Archive for the ‘Scuba Diving’ category

Adventure Travel in Tahiti

February 28, 2016

I’m excited about my vacation to Tahiti in less than 30 days.  French Polynesia is an amazing, historically significant place on the planet.  As one of the last places to ever be originally habituated by humans, the country has been relatively unspoiled from the beginning.

After becoming a French colony, Tahiti became a center of ecological controversy for decades due to nuclear testing in the area.

The country consists of 130 islands scattered across the Pacific —a total land area roughly equivalent to that of metropolitan Paris and London combined but spread across a swath of ocean five times as large as France.

Tahiti has become more environmentally sensitive due to awareness of envorinmental issues, and concerns, like all island nations, of sea levels rising due to global warming and climate change concerns.

Three decades of French nuclear testing had led to increased atmospheric plutonium and radiation, several destroyed coral reefs, a landslide and related tsunami, and radiation poisoning found in fish in the area. (Source:

Because of the isolation of the islands, there is little biodiversity in plants, most of which were introduced by the first Polynesians, and many others were introduced by Europeans centuries later.

On the limestone soils of the island atolls, desert-type plants are commonly found. On the high volcanic islands plant life is more diversified; ferns have conquered many hills and plateaus, whereas rainforests are established in the upper valley areas. On coastal plains coconut, breadfruit, and various fruit trees flourish.

No mammals are indigenous to the islands, but you can find feral goats, pigs, horses, cattle, and rats introduced by prior settlers. A fish called nato and a variety of shrimp are found in the islands’ freshwater streams. The marine life in the lagoons and surrounding seas is varied and plentiful.

Current tourism on the islands focuses on minimal impact sailing, snorkeling and scuba, hiking, and responsibly exploring the natural beautiful environment and surroundings of not only Tahiti, but all the surrounding islands that make up French Polynesia (including the Marquesas Islands.

Eco friendly adventure travel outfitters include the following:

Having been fascinated by the artists that have lived in French Polynesia, and the amazing stories relayed by James Michener in the Pulitzer winning novel,”Tales of the South Pacific”, which became a popular Rogers & Hammerstein musical and film.

Look for more photographs and adventures coming up!


Dive with Great White Sharks

March 15, 2010
Great white shark. Photo by Terry Goss, copyri...
Image via Wikipedia

Cue the theme to Jaws: volunteer travel specialist, i-to-i has launched a new research project for volunteers to help research Great White Sharks in South Africa.

Volunteers are needed to help monitor Great White Sharks and the rest of the ‘Marine Big Five’ – whales, seals, dolphins and penguins – on a new, two-week project based in Kleinbaai, 180km southeast of Cape Town.

The Western Cape is known as the best place in the world to see Great White Sharks in their natural habitat. Working with local ecotourism operators, volunteers will have the chance to see the sharks from both boat-side and from a submerged protective cage.

Their primary task will be to record data and observations on the sharks and other marine animals, learning how to identify individual animals through dorsal fin markings and other measurements. The aim of the project is to collect and collate data to inform efforts to arrest the decline of this threatened species.

Shark education is a prominent part of the project, with lectures by marine biologists, and volunteers will also gain insights into the workings of ecotourism, as they will be assisting the ecotourism operators during their daily shark-viewing tours.
The project cost of $2549 includes airport pickup, orientation, training in ecotourism operations and data collection, 24-hour emergency support, services of an in-country co-ordinator and a contribution to the project. Additional weeks cost $800, up to a maximum of four weeks.

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Cave Diving in the Yucatan

January 29, 2010
A burst of colour lights the shallow waters of...
Image via Wikipedia

Millions of years ago, the Yucatan peninsula was below sea level and formed the bed of a shallow ocean. Fish shellfish and coral thrived in this environment, and when they died their bones and shells fell to the sea floor. The calcium from these formed a calcium carbonate (CaCO3) sludge. As the depth of this layer of sludge thickened, the increasing pressure solidified the calcium carbonate into a porous limestone rock.

During subsequent ice ages the sea level fell and the peninsula was exposed, forming dry land covered in heavy vegetation. Rain falling on the land would percolate through the decaying vegetation and the porous limestone, and then flow horizontally to the sea.

The rainwater dissolved carbon dioxide (CO2) from the atmosphere and produced by decaying vegetation, forming carbonic acid (H2CO3). This carbonic acid solution dissolved the limestone, sometimes creating vertical shafts from the surface, and sometimes creating horizontal passages towards the ocean. Most of the horizontal cave development is believed to have happened close to the water level.

