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

Papua New Guinea: Diving At The Edge Of The World. Part Two

Papua New Guinea: Diving At The World’s Edge: Part Two

To see the entire country of PNG one would have to choose from 578 landing airstrips and untold trails, but as scuba divers we would like to define our trip to the three different locations we mentioned in Part One of this article.

Starting on the southeastern edge of the main island we arrive at Tawali Resort. This is a beautiful hand crafted resort created over two years without the aid of power tools. One image online is worth a thousand words so we will let you look at your leisure while we concentrate on the 60 dive sites found nearby. First of all, PNG is home to the word “Muck Diving”. When you are looking at or taking images of small creatures on the substrate or coral rubble, this is muck diving. On the House Reef divers go muck diving to see mandarin fish and to watch them court one another. At Dinah’s Reef one of the five local species of frogfish is the main attraction. Frogfish are capable of increasing the size of their mouth by 12 fold and their stomach can hold fish up to twice their own size. They can change their colors over a few days or weeks as well as change the texture of their skin to resemble coral, stones, or sponges. If a divemaster points at a rock and you have a camera, snap the image and see a rockfish become ever so slightly visible. Wahoo Point offers views of hammerheads, minke whales, whale sharks as well as elephant ear sponges and many small invertebrates. Wall dives, pinnacles, and bommies “reefs” make up some of the other dives sites. At night, all the reefs become stages for new creatures with different behaviors such as the mimic octopus, lobsters, crabs, and inquisitive sharks.

Tufi Resort is a boutique resort with polished wooden floors and traditional woven mat covered walls with 180° panoramic views of the sea, fjord, and surrounding mountains. The fjords create sheltered havens for larger than average size sea sponges and fragile shelf corals. The House Reef (Tufi Warf) is a muck diver’s paradise complete with WWII debris including early Coca Cola bottles ornate ghost pipefish, which are related to seahorses. The males are 37% smaller than the females and the females have the central brood pouch that also helps makes them look bigger. Because of their camouflage abilities, it’s easier to spot them in mating pairs than individually. One fish that is easy to see are the swarms of Anthias fish that come in pink, yellow and orange. What makes them interesting is that they are all born female, but the largest female will change to a male and they live in harems of less than a dozen, but join together in groups that can swarm in the thousands. Another favorite dive site is Blue Ribbon Reef, which is named after a certain yellow and indigo colored eel. Clancy’s Reef is known for reef sharks and white hammerheads. With over 30 different bommies close by and some with multiple dive sites, it’s tough to dive the same dive site twice even if you dove here year round.

Lissenung Island Resort has four two room rustic bungalows for a total of 7 rooms: each with an ocean view. Even when they reach their max of 14 guests, you may still get that feeling of being on Castaway Island, only with clean and comfortable accommodations and great island food cooked by the staff that commutes each day from a nearby island. Here, you are only steps from the beach no matter which way you go and when it comes to sea life, this is where many marine science graduate students from around the world would like to study. Right off the shore scientist have found new species of allied cowries and a tiny olive shell along with 300 other confirmed species of fish and invertebrates. Nudibranchs and leaf scorpion fish are also big with photographers at Lissenung Island Resort. There are more than 40 dive sites around New Ireland and New Hanover and more dive sites at every other bommie you wish to stop at and visit. The House Reef goes 2/3rds around Lissenung Island and is home to 6 species of clownfish. Currently, black and white Panda Clownfish are very popular with underwater paparazzi. Albatross Passage is home to large pelagics such as eagle rays, tunas, jacks, barracudas and lot of different healthy species of sharks. At the same time, there are corals, sponges, and pygmy seahorses: one of the smallest of 54 species of seahorses. Unique to seahorses is independent eye movement like a chameleon, the male broods the eggs and supplies the eggs with prolactin the same hormone that promotes milk production in mammals and the male even provides oxygen in his controlled brood incubator. Bermuda Drop has colorful coral that slopes to 25m/80ft then drops off. A giant clam sits at 14m/45ft as well as nudibranchs, leaf scorpion fish, crocodile fish, moray eels, and flame shells. Add to all this the wreck of Der Yang at 31m/103ft, hawksbill turtles, green turtles, and occasionally inquisitive pods of dolphins and you have great diving all around you.

