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A Postcard from Curaçao | Episode 7 | Bapor Kibrá, Curaçao (Watch Video)

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Seventh in a series of inspirational postcards from our friends at Dive Curacao.

Welcome to Episode 7 where we are visiting with Ocean Encounters and LionsDive Beach Resort located in the Bapor Kibrá district of Curaçao, which is just 5 minutes away from the city center of Willemstad.

Bapor Kibrá, which literally translates to “broken ship” is home to one of the best dive sites on the island called Shipwreck Point.   This area also has a wide variety of tourism attractions that includes the Curaçao Sea Aquarium Park and Mambo Beach Boulevard which provides many options for entertainment, shopping and of course indulging yourself.

Speaking of indulging yourself, a “natural place” to consider for your next ideal Curaçao vacation is LionsDive Beach Resort. With its warm, casual atmosphere that is set amidst a stunning tropical location, it is the perfect resort for everyone especially if you are a beach-lover, a snorkeler, or an avid scuba diver.

The Forbes Magazine article “The Best Hotels in Curacao” (October 2019) wrote: “To keep the beaches well maintained and beautiful for years to come, the resort operates a green eco-conscious mandate to offer recycling, energy and water conservation, and sustainability through a variety of programs.”

Katja Vogels, one of the owner’s says: “At LionsDive Beach Resort, we actively encourage our guests to discover our beautiful island and the friendly people of Dushi Korsou.  We are also fully aware that tourism can only flourish when we respect and improve our natural and social environment. For over 30 years, we have seen it as our responsibility to maintain the highest standards in energy saving, water conservation and waste management. We are an active member within the Curacao community; our staff is recruited locally, and we support various sustainable tourism projects on the island. Coral Restoration Curacao is one of those projects that we are enormously proud of.  LionsDive has several coral nurseries installed on the house reef, called Stella Maris, which is a few easy fin kicks away from our beautiful beach that provides a sensational snorkeling experience for our guests.” 

“Because of the successful partnership we have with Coral Restoration Curaçao, our sister location, Avila Beach Hotel has also installed coral nurseries too,” says Katja.

LionsDive Beach Resort is built with a typical Dutch-Caribbean style. Located directly on the beach, the 2 and 3 story buildings are all surrounded by beautiful tropical gardens with the water’s edge only footsteps away from your room.

With a warm and friendly Caribbean hospitality, the amazing service is their #1 priority. Their attentive staff is always there for your every need so that you can have a wonderful vacation. You can relax on their shaded private beach, dive in for an exceptional boat or shore dives with Ocean Encounters, train in the 50-meter sports pool, enjoy the many wellness options or just take a relaxing stroll on the adjacent Mambo Beach Boulevard, visiting along the way any one of the 4 onsite bars and restaurants.


Travel Tip: Take advantage of the incredible sunset Happy Hours on the beach, at Hemingway Beach Bar & Restaurant or the Chill Beach Bar & Grill, as this is something that you do not want to miss!


Ocean Encounters, the on-site Curacao Tourist Board (CTB) approved Dive Operator, is also committed to ocean conservation and sustainable tourism.  Ocean Encounters is not only the founder of Coral Restoration Curaçao but they are also a PADI Green Star Award recipient and regularly conduct Project AWARE “Adopt a Dive Site” underwater clean-up’s on the Stella Maris house reef where they maintain the Coral Restoration Curaçao’s main nursery.

“The significance of the Curaçao Reef Restoration Program is that together as a community here on Curaçao, we are restoring the shallow water reef systems while educating our youth about the importance of protecting and preserving our natural ecosystem,” according to Jeremiah Peek, the Managing Director of Ocean Encounters, who adds: “I believe programs like this help solidify a natural sustainability for future generations.”

Ocean Encounters’ commitment to marine conservation and sustainable tourism is a clear distinguishing factor amongst the dive operators on Curaçao, and this is underlined in their #OEPledge.  This pledge is a mandate for positive change through education, awareness and creating a strong eco-friendly presence with green initiatives such as the environmentally safe products sold in their shop and carbon footprint reduction.

The combination of these factors, along with the extraordinary location of LionsDive Beach Resort and the phenomenal choice of regularly scheduled scuba diving activities of Ocean Encounters, creates a unique Curaçao experience that you really need to dive into so that you can feel it for yourself!

Tune in for Episode 8 where will be visiting with The Dive Bus and diving their remarkable house reef at Marie Pampoen to discover more about their “seriously fun” shore diving concept and their on-going commitment to Project AWARE.

We hope you have enjoyed this Postcard from Curaçao and we also hope to see you soon!

Sincere Love from Curacao,

Bryan Horne, Dive Curacao

Tilo and Yvonne Kuhnast, Nature Pics Films


Videos produced and edited for Dive Curacao in cooperation with Nature Pics Films

Bryan Horne wasn’t born in Curaçao; he’s a Canadian native, drawn to the Island “out of a passion for scuba diving and the underwater world.” Moving was always going to be a life-changing decision, but in diving, Bryan had found his calling. As the founder and owner of Dive Curaçao, he spends his days showing off Curaçao’s hidden undersea treasures – and does his part to preserve them for future generations.

