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NWDiver

Help us plan our trips for 2008

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So we are starting to look to book trips for 08 and looking for advice.

 

We love everything from muck to walls and drift dives. But the wife really loves the small and weird stuff. We have 7 maybe 8 weeks, one of the benefits of being self employed. Prefer 7-10 day live aboards because we really like 5 dives per day. We prefer smaller groups and now that the wife has gotten hooked on shooting video, operations that understand divers with cameras.

 

In addition help with time of year that is the best combo for seeing creatures but has decent conditions for shooting. Also looking for more remote destinations maybe off the beaten path.

 

Will give you where we have been as we are trying not to repeat.

 

Been To:

Caymans, Belize, Turks, Bonaire, Cozumel, Roatan/Utila, PNG, Cocos, Fiji, Palau, Thailand and Hawaii.

Booked for 07

Australia/Coral Sea, Mozambique, Thailand/Burma

For 08

Galapagos (best time? Best op?)

NOW WHAT????

Edited by NWDiver

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So we are starting to look to book trips for 08 and looking for advice.

 

We love everything from muck to walls and drift dives. But the wife really loves the small and weird stuff. We have 7 maybe 8 weeks, one of the benefits of being self employed. Prefer 7-10 day live aboards because we really like 5 dives per day. We prefer smaller groups and now that the wife has gotten hooked on shooting video, operations that understand divers with cameras.

 

In addition help with time of year that is the best combo for seeing creatures but has decent conditions for shooting. Also looking for more remote destinations maybe off the beaten path.

 

Will give you where we have been as we are trying not to repeat.

 

Been To:

Caymans, Belize, Turks, Bonaire, Cozumel, Roatan/Utila, PNG, Cocos, Fiji, Palau, Thailand and Hawaii.

Booked for 07

Australia/Coral Sea, Mozambique, Thailand/Burma

For 08

Galapagos (best time? Best op?)

NOW WHAT????

 

If you want to see the little and weird stuff, you have to go to Lembeh. Both the Lembeh Beach resort and the North Sulawesi Aggressor are great places to see Lembeh from. The chances are that almost all the pictures of the really weird stuff you see here and elsewhere (hairy or warty frogfish, Ambon or Rhinopias scorpion fish, snake eels etc) were shot in Indonesia. Great place for coooool little stuff.

 

The Other Place that was really neat was the Solomon Islands, go on the Bilikiki and say hello to Michelle and Monty, it is by far the best liveaboard experience we have had and the Solomon's are truly off the beaten path.

Bill

 

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For combination of wall/drift dive and chance to see small weird critters and live aboard, I would add Komodo, Indonesia as well. Lembeh is great for small critters but not much in term of wall/drift dive. The other possibility would be Sipadan, Malaysia, you can do wall/drift dive in the morning at Sipadan then looking for little critters at Mabul/Kapalai in the afternoon. However, it is mostly resort base rather than live aboard.

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Thanks for the input.

 

If we did a two week trip we could spend a week in Lembeh and then what other location?? Do people have favorite operations?

 

The Italians we just dove with in Palau loved Sipadan. They went out on the Celebes Explorer. Anyone have a favorite land op? What are the major Sipadan attractions?

 

We have been seriously considering the Bilikiki/Solomons. Again what are the Main Attractions there? Best time of year to go with photography in mind?

 

Anyone else any other locations

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1) Indonesia

2) Indonesia

3) Indonesia

4) Sipadan

5) PNG

 

 

 

1) 2) and 3) We have been to Lembeh and Bunaken. We will probably head back to Bali next April and just do Bali. We love Bali. We will probably make arramgements with Graham for a guide. We are going back to Wakatobi October of 2008. We are going to Raja Ampat on the Adventure Komodo in April of this year. My second choice in live aboard would have been Kararu's boat. They dive Komodo itinerary and Raja intinererary.

 

If you want to string two locations together, I'd do Lembeh and Raja Ampat. To get to Sorong for a Raja Ampat trip, you have to get to Sorong. The easiest way to Sorong is via Manado. Just spend front end of trip in Manado. If we had more time, that's what we would do. Especially since the flight out of Manado to Sorong is two days after arrival in Manado from Singapore. Since it is only a day and a half in Manado we are spending it up in mountains at the Gardenia Resort.