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Death and Scuba Diving in Cenotes

October 23, 2009

As a scuba diver, Cenotes fascinate me.  I’ve always been intrigued by these freshwater deep caves, which seem somewhat mysterious.  And it didn’t fascinate just me – the ancient Maya believed that cenotes were pathways to the afterlife and would sacrifice humans and items of value to the cenotes.

The cenotes in the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico still have the skulls and bones from ancient sacrifices, as you can see in the amazing video below.

Scuba Diving in Mexico at Clint's Wedding
Image by Mark Busse via Flickr

Several years ago, I read the fascinating story of diver David Shaw, who made a cenote deep dive (almost 900 feet) to retrieve the body of Deon Dreyer, who had died there 10 years before.

Amazingly, David Shaw videotaped his descent and the attempted retrieval of the remarkably preserved body, and ended up videotaping his own death.


Millions of years ago, the Yucatan Peninsula was a giant reef set under several feet of ocean water. During the last ice age, the ocean level dropped, exposing the reef to the surface. The coral died, and jungle grew over the mile thick limestone platform created by the coral reef. Fossils found far inland are proof of this and are commonly seen during a “cenote dive.” In time, the rain filtered through the organic jungle soil, carving tunnels through the softer limestone creating a giant network of caves and tunnels. This filtering of rain water continues today, forming stalactites, hanging from the vaults, and stalagmites, projecting from the floor, which often join to create columns. These stalactites and stalagmites number in the millions and range in size from that of a pencil to the size of a big tree.

When the ice age was over, the ocean rose back to today’s current level, partially submerging the cave network with crystal clear fresh water and sometimes collapsing the limestone creating sinkholes. A “Cenote” is a natural sinkhole created where a cave ceiling has collapsed, a window to this spectacular world. Cenotes were the only source of water in the jungle for the Mayan civilization and are considered sacred by the Mayan people. The Mayan consider cenotes to be an entrance to their “underworld” where their gods live and their spirits reside after death. The Mayans first called these sinkholes “Dznot” or sacred well. A word which had been perverted into “cenote” by the Spanish “conquistadors.”


There is a very strict protocol of conservation for Cenotes, and visitors should take it seriously: Nothing is to be touched or removed. Take only memories, kill only time, and leave nothing behind, but bubbles. One can enjoy the beautiful cenotes of the Yucatan Peninsula through a relaxing swim or snorkel or for the more adventurous by diving.

Cavern Diving. If you are a certified diver, you can visit the natural light area of the cavern safely, under the guidance of a local cavern diving instructor.

Cave Diving is different from cavern diving and means further penetration into the area beyond the natural sunlight. Extensive training and special equipment is required to enter these areas. A Full Cave Diver Course and Certification is required.

The amazing story in Outside Magazine you can still find here.  It’s really a good read – highly recommended:

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Extreme adventure travel

April 10, 2009

Adrenaline Rush
Thrilling Getaways


Ski, surf; hike, bike. Down dog, uphill — okay, already. When sporty isn’t thrilling enough (and when the future feels ominous), it’s time to upgrade to heart racing. These bold adventures should get the adrenaline rushing (even if all you’re doing is reading about them).

Ride Like the Wind
Until recently, HALO was done only by elite military. Now any wannabe GI can leap from a plane at 30,000 feet — twice the altitude of the average skydive — with Tennessee-based HALO Jumper

. Strapped onto a military-trained jumpmaster, you leap into air that’s 30 degrees below zero. Since passing out at such altitudes is almost a certainty, oxygen masks are a must. The parachute opens as low to the ground as possible (HALO stands for high altitude, low opening), and night jumps are offered during full moons in May, September, and October. Howl all you want.Swim with the Fishes
Cute little moray eel? Try a four-meter great white shark. Cage Diver

leads day trips to a little strip of sea south of Capetown known as Shark Alley. Brave beginners are welcome. A certified instructor helps you into the cage, which is submerged underwater for five to fifteen minutes at a time, “depending on the action.” (Cue Jaws soundtrack.)Mignificent, Yo
When competing against actual soldiers in virtual games runs its course, take to the skies for Top Gun action. In the cockpit of a Russian MiG-29

or a MiG-31 Foxhound. Over Moscow and Nizhny. It all sounds too incredible to be true, so start practicing your lines for when you get back to the cubicle: “Is that a Cold War in your pocket, or are you just impressed to see me?”Journey to the Center of the Earth
From glacier to geysers, Iceland is an adventure junkie’s dreamland. Your destination: a lake outside Reykjavik, where a diving instructor will accompany you on a stunning swim between tectonic plates.

Is that Paleolithic coral? Hell, who’s going to say it isn’t?

(The above article was from

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