the best possible individual service

Wide range of courses available ranging from beginner to instructor Various accommodation packages ranging from self-catering apartments to traditional farmhouses and five-star hotels Airport taxi transfers included day and night Non-diver? Why not visit some of the oldest temples in Europe or spend a day relaxing on a beach?

COME DIVE WITH US TODAY! Tel:+356 215 656 26 info@divebluewaters.com

www.divebluewaters.com

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TOP 10 PHOTO DIVES

GOZO – Pete Bullen The Island of Gozo is Malta's tiny, quieter and prettier little sister. Most of the diving here is shore diving and whilst Malta is rightly well known for its wartime wrecks, Gozo is more about amazing scenic diving. It has fantastic underwater topography, crystal clear water and, if you know where to go, abundant marine life, from the tiniest nudibranch to 100kg tuna. Gozo is an underwater photographer’s dream destination and, out of the water, the quality of life is just as good. No hassle here, good value restaurants and bars, and plenty of dive centres around the island - there is something for everyone. Getting to Gozo is simple: a 40 minute transfer to the ferry and a 25 minute ferry ride, which gives you just enough time for your first Cisk - the excellent local beer. EQUIPMENT: Olympus OMD EM5; Panasonic 8mm fisheye lens.

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TOP 10 PHOTO DIVES

EGYPT – Tobias Friedrich Egypt is still one of my favourite places in the world to dive because the conditions are very reliable almost all year round, the visibility in the outer reefs is always good, and animal encounters like the Oceanic Whitetip Sharks are amazing. The sharks are usually to be found underneath the boats in shallow depth and are very curious, which makes them come in close to the camera for excellent photo opportunities. Also, the liveaboards in Egypt offer the best value for money compared to the rest of the world. EQUIPMENT: Canon 1DX MK II; Canon 16-35mm lens; Seacam housing; Seacam 150D strobes.

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TOP 10 PHOTO DIVES TONGA – GREG LECOEU R CAYMAN ISLANDS – Susannah H. Snowden-Smith Aaah…Cayman. With its warm, crystal clear water, and year-round diving, this place is a photographer’s dream. I can literally decide on any given day what I’d like to photograph: should I shoot natural light of the stingrays at the Sandbar? Or head to the Kittiwake for some wreck images? I could drive out East to dive with the Caribbean Reef Sharks. Or perhaps today I’ll just choose from one of the dozen shore dives and shoot macro of the miniature melos, hydroids or pike blennies.  With 365 different dive sites to choose from throughout the three islands— Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman—the possibilities are endless! EQUIPMENT: Nikon D500; Subal housing; Zen 100 and 230 ports; S&S YS-250 strobes.

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M A L D I V E S L I V E ABOAR D & HELENG ELI ISL AND

Show Best in

Land-based or Liveaboard? It’s a choice travelling divers have to make in many popular destinations worldwide. Richard and Hayley of Black Manta Photography enjoyed the best of both worlds when they explored the Maldives, from land and sea, earlier this year. WORDS & IMAGES: HAYLEY EAUDE AND RICHARD STEVENS

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LIVEAB OARD & HELENGELI ISL AND MAL D I VES

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veryone loves a bit of good old-fashioned magic, but for us, travelling and diving opens up places that seem to have it in abundance - and we are not talking about the white rabbit variety. You first feel it as wonder, initiated by something beautiful and remarkable, as you discover something for the first time that you have only ever imagined in your dreams. Above any other place we have visited, the atolls of the Maldives have more magic than most.

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When it comes to pelagic encounters, the Maldives offer some of the best experiences available to recreational divers, so heading out on the M/Y blue Voyager liveaboard for this eponymous itinerary made perfect sense. The lure of sharks, manta rays and the possibility of Whale Sharks was too much excitement for our group to contain. Most of the divers on our trip had never dived the Indian Ocean before, and in some instances had never seen a shark with their own eyes. When we found this out we just knew it was going to be a special week! From the outset on day one, the bar was set high. Albert (our Cruise Director) briefed Rashdoo, a drop-off that is well known for sharks circling off the reef edge. On a normal day, he said, maybe half a dozen Grey Reef Sharks congregate there. Expectations were blown completely out of the water when we arrived at the main viewing site to see over 30+ sharks: Grey Reef, White Tip

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Reef and Silver Tip Sharks all happily sharing the fierce current. This was completely unexpected and even caught the dive guides by surprise. A number of sharks were heavily pregnant and many of the females had fresh bite marks on their rear quarters, indicating that there could have been a recent spate of copulation. The sharks were still all there when we left 60 minutes later. Simply said, this was definitely in the top five dives of our lives. We returned to the same site for the early morning dive the following day, only to find every single one of them had disappeared. Mid-week, we hit a number of dive spots that are famous for manta ray action. We have a special affinity with mantas, although I guess anyone would realise that by looking at our logo and name. We are fortunate to have spent many dives across the world with these majestically graceful creatures and each time we meet, we are still flabbergasted by their beauty.

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IMAGES Left page, top: Our friends for the week aboard blue Voyager.Left page, bottom: Rashdoo is a well-known spot for reef sharks of all kinds. Centre: The Maldivian reefs have an abundance of anemones showing off their vibrant skirts. Above: Beautiful sunsets abound in these magical islands.

