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First Time Family Snorkel in Ireland

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This summer Mike and I were fortunate enough to have some family visiting, including our niece Norah, after not seeing each other since pre-pandemic times.  We were lucky to get some lovely weather and of course that meant heading to the coast!

Our niece is a good swimmer and would like to learn to scuba dive one day.  We mentioned that snorkeling was a really good start for getting used to using a mask and fins and also great fun.  Having gotten her equipment for the trip, Norah practised in the pool before her arrival and was excited to try things out in the ocean.

We live within a 90 minute drive of several lovely bits of shoreline on the west coast of Ireland, and chose to start off our adventures at Dunmoran Strand in County Sligo.  Here there is a sandy beach bordered by rocky shore, with shallow calm waters.  A great starting point for snorkeling in the sea for the first time! Norah kitted up remarkably quickly as I struggled into my wetsuit, but we were soon in the shallows ready to go.  We had an initial swim to get a feel of it and then gave Norah some tips on clearing her mask, snorkel and some finning techniques and we were off exploring the rocks.  Almost immediately we came across some large colourful jellyfish and swam carefully around to observe them without any contact.  After a good 45 minutes of seeing wrasse, crabs, sand eels and anemones we returned to the beach to dry off and warm up with huge smiles.

A few days later we headed out to the tidal swimming pool at Rosses Point, near Sligo.  Here by the yacht club is a man-made pool that opens out into the sea.  From the pool you can follow the coast and snorkel the rocks to the right side with an easy entry and exit at the pool.  Care must be taken NOT to swim out of the pool to the left, as the aptly named “Dead Man’s Point” has some fierce currents.  Arriving on a cooler, breezy day, we checked Norah was up for the challenge of snorkeling in a slight swell and we headed out right along the rocks.  Norah coped brilliantly with the slightly tougher conditions and was soon zooming around spotting crabs all over the place.  We even got to see a small dogfish dart out from between the rocks and out into the kelp.  We took care to watch the waves and make sure we turned round early to get back to the tidal pool before we got chilled or tired and spent a happy last few minutes jumping off the poolside at the deep end before heading home.

For our last trip we went to Old Head Beach in County Mayo, which has a Blueway Snorkel Trail. As depicted on an informative sign by the car park, the trail starts from the left side of the pier, following a rocky coastline in sheltered, shallow water away from local boat traffic.  On our visit the sun was out again and the waters were an inviting, almost tropical blue.  As we swam around and through the thick kelp we spotted plenty of wrasse, a couple of large compass jellyfish, a pipe fish and a flying gurnard.  Norah perfected her duck diving and we had an enjoyable time dropping our snorkels for her to retrieve from the sandy bottom.

We had some excellent snorkels and though sadly the family had to return home, it was a great visit.

After our adventures, we asked Norah a few questions to get her perspective:

What was your favourite thing?

Snorkeling with jellyfish and not getting stung!

What was the biggest challenge?

The salt stinging my eyes when the mask leaked a bit.

Where was your favourite snorkel spot?

Old Head had the most colourful water, Rosses Point had lots of crabs and we saw a tiny shark!

What new skill did you learn that you found most useful?

Putting toothpaste on a new mask to stop it fogging up.

What are you most proud of?

Snorkeling in the ocean for the first time and coping with waves and some current.

Do you want to go snorkeling again?

Yes!

Mike and I love the water and to be able to share this activity with our niece was brilliant. Ireland has a great system of established snorkel trails called The Blueway (https://diving.ie/blueway/).  These Blueway trails can be snorkeled or kayaked and are safe routes with maps and above water signage on the points of interest.  The west coast of Ireland really is a great place for some snorkel adventures!

For more information on water activities in Ireland check out: www.discoverireland.ie/things-to-do/on-the-water

CJ and Mike are dive instructors who have travelled all over the world pursuing their passion for the underwater world. CJ is a PADI MI and DSAT Trimix instructor with a degree in Conservation biology and ecology, who has been diving for 15 years. She loves looking for critters and pointing them out for Mike to photograph. Mike is a PADI MSDT who got back into diving in 2010. He enjoys practicing underwater photography and exploring new and exciting dive locales, occasionally with more than one tank. Follow more of their diving adventures at www.bimbleintheblue.com.

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Win copies of Action Camera Underwater Video Basics, a Paralenz Vaquita and more!

