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Best Liveaboard Trips for 2017

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If you are aiming to pack in more dives in 2017, nothing beats a liveaboard trip for great value and access to remote dive sites. Liveaboard trips are Regaldive guests’ most popular diving holiday option, with options to suit all levels of experience. Liveaboards range from good value choices to luxurious, high spec boats.

If wreck diving is your thing, or if you want to encounter sharks and other large marine life, a liveaboard trip can help you tick off many of the boxes on your diving wish list.  If you are travelling as a large group, you could even plan your preferred itinerary. Free group places are also available.

We have highlighted some of our most popular liveaboard destinations in this article. Our other top destinations include: Bahamas, Caribbean, Cocos Island, Djibouti, Fiji, French Polynesia, Oman, Palau, Philippines, Socorro Islands, Sudan, Thailand and Truk Lagoon.

MALDIVES

Diving in the Maldives is influenced by the seasonal monsoons, which in turn affects both the underwater visibility and the marine life. Liveaboards follow these variations, taking divers to the best sites accordingly. The boats generally operate in the central atolls. In recent years access to more remote atolls has become available. Regaldive feature liveaboards that cover these exciting new atolls, ranging from Haa-Alifu in the far north, to Huvadhoo in the far south. These atolls represent the new ‘frontiers’ of diving in the Maldives and lie well beyond traditional tourist maps. Regaldive’s most popular boats include Emperor Serenity, Emperor Leo and Carpe Diem.

RED SEA

Itineraries in the Red Sea usually follow a Northern or Southern itinerary. In the north the reef at Abu Nuhas is accessible from Hurghada with several wrecks resting at its base. You can also visit the Straits of Gubal and the famous Thistlegorm. There are also many world class dive sites in the southern Red Sea including the stunning reefs of Fury Shoal, the wrecks of Big Brother and the amazing marine life of Elphinstone: an ideal site to encounter hammerheads and oceanic whitetips. Regaldive’s most popular boats include Emperor Elite, Emperor Voyager and MY Nimar.

INDONESIA

Liveaboard diving in Indonesia is often undertaken in remote locations. Some of the dives can be quite challenging, suiting only more experienced divers in exciting, bizarre and unpredictable currents. Volcanic in origin, the area is a centre of marine biodiversity and has only recently been recognised for the superb world class diving that it has to offer. Regaldive’s liveaboard itineraries include Komodo, Flores & Alors, Ambon and Raja Ampat. Liveaboard diving does not get more adventurous than this… Regaldive’s most popular boats include Indo Siren, Mermaid II and Dewi Nusantara.

GALAPAGOS

The top of many wish lists, the Galapagos Islands are a diver’s mecca. Isolated from any continental landmass, the Galapagos enjoys a completely unique biodiversity that is simply spectacular. These actively volcanic islands host a distinct and unique flora and fauna, including creatures found nowhere else on earth. The world famous sites of Darwin & Wolf support a large concentration of the amazing marine life that makes the Galapagos the superb dive destination that it is. Schools of hammerheads, dolphins and rays make these islands a highlight for many divers. Another highlight is the whale shark aggregation that occurs in the warmer water surrounding these islands. Hammerhead sharks and other shark species also make regular appearances in numbers year round. Regaldive’s most popular boats include Humboldt Explorer, Aggressor III, Galapagos Master and Galapagos Sky.

Whatever liveaboard destination you choose, you can be sure of a large helping of top notch diving, combined with a friendly, knowledgeable crew and the company of a like-minded group of divers. Liveaboards are a great option to pack in your dives in 2017 and with Regaldive’s Winter Sale already underway this January, your liveaboard trip will be easy on your wallet too. Bon voyage!

For help with planning your next diving adventure, call the friendly Regaldive team on 01353 659999 or visit www.regal-diving.co.uk.

All photos © John Butland

John, Sales Manager for UK-based tour operator Diverse Travel, learnt to dive in 2002 and was instantly hooked. Most of his travel now revolves around diving having travelled abroad to dive over 40 times since learning including 18 times to the Red Sea. John says that although every dive trip has its special moments, sharks do feature quite highly on his wish list and is lucky enough to have had close encounters with nearly thirty shark species. Diverse Travel has been organising diving holidays for over five years and the team has over 40 years’ combined experience. Diverse Travel offers liveaboards and resort-based holidays in over 20 worldwide destinations. Find out more at www.diversetravel.co.uk.

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Save £500 on Maldives liveaboard – but hurry, there’s only 2 spots left!

