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Point Break

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Question for you divers out there. As things heal up I will begin to dive again. Having dove most of the caribbean, and most of the southern pacific coast, along with the Yucatan area, I am interested in some new horizons. I'm not especially enamored of cold water diving so I think the pacific northwest is out. A liveaboard in the Galapagos is already on the list. Turning an eye toward to the south pacific and asia, what say you all? I can read the industry magazines, web sites etc. but am looking for true experiences to help sort through the fluffy advertisements. Muck diving in the PI? Thailand? Liveaboards or land based resorts are fine although the resort is much less important than the diving. Although I'd never deliberately seek spartan conditions, I'm just not opposed to them. While I'm certainly no Bear Grylls, I am equally at home in both those environments.

BTW - my ongoing interest is in UW photography and perhaps branching into UW videography one day, so the suggestions should be camera friendly.

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Did some diving on the west coast of Costa Rica with these guys a couple years ago. https://www.scuba-dive-costa-rica.com/  had a blast. I hadn’t been diving in about ten years.   And they eased me back into the game very nicely. My first pacific dive.  

Done curacao, st Lucia,  and quite a few of the tourist traps in the carrib and Florida 

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Palau (Sam’s Tours). Wrecks, sharks, caves, holes, all the big and little fish, corals. Perfect pristine conditions. Civilized and easy to fly to. The famous indonesian spots Raja Ampat and Sulawesi are great too.

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No.1 on your list should be the Red Sea. Some of the most amazing reefs, incredible wrecks and an almost unbeatable mix of wildlife. You can do it cheap staying in diver dedicated hotels/ hostels out of Sharm and Dahab, or you can do 3* - 6* liveaboards. 

Our last trip was only available to V. experienced divers (>250 dives, >Dive master). We spent most of the week hanging at 30 metres in the big blue with fucking big pelagic sharks. Got very close to some monster hammerheads and white tips. Which was great fun but a little boring after dive six or seven. The highlight of that trip was our last on the way back,  max depth 10 metres, 1 1/2 dive: manatees, turtles, octopus, nudibranchs, corals and a garden eel bed that was the size of a football field. 

My two other favourite dive sites are Yongala wreck off Bowen, North Queensland. Not the ultimate wreck dive, as you can’t penetrate the hull but the site has become a major artificial reef that houses a billion fish and is a feeding mecca for a billion more. 

And diving with the Moray eels in the Bay of Pigs, Cuba was an a mind fuck. We swam around a  Bonnie in about 15 metres and was confronted with the site of a couple free swimming morays. These things were fucking monsters, 25+ feet long, heads 2 ft circumference. And our guide swam up up cuddle them and tried to push them to us for a hug. I nearly shit my wetsuit. 

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Agree with Palau as a great destination - as well as the reefs there are lots of wrecks to keep the variety going.

I dove Apo Reef in the Philippines last year and it was wonderful, Tubbataha Reef is supposed to be even better.  Both of these would be best from a liveaboard.

Manado on Suluwesi had amazing amounts of wildlife, but it was like diving in a washing machine - the currents were all over the place and powerful, not for the faint hearted.

Some of my mates did a liveaboard from Bali to Komodo and back on a 120' sailing schooner, with a huge range of diving conditions and a day on Komodo, they actually got chased off a beach by one of the dragons.  It is a trip I really regret not doing.

On my list is Yap to dive with the mantas.

None of the diving I've done in Thailand makes me want to go back.

Let me know if you want more details.

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I'd definitely go for the Raja Ampat livaboard giant schooner trip in the Papua region of Indonesia Most epic scenery and diving combined. check out  boats like  the Tambora  Raja Ampat livaboard dive cruise 

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There is a cave in Thailand that can use a divers right now...   too soon????

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12 minutes ago, nacradriver said:

There is a cave in Thailand that can use a divers right now...   too soon????

Not for me but........

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On 7/4/2018 at 11:11 PM, Point Break said:

Question for you divers out there. As things heal up I will begin to dive again. Having dove most of the caribbean, and most of the southern pacific coast, along with the Yucatan area, I am interested in some new horizons. I'm not especially enamored of cold water diving so I think the pacific northwest is out. A liveaboard in the Galapagos is already on the list. Turning an eye toward to the south pacific and asia, what say you all? I can read the industry magazines, web sites etc. but am looking for true experiences to help sort through the fluffy advertisements. Muck diving in the PI? Thailand? Liveaboards or land based resorts are fine although the resort is much less important than the diving. Although I'd never deliberately seek spartan conditions, I'm just not opposed to them. While I'm certainly no Bear Grylls, I am equally at home in both those environments.

BTW - my ongoing interest is in UW photography and perhaps branching into UW videography one day, so the suggestions should be camera friendly.

HI PB, here are my perspectives.  SWMBO and I are passionate about diving and have been essentially doing ALL of our vacation this hemisphere 99% diving related.  

