Best Travel Deals

110,000 Reasons to Go Liveaboard


110,000 Reasons To Go Liveaboard

3d_raiatea pgaian 2e_society angiroa_blue_lagoon

There are more than 110,000 islands in the world and many pinnacles that rest just below the surface and each and every one of them may be filled with multitudes of critters and creatures that seldom come in contact with humans. Sure, some of these islands may be inhabited, but most require transportation via some sort of marine vessel to get there and it may take a day or two to reach some of these remote destinations. Even destinations that are not remote, but are near other dive sites, may require a liveaboard to maximize your dives as you simultaneously minimize your back and forth to port travel time. Weather, animal migration patterns, multi-nation destinations, and toys/technical gear supplied, are other considerations for choosing liveaboards.

deckplan_salon_02pindito letoile C1-saloon_652_389_90 siren fleet

While many of these liveaboards offer first class dinning experiences with remarkable onboard chefs and while many of these vessels are built using iron wood hulls and beautifully hand crafted teak interiors or modern steel designs with the latest in furnishings and electronics, we will restrict this article to dive destinations, as well as mention some of the experiences you may encounter while being a guest on one or many of these luxury liveaboards vessels.

Spoillsport_1 mike ball  mike_ball_liveaboard_in_oz

Starting off down under, Mike Ball offers great expeditions to the Great Barrier Reef of Australia for three nights/12 dives, or to the Coral Sea for 4 nights/14dives, or a combination of 7 nights and see both incredible dive destinations on one spectacular trip aboard the specifically designed twin hull Spoilsport. It’s just impossible to do so many dives at so many remote Great Barrier Reef dive sites from a shore-based resort or per day dive charter.

Ambai%20Warse1 wallaca hea000568_pindito_header_022 pano2_0 wallacea

How about diving one nation, but with thousands of islands? The MV Pindito , Msy Seahorse, Komodo Dancer, Raja Ampat Aggressor and the Pelagian are just some of the vessels that cruise though the 15,00 plus island of Indonesia. Indonesia is the epicenter of marine biodiversity. These vessels have different itineraries depending on the time of year to maximize your visit and to view an unforgettable as well as incredible amount of sea life.

How about diving three different nation destinations on one liveaboard trip? The M/V Caribbean Explorer II travels 8 days/ 7 nights to SABA, St. Kitts, and St. Maarten. Perhaps you would prefer one island chain like Turks and Caicos, where the Turks and Caicos Aggressor II and the Turks and Caicos Explorer peruse some 70 miles of reefs, walls, multiple cays and islands, as well as visit when possible the 22 mile long Columbus passage that is 7,000ft deep and right on the migration route for Atlantic humpback whales from January to March and large pelagics the rest of the year.

rocio del mar1 rocio del mar 3

Speaking of seasons, the Rocio Del Mar is either in the Sea of Cortez around the Midriff Islands or near Revillagigedo-Socorro islands from November to May. The Sea of Cortez also called the Gulf of California; Jacques Cousteau called this area the Galapagos of North America.

Nautilus-Explorer-Guadalupe_GreatWhiteCage_2 img-1095 americas_mexico_liveaboard_nautilusexplorer_gallery_cabin2

The Nautilus Explorer also leads expeditions to Socorro Island as well as Guadalupe Island, San Bernitos Island, and even all the way over to a seldom visited exotic destination of Clipperton Atol. Guadalupe Island gets the most notoriety as these crystal clear waters make it easy to view some 108 different great white sharks each year. Nautilus Explorer uses double decker descending cages to make your experience with these apex predators unobtrusive, and arguably second to none.

_DSC5288_A solamar V solmar%20Vw825h550crwidth825crheight550 mv_solmar_v%20(7)w825h550crwidth825crheight550

The Solmar V is also at Socorro Island from November to May and at Guadalupe Island during great white shark season. They are also part of the Dive Encounters Alliance. All vessels are independently owned and they have eight liveaboard destinations including Galapagos, Cocos Island, Maldives, Indonesia, Palau, and Honduras Bay Islands as well as Guadalupe /Socorro Islands.