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M A L DI V E S LI V EABOAR D & HELEN GELI ISL A N D

We were lucky enough to see mantas on several dives during our liveaboard, but one in particular will stay with us for some time, not least because our dear friends Marnie and Simon got engaged! We’d been in on the secret for some time, and Simon had asked us a few weeks before we travelled if we could capture the moment on film, underwater. It was decided (with some intervention from Albert) that the planned ‘Manta Day’ was the best opportunity, with the last dive of the day being the preferred option. In the end, it was a truly magical moment and one we were very privileged to be involved in, not least because it was also one of the most amazing encounters we experienced during the week. We were diving a site called Rangali Madivaru, which is a beautiful sloping reef with a manta cleaning station on top. We doubled back on ourselves to gain some distance from the large group of divers that had congregated to see the manta show when we spotted a shadow climbing the walls of the reef, slowly coming into view. We waited patiently as the manta came in close, swooping down right in front of our eyes before proceeding to glide directly over our heads, just centimetres away. That one encounter would

IMAGES Top and right: We were spoilt with amazing manta ray encounters on several dives during the week. Bottom: ‘Manta Day’ had another magical surprise - our friends Marnie and Simon got engaged!

have been a spectacle in itself, but this curious and friendly manta came back, again and again, for nearly 30 minutes. By the end of it, the black and white chevrons of the manta’s belly and back were ingrained in our memories, and the gas in our tanks was running seriously low. We launched our SMB’s and tried not to lose our regs from the giant smiles

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we had plastered on our faces. Despite a series of outstanding underwater encounters, Albert stuck to his motto on every dive brief to “keep your expectations low”… before completely blowing us away with something truly amazing. This couldn’t have been more apt than when we went in search of Whale Sharks at Ari Atoll.

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A Timeless Sanctuary A secluded tropical island resort in Baa Atoll, a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve, blessed with timeless ocean views, white sandy beaches and nurtured by nature, Vakkaru Maldives offers guests a holistic approach to unassuming luxury and cherishable experiences

A scenic 25-minute seaplane flight from Male’ International Airport transports you into an unforgettable paradise intuitively designed to soothe the soul and calm the spirit. In keeping with the rustic charms of Maldivian culture, all 125 beach and overwater villas and suites have an earthy yet elegant aesthetic, offering an incredible sense of space and stunning ocean views.

AHMED S, TRIP ADVISOR

An unforgeable perience, there was cellent “everything Vakkaru Maldives | T +960 660 7000 | E info@vakkarumaldives.com | www.vakkarumaldives.com

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From November 25th to December 2nd 2018, spend the week divided across 3 or 4 nights onboard the award-winning Carpe Vita and the remainder of the nights staying at our new resort in Raa Atoll. Cruise across the atolls from Male to Raa Atoll, dive on abundant coral reefs in crystal clear, warm waters and arrive at our private island resort with a white sand beach to enjoy a holiday with likeminded travellers. Alternatively chose to stay at the resort first and then cruise back to Male in exactly the same style. However you decide to Cruise and Stay over just 7 nights, experience the very best of both worlds with Carpe Diem Maldives.

Starting from USD 1,746 per person the week includes 3 or 4 nights on board Carpe Vita with meals included, 3 or 4 nights at Carpe Diem Beach Resort & Spa full board, one-way resort to Male airport transfer, 2-3 dives / snorkelling daily on the cruise journey, 3 dive tanks daily at the resort and complimentary snorkelling equipment. Guests looking to extend their stay in the Maldives can do so at the Carpe Diem Beach Resort & Spa before or after the combined Cruise and Stay package.

For reservations, packages and enquires, contact your local travel agent or email info@carpediemmaldives.com

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LIVEAB OARD & HELENGELI ISL A ND M A L D I VES IMAGES Top: We were lucky enough to spot Whale Sharks at Ari Atoll but you had to be quick to keep up! Bottom: A pretty juvenile boxfish provides a total contrast to the larger marine life.

Despite a series of outstanding underwater encounters, Albert stuck to his motto on every dive brief to “keep your expectations low”… before completely blowing us away with something truly amazing.

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Ari is renowned for Whale Shark encounters, but despite these creatures being the largest fish in the world they can be tremendously elusive! We knew there was a chance we’d catch sight of them, but were equally aware that we could see nothing, or even worse, catch a glimpse of a tail as one swam away. The day of anticipation had arrived and you could literally smell the nerves of worried divers on the boat, those who had dreamed of seeing a Whale Shark but until now, missed out. Was this going to be their day? Our incredible crew quickly spotted a number of snorkellers in the water some way off in the distance. By virtue of some clever positioning and ensuring we were all ready to go with snorkels, we all got to see a

large juvenile Whale Shark pass underneath us in the shallow waters below. The crazy, thrashing snorkellers on the surface were no match for the swimming machine below, and before you knew it we were left staring at an empty reef with a massive adrenaline rush. Back on the boat we got, but this time it was to fully kit up in scuba gear and be ready to jump in again in a flash. Everybody got to fulfil their dream that day as we dived with an adult female, which must have been in excess of 10 metres long. She was a huge, beautiful specimen of shark perfection that some of us were able to keep up with for around 10 minutes, in only a few metres of water. This was one of those moments in life that none of the group will ever forget.

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M A L DI V E S LI V EABOAR D & HELEN GELI ISL A N D

Our week on board M/Y blue Voyager was at an end but what a week it was! Amongst our group, the trip had become commonly known as ‘the Blue Planet experience’ because of all the jawdropping encounters we had enjoyed. This was definitely a week in which our marine life encounters and experiences underwater were beyond everyone’s expectations. Our second week in the Maldives began with a short boat ride from Malé to Helengeli Island. We arrived at the Oblu by Atmosphere

resort to the sound of local music playing and the staff standing at the entrance ready to welcome us. The setting of the hotel was everything you would expect: an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, surrounded by palm trees and tempting turquoise waters. We headed into the cool reception area and were handed the most wonderfully sweet blue fizz, apparently the hotel’s very own version of Prosecco. Our room was simply incredible - a total contrast to our previous week on a boat with 30 other people.

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The dining areas in the restaurants all gazed out over the tranquil blue sea and if you were lucky to bag a seat near the open windows or out on the terrace, you were rewarded with one of nature’s greatest gifts. As the shadows just below the surface of the water got closer and closer, we realised we were looking at baby reef sharks. Seeing sharks and stingrays swimming past at breakfast, lunch and dinner became the norm here. The shallow waters surrounding the island make the perfect environment for nurseries.