Here is a rundown of where we've been and what we would and would not recommend (in no particular order):

  • Thailand - we did a week diving in Phuket back in 2012.  This was very Meh.  The dive boat was nice and best of all fairly small.  Most of the day trip boats are monstrosities filled with Russians and Chinese who can't swim much less dive.  And they have something like 50-60 divers on the boat.  We had 20 or so, so it was manageable.  We likely went in the off season in Aug, so the vis was terrible and there was not much to see.  Perhaps in the Winter, I think the diving is better.  But the dive sites were crowded.  We also just this past March did a couple of days up on the border area with Burma/Myanmar a couple hours north of Phuket and it was nice with good vis.  Saw a whale shark there and big Manta Rays in Koh Ban.  But don't write Thailand off completely.  Supposedly the diving around Ko Samoui is supposed to be good.  Also the Similan Islands is supposed to be really good.  The time of year makes a big difference as they have Monsoon seasons that affects the vis quite a bit.
  • Sipadan (Borneo, Malaysia) - OFF THE SCALE AMAZING!  Definitely should be on your bucket list.  Especially if you are into big stuff like sharks and turtles, huge shoals of barracudas, bumphead parrotfish, etc.  Its warm and the visibility was stunning.  The downside is that Sipadan is a relatively small island that is a protected marine sanctuary and as such there are limited passes available to tourists.  All the resorts where you stay are about an hour or so away by speedboat.  There is nothing on the Island itself.  Most resorts will tell you that you will get one full day pass to dive Sipadan for every 3-5 days at the resort.  So you might get there once in a week's trip.  And the rest of the diving at the other islands is sh*t.  We got lucky and bluffed our way into 3 full days at Sipadan (4 dives/day).  2 days was enough because there just wasn't that many individual sites there.  We did Sipadan as part of a larger jungle trekking trip on Borneo to see the Orangutans and such up in the Kinabatangang Wildlife sanctuary.
  • Maldives.  We've been 4 times now as its only a 4 hour flight away for us.  We did 3 resorts with the picture postcard water villas up on stilts and one Liveaboard.  There is no bad diving in the Maldives.  The live aboard trip was jaw dropping for the stunning visibility and variety of stuff.  All the way from big sharks to lots of tiny macro stuff.  UW photography is special here.  The visibility is amazing, especially Oct-Apr.  We done a couple of get-away trips in the summer when its monsoon season there and even then the diving was really good.  The worst diving in the Maldives is likely as good or better than some of the well known dive locations in the world.  We are doing another live aboard trip to the Maldives again this Aug.  We like it that much.
  • Seychelles.  We've dived in the Seychelles twice as its also only about 4 hours away from here.  Once out of La Digue and the more recent from Praline.  It was good, but I wouldn't say it was amazing.  Clear water, warm, and the diving is easy.  And you see some cool stuff - sharks, Eagle Rays, octopus, etc.  But there are other places I would go first.
  • Fiji.  I was slightly disappointed but I think it was more WX dependent.  The seas were pretty rough most days and we could only get out to the outer rim of the Atoll 2x.  Those two dives were stunning - brilliant blue water and 40m vis.  SWMBO and I didn't think it was all that rough but they had some less experienced divers that were intimidated by some chop.  So we were stuck diving inside the Atoll most of the time and it was just OK.  But Fiji is a large chain of Islands, so perhaps we just ended up at one atoll that was not great.  I'll have to go back to the dive log to recall the name of the Atoll we were at.
  • Great Barrier Reef.  We did a 2 week liveaboard out of Cairns.  I feel mixed about this one.  The boat was great I would would go with them again in a heartbeat.  But a lot of the coral reef was damaged or showing obvious signs of bleaching.  We had some great dives and some Meh dives.  Mostly good.  We also spent two full days at a place way out in the Coral Sea called Osprey reef - which was a submerged Atoll about a 12 hour overnight drive from the GBR itself.  Now that excursion made the entire trip worthwhile.  It was a special place.  
  • Egypt/Red Sea.  We've done the Red Sea 2x now.  We did a southern liveaboard trip out of Marsa Alam last summer and then just came back from a week liveaboard in Sharm-el-Sheikh a couple of weeks ago.  Sharm was OK.  The vis was really good, the reefs are very healthy, but not much sea life.  The diving on the SS Thistlegorm was very cool. But we are not big into wreck diving.  We preferred the southern part of the Red Sea more.  Hammerhead sharks, other sharks (Threshers and Oceanic white tips), lots of small stuff, nudibranchs, etc.  We want to get even further South and do Sudan next.  And the Red Sea is amazing value for money.  Very inexpensive compared to many other places.
  • Burma/Myanmar.  We just did a 10 day live-aboard trip there this past March.  Very disappointing!  We thought since the country had been closed to the outside world for so long and the diving places have not really been explored or developed, it would be pristine and untouched.  Just the Opposite.  Because the country is so poor and has not much of a functioning gov't, the waters have been way over-fished.  Dynamite fishing was evadent everywhere.  What should have been some amazing reefs around some islands, it was barren.  That was a stark reminder of why protected Marine parks are so critical.  Man is such a parasite on this planet.  But I digress.
  • Layang Layang, Malaysia - this was a cool Island out in the South China Sea about halfway between the NW tip of Borneo and Vietnam.  It is part of Malaysias claim to the Sprately Islands and the resort is right next to the Malay Air Force outpost.  We spent a week there.  They are known for their schools of Hammerhead sharks.  We were a bit too late in the season last year and saw hammers only once briefly.  We were there in late June and just missed the season because the water was too warm.  But the diving there is beautiful and lots to see.  But the Hammerheads are the main reason to go, so don't go in the summer months.  
  • Kommodo Island - SWMBO went diving there with some GF's and said it was amazing.  She wished she had a done a live-aboard rather than day trips from a resort because they were not able to get to some of the best sites due to the rough conditions for a small boat.  

