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help with dive trip planning - where and when to go?


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#1 zzz111

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 08:22 AM

Dear fellow divers,

Just realized I needed a plan for the year when I failed to book tickets for a dive trip next month because of local festival.

I'll have 8 to 12 weeks to spend underwater in the next 12 months. It would be very appreciated if you could share your thoughts on overall planning, such as where and when to go for the best diving destination, so that I can plan well ahead, enjoy some early birds cost savings and most importantly avoid the problem I just had. I'd usually stay with a resort/boat for a week, so I can visit 8 to 12 dive destinations this year if well-planned. So, kindly your recommendations please!

Reputable vendors are also more than welcome to contact me if you're interested in offering an overall package recommendation.

Thanks a lot!

Ben

Edited by zzz111, 15 January 2010 - 08:23 AM.


#2 frisco

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 10:24 AM

Ben,

it would be helpful if you list places where you have already been and kind of photography you like (macro, wide-angle, big animals, natural light wide angle ....)
I do have many suggestion for you, but the list would be enourmous without knowing your preferences !!!

All the Best ..... Francesco
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#3 Newmediasoup2

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Posted 15 January 2010 - 03:14 PM

Dear fellow divers,

Just realized I needed a plan for the year when I failed to book tickets for a dive trip next month because of local festival.

I'll have 8 to 12 weeks to spend underwater in the next 12 months. It would be very appreciated if you could share your thoughts on overall planning, such as where and when to go for the best diving destination, so that I can plan well ahead, enjoy some early birds cost savings and most importantly avoid the problem I just had. I'd usually stay with a resort/boat for a week, so I can visit 8 to 12 dive destinations this year if well-planned. So, kindly your recommendations please!

Reputable vendors are also more than welcome to contact me if you're interested in offering an overall package recommendation.

Thanks a lot!

Ben


Hi Ben!

Since you're on Wetpixel, I'm presuming that you either shoot stills or video underwater. I've found it's best to book trips that are geared toward underwater imaging... locations to capture great images, resort/liveaboard staff to accommodate the needs of shooters etc. While there are a number of dive trip organizers out there, I'd personally recommend checking out Under Exposures:http://www.underexposures.com/
They have several trips a year that go to great locations, and all are led by photo pro, Berkley White. The person to contact at Under Exposures is Dan Baldocchi, and his info can be found on their web site. If you are interested in one of their trips, Dan will take care of all the bookings for you. I've been on several trips with them and Dan is very thorough and reliable. Wetpixel also has some great trips every year. You should check them out too.

Regards,
Jen

#4 zzz111

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 05:10 AM

Ben,

it would be helpful if you list places where you have already been and kind of photography you like (macro, wide-angle, big animals, natural light wide angle ....)
I do have many suggestion for you, but the list would be enourmous without knowing your preferences !!!

All the Best ..... Francesco


Thanks Francesco!

For the past 5 years or so, I usually dove 2 or 3 weeks a year, my divings are mostly within Southeast Asia, Huawaii once and no where else. I like both macro and wide angle, seems I like all things wet, it's probably easier to list what I don't like about diving: I'm skinny with heavy camera, so I don't usually like beach entry, I'm not good with colder water (wet suit 25C or below) but if it's worth it I can talk myself into that deep cold water, I don't enjoy long lines at check-in counter and security but divers have to live with them. Another problem is, my camera is already overweight so I don't travel with any dive gears, need rental on site, so boats without equipment rental are out.

This year I'm open to mostly anywhere - better be within 2 or 3 flight hops from Shanghai though. I'm considering Malta and Red Sea right now, not sure if the Americas worth the long flight compared to Southeast Asia. But I'll travel to the US anyway, so probably I'll dive for at least one week in the Americas too. Besides, I've never tried dry suit, not sure if I should explore some cold water destinations, how long does it take to learn dry suit?

My failure booking the trip for next month educated me that planning is necessary. But now I see planning is a real headache, I'm totally lost. With help from you fellow divers I hope I can form a plan in couple weeks, taking into consideration time of year, route optimization and I don't know what else :-)

Thanks again and help please!

#5 zzz111

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 05:13 AM

Hi Ben!