IMAGES Top: Hawksbill Turtles can be spotted when snorkelling in the crystal clear shallows.Right: Helengeli is a picture-perfect island paradise, ideal for relaxing after a week of excitement on a liveaboard.

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LIVEAB OARD & HELENGELI ISL A ND M A L D I VES

The setting of the hotel is everything you would expect: an island in the middle of the Indian Ocean, surrounded by palm trees and tempting turquoise waters.

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MANTHIRI MALDIVES

Manthiri, our beautiful 25m liveaboard, has had a long and illustrious career serving divers, many of them repeat guests, reflecting the high standard of service for which we are renowned. We cater to small groups, accommodating them in six spacious cabins, comprising four twins and two doubles with en-suite bathrooms. We guide our divers to some of the best dive sites that the Maldives have to offer, by two experienced divemasters, one of them with over 10,000 dives under his belt. He wears an additional hat as our underwater photo pro, helping guests hone their photography skills, regardless of their level of skill. Our crew of 11 include two chefs offering mouth-watering meals, day after day.

Tel (960) 332 5634 / 332 0323 / 332 0324 Mobile (960) 778 7236 Email manthirimaldives@dhivehinet.net.mv Web www.manthirimaldives.com

DIVING WITH FRIENDS Once in a life time you should see this:

THE MALDIVES – U NIQUE AND A DIVERS PARADIS E!

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LIVEAB OARD & HELENGELI ISL A ND M A L D I VES

At less than 3mm in length, the little ‘sheep’ are smaller than an eyelash; so even with a hefty macro lens, they are difficult to capture in focus...

We were spending this week diving with the team from Atmosphere Aqua Club. We decided to focus on macro dives, having had so many encounters with larger marine animals during our liveaboard. One thing we were not expecting to see was the infamous ‘Shaun the Sheep nudibranch’ or Costaciella. So it’s safe to say we were more than a little shell-shocked when our enigmatic guide, Sergio, said you could find them here in abundance. Much like us, any chance he gets, he is in the water taking

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photos and so an instant bond was made. Sergio’s incredible photos confirmed that he was not exaggerating so we were desperate to get into the water. However, it wasn’t until our last dive that we really got to experience ‘Shaun’ in all its glory. We entered before the other divers and dropped down to 15m, hovering above a coral outcrop that was on the edge of a cut-out of rock. Unfortunately for us the current was pretty intense, so if you were on the outside you were finning like a lunatic to stay in one place. The nudis could be found

on the leaves of a specific plant and at first our guide had to point them out for us to see them. At less than 3mm in length, the little ‘sheep’ are smaller than an eyelash; so even with a hefty macro lens, they are difficult to capture in focus, and despite spending 45 minutes, we struggled to get a pin sharp image. For us though, seeing these nudis was magical; their cute little facial features and spiky bodies really do resemble sheep. Being so small, we felt extremely privileged to have seen them and will definitely be back soon to try and get that shot!

IMAGES Top left: A stunning ghost pipefish at Kuda Faru. Above left: We were shocked to see the tiny Costaciella nudibranch but apparently you can find them in abundance - if you know where to look! Above: This frogfish was a particular favourite on another dive.

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M A L DI V E S LI V EABOAR D & HELEN GELI I SL AND

The upturned crease of its mouth made it look like it was having the time of its life and we felt privileged to capture this exquisite moment on camera.

On an earlier dive, we had a fun experience with a blenny. Scanning the reef, something bright caught our eyes. As we swam in a little closer, peering into the coral to see what it could be, we were about ready to give up when we spotted two very small eyes - it’s head not that much bigger - and the colour of its flesh the brightest yellow, with stripes of turquoise blue. Positioning the camera lens closer, anticipating its retreat beneath the coral, imagine our surprise when this tiny fellow protruded

further, showing more of its colourful belly and back, spinning in circles as if dancing to an unknown beat. The upturned crease of its mouth made it look like it was having the time of its life and we felt privileged to capture this exquisite moment on camera. There were countless moments during this islandbased week where macro life simply blew our minds. Each day we were offered trips to see sharks and manta, but it was the tiny critters that won us over, again and again.

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IMAGES Above: An encounter with this cute Bluestriped Fangblenny made our day.

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LIVEAB OARD & HELENGELI ISL A ND M A L D I VES

TRAVEL LOG:

THE MALDIVES Flights

Currency

Heathrow to Malé via Dubai with Emirates Airways.

Official currency is the Rufiyaa but we have visted the Maldives several times and never taken any. $US, € and credit cards are widely accepted in resorts.

Top Tip! Transfer times between flights in Dubai can be short, so make sure you don’t go wandering off to look around the airport!

Transfers M/Y blue Voyager - you are met outside the airport terminal on the quayside. The liveaboard Dhoni will collect you. Oblu at Helengeli transfers to the Island take around 45 mins in an air conditioned and high quality passenger speedboat.

Water temperature 28*C in January/February. We spent the 2 weeks diving in just a rash vest and shorts.

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Favourite non-diving activity On a liveaboard there is little to else to do except hit the bar! On Helengeli, you can choose from a range of activities including sunset and snorkelling trips, jet skis and paragliding, as well as other water sports.

Favourite place to eat/drink The food in the restaurants on Helengeli is very high quality. They truly cater for all tastes and the variety is staggering.

IMAGES Top: Hayley ‘living the dream’ in our oceanfront plunge pool in the Maldives. Bottom: Another stunning sunset, this time a view from Helengeli Island.