I can't vouch for it personally, but I am told by several of our diver friends that Raja Ampat in PNG is amazing as well as Lembeh, Indonesia for "Muck Diving" which is supposedly a Macro photographer's wet dream.  Ask me again right after the new year as that is our 3 week Christmas trip to both of those spots :D.  We are going to do Raja Ampat on a 10 day live-aboard trip and then Lembeh for a week from a resort over both Xmas and New Years.  

Overall, if diving is your goal of the trip and not just a sidebar for a few days, I highly recommend go the live-aboard route.  Its going to typically be less crowded as you will go places the day tourists can't get to and the sites will typically be better than the ones within range of the day trips.  And the boats can range from full on 5 star luxury to bare bones.  We tend to find a middle ground leaning on the more upscale side.  Being on a bare bones boat is hard for a week.  But the super luxury ones treat the diving as an afterthought as the guests there are more there for a vacation than for hardcore diving.  We tend to be more on the hardcore diving side and are disappointed if we don't get in 4 dives/day.  Some people are fine with 2 dives per day.  So there is a balance.  

If you want any specifics on recommendations for boats or resorts for any of those places we've been, I'll be happy to PM you.  Good luck!

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@Point Break, if you want to combine UW Photo and video into a dive trip, I highly recommend the Tiger Beach trip to see Tigers and Hammerheads off the Bahamas.  We did that a couple of years ago and it was spectacular if you like being up close to big sharks.  We booked with Jim Abernathy's Scuba Adventures and it was a world class professional trip.  The whole expedition was centered around UW Photography of the sharks.  We were about the only people on the trip that didn't have the big professional camera rigs.  But they really set up the encounters to specifically allow you to frame the sharks and the backgrounds correctly. 

And the best part is they don't chum the water and feed the sharks so that the sharks end up in a feeding frenzy like they are on some other "Shark dives" I've been on.  These sharks come and stay and are calm and curious. 

It was a fantastic trip and I highly recommend it.

Photo-Opp1-1000x504.jpg

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On 7/5/2018 at 4:26 AM, captpiratedog said:

Raja Ampat livaboard giant schooner trip in the Papua region of Indonesia

+1 to this. We dove (from our own boat) in the region and saw the odd dive boat. Amazing stuff there.

But Vanuatu and the Calvin Coolidge wreck was cool too. Deepest I've been at about 145'. Stern is in 60m of water so it's more serious decompression and with a kid ashore we didn't do that.

I also like the Tuamotos in French Polynesia for the current drift dives through the passes.

My wife wrote about diving in St. Helena if you want to go somewhere few have been (well maybe some UK foreign service expats). The whale sharks are the highlight there.

http://divemagazine.co.uk/travel/7404-st-helena

You can actually get there by plane now, instead of a 5+ boat trip from Cape Town

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1 hour ago, Zonker said:
On 7/5/2018 at 3:26 PM, captpiratedog said:

Raja Ampat livaboard giant schooner trip in the Papua region of Indonesia

+1 to this. We dove (from our own boat) in the region and saw the odd dive boat. Amazing stuff there.

 

I am SOOO looking forward to Raja. I’ve heard only great stuff about. Thanks. 

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MALDIVES.......................

 

I've always wanted to go and dive around Madagascar 

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4 minutes ago, Shortforbob said:

what's your interest..Coral, marine life, wreaks?

Wreaks???

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I'm not so sure about Madagascar. The only part we sailed along was the NW coast for about 250 miles or 1/3 the length of the west coast. There was only 1 patch good for diving, a little island near Nosy Be. Otherwise the muddy run off due to deforestation made the waters quite murky.

Friends on Delos did find nice clear water about 1/2 way down the west coast in the offshore islands. But no commercial diving trips along there to my knowledge.

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28 minutes ago, Derek Grebe said:

no, that fucker couldn't get under the water.....

Nail holes...no problem now.

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I can only speak to this side of the planet mostly. Spent time in Hawaii, but never dove there because the water was murky compared to what I am used to.

The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos both offer incredible diving if you get far away from Freeport and Nassau. I am talking about remote out island stuff where there are 6 divers on a boat and no one else around. I did the cattle boat stuff in the Caymans and while the diving was good, being one of a hundred people in the water......I'll pass.

Grand Turk has incredible walls and back when I was there, few people. There was an operator on Salt Cay that used a WW II landing craft as a dive boat and would drop you off next to whales B)

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1 hour ago, kent_island_sailor said:

I can only speak to this side of the planet mostly. Spent time in Hawaii, but never dove there because the water was murky compared to what I am used to.

The Bahamas and Turks and Caicos both offer incredible diving if you get far away from Freeport and Nassau. I am talking about remote out island stuff where there are 6 divers on a boat and no one else around. I did the cattle boat stuff in the Caymans and while the diving was good, being one of a hundred people in the water......I'll pass.

Grand Turk has incredible walls and back when I was there, few people. There was an operator on Salt Cay that used a WW II landing craft as a dive boat and would drop you off next to whales B)

Oh did we ever enjoy Grand Turk and Salt Cay. We rented a little house for a few weeks just down the beach from the Bohio Dive Resort. Each morning we'd walk up the beach about 10 minutes and be there. Away from the bustle of the resort, but close enough to enjoy the dive operator and restaurant. We never had more than 5 people on the boat and often just Mrs PB and I.....for two weeks.....

