A Guide to Tahiti’s Unmissable Natural Attractions

Tahiti has long had a reputation for being a tropical paradise – and it’s easy to see why. Made up of some 18 islands Tahiti boasts lagoons of turquoise blue, coral reefs, mountains, and white sandy beaches overlooked by palm trees. Whether it’s soaking up the sun, exploring coral reefs, or going on a hike through challenging terrain, Tahiti offers something for the traveller who is in search of the truly exotic.

View From Room 282, Intercontinental Hotel Tahiti
Tahiti

The Waterfall Valleys Of Tahiti

Set in basalt peaks surrounded by ferns, Tahiti’s waterfall valleys are a treat for the eyes – if somewhat off the beaten track. Here you’ll find the mysterious lava tubes of Hitiia and the spectacular Fautaua Waterfall. At a height of nearly a thousand feet Fautaua Waterfall is one of the tallest waterfalls on Earth. The volcanic backdrop helps to make this waterfall in particular one of the most notable places to visit in Tahiti. However, if you want to discover the Fautaua Valley without any guides you’ll have to get an access permit. There are tours available to the crater lake Lake Vaihiria, and these will also travel through valleys of major archaeological significance.

Hotelhibiscus
TahitiFoter.com / CC BY

The Lagoon Sanctuary, Bora Bora

ANZCRO are a travel company that offer Tahiti Holidays that will allow you to take in all aspects of Tahiti. These include being able to visit Bora Bora, which is considered one of the world’s most romantic locations. Bora Bora is also one of the most famous of Tahiti’s islands, and US News has called it “the best island in the world”. The Lagoon Sanctuary on Bora Bora is suitable for the whole family and is home to over a hundred eye-catching marine species, including rays, fish and octopuses. You’ll also be able to see other marine creatures that live in the area. Snorkelling tours of the lagoon can be undertaken while assisted by a guide, with one tailored for children, and one for adults. There is also the chance to feed the fish or octopuses, and look at coral grafting exhibits. The Lagoon Sanctuary is open for people to visit throughout the year.

InterContinental Bora Bora Resort & Thalasso Spa seen from a kite
Bora BoraPierre Lesage / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Great Diving Opportunities On Tahiti Nui And Tahiti Iti

Tahiti is a great place for divers to enjoy viewing colourful sea life close up. The waters around Tahiti Nui and Tahiti Iti are especially good for diving, and some of the best sites include Papa Whiskey, St. Etienne Drop-Off, Tetopa Grotto and Lagoon Hole. Papa Whiskey is an area rich in damselfish, while moray eels can be seen with an array of small, colourful fish at St Etienne Drop-Off. Tetopa Grotto is alive with crustaceans, pufferish and coral, while leopard rays are among the magical sights to be seen at Lagoon Hole.

Stone fishing, an Xtreme KAP session…
Tahiti Nui Pierre Lesage / Foter.com / CC BY-NC-ND

Diving in Florida

Diving in Florida
Image by mattk1979

Florida’s diving opportunities vary from salt and fresh water diving, to cave and drift diving and include almost everything in between. Whether you want to explore a wreck, admire marine life, investigate natural reefs or are looking to learn, there is something here for you.

Florida itself is made up of a number of water bodies and, depending on where in the state you are planning to visit, you can make an itinerary to take in as many differing dive sites as you wish during your holidays to Florida.

As Florida is home to more divers, dive stores and dive boats than any other diving destination, you can be sure to find the equipment and training you need to take on the beautiful sites available in the area. While it is not required by the US government for divers to be certified, most dive shops and schools require a recognisable qualification and presentation of a certificate card before embarking on your trip or hiring equipment.

For difficult dives, many operators will also require evidence of your last dive, such as the log book. Short introductory courses resulting in open water certification can be found in Florida for between $200 and $400 dollars, depending on setting and party size. It is important to note that many operators will also require your dive to be accompanied if it has been more than a year since your last dive.

Dive trip costs vary depending on whether you have your own equipment, require accompaniment, wish to have a guide and party size. Short trips, including tanks and equipment, can be found for an average of between $60 and $80 for one or two locations.