 

We absolutely loved Lembeh Resort, other than those damn steps. If I went to Lembeh, I wouldn't do the live aboard, simply because I'd prefer to dive up and down the straight as opposed to traveling to the north, although you could easily do both on the same trip.

 

5) Someday, when I can get to PNG for 10-12 days without paying $2800 in airfare, I'll go there. I will stay at Tawali or do Aqua One live aboard or MV Golden Dawn Live Aboard to one of the unusual parts of PNG.

 

4) I want to go to Sipadan, but I keep making plans to return to Indonesia. We can't seem to help ourselves. But I did consider over water bungalows at SMART resort and SMART Divers.

 

PS Galapagos

 

We are heading there in August for the 3rd time. August and September are prime whaleshark months. July and October are probably good, too. The two Aggressors are the creme dela creme, but PHughes gets good reviews nowadays and Eric's favorite Deep Blue is much cheaper.

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I just love these questions!!!

1-take the whole time and go on the Seahorse to Fakfak and Alors.

2-Golden Dawn in PNG. This is a good choice since the itineraries vary.

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I agree with the Indonesia sentiment. You can do some pretty amazing diving off the north end of Sulawesi, at Bangka Island. There's an upmarket resort near there called Gangga Island Resort and Spa. You can then do a bit of muck and reef diving in the same locale, without sweating over Merpati losing your luggage. You could also dive Bunaken, but it'd not nearly as exciting. You might also find a liveaboard to do the Togian Islands or Halmahera area, depending on the season.

Alor area is amazing.

I found Komodo not so exciting (I know everyone loves it, but we had poor visibility, and an operation that didn't meet expectations)

Bali is great. Been three times, and would go back again. The combination of culture, geographical beauty and value and diving can't be beat.

I liked PNG, but it is a hassle to get to.

And of course...Port Hardy, BC.

Cheers,

Marli

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Well Lembeh has made the list, min 5days diving. Now we need a dive op, suggestions? Again looking for someone that caters to photogs.

 

Will add another destination to this, a 10 day trip (diving). Maybe 5 days somewhere more remote? It has been 15yrs since I have been to Bali, love the island but don't recall being all that impressed with the diving.

 

We loved PNG but want to hit a few other spots before we start repeating.

 

So now we have:

1. Galapagos any preferance with live-aboards?

2. Lembeh 5 days + 5 days ????

Still leaves 3-4 weeks we need to fill!

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Something a little closer to home: Dominica in the Caribbean. Not much on the big stuff, but plenty of little critters, and good macro diving. Castle Comfort Dive Lodge offers dive packages that include shore diving. Camera facilities at the resort are average to non-existent (small rinse bucket on the boats). Plenty of topside attractions such as waterfalls and hiking. Its as close to undiscovered Caribbean as you can probably get.

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Dominica is on the list for some time "down the road". For the next couple of years we are looking to some of those more distant non-Carib spots.

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.... Especially since the flight out of Manado to Sorong is two days after arrival in Manado from Singapore.

 

mmm not nessecarily... we arrive in Manado on Friday lunchtime and the connection to Sorong is @ some un-goldly hour on Saturday morning..... 'bout a 14 hour layover. just enough time for beer, karaoke and a few hours kip ;)

 

Well Lembeh has made the list, min 5days diving. Now we need a dive op, suggestions? Again looking for someone that caters to photogs.

 

I can highly recommend http://www.odysseadivers.com/ , they are VERY photographer aware, have dedicated photoroom in the resort, extremely friendly and good guides and the spa is fantastic! We're on their liveaboard on Saturday which is currently in Raja Ampat ( http://www.odysseadivers.com/ver2/liveaboard.php )... highly recommended

Edited by SParkinson

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If you really want new, there is nothing newer and hotter than the Fakfak region! Just take with you is a sense of adventure and you will love this trip like no other!

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Well, I know you don't want more Caribbean destinations, but put Margarita Island (Isla Margarita) on your future "closer to home" list.

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mmm not nessecarily... we arrive in Manado on Friday lunchtime and the connection to Sorong is @ some un-goldly hour on Saturday morning..... 'bout a 14 hour layover. just enough time for beer, karaoke and a few hours kip ;)

Karoake in Manado is cool!

