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Why diving Cocos should be at the top of your bucket list!

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Missed part one of Sean’s blog on his trip to Cocos Island? You can read it here.

You ever expected so much from a place that you’ve then been left disappointed once you’ve finally had the opportunity to visit? Well, thankfully that didn’t happen with my visit to Cocos Island. Back in 2009 my friend was encouraging me to take up diving and showed me videos of his trip to Cocos to entice me. Ever since then and the start of my diving life, Cocos has been top of my dive bucket list. A lot of my expectations were alleviated slightly as a lot of his videos were the crazy whitetip reef shark night dives that are unfortunately not permitted anymore. However, I was still expecting a lot from a place that had an incredible reputation. Thankfully it lived up to that reputation and more.

The island itself had already won my heart on arrival. One of the most beautiful places I’ve ever laid my eyes on. Lush green rainforest broken up by cascading waterfalls drawing you down to a rugged beautiful coastline. It really is paradise on earth. Then I finally hit the water and quickly realised paradise continued beneath the waves. The checkout dive was a sure sign of things to come and a great entry into life diving at Cocos Island. A nice calm shallow dive at Chatham Bay but with lots of life to see and many whitetip reef sharks that weren’t as skittish as other places I’ve dived with them. Such a fun relaxing dive and then there it was!! My first Cocos scalloped hammerhead. Hang on, this is only the first dive and I’m only at around 7 metres or so. I really wasn’t expecting this, as thought I’d only see them at the deep cleaning station sites. It gave me a real buzz for the diving week ahead.

Sure enough the next dive at Manuelita Outside was really what diving at Cocos Island is all about. Hammers, hammers and more hammers!! Scalloped hammerheads were everywhere at the three cleaning stations along the wall with action pretty much starting as soon as we hit the water. While we perched up along the wall and looked on over the cleaning stations we watched as some would come in to be cleaned while groups patrolled the blue outside. What a fascinating spectacle to witness and it was only dive 2!!

The worry after such a crazy fantastic second dive was the expectations for the rest of the week. Was this a sign of things to come? Or were we to be left disappointed if we didn’t get another dive like that again? Luckily it was a great sign as the diving continued to deliver dive after dive through the week. I think I can only recall about 1 or 2 dives out of 21 where I didn’t see a hammerhead. They were prevalent throughout the week even making regular appearances on the more relaxed shallower third dives of the day.

Dirty Rock and Manuelita Coral Garden were my favourite dives of the trip and continually delivered for hammerhead action. What you learn when diving in Cocos is that if a dive site is hitting early, then it’s good to dive that site on more than one occasion. These two sites were on fire and delivered dive after dive. Not only were the hammerheads in abundance and made close passes. We also hit big moments at both sites that have gave me some of the best dives I’ve had in my life. In fact, one of the other guests I was diving with has been to Cocos 19 times and on one particular dive we had at Dirty Rock she said it was the best dive she has ever done there. I’d hit the jackpot on only my first visit to the island.

The dive started deep with numerous hammerheads at a cleaning station around 30 metres deep where I got one of my closest hammerhead passes. Hammerhead cleaning stations are typical of Cocos, whereas what happened next was completely unique and was the reason we all came up from the dive buzzing. As we shallowed up, we made our way around the rock to the other side and was greeted by BIG circling Galapagos sharks at around 16 metres. This was a completely natural encounter with no bait used as they swam past within touching distance at times. Juan Manuel has been a dive guide in Cocos nearly 20 years and had never seen anything like this before with Galapagos sharks. Such an incredible natural experience where my only problem was I couldn’t stay longer due to deco time and air consumption. I could have stayed there for hours with them circling between the group.

Close interactions with an eagle ray at Dirty Rock and the amazing school of bigeye trevally that we encountered on 3 of the 4 dives there added to the lure of this site. While Manuelita Coral Garden was a more relaxed shallow dive where around 20 metres was the max depth I reached. It was still equally exciting and gave me two of my most memorable moments. On one dive I had moved away from the group slightly watching the hammerheads circle around the reef through the cleaning stations. I then had a look over my shoulder and was surprised by a juvenile whale shark bolting along the reef at around 5 metres. It didn’t stay for long but was such an exciting moment as it was completely unexpected. That moment was joined by seeing mating whitetip reef sharks on one of the dives there. Another completely natural occurrence that left the whole group buzzing with excitement.

While we hit big at these particular sites, the rest of the diving we did around the island had its moments and delivered amazing dives throughout the week. I’m a sucker for a critter and in particular octopus and frogfish are some of my favourites. Seeing both these on what is a popular big animal destination adds to the appeal of a trip to Cocos Island. We also got lucky and got to see the elusive Cocos batfish that is endemic to this area, a really interesting and comical looking critter with its big red lips. The schools of snapper (particularly blue-and-gold snapper) and soldierfish were in abundance on most dives with the swim-through and caves at Submerged Rock creating memorable moments with them and the whitetip reef sharks. Marbled rays were always fun to see and friendly at times.

Overall, what an incredible dive trip to return to after a forced Covid break over the last year and a half. When expectations are so high but can still be exceeded you know you’re in a special place. From the first minute to the last, the dives continued to deliver and we were even given a parting gift on the very last moments of the very last dive. A huge school of bigeye trevally rose from the sandy bottom of Manuelita Coral Garden and engulfed the group, staying with us for our safety stop as if to ensure we have a reason to return. Something I would rush to do in a heartbeat.