Organized dive trips are an ideal way to ensure you experience all that Florida has to offer. The type of diving available to you will differ depending on where in Florida you are staying and if you are willing to travel, as each area has its own attractions and dive seasons.

In the southeast, the gulf stream warms the coasts of West Palm Beach and Boynton Beach and here you can find artificial reefs made from various materials, including sunken ships, piles of rock and boxcars.

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The dive season here is year round and you can expect to encounter varied marine life, such as barracuda, manatees, sea turtles and, in the summer, spotted eagle rays and whale sharks.There are more than 80 artificial reef systems in the area, many of which are within the sport diver limit of 130 feet. Some are much deeper, however and require more skill and technical knowledge.

Southern Florida also offers a wide variety of artificial reefs and wrecks, many of which offer a perfect starting point for new divers. There are a string of wrecks here, running from Fort Lauderdale to Miami, including an 110 foot barge, a number of freighters, a 65 foot steel tugboat and two M60 tanks.

In addition, this area offers access to a drift diving line that will carry you along at a gentle one knot along rows of unique and colorful corral reefs, amazing fish species, sea turtles and the occasional whale. Diving season here runs from May to September and the average water temp is between 22 and 25 degrees.

The Florida Keys are another popular diving destination and it is here that you can dive North America’s only natural living coral reef. The largest wreck in the lower Keys is the 210 foot Adolphus Busch freighter, which is also a popular destination for snorkelers as the tower rises up to within 40 feet of the surface.

One of the most popular wrecks in the Keys, offering a massive area for coral growth, is the USS Spiegel Grove, which is about 510 feet long and 85 feet wide. Currently, the natural growth is not abundant, but the wreck itself is definitely worth a visit, although the currents and eddies formed around its bulk make this more suitable for experienced divers.

Crystal River, located on the west coast, offers a change of pace with both fresh and saltwater springs that attract both scuba divers and snorkelers year round. The area is renowned for its manatees and many of the dive shops here offer trips specifically designed to allow you to get close to these beautiful creatures.

For more experienced divers and those with specialized training, Florida’s springs offer a wide range of fresh water diving opportunities. The dive season here is during the winter months and an extensive network of caves and caverns attracts many divers each year.

This central area in northern Florida is one of the most active and largest cave diving regions in the US and is known for strong currents fed by the North Florida Aquifer. Ginne and Peacock Springs are two of the most popular freshwater dive spots in the world and, if you are in this area, places you definitely don’t want to miss out on visiting. The Leon Sinks cave system is thought to be one of the most extensive in the world and this massive underwater cave system is also a must-see for those with cave diving experience.

No matter what your skill level or which time of year you are traveling, there is a diving experience in Florida available to test you or amaze you. Choose your destination to suit your diving needs and explore some of the most scenic and unique diving spots in the world.

5 Places to go Dolphin Spotting

With travel and tourism ever easier and people having the chance to go further and further afield, experiencing something new is high on many travelers’ list of vacation activities.

Dolphin Spotting
Dolphin Spotting

Getting close to nature is an extremely popular way to do this and dolphin watching is an exciting way to commune with the natural world. Dolphin watching is a particularly accessible activity thanks to the wide variety of dolphins and the widespread nature of their habitat.

Whichever part of the world visitors choose to take their holidays, there are some places that are considered to be prime dolphin watching locations.

Because it is possible to watch dolphins pretty much anywhere, it is quite a difficult task to narrow down all the locations to just five. However, what the following five places have in common is that it is possible to not only watch the dolphins, but also to swim with them.

The best dolphin watching is considered to be around the Portuguese archipelago of the Azores. It is thought that there are more than 24 species of marine mammals living in these waters. This is thanks to the location of the islands which are in the middle of the Atlantic. This location makes the Azores an ideal habitat for animals that migrate, though there are also species native to the islands.

In the Azores, dolphins are plentiful and it is possible at times to see around eight different species. Super pods have also been spotted off the Azores. These super pods can consist of over a thousand dolphins.

