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DIVE TRAVEL Adventures BE INSPIRED, GO DIVING...

WINTER 2019

GUADALUPE PHILIPPINES TENERIFE BARBADOS ICELAND SCOTLAND MALDIVES

Bucket list

DIVES

Frogfish Photography share their ultimate dive destinations


“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.

www.wakatobi.com

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Whether you are enjoying Great British Diving...

SS Salsette, UK

Photo courtesy of Rick Ayrton

My passion is photography. Most of my time underwater is spent setting up and waiting for that perfect moment. That’s all I want to be thinking about.

O’Three, my drysuit of choice since 2004 - Rick Ayrton

www.othree.co.uk | +44 (0) 1305 822820 | Osprey Quay Portland Dorset DT5 1BL |

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...or travelling to the World’s other great dive sites, we have you covered.

Ana Rancaño - Cenote ‘Car Wash’, Tulum, Mexico Photo courtesy of Will Appleyard

I spend my time travelling the world trying to document the best dives. From Iceland to Mexico my O’Three kit allows me the flexibility I need to dive where I want and enjoy it all.

Author and Photographer - Will Appleyard

DRYSUITS | WETSUITS | NEOPRENE ACCESSORIES

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W ELCO M E W I N TER 2 0 1 9

Guadalupe Barbados

Welcome... We’re back with a new batch of Dive Travel Adventures for Winter 2019 and we hope you enjoy these just as much as the first ones. When we launched Dive Travel Adventures at DIVE 2018 we were overwhelmed with its positive reception. Thank you to everyone who has picked up or downloaded a copy, and to all those who support and stock the magazine. The Scubaverse Team is so proud of our newest publication and we look forward to bringing you many more Dive Travel Adventures over the coming months. What dive destinations will you be ticking off your bucket list in 2019? From the wonders of the Philippines to the Great Whites of Guadalupe, via Tenerife, Iceland, Scotland, Barbados and the Maldives, we hope you find plenty of underwater inspiration as you look through our second batch of fantastic dive travel hotspots. See you in the blue!

Jane Herbert

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!

EDITOR SCUBAVERSE

CONTACT INFORMATION

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View Dive Travel Adventures from anywhere in the world

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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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WINTER 2019 CONTENTS

Iceland Scotland Philippines

Tenerife Maldives Contents

10 GUADALUPE

52 BUCKET LIST DIVES

24

72

Diving or 'caging' with Great White Sharks is a true bucket list adventure. Nick and Caroline of Frogfish Photography head to Guadalupe Island to fulfill a longstanding underwater ambition.

PHILIPPINES

An invitation to visit the Philippines, sees Nick and Caroline heading to Anda, Bohol, in search of fantastic creatures and magical underwater encounters.

38 TENERIFE

Tenerife is a popular choice for sunshine holidays, but the island also offers superb diving and stunning wildlife encounters. Could Tenerife be the perfect destination to combine diving with a family holiday? Sean Chinn finds out.

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As underwater photographers, Nick and Caroline have travelled all over the world. Here they share their bucket list dives... and a few destinations that still need to be ticked off!

BARBADOS

Barbados is famous for its beaches, rum, cricket and carnival atmosphere, but how does this Caribbean island’s underwater scene shape up? Nick and Caroline head to Dive Fest Barbados to find out!

86 ICELAND

Iceland is a place that conjures up images of pure adventure: volcanoes, geysers, glaciers and exciting Viking history. For their Dive Travel Adventures debut, CJ and Mike dip below the surface to iconic Silfra.

98 SCOTLAND

In search of the perfect weekend spot to get the UK diving season underway, Nick and Caroline head to Scotland to shore dive Loch Long and Loch Fyne.

108 MALDIVES

In his first feature for Dive Travel Adventures, Yo-Han Cha joins a citizen science marine expedition on Carpe Vita, and drops in on a new artificial reef project in the Maldives.

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/magazines

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Ready for your

VISIT US AT

next adventure?

#GODiving

22-24TH FEB COVENTRY, UK

We are on stand no.66

Tailor made itineraries to the best liveaboards and dive resorts around the world Arctic & Antarctica Bahamas Cocos Fiji French Polynesia Galapagos

Indonesia Mexico Maldives Palau Papua New Guinea Philippines

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Diving adventures to the world’s most remarkable places

EXPLORE

Tours and stopovers to enhance your travel experience

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• Westerfield • Suffolk • IP6 9AB

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Great Escapes Diving Holidays

Dive and Explore the world’s most stunning locations Great Escapes Diving Holidays Ltd is a brand new company, launched and run by professionals with 30 years combined experience in the dive and travel industry. We are passionate divers and travellers and have first-hand knowledge of many of the destinations we feature, so call us for expert advice. We can take care of all aspects of your holiday, including flights, transfers, diving, guided land tours and city stopovers. We are ATOL Licensed, giving you full financial protection when booking with us.

The world is beautiful…we can help you see it

Arctic & Antarctica

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We are thrilled to announce that Great Escapes Divings Holidays Ltd is now a UK appointed agent of Aurora Expeditions, one of the leading expedition cruise companies for voyages to the Arctic and Antarctica.

Launching in November 2019, their new world-class expedition ship Greg Mortimer will embark on various itineraries through Antarctica and the Arctic. The state of the art, 104 metre expedition ship will carry 120 passengers and will offer diving on selected trips. There will be just 12 divers allowed per dive trip, with a 6-1 diver to guide ratio. These limited places will sell out fast so we strongly recommend you book early to secure your place. Find out more on our website.

Tel: 01473 921888

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• Email: info@greatescapesdiving.com • www.greatescapesdiving.com 17/12/2018 09:44


M E X I CO GUA DALUP E I SL AND

Great expectations

Diving or ‘caging’ with Great White Sharks is a true bucket list adventure. Nick and Caroline of Frogfish Photography were lucky enough to be invited on a liveaboard to Guadalupe Island to fulfill a long-standing underwater ambition. WORDS & IMAGES: NICK AND CAROLINE ROBERTSON-BROWN

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GUADALUPE ISL AND M EX I CO

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M E X I CO GUA DALUP E I SL AND

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©Nautilus Liveaboards

GUADALUPE ISL AND M EX I CO

IVING IN THE CLEAR blue waters of Guadalupe Island off the coast of Mexico, in search of magnificent Great White Sharks, is the kind of dive travel adventure that dreams are made of. It’s fair to say that even though Nick and I have travelled all over the world, this was one dive trip that we were incredibly excited about. We just couldn’t wait to get there! We had stayed on Nautilus Belle Amie on a previous trip to Socorro to dive with Giant Manta Rays, so we knew from the very start that we had outstanding hosts for our adventure. The crew is incredibly attentive, the Belle Amie is a big boat, capable of feeling spacious even with 30 divers on board, and from beginning to end, the trip runs as smooth as silk.

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©Nautilus Liveaboards

M E X I CO GUA DALUP E I SL AND

We flew into Los Angeles and then drove down to San Diego and stayed at the Best Western Island Palms, where, as this is your collection point, you get a good discount on the rooms. This is a decent location to explore the area and we had added on a week of diving in Southern California for our return – but more about that another time… Our group met at the hotel in the late afternoon, along with a Nautilus representative, who then accompanied us on the ‘Shark Express’ - a shark logo wrapped coach that would take us over the border at Tijuana, into Mexico.

IMAGES Top: The Shark Express bus that takes you from San Diego to Ensanada. Above left: Pedro gives the guests the lowdown on cage diving. Above right: Belle Amie feels super spacious even with 30 divers on board.

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The drive only takes a couple of hours, but you do have to get off to pass through the border before heading on to the port in Ensenada. Here the crew meet you and ensure all your luggage is transferred to the boat, while you enjoy a welcome cocktail. Whilst we unpacked and settled on board, the journey commenced, with the boat getting under way for our 24 hour sail to Guadalupe Island.

Each day, our itinerary was posted on a white board in the dining room, so everyone on board knew what time the meals, briefing and safety drills were scheduled. The first day, whilst still making our way out to the Island, we covered basic safety drills, and then the rules and etiquette of cage diving. The growing excitement was tangible, and we spent our time preparing our

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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

FAMILY DIVE ADVENTURES KIDS@FAMILYDIVERS.COM 803.419.2556 WWW.FAMILYDIVERS.COM

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GUADALUPE ISL AND M EX I CO

underwater photography and video equipment ready for the following morning. When the engines died down, and as the boat moored up, we could hear and see a sea lion colony on shore. The crew started to prep the dive deck ready for the first day’s diving, lowering the cages down into the flat-calm water. Nautilus Belle Amie has five shark diving cages: two that always stay at the surface, and a further three that can be lowered down to 5 or 6 metres for a different view of the sharks. The submersible cages were restricted to qualified divers, and a timetable was posted each day where each diver had a minimum of three diving slots. The surface cages were open to anyone who wanted to use them. Each cage held four divers; in the submersible cages this included a member of staff who acted as a safety diver. The cages opened each day at 6:30am and we were keen to be up and ready on the first

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The cages opened each day at 6:30am... and we were first in the water as the sun rose.

day of diving. Other divers, it seems, prefer to have a more leisurely start to the day when on holiday, and so we were first in the water as the sun rose. As we put on our wetsuits, there was a cry – “SHARK” – from one of the wranglers. We grabbed our masks and camera gear and made our way to the dive deck to be fitted with weight harnesses and handed our regs. Even though it was still quite gloomy, as the sun had not yet risen enough to completely light up this part of the Pacific Ocean, as soon as our heads were underwater we saw the unmistakable outline of a Great White Shark in the distance. We felt from this very first moment underwater that it

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M E X I CO GUA DALUP E I SL AND

was going to be a great trip. The shark wranglers are positioned on each side of the stern of the boat, on platforms extending out from the boat and above the water. They each have a frozen piece of fish, tied to a rope, that they throw out to encourage the sharks towards the boat. If a shark goes for the bait, then the wrangler pulls it in to safety and relaunches it out into the water. Dive Operators are not

allowed to chum or feed the sharks, but these magnificent animals are not dumb, and so they do, occasionally, win the battle of wits between shark and wrangler, getting a morsel of tuna for their troubles. Just a few minutes into our first dive here, we had a close encounter with a large Great White Shark passing by the cage. Every now and then we popped up to make sure we were not hogging space in the cage and to

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check if there was anyone else waiting to dive. We would also hop out occasionally and get fed. On the dive deck there is an endless supply of hot chocolate and snacks to keep you going, and you can even request your meals on the dive deck if you do not want to strip out of your wetsuit. The crew are incredible, and keep track of everyone’s dietary requirements and preferences. The food is great too, with plenty of imaginative

IMAGES Top and right: Up close and personal with the Great Whites. The cages give an incredibly privileged view of the sharks. Right (middle): One guest braves the cool water in her amazing swimsuit.

