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New destination from Diverse Travel: Dominica

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UK-based dive holiday experts Diverse Travel have added Dominica to their programme.

The spectacularly beautiful island of Dominica is one of the best-kept secrets in the Caribbean. Popularly known as the Nature Island, Dominica offers a tantalising combination of lush rainforest, towering peaks, and a choice of glistening waterfall or meandering river for every day of the year.

The landscape of Dominica has been honed by centuries of volcanic activity making for truly dramatic scenery above and below water. Majestic mountains disappear into the blue to form deep ocean trenches that are home to marine mammals such as numerous dolphins and over 20 species of whale, including the Sperm Whales for which the island is renowned for. Divers will find much fascinating topography to explore here: pristine reefs, drop-offs and walls sit alongside pinnacles, caves, swim throughs and volcanic thermal springs that form underwater bubble baths for divers and snorkellers.

Dominica is one of those rare destinations where scuba divers will want to spend as much time topside as underwater. This unspoilt nature lover’s paradise is a haven for sustainable and eco-tourism. There are plenty of natural wonders to explore – everything from the Caribbean’s longest hiking trail, to exciting river adventures, the World Heritage Site of the Morne Trois Pitons National Park and, of course, whale watching or for the ultimate wildlife adventure, swimming with Sperm Whales.

A holiday to Dominica offers the opportunity to experience one of the world’s top marine life encounters. This island holds many treasures, but none is more spectacular than the chance to swim with resident Sperm Whales in the crystal clear warm waters of the Caribbean Sea. This very special opportunity is subject to strict controls and limited permits each year. Visitors are hosted on private catamaran trips of just six people (three in the water), giving the unique opportunity to swim and snorkel with these magnificent creatures, as well as observe fascinating natural behaviour, and learn more about research and conservation from the expert knowledge of private guides.

Diverse Travel dive holidays to Dominica start from £1895pp (based on June 2022) and include return flights London to Dominica via Barbados with 23kgs baggage, 7 nights in an Ocean Front room at the island’s historic Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort in Roseau (room only meal plan), 5 days of 2-tank boat dives with guide, tank & weights, and airport transfers in Dominica. Packages are also available at Hotel The Champs, and The Cabrits Resort & Spa Kempinski in the north of the island.

Limited spaces are available on Diverse Travel’s exclusive special trips to swim with Sperm Whales. 2021 trips are from 27 November – 4 December and 4 December – 11 December 2021. A week’s package combining swimming with whales, scuba diving and land tours starts from £4125pp to include return flights London to Dominica via Barbados with 23kgs baggage, 7 nights in an Ocean Front room at the island’s historic Fort Young Hotel & Dive Resort in Roseau (bed & breakfast meal plan) 3 days guided swimming with Sperm Whales on a private catamaran inclusive of permits and license, 3 days 2-tank boat dives with guide, tank & weights, three land tours, and airport transfers in Dominica. A week’s package with 6 days swimming with Sperm Whales is also available from £4850pp.

Discover more about diving in Dominica and swimming with Sperm Whales in the Diverse Travel destination guide on their website at www.diversetravel.co.uk/diving-holiday-destinations/dominica-diving-holidays/ and www.diversetravel.co.uk/swimming-with-sperm-whales-in-dominica/

With over 50 years’ experience of dive travel, dive centre and resort management the expert Diverse Travel team has the experience to deliver memorable holidays that benefit from full financial ATOL and TTA protection.

For more information visit www.diversetravel.co.uk, call 01473 852002, or email info@diversetravel.co.uk.

Lead image: Franco Banfi / Avalon

Freediving Blogs

British freediver sets new national record with 112m dive

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British freediver Gary McGrath has set a new national record at the prestigious Vertical Blue freediving competition in the Bahamas.

Using only a monofin for propulsion, Gary swam down a measured rope to a depth of 112m (367ft), returning to the surface to receive a white card from the AIDA International judges to validate his dive.

Gary, 41, held his breath for three minutes and 13 seconds to complete the dive.

Freedivers descend underwater on a single breath of air and the atmospheric pressure on their bodies increases as they go deeper.

At 112m deep the pressure is 12 times greater than the surface, meaning the air in Gary’s lungs would have shrunk to less than a twelfth of its original volume – around the size of a golf ball.

Freedivers train to cope with the physiological strains placed on their bodies by their sport, and Gary uses his background of yoga and meditation to help his physical and mental preparation for deep dives.

He has also had to overcome physical challenges after contracting Covid last year during preparations for a previous national record attempt.