Our two week trip to the Maldives felt like a living dream from the moment we landed, with each day bringing new memories that we have no idea how to top. We thought it couldn’t get any better, but as we write, we know from dipping into social media that fellow divers are experiencing even more ‘Blue Planet’ moments in the Maldives almost daily. If you are looking for something really special with tons of variety, then spending a week at sea for the pelagic life, followed by a week on land, is the perfect choice. When we

watched Blue Planet II we were captivated by the footage and never expected to experience our own version, but this trip really came up with the goods. We’re going to end with a twist on an old quote about life that really sums up our trip to the Maldives: “Dreams are too beautiful to only ever live them in your sleep, so open your eyes, breathe in the magic, chase adventure and make memories that last a lifetime”. n MORE INFORMATION www.blueotwo.com www.oblu-helengeli.com www.visitmaldives.com

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U K FA RNE I SL AND S

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FARNE I S L AN DS UK

Time for a

Sealfie If you’re in search of a UK weekend getaway, how about the Farne Islands - a group of 20 scenic islands situated just off the Northumberland coast. Regular visitors Nick and Caroline of Frogfish Photography share their tips for diving with the Islands’ most famous residents.

WORDS & IMAGES: NICK AND CAROLINE ROBERTSON-BROWN

T

he Farne Islands are particularly well-known for their bird life, Grey Seal colony and the legendary Victorian heroine Grace Darling. For divers, the seals are the main attraction, although there is plenty of scenic reef and kelp diving, as well as numerous wrecks to be explored. We like to try to make sure we spend at least two weekends a year diving

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with the seals, as it possibly the most fun you can have in a drysuit! There is a knack to diving with the seals and the secret to getting some great encounters is to ignore them! They are like curious puppies and will try to sneak up and grab your fins before you can see them coming. Some of the younger seals love to play with divers and will grab on to equipment, dart around or

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FARNE I S L AN DS UK

even roll over, showing their tummies in anticipation of a rub. Experiences such as this ensure that the Farne Islands rank near the top of the list of the best destinations for large wild animal encounters, anywhere in the world. We usually book into a local B&B in Seahouses, which boasts a lively town with a couple of great pubs, places to eat, shops and the usual seaside fun. Boats out to the Islands can launch from either Seahouses, or as in the case of our dive boat,

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If the conditions are right and the seals are in the mood, then interactions can start as soon as you roll into the water. Beadnell. Clubs can bring their own boats to launch from this beach too. As the dive boat gently glides near to the Islands, the seals wake up from their slumber on the rocks and slide into the water. They start calling - an eerie wooooooh sound - before

appearing next to the boat, bobbing their heads up out of the water as if to invite you in to play. If the conditions are right and the seals are in the mood, then interactions can start as soon as you roll into the water. You do not have to dive deep to experience this, in

IMAGES Above: Hang on to your cameras!

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The Grey Seals are not the only wildlife to make these rocks their home. Thousands of seabirds live here too and in spring the arrival of a particular favourite, the Puffin, adds to the appeal of this destination.

fact plenty of people never descend past 6-8m for the whole weekend, but rather stay in the shallows where the seals tend to be at their most active. You can explore the kelp, hiding in this tall seaweed and wait for the seals to come and find you, or swim into the many gullies and find seals wedged between the rocks having a snooze. If you take your time and don’t chase after the seals then you are in for a treat. There are about 6000 Grey Seals in the Farne Islands, making this one of the largest colonies in the world, but they are not the only wildlife to make these rocks their home. Thousands of seabirds live here too and in spring the arrival of a particular

IMAGES Far Right: One of the best places to see puffins up close is here on the Farne Islands. Right: The charismatic puffin. Below: Shags nest on the cliff edges.

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FARNE I S L AN DS UK

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U K FA RNE I SL AND S

TRAVEL LOG:

THE FARNE ISLANDS

Flights

Currency

We didn’t need any, but Newcastle is just an hour’s drive and Edinburgh Airport is less than 2 hours away.

£.

Top Tip! Expect the weather to do anything and everything in the space of a single weekend. Bring woolly hats and sunglasses!

Transfers The boat ride takes about 10-15 minutes on a fast RIB, longer on a hard boat.

Water temperature Between 10-15°C during the diving season - April to October.

Favourite non-diving activity Visiting the Puffins on Inner Farne - National Trust.

Favourite place to eat/drink The Ship in Seahouses with a great choice of local and national real ales, plus decent pub food.

Final word! Diving with Grey Seals in the Farne Islands is one of the best underwater wildlife experiences you can enjoy. Wear a drysuit, so that you can spend as much time underwater as possible.

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IMAGES Top: Imploring puppy dog eyes make these animals very photogenic. Left: Give us a kiss! If you wait in the kelp, they will come and find you.

favourite, the Puffin, adds to the appeal of this destination. If you have time, or if your diving gets cancelled due to poor conditions, then a visit to Inner Farne and the National Trust centre on the Island is well worth it. In May and June, puffins oust the rabbits from their burrows. The rabbits and puffins have a time share scheme going on where the puffins eject the rabbits from their homes for their nesting season. Atlantic Terns nest on the ground and even on the wooden slatted footpaths, attacking anyone who comes close, so wearing a

hat is advisable! Cormorants, Shags and Guillemots nest on the cliffs and you can get incredibly close views of these beautiful birds on this trip. Back underwater, we spend our time photographing the young seals – their puppy dog eyes, white to grey fur and large whiskers make them really photogenic subjects for the underwater photographer. And this is exactly why we keep coming back, year after year, to these small Islands. ■ MORE INFORMATION www.visitnorthumberland.com www.farneislanddivers.co.uk www.farneislandstours.co.uk

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DRYSUITS TO BELIEVE IN

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The Roho drysuit range includes drysuits such as the Extreme, X-Flex and Commercial. We make drysuits for divers whatever your level. MADE TO MEASURE SERVICE Our made to measure service means you can combine, fit, fabrics, features and colours to create the perfect drysuit just for you.