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GUADALUPE ISL AND M EX I CO

and delicious meals made fresh from the small galley. Often, with one of us a vegetarian and one not eating fish or seafood, our meals can be disappointing on liveaboards, but we found the exact opposite on Belle Amie, as every meal was a real treat (especially the hot sauce made specifically for us on request). Dive, eat, sleep, repeat is universally known as the liveaboard mantra, and it was

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certainly the order of the day on this expedition. We spent up to seven hours in the 21 degree water on any given day, trying our best to maximise our time and experience spent with the Great White Sharks. It was well worth hanging about on deck too, watching the dive guides as they pit their wits against the wily sharks. Whilst watching the interactions unfold, you are very likely to see some fabulous contests

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M E X I CO GUA DALUP E I SL AND

between wrangler and shark, as well as some dramatic breaches, as the cry of “SHARK” rings out across the boat. Each time that we were on deck or in a cage, be it at the surface or submerged, we were treated to the sight of Great White Sharks. It really was incredible. The trip itinerary allows for three days of shark caging. In the evenings, the group are invited to meet up and try to identify the individual sharks observed by using photos and video taken by all those on board. Using the Marine Conservation Science Institute’s Great White Sharks of Guadalupe Island ID Guide 2018, we compared markings of all the individual sharks we had encountered and were even able to identify them by name! We saw El Diablo, Paul Walker, Luca, Silent Hunter, Michael, Slash Fin and Poseidon MCW. There were also a handful of unidentified sharks, so we perhaps saw 10–15 sharks over the three days of cage diving. Some of the highlights were when multiple sharks were

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Nautilus were promoting family shark diving... and it was fantastic to see whole families taking part in this amazing experience. swimming around the boat at the same time. Our record was four Great White Sharks in view at a single moment. At this time of year (July) all the sharks were males who were waiting for the females to arrive. This was probably the reason for the boys being so lively and bold, and this made for some great action. Nautilus were promoting family shark diving the week we were on board and it was fantastic to see whole families taking part in this amazing experience. One nervous mother did wonder what she was doing putting both her sons in a cage with large sharks swimming past, but with a bit a reassurance, the whole

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San Diego Dive Center

Guadalupe great whites

BahĂ­a whale sharks N. Sea of Cortez

Mexico

Pulmo bull sharks S. Sea of Cortez

Cabo Dive Center

The Nautilus Difference Incredible big animal diving. Uncompromising safety. Amazing guest experience. 4 ships, from 12 to 32 guests. Find Dates and Rates - NautilusLiveaboards.com/go

CH R A M

19 20

Socorro giant mantas

Š Dan Orr

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

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THE CARIBBEAN SPECIALIST Bonaire

Grenada

Curaçao

Saba

Aruba

St. Martin

Cayman Islands

Antigua

St. Lucia

Guadeloupe

We are the preferred tour operator for many resorts and we can give you the best price. Contact us for a tailor made holiday quotation.

✆ 01604 882929 ✉ info@caribbeanfuntravel.co.uk www.caribbeanfuntravel.co.uk 2019_BonaireFT_fp.indd 1 22 AD DOC WINTER 2018.indd

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GUADALUPE ISL AND M EX I CO

Montserrat

Pacif

ic Oc

ean

Guadalupe Cari bbea

nS

ea Great White Sharks

Mexico

Dominica

TRAVEL LOG:

Guadalupe Island, Mexico Flights

Currency

WOW Airlines from Gatwick to Los Angeles.

$US; credit cards accepted on board.

Top Tip!

Favourite non-diving activity

Take lots of big memory cards for shooting images and video.

Transfers Nautilus Liveaboards pick up from San Diego and transfer you across the Mexican border. The whole journey takes about two hours.

Water temperature 21°C in July. A thick wetsuit or a drysuit and hood make it easier to do long stints underwater in the cages.

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Watching the excitement of the shark wrangling from the dive deck.

Favourite place to eat/drink The food on Belle Amie is a treat in itself.

Final Word! Getting up close with magnificent Great White Sharks is a bucket list dive experience that we highly recommend. The attentive crew make this particular trip extra special.

family loved it. Hopefully the youngsters on board will remember this trip for the rest of their lives and it might inspire them to go on and become ambassadors for our oceans. All too soon it was time to pack up our diving and photo gear, and get comfortable for the long ride back to the Mexican mainland. We had spent so much time in the water shooting, filming, and just enjoying the “boys of the Pacific”, that we had no problem catching up on some sleep and pushing out the zzzzzs for much of the long haul back to land. Before we set out on this trip I would have said that this was a bucket list, once in a lifetime adventure, but now, having

IMAGES Top: A Great White Shark crashes through the surface after breaching. Above: In the Blue... Belle Amie’s five cages offer unparalleled shark encounters and 360° views.

enjoyed it way beyond our expectations, we would love to return and do it all over again. The Nautilus Belle Amie is the perfect vessel for this trip - well fitted out, with a huge dedicated camera table that is perfect for divers like us with lots of photo kit. And the experience of diving with Great White Sharks in clear water is absolutely mindblowing. n

MORE INFORMATION www.nautilusliveaboards.com www.visitmexico.com

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P HIL I P P I N E S BOHOL I SL AND

Animal

Magic An invitation to visit the Philippines on a unique three-centre trip, sees Frogfish Photography’s Nick and Caroline heading to Anda, Bohol, in search of fantastic creatures and magical underwater encounters. WORDS & IMAGES: NICK AND CAROLINE ROBERTSON-BROWN

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B OHOL ISL AND PHILIPPI NES

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P HIL I P P I N E S BOHOL I SL AND

OCATED IN ANDA on the island of Bohol, Magic Oceans Dive Resort is off the beaten track and has been built in a way that is truly sympathetic to its lush surroundings. Upon our arrival, we were made to feel at home, with a warm greeting and a very welcome cold drink after our journey by road and sea ferry from their sister resort, Magic Island. Our dive gear was

quickly whisked away to be stored in the dive centre, while we unwound in our spacious room, preparing our photography gear for the following day. Our first real impression of the place was just magical: the sun starting to set in front of our room, silhouetting birds swooping over the pool, as they tried to catch small insects for supper. We met our fellow divers at the picturesque bar for a pre-dinner drink, and they shared stories and tales of the diving we could expect over the next few days.

IMAGE Top and Above: Magic Oceans Dive Resort, Bohol.

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UPON OUR ARRIVAL, WE WERE MADE TO FEEL AT HOME, WITH A WARM GREETING AND A VERY WELCOME COLD DRINK AFTER OUR JOURNEY BY ROAD AND SEA...

© Saeed Rashid - focusvisuals.com

You may have to wait half an hour, or you might have to wait several hours, it is not an exact science… but side,

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Magic Photo Experience Join renowned photographers and marine biologists Nick and Caroline RobertsonBrown on a unique adventure as they return to the Philippines. Staying at Magic Oceans, a boutique dive resort in Anda, the trip includes an unlimited dive package, photography workshops and evening presentations about the marine biology of this outstanding location, most famous for its macro subjects but also visited by larger marine species. Interested in joining this exclusive expert led trip? Please register your interest with the Dive team and further details will be sent to you as soon as they are available.

Departs Price from Group size Leaders

19 May 2020 £1,795 (land only) 16 Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

The price is per person for 10 nights, superior twin share bungalow, full board, 8 days unlimited dive pack, airport transfers

Finest dive locations

Superb selection of resorts & liveaboards

100% independent

100% financial protection

Outstanding tailor-made diving holidays

H IT E W ID E IV DW US RL CL WO EX VE DI

With aquarium-like reefs and a dazzling array of marine life, the coastline of Anda on Bohol Island is worthy of any divers’ wish list. Set amongst tropical gardens, Magic Oceans is an intimate resort with a fabulous house reef catering for divers with a sense of adventure. Whilst macro diving is high on the agenda, there are plenty of larger highlights and modern facilities for photographers. It’s the perfect base from which to explore.

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Meet the Experts

Husband and wife team Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown (Frogfish Photography) are multiple award winning photographers and along with three books published, feature regularly in the diving, wildlife and international press, as well as being the Underwater Photography Editors at Scubaverse. Both are passionate about marine conservation and are UK Ambassadors for Sharks4Kids.

Contact us on

01962 302087

sales@diveworldwide.com

diveworldwide.com 17/12/2018 09:46


B OHOL ISL AND PHILIPPI NES

Eager anticipation for our first morning underwater meant we were up early to get ready. The dive centre is large, with plenty of space for each diver to set-up their gear and camera equipment. We were pleased to spot a prominent and eyecatching poster, setting out the best diving and underwater photography practice to help protect the resident pygmy seahorses. At this resort a team of staff carry out all the heavy lifting, and so all we had to do was stroll out to the boat with our cameras and sit and listen to the morning briefing. For us, this trip was going to be all about the critters - the little stuff that can only be found in this part of the world. This area is well known as “macro-heaven,” and is one of the best spots for this style of photography, with a host of much sought-after marine life to look out for. Having been introduced to our guide, the first question he asked us was “what do you really want to see?” Inevitably, we both replied in unison: “Shaun the Sheep”! To our surprise he quickly replied, “no problem” and duly promised we would see them at the very beginning of our first dive here. We were

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IMAGES Top: Divers getting on the boat in the morning. Left: Shaun the Sheep nudibranch are abundant but very hard to see as they are so small. Below: A diver explores a beautiful coral covered wall.

absolutely overjoyed, as we had never seen one before and are big fans of Nick Park’s cartoon namesake, whose Latin name, just for the record, is Costasiella kuroshimae. So, into the warm water we plunged, dutifully following our guide as he scoured the foliage on the sandy seabed. Within a couple of minutes, he was signalling to us that he had found what we had requested and pointed down to a small, bright green leaf. We peered down but saw nothing and shrugged to signal that we had absolutely no idea what he was pointing at, apart from a small green leaf! Looking a little frustrated that these two biologists had no idea about the size of our requested critter, he took his metal pointer and gently laid it down with the tip pointing at a tiny dot on the leaf. We were still somewhat confused; surely this unassuming dot was not what we had wanted to see?

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P HIL I P P I N E S BOHOL I SL AND

THIS AREA OF THE PHILIPPINES IS WELLKNOWN AS "MACRO-HEAVEN." IF YOU ARE A "NUDI-NUT" THEN THIS IS THE PLACE FOR YOU!

