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My name is Carole, I have been diving for 18 years and I’ve been a PADI Instructor for 17 of them. Today I am the Technical Manager at Fantasea Divers, responsible for overseeing the dive operation and working with Chris Harding, who together with Ema Louis is a partner at Coral Hotel & Fantasea Dive Center, located 90km North of Sharm el Sheikh.

Like me, when asked what inspired them to start diving, many divers of my generation relate their thirst for the underwater realm to that of the legendary Jacques Cousteau, who in his time was a trailblazer and conservationist for the underwater world and its inhabitants.

When the time was right and an opportunity arose to realize one of my dreams, I learnt to dive. Little did I know, way back then, it was just the start of the journey I was to undertake after completing the PADI Open Water Course with James & Mac at Barracuda Dive Centre in Hurghada.

That said I was absolutely not prepared for the tedious & boring hours of theory we had to sit through in the classroom. I really wondered what the hell I was doing when out of the window all I could see were other tourists around the pool enjoying themselves knocking back the Stella……… but when the time came & we were jumping off a boat into the clear blue waters of the Red Sea I was instantly hooked – I loved it and could definitely see myself living this life.

In fact on my return home I joined a dive club called Dive Force Marine and started working my way through the PADI courses up to Instructor. I experienced the delights of the popular UK training sites such as Stoney Cove, Swanage & Gildenburgh to name but a few.  Every opportunity I got was spent under water. Within the year I was on my way to Malta with a bunch of other wannabe Instructors under the tutelage of PADI Course Director Gary Mawson and his entourage of IDC Staff.

Soon after I successfully passed the IDC IE, the company I was working for was relocating and I was given two options – I could continue with the rat race, or alternatively accept voluntary redundancy and a wad of cash; a no-brainer really! My dream was coming true and without hesitation I took the wad, tied up loose ends and flew back to Egypt, a place that has felt like home like no other.


I arrived in Dahab in March 1994 quite by chance. I originally went back to Hurghada to look for work, but it was their winter season and most places were fully staffed and wanted German speaking Instructors.  Having spent a couple of years in Germany with the army I only knew the most important phrases that mattered to me, ‘zwei bier bitte’,  ‘ein  kaffee bitte’ & my all time favorite used at Macdonalds in Paderborn, ‘keine zwiebel bitte’ – none of which was really going to get me far!

One evening, after consuming a large amount of the local brew in Peanuts bar in Hurghada, a plan was hatched to go to Sharm el Sheikh to look for work. Everything looks doable after a few bottles of the local brew!  However the boat trip from Hurghada to Sharm the next day was not something I had prepared myself for.

The stomach-churning  journey seemed to go on forever and the sea conditions only added to my discomfort.  I was secretly thinking we are all going to die and at some point had wanted to. It was hellish with no shade, no loo & no refreshments. I had not given any thought to bringing water with me to offset the dehydration effects caused by the previous evening’s happy hour and I certainly wasn’t happy at that moment in time.  Lesson’s 1 & 2 learned there and then! On arrival to Sharm I had had enough of it immediately and was talked into a taxi headed for some place called Dahab.

On arrival I honestly thought my new friends had stitched me up. I was shocked at the basic surroundings, unfamiliar food (turned out to be the best diet ever), funny smelling smoke that wafted out of the beach restaurants  (I use the term ‘restaurants’ loosely there) and the communal feel of Dahab. I spent the first week sleeping in my wooly bear as the camp rooms did not provide any bedding and I didn’t know that Egypt like anywhere else, as it turns out,  was really rather cold in the winter (I’m ex-army & a city girl at heart and had never travelled that far out of my comfort zone in those days – and yes, I roughed it whilst in the army on occasion, but at least they fed you & gave you a blanket and a pillow).

I got over my initial thought process of “What the bloody hell am I doing here” and knew I had to make the best of it. I had sold my home, most of my worldly possessions & against the advice of my family & friends said goodbye to everything that was familiar to me, so I got on with it and set about looking for work.