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Join The Scuba Place on board the award-winning (Best Liveaboard, Maldives Tourism Awards for 2 consecutive years) Sachika for a week in the sun!

Taking in the very best dive sites of the ‘Best of Central Atolls’ itinerary, including manta cleaning stations, Whaleshark Alley, the Fish Factory and the legendary night dive with hundreds of nurse sharks, this is one trip not to be missed.

To make it even better, they have taken a big chunk of cash off the price to fill the last TWO SPACES (twin or double cabin) on each of the following sailings:

  • Outbound 5 November, return 13 November
  • Outbound 12 November, return 20 November

The Scuba Place team can arrange flights from any major UK airport, and the whole package will be ATOL Protected. Price includes flights, taxes, full board in a twin/double cabin based on 2 sharing, 17 dives with Nitrox included, all soft drinks and meals and snacks. Bar bill is extra and extra dives are available too!

The prices are based on flying with Emirates and include 30kgs of baggage per person.

Don’t miss out – get in touch today! Call 020 3515 9955 to find out more!

Brochure link: https://bit.ly/TSP_Maldives_Nov2021

www.thescubaplace.co.uk


Boat images by Top Class Cruising

Underwater images by Nigel Wade for The Scuba Place

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The Scuba Genies head to Bonaire! Part 1 of 2

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In the first of this two-part blog, The Scuba Genies share their trip report from the Come Dive with Us hosted trip to Bonaire in September 2021…

Travelling during the Covid pandemic has been challenging for some, impossible for most, and missed by all. We have been scanning the rules and regulations daily, and as soon as the UK Government allowed us, we were off!

What was supposed to be a trip to Mexico for a gang of 12 of us, just like most trips over the last 18 months, we were forced to change as the travel rules changed – we have been trying to get to Bonaire for ages, and this became the perfect opportunity – at last!

With our bags packed, negative test results and completed Bonaire health forms in hand – we made an early start for Heathrow, prepared for an 0630 departure. A quick flight and we landed in Amsterdam. As a Dutch Caribbean territory, all flights from the UK to Bonaire on KLM go via Amsterdam. In the airport, we met up with the rest of the gang who had travelled from Birmingham. After a quick layover we took off for Bonaire, where we arrived about 9 hours later. Our health documents were checked at the airport, and we grabbed our bags. It seems odd to have to fly East to then go West, but as we stepped out of the minibus at Buddy Dive Resort, only 10 minutes after leaving the airport, the sunshine and blue sky told us it was worth it!

Our accommodation for the group was made up of two 3-bedroom apartments, a stone’s throw from the water, dive shop, dock and Blennies, the main restaurant and bar. Buddy Dive also has 1- and 2-bedroom apartments along with studios, all comfortably furnished with either a garden or ocean view.

Each 3-bedroom apartment is spread over two floors – but a floor up from ground level. The ‘ground’ floor of each apartment offers a double bedroom (beds can be configured as twins or double in all rooms), a bathroom, lounge with balcony, and a very well-equipped kitchenette. Microwave, toaster, hob, fridge/freezer with ice-maker and enough pots, pans and utensils to satisfy the avid cook! On the upper floor, there are two further double rooms with ensuite bathrooms, both with balconies of their own. Each bedroom is air-conditioned, and the lounge and kitchen have celling fans. All in all, quite perfect for a home away from home for a fortnight!

The rules of group travel say we must unpack (empty bags onto floor or bed), sort kit out (look at dive bag and save it for later), put cameras together (er….NO!) and hit the bar – so being rule-abiding people that we are, this is what we did. Picking up the rental van for our stay would have to wait!

The next morning after breakfast, served in the Ingridients restaurant and right on the water, we attended the Buddy Dive orientation. The staff gave us a quick tour of the dock and resort including the famous drive thru tank shed offering both air and nitrox tanks ready and waiting to be loaded into your vehicle. Check in at the dive centre was easy… we all completed our diver forms online before arrival so with a quick hello we were handed locker keys for our kit storage. Time to head back to the room and get ready for our first dive!! That is why we’re here after all!

As with all trips, the first dive was a check dive, so we climbed down the steps into the water off the dock to go an explore Buddy Dive Reef. Finning over the sandy bottom, past the coral restoration project ‘trees’ and following well laid lines with directional markers we hit the reef after just a minute or two where you can drop to 35+ metres over simply stunning corals. This reef, just like the rest of the sites we dived, is super-healthy and teeming with juvenile fish wherever you look. Moray eels, turtles, octopi and HUGE tarpon on our first dive! What a great start!