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B OHOL ISL AND PHILIPPI NES

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We could barely see it at all as it is was so miniscule. At first, we even pointed our cameras at the wrong end, only to be gently guided to the front by our patient guide. Through our camera lenses we could finally see this, now iconic, nudibranch that is so full of character and we decided to spend most of the rest of the dive trying to get a decent photo. During the surface interval we thanked our guide for finding Shaun and then asked him to concentrate on slightly larger critters that we might be able to focus on more easily. On the next dive, we drifted along a colourful wall inspecting each piece of coral to see what camouflaged

marine life might be hiding within. Frogfish of every colour and hue were waiting patiently for their prey to edge close enough for a strike, and anything resembling prey seemed entirely unaware of the killer’s presence. The coral was in superb condition too, making this easygoing drift dive a real pleasure. Over lunch, back at the dive centre, everyone was buzzing about their morning dives and we all decided that it would be great to pack in a night dive that day too. Some divers sat out the afternoon dive to have a bit of relaxation time, but we decided that we would indulge

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ourselves in as much diving here as possible and went out for the afternoon dive too. We were delighted we did, as we found a pink pygmy seahorse on a sea fan – a rare treat for us. As the sun started to fall, the divers gathered to get ready for the night dive. A night dive in places of high diversity like this are usually well worth joining in on, but this dive was to prove something very special. As soon as we were in the water, divers were trying to attract each other’s attention to point out what they had found. The weird and wonderful crustaceans and cephalopods come out at night and soon a Mimic Octopus had

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B OHOL ISL AND PHILIPPI NES

IMAGES Top left: Turtles laze about on the top of the reef. Top, left and right: Frogfish of every colour and hue can be found here. Right: Pygmy Seahorses are a favourite subject here.

On the next dive, we inspected each piece of coral to see what camouflaged marine life might be hiding within.

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been spotted. Then, a creature very close to our hearts was spotted – the Hairy Frogfish! The hour we spent underwater just flew by, with never a dull moment, and a host of amazing creatures enjoyed by all. It was truly one of the best night dives we have ever enjoyed and as we all still had air in our tanks, an hour really wasn’t enough. Magic Oceans have a selection of three dive boats, built with the traditional outriggers of a Filipino Bangka. They are all spacious to dive from and you will surface to find fresh fruit, hot drinks and water,

as well as fresh water rinse tanks for your camera equipment. The design of the boats means that sun worshippers have plenty of places to relax in the sun between dives, but for those looking to keep in the shade there are covered areas too. Our second day of diving brought us more nudibranchs than we ever thought possible, all in a small area at the base of a coral-encrusted wall. Sea slugs of every colour and size were being pointed out faster than we could capture them on our sensors. We could, very easily, have spent the whole day here, IMAGES Top: Amazing creatures become visible on a night dive. Above: The weird and wonderful critters you can find include the Orangutan Crab. Left: Beautiful nudibranchs come in many colours.

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and would have needed to in order to be able to do justice to all the amazing species that we found. If you are a “nudi-nut” then this is the place for you! Another change of pace saw us slowly drifting along the top of a shallow reef, where turtles seem to spend their days lazing on the soft coral. Every few metres we would encounter another one, and sometimes we were lucky enough to see up to four or five in a single reef vista. The turtles were completely unfazed by us approaching to take their photo.

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RAJA AMPAT LIVEABOARD 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. 14th – 25th November 2019 £3,575

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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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P HIL I P P I N E S BOHOL I SL AND

CHINA Hong Kong

Sout

Philip

pine

Sea

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hin

aS

Seahorse

e

a

Philippines

Turtle

IMAGES Above: The accommodation is situated around the pool . Right: Anemonefish are hard to resist .

TRAVEL LOG:

Bohol Island, Philippines Flights

Currency

We flew with Philippine Airlines to Cebu but there are other options including a direct Heathrow to Manila service.

Peso. Credit cards are accepted at the resorts with a small additional fee.

Transfers

Chilling out with other divers at the bar and swapping stories of your diving days. We didn't get the chance but if you have time, visit the Tarsier Sanctuary.

Magic Resorts organise transfers between their resorts. We went by ferry (around two hours) and private car. You can fly between islands, but this means you have fewer diving days.

Top Tip! Get the most out of your trip by brushing up on your critter ID and photography skills before you go.

Water temperature The water stays between 26 - 29° all year round.

Favourite nondiving activity

Favourite place to eat/drink In our short stay we only ate at the resort, but the food and the atmosphere were both great!

Final Word! This is a fantastic destination for critter lovers.

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One of the joys of staying at Magic Oceans is the friendly nature of the resort. Meals are held together, with all the divers sitting at a large table, chatting about the dives of the day and what their favourite moment or creature was on any given dive. The staff will also join in and sit down to eat and converse with the guests. Another bonus is never having to worry about the food. With one vegetarian and non-seafood eater we can be difficult customers, but the staff always got it right with wonderful and varied meals. In the evening, a post-dinner drink at the bar is the perfect way to finish the day. Alas, we only had a very short time staying at Magic Oceans Dive Resort, but in that short time we packed in some fabulous diving with colourful reefs patrolled by turtles. We got to see our Shaun the Sheep nudibranch, along with a host of other sea slugs we had never encountered before. We had a simply stunning night dive, and we also ticked off a host of cool critters that divers are always happy to see including the

wonderfully-named Wonderpus Octopus, pygmy seahorses, a host of different frogfish, and a plethora of crustaceans. The ocean here really is teeming with amazing marine life, the team of staff are helpful and friendly, and we made lots of new friends amongst the divers too. In fact, we liked it so much, that we have arranged another Scubaverse trip back to Magic Oceans in March 2020. Why not join us? n

MORE INFORMATION Join Nick and Caroline when they return to Magic Oceans for a Magic Photo Experience in March 2020. For more information contact sales@diveworldwide.com www.magicoceans.online www.itsmorefuninthephilippines.co.uk

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Located in Moalboal in Cebu, Magic Island has 10 detached cottages and an incredible house reef... This is the perfect spot for your dive vacation!

“This was probably my best dive vacation!

Telephone: +63 939 558 1905 Alt telephone: +63 928 740 4369 Email: info@magicresorts.online www.magicisland.online

The resort is wonderful, and the staff friendly. The dive guides and boat crew are professional and find marine life that is hard to see. I would definitely return!� SCOTT SCUBA DIVE CENTER

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S PA I N T ENERI F E

Family

adventures

Tenerife is a popular choice for families looking for a short haul sunshine break, but the Island also offers superb diving and stunning wildlife encounters. Could Tenerife be the perfect destination to combine diving with a family holiday? Sean Chinn finds out. WORDS & IMAGES: SEAN CHINN

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TENERIFE SPA I N

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IMAGES Top: Mount Teide, Spain's highest mountain, is a must-visit, day or night. Right: Tenerife is a great destination to combine a family sunshine holiday with diving and snorkelling.

T’S NO GREAT secret that UK divers often have to dig deep in their pockets and be prepared for a long journey to experience amazing marine encounters. But what if the opportunity existed to photograph incredible wildlife in warm seas, with a flight lasting no more than five hours, on a trip that’s kind to your bank balance? Well at this point you’d normally expect me to say let's head to the Red Sea, but this time I’m going to point you in the direction of a small but well-known volcanic island that is part of Spain. Over the last two summers I have found myself on family holidays to Tenerife enjoying all the usual holiday perks a destination like this has to offer. Towards the end of 2016, my girlfriend and I welcomed our

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Seizing the chance to combine close encounters with wildlife, with an all-important child friendly, relatively short and inexpensive flight, made Tenerife the perfect choice.

first child. Now this is where organising a family holiday that includes a little diving fun for Daddy can start to get a bit tricky! Seizing the chance to combine close encounters with wildlife, with an all-important child friendly, relatively short and inexpensive flight, made Tenerife the perfect choice. The lure of close-up shots of turtles and rays was also a big deciding factor for me. And, if I could introduce family members to the underwater world I love and get them snorkelling with marine

life, what could be better! On our first holiday to Tenerife in August 2017 we hired a car, giving us the freedom to explore the island at our leisure. With two weeks to play, I was guaranteed some serious underwater time, as well as plenty of opportunities for some land-based adventures too. Before travelling I’d heard stories and seen plenty of photos of Green Sea Turtles in Tenerife, but I wasn’t sure how likely it would be that I would have the same luck. I did some

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GUADALUPE M EX I CO

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research and got in touch with a local photographer by the name of Montse Grillo. She has some truly stunning shots of turtles and rays around the island and I knew she would be able to help me. Although Montse doesn’t speak much English, with the wonders of Google Translate she pointed me in the direction of a dive centre in the popular tourist resort of Los Christianos called the Rincon de Arona Diving Club. On arrival I met with Javier, the owner and dive guide, who eagerly promised me turtles, as well as some big rays. As a keen underwater photographer himself, Javier gave me the confidence that he knew exactly what I was looking for to get some great shots underwater. I was super excited to get started. My first dive of the holiday was a macro dive seeking out the abundance of eels that call the volcanic rocks home. The eels were extremely accommodating and showed off their piercing dagger-like teeth

with pride. It was also nice to see some octopus along the way, as they are always fascinating to watch. Then in the afternoon it was time to find the long-awaited turtles and rays at Palm Mar Wall. This well-known diving and snorkelling site is a short boat ride of no more than five minutes from the marina at Los Cristianos. It is set under the backdrop of dramatic volcanic cliffs that rise along the southwest coast of the island. The first turtle was spotted at

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IMAGES Top: Eels find plenty of hiding spots in the volcanic rocks. Above: Palm Mar Wall is well-known for turtle encounters.

the surface before the anchor was even dropped, always a good sign that this is going to be a good dive. Palm Mar Wall forms a natural horseshoe with a maximum depth of around 24m, and offers plenty of hiding places for sea creatures. We enjoyed a shallow dive, mostly spent around 13m, which gave ample time to compose photographs of the bold and curious turtles. I don’t know the full story of the turtles in the area but I had read that they are rescue turtles, used to human interaction, and they stick around for handouts of leftover squid from the fishermen at the harbour. As an underwater photographer, the general rule of thumb is “When you think you’re close, then get even closer!” There was no such worry here as I found myself backing up on numerous occasions just to get the turtles in the frame. I did two dives with the

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protect yourself from the elements