 

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Well......I tried to post a picture or two of Salt Cay and Grand Turk.......but even though they are below the 1mb threshold AND jpeg.....it goes through the process and then the picture does not show in the post. Ah well. Suffice it to say the 4 weeks we spent on Grand Turk and Salt Cay were wonderful as you mentioned. We never had more than 6 on a dive and often just us two. Spectacular diving and great photography. The only hassles were on Grand Turk with the occasional 2AM donkey braying as one of the local "herds" had as their residence a stand of scrubs fairly close to the house. God those things are loud..........who knew they were nocturnal as well...........

 

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Cayman was good as well. We used a dive operator out at the east end - Compass Point Dive Resort. Good operator. After they were comfortable with our dive habits, after we would circle up at the beginning of the dive the dive master left us alone to run our own dive and off they would go. Our habit was to cover less ground and often would sit on a single coral head for an entire dive if it promised good macro. That actually is a pretty important element in selecting a dive operator, if they would not require us to accompany the thundering cavalcade of inexperienced divers who think more acreage = better dive. They miss so much and stir up everything. We found that companies that cater to photographers get it more frequently than the cattle boats and that the skill level of UW photographers is way above those on the cattle calls. We only dove once on the west side.....meh......

 

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18 minutes ago, Point Break said:

Well......I tried to post a picture or two of Salt Cay and Grand Turk.......but even though they are below the 1mb threshold AND jpeg.....it goes through the process and then the picture does not show in the post. Ah well. Suffice it to say the 4 weeks we spent on Grand Turk and Salt Cay were wonderful as you mentioned. We never had more than 6 on a dive and often just us two. Spectacular diving and great photography. The only hassles were on Grand Turk with the occasional 2AM donkey braying as one of the local "herds" had as their residence a stand of scrubs fairly close to the house. God those things are loud..........who knew they were nocturnal as well...........

 

I was the only diver on my trip to Grand Turk. I took my mother and a friend down there and neither one dove. I was buddied with the divemaster and I swore I saw him go in and the only single diver I could find was down the wall and it looked like him. He takes off down the wall and I am like "did he have two tanks? Not sure if I remember that?? Damn I need to catch this guy". Well I looked at my depth gauge and we were past 180 already :o WTF! I don't have air for this. Went back to the boat and hung around the rest of the dive at 20 feet being bored and the divemaster finally jumped in wondering why I was there..........

The donkeys were funny, but I liked the horses better. We found a guy that could call them and we got two and had bareback horse races :D

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Actually I'd like to combine the "Bucket List" from SA and this....of course it is all a fantasy at this point. I have always been a warm climate guy,tropical, sub tropical all but 5-6 of my 70 turns around the sun. However I have always been fascinated with the N&S arctic regions natural beauty and lack of crowds...so under ice cap diving off a luxurious (warm and dry is enough) expedition sailing vessel exploring above and below the sea~~~~

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5 minutes ago, SailBlueH2O said:

Actually I'd like to combine the "Bucket List" from SA and this....of course it is all a fantasy at this point. I have always been a warm climate guy,tropical, sub tropical all but 5-6 of my 70 turns around the sun. However I have always been fascinated with the N&S arctic regions natural beauty and lack of crowds...so under ice cap diving off a luxurious (warm and dry is enough) expedition sailing vessel exploring above and below the sea~~~~

I have no criticism for "cold water" divers.....in fact some of the diving in the Pacific Northwest is obviously spectacular and diving under the ice would be a impressive visual experience. However.............I must admit I enjoy the entire experience of tropical diving in "the little latitudes" immensely and there is still a ton of areas I have not experienced yet. I suspect as I get very near to my 70 turns....very near.....that I will run out of turns before I run out of experiences. Thats good........a mans reach should always exceed his grasp. I don't plan to be bored.

I have dove extensively on the Central to So California Coast and the Channel islands as well and I have to say......as much as I enjoy tropical diving.........few experiences compare to a So Cal kelp forest. Swimming from the clean sand bottom into the kelp with the dappled sunlight filtering through the spreading kelp on the surface dancing on everything including the occasional sand "meadow" as you swim through the forest. Love it....and its as cold as I desire to get.......:lol:

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I went to Salt Cay by boat. I heard there were rocks on the runway at Salt Cay and didn't want to risk a flat tire out in BFE. The ride from Grand Turk was an experience in heavy seas in the water taxi!

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21 hours ago, Point Break said:

After they were comfortable with our dive habits, after we would circle up at the beginning of the dive the dive master left us alone to run our own dive and off they would go. Our habit was to cover less ground and often would sit on a single coral head for an entire dive if it promised good macro. That actually is a pretty important element in selecting a dive operator, if they would not require us to accompany the thundering cavalcade of inexperienced divers who think more acreage = better dive. They miss so much and stir up everything. We found that companies that cater to photographers get it more frequently than the cattle boats and that the skill level of UW photographers is way above those on the cattle calls. We only dove once on the west side.....meh......

