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Dive Vietnam

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Vietnam

I first came to SE Asia when I was 19. A solo female backpacker travelling the world, meeting new people, exploring countries I had never been to before. Unfortunately, until very recently, Vietnam remained on this list of countries that I had never visited. However, this year I was lucky enough to spend a wonderful 10 days in this beautiful country. On my travels I’d heard so much about Vietnam – its breath-taking natural beauty, the delicious food, the kind people; one thing that I hadn’t heard much about however, was the diving.

First stop: Phu Quoc

VietnamMy first stop was Phu Quoc, a tranquil island in the south of Vietnam. I was met upon my arrival by my dive buddy from Rainbow Divers. I spent three days here in Phu Quoc where I did my Padi Nudibranch Speciality Course – a qualification specific to Vietnam. The course involved us going out on the dive boat every day and looking for nudibranchs, identifying them and then at the end of my three days here doing a short written exam. The visibility in Phu Quoc wasn’t the best and we didn’t see a huge amount on the dives, however I was surprised at how many different types of nudibranchs we saw – there were so many! All different sizes and colours – more than I have seen anywhere else in the world.

The capital city of Ho Chi Minh

I left Phu Quoc on a very delayed Vietjet plane – something that I quickly learnt was expected in Vietnam. I was heading to the capital city of Ho Chi Minh. Ho Chi Minh, also known as Saigon, is an ex French colony and therefore the city has a lot of French influence which I absolutely loved. Many of the buildings have French colonial architecture which makes it very picturesque, despite the swarms of mopeds driving round the city.

I was picked up from the airport by a driver from the 5* Hotel Caravelle where I was staying. After backpacking round Thailand this was an absolute luxury and he even had a cool box with him filled with soft drinks and beer! When I arrived at the Caravelle Hotel I was greeted by the manager of the hotel and the very kind staff as well as Jeremy – the owner of Rainbow Divers. We had some photos taken at the entrance for the local press and I was taken to my incredible two-room suite. After my backpacking adventures I was in heaven!

I wish I had longer in Ho Chi Minh as I loved the small amount of the city that I managed to see in my short stay. However, my delayed flight cut my time short here and early afternoon the next day we were off to the airport again to fly to Nha Trang.

My final destination: Nha Trang

VietnamNha Trang is a coastal resort, famous for its beaches and diving and I soon learnt it is very popular with the Russians. Here I stayed at the Evason Ana Mandara Resort – Nha Trang’s only beach front resort. The staff here were so friendly and kind and I was told I was staying in one of the beach front bungalows for my three night stay here. I was being so completely spoilt again with my accommodation! The bungalow was huge – I had my own balcony looking out to sea, a beautiful four poster bed and my favourite part of the room –  the outdoor shower/bath! Everyday I felt like I was showering outside in and amongst nature, which was truly blissful.

I dived in Nha Trang every day and was picked up from the hotel by Rainbow Divers early every morning by the Rainbow Divers bus that took us to to the dive boat. I was really surprised by the great diving in Nha Trang. As I mentioned earlier in my post, I hadn’t read much or heard much about the diving but the visibility here was really great, we saw loads of different species of fish on every dive including Bat Fish, Octopus and Giant Moray Eels, although the water temperature was a little chilly (for me anyway!)

My free time in Nha Trang I spent lazing in the hammocks of the hotel grounds, drinking cocktails by the infinity beach front pool and having Vietnamese cookery classes with the Sous chef or taking private yoga classes on the beach. The hotel, with it’s breath-taking views across the bay, really was paradise, and I would highly recommend this hotel to anyone travelling to Nha Trang.

I had such an incredible trip to Vietnam, diving with Rainbow Divers, staying in the beautiful accommodation, exploring new places and meeting some incredible people. I can’t wait to return.

Sarah Winterbottom is currently the title holder of Miss Scuba United Kingdom. She won the title in October, and since then has gone on to compete in the international finals of Miss Scuba International in Malaysia, placing in the top 5. Since winning Miss Scuba United Kingdom has completed her PADI advanced open water and dry suit qualification and is currently doing her rescue course in Thailand. Sarah also dived in Egypt, Cyprus, Malaysia and the UK for the first time since entering the pageant, and hopes to continue diving this year and to learn more about marine conservation. Sarah is from London and when she isn't diving - or doing all things Miss Scuba - works in PR. Sarah loves to workout and train at bootcamp several times a week. She also loves taking part in high intensity obstacle courses and took part in Tough Mudder last year in order to raise money for Deptherapy. Sarah is multi-lingual, having studied Spanish and Portuguese at The University of Manchester, and was lucky enough to live in South America as part of her degree. Travelling is a huge passion of Sarah's and she will be going on to dive in Vietnam after Thailand.

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Diving below the waves of the Western Cape, South Africa – Long Beach at night (Watch Video)

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Head under the waves of False Bay and explore the incredible diversity that is found along the Western Cape. The bay has popular dive spots from diving amongst the biodiverse underwater kelp forests to jumping in with the playful and friendly cape fur sealions (Arctocephalus pusillus). The bay along with the rest of the South Africa coast is known for the range of shark species that are found from the shallow coastal shores out into the open oceans. The coast is also home to numerous endemic shark species such as puffadder shyshark (Haploblepharus edwardsii) and Pyjama shark.