More information

www.underseahunter.com

www.visitcostarica.com/en


Find out more about Sean, his photography and his hosted trips at: www.greatwhitesean.com

Sean Chinn’s scuba diving adventure started in a freezing cold quarry back in January 2011. Maybe the reason he wasn't instantly hooked! However, after an amazing trip to Indonesia in 2013, he realised he needed to see more of the underwater world. With no photography background, he enlisted some help in developing both his diving and photo skills. This kickstarted his diving and underwater photography adventure which has become something of an addiction. Seeing and photographing wildlife is Sean’s real passion in diving but he is always keen to try new ideas.

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Tourism Fiji celebrates Open for Happiness Campaign (Watch Trailer)

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As international borders reopen to the world this week, Tourism Fiji launched the first video piece in it’s Open for Happiness campaign. The team celebrated this at an event at Wyndham Resort Denarau Island, where they unveiled some of the content to crew who worked on the production as well as tourism stakeholders.

Tourism Fiji is delighted to partner with award-winning actress, comedian and producer, Rebel Wilson, the new Ambassador of our global reopening campaign.

Ms. Wilson has fond memories of visiting Fiji as a child and returned to share her love of a destination that offers so much to visitors and is largely vaccinated.

She was joined by a talented pool of Fijian cast and crew to shoot Tourism Fiji’s Open for Happiness campaign in the Mamanuca Islands, where she also sampled a range of experiences.

“Rebel is a talented actress and demonstrates a unique ability to bring her own style of heartfelt humour to the ad that Tourism Fiji is creating,” said Brent Hill, CEO of Tourism Fiji.

“We’re delighted to have her as an ambassador who resonates with Fiji and our key tourist markets; Australia, North America, New Zealand and Europe.”

Rebel hiked, did yoga, stand up paddleboarding, scenic helicopter tour, spa treatment, cocktails and visited a popular sandbar.  She was seen stepping out in some local designer wear from Samson Lee and Zuber and enjoyed the hospitality of Vomo Island Fiji.

Her destination highlights of Fiji were shared with her fanbase, including 10.3 million followers on social media platform Instagram, and helped amplify Fiji’s allure as a holiday destination that has now safely reopened to international travellers on December 1st.

Filmed in Fiji over the course of last month, the campaign is the result of the collaborative work of several local partners including activity providers, talented singers, entertainers, videographers, local actors, and extras on set.

“This campaign would not have been possible without the support of our industry stakeholders, and we’re pleased to showcase a global star such as Rebel and the talent of local cast and crew,” said Brent Hill, CEO of Tourism Fiji.

Rebel also enjoyed a sunset cruise featuring a live performance by talented local artist, Apakuki “Kuki” Nalawa and shared snippets across her Instagram, Facebook and Twitter channels.

“With all that’s happened over the last two years, tourism has been badly affected and the entertainment industry has been hit hard by this as well, – the live performance was an eye-opener, a breath of fresh air and gave us all hope that things will get better,” Mr Nalawa said.

“It’s so encouraging to witness a Hollywood actress and her media team enjoying not only the beauty that our country has to offer but also recognising the level of talent we have.”

Tourism Fiji’s Open for Happiness campaign with Rebel will be used into 2022. Further video clips will launch over the coming weeks.

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Announcing the Winners of the DPG/Wetpixel Masters Underwater Imaging Competition 2021

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DivePhotoGuide (DPG) and Wetpixel are proud to announce the winning images and videos in the 2021 edition of the DPG/Wetpixel Masters Underwater Imaging Competition. Once again, hundreds of photographers and filmmakers from dozens of countries competed in what has become known as the “World Championship” of international underwater imaging events.

Created by DPG and Wetpixel, two of the largest online resources for underwater shooters, the competition invited submissions to five image categories and a video category, with entries evaluated by a panel of illustrious industry experts and award-winning photographers: Florian Fischer, Imran Ahmad, Jennifer Hayes, Mike Bartick and Stephen Frink.

This year, Martin Broen received the “Best of Show” prize for his 1st place in the Black and White category. The image, a jaw-dropping capture of the pristine stalactites and stalagmites in a Mexican cenote, earned Martin the top cash prize of $1,000. The 1st place winners in the other categories were Julian Hsu (Macro Traditional), Sander van der Heijden (Macro Unrestricted), Enrico Somogyi (Wide Angle Traditional), Tom Shlesinger (Wide Angle Unrestricted) and Alex del Olmo (Video); each of them received a cash prize of $250.

In a joint statement, DPG Editor-in-Chief Joseph Tepper and Wetpixel Publisher Adam Hanlon said: “Once again, the DPG/Wetpixel Masters competition has demonstrated the incredible talent that exists in our community of underwater shooters. As many of us continue to face lockdowns and travel restrictions, these photos and films remind us of the riches under the sea and why we must maintain our collective passion to protect the oceans we love.”

The organizers are pleased to announce that 15 percent of entry proceeds will once again be donated to marine conservation efforts.

You can see the full results here.

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Egypt | Safaga, Brothers & Elphinstone | 27 January – 04 February 2022 | Emperor Elite

Jump on board this famous Red Sea liveaboard and enjoy diving the famous wrecks of the Red Sea with this fantastic special offer.  Emperor Elite offers a contemporary living space combined with the best itineraries available in the Red Sea.

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  • Flights from London 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

Booking deadline: Subject to availability.

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

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