The following day we decided it was time to explore the island. We picked up our 6-person minibus from Reception, pulled up to the drive thru tank station and grabbed 12 well filled Nitrox 12l aluminium (A-Clamp – not DIN) cylinders. With our guidebook in hand, off we went driving on the right of course, in search of marine life.

There are over 50 dive sites scattered around the coast of the main island, and even more on the island of Klein Bonaire accessible by boat. We chose a comfortable start by picking dive sites to the South where the entry seems to be a little easier on old knees and hips. We packed up sandwiches we made after a quick shop at the supermarket the day before, along with waters and a few essentials – towels, sunnies and bug spray.

I won’t bore you with every dive site name and description – the guidebook is the tool for that – but it is more than safe to say that we dived, dived and dived again! Every dive gave us far more than we expected, and the marine park surrounding the whole island delivered the goods without fail. Super healthy corals, plentiful marine life, warm and very clear water at 30 degrees made life easy. Parking the van up at the marked dive sites wasn’t difficult, and a few strides across the sand was far simpler than we had expected.

I will say that some sites are a little more challenging to get into the water from – anything more than three or four steps doesn’t float my boat! We adapted our entries for the group – some kitting up in the water, some not, but the rule of thumb quickly became step in up to thigh-depth, inflate bcd, fall flat on your back and paddle out before putting your fins on. Simple! Getting out of the water was pretty much the reverse of the above – stand up when you can, remove fins, and then navigate the rocks and sand channels before you walk up the beach. Nothing that an over-weight, under-tall chap in his mid-50’s with dodgy knees and even dodgier hips couldn’t cope with! (That is me by the way…..no offense to anyone else intended and no animals were harmed in the writing of this either).

We saw stuff – lots of it! Huge tarpon, French and Grey Angelfish, forests of Christmas Tree worms, anemones with Peterson, sexy and cleaner shrimp, clinging crabs, nudibranchs – especially lettuce-leaf slugs, coral-banded shrimp, lobster and so much more. Turtles everywhere, trumpet-fish in unbelievable numbers, and that was generally the story – all in very good visibility too! The corals and huge sponges were stunning with fascinating reef-structures offering all sorts of hidey-holes for critters!

There were some really special sited that we loved, and Salt Pier was one. The Cargill solar salt facility is easily found with its distinctive line of white salt pyramids.Each pyramid, roughly 50-feet high, can contain up to 10,000 metric tons of 99.6 percent pure salt. Even more noteworthy, in addition to the acres of salt ponds, the facility is also home to largest pink flamingo sanctuary in North America. Our very own Chloe has written an in-depth blog about Bonaire and its pure salt so be sure and check it out!

Back to the diving! We were given a hint to drive just past the pier to park where we would find an easy sand entry to the site. We kitted up and finned out through the shallows where we encountered three juvenile hawksbill turtles along with a few smooth pufferfish fighting to feed on patch of sponges, and then made our way under the immense structure of the pier. There are several platforms supporting the conveyor belts that move salt to the container ships and there wasn’t much diver-traffic to contend with. We were amazed by all things weird and wonderful – big scorpion fish hiding under the metal work, angelfish battling for food, schooling fish up above you, and frogfish! Barracuda, Caribbean reef squid, spotted drums, octopus, oh! and more frogfish! Even a flying gurnard in the shallows! What a dive! And as it is shallow, it can be a very long dive too, especially with the 200-210 bar fills the drive-thru often gave us.

Check back for Part Two of this Blog tomorrow!


Find out more about the worldwide dive itineraries that The Scuba Place offers at www.thescubaplace.co.uk.

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Competitions

Egypt | Simply the Best Itinerary | 04 – 11 November 2021 | Emperor Echo

Jump on board the latest addition to the Emperor fleet and enjoy diving the famous sites of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer. Great value for money and perfect for small groups of buddies with a ‘Book 5 and 1 dives for FREE’ offer all year round.

Price NOW from just £1275 per person based on sharing a twin cabin/room including:

  • Flights from Gatwick to Hurghada with 23kgs baggage
  • 7 nights in shared cabin
  • 3 meals a day, soft drinks, red wine with dinner
  • 6 days’ diving, guide, 12ltr tank & weights, Marine Park fees and port departure fees
  • Free Nitrox

Subject to availability.
Alternative departure airports available at supplement.

Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

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