I can highly recommend http://www.odysseadivers.com/ , they are VERY photographer aware, have dedicated photoroom in the resort, extremely friendly and good guides and the spa is fantastic! We're on their liveaboard on Saturday which is currently in Raja Ampat ( http://www.odysseadivers.com/ver2/liveaboard.php )... highly recommended

Are you referring to Kima Bajo Resort? That's on the Manado side of things and a pretty long boat ride to Lembeh. Besides the time and fuel costs, it's just silly in terms of getting the tide right etc.

I recommend going to Lembeh for a week and concentrate on Lembeh with the resorts in the straits. Every dive site within 25 minutes and dive time is more flexible due to the short travel time, like squeezing a night dive after the mandarin dives etc.

At Lembeh, a plethora of resorts are opening up. KBR is the grand dame and in my mind the best locale for breezy nights without a/c. Lembeh Resort is the more modern resort stuck in a valley with still air and steep steps to climb. There are a few other resorts and I think at least one more opening up this year or may have even opened already.

The Sunda Islands in Indonesia are all awesome for marine biodiversity. Many areas are declining rapidly and Komod has made comeback from the mid 90s.

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Karoake in Manado is cool!

 

Are you referring to Kima Bajo Resort? That's on the Manado side of things and a pretty long boat ride to Lembeh. Besides the time and fuel costs, it's just silly in terms of getting the tide right etc.

I recommend going to Lembeh for a week and concentrate on Lembeh with the resorts in the straits. Every dive site within 25 minutes and dive time is more flexible due to the short travel time, like squeezing a night dive after the mandarin dives etc.

At Lembeh, a plethora of resorts are opening up. KBR is the grand dame and in my mind the best locale for breezy nights without a/c. Lembeh Resort is the more modern resort stuck in a valley with still air and steep steps to climb. There are a few other resorts and I think at least one more opening up this year or may have even opened already.

The Sunda Islands in Indonesia are all awesome for marine biodiversity. Many areas are declining rapidly and Komod has made comeback from the mid 90s.

 

indeed, Kima is a 35 minute drive from manado.... but they have 2 livaboards... there's a small one (Sabina) that does 2-3 day trips and a full on huge, extremely well run version, "Odyssea 1" .. they have itinaries posted on their website for this and next year. As I mentioned, highly recommended ;)

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I am surprised Egypt doesn't appear on your "have been" list, nor has anyone suggested it (as far as I can see). I am equally surprised Bali is mentioned here, I was not very impressed when I was there a few years ago. Looking at your list of visited places I'd be surprised if you would enjoy Bali diving.

 

Egypt: While some northern destinations can be crowded, there are many deep south (incl. into Sudan)liveaboards that has superb diving. I won't reccomend a particular boat, as ours was mediocre, but the diving was superb. For reference: I have dived South Africa, Tanzania, Australia, Bali, Vietnam, Thailand, Venezuela, Sweden and Norway, and I still consider Egypt, even tourist hub Sharm el Sheik, one of my favourite places and I keep going back there.

 

Also, if you are able to do some cold water diving: Norway is spectacular! And certainly off the beaten path.

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Thanks for all the info we are going to look into Fakfak and the other Lembeh resorts, we do like the idea of a liveaboard.

 

As for the Red Sea, it was always on the list but after the bombing in Sharm and current Middle East issues the wife is just not comfortable going there. Probably a baseless worry but it's a big world, plenty of places to see...

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I am not worried about bombings. It is possible to take precautions, such as avoiding the big crowds in the touristy areas.

 

But more important, I think this is very much a matter of perception. Remember: Bali has been bombed and Indonesia is a hub for Islamsit extremists, Thailand has a small war in the south, Fiji had a military coup recently, Philipines has the Abu Something guerillas that abducted divers, violent crime is a serious threat in many areas of Papua New Guinea, more Americans are killed with guns in their own country annually, than died in the Korean War (33,651), terrorists struck the WTC and Pentagon, then there is the Oklahoma bombing, UNA bomber etc etc etc. So where are you safe really?

 

In my experience Egyptians value, both econiomically and otherwise, the tourist trade and go to great lengths to protect it. The odds of actually being caught up in something there is very very very slim.

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Thanks all for the input. Looks like 3 two week trips in 08 to....

 

Seahunter Mapalo/Cocos trip in March

Lembeh/another local destination

Solomon Islands, Bilikiki liveaboard

 

So any more input on Indo welcome.

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