Yeah, SWMBO and I are exactly the same.  We often dive much slower and cover half the ground of the group, but typically see 3x as much by going slow.  We also generally stay a good 10-15 longer than the rest who are sprinting down the reef.  Our goal on a trip on day 1 dive 1, is to make sure the dive master sees that he can pretty ignore us for the rest of the trip while he/she concentrates on the inexperienced herd.  Because we typically consume so much less air, they usually have use jump in and go ahead while the rest are still gearing up.  The herd usually catches us at about the halfway point and then we see most doing a safety stop at the 45 min point while we're still puttering along.  

BTW - did any of my sites in Post #11 pique your interest?  The diving over on this side of the world is spectacular if you can handle the long flight from the US.  

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1 hour ago, Shootist Jeff said:

Yeah, SWMBO and I are exactly the same.  We often dive much slower and cover half the ground of the group, but typically see 3x as much by going slow.  We also generally stay a good 10-15 longer than the rest who are sprinting down the reef.  Our goal on a trip on day 1 dive 1, is to make sure the dive master sees that he can pretty ignore us for the rest of the trip while he/she concentrates on the inexperienced herd.  Because we typically consume so much less air, they usually have use jump in and go ahead while the rest are still gearing up.  The herd usually catches us at about the halfway point and then we see most doing a safety stop at the 45 min point while we're still puttering along.  

BTW - did any of my sites in Post #11 pique your interest?  The diving over on this side of the world is spectacular if you can handle the long flight from the US.  

Yes, I should have said thanks for the detailed post. I saved it for reference along with several others. As I get closer to my first trip "back in the saddle" so to speak, I may send you a note or two if I have any questions, but your assessment was very complete. I appreciate it.

Sounds like our diving style and goals are very much the same. Mrs PB and I were very comfortable breathing self contained air after a career of doing exactly that, often under very heavy physical exertions. I'm a big guy and in that setting at work, and working at maximal effort I could go through a "30 minute" SCBA bottle in 12-15 minutes, 20-25 or so if not working so hard. I can remember several occasions when the reg could not keep up with my tidal demand and the mask would suck against my face and I'd have to pause and catch my breath, so I am capable of needing a large tidal volume when working hard. But absent a strong current we would have to swim against (always go uphill first!!) we were very good with air. So we often experienced the same get in first request of the dive master not wanting to hold up the whole boat waiting for us to surface. :lol: Mrs PB ALWAYS came up with extra air when I was done. Her comfortable breathing rate combined with smaller tidal volume made her air consumption impossible for me to match. It was not uncommon for me to give her the 500 signal and she would be at 1200 or better. She would just smile and nod.

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I use a lot less air than many of the tourist divers. I like to do "zen diving" where you swim very slowly and soak in your surroundings more than underwater racing. One of my dive buddies would go through air like crazy and he always used to finish the dive on my spare regulator :angry: I cured him of that by switching setups and giving him the one with two regs :lol:

Anyone do the Blue Hole in Belize? I did it, but wouldn't do it twice. It looks very cool from the air, but in person it is kind of dark and lifeless 160 feet down. The only fish we saw was when the boat dropped a chum ball down the hole and a bunch of sharks went down to eat it.

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2 minutes ago, kent_island_sailor said:

Anyone do the Blue Hole in Belize? I did it, but wouldn't do it twice. It looks very cool from the air, but in person it is kind of dark and lifeless 160 feet down. The only fish we saw was when the boat dropped a chum ball down the hole and a bunch of sharks went down to eat it.

Not done it yet, it was on my list...........sounds like its not a "must do"?

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Just now, Point Break said:

Not done it yet, it was on my list...........sounds like its not a "must do"?

It is a huge inverted funnel about 600 feet deep. The top is the small end, so light penetration is not real good. It was kind of cool because I never have gone 160 feet down in a big sinkhole before and I can point at all the dive magazine covers and say "I did that". There isn't any colorful coral down there and hardly any fish. 160 on air made me feel funny after awhile and I ended up going up to 140 halfway through the dive. We are lunch after that and the afternoon dive was over a shallow reef. It was very colorful and full of all kinds of fish and turtles. My wife snorkeled over us and we were about 20 feet down. That was actually more fun. YMMV and all, you do get bragging rights.

* if you have never been that deep on air, you may not like what happens. I think in the 1st world divers use trimix at that depth. Also you get to just sit on a rock and deco for awhile. We stashed spare tanks there in case anyone ran low.

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16 minutes ago, Point Break said:

Yes, I should have said thanks for the detailed post. I saved it for reference along with several others. As I get closer to my first trip "back in the saddle" so to speak, I may send you a note or two if I have any questions, but your assessment was very complete. I appreciate it.

Sounds like our diving style and goals are very much the same. Mrs PB and I were very comfortable breathing self contained air after a career of doing exactly that, often under very heavy physical exertions. I'm a big guy and in that setting at work, and working at maximal effort I could go through a "30 minute" SCBA bottle in 12-15 minutes, 20-25 or so if not working so hard. I can remember several occasions when the reg could not keep up with my tidal demand and the mask would suck against my face and I'd have to pause and catch my breath, so I am capable of needing a large tidal volume when working hard. But absent a strong current we would have to swim against (always go uphill first!!) we were very good with air. So we often experienced the same get in first request of the dive master not wanting to hold up the whole boat waiting for us to surface. :lol: Mrs PB ALWAYS came up with extra air when I was done. Her comfortable breathing rate combined with smaller tidal volume made her air consumption impossible for me to match. It was not uncommon for me to give her the 500 signal and she would be at 1200 or better. She would just smile and nod.