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EG Y PT S O U T HER N R ED SEA

South Due

Seasoned travellers may think that they have seen it all in Egypt but a trip on a Southern Red Sea liveaboard showcases the incredible variety and tremendous quality of this perenially outstanding dive destination. WORDS & IMAGES: NICK AND CAROLINE ROBERTSON-BROWN

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SOUTHERN RED SEA EG Y PT

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E GY PT S O UTHER N R ED SEA

e still feel that tingle of excitement when heading out on a liveboard trip. It is an adventure on the high seas, setting off into the unknown. Well, all right...the captain and staff on board know the dive sites intimately, but you get the idea. On this trip, our itinerary saw us boarding Emperor Asmaa in Marsa Ghalib and heading south, taking in the famous Elphinstone Reef, Fury Shoals and St John’s. As our flight from Manchester took us to Hurghada, we made the rest of the journey to Marsa by road, travelling through towns and across desert,

It was time for us to set off, first to some local dive sites and then, as we travelled further south, to sites rarely visited by boats other than liveaboards.

before arriving at the port late at night. The boat stayed in harbour that night, giving us time to sort out our camera and diving equipment whilst the necessary documents were prepared by the crew. Then it was time for us to set off, first to some local dive sites and then, as we travelled further south, to sites rarely visited by boats other than liveaboards. Over six days of diving we planned to complete 20 dives. The boat would do much of the motoring during the night to maximise our diving time.

On a liveaboard, the weather plays a big role in choosing the dive sites that can be visited and it takes time to travel from one location to the next. Fortunately our diving conditions were perfect, but some of our longer journeys were a bit on the bumpy side and required our camera gear to be stowed safely below deck. For those that like to worship the sun, there are plenty of opportunities to head up to the top decks between dives; that is until the bell rings, of course,

IMAGES Top: Emperor Asmaa, in port. Right: This itinerary gives you the chance to explore cracks and caverns in the reef wall. Far right: Fish swoop over the corals on a wall in the southern Red Sea.

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SOUTHERN RED S E A EG Y PT

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SOUTHERN RED S E A EG Y PT

and you are summoned back to the diving deck for briefings and then diving. Eat, Sleep, Dive, Repeat is the mantra that anyone familiar with liveaboards will recognise! The diving in this region is incredible. Soft corals give the reefs a kaleidoscope of colour that can take your breath away. The dives on this route

enable divers to drift along vertical walls that disappear down into the blue of the huge depths, and explore coral bommies that rise up out of a sandy seabed. You can navigate caverns where the sunlight breaks through showering dark passages with shimmering shards of light, or swim over huge hard coral formations that cover

The diving in this region is incredible. Soft corals give the reefs a kaleidoscope of colour that can take your breath away.

IMAGES Above: A truly staggering reef top. Left: In the shallows, the colours are lit up by the constant sunshine.

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vast areas. You can traverse seagrass fields looking for giant sea turtles or Dugongs, or just head out into the blue to look for pelagic species, and even explore a couple of small wrecks. During our check out dive, which is usually not the best dive of the week, we explored coral heads and reacquainted ourselves with the familiar Red Sea species that you see on most dive sites. Anemonefish provided a splash of colour as they defended their territory, Blue Spotted Rays kicked up sand as they darted away from divers that got too close, and moray eels gave us toothy grins from the safety of

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E GY PT S O UTHER N R ED SEA

At Elphinstone we spent some time with a turtle who was veraciously eating soft ‘broccoli’ corals and creating a right mess!

IMAGES Top: Turtles are abundant on the reefs in the southern Red Sea. Above: Dolphins played by the boat as we snorkelled.

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their hidey-holes. On one dive, a small Wrasse decided that we were his new best friend and spent a good 10 minutes swimming between us and coming right in front of our masks. Due to good weather, we managed to get a dive at Elphinstone on this first day too. We were, unfortunately, a bit early in the year to see the famous Oceanic Whitetip Sharks that love this area, but the dive was spectacular nonetheless, drifting along the steep wall until we reached the plateau. Here we spent some time with a turtle who was veraciously eating soft ‘broccoli’ corals and creating a right mess! After this, our trip south began in earnest as we headed for some of the dive sites

with wonderful sounding names like Dangerous Reef, Big Grotto and Paradise. As we approached Fury Shoals, a pod of friendly dolphins came to join us and as they played by the boat, a handful of us jumped into the RIB and set off to snorkel with them. They seemed to love playing in the wake of the boat, and so the driver would whizz past us over and over again, bringing in the dolphins who came really close to us, clicking and squeaking to each other as they passed. It was a magical encounter and it is moments like this that really make us appreciate just how privileged we are as divers. On the next dive, our guide told us that we may be approached by a large

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E GY PT S O UTHER N R ED SEA

There at the edge (of the coral garden) was a huge and ‘friendly’ Napoleon Wrasse who approached each diver in turn, presumably looking for a small snack.

IMAGES Top: A huge Napoleon Wrasse joins the dive group. Right: The soft corals come in all colours.

Napoleon Wrasse at the end of the dive. We spent our dive exploring cracks and fissures that ran right through the reef, allowing plenty of access for divers to explore in safety. As we approached the end of our dive time, we begrudgingly decided to make our way back to the boat. Our route led us into a magical coral garden. Sure enough, there at the edge was the aforementioned huge and ‘friendly’ Napoleon Wrasse who approached each diver in turn, presumably looking for a small snack. We did not feed him, but he seemed happy enough to spend some time with us so that we could admire his striking colours. Liveaboard trips are famous for the amount of diving you can fit into a week, but also for the amount of food you eat. Whenever you

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get out of the water, it seems to be only a few minutes before you are being called together to share a meal or tuck into a snack. It gives everyone the chance to share and relive their best moments from each dive, as well as to eat some really wonderful food. It is incredible that these chefs can produce such amazing meals from such a tiny galley. Our chef even found the time to create beautiful, intricate carvings from fruit and veg – he must have a very steady hand! Often, when diving in the Red Sea early in the year, you will see pelagic species in deep water. We tend to stay fairly shallow so may not always get the best sighting of these encounters, but we did get an amazing fly-by from a giant manta ray, as well as seeing Hammerhead

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SOUTHERN RED S E A EG Y PT

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SOUTHERN RED S E A EG Y PT

Napoleon Wrasse

TRAVEL LOG:

SOUTHERN RED SEA LIVEABOARD

Flights There are lots of flights out of the UK to either Hurghada or Marsa Alam. We flew Thomas Cook from Manchester to Hurghada, and Emperor Divers provided the land transfers.