_04uktv-david-attenborough-galapagos-3 _03Flightless-Cormorant-555-cr

For some, the ultimate dive sites are in the Galapagos Islands for this is where Charles Darwin first observed how cormorants had evolved into flightless birds, and Iguanas had evolved into ocean going reptiles. Galapagos penguins and tons of fish, silky and Galapagos sharks round out the rest of the underwater one of a kind marine environment and make this dive adventure so inspiring; the Galapagos Aggressor III and the Humboldt Explorer journey to these enchanted waters.

Now, as they “sea” it, sharks don’t care if it rains, but the time of year you plan your liveaboard trip can greatly effect what you see on your dives. We could be more precise, but generally fish and whale sharks alike rely on the phase of the moon, water temperature, hormonal changes, and Neptune’s will. Then again, you could book the same trip three separate times of the year and end up with three unique diving experiences.

For wreck divers we recommend diving the 50 mile wide Truk Lagoon where you can dive some 60 ships from WW II. This former southern fleet headquarters of the Imperial Japanese fleet is a historical graveyard and with a ghost fleet of submarines, destroyers, cargo ships, Betty bombers and more sunk during two raids in 1944. The Truk Odyssey ventures here. For those that are into tech diving and rebreather diving you might like to journey on the SS Thorfinn.

9fc236fc8a8b4e147ab66603eb287188 history-palau-sep-2-jake-seaplane-600x399 coral-triangle-3

Palau also has sunken WWII wrecks as well as a freshwater jellyfish lake. The reef and manta cleaning stations are a big hit with divers, and night dive spawning trips are coordinated with local marine biologists and tour guides from Palau.

The Aggressor and Dancer Fleet Boasts 22 itineraries from East Flores, Belize, Maldives, Myanmar, and to the Red Sea. Their Kona trip will let you dive sites too remote for most one day charter trips and their Cayman Aggressor IV will allow you to dive, weather permitting, Grand Cayman, Cayman Brac and Little Cayman all in one trip; Saturday to Saturday.

spitsbergen_(c)_rinie_van_meurs_(7) spitsbergen_(c)_franco_banfi south_georgia_(c)_wim_van_passel

For something completely different might we suggest one of the 7 trips available by Oceanwide Expeditions to dive the Arctic waters of Spitsbergen using zodiacs to take you close to spider crabs, soft corals, peacock worms, dogfish, and walrus from a safe distance during the warmer summer days when the sun shines 24/7. They also dive in the Antarctic where you’ll see penguins, leopard seals, krill, and fur seals. These dives are for more experienced drysuit trained divers.

We ran out of space before mentioning the Okeanos Aggressor and the hammerheads of Cocos Island off Costa Rica. The M/Y Sun Dancer II is a great way to experience the diving off Belize such as Turneffe Reef and the world famous Blue Hole. The Caribbean Pearl II explores the Honduras Bay Islands. Both the Nai’a liveaboard and the Island Dancer II cruise through Fiji. The M/V Atlantis Azores allows you to dive with ease off Tubbataha Reef and the colorful corals off Anilao in the Philippines. The M/Y Spirit of Niugini lets you tour the muck diving sites of Papua New Guinea. The MV Bilikiki and the MV Spirit of the Solomon Islands let you dive 1500 miles west of Fiji and 1,200 miles northeast of Australia, and just like Fiji, the Philippines, and Papua New Guinea, you are still diving within the Coral Triangle. In the Maldives you may like to try an adventure aboard the Carpe Vita Explorer, the Maldives Aggressor, or the MV Emperor Voyager. We just might have to write a book to let you know everything about these spectacular world class dive destinations.

Having mentioned all these destinations and luxury liveaboards, we have to admit, that, one of the best reasons to go on one or all of these diving excursions is a chance to meet and dive with other divers that share your level of enthusiasm and passion for the sport; some of these people may become life long friends. Some of these individuals may be professional underwater videographers, photographers, or marine biologists, while others may be relatively new to the sport, and just fun to be around, talk about diving, share past dive adventures, share good food, and most importantly share incredible experiences on a planet mostly covered by water, yet still called Earth.

To access additional information on these and other dive liveaboards as well as their destinations click here or to view possible exclusive deals click here.

Best Travel Deals

Where’s The World’s Greatest Shark Dive?

Fiji: home of the world’s greatest shark dive?

When you see the phrase “world’s greatest shark dive”, you have to ask yourself what does it really mean?