New Zealand is another of the best places to experience dolphins and nowhere is better than Akaroa on New Zealand’s South Island. Only 75 miles from Christchurch, it is an easy place to reach. There are many other sites in New Zealand but Akaroa is considered the best.

Thanks to the large supply of nutrients in Akaroa’s coastal water, there is a huge amount of marine life, including big pods of Dusky dolphins, which can be seen almost the whole year round. There are also Hectors dolphins to be seen in and around Akaroa harbour almost daily, whatever the season.

Islands are particularly good places to go dolphin watching and The Hawaiian Islands are a perfect place to enjoy both watching and swimming with dolphins

Around the islands are Spinner, Spotted and Bottlenose dolphins, amongst others. Spinner dolphins are perhaps the most commonly seen and are famously playful. Oahu and Kona Islands are considered the best places to see dolphins in the Hawaiian archipelago.

Another island, this time close to the US, is the Bahamian Island of Bimini. Less than fifty miles from Miami and reached by plane within half an hour, Bimini is an ideal place to go dolphin watching.

Surrounded by beautiful, warm, shallow waters, Bimini is home to large numbers of Atlantic Spotted dolphins. Dolphin watching is big business here and the dolphins are amazingly interactive. The Atlantic Spotted dolphin is an extremely playful species as well as being highly intelligent and there is ample opportunity not only to watch these marine mammals, but also to swim with them.

The Red Sea is a beautiful place to watch and swim with dolphins, particularly Spinner and Bottlenose dolphins. Risso dolphins can also be seen, although they are a much shyer species, so not always on view.

The great thing about the Red Sea is that dolphin watching can be done year round, thanks to the abundance of dolphins in the area. Samadaii, in Marsa Alam, Egypt, is considered the best place to experience swimming with dolphins as the nearby lagoon is a common breeding ground in May, although the dolphins are there year round.

Warm areas such as St. Lucia and other places in the Caribbean and California are also popular dolphin watching sites, but dolphins can also be visited in cooler climes. Iceland is home to white beaked dolphins, whilst Ireland and Scotland also attract dolphins to their shores.

So, whether it is close to home or a more far flung destination, dolphin watching is an activity that can be experienced and enjoyed by anyone, almost anywhere, at almost any time of the year.

Undiscovered Greek Islands

Greece is, undeniably, a tourist trap. And for good reason. Beautiful weather, stunning scenery, a rich and diverse history, culinary delights and an inviting culture all contribute to the alluring nature of Greece. It has something to offer everyone, from the sun worshipper to the culture vulture. But if you’re looking for a place to visit and explore that the masses haven’t discovered yet, then head to the Greek Islands. There are some that are just as touristy as the famous parts of the mainland, but if you’re really searching for a sense of seclusion and discovery, then the Greek Islands are where you need to be.

Patmos 

An idyll in the Aegean Sea, the island is a beauty. According to Greek mythology, the goddesses Artemis and Selene convinced Zeus to raise the sunken island to the surface and Patmos was born. Surrounded by crystal clear blue water, white sandy beaches and bays make this island great for those who love the sun, whereas the Monastery of St John provides interesting spiritual history. There is a surprisingly exciting nightlife too for those who like to party the night away.

Patmos Greek Islands
Patmos Visit Greece / Foter / CC BY-NC-SA

Chalki (or Halki)

This island is one of the smallest inhabited islands in the Aegean Sea. There is one village, named Emborio and the population of around 300 hundred is split between the village and the port. Listed as one of UNESCO’s world heritage sites, the island offers secluded beaches, neoclassical architecture, a medieval castle and clear blue waters begging to be swum in.

Chalki Greek Islands
ChalkiRoi Menela / Foter / CC BY-NC-ND

Samos

Another world heritage site, Samos is north of Patmos in the eastern Aegean Sea. Famous Greeks such as Pythagoras, Epicurus and Aristarchus were born here, and showcases a feat of ancient engineering with its Eupalinian aqueduct. Greek history is rich on this island, but that’s not all it has to offer. Vineyards cover the hills, making it one of the greenest of Greece’s islands. If you go to Samos, there is no denying yourself a try of their best export, Samian wine. Learn about, and taste, the wines that they produce in the Viticultural Union of Samos’ museum. A large island, Samos is an island that needs a car for exploration, but they are easily rented.