No worries, happy to help with any info.  We are very much into the small group, low stress, out of the way experiences rather than the tourist crowds.  We just came back from Sharm el sheik a couple of weeks ago and we convinced the dive master to let us go solo on an "in the blue" dive to see if we could find hammerheads.  We had done that earlier in the am with the group and it was an hour of hanging in the blue waiting.  Everyone else go bored and didn't want to go back.  So he arranged one of the boat guys to take just the two of us in a rib and drop us off in the blue while the rest did the reef.  We were there about 20 min just floating around 28 meters (~100ft) and were about to give up when a group of 4 Scalloped Hammerheads showed up and hung out with us for around 10 min.  It was amazing.  Hammers are very shy so if you just relax and don't move, they will come in very close.  Such beautiful creatures!  The rest of the group was so jealous when we showed them the gopro video when we got back.  At least they saw a turtle..... ;)

I'm in the same boat as you wrt to Mrs JB and air consumption.  I can comfortably do an full hour or more dive even with a deep profile and she still comes up with a good 30-40 bar (500-600psi) more than me.  Drives me crazy!

 

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7 hours ago, Shootist Jeff said:

No worries, happy to help with any info.  We are very much into the small group, low stress, out of the way experiences rather than the tourist crowds.  We just came back from Sharm el sheik a couple of weeks ago and we convinced the dive master to let us go solo on an "in the blue" dive to see if we could find hammerheads.  We had done that earlier in the am with the group and it was an hour of hanging in the blue waiting.  Everyone else go bored and didn't want to go back.  So he arranged one of the boat guys to take just the two of us in a rib and drop us off in the blue while the rest did the reef.  We were there about 20 min just floating around 28 meters (~100ft) and were about to give up when a group of 4 Scalloped Hammerheads showed up and hung out with us for around 10 min.  It was amazing.  Hammers are very shy so if you just relax and don't move, they will come in very close.  Such beautiful creatures!  The rest of the group was so jealous when we showed them the gopro video when we got back.  At least they saw a turtle..... ;)

I'm in the same boat as you wrt to Mrs JB and air consumption.  I can comfortably do an full hour or more dive even with a deep profile and she still comes up with a good 30-40 bar (500-600psi) more than me.  Drives me crazy!

 

We had a similar experience with giant mantas on a dive at a seamount about a 1 hour panga ride out of La Paz.......called La Reana - don't know if the spelling is right. You could see them off in the gloom but getting close wasn't easy. So Mrs PB is hanging neutral in midwater...probably about 50 feet... and I'm about 25 yards away from her. Suddenly out of the blue gloom comes this HUGE manta at her level swimming directly at her. She just hung there quietly and watched. When they were about 15 feet apart - I actually thought it might run into her - the Manta tipped one wing banked over and passed belly side to her just above her within feet. She said it was like a submarine passing overhead.. I will literally never forget that sight. I bought her a commemorative manta necklace the next day that she wore for years. It was really a special event.

So far as the air consumption......try skip breathing. If you're not exerting, it actually works okay. I still came out behind....just less behind.......:lol:

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1 hour ago, Point Break said:

So far as the air consumption......try skip breathing. If you're not exerting, it actually works okay.

the best conservation of air... is awareness of smooth efficient body movements.... 

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1 hour ago, SailBlueH2O said:

the best conservation of air... is awareness of smooth efficient body movements.... 

IMHO the most enjoyable diving is a comfortable slow mix of yoga and meditation, but sometimes you do have to work hard due to currents etc. Being mindful of your movements, bouyancy, breathing and using the seascape as current protection are the key to longer dive times.

I fell asleep a couple times playing an unconscious diver during rescue training. Although not the times I did it in the Dubai Mall Aquarium. 

Edited by dreadom
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20 hours ago, SailBlueH2O said:

the best conservation of air... is awareness of smooth efficient body movements.... 

This ^^

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On 7/11/2018 at 8:52 AM, SailBlueH2O said:

the best conservation of air... is awareness of smooth efficient body movements.... 

Yes. I spent many years free-diving while spearfishing. You really learn to conserve energy if you want any linger time at depth trying to get the shot on a fish.

Last dive I did was on the wrecks off of the Guadanalcanal coast some 18 years ago. After diving there I couldn't come at the thought of cold water and shit visibility diving locally. One day again, maybe.

FKT

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6 hours ago, Fah Kiew Tu said:

Yes. I spent many years free-diving while spearfishing. You really learn to conserve energy if you want any linger time at depth trying to get the shot on a fish.

Last dive I did was on the wrecks off of the Guadanalcanal coast some 18 years ago. After diving there I couldn't come at the thought of cold water and shit visibility diving locally. One day again, maybe.

FKT

Yes me too....it was a huge part of my life for many years

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I still don't understand the whole attraction to free dive thing.  It seems like a lot of effort for a 3-4 min plunge.  

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3 hours ago, Shootist Jeff said:

I still don't understand the whole attraction to free dive thing.  It seems like a lot of effort for a 3-4 min plunge.  

It's illegal in Australia to spearfish with SCUBA or hookah gear.

FKT

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33 minutes ago, Fah Kiew Tu said:

It's illegal in Australia to spearfish with SCUBA or hookah gear.

FKT

Ah.  Didn't know that.