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TENERIFE SPA I N

turtles and rays at Palm Mar Wall during my first holiday and both dives were equally as fun and manic as each other. On the second dive we went a little deeper with a huge school of Yellowtail Snapper close to the seafloor around 25m. It was an amazing spectacle as a couple of Bull Rays followed us down and worked their way through the abundance of fish. The school was mesmerising as the fish swam in formation to avoid the divers and rays. During both dives, stingrays of different sizes would make an appearance at this site, but the turtles were the real stars for me. My fourth dive of the holiday saw us venture a little further to a stunning open cavern called Shark Cave. Here, the sunlight darted through open holes to create a dramatic light show.. The cavern was full of fish life of different species that would slowly move out of our way as we swam through looking for openings out. I spotted a

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stingray resting on the bottom, unfazed by these strange creatures exploring its domain. It was all too soon time to get back on land and back to the family. With a young teenager as part of our group, a water theme park was on the agenda and we enjoyed an exciting day out at Siam Park on all the adrenalinfuelled water slides. Personally I get a greater buzz from the more natural enjoyments in life and I wanted to share some of

IMAGES Above: A huge school of Yellowtail Snappers. Below: The light in Shark Cave made for great photo opportunities, even though we didn't see any sharks!

these with my family. We took a drive up Mount Teide to Hotel Parador Canadas del Teide at around 2000m to enjoy some drinks outside at the bar while waiting for the night to draw in. The drive up the mountain as the sun was setting was truly stunning. The relatively new tarmac road was thankfully wide with a slow, gradual run up. This meant no hair-raising moments teetering on the edge of a cliff while passing other vehicles. It was a really scenic drive through the forest, and looking in my wing mirrors at the coast as we rose above the clouds and mist-cover was truly beautiful. Unfortunately, it was a full moon during our trip, so the stars weren’t as bright as night fell and the Milky Way wasn’t piercing through the sky as I had hoped. But it was incredibly peaceful up there, apart from my giggling relatives, whose tolerance for alcohol seemed to have been affected by the altitude!

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DRIVE UP MOUNT TEIDE A LITTLE BEFORE SUNSET AND STAY FOR NIGHTFALL. THE NIGHT SKY IS STUNNING AS THE STARS SHINE BRIGHT WITH LITTLE LIGHT POLLUTION...

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TENERIFE SPA I N

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Thankfully, it didn’t take long until we were back on the water. Dolphins and Pilot Whales are pretty much guaranteed around the coast of Tenerife and so I organised a half-day discovery tour. As we set sail, the dramatic volcanic cliffs along the coast created a beautiful backdrop for our journey. A chilled hour spent having lunch and swimming in the clear waters of a cove carved into the island rock was much needed. After lunch it was off to seek out the resident Pilot Whales. It was a relaxed watch as they were a lot more lethargic in the water than their dolphin cousins, albeit just as stunning. Some great memories made with my family but what about some more diving for me? The following summer we returned to Tenerife but only for a week, which meant I could only sneak in a couple of dives

IMAGES Top: A magnificent Bull Ray.Above: Boat trips to see the Pilot Whales that frequent these waters are popular.

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around our family plans. I decided to head back to the Bull Rays, stingrays and turtles of Palm Mar Wall. There were now four turtles at the dive site compared to three the year before. They were even friendlier this year, and for pretty much the whole dive the smallest of the turtles took a shine to me. An interesting little character, he was like a little shadow in the water next

to me, and I really enjoyed spending my dive with him. I enjoyed some superb diving on both holidays but the major highlight for me was being able to introduce members of my family into my underwater world. Palm Mar Wall dive site proved to be the perfect location for snorkellers to get face to face with marine life. The rays were easy to see, circling the stunning volcanic topography 10-15 metres below in the clear waters. The turtles would regularly come up to the surface as boats would arrive, well accustomed to getting treats from fishing vessels in the area. This meant that snorkellers could experience the absolute joy of being in close proximity to these fascinating creatures. My teenage relative spent an amazing hour in the water and declared it the “sickest thing” he had ever done. Praise

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No r th A t la n ti c Oc ean

Mount Teide

Turtles

Tenerife SPAIN

Dolphins

IMAGES Top and right: Above and below water, Tenerife really surpassed my expectations.

TRAVEL LOG:

Tenerife, Spain Flights

Currency

I flew with Thomas Cook Airlines from Birmingham to Tenerife South. There is a wide choice of flights from the UK to Tenerife.

€; credit cards widely accepted.

Top Tip! Hire a car to allow you the freedom to move around the island easily.

Transfers I’d recommend hiring a car but transfers can be included with any package holiday to Tenerife. Transfers in a private mini bus from Tenerife South Airport take around 20 minutes to the main resorts.

Water temperature Around 23-25°C in July and August. A 3-5mm full suit is ideal.

Favourite non-diving activity Driving up Mount Teide to the Hotel Parador Canadas del Teide, a unique hotel in an amazing location.

Favourite place to eat/drink Walking along the coast picking between the many different bars and restaurants is most enjoyable.

Final Word! Tenerife is a fantastic choice for European divers looking for a relatively cheap family holiday that includes some amazing diving.

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indeed! In fact, all my family members got a real buzz out of snorkelling and being on and under the water, and for all of them it was a highlight of their holiday. This really filled me with joy, as the ocean and its wildlife are so close to my heart. It was an amazing feeling to be able to share that with those I love. I must admit that the Palm Mar Wall dive site is one of the most popular sites in southern Tenerife and in the afternoon, it can start to feel a little crowded with boats and people at the surface. However, for divers it is easy to get a break from the crowd and go a little deeper to the sandy bottom and enjoy the school of snappers, as they part to make way for stingrays and Bull Rays. If you’re lucky, there is also a great chance to see the elusive angel shark in the sand. Something I am yet to see myself, but I hope to enjoy an encounter on a future holiday. Honestly, I wasn’t expecting much from my time underwater in Tenerife and I wondered whether I’d get any decent photos. As a destination,

it absolutely excelled my expectations, and the island makes a really worthwhile dive trip if you are looking for a cost friendly and relatively close holiday from the UK. Although I only managed six dives over the total three week period, I was able to get many shots that were well worth keeping due to the abundance of photo opportunities, on land and underwater. Most importantly, I was also able to introduce seven members of my family to the joys of the ocean, share my passion with those closest to me, and get them snorkelling with turtles for the very first time. This was absolutely priceless. n

MORE INFORMATION www.divingaronatenerife.es www.hellocanaryislands.com

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BUCKET LIST DIVES

Bucket List

DIVES bucket list noun informal

a number of experiences or achievements that a person hopes to have or accomplish during their lifetime. WORDS & IMAGES: NICK AND CAROLINE ROBERTSON-BROWN

M

any non-divers have scuba diving for the first time on their bucket list, but what if you’re already a qualified diver? Whether your passion is for wrecks, pelagic animals or tiny critters, there are plenty of incredible dive destinations around the globe to add to your personal wishlist. As underwater photographers and diving journalists, we are very lucky to have travelled all over the world. Photographing everything from sharks to seahorses, we have travelled and dived five of the

seven continents. In doing this we have been able to tick off many of the dives that were on our original bucket list that we mentally wrote when we first got qualified. The problem is that the list keeps on growing! The more you hear about different diving destinations and experiences, the longer the list becomes. Our list includes some dives that we have ticked off our list and a few that are still to be dived. There are so many more places we would love to visit that our bucket list could easily fill this whole magazine!

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eat White 1. Cage Diving with Gr Sharks h Africa 2. Sardine Run in Sout 3. Raja Ampat istlegorm 4. Wreck Diving the Th 5. Coral Reefs of Fiji hamas 6. Tiger Beach in The Ba s 7. Diving with Pinniped arks 8. Diving with Whalesh 9. El Boiler, Socorro

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Diving with 1. Cage Great White Sharks We have achieved this in the three countries that offer this exhilarating experience: South Australia, South Africa and most recently in Guadalupe Island, off Mexico. Getting in the water and up close to an apex predator is on many divers and non-divers' bucket lists. Nondivers can experience this by staying in the surface cages, either just holding their breath and ducking their heads under the water, or by using surface-fed regulators.

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Run in 2. Sardine South Africa

David Attenborough called the Sardine Run “The Greatest Shoal on Earth� and this is a wildlife experience like no other. This dive offers you the chance to get in the water with a host of predators including dolphins, sharks, birds, seals and whales, all in the same place at the same time. You will spend all day out at sea waiting for the action to start, but will be rewarded with fantastic displays by passing humpback whales.

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3. Raja Ampat

Raja Ampat is a remote part of Indonesia that offers divers amazing coral, large animal encounters like mantas and wobbegong sharks, loads of tiny critters, and the opportunity to photograph local kids diving down to pose for the camera. It is difficult to get to, but well worth it. The reefs of Raja Ampat are teeming with marine life. Schools of fish are so dense here, that they block out the sun on many dives. The diving here is breathtakingly spectacular.

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Diving 4. Wreck the Thistlegorm

The Thistlegorm is one of the most famous wrecks in the world and should be on every diver’s bucket list to dive at least once. She was bombed in 1941 and now rests in the clear waters of the Red Sea, still holding her cargo of trains, motorbikes and trucks that can be explored in her holds. You can dive her on many northern Red Sea liveaboard itineraries, or as we did, from a day boat out of Sharm el Sheikh.

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Reefs 5. Coral of Fiji

Even experienced divers marvel at the magnificent reefs in Fiji. The vibrant, healthy reefs are so colourful it is hard to describe to those that have not witnessed them first hand. Soft and hard corals of every hue cover every available surface and must be seen to be believed. Fiji is made up of over 300 islands in the South Pacific and with nutrient rich waters and passing currents, it has one of the most significant populations of soft coral in the world.

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World Travel Awards

Indonesia’s Leading Dive Resort 2018

2018 Indonesia's Leading Dive Resort

FG9X Specially created for the Canon PowerShot G9 X and G9 X Mark II digital cameras Depth rated to 60m/200 feet

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. 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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UWL400 Compatible with most cameras featuring a 24mm lens (or a higher focal range) Depth rated to 100m/330 feet

FANTASEA DISTRIBUTOR FOR THE UK

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Beach in 6. Tiger The Bahamas

Another shark dive that makes the list is an amazing experience that allows you to get up close with awe-inspiring Tiger Sharks. Tiger Beach lies off Grand Bahama and can be accessed by liveaboard or by day boat, but must be booked well in advance. Diving in shallow, clear, warm water you can spend hours watching these magnificent sharks cruise by.

