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Help me spend $15000 on a trip


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#1 Kelpfish

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 02:13 PM

Hello all,

 

If I had $15,000 (excluding air, so 15 grand for a dive resort) to spend on a dive trip for two, where would you recommend?

 

Here are some ground rules:

 

-No Fiji – going there this year

-No Raja Ampat (Long story)

-No Wakatobi (schedules do not match their flights)

-Land based with excellent, unlimited house reef diving

-Possibly a combo trip with liveaboard

-No puppy mill resorts like Sipadan Village or Kapalai – small and private come to mind

-Smaller resorts with heavy focus on photography

-Nitrox supported

-Service oriented

-We want more of a tropical stilt hut over water kind of thing – but not totally essential

-Do not want to be forced to stick with guides

-Not limited to any location of the world

 

I have a specific stock photography photographic needs of the land based, rustic looking stilt village ambience, but also need the diving to be good as well.  I realize I have eliminated a lot of locations, but bring on what recommendations you have.

 

Trip duration would be December/January, 21 days.  The 21 days, however, mean I must depart LAX on day 1 and return back to lax on day 21.  So the trip would likely be 14-16 dive days and a couple of fun, off gassing days depending on how the air schedule fits.

 

Appreciate any input.

 

Joe

 

 


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#2 Oceanshutter

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 02:22 PM

Well with the stilt hut type...I think you are looking Tahiti...  $15k will get you a few days there....IT is very expensive.  I haven't been there personally, but based on your criteria, thats what comes to mind.  The diving I have heard is very good off of Rangiroa and Fakarava, but very medicore everywhere else.  

 

For the stock photos hut over water, it doesn't get much better than Bora Bora.  But again, the diving is not great.

 

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#3 jonny shaw

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Posted 26 June 2013 - 04:31 PM

What about the liveaboard Febrina or Golden Dawn and a land based out of TUFI PNG, stunning diving, great liveaboard, they will let you do pretty much what you want plus TUFI has a great house / much dive out the front.


Edited by jonny shaw, 26 June 2013 - 04:31 PM.

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#4 Kelpfish

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 07:04 AM

Isn't PNG the rainy season in Dec/Jan? Some say don't go, others say it is great diving that time of year.


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#5 troporobo

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Posted 27 June 2013 - 09:47 PM

How about Palawan, combining a stay at El Nido Lagan (over water villas) with a week on a liveaboard to Tubbataha?



#6 ripli

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 12:31 AM

MALDIVES. December- January its the begining of the dry season, greit weather and great diving. Both land based in any of the wonderfull resort and on any of the luxury liveaborads…



#7 Kelpfish

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 05:48 AM

MALDIVES. December- January its the begining of the dry season, greit weather and great diving. Both land based in any of the wonderfull resort and on any of the luxury liveaborads…

Do you have any resort recommendations?


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#8 Drew

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 07:12 PM

Joe, a few clarifications.

Is the 15k for all 18 days including diving and accommodation?  When you say unlimited house diving, do you mean included in the price? Or just that they won't stop you from going for that 9th dive at midnight?
Which criteria is most important? Can you list it in order of preference.

Many of the resorts in the Maldives/Tahiti with overwater bungalows are pretty big in size and most certainly aren't the dive till you drop type places.  The house reefs are more snorkel depth which graduate to walls.  The best diving are channels with drifts done by boats.  Check Euro Divers or Werner Lay dives for their sites as they run a few concessions at various resorts.  I remember one Euro Divers resort Viledu (or something like that) that had a house reef that survived the bleaching during the worst El Nino years.

I can't think of a small, service oriented (luxury?) place that has a good house reef with unlimited(number wise) EAN diving except the following places:

Indo: KBR, Lembeh Resort in the Lembeh area.  Not small but hey it's much heaven.
Bali: Scuba Seraya, Villa Markisa, all of these resorts charge per dive but it's like $30 or something.  Mimpi Tulamben has unlimited air diving in their packages usually. But that's like on the row of hotels/resorts on Tulamben beach. 

Ambon area: Maluku Divers in Ambon (muck), Cape Paperu resort in Saparua (sandy/coral reef).  Never stayed at either but have dived the areas more than a few times and know the people running the place.  Decent small places but not luxury.

