As we enter the business end of the year, it’s easy for the mind to wander to a never-ending list of exotic locations and dreams of summer vacations or winter escapes. Septembers ScubaEarth Featured Destinations are guaranteed to have you metaphorically sitting on a beach with a coconut. Here’s a little teaser to get the travel juices going.
The southern island of the Caribbean will transport you to a colourful world both above and below the surface. Topside in Willemstad the streets are lined with buildings in the brightest blues, oranges and yellow, whilst underwater the coral comes in a kaleidoscope of colours and shapes. Notable dives include the Mushroom Forest, where star coral are intertwined with flower corals and giant brain corals, creating intriguing formations and concealing an array of macro life. The Superior Producer is a fantastic wreck dive. The freighter is often swarmed by schooling barracuda and is encrusted in many species of coral making the 220 foot/67 meter ship a sight to behold.
The world’s largest coral reef system will definitely not disappoint, with ample to explore across the 2,000 kilometres/1,250 mile coast. With so many sites to feast your eyes on here, what do most come to spy? Maori wrasse, the Queensland grouper, giant clams, anemone fish, sea turtles, whales and a large assortment of sharks are high on most divers GBR list. You can learn about these and more on ScubaEarth’s Critter Finder. With tropical beaches, stunning rainforests, traditional cultural delights and a thriving nightlife, Cairns and Port Douglas are the normal gateway cities for reef access, whether by a liveaboard or on a day boat. However, don’t forget about the lower portion of the reef for isolated island getaways in the Whitsundays, wreck diving off Townsville at the world famous S.S. Yongala, or visiting the 3000 year old coral cays near Lady Elliot Island, which is also home to a huge range of bird species and nesting sea turtles.
Satisfy your inner Pirate with a trip to this portion of Caribbean Sea. St Vincent is the main island in this cluster of 32 secret isles, but even here there is no big city hustle and bustle. Think tranquil and secluded inlets where you can hide from the rest of the world, whist soaking up the natural beauty that abounds at every turn. Island hopping is common place here, and is truly the way to discover the best the Grenadines has to offer. Union island has some great night diving opportunities, whilst the Hot Springs off Mayreau is an underwater volcano that still bubbles with life. Don’t miss your chance to spot some of the world’s rarest marine life on a guided macro dive, where you can come across bumblebee shrimp and pelican crabs. Orca point is a good place to start.
Rum may be a large drawcard for visitors to the island of Barbados, but the diving on offer here is what makes people come back for more, in particular wreck diving. With over 200 wrecks in the surrounding waters getting your PADI Wreck Diver Specialty is recommended! The SS Stavronikita is the islands signature dive, but all wreck dives here promise to enthral, with buzzing fish life, superb corals and great photographic prospects. Iconic marine life include reef squid, tube sponges, stingrays and Bermuda chubs as well as hiding nurse sharks.
Keep an eye out this month for more details on each of these ScubaEarth Featured Destinations, and don’t forget to contact your PADI Dive Shop when you’re ready to plunge into the alluring waters at one of these great locations.