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S Y O IP B PR TR ED TO ID O GU PH UW

TIGER BEACH, BAHAMAS

HUMPBACK WHALE SNORKELLING, TURKS AND CAICOS February 8 to 15, 2020, from $2550 USD

7-night liveaboard on the Bahamas Aggressor May 2 to 9 2020. Normally Quad berths $2795 pp, double $2995 pp. Special $400 early booking discount available

DOMINICA SPERM WHALE SNORKELLING November 14th to 21st 2020 & November 21st to 28th 2020 from $3610 ST HELENA 2020

ROUND BALI SAFARI

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SOUTH AFRICA

The best place in the world for adult whale sharks, with pro photo coach. 10 dives, 2 snorkels, car hire, island tour. Budget option February 22nd to 29th 2020 from £750. 4-star option February 29th to 7th March 2020 from £1495

PHILIPPINES

Sardine Run: 7 nights full board, mid-June to mid-July, set dates. Normally £1800, special £1600 Aliwal Shoal: 7 nights normally £720, special £650 Protea Banks: 5 nights B&B £700 Aliwal Shoal and Sodwana Bay: 9 nights B&B normally £830, special £750 Diving and Safari Combinations from £1250 for 12 nights

Magic Island and Magic Ocean 10-night combo trip, full board 8 days unlimited diving, transfers Standard price $2.435 Special offer $2.065 (SAVE $370 pp)

PAPUA NEW GUINEA

Maldives Liveaboards Carpe Diem, Carpe Vita, Carpe Novo, up to 15% off and free nitrox

INDONESIA

Truk Master up to 40% off, 7 nights from $1857

7 nights full board 15 dives at Tufi Resort from $1960 with domestic flights. 7 nights Tufi and 7 nights Lissenung, 30 dives, full board domestic flights $4205

RAJA AMPAT – 8-night liveaboard from $2340, includes 10% off KOMODO – 6-night liveaboard from $1325 includes 10% 0ff LEMBEH – 2 divers per guide, 7 nights full board, 17 dives, from $1300

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with 7. Diving Pinnipeds

Diving with seals and sea lions is one of the most enjoyable experiences that you can have underwater. Like diving with overgrown puppies, the young ones love to play. They will pull on your fins, nibble your snorkel and just zoom around you at high speed showing off their incredible swimming skills. If you are really lucky, they might bring you a gift of a starfish prized off the seabed! You can experience diving with pinnipeds in many locations, but our favourites are the Farne Islands, California, Mexico, and South Africa.

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with 8. Diving Whalesharks

This was on our bucket list for years before we finally got the chance to dive and snorkel with the biggest fish in the sea. There are a host of places that you can do this: Ningaloo Reef in Australia, Mexico, The Philippines, Indonesia, and many more. The key is to never give up and to keep on trying as it is well worth the wait. We got our first brief glimpse near Aliwal Shoal in South Africa, and then got this shot in The Philippines.

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Boiler, 9. ElSocorro

This is a lump of rock that does not quite reach the surface, out in the Revillagigedo Archipelago in the wilds of the Pacific Ocean. What inspires divers to take the 36 hour boat ride from the coast of Mexico to this spot? Giant Oceanic Manta Rays! These mantas seek out human interaction and will hover right above divers to get a tickle from exhaled bubbles. Diving here is an incredible, once in a lifetime experience.

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San Diego Dive Center

Guadalupe great whites

BahĂ­a whale sharks N. Sea of Cortez

Mexico

Pulmo bull sharks S. Sea of Cortez

Cabo Dive Center

The Nautilus Difference Incredible big animal diving. Uncompromising safety. Amazing guest experience. 4 ships, from 12 to 32 guests. Find Dates and Rates - NautilusLiveaboards.com/go

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Socorro giant mantas

Š Justin Whittal

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CA R I BBE AN B A R BAD OS

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B ARB ADOS C A RI B B EA N

Treasure Island

Barbados is famous for its beaches, rum, cricket and carnival atmosphere, but how does this Caribbean island’s underwater scene shape up? Nick and Caroline head to Dive Fest Barbados to find out!

WORDS & IMAGES: NICK AND CAROLINE ROBERTSON-BROWN

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IMAGES Divers can explore the Bajan Queen our favourite wreck in Carlisle Bay.

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B ARB ADOS C A RI B B EA N

ARBADOS LIES EAST of the rest of the Caribbean chain, outside of the usual hurricane belt. It is an island with a lot to offer above and below water, and it is easy to get to with direct flights from the UK. Our visit was arranged to coincide with the annual Dive Festival on the island: Dive Fest Barbados. The event is designed to attract divers from all over the world with scuba diving, free diving and conservation activities in the daytime and at night, but the event also has a strong connection with the local Bajans too. Each year hundreds of children are taught to swim and encouraged to get involved with marine activities. This celebration of the aquatic environment really brings together the local and diving communities on the island.. We stayed at the Coconut Court Beach Hotel situated directly on a beautiful beach, adjacent to the South Coast boardwalk in the World Heritage UNESCO district, which is within easy walking distance to historic sites, shops and restaurants. Our balcony provided us with a spectacular sea view,

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and our first visit down to the bar and restaurant was a treat as they had some lovely local craft ales to soothe our travel weary bodies. One of the most famous dive sites in Barbados is Carlisle Bay. Here swimmers, snorkellers, free divers and scuba divers come together to experience a unique marine park area. This has been created by deliberately sinking a series of shallow wrecks, all within sight of each other, as an underwater adventure trail. The sand between the wrecks is home to huge stingrays and if you look amongst the coral bommies for long enough, you are bound to find a seahorse. But, the most famous inhabitants of this area are the turtles. They seem completely oblivious to the divers around them as they forage for food on the wrecks, occasionally surfacing to breathe. These wrecks are home to a huge array of marine life, with schools of brightly coloured fish finding shelter under the rusting structures. The wrecks have been beneath the surface long enough

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The most famous inhabitants of this area are the turtles... completely oblivious to the divers around them as they forage for food on the wrecks.

to be covered in coral too. Our favourite wreck in Carlisle Bay is called the Bajan Queen. She was originally a tugboat and she is big enough to venture inside where divers are treated to sunlight bursting through any holes and openings to the surface. Red soldierfish glint in the sun's reflection as they swim through the dancing light beams.

IMAGES Top: The turtles eat regardless of the divers around them. Above: If you look carefully there are plenty of seahorses to be discovered.

It is spectacularly beautiful but the Bajan Queen is not the most famous wreck in Barbados, far from it, that honour falls to the Stavronikita. The Stav, as she is affectionately known, is a huge 112 metre Greek freighter that had been towed to Barbados following a fatal fire onboard whilst crossing the Atlantic. She was then deliberately sunk as an artificial reef 40 years ago, and lies in 36m of water with her bow at 20m. Her mast reaches up towards the surface and so you can end your dive by slowly ascending to the top of the

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mast at about 10m before heading further upwards to complete your safety stop on the line. To do any justice to this huge lump of metal, it would take several dives to feel that you have seen the whole wreck such is her size. As she has been below the waves for decades, the structure is covered in sponges and coral, and if you are lucky, schooling fish will swim alongside you as you circle around the mast. One of the lesser known facts about Barbados is that it has a huge reef stretching along the west coast and sites can be found to suit all levels of divers, with shallow reefs sloping away to deeper dives along the wall. The tops of the reefs are absolutely covered in huge maroon sponges and the temptation to look inside each one is overwhelming. You can observe fish hiding, turtles trying to sleep, and small

We were given special permission to “ride” the submarine, sitting on the top and hanging on as it descended to the reef, then carefully swimming round to fist-bump and wave at those on board.

colourful crustaceans seeking protection within the barrels of these magnificent sponges. As a part of visiting Dive Fest, we found ourselves in for a special treat, which is not usually open to visiting divers. The island has a submarine attraction run for non-divers to experience the underwater world – Atlantis Submarines Barbados. As part of Dive Fest, a group of school children were on board to see their local marine life for the first time. We were given special permission to “ride” the submarine, sitting on the top and hanging on as it descended to the reef, then carefully swimming round to fist-bump and wave at those on board. The descent was a wild ride in a mass of bubbles beneath the waves, which only calmed as we sank a few metres below the surface. The kids certainly seemed amazed and

IMAGES We hang on as the sub descends with us riding on top. Above: The Atlantis Submarine hovers over the reef.

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What we love about Barbados, aside from the diving, is the culture. The locals are really friendly and the food is incredible.

pleased to see us as we swam up to the windows waving! Piers are always an interesting place to dive and here in Barbados that is certainly the case. We dived two different piers and were delighted at the colourful sponges that have grown on the stations, and the critters hiding in the seabed at the bottom. This included a host of seahorses in a multitude of different colours: pink, green, yellow and brown. There were Barracuda too, hunting in the shallows, whilst using the pier legs for cover as small fish schooled in the sunshine. What we love about Barbados, aside from the diving, is the culture. The locals are really friendly and the food is incredible. We ate at several places and each time we were blown away by the variation and creativity in both the food and the pre-dinner cocktails. The local hot sauce is also a real treat for those who like something a little spicy, having that distinctive flavour of Scotch Bonnet chillies, without being excessively hot. There is something for everyone when it comes to food in Barbados, from street food celebrations at the Friday night Fish-Fry in Oistins, to 5-star restaurants on the seafront. There is also everything in between, to suit both your mood, and your budget. Dive Fest has conservation at its very core, and so each day during the festival there were activities to get involved in for divers and non-divers alike. All the dive centres took part in the underwater and beach clean-ups, meeting up at the end to amass the rubbish they had collected.

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IMAGES Other Page: Staircase inside the Bajan Queen. Above: Andre is succeessful on the lionfish hunt. Left: Beautiful beaches fringe this wonderful island. Below: Clean up fun with the West Side Scuba Centre team.

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IMAGES Top: Looking inside the huge sponges can reveal crustaceans hiding within. Below: A coral nursery being tended to by Andre from Barbados Blue. Bottom: Dive Fest is also about getting new divers in the water.

