Favorite Dives all around the world
What’s your favorite dive?
How can you answer that?! After 5 years of diving in more than 10 locations around the world, it is pretty near impossible to pick just one dive that stands out as the best. Also, some dives are good for different reasons. Here are my favorite three (in no particular order), although there are a load more I would count as pretty bloomin’ great!
The Maldives, April 2013
Diving Unlimited (my dive club in England) hit the Maldives 20 strong in April 2013 on a 4 deck luxury live-aboard yacht. This was possibly the best week of my life, let alone the best dive!
We explored the rich Indian Ocean for 9 miraculous days and
we were not disappointed.
We were up early one day for our morning dive and the guides told us that there was a strong possibility of Manta rays on this particular dive. We were dropping in next to one of their favorite cleaning stations, a flat area of coral where the Mantas go to get a good scrubbing! They told us to find a spot and settle ourselves with our reef hooks secured and wait for the show.
The Mantas did not disappoint. There were at least five of them and we could see them approaching from the distance. Now if you have not seen a Manta ray yet, they are absolutely enormous but are also the most graceful, peaceful creatures that I have ever seen underwater. They were not shy! They came right up and over our heads and gave us a show of a lifetime.
Dancing an underwater ballet, they glided around with each other swimming towards one and other a meeting in the middle and twisting and turning around.
It was like they knew that we were there, they loved the limelight and played up for our cameras. Every time I think of this dive I well up. I felt like the luckiest person alive that day. Not only am I spending nearly one and a half hours with an ocean legend, but I am experiencing it with 20 of my amazing dive club friends.
The Mantas have a way of making you feel welcome in their world. Not once did I feel threatened or worried. They came so close, they wanted to be around us. They look right at you with their kind, calm eyes and sore over your head almost touching. They dance in your bubbles, they swim off and come back for more.
In all the excitement and emotion our air began to run low and we had to start making our ascent. All of a sudden a dark shadow passed above me and the surrounding water turned a reddy-kind-of-colour. I looked behind me and my 2 buddies were laughing their heads off. I had just been pooped on by a Manta Ray! I think this was his way of saying goodbye. We had also caught it on camera!
The Farne Islands, Northumberland, England, August 2010
Yep, you read correctly, England! 45 miles North of Newcastle there is an amazing place called the Farne islands. Famous for its bird watching as 290 recorded species live there it is also famous for its 5000 strong seal colony.
I had only been diving a year, and all of my experience was in murky, green, cold water. This trip was set to be different, but I was wise enough not to get my hopes up!
The sea was flat calm and the sun shone brightly, warming us through, whilst we ate cakes and drank tea on the boat after our first dive with a tiny bit of seal action. We could see them sunbathing out on the rocks before we dropped down and under water we had some brief encounters. Pretty cool and better than some of the delights I had seen in the fresh water lakes (or mucky puddles as we lovingly referred to them!) around Kent, South East England!
We bimbled around watching enormous lobsters in their little caves as well as massive spider crabs and large schools of fish. Visibility was pretty amazing for what us English divers were used to. At least 10 meters! You could actually see your own hand in front of your face, no torch needed! Then the seals came.
At first I felt a tug on my fin and I didn't bother to turn around as I thought it was just a bit of current. Then it was tugged again, I turned to see a grey seal with his teeth around my beloved Avanti Quattro fin! We all stopped swimming and dropped to the bottom, only about 7 meters down. After some initial hesitating, the seal became rather brave and when I reached out my hand he held it with his fin!
If you have ever had a Labrador then this is the best way I can explain what they are like. They nuzzle you and nip at your hands in the most playful and entertaining way. I ended up face to face with him and was blowing bubbles at him through my regulator. My two buddies also had a seal to play with and the three of them and the three of us stayed together for one whole hour.
I had never had this much interaction with underwater life. The grey seal is nimble and agile and are absolutely stunning to watch underwater. They swim right at you and dodge you at the last minute and get really brave and come right up to your face. They grab your fin when you swim away, they are the cheeky chappies of the ocean.
We spent our whole dive at 8 meters. There was no need to go off anywhere else. The seals had come to us and gave us a dive never to be forgotten!
Gili Trawangan, Indonesia, May 2014
OK, so this one wasn't a dive as such but I'm counting it! We had completed yet another beautiful dive off the coasts of Gili Trawangan and were heading back to Dive Central Gili for a cup of tea.
Then the shout went up, “Dolphins!” I have never got my mask, snorkel and fins on so quick. Dolphins are pretty rare here and this made it all the more special. We all jumped in and sure enough, there were dolphins. A pod of 8 had joined us for our trip back to shore.
They were not shy. They let us get really close and we swam beside them for ages. Two of them made a beeline for me and they copied my every move! I wiggled through the water, making shapes and twisting over and over and they both copied my every move. They circled me, chased me, watched me and I could hear the amazing sound that they make that I cannot even explain.
They know exactly what is going on. You can tell how smart they are just from being around them. And the most amazing thing? They wanted to be around us. They wanted to spend time with us and watch us as much as we wanted to watch them.
I cried. I cried so much that I could no longer breathe through my snorkel. My mask kept filling up and I had to keep poking my head up to catch my breath. My dive buddies took some rather unflattering pictures of me this day. We also got some amazing ones of the dolphins!
It was the most amazing experience and one that I will never ever forget.
For more information on diving around Gili Trawangan, pop in and see us at Dive Central Gili. Located in the central area within Pesona Resort about a 5 minute walk south from the main harbor.
You can visit our website or email us at the below links too!
Photos with thanks to Bob Gills, Diving Unlimited, David Southcott, Diving Unlimited, Ruth Gibson, Dive Central Gili, Stevan James, Dive Central GIli