Does Fiji have great whites like the frothy waters around the seal colony off South Africa or the clear waters off Guadalupe Island, Mexico? No, because 15ft/5m long great white sharks are rarely seen in tropical waters. They need a steady large biomass of food to keep their endothermic metabolism running at full blast. It’s why you don’t see lions in the dessert either. You may see a female great white off of Hawaii for a couple of months while pregnant, but that’s about it for their tropical endeavors.

In Fiji, do divers get to watch as trained professionals feed tiger sharks on a regular basis?

Sometimes, but 14ft/4.5m long tiger sharks aren’t guaranteed to show up at every feeding in Fiji or anywhere else. In Fiji, if tiger sharks show up for the feeding at all, it is usually during the second dive as tiger sharks prefer to stay further off shore until currents have had a chance to drift the scent of fish heads out their way. Perhaps they hear or feel the vibrations of the shark feed first, but no matter the reason, a tiger shark only shows up when it feels like it, and with a slow Fiji time sauntering entrance that exudes an air of confidence while allowing all lesser sized sharks enough time to swim to the fringes and out of the way.

Does Fiji have the best shark diving because of the bull sharks?

It is true that you will probably see more bull sharks on this special shark feeding dive than just about anywhere else in the world, but even here, bull sharks share the stage with other large sharks, and they tend to leave between November and early January when they are off site for mating season.

What really sets this shark feeding dive apart from all other shark dives, is that this well choreographed show has a cast of unforgettable characters such as tawny nurse sharks, lemon sharks, silver tips, grays, black tips, and white tips. You add the bull sharks and a tiger shark to the mix and you have 8 different shark species around you on one dive. You also have a background cast of trevallies, remoras, small fish, and occasionally a guest appearance of a humphead wrasse or queensland grouper. It’s this open water menagerie of top predators that cumulatively makes the Beqa Lagoon shark dive of Fiji the world’s greatest shark dive.

Now we know that you might be thinking that we are out of our minds for diving with bull sharks, especially after seeing the professor on one of those shark programs let bull sharks rub against his leg while he talked about how harmless they were . . . until one bit his leg. It’s for this and other reasons that the Fijian’s have structured this dive to be safe as humanly possible.

If shark feeding was compared to a show, then the Beqa Lagoon shark feeding attraction is on par with shows of Las Vegas, but to watch this show, you have to go through a very thorough briefing about what you can and cannot do. You have to wear black gloves, black wetsuits, wear nothing shiny and when you get to the bottom at around 84ft/25m you deflate you BC and wait behind a small coral wall for the show to begin 15ft/5m in front of you. At no time can you touch, hug, kiss, or interact with the sharks or stage crew during the short 15 minutes of feeding at depth. Divemasters, keep the sharks away from you as much as possible and you from the sharks. Feeders wearing stainless steel mesh gloves feed the sharks fish heads; even the feeders themselves, are flanked by guard divers to keep the sharks at bay. Divemasters use long metal sheepherder hooked poles to move the sharks in the correct direction. Lids on garbage size plastic containers keep the feeding process controlled and not turning into a feeding frenzy. They have been doing this dive each week for the past 14 years with a very good safety record.

After 15 minutes of watching the show, taking pictures, filming, looking right into the eye of a bull shark, or having a lemon shark gently guided away from your general area, the dive group moves up the reef to 60ft/20m, and while you and the group hold on to a thick rope line, smaller 6ft/2m reef sharks are fed by experienced Fijian divers. After some 15-20 minutes, it’s time for a deco stop at 15ft/5m. After about an hour on the surface, it’s time to go back down to and see if a tiger shark is ready to head the show below…if you will.

Now there are many that have speculated on whether shark feeding is a good thing for both fish and dive buddy, but while many reefs have become shark less, Beqa Lagoon sharks are thriving. That’s because this fringing reef area off Viti Levu has been deemed a Shark Reef Marine Reserve. Locals are given a percentage of the local dive fee proceeds as well as jobs either as guides, farmers who grow local fruits and vegetables for the tourists, or family members working for local resorts such as Beqa Lagoon Resort, which has its own dive center. By protecting sharks and preserving the reef, local Fijians prosper too.