There are a few off the beaten track resorts with house reefs like Wudong (muck), Alor (shallow reef), Banda Neira (junk muck),  All of these places will let you dive without a guide and no EAN, if you have the experience.

Then there are places like Central Sulawesi like the Togians and other resorts in the area like Gorontalo which are pretty decent for critter.coral dives but lacking in bigger fish (fished out).  All small but 3.5* at the most in Togians.

For luxury but not unlimited shore diving, very private with a decent house reef, I can think of the Aman Wana resort in Moyo.  I can't remember if they had EAN.  Taking the seaplane from Bali will bust your budget so it's a bitch to get out there by boat.

 

Philippines:
Anilao has the best shore diving depending on resort but no beaches and the food is decent at best.  The areas of Moalboa, Sequijor and especially Sogod have decent smallish resorts that have good house reefs with EAN diving and great beaches.

 

I suggest you check Theresa Zubi's website for areas and get your priorities listed with deal breakers and specifically level of accommodations (must be luxury, simple etc)


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#9 r4e

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Posted 29 June 2013 - 09:57 PM

Anywhere in the world... the following does NOT have tropical stilt huts and many of the dive sites are reachable only by boat, but, if you are looking for top professional dive service with possibility to combine reasonable/within budget/over budget local and, alternatively, very private accomodation, you might want to check the following for future reference:

 

http://www.portofinodivers.com

(select EN for English)

and

https://www.facebook.com/agridiving

 

The "touristic" and warm travel season in the Mediterranean is from May until October. However, I have found that visiting Italian small towns out of season is much more enjoyable with the absence of tourists. As GUE professionals, I do not think they'll let you dive on your own. However, if your ambition is photography, that will be the primary goal for your team dives. No questions about it apart from safety considerations. They'll provide very attentive assistance to fulfill this goal instead of pushing a semi-fixed tour like most of the dive guides default to. And there'll be no other customers interfering - just specify this on your advance order.


Edited by r4e, 29 June 2013 - 09:58 PM.

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#10 ripli

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 12:00 AM

Do you have any resort recommendations?

I have some friends than have been here

http://www.wretreatmaldives.com/

 

 

and they had a greit time. Privete diving where ever you want at North Ari, close to Fishead and Maaya thila dive sites.

And for liveboards there are a lot I kown these ones and they are awsome

 

http://submaldives.c...s#boat_mosaique

 

http://sirenfleet.co...s/maldives.html

 

I hope these could help you



#11 Kelpfish

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Posted 30 June 2013 - 04:21 AM

Joe, a few clarifications.

Is the 15k for all 18 days including diving and accommodation?  When you say unlimited house diving, do you mean included in the price? Or just that they won't stop you from going for that 9th dive at midnight?
Which criteria is most important? Can you list it in order of preference.

Many of the resorts in the Maldives/Tahiti with overwater bungalows are pretty big in size and most certainly aren't the dive till you drop type places.  The house reefs are more snorkel depth which graduate to walls.  The best diving are channels with drifts done by boats.  Check Euro Divers or Werner Lay dives for their sites as they run a few concessions at various resorts.  I remember one Euro Divers resort Viledu (or something like that) that had a house reef that survived the bleaching during the worst El Nino years.

I can't think of a small, service oriented (luxury?) place that has a good house reef with unlimited(number wise) EAN diving except the following places:

Indo: KBR, Lembeh Resort in the Lembeh area.  Not small but hey it's much heaven.
Bali: Scuba Seraya, Villa Markisa, all of these resorts charge per dive but it's like $30 or something.  Mimpi Tulamben has unlimited air diving in their packages usually. But that's like on the row of hotels/resorts on Tulamben beach. 

Ambon area: Maluku Divers in Ambon (muck), Cape Paperu resort in Saparua (sandy/coral reef).  Never stayed at either but have dived the areas more than a few times and know the people running the place.  Decent small places but not luxury.

There are a few off the beaten track resorts with house reefs like Wudong (muck), Alor (shallow reef), Banda Neira (junk muck),  All of these places will let you dive without a guide and no EAN, if you have the experience.

Then there are places like Central Sulawesi like the Togians and other resorts in the area like Gorontalo which are pretty decent for critter.coral dives but lacking in bigger fish (fished out).  All small but 3.5* at the most in Togians.