Samos Greek Islands
Samosjimtsap / Foter / CC BY-NC

The larger of the Greek islands are easily filled with a whole range of different types of accommodation. Many of these hidden gems are easily discoverable by boat, so staying on a larger island where you have access to everything you might need is a great way to spend a holiday.

Diving In Barbados

BARBADOS: A SCUBA DIVER’S PARADISE

The oceans and the seas have always fascinated the human mind. So when you know that you are going to Barbados, the first thing that many of us have at back of our minds is that we are going Scuba Diving, we are going Snorkeling, and there you go making all the necessary preparations for the same. Barbados is very rich in coral reefs, tropical fishes etc. But you need to chalk out your plan, as to where do you want to dive.

Now in Barbados, scuba diving invokes some of the best feelings in you when you see the beautiful ocean scenery. TheDiving in Barbados coral reef Bell Buoy is beyond words, you see so many fishes; the reef looks like a little forest. Can you imagine that while you go scuba diving, you get to see turtles and barracudas that are about 60 feet? Continue reading Diving In Barbados

Scuba Diving Belize

SCUBA DIVING BELIZE, A DIVER’S REVERIE

Belize, mostly anonymous to a layman, lies in Central America, and is a diver’s dream. It is the next-door neighbor to Mexico and Guatemala. The place is mighty seducing to those who have a knack of collecting that mystic historical information. Well, precisely, this is the land where in you will a great touch of the Maya ruins.

Now since this place specializes in Diving, for the first timers it is essential to understand that there are various levels in theScuba Diving Belize field of diving, and that shore diving to shallow diving are all put up on a platter to suit your expertise. At the Great Blue Hole you can go up to 200 feet deep. Also, for the beginners Hol Chan marine Park is the perfect location for scuba diving in Belize
Continue reading Scuba Diving Belize

Top 5 Diving Destinations to Consider for a Vacation

Top 5 Diving Destinations
Top 5 Diving Destinations

Scuba diving is a sport that appeals to people on many levels. Some enjoy the freedom that comes from being temporarily weightless. Others get a thrill from coming in contact with marine life, away from aquariums and nature documentaries. Life teems just under the surface, so there is no need to be an expert to enjoy diving. The following is a list of five supreme diving destinations, guaranteed to leave participants speechless.

  1. Palau

Palau is a small island in Micronesia, less than 1,000 miles east of the Philippines. While underwater, divers can explore the fringe reef that surrounds the island chain, caves and shipwrecks. The Japanese ships that sank during World War II have become artificial reefs and are now home to various species of coral, rays, fish and turtles.

Palau’s government is proud of the country’s reputation as one of the world’s foremost diving destinations and has taken steps to protect the delicate ecosystem of the ocean. The waters surrounding Palau have officially been declared a ‘shark sanctuary’ making all commercial shark hunting illegal. An estimated 130 species of shark live in the protected waters around the island, including Oceanic Whitetips, Scalloped Hammerheads and Grey Reef Sharks. With so many marine animals to see up close, it is no wonder that Palau is seen as a diver’s paradise.

  1. The Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s most well-known diving locations. The world’s largest living organism stretches almost 1,500 miles along the eastern coast of Australia. It is one of two constructions able to be seen in space, the other being the Great Wall of China. Perhaps because of its size, the Great Barrier Reef has an unrivaled marine population.

There are two ways to explore the reef. Day trips are an optimal way for people to experience the reef without committing their entire vacation to it. Cairns in the north is one of the most popular launching points for day trips, but most of the cities along the coast have at least one company providing short tours. For those who would like to spend an extended period of time becoming familiar with the breathtaking scenery, it is possible to live on-board a ship.

  1. Galapagos Islands

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, known simply as UNESCO, has declared the Galapagos Islands to be a World Heritage Site. The islands and the surrounding waters are protected, and this allows divers to get closer to fish than is possible in other areas of the worlds. Some species of fish even seem to welcome divers, darting close enough to be touched.