Of course Fijian warriors are also known for walking on fire with a 300year old safety record and you can see this weekly at the Beqa Lagoon Resort a mere 10 minutes from the shark dive site. You will not be asked at the resort to walk on hot coals, but you will have to endure luxury accommodations, delicious food, spa treatments, memorable diving and Fijian hospitality.

You can pass by villages of friendly Fijians and a waterfall on your way up to the top of the mountain at 1,516ft/462m to look over all 14sq mi/35km sq of Beqa Island and 190 miles of coral in Beqa Lagoon. Over a dozen movies have been filmed in Fiji, but even before the movies and way before diving became popular at Beqa Lagoon, local Fijians were some of the friendliest people on the planet and you can witness this for yourself when you visit Beqa Lagoon Resort.

We do have to inform you that right off Beqa Lagoon Resort you can shore dive a coral reef. Night dives are also available at the resort. From the dive boats you have access to 100 other dive sites including: Carpet Cove and an 80ft trawler. John’s Tunnel is a 30ft long swim though filled with soft corals. Blue Wall goes down 150ft and is a great hang out for eagle rays and manta rays. Many other dive sites contain giant coral heads, coral heads in rows, and soft coral havens with some 460 species of fish. Even on the way out to these dive sites you may see a whale or pod of dolphins, and if all this doesn’t make Beqa Lagoon the home of the “World’s Greatest Shark Dive”, then at least it’s one of the top places in the world you just have to dive.

Come experience Fijian hospitality by visiting our link…

For more information on how you can experience this destination click on Fiji or Beqa Lagoon Resort.



Best Travel Deals

Experience the Fiji Firewalkers of Beqa Island


Lately we’ve been a little Bucket-List crazed. We’re itching to find and experience the greatest dives, destinations and attractions the world has to offer.

What did we find?

One of the world’s most beautiful and mysterious wonders: the Fijian Islands and the magic of the Firewalkers.

The Legend of the Firewalkers of Beqa Island

Courtesy of Beqa Lagoon Resort

Firewalking is a beautiful and sacred Fijian ceremony that originated at Beqa Island in Sawu Village. Locals like Tuemo (who used to introduce the Firewalkers) at Beqa Lagoon Resort tell of a legend of the Fijian Firewalkers.

About 500 years ago a storyteller named Dredre (which means laugh) was looking for a gift to present to the Chief. As he was following a creek up to the waterfall he noticed an eel in the muddy waters. Dredre caught the eel and once he caught it the eel began to speak.

The eel asked him to let him go and Dredre said ‘No’

It kept pleading, offering riches to the man and still he said ‘No’

Courtesy of Beqa Lagoon Resort

Knowing he was going to die, the eel began to cry; he offered him one last gift in exchange for his life, ‘Do you want to be a Firewalker?’ the eel said.

Intrigued, Dredre finally agreed. The eel instructed him on how to set up and prepare the fire and then buried Dredre for 4 days. After the fourth day Dredre was dug up, still alive.  And he now had the ability to Firewalk.

The Priestly Clan

Today after many generations Dredre’s descendants can still Firewalk, performing for tourists in hotels like the Beqa Lagoon Resort. In fact, any man from the Priestly Clan may become a Firewalker. It is a gift that is in their blood and can neither be given nor taken away.

We are told that there are many variations to this ceremony throughout the Fijian Islands, but Tuemo tells us that since Firewalking originated on Beqa Island, their Firewalking practice is the most traditional.

Two Simple Rules

Courtesy of Beqa Lagoon Resort

Tuemo also shared that there are two very important and core rules you must follow as a Firewalker:

  1. No coconut for 4 days before the ceremony
  2. No sex for 4 days before the ceremony (bummer)

It is believed that if the men do not follow these two rules it is very likely the hot stones will burn them.

Feeling Hot Hot Hot

The men who practice today wear the traditional Fijian attire in the ceremonies. Their clothing is made of dried flax, which is thin and flammable. They wear this to show viewers that even though the fire is hot, the people and their clothing can never be burnt.

The Firewalking ceremony on Beqa Island is really something to experience first-hand. Not just viewing the act of walking on red-hot stones (which is marvelous in itself) but how these Firewalkers are unharmed – not a single burn or discomfort to these men.

You definitely couldn’t pay us enough to try that, although if you give us some Scuba Tubesocks we wouldn’t mind walking into the ocean for you.

Maduro Memberships and Accreditations