Dahab back then was a small fishing village populated mainly by the Bedouin and had only 8 Dive Centers, and it was a backpacker haven. The attraction for divers of course was not what was on the surface (stoneheads & hippies may beg to differ), but what awaited you underwater.

Even though I was a new Instructor, I had worked hard to become an experienced diver, so after a short interview I made my teaching debut at Adventure Dive Club, uniquely run by three Egyptian sisters who had a passion for diving & business. This Dive Center was situated next door to the well established Fantasea Divers, owned by my now good friend Chris Harding, it was there I met Ema who was working on the Dive Counter at the time and who was to become a lifelong friend. Both Dive Centers were located conveniently in front of the Lighthouse Reef, in a time when there was no restriction on how close the buildings could be to the sea.

When it came down to it camp life did not suit me at all and as luck would have it a couple of Instructors from Fantasea were leaving  and I ended up renting their house on the beach within a compound owned by a Dutch Instructor, who at the time was the Manager at Fantasea Divers. Life was looking good.


For the next nine months the Lighthouse became my home and I got to know it extremely well. I taught so many Open Water & Advanced Courses back to back, mainly to backpackers of all nationalities. South Africans, Aussies & Kiwis were a dream to teach; they were born to be in the water. Spending so much time at the Lighthouse working gave me the passion to want to dive and explore all the other dive sites in Dahab during my precious leisure time.

So let me tell you about my beloved Lighthouse Reef. Firstly it is called the Lighthouse because during the Israeli occupation there was an actual Lighthouse structure there; after they left it was re-located further up the beach, and if you know where to look you can just about see the top of it as it reaches above the date palms that now surround it.

The Lighthouse Reef is as diverse as it is beautiful, as it offers many shallow & deep dives both to the North & South. Even though Dahab is renowned for its wind, one can dive at the Lighthouse reef at almost any time of the year, day or night, because of its sheltered position.

The Lighthouse dive site is suitable for beginners, experienced & more recently Technical Divers alike. The easy entry & exit hosts a gentle sloping bottom that leads to a subtle drop off. The first shelf is perfect for confined water and other training dives. Around the inner reef heading North you will find large coral pinnacles that loom from the sandy bottom @ 10m – 18m absolutely teaming with marine life. As one travels along the reef, large bright green cabbage corals can be seen sprouting from the seabed. An overhang juts out, which houses a bright a red sponge and a delicate fan coral, which is an absolute favourite hangout for Crocodile Fish & Blue Spotted Rays. Passing this, there are a couple of dead pinnacles to the left & right, leading to a saddle,   which is best crossed at 16m. This area is rich in flora and fauna and looking carefully stone & scorpion fish can be identified blending in with their surroundings, ready to pounce on their prey. Napoleon fish and a Turtle can also sometimes be seen here. If there is a current present it feels like you’re flying over the saddle; coming back however requires some effort and good buoyancy control.

The deep dive to 30m is usually made on the outer East facing reef. By following the sloping bottom to the outer reef there is a sprawling mass of large coral pinnacles rich in marine life. One of the pinnacles has a little cave in it that you can easily sit in and watch the blue for passing Pelagic, including Mantas & Eagle Rays. Some people get a bit twitchy at the mention of sharks! Swim further on and you come to the bottom of the saddle where at 27m a large gorgonian fan coral can be found, however due to a very bad storm a few years ago it fell over. Efforts were made to re-position it. It is still there but no longer upright & majestic as it should be.





The Southern dives, deep or shallow, offer some of the most fascinating sightings of marine life you can imagine. These dives offer the same gentle sloping descent. There are a mass of manmade terracotta pots that have been sunk at 16m to deliberately add interest to the vast sandy bottom, which encourage coral to grow & marine life such as moray eels & octopus to inhabit. The sea grass that is prevalent in that area has recently seen a sea horse population boom, and it is not unusual to see turtles grazing there, or ghost pipe fish milling around. At 9m just past the confined area there used to be the remnants of an old jeep, encrusted with coral which was a haven for lion & stonefish,  although sadly over the years this little gem has all but disintegrated, and only the chassis remains.