The shimmering water around the Galapagos hides abrupt drop-offs and strong ocean currents. The Antarctic Humboldt current passes by the islands as well, keeping the water abnormally cold. Because of the risks involved with these conditions, diving around the islands should be reserved for those with experience only. Transit cards must be purchased prior to travel to the Galapagos and a park fee is charged once the visitors arrive.

  1. Cocos Island

Slightly more than 300 miles off the coast of Costa Rica lies one of the world’s largest uninhabited islands. Park rangers are the only permanent residents of the island, visitors must leave by nightfall. Vacations to the rainforest-covered Cocos Island will last several days, as it is only accessible by a live-aboard boat.

Octopuses, tuna, turtles and sharks abound in the ocean around Cocos. Whale sharks are one of the most popular attractions in the deeper water off-shore. Deep water and strong currents make this site one for experienced divers. However, sea kayaking, whale-watching and day hikes on the island will ensure a good time, even for those who never enter the water.

  1. The Red Sea

Once known only to European divers, the Red Sea has recently attracted visitors from around the world. Coral reefs, shipwrecks and deep walls are able to be explored in this 1,200 mile stretch of water. Most expeditions, day trip and live-aboard, leave from Sharm El-Sheikh. This city on the southern tip of Egypt’s Sinai Peninsula offers many other water sports as well, such as windsurfing and para-sailing.

The Egyptian Ministry of Tourism founded the Sharm el-Sheikh Hyperbaric Medical Center to help solidify the city’s name as a premier dive location. While five tourists were injured in 2010 by an Oceanic Whitetip Shark, resulting in one death, Egyptian authorities have stated the shark was captured alive. Water in the Red Sea is very warm, and awe-inspiring underwater scenery help make this area one of the best in the world.

Scuba Diving in Mauritius

Scuba Diving in Mauritius
Scuba Diving in Mauritius

The island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean is often referred to as a “Paradise location”. It is an ideal destination for couples and families alike and has retained its popularity over the recent years. Although there are many activities in Mauritius, it is very closely associated with scuba diving as a result of its magnificent lagoon and the superb coral reefs that surround the island. Moreover, most 5 star Mauritius hotel bundles now offer their own scuba diving packages and there are also many companies entirely devoted to these.

The noticeable thing is that the sea conditions in Mauritius mean that scuba diving there is accessible to both beginners and seasoned veterans. There are indeed many foreigners who go to Mauritius almost every year only for the scuba diving. The North of the island is particularly suitable for scuba divers thanks to the marine fauna there and the clarity of the lagoon (the North is also known for boasting the best beaches of the island). There are several diving sites that are critically acclaimed and that people who are into the sport must absolutely visit.

Mauritius also offers a full range of diving conditions, which pretty much makes it the ideal spot for divers with varying degrees of experience. While the north coast of the island allows for extremely easy conditions, divers with more experience can thus head to the south where the conditions are a bit more difficult. The west coast should be visited by those with at least one year of scuba diving experience under their belt as the sea can be quite rough there and some parts are not actually accessible to the general public.

Although you may very well use your own scuba diving equipment, it is not very difficult to rent some equipment in Mauritius. Divers have a stunning choice as there are always a handful of scuba shops from which you can rent or purchase the regular equipment to incredibly expensive sets. Obviously, if you are just going to enjoy the activity for the couple of weeks in Mauritius, there is no need to invest a lot of money in the equipment. However, if you plan to make scuba diving one of your hobbies, it is better to go for the best equipment as soon as you can. This allows you to spend less money in the long run.

One thing you can count on is that you will not be buying poor quality equipment. Tourism is a very important, if not the biggest, industry in Mauritius and is thus tightly regulated. These shops are thus subjects to frequent checks and can only sell equipment that has been verified and approved by the authorities. Skippers and operators must also be issued licenses by the authorities, and these are verified regularly to ensure that everything is up to standard and to make sure that the tourists’ lives are not being put to unnecessary risks.