Top Tip! Keep rehydrated! It feels cool as you are out at sea but you can soon become dehydrated.

Transfers 3 hours from Hurghada ; only 20 mins from Marsa Alam Airport.

Water temperature 24 degrees in January.

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IMAGES Above: Shafts of light beam down onto a cavern floor, lighting up an anenomefish.

5mm full length wetsuits were fine for us. Currency  Egyptian Pound but the boat takes credit cards, as well as £, € and $US.

Favourite non-diving activity Snorkelling with wild dolphins.

Favourite place to eat/drink The chef on board Emperor Asmaa is fantastic.

Final Word! If you want lots of diving in a great Red Sea location then this is the trip for you.

Sharks away in the deep blue. We dived the wreck of a small yacht that is now full of life, with glassfish swooping and glistening along the interior, as well as a more recent wreck of a dive boat, broken up and now home to numerous lionfish who patrol the area looking for their prey. As we headed back north, there was still time to go in search of a Dugong. It is almost a right of passage moment when you finally do catch your first glimpse of one. Alas, on this trip, we were not to have any luck, but our exploration of the sea grass at Marsa Shouna did give us a private encounter with a huge sea turtle who seemed oblivious to our

presence and was perfectly happy to continue grazing as we manoeuvred around him to capture our images. The end of our trip saw us pulling back in to Port Ghalib, where we were able to get off the boat that had been our home for the last six days and grab some food and drink on shore, trying out some of the bars and restaurants that line the water’s edge of this rather pretty dockside. We spent our last night on board, taking a nightcap with the new friends we had made, and lying back to watch the last of the sun disappear into the Red Sea. ■ MORE INFORMATION www.emperordivers.com www.egypt.travel

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DIVE TRAVEL Companion M I C R O N E S I A CHUUK (TR UK) L AGOON

THE DIVER'S ULTIMATE GUIDE

2019

Dive Travel Companion is the ultimate guide to some of the world’s best dive centres, resorts and liveaboards. Don't miss out on your copy - coming soon! CALL NOW TO ADVERTISE!

Dave Alexander | Publisher 10 8 | D I V E T R AV E L A D V E N T U R E S | AU T U M Tel: N 2 01 8 +44 (0)7469 252917 Email: dave scubaverse.com @scubaverse.com P108_DTC PROMO.indd 108

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DIVING ON ST HELENA ISLAND Clear, warm waters, wrecks and fascinating marine life make St Helena Island an enticing snorkelling and scuba diving destination. Dive site habitats vary from rocky reefs with caves and areas of boulders to cobbles and sand, all teeming with active marine life and within easy reach of the island’s Wharf. The several wrecks dotted around the coast present popular dive and snorkelling sites with agreeable sea temperatures varying from 19 to 25°C and visibility from 16 to 130 feet. Dives can vary between 40 and 130 feet allowing a range of diving opportunities to weave through the vessel wrecks of St

Helena’s past or view the present and witness an array of rich endemic sea-life. If visiting the island be certain to bring your log book and catch up with local divers who form the thriving St Helena Dive Club - who understand the movement of the Atlantic waves and the best locations to catch a striking world beneath our feet. The riches of the South Atlantic Ocean await your discovery with local certified dive tour operators Into the Blue and Sub Tropic Adventures and international specialised tour operators on hand, there is no better time to dive into St Helena.

The Canister. Jamestown. St Helena. STHL 1ZZ Telephone: +290 22158 Email: enquiries@tourism.co.sh www.sthelenatourism.com

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M I C R O N E S I A CHUUK L AG OON

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C HUUK L AGOON MI CR O NESI A

Life, interrupted Ticking off a trip on their bucket list, Richard and Hayley of Black Manta Photography head to Chuuk Lagoon for some deep and meaningful dives at what most divers consider to be the ultimate wreck diving destination. WORDS & IMAGES: HAYLEY EAUDE AND RICHARD STEVENS

IMAGES Left: Light streams through an aircraft hull on the Fujikawa Maru. Top: In the engine room of the Fujikawa Maru, you can find the iconic 'R2D2' air compressor.

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pierced the shimmering surface of the Pacific Ocean, my muscles aching from the hours of wreck diving and the last dive of the day clinging to my bones. In my head I’m processing being one of the few to have seen what we’ve seen: a rusting engine room deep in the guts of a 70 year old shipwreck, untouched sake bottles buried in the silted hold, and a tank, balanced precariously on the deck of a listing wreck; all now home to the colourful indigenous tropical fish. As I exit the water, the last of the

sun touches my cheeks and the fatigue slowly drifts away to the sound of intoxicating music. I turn to find a sunwrinkled man sitting on a tatty wooden stool, his calloused hands slowly plucking the delicate strings of a ukulele. The soft gravelly voice and the soothing notes from the small instrument echo the glowing rays of the sun setting behind him. I look back down to the impossibly perfect bowl of turquoise water, hiding an untouched treasure of wrecks. How perfectly preserved they are; a moment forever frozen in time underwater – life, interrupted.

