In February last year, we arrived in South America after six months island-hopping across the Pacific Ocean. I knew we’d be spending more time on dry land here than we had in Samoa, Tonga and Vanuatu where I passed my PADI Open Water Diver course. Nonetheless, I was keen to improve my diving skills as we were planning to visit the Galápagos Islands with its excellent range of sea life.
If you’ve ever dreamed of discovering the mysterious lost city of Atlantis, then these dive sites are sure to intrigue
Man was designed to walk on land, but these underwater worlds suggest an alternative reality. From historic cities that have crashed into the sea at the hands of nature to artificial scenes constructed beneath the sea, these surreal man-made dive sites are utterly fascinating.
I once asked Peter how often people have to take in their cats to be trimmed.
He looked at me, confused. “What do you mean?”
“To trim their fur. How often do you have to do it?”
“Erm, normal people don’t trim their cats.” He started to laugh, amused as ever by my lack of knowledge when it comes to nature – especially when as pedestrian as looking after a cat.
Having just completed my PADI Advanced Open Water Diver course, I was keen to put my new skills to the test. Diving in the Galápagos Islands seemed the perfect way to do this
We were pretty much winging our trip to the Galápagos Islands but we decided to pre-book our first hotel as well as our diving.
In the spirit of the Galápagos, we decided to break our budget for our first stop, and so checked into the rather luxurious Royal Palm Hotel in the centre of Santa Cruz island. It was nice to be away from bustling Puerto Ayora, cocooned within lush gardens with epic views across the island.
A step-by-step guide for fellow divers who are somewhat nervous ahead of the PADI Open Water Diver course.
In theory, an expert diver should be writing this post. Logically, he or she could tell you what to expect, give you insider tips and prepare you for the challenge ahead. Of course, as a newly qualified diver, I have one advantage over the experts: I know first-hand just how hard it is for the nervous first-timer. I know what it’s like to almost back out of your first dive and to quit the course altogether. I also know how to get back on it.
Five months after my first attempt, I passed the PADI Open Water Diver course.
Swimming with humpback whales in Tonga was a truly humbling experience that very nearly didn’t happen for us! But luck was on our side that day
It was late October, approaching the very end of Tonga’s whale watching season. We had been delayed in Samoa about a week longer than expected and arrived in Tonga just two days before the last day of the season.
Desperate not to miss our opportunity to swim with whales, we hastily flew north to the Vava’u Islands, one of the best places to see the humpbacks. These majestic creatures migrate north from the Antarctic every summer to breed in warmer waters, heading back as soon as their young are strong enough for the journey.
Diving Juno Wreck with turtles in Samoa was a unique experience. Getting up close and personal to underwater wildlife like this is just incredible
“You’ll either love it or find it extremely depressing,” reads the guidebook description of Satoalepai Turtle Sanctuary.
I’ve never been a huge fan of zoos and captive wild animals, so when I read about the chance to go diving Juno Wreck with turtles in Samoa at the sanctuary I decided to pass. Maybe I’d get a chance to see them in the wild…
“Life’s too short for bad books,” a friend once told me. We had been swapping recommendations for a while and I was aghast that he had given up on The Kite Runner. “Keep at it,” I urged. “You’ll love it.”
He shrugged. “If I’m not enjoying a book within the first two chapters, that’s it.” He mimed throwing it away.
“I wish I could be more like you,” I had said. And I meant it. You see, I’m the type of person that will doggedly pursue a book or a task or a project that I’m not enjoying only so that I can finish it. Reading A Suitable Boy was the only thing entirely in my control that I ever gave up on – and it bugs me even today.
I like to think of myself as a bit of an adrenaline junkie, but put me in water and all my bravado dissipates. As a child, I was not a strong swimmer. Fortnightly lessons for a year in primary school weren’t enough for me to find my fins. As an adult, I have improved marginally but I never stray far from the shore.
With this in mind, when Peter suggested booking our first dive, I agreed with hesitance. The idea put butterflies in my stomach – a rare feeling for someone who never gets nervous. As neither of us had dived before, we were warned that the deepest we could go was 12 metres. I looked 12 metres off into the distance – it would be deep enough for me.