There was also a competition for those proficient in the art of spearfishing to catch as many invasive lionfish as possible, which were then cooked for a communal BBQ in the afternoon. During our trip, we were treated to a demonstration of how the team at Barbados Blue dive centre has created a coral nursery. We joined the team transplanting coral they had grown on metal A-frames onto bare patches on the reef. Other groups were shown the island’s turtle-tagging and release scheme. It was great to see a real passion for marine conservation amongst those attending the event. Soon after arriving back in the UK we were delighted to hear that the Barbados Government had introduced a ban on single-use plastics and Styrofoam that will take effect very soon. Above water there is plenty to do and see too, making this a perfect destination for those travelling with non-diving family and friends. Our dry day before flying home was spent

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Dive Fest has conservation at its core, and so each day there were activities to get involved in for divers and non-divers alike. on a tour of the island, to see the wilder east coast, and visit the famous Harrison Cave system. The cave system is well worth a visit. The tour takes you on an electric trolley train down to 40 metres underground. The guides are amusing and tell you the history of how these caves were first discovered and opened up. One of the highlights, if that isn’t a misnomer, is when all the lighting is turned off. The blackness is total, and you can hear the dripping of water as it makes its way through the ground, forming stalactites and stalagmites, as well as an occasional waterfall. The water that filters

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Dive into

Join us for

Dive Fest July 3rd -7th 2019

Barbados can be described as a diver’s paradise with an abundance of reefs and wrecks situated across the island. If you are a keen diver or just want to sample it for the first time, then Barbados is the perfect Caribbean island to experience. The island is home to several rare species such as the Seahorse and Frogfish which are often difficult to see elsewhere in the world. Barbados is also blessed with two distinct barrier reefs and fringing reefs, which are all ideal for diving amongst a wide spectrum of aquatic life. The Bioluminescent waters around Barbados make night diving a thrilling addition to any diver’s experience - a good time to see marine creatures that prefer to feed at night most notably octopus, shrimp, basket stars and crinoids. Throw perfect weather conditions and miles of coast into the mix, and you have what is doubtless the best Caribbean island for scuba diving and snorkelling. Discover more about this underwater paradise, visit:

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B ARB ADOS C A RI B B EA N

Martinique

North A tlanti c

Oc ean

St Lucia

Barbados Turtles

Car

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Seahorse

an

Sea

TRAVEL LOG:

Barbados Flights

Currency

British Airways and Virgin Atlantic fly direct from the UK.

Barbados Dollar, but credit cards widely accepted too.

Top Tip! Coincide your visit to Barbados with Dive Fest and you will get even more out of your holiday. There really is so much to see and do during the festival.

Transfers These are usually arranged as part of your holiday but the Grantley Adams International Airport is situated a short drive from the main tourist area of the capital Bridgetown.

Water temperature The water is a balmy 28°C in the summer and does not drop much below that in winter.

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Favourite non-diving activity Making time to visit the Mount Gay rum distillery visitor centre is a must!

Favourite place to eat/drink There are so many great places to choose from that it’s impossible to single one out. Just be sure to try the famous hot sauce!

Final Word! Barbados has a lot to offer both above and below the waves, and we have become regular visitors. Arranging your trip during the island’s Dive Fest means you can enjoy everything Barbados offers.

through the ground in Harrison’s Cave is the same water that is used in the distillation of the world’s oldest rum. Whilst we were here, we also managed to squeeze in a tour of the famous Mount Gay rum distillery, where we were treated to our own private rum tasting and food pairing session organised by Plantation Rums. Whilst we knew the delicious cocktails would not taste the same back home without the sunshine, warmth, and sound of the lapping sea in the background, it is still nice to take a bit of the local flavour home. We also made a quick pitstop at a local supermarket to grab a bottle (or two) of Bajan hot sauce! Barbados epitomises everything you imagine about a Caribbean island. The island offers its visitors a warm welcome, white sandy beaches, beautiful sunshine, turquoise seas, and wonderful cuisine. Divers can explore the reefs,

IMAGES Top: A diver photographs the colourful sponges growing on the Stavronikinta wreck. Left: Rum tasting. Above: Dive Fest finished with a boat race. The boats are made out of rubbish collected on the beach.

wrecks and piers, and if they are lucky with the weather, even the more rugged eastern coastline, where they might find some of the larger marine animals. Visiting the island during Dive Fest adds a great diving vibe, with scuba divers and free divers coming together to celebrate the aquatic world over a structured week of events that you can pick and choose from, or as we did, get stuck in and do them all. We can't wait to go back next year! n MORE INFORMATION Dive Fest 2019 will be held from 3rd - 7th July. See www.divefestbarbados.com. www.visitbarbados.org www.divebarbadosblue.com www.westsidescuba.com

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Between two

continents

Iceland is a place that conjures up images of pure adventure: volcanoes, geysers, glaciers and exciting Viking history. For their Dive Travel Adventures debut, CJ and Mike head below the surface to iconic Silfra. WORDS & IMAGES: CJ HOWARTH AND MIKE CIZEKÂ

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SILFRA ICELA ND

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CELAND IS A place of stark contrasts, where bleak-looking lava fields meet seas rich in amazing marine life. Here, volcanoes rumble with rising magma beneath windswept ice caps, and you can dive in 2*C water in the morning and bathe in a 38*C geothermal pool in the afternoon! It is safe to say any trip here will be an experience, but for Mike and I, the highlight of our trip was diving a site on most people's bucket list, Silfra. Silfra is a natural freshwaterfilled fissure in Thingvellir National Park, about 45 minutes northeast of the capital, Reykjavík. The national park straddles the boundary between continental plates (with the North American plate to the west and a part of the European plate to the east). The dive site of Silfra is one of many fissures in the valley

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floor between the continental plates and is filled with crystal clear glacial water. We started the dive day with our good friends from Dive.is coming to collect us from our accommodation to take us out to Thingvellir. On the way they gave everyone in the minibus lots of interesting facts about the surrounding landscape and about our destination. Thingvellir is famous for two reasons: it is the site of the world’s first parliament, started by early Icelanders in 930AD, and it is a rift valley where you can see the edges of two continents. People flock here both to dive Silfra and also to walk round the park. It’s popularity is such that it is one of the stops on the Golden Circle Tour, along with Geysir and Gullfoss waterfall, which are all within an easy day trip of Reykjavík. After arriving at the park, our guide Chris, led us from the Silfra Car Park, along the pathway

IMAGES Left: Iceland offers an incredible array of sights above and below water. Below: The magnificent Gulfoss waterfall, a stop on the Golden Circle tour.

to the entry point to give us a pre-dive briefing. Here we got a good view of the entry platform at the start of the fissure, and the information board with the dive site map. Chris told us that the standout feature of this dive is the absolutely incredible underwater visibility, in excess of 100 metres! This is due to the fact that the water travels over 50km underground through porous lava rock that filters out all of the glacial sediment. It’s also cold; the water here stays a constant temperature of 3-4*C all year round. Happily, Chris informed us that we would get hot chocolate and biscuits on the surface interval later to help us warm up. Silfra is not a large dive site; the fissure is about 300 metres long, however if you take your time, the dive will end just as you are starting to feel the cold. During the dive here, you travel through several sections of the rocky fissure with enticing

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names like 'The Cathedral'. The fissure goes down to 30m depth and has some caves, however the national park rules forbid diving below 18m or entering overhead environments for safety reasons. There are numerous very tiny earthquakes in the park on a daily basis, so it’s best not to swim under any big rocks, just in case! The average depth is surprisingly shallow, with over half the dive above 5m. Divers are helped along by a gentle current for the first two thirds of the dive, before turning left out of the fissure and into the last section known as the lagoon. Both the entrance and exit sites have well-built metal platforms so you can walk into and out of the water on steps. With the exception of the walk between the kitting up area and the entry and exit points in dive kit, the dive is very easy and relaxed. The best thing is to acclimatise to the temperature when you first get in, do a weight check, and then relax, follow your

guide and let the current slowly push you along while you enjoy the perfectly clear water and amazing topography. The weather in Iceland is changeable and this day was no exception! The clouds closed in as we got ready for the dive and soon it was a white-out above the surface. The walk to the entry point certainly got the blood flowing and we eagerly entered the water. Our enthusiasm was checked slightly as the water reached our heads, and wow, it was seriously COLD!

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IMAGES Top: Divers conduct pre-dive safety checks. Above: Checking your weights gives more time to acclimatise to the cold.

Brain freeze was a major feature of the otherwise smooth weight check, but as soon as I looked past our dive guide and saw the fissure beyond, any discomfort was forgotten. As I returned to the surface and stuck my head above the water, I could only see about 5m, while below the surface, I could see the full length of the first section called "Big Crack". The feeling was incredible and we hadn't even started. With all the weighting spot on, we descended to begin the dive and by this time I had acclimatised and was no longer cold, just excited. I gave a big OK to Mike who enthusiastically responded, and off we went. We stayed shallow, no deeper than 5-6m, as the first section has some deeper cave entrances that we wished to avoid. Looking down, the water was the most incredible deep blue and we soon reached a narrow section where it is possible to touch both sides of the fissure and pose for

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ICELAN D S I L F RA

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"THE CATHEDRAL" IS WELL NAMED. THE TOPOGRAPHY OF THE ROCK CLIFFS ON EITHER SIDE WITH LIGHT STREAMING DOWN THROUGH THE GIN-CLEAR WATER TAKES YOUR BREATH AWAY...

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ICELAND'S SOUTH COAST OFFERS BLACK SAND BEACHES, GLACIER HIKES, VOLCANIC VISTAS, AND SO MANY WATERFALLS YOU WILL STOP POINTING THEM OUT TO EACH OTHER!

the iconic "between the tectonic plates" photo. Next comes a fun slither over a shallow section about a metre deep and on into a second deep section. Above, we could see the feet of a little waterbird, a Red-necked Phalarope, paddling away. But it wasn’t long until our attention was grabbed once again by the incredible visibility and deep blue hues as a narrow section opened out into a long straight, about 18m deep. "The Cathedral" is very well named. The topography of the rock cliffs on either side with light streaming down through the gin-clear water takes your breath away. Hovering on my

back for a second I looked up to see the surface rocks and sunlight beaming down as the passing storm clouds cleared away. I could see Mike's grin and we took out our regulators to drink a sip of the pure spring water. Where else can you drink the water you are diving in? Amazing. At the end of "The Cathedral" is a sandy slope that leads up to a channel to Lake Thingvellir, and it is at this point that we stop going with the current and turn left swimming round over a shallower area. After a minute of finning against a gentle current, we entered into the final section of the dive, "The Lagoon". If

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it wasn't for the chilly feeling starting to make itself known through slightly numb hands, I would have thought we were in the tropics. The lagoon is a shallow area, with turquoise water and white sand (which is really glacial silt deposits). We toured around the lagoon and checked out the mini-fissure on the left side known as "Little Crack" before heading to the exit platform. We emerged from the water grinning from ear to ear, and gratefully accepted Chris's help in wrestling our fins off with numbed fingers. We soon warmed up after the return walk, and with hot chocolate in hand, Chris asked