Now on your non-diving day, all three mentioned resorts can provide tours to island villages and schools where you can meet the locals, participate in local cultural events, or connect with people happily living life surrounded by fjords, bays, and oceans for generations on end.

We should mention that PNG has over 840 different languages and studying one single indigenous tribe can take an entire semester of college level cultural anthropology. The book “Pigs for the Ancestors” by Roy Rappaport has been a cultural anthropology staple since 1968. The book “Lost in Shangri-La” by Mitchell Zuckoff covers the story of a US military plane called “ The Gremlin Special” that crashed in low visibility weather in May of 1945 and has become another popular book about PNG. For scuba divers though, one of the best books about PNG has to be by Bob Halstead and is entitled “The Dive Sites of Papua New Guinea”.

Perhaps PNG’s proximity to the edge of the world has kept many explorers and tourists at bay. You have to take multiple flights just to get to PNG and you most likely will overnight in PNG or another country on one leg of your trip. This trip isn’t for those that are squeamish or for those that need every amenity offered by 5 star accommodations to survive, but it is one of those rare magical destinations that will affect and influence you for the rest of your life. PNG may have the most diverse human communities in the world, but for true adventurous divers, Papua New Guinea is teaming with thousands of rare and interesting species of nature’s Life on Earth.


Best Travel Deals

Papua New Guinea: Diving At The Edge Of The World. Part One

Papua New Guinea: Diving At The World’s Edge. Part One

Papua New Guinea Diving  

Papua New Guinea (PNG) is the eastern half of the second largest island in the world yet it is one of the least explored areas of land on this water filled planet. If it wasn’t for David Attenborough and his team’s devotion in 1979 in the series Life on Earth for documenting the sexual dance and singing behavioral displays of the Bird’s of Paradise and the, “how to get a chick”, with decorating techniques of the Bower birds, millions of bird lovers around the world would not have a single clue as to how unique and beautiful this edge of the world truly is. To be fair, there are 730 species of birds in New Guinea with 320 being endemic. There are 41 species of the Bird of Paradise, and 20 species of Bowerbirds. The top predator of New Guinea is the Harpy Eagle. The island is also home to all 3 species of the Cassowary, which is the 3rd largest flightless bird on our planet. They can reach 1.8m/6ft tall and have a dagger-like inner toe that can inflict fatal injuries, so it’s best to avoid them. The crest on their head is similar to that of their ancestor the Gwong Long Lukai, “Crested Dragon”, that lived 165 million years ago in China and whose Jurassic fossils also include fine imprints of downy like feathers. There are also 41 species of pigeon in PNG, but who really cares unless you’re using them for sending messages?


PNG is part of the ring of fire and still boasts a number of active volcanoes. Some volcanoes have erupted and become basins for bays and reefs, while others have formed mountain ranges. Mount Wilhelm is 4,509m / 14,793ft tall and is the highest peak. Because Australia and PNG were part of the super continent of Gondwanaland from the Cretaceous era 135 to 65 million years ago and didn’t separate from Antarctica until 45 million years ago, PNG shares many of the same flora and fauna with Australia. Since that time many of the species diversified and branched out in PNG and differentiated into endemic species found only in specific regions of PNG.