At 12m there is training area complete with varying sizes of triangles to help perfect buoyancy control. Further along you come to Banner Fish Bay, so named because of the masses of the like-named fish that hang there above the small coral blocks. Swimming at a right angle from this spot to about 30m you can find a large sandy ridge running East; this ridge was caused by a huge storm when its waters rushed down from the mountains and swept a few shops and a dive center into the sea. One of the shop’s that was swept away was a jewelers and legend has it that it’s gold lies there somewhere. Many years ago I was blessed to see two guitar sharks resting on the bottom there.

After leaving Adventure Dive Club it was time to dive with the big boys at Nesima, then a 5 Star IDC Center,   where I would put my knowledge & experience of the Lighthouse and other dive sites around Dahab to good use and make new friends for life.

Today Dahab has changed enormously from when I first arrived here. There are now over 50 Dive Centers along the coastline of Dahab. The Bedouin & Egyptian now work side by side, and there are good restaurants offering everything from Italian to Sushi. The infrastructure built over the last ten years provides a more comfortable lifestyle. There are still a few camps left and back packers still come, but not in the numbers that they used to. These days most tourists prefer a package holiday as more and more families are venturing here & taking the plunge at the Lighthouse.

Don’t just dream it, Do it! Has always been my mantra. The risks one takes to achieve the dreams held dear can pay off if you can take the rough with the smooth, and don’t  get bent out of shape should the internet go down for more than an hour! There’s always the Lighthouse Reef.

The Lighthouse Reef holds many good memories for me and to this day I still love to dive there, given any opportunity.

Carole Tansley is a PADI Open Water SCUBA Instructor and the Technical Manager of Dive Operations at Fantasea Red Sea in Dahab, Egypt. To find out more about Fantasea Red Sea, visit


Join Murex Resorts in North Sulawesi and embark on a Passport to Paradise!



Are you planning your next tropical diving holiday? With literally the world at your feet and so many different types of diving to choose from it can be tough deciding where to go…

The Indonesian province of North Sulawesi lies in the heart of a marine rich region and offers incredible wall diving in the Bunaken Marine Park: wreck, critters and reef combinations in Manado Bay; colorful coral reefs surrounding Bangka island; and the world’s best muck diving in the Lembeh Strait. So how do you begin to choose which region to allocate your holiday time to?

Whilst many divers have heard of these world class diving destinations, many may not realize the close proximity within which they are located. Taking a scuba diving holiday in North Sulawesi does not mean that you have to choose between locations – you can see all that is on offer and explore the areas which appeal to you – IN ONE TRIP!!!

Bunaken Marine Park was one of the first Marine Protected Areas in Indonesia – and it shows! The dive sites around this small island are characterized by staggering coral walls which are teeming with life. The resident population of green sea turtles has grown from strength to strength and at some dive sites you’ll lose count of the number of turtles you see in a single dive.

North Sulawesi, Nord Sulawesi, Celebes Sea, Murex Manado

Manado Bay is home to wide ranging marine life and diverse dive sites. Manado Bay is becoming increasingly recognized for its black sand, muck diving sites, which are home to a plethora of unusual critters from numerous cephalopod species through to seahorses, nudibranch and crustaceans. The Molas wreck is an exciting wreck dive and also offers a myriad of fish and critters. To the South of Manado Bay lays Poopoh – a record breaking site where 385 different species of fish were recorded in just one morning.

Bangka Island is as beautiful underwater as it is on land. This white sand, paradise island is surrounded by kaleidoscopic, soft coral reefs. Schooling snappers, passing reef sharks, occasional dugongs and an array of reef fish and critters have all made Bangka Island their home. Bangka offers phenomenal diving coupled with the chance to completely get off the grid on this stunning, remote tropical island.