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42 minutes ago, Shootist Jeff said:

Ah.  Didn't know that.

The most colourful diving is in the first 10m of the water column anyway so snorkeling over shallow reefs is a lot less hassle than putting on all that heavy SCUBA gear. Shrug - depends on what you're after. I sold/gave away all my gear a long time ago. One of my clients owns a dive shop so if I ever need anything I can get state of the art gear at mate's rates. They run dive tours to various places. I'd like to go to Truk one of these days.

FKT

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8 hours ago, Shootist Jeff said:

I still don't understand the whole attraction to free dive thing.  It seems like a lot of effort for a 3-4 min plunge.  

In the Bahamas you can't scuba and spearfish AFAIK.

 

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3 hours ago, Fah Kiew Tu said:

The most colourful diving is in the first 10m of the water column anyway so snorkeling over shallow reefs is a lot less hassle than putting on all that heavy SCUBA gear. Shrug - depends on what you're after. I sold/gave away all my gear a long time ago. One of my clients owns a dive shop so if I ever need anything I can get state of the art gear at mate's rates. They run dive tours to various places. I'd like to go to Truk one of these days.

FKT

As I mentioned, the Blue Hole was dark and grey 160 feet down and the shallow dive over the nearby reef was a riot of colors.

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14 minutes ago, kent_island_sailor said:

In the Bahamas you can't scuba and spearfish AFAIK.

 

Or use a band or pneumatic spear  gun...which is fine as I used a Hawaiian sling....I was scuba certified in 1966,Miami, but as FKT said it a lot or "stuff" to carry around. I too ditched my gear after a few years and followed the lead of a few guys I was lucky enough to get to know that where free dive /sling spearfishing local legends. One fished with Art Pender  http://floridaskindiver.com/artpinder.htm   in the World Spearfishing Championships ,with slings...they were amazing. If you are FB check out  a public page for a young commercial spearo...he does both free and very deep tank. Check out on FB Steel Rocket....for some amazing photos

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14 hours ago, Fah Kiew Tu said:

The most colourful diving is in the first 10m of the water column anyway

Maybe on that side of the world.

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22 hours ago, kent_island_sailor said:
On 7/13/2018 at 7:26 AM, Shootist Jeff said:

I still don't understand the whole attraction to free dive thing.  It seems like a lot of effort for a 3-4 min plunge.  

In the Bahamas you can't scuba and spearfish AFAIK.

 

That's probably true.  I think the only exception is I'm pretty sure you can scuba and spear for Lionfish, since they are an invasive species in the Carib.

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On 7/6/2018 at 6:41 PM, Shootist Jeff said:

HI PB, here are my perspectives.  SWMBO and I are passionate about diving and have been essentially doing ALL of our vacation this hemisphere 99% diving related.  

Here is a rundown of where we've been and what we would and would not recommend (in no particular order):