Longbeach is a shallow shore dive close to the coastal town of Simonstown on the Western Cape. The dive is mainly made up of diving across the sand with a few wreckages, rocks and outcrops where there’s algae growing. A pipeline can be found at the site which provides locations for species such as Pyjama Sharks (Poroderma africanum) and octopus (Octopus vulgaris) to shelter. Diving at night at the site provides the opportunity to see species that are more often hidden during the day such as cape Squid (Loligo reynaudii) and Biscuit Skate (Raja straeleni). Other shark species such as the small Puff Adder Shyshark (Haploblepharus edwardsii) are also occasionally seen at the site.

Diving with the local dive club – Cape Town Dive Centre.


Follow Jake aka JD Scuba on the YouTube channel @Don’t Think Just Blog.

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Miscellaneous Blogs

Book Review – The Final Dive: The Life and Death of ‘Buster’ Crabbe (2007)

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It was the height of the Cold War. The Soviet Cruiser Ordzhonikidz, supported by two destroyers, had brought Soviet leaders Khruschev and Bulganin to Britain for sensitive meetings with the British Government. The ships were moored in Portsmouth harbour and the Prime Minister, Sir Anthony Eden, had expressly forbidden any clandestine inspection of them. However, on the morning of 19th April 1956 Commander Lionel ‘Buster’ Crabbe, an experienced naval diver, slipped into the cold waters of Portsmouth harbour. His top secret mission was to photograph the hull, propellers and rudder of the Ordzhonikidze. He was never seen alive again.

A badly decomposed body, with head and hands missing, was discovered by fishermen in Chichester harbour months later. It was claimed to be the missing body of Buster Crabbe – but many had doubts. The incident marked the start of a controversy that claimed the posts of several high ranking naval, government and intelligence service personnel. The author of The Final Dive, Don Hale, claims it is one that still rages and which may not be resolved even when secret government files are released in 2057.

Don Hale, an acknowledged campaigning journalist and former Journalist of the Year brings all his experience and skill to unravelling this longstanding scandal. He has drawn upon official reports and private letters, statements from government representatives, fellow officers and friends to piece together Buster’s life and events leading to his disappearance and subsequent investigation. He speaks of “inquiries blocked by intrigue, constant cover-ups and government bureaucracy coupled with threats relating to the Official Secrets Act” (p. xi). If you like reading about subterfuge on a grand scale you will enjoy The Final Dive.

Don Hale’s meticulous account of the life of Buster Crabbe is supported by dozens of black and white photos and extracts from numerous official documents. It reveals how an amazing series of civilian jobs, wartime activities and friendships with high ranking government officials, British intelligence officers, American CIA operatives. . . and now known spies, prepared him for his final dive and perhaps his fate. One of Crabbe’s acquaintances was the author Ian Fleming – of James Bond fame. Indeed, it is suggested that Fleming based the character of 007 on Buster Crabbe. After reading of his exploits, both before WWII, his bomb disposal work during the war, and afterwards it is easy to see why. Certainly, those who worked with Buster Crabbe “all agree he was fearless.” (p.59). After reading of his exploits one wonders if he was too fearless.

In the later stage of Buster’s life, prior to his disappearance, Don Hall recounts “a constant merry-go-round of overseas assignments” (p. 118) for Crabbe and how he “began to receive increasingly hazardous commissions” (p. 136). It culminated in the morning dive in Portsmouth harbour. Hale’s forsensic-like account of the events surrounding the final dive and aftermath reveals absolute panic and bungling behind the scenes as official answers conflict with known facts. He describes how “The whole incident still seems bathed in secrecy, with the true facts deliberately buried in bureaucracy, and supported at the highest level by an incredible cover-up operation”.(p. 205).

A final comment by Don Hale adds to the intrigue. He states “The only part of the Crabbe puzzle about which I am not certain is not who sent him – we know the answer to that – but why on earth he was he sent, possibly at considerable risk?” (p. 248). After reading The Final Dive: The Life and Death of ‘Buster’ Crabbe you will no doubt have your own ideas.


The Final Dive: The Life and Death of ‘Buster’ Crabbe (2007)

  • By Don Hale
  • Stroud: Sutton Publishing
  • ISBN 978 0 7509 4574 5
  • 260 pp

Don Hale was a professional footballer before becoming editor of several regional newspapers. He has received numerous national and international awards for investigative journalism including Journalist of the Year. In 2002 he was awarded an OBE for his campaigning journalism in the Stephen Downing miscarriage of justice case. He has championed several others who have been wrongly convicted.

His other books include Town without Pity (2002), Murder in the Graveyard (2019) and Mallard: How the ‘Blue Steak’ Broke the World Speed Record (2019).


Find out more about Professor Fred Lockwood, who is also a published author, at www.fredlockwood.co.uk.

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Explore the amazing triangle of Red Sea Reefs - The Brothers, Daedalus and Elphinstone on board the brand new liveaboard Big Blue.  With an option to add on a week at Roots Red Sea before or after. 

Strong currents and deep blue water are the catalysts that bring the pelagic species flocking to these reefs. The reefs themselves provide exquisite homes for a multitude of marine life.  The wafting soft corals are adorned with thousands of colourful fish. The gorgonian fans and hard corals provide magnificent back drops, all being patrolled by the reef’s predatory species.

£1475 per person based on double occupancy.  Soft all inclusive board basis, buffet meals with snacks, tea and coffee always available.  Add a week on at Roots Red Sea Resort before or after the liveaboard for just £725pp.  Flights and transfers are included.  See our brochure linked above for the full itinerary.

This trip will be hosted by The Scuba Place.  Come Dive with Us!

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www.thescubaplace.co.uk

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