For luxury but not unlimited shore diving, very private with a decent house reef, I can think of the Aman Wana resort in Moyo.  I can't remember if they had EAN.  Taking the seaplane from Bali will bust your budget so it's a bitch to get out there by boat.

 

Philippines:
Anilao has the best shore diving depending on resort but no beaches and the food is decent at best.  The areas of Moalboa, Sequijor and especially Sogod have decent smallish resorts that have good house reefs with EAN diving and great beaches.

 

I suggest you check Theresa Zubi's website for areas and get your priorities listed with deal breakers and specifically level of accommodations (must be luxury, simple etc)

 Hi Drew,

 

First, yes, accommodations & diving = 15k, but not air.

 

Unlimited house reef diving means that after & in between some boat diving I want to be able to make shore dives as will without paying extra.  Raja4divers, for example, only allows 4 dives a day as their definition of "unlimited diving" at a cost of $453 a night excluding transfer to and from the island. I don't want to have regimented diving like that, especially at $453 bucks a night.

 

Priority #1 is diving quality, both on the house reef and boat diving.  Leaning to more scenic, colorful like PNG or Raja as opposed to muck.  However, if all else fails I am off to KBR for a second time.

 

Priority #2 is the resort look, i.e. the stilt lodges.  I am not looking for 5 star spa resorts if I can help it unless the diving is fantastic.  All of the sites I've checked out at the Maldives, for example, are spa, family, huge, vacationer type resorts and very expensive. I am more interested in smaller, dedicated dive resorts, maybe off the beaten path.  If anyone recalls Sipadan Island in the early 1990's when they were camping on the island & diving, well, then they put in the huts and dining area.  That would be perfect.  Of course Sipadan is puppy mill diving now and way off my grid of interest.

 

Great ideas, everyone.  Unfortunately, I am stuck with dates of Dec 13 - Jan 3, 2014/2015 due to wife's schedule.  After that she starts a new job and will not have the ability to take a long trip for probably 3-5 years, so I need to squeeze in a the best dive I can and we are looking for that combo wide angle/macro heaven that lies in the $15k ish range.  There is a small possibility we will be able to pull off Misool, but only for 14 days, then we are stick with our last week off with no diving as Misool does not allow off schedule stays unless you pay for the days you aren't there.

 

Thanks everyone for the ideas.  Keep em coming....we haven't made any decisions.

 

Joe


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#12 davichin

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 03:23 AM

Maybe you can check Ananyana, we were there several years ago and liked it a lot. www.ananyana.com


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#13 pooley

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Posted 01 July 2013 - 05:06 AM

If you fancy a mix of land and liveabord, maybe take a look at Komandoo (komandoo.com) in the Maldives. Its a smallish island, with around 50 rooms, and pretty quiet. The diving is run by prodivers (prodivers.com) who are a very professional outfit, and have nitrox available. There is daily boat diving, a very good house reef, and at that time of year you have excellent chances of manta sightings. The house reef is open for unguided diving 9am - 9pm each day, you have to do the orientation, then you can dive as much as you computer allows.

 

Komandoo is a sister island to Kuredu, which is only a very short boat ride away, and is home to the Monsoon liveaboard. I'm sure you could easily sort out a transfer onto the boat - a few more details are on the kuredu.com website. I would recommend Kuredu myself - I'm going for my 3rd trip later this year - but it is one of the larger islands, the house reef is a bit battered, and is not necessarily the 'island paradise' often associated with the Maldives.

 

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#14 ChristianG

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Posted 12 July 2013 - 05:24 AM

Isn't PNG the rainy season in Dec/Jan? Some say don't go, others say it is great diving that time of year.

It is indeed a weather problem at that time, otherwise I would probably have recommended Walindi resort and the FeBrina liveaboard that operates from there. I've been to PNG five times so I think I have a reasonable idea, I don't think that the weather (you might be lucky, you're more likely to be unlucky) is something to be toyed with on a trip like this.

 

My recommendation in this instance would be the Orion liveaboard out of the Maldives but, sadly, no "huts above the lagoon". Having said that they do go to several resort type places and, I'm sure, would be able to accommodate this request if asked, particularly beforehand. The problem, but of course, is that the Orion operates to a schedule which is not particularly conducive to a set schedule such as this one. The good news is that you could probably combine Orion with a "land" (over water?) based stay for the extra time.


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