Diving in Paradise
Diving in Paradise
Diving in Paradise: Mind Blowing Destinations You Shouldn't Miss
For most of us, the diving bug manifests itself at an early age in the form of sheer curiosity towards the secret world of underwater creatures. As we learn that there are literally millions of colorful characters to be found underneath the surface of our oceans and seas, our curiosity gets piqued even further.
And once you’ve gotten your first taste of what that world really looks and feels like, there’s little chance of turning back.
Beauty of Diversity
Fortunately, our planet is filled with excellent dive spots that stand as a testament to Mother Nature’s seemingly infinite creativity.
Places like the Galapagos Islands west of Ecuador, the Blue Corner in Micronesia and Jardines de la Reina in Cuba have become internationally renowned for the diversity and breadth of their offerings. In fact, the latter even allows you to dive with salt-water crocodiles. In addition, spectacular shipwrecks like the Yongala in Australia and the Thistlegorm in the Egyptian Red Sea perfectly illustrate the power of nature and its ability to take over man’s creation in no time- spots like these truly make the experience of diving worthwhile.
Pearls of Southeast Asia
Like any other diver, I too have certain places that are dear to my heart. These include the areas where I first learned to dive alongside experienced instructors, who instilled in me a great respect for underwater life and nature in general.
To that end, Malaysia is the first country on my perennial list of favorites. To this very day, I make it a point to come back here from time to time, whenever I feel like revisiting some of my first diving experiences. Of course, when I started out I didn’t know anything about diving gear or how to master buoyancy control, so I just followed the instructions given to me by local divers. Even so, I was instantly hooked.
Sharks from Layang Layang
It wasn’t long until I splurged all my vacation money on a 1-week trip to Layang Layang. Located in a remote part of Malaysia, this resort island offered me access to 13 linked coral reefs and a huge variety of underwater life. Everything from manta rays to melon-headed whales to large schools of dogtooth tuna can be found here, but if there’s one creature that truly steals the show, it’s the hammerhead shark. Known for its almost comically-shaped head, this shark travels in large groups that can be seen whizzing around the waters of Layang Layang, especially in areas like the Gorgonian Forest and the aptly-named Shark’s Cave.
Aside from Malaysia, another place that I wholeheartedly recommend to all divers, regardless of experience, is Indonesia. This vast nation in Southeast Asia has a plethora of diving hotspots that everyone should experience. To mention just two of them: Raja Ampat is perfect for people who fancy themselves as pioneers who are seeking to explore the last semi-uncharted waters of the world, while Sulawesi offers the kind of marine-diversity that every diver can only wish for. In addition, places like Bali also have plenty of non-diving related attractions as well, thereby ensuring a truly all-encompassing travel experience that you won’t soon forget.
Personally, I have a soft spot for Maratua Island, where I met my wife and future diving partner during a vacation centered on the Derawan archipelago. Needless to say, I can’t help but view this experience with rose-tinted glasses, but I am certain that there is a special kind of magic in these exotic waters. Some memorable highlights of the experience include swimming with brightly coloured eels at the Eel Garden and braving the extreme currents found in the Channel.
All in all, it’s impossible to overstate the importance of choosing a great diving place when first starting out. A truly magnificent spot can make you a lifelong devotee of diving, whereas a comparatively lackluster one could potentially leave you wondering what all the fuss is about. That being said, keep in mind that safety is also a priority, so don’t dive in more difficult spots unless you’re absolutely certain you can handle yourself in them. And remember to be patient above all, as scuba diving is best done by those who can still their minds and live perfectly in the moment, ready to take in life’s miracles one at a time.
Photo Credits: Jardines de la Reina: Steve Besserman, Layang Layang: Olden2012, Maratua Island: Yohana Wu