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Scuba Diving

Friday, December 15, 2017

Fantasy Islands Week: Heron Island, Australia

Looking forward to seeing an ockie (octopus) in the bommie (coral head)? Then Heron Island, on the Great Barrier’s southern reef, is the place for you, mates. You might also dive with giant sea turtles that come ashore to lay their eggs between late October and March, or with humpback whales that skirt the island from June through October. Heron Island Resort, the island’s lone accommodation, has room for 250 nature lovers. The Point Suites offer unobstructed views of the harbor and bay.  Part resort, part wildlife sanctuary, this Robinson Crusoe-like island is large enough for couples to follow their own trail to a nesting spot among the white herons.  
 
We’re off to our own fantasy island next week, Jamaica. Happy Hanukkah and Merry Christmas! We’ll be back on the 27th. 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/15/17 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Fantasy Islands Week: Bonaire

A mere decade ago, Bonaire was known only to scuba enthusiasts—a clandestine gem discussed in hushed conversations with other serious ocean lovers (types who come out of the water with seaweed in their hair). Now that the secret is out, travelers are learning that nature thrives both above and below the water here. The reef’s proximity to shore is ideal for divers and snorkelers who want to swim with blue and yellow queen angelfish and orange trumpetfish in waters with visibility of 100 feet or more. On terra firma, Bonaire’s semi-arid landscape is home to some 200 types of birds, including one of the world’s largest colonies of pink flamingoes (numbering some 15,000). Situated on a small peninsula, the guest rooms at Harbor Village Beach Resort feature spacious balconies that overlook the beach. Tell the concierge that you savor your privacy and he’ll arrange a picnic for two on tiny Klein Bonaire. Heinekens and Gouda are the sustenance of choice on this Dutch protectorate.

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/14/17 at 06:00 AM
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Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Fantasy Islands Week: Fiji

Picture yourself on a South Pacific island where the hum of cars and TVs is replaced by the sounds of waves tumbling ashore and the sporadic plunk of almonds dropping from trees. Envision a private island resort catering to only 14 couples. This is Matangi Island, built with romantics in mind.  Each of the 11 thatched-roof bures is accented with Fijian tapa cloths, tribal artifacts, and a bed draped with mosquito netting. You’ll have to book months in advance if you want the three popular treehouse bures—30 feet up a la Swiss Family Robinson.  A stone’s throw away from the lodging, the beach sweeps around a bay shaded by chestnut trees and banana ferns. The surrounding waters are home to the renowned Rainbow Reef. Matangi has its own dive operation to take you out to see the kaleidoscopic coral and the abundant sea life. There’s also saltwater fly-fishing and sailing, but most visitors simply lounge on the beach watching the waters of the Tasman Strait float by as the sun passes overhead.
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/13/17 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Fantasy Islands Week: Palau

Let’s be serious. You’ve just traveled at least six hours from the West Coast to Hawaii, another seven hours to Guam and yet another 90 minutes to this cluster of 200 sparsely populated islands, which Cousteau called the best scuba diving site in the world. You’re going to have to get motivated to do much else but dive on Palau. From your home base on the capital isle of Koror, head to the Big Drop-Off, considered the best dive wall on Earth. It starts in knee-deep water and then abruptly plummets almost 1,500 feet into an abyss. Nearly as mind-boggling is Blue Corner, a large coral cavity where three ocean currents meet. Hunker down and watch schools of tuna, white-tipped sharks and 3-foot-tall giant clams (where’s the melted butter when you need it?). While you’ll have a tough time immersing yourself in traditional island culture here (read: no jerk chicken or Bo Derek-style hair braiding), Palau’s real attraction is its remote beauty. Rent a sea kayak and check out a few of the Rock Islands, which stretch for 20 miles south of Koror. Then dry off at the Palau Pacific Resort, which guards the finest beach on Koror. That is, if you can stop your legs from kicking.

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/12/17 at 06:00 AM
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Monday, December 11, 2017

Fantasy Islands Week: Rangiroa, French Polynesia

It’s cold, gray—the best time to put on a bathing suit and commune with fish.

Here are five of the world’s best places to do it.
 
Ah winter, that magical time of year that compels hordes of otherwise well-adjusted folks to shop for bathing suits and sarongs, jet to far-flung isles, don masks, fins, even oxygen tanks, all to hang with the fishies. Nothing chases away garden-variety seasonal disorders like getting up close and personal with some colorful creatures. Deluxe resorts are rolling out their (waterproof) red carpets to divers these days. Better yet, many resorts have gotten wise to the fact that divers do not live on plankton alone. We also crave some activity where the air comes free. With that in mind, we’ve selected five of the world’s top diving spots this week. Ones that also offer great above-water activities, from trekking in Mayan ruins to sea kayaking along secluded beaches to kicking the coconut shells. 
 