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Dived Up Publications, Paralenz and Scubaverse have come together to celebrate the October 2021 release of Scubaverse Editor-at-Large Jeff Goodman’s Action Camera Underwater Video Basics: The Essential Guide to Making Underwater Films.

Share better underwater videos with Jeff’s book and Paralenz Vaquita.

Win a copy of Jeff’s new book, as well as a selection of other great prizes including a Paralenz Vaquita camera, rash guard and water bottles, in the free to enter prize draw.

1st Prize

  • 1x Paralenz Vaquita (RRP £659)
  • 1x Action Camera Underwater Video Basics (RRP £20)

2nd Prize

  • 1 x Paralenz rash guard (RRP £59)
  • 1x Action Camera Underwater Video Basics

3rd Prize (5 available)

  • 1x Action Camera Underwater Video Basics
  • 1x Paralenz water bottle (RRP £8)

4th Prize (3 available)

  • 1x Action Camera Underwater Video Basics

Enter now for free at www.DivedUp.com/prize-draw

No purchase necessary. Internet access and email address required. Winners will be chosen at random. No cash or alternative prizes offered. Open to over-18s only. Other exclusions apply. Closing date 23 November 2021. Draw will be made within 7 days of closing. Winners will be notified by email. See website to enter, for full prize details and terms and conditions.

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Fiji’s borders to reopen on December 1st 2021

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The island paradise of Fiji will be open to visitors once again starting this December. After nearly two years of being closed to the outside world, Fiji is ready to safely welcome its travelers back. The 333 islands are as beautiful as ever, brimming with idyllic turquoise waters, soft white sand beaches, and the vibrant “Bula Spirit” for which Fiji is known.

“It’s been almost two years since we welcomed international visitors. And in these two years, we’ve struggled, we’ve adapted, and we’ve prepared,” said Hon. Faiyaz Koya, Minister for Tourism.

“Today, our national airline is ready, our hotels and tour providers are ready, and Fijians are ready to safely welcome the world back. We are ready to let happiness find you again.”

Fiji will still have entry requirements in place to ensure the utmost safety of both visitors and locals. These include being a fully vaccinated traveler from a “Travel Partner” country such as Australia, New Zealand, United States of America, United Kingdom, the United Arab Emirates, Canada, Qatar, Germany, Spain, France, the Republic of Korea, Singapore, Switzerland, Japan and most Pacific Island Countries and Territories.

Travelers from these countries will need to provide a negative PCR test taken less than 3 days prior to departure from home country and fulfil any obligation to take an additional test prior to returning back home, based on individual home country requirements. Unvaccinated children under the age of 18 will be able to travel to Fiji accompanied by a vaccinated adult. Travel insurance is, as always, highly recommended. For more information on country-specific travel requirements, please visit www.fiji.travel.

“We are ecstatic that Fiji will open its borders to international visitors before the end of the year,” says Tourism Fiji CEO Brent Hill.

“This is the moment we have been planning for nearly two years now and I can assure the world that Fiji is safe and ready to welcome you back. The islands are just as beautiful – if not more beautiful – than ever and the locals just as warm and friendly. Fiji is the vacation the world needs and deserves right now, and we can finally offer that again starting December.”

Tourism Fiji have been preparing for this moment. Travellers can book and travel in confidence with the Care Fiji Commitment, where they can stay in certified resorts, use certified transportation and experiences, and be assured that all tourism businesses they come in to contact with have a 100% vaccinated staff. Tourism Fiji started working on this programme when the pandemic first arrived in Fiji. Now they have over 206 CFC approved businesses, and over 320 nominated Wellness Ambassadors across Fiji.

Travellers can reserve their flights now at www.fijiairways.com. Check out diving and resort packages at Fiji’s leading Volivoli Beach Resort

Find out more about visiting Fiji at www.fiji.travel.

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Our special, extended, 14 night charter of MV Carpe Diem in the Maldives will visit some of our favourite sites in the central and near-south atolls. We will be spending 14 nights on-board, specifically because we want to travel and have time to enjoy the sites without rushing too much.

The boat will depart from Male on Saturday 23rd October and guests will disembark on Saturday 06th November. The route will incorporate our favourite manta points, shark diving points and spectacular coral reefs.

 

Please contact us for last minute prices on 01473921888 or email us at info@greatescapesdivingholidays.com

 

 

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