Marine Life & Conservation

Exhibition: Protecting UNESCO Marine World Heritage through scientific research

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From now until 30 October, the photo exhibition “Protecting UNESCO Marine World Heritage through scientific research” features 21 photographs at UNESCO Headquarters, Paris, as well as a digital edition.

Exceptional photographs highlight how innovative marine experts and scientists take the pulse of the ocean by exploring ecosystems, studying the movement of species, or revealing the hidden biodiversity of coral reefs. Scientific discoveries are more important than ever for the protection and sustainable conservation of our Marine World Heritage. This memorable exhibition comes ahead of the launch, in 2021, of the United Nations Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development (“Ocean Decade”). The exhibition was jointly developed by UNESCO and the Principality of Monaco.

The 50 marine sites inscribed on the UNESCO World Heritage List, distributed across 37 countries, include a wide variety of habitats as well as rare marine life still largely unknown. Renowned for their unmatched beauty and emblematic biodiversity, these exceptional ecosystems play a leading role in the field of marine conservation. Through scientific field research and innovation, concrete actions to foster global preservation of the ocean are being implemented locally in these unique natural sites all over the world. They are true symbols of hope in a changing ocean.

Since 2017, the Principality of Monaco supports UNESCO to strengthen conservation and scientific understanding of the marine sites inscribed on the World Heritage List. This strategic partnership allows local management teams to benefit from the results obtained during the scientific missions of Monaco Explorations. The partnership also draws international attention to the conservation challenges facing the world’s most iconic ocean sites.

The exhibition invites viewers to take a passionate dive into the heart of the scientific missions led by Monaco Explorations in four marine World Heritage sites: Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park (Philippines), Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary (Colombia), Rock Islands Southern Lagoon (Palau), and the Lagoons of New Caledonia: Reef Diversity and Associated Ecosystems (France). It is also an opportunity to discover the work of a megafauna census; the study of the resilience of coral reefs and their adaptation in a changing climate; the exploration of the deep sea; and the monitoring of large marine predators through satellite data.

To visit the Digital Exhibition click here.

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Dive Training Blogs

Deptherapy returns to its Roots – Part 7

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Join Richard Cullen from Deptherapy for the final part of his Blog about the charity’s recent expedition to Roots Red Sea, El Quseir, Egypt.

Deptherapy expeditions do not just magically happen, they need planning and they need funding.  This expedition was funded by our long-term partners the Veterans’ Foundation.  The funding is part of a grant they awarded us for programmes this year, which were then put on hold because of COVID.

All charities in the Armed Forces’ Sector are struggling for funds. Deptherapy desperately needs support going forward and every penny counts.

We know what we do works and at the end of this blog you will find details of the research studies into Deptherapy’s programmes and how they impact on the lives of our beneficiaries.  This includes details that are hot off the press about the latest study that reports that what we offer through scuba diving and 24/7 support has benefits beyond those found in other sporting rehabilitation programmes.

Well tomorrow we fly home, late in the evening with the journey home for some of the guys who live up North taking around 15 hours after leaving Roots.

We want to make the most of today but with the tide running we are not going to be able to dive until later this morning which means only two dives today.

Oatsie and Swars about to start their sidemount dives

Things, however are really busy over at the dive centre with Swars and Oatsie putting their sidemount kit together for their training dives with Steve Rattle leading to their RAID sidemount qualification.  It has been nice to be able to offer the guys this extra training, given the amount of work they have put in this week.  They have needed to get through their theory quickly but given the RADI online learning system this has not been too arduous.

Steve came diving with us yesterday to get some more photos and was really amazed at the progress that Corey had made. He was quite open in his praise, as in his view Corey has gone from a non-diver to being a very competent OW diver capable of diving, unsupervised, with a buddy.  Praise indeed.

Other than the sidemount course we are diving as a group today: Corey, Keiron, Michael, Moudi and me. Corey has been given some tasks – SMB deployment on both dives and the afternoon dive will be a ‘naturalist dive’.  Guy Henderson has set Corey a task: ‘to identify three species of fish and record the time into the dive and the depth at which each one was spotted’.  Guy runs Marine Biology courses on the reef and knows where the fish are to be found, how long into the dive, and at what time.

The two Toms are getting put through their paces. They have walked their cylinders down to the entry point, but Steve sends them back to the dive centre to collect other kit they should have brought with them.

Our general dive goes well and the sidemount guys appear from their sidemount dive some 90 minutes after dipping their heads under the water.