Gary said: ‘Diving below 100m is a totally unique environment, it’s my therapy. 

‘This year has been extremely challenging for my mental health and freediving has helped me overcome that for sure. 

‘At depth I have complete isolation from the everyday world we live in. Down there it’s just me and nature. It’s that escape that all freedivers crave. 

‘There are moments of extreme mental clarity and purity that I can only achieve when underwater. The flow state that a deep dive allows me to experience is unique and addictive.

Gary, originally from Twickenham, began freediving in 2006 and has been competing since 2008.

A former tree surgeon, he became a professional freedive instructor in 2014, and he and his partner Lynne Paddon run Yoga and Freedive Retreats in Ibiza.

Remarkably, he completed his 112m national record dive on Tuesday (August 9) despite being forced to compete wearing a borrowed monofin which was a size too small for his feet.

His entire kit bag containing his monofin, bifins and two wetsuits was lost by an airline as he travelled to the competition.

Despite his careful preparation, Gary said he suffered nerves on the morning of his national record dive, and relied on a phone call to his partner Lynne, who helped him focus on breathing techniques and visualisation to calm his nerves.

Speaking immediately after his dive, he said: ‘That was all for Lynne – this whole week has been about her. I could not do it without her. I hope that everyone finds someone they can click with, it’s the most magical thing in the world.’

Gary also thanked supporters who helped him to crowdfund to raise the money needed for him to travel to the Bahamas and compete.

Vertical Blue is considered one of the most elite events on the freediving calendar and has been dubbed the ‘Wimbledon of Freediving’.

Owned and run by world record freediver William Trubridge, the event takes place in a 202m (663ft) deep sinkhole known as Dean’s Blue Hole, off the coast of Long Island.

The previous British national record of 111m was set by Michael Board in 2018, also at a Vertical Blue competition.


All Photographs courtesy of Daan Verhoeven (www.daanverhoeven.com)

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Miscellaneous Blogs

Film Review: Thirteen Lives

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Ron Howard’s recreation of the 2018 rescue of a Thai junior football team is impressive. Even though we know what happens in the end the tension and drama played out is palpable.

On 23 June 2018, 12 members of a Thai junior football team, the Wild Boars, and their coach became trapped deep in the Tham Luang cave system by rising flood water. The film details the incredible international rescue efforts that ensue. And Ron Howard has judged the tone perfectly. There is no Hollywood glitz and glamour and the two leading actors: Colin Farrell and Viggo Mortensen, who play John Volanthen and Rick Stanton respectively, capture the intensity of the situation perfectly.

The diving scenes are claustrophobic in the extreme. Although I suspect that the visibility was even worse than the film depicts as you have to be able to see something in the dramatization! All the way through the film I found myself shaking my head in disbelief at the extraordinary feat these divers pulled off. The skill and bravery required still impresses after watching films, hearing them speak in public and reading about the rescue.

I loved that, whilst the divers took centre stage in the film, the heroic rescue efforts of the water engineer and his team was also given the attention they deserve, as well as the incredible Thai Navy Seals and the thousands of people that flocked to the region to help.

Thirteen Lives is a must watch movie about an incredible cave rescue. It’s sober tone hits the mark. The cinematography is skilled and creates an impressively tense experience. It is available on Amazon Prime right now.

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Save up to 1/3 off a trip to Indonesia! Your chance to dive Bali, Komodo and Raja Ampat aboard the NEW luxury MY Emperor Harmoni for less! Launching in September 2022. Emperor Harmoni is Emperor Divers Indonesia’s brand new liveaboard. Built of Sulawesi Ironwood and offering a truly new experience to liveaboard holidays, experience a true sense of sailing the Indonesian seas in freedom, style, comfort and confidence with her two engines. Enjoy spacious diving and relaxation areas or relax with a massage on deck. Example price based on Bali departure to Komodo WAS £2900 / NOW from just £1995* per person based on sharing a twin luxury cabin including: 1 night in Bali before the boat departure with airport transfers One way flight from Labuan Bajo to Bali after the liveaboard with 20kgs baggage 7 nights onboard MY Emperor Harmoni with 3 meals a day, afternoon snacks, unlimited drinking water, tea & coffee All diving with guide, cylinders & weights, Marine Park & Port Fees Free Nitrox 1 cocktail party on a local island (weather allowing) Return airport transfers * Price excludes international flights, these can be quoted at the time of reservation Booking deadline: Subject to availability. Other Dates available - book before 30 September! Call Diverse Travel on 01473 852002 or email info@diversetravel.co.uk. More Less

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