The Lembeh Strait is home to the highest concentration of rare and unusual marine life on Earth. Exploring Lembeh’s world famous muck diving sites is akin to opening a treasure chest of critters. Even the most seasoned of divers can’t help but be impressed by the species found here: eight different species of frogfish, flamboyant cuttlefish, wunderpus, mimic octopus, blue ring octopus, bobtail squids, harlequin shrimps, tiger shrimps, three species of pygmy seahorses, countless species of nudibranch, bobbit worms, Ambon scorpionfish and rhinopias – just to name but a few!

The idea of moving from resort to resort can seem arduous and result in wasted diving days – but in North Sulawesi this does not need to be the case! Stay with us at Murex Manado (for diving Bunaken and Manado), and smoothly transition to Murex Bangka and then on to Lembeh Resort too. You can choose the number of nights you wish to stay in each location and transfers between resorts are by boat and include two dives along the way! No wasted diving days, no logistical planning, no drying and packing gear and your dive guide will stay with you from start to finish. Dive your way, hassle free, from one place to the next. Two resort combinations are also available.

For those of you who want to experience the full diversity of Indonesia, choose from up to 150 dive sites and maximize your diving opportunities – a Passport to Paradise is the dive trip of a lifetime.

For more information or for enquiries:

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A Flying Visit to Nusa Penida, Bali



Once I’d organised my 6 day/5 night Jurassic Komodo trip, I knew, if I was going to travel all that way, I needed a bit more time to acclimatise and explore. With flying through Bali a popular route from the UK to Labuan Bajo, it made complete sense to spend a couple of days there before flying out. What better way to get the trip started than revisiting where my underwater photography journey started back in 2013 and diving around Nusa Penida? The opportunity came up to spend 2 nights with an amazing little dive resort on Nusa Penida Island called Pure Dive Resort, and it was the perfect start to my trip.

Pure Dive Resort was created in January 2019 after the owners sold their share in a dive resort they built on Ceningan, and has been operational since 1st May 2019. Pure Dive Resort has big plans to create a full-scale dive resort offering quality diving on Nusa Penida. Unfortunately, the Covid outbreak caused delays, and at the moment only the dive centre is operating. However, while I was there, you can see work is in full effect and the place is already looking amazing. After speaking to the owner Ark and the ambition he has for the place, it’s clear that Pure will be a sought-after resort on the island; a place focused on high service and safety standards, while concentrating on keeping it personal for each and every guest.

While the plans for the resort proceed, Pure Dive Resort are using Ring Sameton Hotel for their dive and stay packages, just a 2-minute stroll from the dive centre. Pure Dive Resort are running 2 custom built dive boats, each capable of taking up to 14 divers (including guides) onboard. I for one was very impressed with the dive boat and how spacious and comfortable it was, especially as ‘Manta Point’ is quite a ride away and it can be a little choppy; however, on this occasion the journey was a super comfortable and a fun ride out. The boats are equipped with marine radios, 2×100 4 stroke engines, emergency O2 and life jackets, keeping safety paramount. Not only is Pure Dive Resort a well-equipped dive centre, it also has a freediving school, and they use their own custom-built boat with the capacity of a maximum of 10 freedivers onboard.

While I was impressed with the professionalism and facilities of Pure Dive Resort, it was the equipment for hire and the capabilities of the centre which really stood out. As I was flying to Labuan Bajo late the next day, and I was only scheduled for 3 dives, I was reluctant to use my own dive gear for fear of drying time. I requested a wetsuit and BCD and was really impressed with the quality on offer. Almost brand new ScubaPro equipment is available, and you can see it is well looked after and kept in perfect order in a dry room at the back of the centre. So, after the formalities were over, it was time to get familiar with diving in Nusa Penida once again. Our first dive was scheduled for ‘Manta Point’, easily the most famous/popular dive site of Nusa Penida. I was really looking forward to getting back to a dive site that was the catalyst for me becoming an underwater photographer 10 years ago. The journey to ‘Manta Point’ is an adventure in itself, and just adds to the experience. The rough and ready coastline of dramatic cliffs, pounded by a lively sea, leave you in awe, as the rising sun breaks over the top of the island, creating dramatic rays of light through the spray and mist. The boat skips along the surface, with the excitement building over every swell.