Corey enjoying being a RAID OW20 Diver

Lots of bubbly chat at lunchtime, a group of really happy divers. Corey really has benefited from the week and over lunch thanked the team for making him a diver. He has very quickly become part of the family and after returning home he published an amazing post on Facebook about his experience.  Corey really gets Deptherapy and had soon realised that we see past mental and physical injuries and see the person inside and work with that person.  He also realised that we want beneficiaries to see their fellow beneficiaries in the same light.  He knows he now has another ‘family’ – a family of brothers in arms who have two things in common, they served their country and they have suffered life changing injuries or illnesses.

Back into the water for the afternoon dive and Corey identifies the fish and records the details on a slate.  The two Tom’s complete their second dive and qualify as RAID Sidemount Divers. Great!

Kit packed away and it is time to return to the camp for a few well-earned last night drinks.

I am often asked why we use Roots as our exclusive base for diving. I have mentioned before that it offers us an ideal retreat, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. We are secluded and there are no distractions such as late-night bars etc.

Roots Accessible Room

The second reason is the amazing welcome we receive from Steve, Clare, Moudi and the team.  We have been going to Roots since 2014 and many of the staff have become good friends, they understand our needs and are the friendliest people you could ever wish to meet.

The third reason is the huge investment Steve and Clare have made in making the resort and dive centre accessible for those with physical injuries including those who need to use wheelchairs.  All our beneficiaries can enjoy Roots and, in fact, love it here.  The reef is perfect for us and in non-COVID times we can travel to the Salem Express and other dive sites to enjoy more of the Red Sea experience.

Accessible toilet on the Roots beach

After discussions with the team I was very proud to be able to tell Corey that his progress had been such that we were inviting him on the Armed Forces Covenant Fund Trust sponsored two-week Marine Biology Course at Roots in June 2021. There is lots of homework to undertake under the guidance of Dr Debbie McNeill of Open Oceans and Corey will be sent the Red Sea Guide which is the basis for study.

While on that programme, Corey with fellow beneficiary Dale Mallin, will complete his RAID Advanced 35 course.  This all builds to a 10-day Red Sea liveaboard in 2022, onboard Roots’ new boat Big Blue where 18 beneficiaries will compare the coral and aquatic life on the wrecks of the SS Thistlegorm and the less known SS Turkia that is to be found in the Gulf of Suez and is rarely dived.

Paul Rose, our Vice President, is supporting the programme and is seeking the support of the UN and the Royal Geographical Society. A comprehensive report will be submitted to our partners in the project and to the Egyptian Authorities.

Last night and chill

What we do works:

In recent years there have been three academic studies into our work:

2018 – A study by a team from the University of Sheffield Medical School.

2019 – A study by The Centre of Trauma at Nottingham University.

Both these studies reported very positively on Deptherapy’s work both underwater but also in terms of the provision of 24/7 support.

The following is from our press release which was issued on 26th October:

‘A new study into Scuba Diving Rehabilitation Charity Deptherapy’s approach to supporting Armed Forces veterans with psychological injuries such as Post-traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) through the medium of scuba diving has been carried out by Petra Walker in conjunction with Hanna Kampman of the Posttraumatic Growth Research Unit at the University of East London.

This study, which used Interpretive Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), demonstrates that scuba diving has rehabilitation benefits beyond those found in other forms of sporting rehabilitation exercise. IPA is a qualitative methodology that examines the experiences of participants and has been used in previous studies of Posttraumatic Growth (PTG) in para-athletes.

Petra is an experienced diver herself and was exploring the wellbeing aspects of scuba diving as part of her Masters in Applied Positive Psychology and Coaching Psychology when she came across a previous study on Deptherapy. Past studies have mainly focused on the medical aspects of diving, so the opportunity to examine the mental health side of rehabilitative scuba diving was impossible to ignore. The full study is currently embargoed until it is published at a future date in an academic journal, but it follows similar academic research into the work of Deptherapy by the University of Sheffield Medical School (2018) and the University of Nottingham (2019).’

This is amazing news and sets us apart from other sporting rehabilitation programmes.

We are currently working with our VP Richard Castle who is a Consultant Psychologist and our Dive Medicine Advisor Mark Downs to identify further areas of psychological and physical dive related research.

We end the week on a happy note.  A young man who has learned to dive properly with a RAID OW 20 certification, a new RAID Master Rescue Diver, two new RAID Sidemount Divers, 5 new RAID O2 Providers, many assessments for our DMs but most of all a week of learning, of making new friendships, renewing old friendships, and building on our family ethos.

Until we meet again…

For us, Deptherapy is a journey, a journey that continues to push boundaries in the use of scuba diving in the rehabilitation of those suffering life changing mental and/or physical challenges.  On our journey we want to change the way the scuba diving industry views diving for those with disabilities.

In the new year, we will be launching, with our diver training agency partners RAID, a new and exciting adaptive teaching programme that will offer diving to the disabled community. We can’t wait to share it with you!


Find out more about the work of Deptherapy and Deptherapy Education at www.deptherapy.co.uk

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