First stop, Rangiroa, French Polynesia. When Requin! Requin! (French for Shark! Shark!) is shouted in these waters, swimmers do not speed to shore fearing for their lives. The snorkelers and divers who come to this oval-shaped coral atoll stay in the water for a face-to-face encounter. Grey reef, black-tipped, and hammerhead sharks peer at divers in Tiputa Pass, a channel that connects the island’s lagoon with the open sea.  The perfect place to recover after your adventure with Jaws is Kia Ora Village, Rangiroa’s premiere hotel. Stay in one of the overwater bungalows along the lagoon. Or if you’re looking for a bit more seclusion, retreat to Kia Ora Sauvage, a private island about an hour’s boat ride away. The island has just five basic bungalows and two cooks, who prepare all the meals. That’s what we call getting away from it all.  
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 12/11/17 at 06:00 AM
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Friday, February 12, 2016

5 Adventures on a Shoestring, Diving in Fiji

Taveuni, Fiji, is one of those places like Palau or the Red Sea that is discussed only in clandestine conversations between avid scuba divers. They come here to dive the renowned Rainbow Reef, whose intricate corals and myriad fish provide divers with a kaleidoscopic view of the sea. Add white-tip sharks, sea turtles, and manta rays to the equation and you have one of the finest diving experiences in the world. Taveuni Ocean Sports offers a 7-night dive resort package that starts at $1450 per person. The package includes five days of two–tank dives (including guided tour for certified divers, tanks and weights), lodging at Taveuni’s lone eco-resort, Nakia, three meals a day and afternoon tea with freshly-baked goodies at Nakia's Cliffhouse Restaurant. 

 
In your spare time, skip the hike to Lake Tagimaucia. Here’s my story in the Boston Globe about that painful experience. It’s been fun reliving some of my favorite adventures this week! Next week, I’ll be in Florida visiting family. I’ll be back on February 22nd. In the meantime, happy travels and keep active! 
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/12/16 at 06:00 AM
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Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Five Favorite Adventures in the Caribbean, Diving Bonaire

A mere decade ago, Bonaire was known only to scuba enthusiasts—a coveted gem discussed in hushed conversations with other serious ocean lovers (types who come out of the water with seaweed in their hair). Now that the secret is out, travelers are learning that nature thrives here both above and below the water. The reef’s proximity to shore is ideal for divers and snorkelers who want to swim with blue and yellow queen angelfish and orange trumpetfish in waters with visibility of 100 feet or more. Bonaire’s semi-arid landscape is home to some 200 types of birds, including one of the world’s largest colonies of pink flamingoes, numbering some 15,000. Overlooking one of the island’s loveliest beaches is the Harbour Village Beach Club. Heinekens and gouda are the sustenance of choice on this Dutch colony, but if you prefer gourmet, go with the resort’s La Balandra Beach Bar and Grill.  

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/03/15 at 06:00 AM
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Thursday, June 12, 2014

Urban Adventures: Dive Casa Cove, San Diego

Of the thousands of people who take the quarter-mile walk from the cliffs of La Jolla Cove to Casa Cove, few take the plunge. Twenty feet below the surface, you’ll be hanging with harbor seals and 3-foot horn sharks (harmless) inspecting clumps of bright yellow sulphur sponges that cling to the wall. La Jolla Dive will lead you away from the masses.  
 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 06/12/14 at 10:00 AM
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Monday, March 03, 2014

A Four Seasons Cruise in the Maldives

In my last blog, I mentioned how the new Emirates non-stop from Boston to Dubai will save New Englanders six hours of travel time if they wanted to continue onward to the nearby Maldives. I don’t think many people realize that Four Seasons Resorts operates a 129-foot three-deck catamaran in the Maldives called the Four Seasons Explorer. 22 lucky guests can opt for the three-night cruise northern cruise or four night southern cruise. Since the Maldives is known as one of the top dive sites in the world, it’s no surprise that the Four Seasons Explorer has a PADI Five-Star Dive Centre on-board. You can also simply relax with spa treatments, sea kayaking jaunts, beach picnics, and remote island excursions. Best yet, the cruise connects two of the Four Seasons Resorts in the Maldives, Kuda Huraa and Landaa Giraavaru. Combine all three and you get 7 to 10 days of luxury pampering on a memorable beach vacation. For avid scuba divers and honeymooners, this is hard to top! 

 

 


Posted by Steve Jermanok on 03/03/14 at 11:00 AM
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Friday, February 07, 2014

My Top 5 Places to Scuba Dive, Heron Island, Australia

Looking forward to seeing an ockie (octopus) in the bommie (coral head)? Then Heron Island, on the Great Barrier’s southern reef, is the place for you, mate. You might also dive with giant sea turtles that come ashore to lay their eggs between late October and March, or with humpback whales that skirt the island from June through October. Heron Island Resort, the island’s lone accommodation, has room for 250 nature lovers. The Point Suites offer unobstructed views of the harbor and bay. Part resort, part wildlife sanctuary, the island is large enough for couples to follow their own trail to a nesting spot among the white herons.  

 

Posted by Steve Jermanok on 02/07/14 at 11:00 AM
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Longtime Boston Globe travel writer, Steve Jermanok, dishes out his favorite travel locales and provides topical travel information that comes across his desk.

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