After around a 45-minute journey, we arrived at ‘Manta Point’ earlier than a lot of the other boats that were heading there, thanks to Pure Dive Resort working to create the best experience for their guests and aiming to beat the crowds. Ark was my dive guide for the dive and one other diver would join us. After a thorough dive briefing, where you could tell Ark was very knowledgeable about the area, dive site and mantas, we dropped in and were soon graced by the presence of a black-morph manta ray. Honestly, it couldn’t have been much more than 2 minutes into the dive and the manta went gliding over my head. What a start! Two more manta rays were seen during the dive, but they didn’t seem to want to stay around. That’s wildlife for you; you can’t guarantee the manta rays will circle above you for the whole dive. We still got guaranteed manta rays and saw three, along with a fever of blue spotted stingrays all huddled together on the reef floor. A great start to my trip, and seeing a manta ray within 2 minutes of entering the water is pretty incredible.

Our manta fix wasn’t quite finished though. While we headed back along Nusa Penida to our next dive site, we stopped at a known manta feeding spot for juveniles. It’s an area where a lot of the snorkelling boats go to experience manta rays, and sure enough, we could see a lot of activity in the bay. Ark made the decision to take us over and see what kind of action was happening. It wasn’t long before we spotted a large black shape breaking the surface, and Ark asked if we’d like to jump in and snorkel. It was a unanimous decision and we were dropped in the path of the manta ray. More incredible manta moments were had, as it passed by circling the bay area as it fed. I managed to grab some cool shots showing the contrast of the top of the manta to the seafloor. Nusa Penida really is a unique place and great for manta ray interactions.

After a brief snorkel, we were soon back on the boat skipping across the surface to our next port of call located on the North West side of Nusa Penida. Our next dive site of choice was ‘Pura Ped’, a sloping hill reaching down from the surface creating a gradual descent broken up with stunning hard and soft coral spread throughout the site. The visibility was just amazing, and while Ark kept an eye on the depths in the hope of seeing Mola Mola, I concentrated on the reef and marvelled at the amazing coral on show. While we had no luck with Mola Mola, Titan triggerfish, huge pufferfish and three hawksbill turtles kept me entertained throughout a thoroughly peaceful dive.

Before I descended for my third dive of the day. We ventured back to the dive centre and enjoyed an incredibly tasty lunch, included with a dive day package. The Soto Ayam in the restaurant opposite the dive centre was bursting with flavour and well needed after two great dives.

My third dive was to concentrate on some macro critters that call Nusa Penida home, and Intan was highly recommended to be my guide. Intan had a big reputation with the other guides who said she was incredible at finding the small stuff. I wasn’t originally planning on doing any macro, so it was lucky that my room wasn’t far, and I rushed back to change my lens. The dive site also wasn’t far, as we made a short journey out to ‘SD Point’. I’m so glad I switched to macro and could witness and document the diversity of diving here. Intan’s reputation was well deserved, as she continually pointed out some amazing critters, with leaf scorpionfish, peacock mantis shrimp, scorpionfish, nudibranch, porcelain crab and more spotted throughout another amazing dive.

My trip to Nusa Penida with Pure Dive Resort was short and sweet, and left me wanting a lot more. A day of diving was nowhere near enough that’s for sure, with Ark confident he can find Mola Mola within a few days during the high season of August and September. I feel a trip must be planned for that time next year to explore so much more that this area has to offer. I feel I also missed out on exploring more of the island and its rugged beauty. A trip across to Kelingking Beach is a must next time (even though it is the quintessential tourist view of Bali). While I enjoyed meals at Penida Minang and Penida Colada, a week of culinary exploration is also much needed while I take in the sites. The only question I have now is – ‘Who’s joining me and Pure Dive Resort for an amazing week in Nusa Penida?’

For more information about diving in Nusa Penida:

Whatsapp: +62 811 3999 852

Sean Chinn Instagram: @greatwhitesean 


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