  • Thailand - we did a week diving in Phuket back in 2012.  This was very Meh.  The dive boat was nice and best of all fairly small.  Most of the day trip boats are monstrosities filled with Russians and Chinese who can't swim much less dive.  And they have something like 50-60 divers on the boat.  We had 20 or so, so it was manageable.  We likely went in the off season in Aug, so the vis was terrible and there was not much to see.  Perhaps in the Winter, I think the diving is better.  But the dive sites were crowded.  We also just this past March did a couple of days up on the border area with Burma/Myanmar a couple hours north of Phuket and it was nice with good vis.  Saw a whale shark there and big Manta Rays in Koh Ban.  But don't write Thailand off completely.  Supposedly the diving around Ko Samoui is supposed to be good.  Also the Similan Islands is supposed to be really good.  The time of year makes a big difference as they have Monsoon seasons that affects the vis quite a bit.
  • Sipadan (Borneo, Malaysia) - OFF THE SCALE AMAZING!  Definitely should be on your bucket list.  Especially if you are into big stuff like sharks and turtles, huge shoals of barracudas, bumphead parrotfish, etc.  Its warm and the visibility was stunning.  The downside is that Sipadan is a relatively small island that is a protected marine sanctuary and as such there are limited passes available to tourists.  All the resorts where you stay are about an hour or so away by speedboat.  There is nothing on the Island itself.  Most resorts will tell you that you will get one full day pass to dive Sipadan for every 3-5 days at the resort.  So you might get there once in a week's trip.  And the rest of the diving at the other islands is sh*t.  We got lucky and bluffed our way into 3 full days at Sipadan (4 dives/day).  2 days was enough because there just wasn't that many individual sites there.  We did Sipadan as part of a larger jungle trekking trip on Borneo to see the Orangutans and such up in the Kinabatangang Wildlife sanctuary.
  • Maldives.  We've been 4 times now as its only a 4 hour flight away for us.  We did 3 resorts with the picture postcard water villas up on stilts and one Liveaboard.  There is no bad diving in the Maldives.  The live aboard trip was jaw dropping for the stunning visibility and variety of stuff.  All the way from big sharks to lots of tiny macro stuff.  UW photography is special here.  The visibility is amazing, especially Oct-Apr.  We done a couple of get-away trips in the summer when its monsoon season there and even then the diving was really good.  The worst diving in the Maldives is likely as good or better than some of the well known dive locations in the world.  We are doing another live aboard trip to the Maldives again this Aug.  We like it that much.
  • Seychelles.  We've dived in the Seychelles twice as its also only about 4 hours away from here.  Once out of La Digue and the more recent from Praline.  It was good, but I wouldn't say it was amazing.  Clear water, warm, and the diving is easy.  And you see some cool stuff - sharks, Eagle Rays, octopus, etc.  But there are other places I would go first.
  • Fiji.  I was slightly disappointed but I think it was more WX dependent.  The seas were pretty rough most days and we could only get out to the outer rim of the Atoll 2x.  Those two dives were stunning - brilliant blue water and 40m vis.  SWMBO and I didn't think it was all that rough but they had some less experienced divers that were intimidated by some chop.  So we were stuck diving inside the Atoll most of the time and it was just OK.  But Fiji is a large chain of Islands, so perhaps we just ended up at one atoll that was not great.  I'll have to go back to the dive log to recall the name of the Atoll we were at.
  • Great Barrier Reef.  We did a 2 week liveaboard out of Cairns.  I feel mixed about this one.  The boat was great I would would go with them again in a heartbeat.  But a lot of the coral reef was damaged or showing obvious signs of bleaching.  We had some great dives and some Meh dives.  Mostly good.  We also spent two full days at a place way out in the Coral Sea called Osprey reef - which was a submerged Atoll about a 12 hour overnight drive from the GBR itself.  Now that excursion made the entire trip worthwhile.  It was a special place.  
  • Egypt/Red Sea.  We've done the Red Sea 2x now.  We did a southern liveaboard trip out of Marsa Alam last summer and then just came back from a week liveaboard in Sharm-el-Sheikh a couple of weeks ago.  Sharm was OK.  The vis was really good, the reefs are very healthy, but not much sea life.  The diving on the SS Thistlegorm was very cool. But we are not big into wreck diving.  We preferred the southern part of the Red Sea more.  Hammerhead sharks, other sharks (Threshers and Oceanic white tips), lots of small stuff, nudibranchs, etc.  We want to get even further South and do Sudan next.  And the Red Sea is amazing value for money.  Very inexpensive compared to many other places.
  • Burma/Myanmar.  We just did a 10 day live-aboard trip there this past March.  Very disappointing!  We thought since the country had been closed to the outside world for so long and the diving places have not really been explored or developed, it would be pristine and untouched.  Just the Opposite.  Because the country is so poor and has not much of a functioning gov't, the waters have been way over-fished.  Dynamite fishing was evadent everywhere.  What should have been some amazing reefs around some islands, it was barren.  That was a stark reminder of why protected Marine parks are so critical.  Man is such a parasite on this planet.  But I digress.
  • Layang Layang, Malaysia - this was a cool Island out in the South China Sea about halfway between the NW tip of Borneo and Vietnam.  It is part of Malaysias claim to the Sprately Islands and the resort is right next to the Malay Air Force outpost.  We spent a week there.  They are known for their schools of Hammerhead sharks.  We were a bit too late in the season last year and saw hammers only once briefly.  We were there in late June and just missed the season because the water was too warm.  But the diving there is beautiful and lots to see.  But the Hammerheads are the main reason to go, so don't go in the summer months.  
  • Kommodo Island - SWMBO went diving there with some GF's and said it was amazing.  She wished she had a done a live-aboard rather than day trips from a resort because they were not able to get to some of the best sites due to the rough conditions for a small boat.  

I can't vouch for it personally, but I am told by several of our diver friends that Raja Ampat in PNG is amazing as well as Lembeh, Indonesia for "Muck Diving" which is supposedly a Macro photographer's wet dream.  Ask me again right after the new year as that is our 3 week Christmas trip to both of those spots :D.  We are going to do Raja Ampat on a 10 day live-aboard trip and then Lembeh for a week from a resort over both Xmas and New Years.  

Overall, if diving is your goal of the trip and not just a sidebar for a few days, I highly recommend go the live-aboard route.  Its going to typically be less crowded as you will go places the day tourists can't get to and the sites will typically be better than the ones within range of the day trips.  And the boats can range from full on 5 star luxury to bare bones.  We tend to find a middle ground leaning on the more upscale side.  Being on a bare bones boat is hard for a week.  But the super luxury ones treat the diving as an afterthought as the guests there are more there for a vacation than for hardcore diving.  We tend to be more on the hardcore diving side and are disappointed if we don't get in 4 dives/day.  Some people are fine with 2 dives per day.  So there is a balance.  

If you want any specifics on recommendations for boats or resorts for any of those places we've been, I'll be happy to PM you.  Good luck!

That's why he started this thread.  Not to find a new spot, because he already knows everything.

What he wanted was yet another "Oh look at me!" thread.

images?q=tbn:ANd9GcQheF5qiJjSNgYpGUZhaSu

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14 hours ago, Snaggletooth said:
14 hours ago, Shootist Jeff said:

I didn't start the thread, you fracking cameltoe morain.

you coudentte throwe 'elke' in theire somwhearre?

No, elke implies there are other like minded elk who agree with randummy.  No one thinks like this cocksplat.  No one.  He is in a League of Stupid all his own.

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3 hours ago, Shootist Jeff said:

No, elke implies there are other like minded elk who agree with randummy.  No one thinks like this cocksplat.  No one.  He is in a League of Stupid all his own.

17c542a1927c382913c388533f56cabd--laughi

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