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SILFRA ICELA ND

us if we wanted to go again. There was only one answer to that. YES! Since that first dive, Mike and I have been to Silfra many times, but it always remains very special. Silfra is a truly epic experience and definitely one worth braving the cold for. Due to the unique geo-hydrology of the site, Silfra is diveable all year long. If you go during the summer, you’ll get to see large patches of fluorescent green algae - “Troll’s Hair” - coating the rocks. Silfra can be crowded at times; snorkel tours are more popular than dives, and at the height of the summer season it can be busy. We recommend booking the earliest tour you can

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to avoid the crowds. Winter time is very special at Silfra too: less daylight means fewer tours and so less crowds, and with the sun lower in the sky you’ll get more sunset-like colours. Sometimes the water can be warmer than the surrounding air as well, and since it is flowing gently out towards the lake it never freezes over. Getting into and out of the water in the snow may not be for everyone but it is definitely an experience! For those true dive addicts, Iceland offers many more unique dive opportunities. Other sites close to Reykjavík include a geothermal dive or snorkel at Kleifarvatn, whose bubbly waters

IMAGES Top, left: The glacial lagoon, Jokulsarlon, on Iceland's south coast. Top, right: A puffin, the iconic bird of Iceland. Above: Stunning scenery is everywhere.

are reminiscent of swimming through champagne. If you just can't get enough of the glacially cold water, one of our absolute favourites is Davídsgjá (David's Crack), Silfra's deeper, darker big brother. Out of the water, Iceland has a huge amount on offer. Reykjavík is a fun and interesting city, with good food and drink and lots of cultural options and museums. Whale watching is a fantastic activity for days when the sea is calm, and trips are run from the Old Harbour. The Golden Circle is by far the most popular tour and for good reason, as it includes Thingvellir National Park (excellent for a

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IMAGES Above: Whale watching boat near Husavik. Right: The ‘divers crossing’ sign at Silfra.

TRAVEL LOG:

Silfra, Iceland Flights

Currency

There are lots of flights to Iceland from the UK. IcelandAir offers 7-day free stopover deals for those travelling to the USA.

Icelandic króna, íkr. Credit cards are widely accepted throughout Iceland.

Top Tip!

If the sea is calm, whale watching. If not, hiking!

Bring thermals and waterproofs! The weather is cold and very changeable.

Transfers Reykjavík Excursions and Grey Line both offer bus shuttle services to hotels in Reykjavík; dive and travel companies do hotel pick ups from the Reykjavík area.

Water 2-3°C in Silfra year round. Drysuits, under suits, hood and gloves are provided by the dive tour operators, plus cold water dive kit.

Favourite non-diving activity

Favourite place to eat/drink We have enjoyed many evenings at Frederiksen Ale House in Reykjavík . It offers really tasty, filling food and a good choice of local beers on tap.

Final word You will need a second visit to see all Iceland has to offer. Once you have visited and seen the incredible landscapes you will want to keep coming back!

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historical and cultural aspect of Iceland), Geysir geothermal area, and Gullfoss waterfall. If you love hiking, you definitely won't run short of options as there are numerous hiking trails through incredible and varied landscapes. Just make sure you keep to the paths and don't step on the moss! The south coast offers black sand beaches, glacier hikes, volcanic vistas, and so many waterfalls you will stop pointing them out to each other. If that doesn't keep you occupied for a few days, I will eat my wooly-bobbled hat! For those who may only have thought about Iceland in terms of the recent negative news headlines about whaling, let us assure you that Iceland is a wonderful country, and from our experience living there, the vast majority of Icelanders do not support whaling. Many public opinion polls in the country are against the whaling industry, and far more supportive of the Faxaflói Bay whale sanctuary. Most of the whale meat is not consumed by Icelanders, but is sold off to other countries or sold at high prices in tourist restaurants, marketed (incorrectly) as a traditional Icelandic food. Sadly it is the small, but powerful few that own and so keep the whaling

industry alive. The best way to support local conservation initiatives and consign whaling to the history books is not to boycott Iceland, but to visit. Go whale watching, chat to the guys at the Meet Us, Don't Eat Us campaign, and definitely avoid restaurants selling whale meat. This way you can enjoy your holiday and also be happy in the knowledge that your tourist cash has helped prove whales are worth far more alive than dead. If you would like to try a traditional Icelandic dish, have the lamb stew – it is superb. And comes from sheep that roam free across Iceland all summer; you don't get more free range than that! All we can say is, Iceland is definitely one for the bucket list, and Silfra is an absolute must! n MORE INFORMATION Read more of CJ & Mike’s travels at www.bimbleintheblue.com www.dive.is www.inspiredbyiceland.com

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S COT LAN D LO C H LONG & LOCH F YNE

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LOC H LONG & LOC H F Y NE SCOTLA ND

Shore success

In search of the perfect weekend spot to get the UK diving season underway, Nick and Caroline head to Scotland to shore dive Loch Long and Loch Fyne.

WORDS & IMAGES: NICK AND CAROLINE ROBERTSON-BROWN

MAGINE A WEEKEND diving trip where the weather cannot ruin your plans. Add that your accommodation is on the banks of the water you plan to dive‌ and that it has a private hot tub overlooking this beautiful location waiting for you to return from each dive to warm-up. Could there be a more perfect scuba diving getaway for UK divers? Loch Long and Loch Fyne are adjacent sea lochs in the Argyll and Bute region of Scotland. These sea lochs benefit from being sheltered from the worst of the weather with quarry-like conditions, but with abundant marine life throughout the year. On top of this, they are set in some of the most stunning scenery you could ever wish to see. We decided to try a spring weekend break in a cabin at Forest Holidays Ardgartan Argyll, where the cabins are set between the tree-lined base

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LOC H LONG & LOC H F Y NE SCOTLA ND

of the mountains and the shore of Loch Long. As we pulled into the site, it was hard to imagine a more stunning location. We had booked a lochside two-bedroom cabin and invited some friends to join us. The cabins are beautifully appointed and include a large lounge with wood fire and huge picture windows overlooking Loch Long. Returning from a cool dive the underfloor heating is welcome, but the highlight had to be the hot tub outside overlooking the loch. On top of this each cabin has a kitchen and there is a BBQ out on the decking; everything you need for a post-dive evening. Arrochar, the village we were married in some 18 years ago, is just a short drive away on the other side of Loch Long. The village offers a few places to eat and drink if you do not fancy cooking after a dive. Our first stop, before we unpacked our diving kit, was to head up to Long Fyne to pick up a minikeg of Fyne Ales Jarl, which was worth the drive up alone! We left that outside the cabin in the cool air, happy to know

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Our first stop, before we unpacked our diving kit, was to pick up a mini-keg of Fyne Ales Jarl, which was worth the drive up alone!

that there would be a perfect ale waiting for us after our diving day was over. We planned to dive both Loch Long and Loch Fyne over the weekend. Both lochs have a host of easily accessible shore dives where you can pull the car up and walk straight in. We were delighted to realise that we could even use the slipway of the site we were staying in to go diving just a two minute walk from our cabin! In April, the water is still a cool 4-6°C, and so the marine life is not at its most abundant, but there is still plenty to see. Crabs and squat lobsters hide in cracks, crevices and discarded bottles. Nudibranch can be found hiding on the seaweed on the seabed. Dive a little deeper and, as you approach the 25 to 30m mark, you will find Firework Anemones standing out against the muddy bottom. You might even find one of the famed conger eels that have

IMAGES Top: Our fabulous Forest Holidays accommodation on the banks of Loch Long. Left: Dive briefing at the side of the Loch.

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S COT LAN D LO C H LONG & LOCH F YNE

inspired local folklore. Whilst the diving here is perfect for all levels of diver, good buoyancy is key, as the silty seabed can be easily disturbed. A careless fin-kick can ruin the visibility very quickly, and with very little current, the silt can take a while to resettle. We were joined by a group of students with their instructors doing their first ever UK “sea” dives. The students were all using drysuits for the first time and we were very impressed that their excellent buoyancy skills meant no sand and silt was disturbed.

We were diving St Catherine’s on Loch Fyne, a site that is easily accessed by car, and a site where kitting up on the jetty and then simply walking in was ideal for us with our big heavy cameras. We were delighted to see mermaid’s purses (or shark eggs) tucked into the seaweed ready to produce the next generation of cat sharks (or dogfish) later in the summer. We headed deeper to start our dive to photograph the Firework Anemones, and then slowly worked our way shallower, looking out for smaller critters and fish as we headed back to the jetty.

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The only issue with diving this region is air fills, as there are no dive centres nearby that offer this service, so you need to bring enough tanks with you, or make the drive to Glasgow for the nearest filling stations. Alternatively, you could bring a portable compressor along with you. We were lucky enough to know someone who had brought their own compressor and swapped some of our Fyne Ale and a BBQ dinner for some cylinder top-ups! At the end of our day of diving we made haste back to our cabin, quickly changed into our swimwear, poured a glass of the local brew, and jumped into the hot tub. The hot water and bubbles were the perfect way to warm up our bodies and relax our muscles. What a way to top off a great day of diving, especially as we were

IMAGES Top: A stunning Firework Anemone in Loch Fyne. Right: The seabed of the lochs is alive with crustaceans of all kinds, anemones and sea squirts. The lochs are also a great place to spot nudibranch.

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TRAVEL LOG:

Loch Long & Loch Fyne Flights

Currency

We didn't need any flights as we drove up for the weekend from Manchester. Glasgow Airport is about an hour away if you plan to fly.

£.

Top tip! Take plenty of air cylinders with you if you can. Or your own portable compressor.

Transfers Again, we didn't need any as we travelled in our own car but you could always hire a car in Glasgow if you come from further afield.

Water temperature Between 4 – 16*C. There is a big variation between winter and late summer temperatures.

Favourite non-diving activity Visiting the local family-run brewery. Fyne Ales was established in 2001 and is run from a 4500 acre estate. Highly recommended!

Favourite place to eat/drink The Pit Stop Café in Arrochar for a quick bite. The Village Inn in Arochar for great food and beer.

Final word! Loch Long and Loch Fyne are perfect for beginners. It’s also great for saving a little money and doing some quality shore diving that the weather rarely spoils.

