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Monday, July 15, 2024

I’ve Been on 107 Scuba Dives Across the World — and These Are My Favorites



Some 20 years in the past, I used to be headed to trip within the Florida Keys once I was launched to the world of scuba diving by two SSI-certified associates. They suspected what turned out to be true — that I, too, would benefit from the journey of unleashing my inside Cousteau.

And so I started the certification coursework in Manhattan and handed the Open Water certification take a look at on the Keys journey. A couple of years later, I obtained my Superior Open Water certification within the Purple Sea at a PADI dive store in Dahab, Egypt. (The superior certification permits me to dive in deeper waters and partake in additional specialised dives.)

Quick ahead to at this time, and I’ve logged 107 dives to this point … and counting. For these within the divemaster neighborhood, dive counts might be within the 1000’s. However for me, a comparatively informal diver who solely sometimes straps on an air tank, reaching 100+ dives is a notable milestone.

Whereas I’ve many scuba locations but to discover and lots of marine creatures but to behold, I’ve skilled rather a lot in my excursions underneath the ocean. And these 12 dives have left an enduring impression on me.

Komodo Islands, Indonesia

Treethot Polrajlum/Getty Pictures


Indonesia’s Komodo Islands are well-known for being dwelling to the Komodo dragon, the world’s largest lizard. However whereas diving from the luxurious constitution yacht Celestia across the archipelago, I encountered two sleek monsters underwater: big manta rays the scale of vehicles. (Enjoyable reality: Komodo Nationwide Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Website, is one of many largest sanctuaries for manta rays on the planet.) I additionally got here throughout a stealthy cuttlefish that pretended to be darkish staghorn coral and shape-shifted again to regular to swim away.

St. John, U.S. Virgin Islands

Courtesy of Erik Trinidad


On a glamping journey at Cinnamon Bay in Virgin Islands Nationwide Park on the Caribbean island of St. John, I went on a few dives the place I had an intimate encounter with a sea turtle. (Based on the Nationwide Park Service, such sightings are frequent right here.) The ocean turtle made its rounds to see every diver, earlier than swimming proper by my GoPro for its close-up.

Hvar Island, Croatia

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Hvar, Croatia, sits on the Dalmatian Coast and is named the “Queen of the Dalmatian Islands.” It is also a Journey + Leisure favourite island. On a port-of-call touchdown throughout a Through Croatia yacht cruise, I dove off the coast right here. The shortage of coral was compensated by the closest octopus encounter I’ve ever had. The mollusc climbed a rock and I watched it camouflage itself with the feel whereas attempting to find prey.

Bora Bora, French Polynesia

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It might need been pouring rain throughout my time on the Conrad Bora Bora Nui, however I’ve discovered to see the brilliant aspect as a scuba diver because of a well-liked ethos locally: it doesn’t matter if it’s raining as a result of underwater, every part is moist. One of the best sight throughout a dive on a wet day on this idyllic South Pacific vacation spot was a faculty of a dozen noticed eagle rays hovering above me like a flock of birds.

Isla Rabida, Galápagos

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The Galápagos Islands, positioned roughly 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador, are identified for his or her biodiversity. On a dive off Isla Rabida, a curious sea lion swam round me as I descended to a considerably precarious undercurrent which may have swept us away if we hadn’t held onto some rocks on the ocean ground. If that wasn’t thrilling sufficient, I obtained a glimpse of some hammerheads swimming close by on the way in which again to the floor.

Saba, Caribbean Netherlands

Courtesy of Erik Trinidad


Subsequent to St. Barts is the lesser-known five-square-mile Caribbean island of Saba, a municipality of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. I dove on the “Man O’ Conflict Shoals,” which is close to Saba’s iconic Diamond Rock. It was notable due to the impressively clear visibility, which made the underwater rock pinnacles really feel like volcanically-formed skyscrapers in an aquatic metropolis. In only a single dive, I encountered a moray eel, a sting ray, a lobster, barracudas, a reef shark, and numerous turtles.

Channel Islands, California

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The Channel Islands, an eight-island archipelago that sits off the coast of California, is commonly dubbed “North America’s Galapagos.” It’s dwelling to over 2,000 species of vegetation and animals, together with 145 endemic species. Throughout my dive right here, the abundance of big kelp regarded like submerged woods from fairy tales. Not surprisingly, these big kelp are collectively referred to as a “forest.” This was an particularly magical expertise since playful sea lions have been hiding across the big stalks as in the event that they have been taking part in hide-and-seek with me.

Mnemba Atoll, Tanzania

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Of all of the colourful coral reefs I’ve seen in my dives, those off the coast of Zanzibar within the Indian Ocean stand out to me probably the most. The brilliant hues, coupled with the superior visibility and the abundance of tropical fish, made this dive memorable. (Mnemba Atoll is a tiny island a number of miles from Unguja, the biggest island in Tanzania’s Zanzibar archipelago.)

Loreto, Baja California Sur, Mexico

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My preliminary draw to scuba diving was to see colourful coral and massive, recognizable marine life. However it was on a dive off the coast of this small gulf-side Baja city the place a seasoned divemaster taught me the significance of appreciating the little issues. Certain, the Gulf of California has wrecks to discover and massive creatures at some occasions of the 12 months, however throughout my June dives, the spotlight was recognizing the small, colorfully patterned sea slugs referred to as nudibranchs.

St. Eustatius, Caribbean Netherlands

Courtesy of Erik Trinidad


St. Eustatius (identified regionally as Statia) was a hub for the trans-Atlantic slave commerce again within the seventeenth and 18th centuries. Blue glass beads have been a type of native forex again then and it is stated that when the enslaved individuals have been freed in 1863, they dumped the beads into the ocean. Now, divers might even see a bead on the ocean ground — and it is a image of that emancipation. That stated, locals say you should not seek for a blue bead, because it finds you. And one did, the truth is, discover me on my first dive.

Grenada

Courtesy of Erik Trinidad


I’ve carried out a number of dives on this Caribbean island nation however probably the most noteworthy one was my a hundredth dive. Within the scuba neighborhood, the centennial dive is completed nude — and I adopted by. Different scuba milestones in Grenada embrace seeing the underwater sculpture park by British sculptor Jason deCaires Taylor, which spearheaded the motion of comparable submerged artwork installations around the globe. Additionally notable is my first nighttime wreck dive on the Veronica L, which I can solely describe as what I feel is the closest sensation to being in outer house.

Ummahat Islands, Saudi Arabia

Courtesy of Erik Trinidad


I got here full circle this 12 months and returned to the Purple Sea for the primary time since my superior certification — however this time on the Saudi coast. For years, Saudi Arabia was not on any diver’s radar as a result of it hadn’t opened its doorways to tourism till late 2019 after which misplaced years to the pandemic. As such, many of the diving territory of the Ummahat Islands remains to be being found by divemasters from around the globe, which is a part of the attraction. The truth is, I went on a dive with The St. Regis Purple Sea Resort that had solely been vetted simply weeks earlier than. I discovered trevallies, Arabian angelfish, and an astounding show of staghorn coral … however something may have occurred, as there have been studies of lurking tiger sharks and hammerheads.

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