Since you're on Wetpixel, I'm presuming that you either shoot stills or video underwater. I've found it's best to book trips that are geared toward underwater imaging... locations to capture great images, resort/liveaboard staff to accommodate the needs of shooters etc. While there are a number of dive trip organizers out there, I'd personally recommend checking out Under Exposures:http://www.underexposures.com/
They have several trips a year that go to great locations, and all are led by photo pro, Berkley White. The person to contact at Under Exposures is Dan Baldocchi, and his info can be found on their web site. If you are interested in one of their trips, Dan will take care of all the bookings for you. I've been on several trips with them and Dan is very thorough and reliable. Wetpixel also has some great trips every year. You should check them out too.

Regards,
Jen


Thanks Jen! I'll contact Dan and see if I can join some of their trips.

BTW, yes I shoot stills, and since I use canon 5D2, I shoot video sometimes too - but playback is enough a headache for me, let along editing, I'm waiting for their new firmware to support 720p, that should suit me better. So I'm looking for photographer friendly resorts/boats, with equipment rental - I don't bring dive gears since camera is enough weight for me to travel with.

Edited by zzz111, 16 January 2010 - 05:58 AM.


#6 frisco

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 07:04 AM

Ben,

from my recent trips I can recoomend the following:

INDO-PACIFIC
Tulamben, Bali - Villa Markisa resort www.villa-markisa.com .... Nitrox and full rental equipment available .... mostly macro and one wreck dive (US Liberty). I am going there (2nd visit) in mid June for two weeks
Lembeh, North Sulawesi - Kungkungan Bay Resort .... Nitrox and full rental equiment available .... macro.I may go there (6th visit) in late August for two weeks
Manado, North Sulawesi - Kima Bajo Resort .... Nitrox and full rental equipment available .... wide-angle & macro
Paradise Dancer, Peter Hugues fleet - North Sulawesi (April to September) and Raja Ampat (October to March) itineraries ... Nitrox and full rental equipment available .... North Sulwesi: wide-angle & macro - Raja Ampat: big animals, wide-angle & macro
Komodo Dancer, Peter Hugues fleet - Komodo .... Nitrox and full rental equipment available .... wide-angle & macro
Wakatobi and MV Pelagian, Central Sulawesi .... Nitrox and full rental equipment available .... wide-angle & macro

RED-SEA
various operators with live-aboards in:
Port Sudan (no nitrox .... sometimes full rental equipment available) .... wide-angle and big animals .... in March/April try booking a 2 weeks cruise going up north to the Angarosh region.
Hurghada/El Quseir (nitrox and full rental equipment available) .... wide-angle and big animals .... Brothers Islands or Marine Park itineraries in June/July
Sharm El Sheikh (nitrox and full rental equipment available) .... wide-angle and wrecks ..... June for big schools of fishes in Ras Mohammed

I would also include liveaboards in New Guinea & Solomon Islands (never been, but they are at the top of my wish-list !!!).

Have fun and keep us posted !!!

All the Best ..... Francesco

BTW .... Do you live in Shanghai ???
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web: http://www.flickr.co...tos/friscodive/

Canon EOS-450D, Canon EF-S 60mm f/2.8 USM macro, Canon EF 100mm f/2,8 USM macro, Tokina AT-X 107 AF DX f/3.5-4.5, Inon 45 viewfinder, Canon 250D diopter, Hugyfot housing & ports, Inon Z240 & D2000 strobes, Lightroom 3.0 and MacBook Pro

#7 zzz111

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Posted 16 January 2010 - 08:19 AM

Thanks Francesco. That really helps, let me do more research from there.

I've been to the first 3 places, even the same resort in Manado, I liked it. And yes, I live in Shanghai, actually I'm a native here. Let me know if you'll stop by.

Edited by zzz111, 16 January 2010 - 08:52 AM.


#8 zzz111

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Posted 01 February 2010 - 12:39 AM

Hello guys, thanks to your help, I now have a priliminary plan for the next 12 months:

- Feb: Vietnam and Cambodia, mostly topside, 3 days diving in Nha Trang
- Mar: Free, probably domestic road trips
- Apr: Egypt & Italy, 1 week in Red Sea, 3 days in Malta, the rest on land
- May: 16 day liveaboard in Banda Sea
- Jun: liveaboard in Bahamas and road trips in the US
- Jul: liveaboard in Galapagos and road trips in the US
- Aug/Sep: reserved
- Oct: 7-10 days in Delawan or PNG, the rest for domestic road trips
- Nov: Ambon and Raja Ampat
- Dec: 7-10 days in Maldives, the rest free
- Jan: 7-10 days somewhere in the philipines, ice diving in Arctics if rental gears available

Most of the trips have not yet been booked, appreciate your comments and advise, and welcome dive buddy to join me, since I'll travel by myself.

Thanks/ben