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M I C R O N E S I A CHUUK L AG OON

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C HUUK L AGOON MI CR O NESI A

It was 2016 and after a long day’s diving the waters around the Socorro Islands a familiar question came up. What’s your bucket list dive? At the time, we had so many places in our minds from the Galapagos to the Scilly Isles. But there was one place that kept coming up, particularly for those of us with a lust for rust, and that was Truk Lagoon. Like most of the best dive locations it is pretty remote. Truk Lagoon (as it was known until around 1990) is now called Chuuk Lagoon, part of Chuuk State within the Federated States of Micronesia. We like to call it Truk like most divers do. Truk Lagoon was used as a safe harbour for the Imperial Japanese Navy during WWII but all that changed on 17–18 February 1944, when the

United States Navy launched a massive air and surface attack on the Japanese fleet. Operation Hailstone resulted in a huge loss of life, as well as the destruction of at least 40 Japanese ships and 250 airplanes. Today, Truk is considered the top wreck diving destination in the world. Here you can find everything from fighter planes to destroyers, and submarines to giant passenger cruisers: an incredible underwater museum of military history that we were privileged to visit for the first time in 2017. Let’s be honest, the journey to Truk is long… All in all, it takes about two days, but with the many time differences it becomes a scientific equation to work out what day it is!

We flew via Seoul and Guam, but depending on what route you take, and the length of stopover en route, be prepared to be tired, grubby and desperate to get in the water when you finally arrive. At Chuuk Airport you get a real sense of the remoteness of the destination, with a small ramshackle hut serving as the arrivals gate. As we drove through the villages, the local poverty became evident but everyone was friendly and welcoming, children running barefoot along the dusty road, waving madly, desperate to get a glimpse of the strangers on the bus. The Blue Lagoon is one of only a few resorts on the island and on arrival it really showcases the lagoon perfectly, perched right on

IMAGES Left, and below: Paradise found on land... the Blue Lagoon resort is a real haven after such a lengthy journey.

The Blue Lagoon is one of only a few resorts on the island and on arrival it really showcases the lagoon perfectly, perched right on the water’s edge with palm trees studded over every surface.

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C HUUK L AGOON MI CR O NESI A

the water’s edge with palm trees studded over every surface. The accommodation and facilities are basic and the food is not to everyone’s taste but it serves as a base to recover from the journey before the diving begins. There is a dive centre on site - a land-based option for anyone not wanting to dive from a liveaboard. On the small patch of land between the resort and the dive centre is a fascinating museum about Operation Hailstone. No photographs are allowed, but amongst many treasures you will find some of the ship’s bells, range finders, and a myriad artefacts that were recovered. Visiting the museum was an absolute highlight of our stay in the resort. Another memory is the intensity of the weather here: when it rains, it really rains! It’s like something

IMAGES Top, and below: The MV Odyssey is wellequipped with the added bonus of a lift, and hang bar under the boat. Below, right: Our legendary dive guide - and star musician - Ken.

The Odyssey also has the most magical of things on the dive deck... a lift! After multiple dives with heavy equipment, this is literally the best thing since sliced bread.

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from a blockbuster disaster movie, which really serves as a reminder that life on the equator can be anything but ordinary! Most divers opt for a liveaboard in Truk and we were to spend a week aboard MV Odyssey. As always, it’s the crew that determine the quality of your trip as much as the diving. Our legendary dive guide Ken would sit on the dive deck in the evenings, playing his ukulele and singing beautiful melodies. Then there is Captain Mike ‘Truk’ Gerken - an American

from North Carolina - who is a veritable encyclopedia about the history of the wrecks. Mike is also a fantastic underwater photographer. I don’t think we stopped asking him questions the entire trip. The Odyssey also has the most magical of things on the dive deck... a lift! After multiple dives with heavy equipment, this is literally the best thing since sliced bread. Second to the dive lift, is the hang bar 5m under the boat - perfect for decompressing or doing your safety stop. Many a game

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of noughts and crosses were played on that bar. Because of the sheer number of wrecks you will never cover them all in one trip (despite our protests!) so be sure to do some research before you go. Top of our list was the San Francisco Maru, considered the crème de la crème of Truk because of her

cargo and very impressive bow gun. Other than that we left it to Mike to choose our itinerary and what an itinerary it was: Heian Maru - Yamagiri Maru - Fumitzuki - Shinkoku Maru - I-169 Shinohara - Nippo Maru Betty Bomber - Sankisan Maru - Hoki Maru - Fujikawa Maru - Amagisan Maru -

IMAGES This page: The wreck of the Shinkoku Maru was one of the most visually stunning. It was also very moving: human bones and medical bottles can be seen on the ship's operating table.

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Pizion Reef - Rio de Janeiro - San Francisco Maru - and finally, the Kensho Maru. The Shinkoku Maru was one of our favourites of the trip. Her twisting, turning engine room had us finding our way out with nothing but our torches. We entered through the blast hole in the hull made by a torpedo strike, burn marks still visible on the edges of the torn metal. As the first divers in, the silt had not yet been stirred, and the huge engines, levers, pipes, pumps and stairways were all beautifully defined in the torchlight by an orange glow that covered every surface.

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Probably the most famous wreck here, the San Francisco Maru is nicknamed the ‘Million Dollar Wreck’ due to her extensive cargo of tanks, trucks and an impressive stack of bombs and landmines.

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One of our favourite moments was spotting a light bulb, the filament still intact, despite her sinking and 70+ years under the sea.

IMAGES Left: The wreck of the San Francisco Maru is considered the Queen of Truk Lagoon due to her immense cargo. Top: Medical bag and light (with filament intact!) aboard the Heian Maru. Below: The fuselage of the famous Betty Bomber is broken apart but easily explored at 15m.