Because PNG is the largest tropical island in the world, it is no surprise that there are thousands of species of placental mammals, monotremes, marsupials, birds, reptiles, freshwater fish and crustaceans, and amphibians on the island. Because PNG is in the Coral Triangle there are over 600 species of coral as well as over 2200 species of reef fish. Between the years 1998 to 2008 scientists found two new species each week in this remote region of the world. Some, like a new species of frog, are so small that at least two of them can sit with room to spare on the surface of a penny. The world’s tiniest wallaby was found in nearby mountains. Other new species like the Turquoise Lizard are over 3ft long, but despite the large size and bright color, somehow they escaped previous discovery. As for the oceans, we won’t try to mention all the new species of fish and recently discovered invertebrate species; such as rice grain sized shelled creatures found in PNG, but it is interesting that scientists also found something as large as a new species of Snub-Fin Dolphin in 2005 just south of the main island.

As for humans, they first migrated to PNG some 50,000 to 70,000 years ago. Southeast Asians have been trading for PNG bird feathers for some 5,000 years. After the Portuguese dropped by, a Spanish explorer in 1545 named the main island New Guinea because he felt the people reminded him of the people on the Guinea coast of Africa. Because New Guinea was at the edge of the world in those days, the main import was religion. The Dutch settled the west side of the island and then in 1884 the Germans settled the east side of the island including some outer islands. Not to be out done, the British settled the southern part of New Guinea. The Germans had highly profitable coconut oil producing plantations and they used forced labor by locals, which for some reason sounds like a recurring theme. After WWI German colonial holdings came under the protection of the Australians until the Japanese made Papua New Guinea the southern edge of their expanding empire. During WWII Europeans fleeing parts of New Guinea, were killed, or were massacred. The battles fought over Papua New Guinea lead to the victory at Midway, which eventually lead to the end of the Imperial Japanese Empire.

The reason we mention any of this is because it has affected the type of dive sites you may encounter in PNG, but also the location of the dive resorts. For instance, Tawali Resort is built right on the edge of a limestone cliff overlooking Milne Bay. The battle of Milne Bay was one of the first Pacific battles in WWII where Allied troops defeated the Japanese land forces. With the Allied airfields successfully defended there was no way the Japanese military could launch an attack from sea on Port Moresby. Divers from Tawali Resort can visit a P38 Lightning single seat fighter wreck at 90ft/27m of depth and the B17 “Blackjack” Bomber at 150ft/46m.


Milne Bay is 22 miles /35km long and 10 miles /16km wide. During the WWII it was home for an advance sub base, a destroyer base, station hospital, and PT boat base. On the edge of a cliff overlooking what was once the site of the PT boat base is the Tufi Resort. Resting at 135ft /45m underwater are the burned remains of PT-67 and PT-119 along with anti-aircraft guns and ammo. Tech divers can plan trips out to the S Jacob Dutch Merchant Navy ship resting at 180ft/60m. Divers can explore the outer reefs from Tufi Resort and experience coral reefs, wrecks, wall, muck and shore diving during their stay.


On the edge of the Bismarck Archipelago is Lissenung Island Resort.  It is 1 of 149 islands in New Ireland Providence and you can see places like Nusalomon and visit a Japanese bunker and gun emplacements overlooking Kavieng Harbor. Trips can be arranged to visit the almost 400ft/130m long Sanko Maru and the mini submarine Bob Halstead and Kevin Baldwin found 50m from the Sanko Maru in 1987. Low vis and currents kept this mini submarine undiscovered for 43 years. Three Japanese reconnaissance “Pete” float bi-planes are located nearby. Deep Pete near Nusa Island has tons of sea life perpetually circling this fairly recognizable structure at 132ft/40m. Four B-25’s went down nearby as well as a PBY Catalina, Japanese “Kate” torpedo bombers, a “Jake” Bomber, a sub chaser #39, the ship Tenryu Maru, and a freighter possibly named the Kashi Mari.

It’s amazing how healthy these reefs are considering what some endured during WWII. Fifty plus years later, the wrecks and other war relics have become artificial reefs supporting tons of precious life. For wreck divers who enjoy historical treasures, PNG has much to offer. In our next segment, we will concentrate on the sea life and dive sites that wait to amaze you in this mystical land called Papua New Guinea.


Maduro Memberships and Accreditations