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IMAGES Top: The view of Loch Long from our hot tub as the sun sets on a great day of diving. Right: Enjoying a glass of Fyne Ales beer in the hot tub at the end of the diving day.

treated to a spectacular sunset whilst we sparked up the BBQ. On our second day of the weekend, we decided to concentrate on Loch Long. First we would dive right from the slipway in front of our cabin, before heading just along the road to the Twin Piers dive site. Loch Long’s shore dives are easily accessible as long as you can find a parking space, which can be more challenging in high season and on a weekend. Near the piers, you will find piles of mussel shells from where they were harvested in the past. The pier legs are covered in them, as well as starfish. These more sheltered areas give marine life a place to hide, and because of this they offer some of the best diving too. On the silty and muddy sloping seabed, any rock or structure will have resident marine life. We were lucky enough to find a conger eel hiding in a rocky outcrop, and also found lots of pipefish among the seaweed in the shallows. Considering it was still very cold, the marine life was impressive. After warming up in the hot tub once more, we decided to eat out at The Village Inn in Arrochar on our final night. Great food and company made

for a pleasurable evening, topped off by returning to our cabin and watching bats swoop low across the water as the last of the light slowly disappeared. A short break in a cabin at Forest Holidays Ardgartan Argyll really is an excellent way to shore dive both Loch Long and Loch Fyne. It offers a perfect weekend location amidst stunning scenery, and at a very reasonable price, especially if you plan to go diving with some friends. And did we mention the hot tub? n

MORE INFORMATION www.forestholidays.co.uk www.argyll-bute.gov.uk/tourism

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© www.carpediemmaldives.com

M A L D I V E S C A R P E V I TA & SUMMER I SL AND

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C ARPE VITA & SUM M ER ISL AND MA L D I VES

Diving

with a Purpose In his first feature for Dive Travel Adventures, Yo-Han Cha joins a citizen science marine expedition on Carpe Vita, and drops in on a new artificial reef project in the Maldives. WORDS & IMAGES: YO-HAN CHA

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© www.carpediemmaldives.com

M A L D I V E S C A R P E V I TA & SUMMER I SL AND

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C ARPE VITA & SUM M ER ISL AND MA L D I VES

HE BEAUTY OF the ocean, represented in photos and videos of coral reefs, is what first drew me to scuba diving. As divers we know that these reefs are more than just pretty scenery - they harbour one quarter of marine species, and are oases of life in tropical waters that typically contain few nutrients. Thankfully, there is now a growing awareness of the plight of coral reefs around the world. They face many threats: from rising sea temperatures, over fishing, and pollution from sunscreen, sewage and other factors. But there are many talented and dedicated scientists studying corals to improve their understanding in order to better support them. As non-scientist scuba divers, we can also help by providing these scientists with observations and data collected whilst we are diving. And so it came to be that I joined Carpe Diem Maldives on their Carpe Vita liveaboard for a week’s Dive with a Purpose citizen science marine expedition. We were joined by Brian Zgliczynski and Clinton Edwards from the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, University of California, San Diego. The scientists were on a reconnaissance mission to test out their survey camera equipment, and ultimately to see whether the islands of the Maldives were

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C ARPE VITA & SUM M ER ISL AND MA L D I VES

© www.100islandchallenge.org

suitable candidates for their 100 Island Challenge. The project began in the Pacific Ocean, where the Scripps team has been working to establish a regional scale perspective of coral reef health, investigating how reefs are structured, how they change over time, and how we can better manage them in the face of global change. The 100 Island Challenge is a scaled up, five year project that aims to describe the variation of coral reefs across the globe. The Scripps scientists aim to survey 100 islands in total, and to resurvey them every two years to plot and record any changes. This is core reef research and the islands are chosen randomly from a satellite image, although leeward islands usually get chosen as it’s easier and safer to get back to them to resurvey later. A cross section of high and low productivity, low coral and mountainous islands, wellpopulated and remote islands are chosen. Brian and Clinton told me that the Maldives were at first glance considered tricky as the islands here are atolls within atolls, which is why the reconnaissance trip was

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IMAGES Top: 3D model of a reef Above: Clinton surveying coral. Right: A tiny goby keeps an eye on the action.

planned and I came to be on board Carpe Vita helping them with their research. This massive undertaking worldwide is only possible due to Scripps’ commitment to collaborate rather than compete with other organisations. To make data comparisons possible, they’ve rolled out a standardised model of data collection throughout the project. One of these was the primary method of coral reef survey undertaken on this trip. Photogrammetry, for those of you who are unfamiliar with what it is, is where hundreds, if not thousands, of photographs are processed by computer software to produce a 3D model. This has proved to be an excellent tool for surveying coral reefs as they don’t move! By surveying the exact same site over time, the Scripps team have been able to monitor, not just a single snapshot of coral population and distribution, but the growth, death and regrowth of the exact same corals in a specific area of each reef. This allows scientists to fill in a missing part of coral research, between the metre to the kilometre, as most of the other current research

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M A L D I V E S C A R P E V I TA & SUMMER I SL AND

on corals is done by either a microscope or by satellite. This spatial ecology of corals allows scientists to identify different species, and their different quantities and distribution. It gives crucial information on the health and history of each reef, and it helps predict the reef’s future. In the words of Scripps’ 100 Island Challenge, it gives reefs a voice. As non-scientist guests, the main input we were able to offer on this trip was using our different camera setups (we had a range of camera equipment from compact to micro fourthirds) to create 3D models. The Scripps team wanted to see if data collected on smaller (and cheaper) cameras was detailed enough for their research. Brian and Clinton taught us how best to take the images needed to create the 3D models. Get close, shoot down, and don’t get the sea in the background was the general rule of thumb! Once we had done so, they processed the photos on a

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IMAGES Top: Left: White Tip Reef Sharks patrol the reef. Below: As ‘gardeners’ of the reef, parrotfish help to keep reefs healthy. Bottom: A Green Sea Turtle enjoys a spot of lunch.

specially built computer that they had brought over from San Diego. In total, four different types of camera were used for photogrammetry models, and the scientists were able to learn what kind of data enthusiastic amateurs could collect! The setting we were doing the surveying in was amazing. The reefs were, on the whole, healthy and bursting with life. Most people dive the Maldives for manta rays and Whale Sharks. We were lucky enough to see them both on the first two days of the trip, so everything else we saw after that felt like a bonus, We encountered White Tip and Grey Reef Sharks, eagle rays, turtles, and I’ve never seen more octopi on a trip. This year, all my other diving has been in the UK so when a ‘cold’ dive was 28°C I was in heaven.

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C ARPE VITA & SUM M ER ISL AND MA L D I VES

NO TWO CORAL REEFS ARE THE SAME, AND NO TWO REEFS WILL FACE THE FUTURE IN THE SAME WAY. THIS VARIABILITY, HOWEVER, CAN TEACH US LESSONS ABOUT HOW TO MANAGE CORAL REEFS FOR THE BEST FUTURE POSSIBLE. WWW.100ISLANDCHALLENGE.ORG

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HAVE IT YOUR WAY! DIVING AND SO MUCH MORE! BOOKI N G S AN D I N F O R M ATI O N :

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C ARPE VITA & SUM M ER ISL AND MA L D I VES

Being able to assist with the 100 Island Challenge was great but I’m not going to lie, the fact that the project was in the beautiful Maldives did make it an even more attractive proposition! For all the photogrammetry I undertook on this trip, I felt that Brian and Clinton gave more in their time and knowledge than the other guests and I gave them. They taught us so much about corals - for example, how they’re clonal and colonial, how to recognise when a coral wasn’t doing well and dying, and how to recognise coral regrowth. We learnt how to conduct fish biomass assessments. Healthy fish mean a healthy reef, and predatory fish are a sign of a healthy ecosystem. I noticed that Brian and Clinton made particular note of the numbers of parrotfish on each reef. As ‘gardeners’ of the reef, parrotfish are responsible for helping to keep reefs healthy as they eat the algae, which directly competes with the corals for space to grow on. We learnt to recognise

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Brian and Clinton still had plenty of hope that coral reefs would survive and thrive for future generations...

IMAGES Top: A stunning wall of yellow and purple soft corals. Below: Schools of yellow and blue snapper are amazing to swim through. Bottom: Ocean water villas at the new Carpe Diem Beach Resort & Spa.

Crustose Coralline Algae that stabilises coral rubble and promotes the growth of new coral. Most importantly, for me, I was happy to learn that for all the media hype on the decline of coral reefs globally, that corals absolutely have the ability to bounce back. Brian and Clinton still had plenty of hope that coral reefs would survive and thrive for future generations… which is great news for divers and society in general. At the end of the week, we arrived back in Malé and I bade farewell to Brian and Clinton who left to survey the reefs around the new Carpe Diem Beach Resort & Spa which was due to open imminently. I had scheduled a short visit to Summer Island in North

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M A L D I V E S C A R P E V I TA & SUMMER I SL AND

er Summ d n Isla

Diem Carpe Resort Beach a p and S

TRAVEL LOG:

The Maldives Flights

Currency

Manchester to Malé, via Doha, with Qatar Airways. There are also flights with Emirates and other airlines.

The official currency is the Rufiyaa but $US and credit cards are widely accepted.

Top Top! Nitrox is well worth any extra cost; a lot of time is spent around 20m so you get more no deco time.

Transfers Carpe Diem and Summer Island will pick you up from outside Malé Airport. The journey to your liveaboard takes about 20 minutes by boat. Summer Island is a 45 minute speedboat transfer from Malé.

Water temperature 28-29°C in September. I used a 5mm wetsuit because I feel the cold, but most divers were comfortable using shorties or rash vests.

Favourite non-diving activity On Carpe Vita, socialising with fellow divers, usually over a beer, is the way to go. Summer Island offers wonderful dining, a choice of activities, and a beautiful setting to relax in.

Favourite place to eat/ drink The food on both Carpe Vita and at the resort was amazing. There was always a variety of food that catered for all tastes. The only issue was do I go for thirds…

Final Word The Maldives has long been on my bucket list and it was totally worth the wait.

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Malé atoll. The big attraction (apart from a couple of days R&R in a picture perfect Maldivian paradise) was the fact that they had recently completed installation of the world’s largest 3D printed artificial coral reef. Submerged in August 2018, the 3D printed reef was first conceived in a Melbourne design laboratory. Designer Alex Goad used sophisticated computer modelling to originate reef structures similar to the coral reefs found naturally in the Maldives, before bringing them to life in ceramic concrete-filled modular building blocks that interlocked underwater. As I discussed the project with Diverland dive centre manager Arjan Sierink, the

IMAGES Top: Corals being grown in PVC pots, otherwise known as ‘pops’. Above: Arjan maintaining the 3D printed reef at Summer Island.

look in his eyes showed that this wasn’t just lip service conservation; this was a passion project. But how do you get to the point where you’re installing a 3D printed reef and why would you start to build one in the first place? Check back in a future issue of Dive Travel Adventures for the full story on this and my visit to Summer Island. n

MORE INFORMATION www.carpediemmaldives.com www.summerislandmaldives.com www.visitmaldives.com

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Dive Travel Adventures - Winter 2019