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The Nippo Maru is a stunning wreck and one not to be underestimated. Her slight list can make you feel disoriented but the intact bridge still has the Captain’s helm and ship’s telegraph making for some great photos. She sank with a heavily laden cargo full of guns, field artillery, trucks, a tank, gas masks, shells and

mines, making her one of the best wrecks for variety. Our first wreck of the trip also happened to be the largest in the lagoon. Stretching 155m the Heian Maru was an ocean liner turned submarine tender. Sitting at 33m she is perfectly accessible for recreational diving, but her size will mean multiple dives if you want to see it all, otherwise it’s technical diving all the way to uncover her many treasures. One of our favourite moments was spotting a light bulb, the filament still intact, despite her sinking and 70+ years under the sea. In the hold, we were amazed to see missiles and torpedoes, as well as a fully equipped medical bag containing syringes, apothecary bottles and bandages. The easiest dive in the lagoon is without doubt the Betty Bomber, sitting in just 15m of water. Nicknamed the 'Flying Cigar' due to her shape and the way she lit up the sky when hit, the Betty was supposed to be landing at the nearby airstrip but went down a few hundred metres short. Her nose, starboard wingtip and engines broke off and were tossed forward

nearly 100m off the port side. Interestingly there isn’t much coral or life around her because of the aluminium compound. Nevertheless, you can just about swim through the shell and also find the discarded engine in one dive. The Queen of the Lagoon (and the wreck on every diver’s newly purchased t-shirt) is the San Francisco Maru, sitting in 62m of water. Probably the most famous wreck here, she is nicknamed the ‘Million Dollar Wreck’ due to her extensive cargo of tanks, trucks and an impressive stack of bombs and landmines. We planned this dive meticulously, but you can’t plan for the fluke of life. It was Remembrance Day, and with us happened to be a British Army Veteran who wanted to pay his respects. He pinned a poppy wreath to the wreck’s mast and we all took a moment to remember those who made the ultimate sacrifice. With the deck at 50m, exploring the holds is a rewarding but exhausting experience and for those looking to get the famous bow view, it’s 62m to the seabed! If going that deep is not

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IMAGES Left: We’d been so focused on the wrecks that we hadn’t considered seeing sharks too... and there are dozens of them! Top: Personal possessions, frozen in time, are a sober reminder of the massive loss of life in the Lagoon. Above: Over time, corals and marine life have made the wrecks their home.

for you, a hover above the impressive bow gun will keep you nicely at 45m. One of the last dives of the week was at Pizion Reef, which sits in the clearest water you will ever see: a bright blue that makes your eyes weep (literally!). Sitting in the outer reef you will find no wrecks - only sharks. This might sound crazy, but the thought of seeing sharks hadn’t really been at the forefront of our minds prior to the trip. We’d been so focused on the wrecks that we hadn’t considered it – well, what a huge oversight! The reef is where the relatively shallow waters of the lagoon finish, and the

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open expanse of the Pacific Ocean starts – essentially, the ‘drop off’. Here we had the opportunity to dive with dozens of Black Tip and Grey Reef Sharks. An experience we will never forget, and despite all of the world class wrecks on display, undoubtedly one of our highlights from the week. You don’t need to be a rust nut to fall in love with Truk Lagoon, there is so much life amongst the wrecks that there is something for everyone. We particularly loved the huge table anemones that covered the decks, the thousands of glass fish swimming amongst the rotten wooden cargo beams, and the swarm of Grey Reef and Silver Tip sharks that circled the boat at Pizion Reef. If the wrecks are what you’re interested in, you might be thinking, why would I travel so far when I can do wrecks in the Red Sea? Having dived the Thistlegorm several times we had the same thought but believe us, Truk Lagoon is another level altogether. The entombed remains of Operation Hailstone create a real sense of time past and reflect a very different war to one we might see today. Despite the wrecks being

more than 70 years old, each one is well preserved and amazingly, they have escaped the attentions of salvagers. With so many wrecks, there is an enormous variety of experiences and dive depths, really something for every diver. This also means that you are often the only divers on a particular wreck at any one time. During our trip it really did feel like we were the first to discover these unbelievable treasures underwater, almost as if they had been placed there just for us, making it a truly unique experience. The travel should not put you off either. Truk really is a bucket list ‘tick off’ and a once in a lifetime opportunity to dive an incredible historical snapshot in time. It’s one of the locations we’ve been fortunate to visit that we absolutely want to return to. The people are amazing, the location beautiful, and the wrecks and their treasures truly are mind blowing. In the meantime, we’re going to get on with our ukulele lessons because next time we want to jam with Ken, who just happens to be the coolest dude on the planet. n MORE INFORMATION www.bluelagoondiveresort.com www.trukodyssey.com

TRAVEL LOG:

CHUUK LAGOON Flights:

Currency

Heathrow to Seoul with Korean Airlines; Seoul to Guam with Korean Airlines; Guam to Truk with United Airlines.

$US; credit cards accepted at Blue Lagoon Resort and MV Odyssey.

Top Tip!

Visiting the museum full of WWII artefacts at the resort.

The journey is long and Micronesia is pretty remote so be prepared for lengthy layovers and a very basic airport when you get there. Don't forget you will also need an ESTA visa!

Transfers 30 minute bus ride to Blue Lagoon Resort; MV Odyssey collects direct from the hotel.

Water temperature 28°C in November – a 3mm full-length wetsuit will keep you warm and protect you from the rusty wrecks.

Favourite nondiving activity

Favourite place to eat/drink If you have a long layover in Guam, then exit the airport and go downtown. It’s very western and full of designer shops and restaurants. Not to everyone's taste but a welcome reprieve after lots of basic food.

Final Word! The shark dive is not to be missed. After a week of wrecks it's amazing to see so many sharks in the clearest water in the world!

IMAGES Below: A last stunning sunset aboard the Odyssey.

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Dive Travel Adventures - Autumn 2018  

Join us on some of the most spectacular and exciting Dive Travel Adventures worldwide! Packed full of incredible photography and first perso...

Dive Travel Adventures - Autumn 2018  

Join us on some of the most spectacular and exciting Dive Travel Adventures worldwide! Packed full of incredible photography and first perso...