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sinetwo

Caribbean for Macro? (not Cozumel)

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In getting the macro itch again but it seems most of SE Asia and Mexico are closed for UK travelling.

However Caribbean islands (such as Barbados) are open.

Does anyone know of good places in the Caribbean to do macro? 

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I think Roatan has a decent macro reputation, but I would not want to compare it to Asia.  Bonaire and Curacao might be reasonable options as well.

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We've got Spotted and Pedersen Cleaner shrimps, tons of Yellowline Arrowcrabs  in Sint Maarten..... I do macro here all the time with a snoot and have tons of fun!

 

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Thanks both, I'd love to go to any of those! However having checked a bit more, it seems the only direct flights (so to avoid further confusion with covid rules around where you can transit) from the UK are:

  • Saint Lucia
  • Montego Bay / Jamaica
  • Antigua
  • Nassau / Bahamas
  • Bridgetown / Barbados

I suppose you wouldn't know of great uw photography spots there? Happy to consider wide angle now! 

Edited by sinetwo
Added countries

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Sorry, I have not been to any of those and don't know much about the diving there, except to say that, just based on a memory of discussions and trip research in the past, I think the Bahamas and Barbados are not really considered macro destinations and I never hear anyone talking about Jamaica.

In Covid times I guess we sort of go where we can and with a bit of effort, you can find macro stuff anywhere.  But I am sure you already know that.

I am not sure of the travel situation in the UK or EU right now, but historically, I believe KLM offered direct flights to Curacao and I would think St Maarten, maybe?

 

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Yeah, both AF and KLM fly to Sint Maarten direct from CDG and AMS. It's an easy trip. 

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Not direct but going through Amsterdam is not too bad. 

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True, AMS wouldn't be too bad no!

@TimG @Draq do you have any videos or galleries of common macro subjects in either of those places? Grand Cayman came up as well as a potential for macro, alongside Bonaire.

 

Unfortunately what I've seen of Bonaire macro it seems to be the same 5-6 macro subjects? Unsure why... 

 

I can't really afford to be hugely picky during covid but I just wanna make the right choice ☺ 

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Sorry sinetwo, I don't have any galleries of SXM macro pics. A few examples below......

SXM is not that different in terms of species than Bonaire (no surprise I guess) but I do think macro is more abundant.

I've been to Bonaire 6-7 times (almost 250 dives)  and found that I had to really hunt around for macro stuff. Whereas here in SXM, lots of dives have abundant macro creatures: Spotted and Pedersen cleaner shrimps, Flamingo Tongues, Yellowline Arrowcrabs, lots of Gobies (Sharknose, Yellowprow etc etc), Secretary Blennies, Banded Coral Shrimp.....

 

TG51740.jpg

TG52031.jpg

TG52032.jpg

TG52036.jpg

TG52041.jpg

TG52080.jpg

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9 hours ago, sinetwo said:

True, AMS wouldn't be too bad no!

@TimG @Draq do you have any videos or galleries of common macro subjects in either of those places? Grand Cayman came up as well as a potential for macro, alongside Bonaire.

 

Unfortunately what I've seen of Bonaire macro it seems to be the same 5-6 macro subjects? Unsure why... 

 

I can't really afford to be hugely picky during covid but I just wanna make the right choice ☺ 

I don't have any galleries or videos of macro from those places.    As far as I know,  the Cayman islands are still closed to travel.

When I think of macro in the Caribbean, I think of nudibranchs, gobies, blennies, frogfish and seahorses when you can find them, shrimp and crabs.  They all exist at most destinations.  Bonaire and Curacao come to mind because of the ease of shore diving and therefore the ability to spend an hour or more poking around some area,  instead of being rushed by a dive guide leading a group.

I have never been, but maybe Blue Heron Bridge in Florida coupled with a few days around Key Largo?

 

 

 

 

 

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I did an Exumas charter out of Nassau in late July where I was testing out my new R5 rig.   I primarily shot 8-15, but I did take the 100mm in on 3 dives to get some experience.   I wouldn't describe the Bahamas as a macro destination, but there were a number of the flamingo tongues and a variety of shrimp and small crabs, and a few lettuce nudis.   

My main discovery is that while I didn't need a manual focus on my prior 4/3rds setup, I very likely do on the FF.   Depth of field is an issue with the banded shrimp.    

Edited by calbeardiver

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8 hours ago, Draq said:

<snip>

I have never been, but maybe Blue Heron Bridge in Florida coupled with a few days around Key Largo?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I am really hoping to get down to the Blue Heron Bridge soon.  By reputation, it is a macro paradise.  I hope to find out.

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Thanks all. I wish FL was an option as I'd also love to do Blackwater in Jupiter! :mellow:

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1 hour ago, sinetwo said:

And awesome images @TimG! I'll consider that definitely.

Oh thanks! Appreciated! 

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2 hours ago, sinetwo said:

Thanks all. I wish FL was an option as I'd also love to do Blackwater in Jupiter! :mellow:

I believe the U.S. will be open to UK visitors starting in early November.

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51 minutes ago, Draq said:

I believe the U.S. will be open to UK visitors starting in early November.

Yeah from that point of view it's an option, however their numbers are fairly high, sorry perhaps I should've stated that in my post. I'm all up for travelling but ideally to lower risk countries, like Maldives / Caribbean as they've got relatively low numbers at the moment.

I realise it's quite a few factors then

* Ideally direct flight from UK, but fine with a 1 stopper

* Relatively low covid rates

* Macro if possible

 

Given the above I think I'm probably limiting myself too much for safety but that's a subset of a subset of a subset... Kenya is now actually on the list as well and it looks like they've got crazy good macro!

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Florida has passed its peak and is now below US average for new case rate and may be tenable in early November, before the Thanksgiving holiday travel has the potential to start another winter surge season.  Unfortunately, it's difficult to plan with any accuracy beyond a few weeks.   

I think the strategy of picking from destinations with the most simple flight path is the sound way to go.  That's why I'm not ready to even think about 2022 destinations like Indonesia or the Philippines until they officially reopen    I already got burned twice by French Polynesia, even though that is a fairly simple direct flight from SFO or LAX.  

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2 hours ago, calbeardiver said:

Florida has passed its peak and is now below US average for new case rate and may be tenable in early November, before the Thanksgiving holiday travel has the potential to start another winter surge season.  Unfortunately, it's difficult to plan with any accuracy beyond a few weeks.   

I think the strategy of picking from destinations with the most simple flight path is the sound way to go.  That's why I'm not ready to even think about 2022 destinations like Indonesia or the Philippines until they officially reopen    I already got burned twice by French Polynesia, even though that is a fairly simple direct flight from SFO or LAX.  

How did you get burned out of interest? I am now strongly considering Kenya as the changeover is in Europe. 

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Burned might not be quite the right word.   

In July 2020 was to go there for the grouper spawning at Fakarava as part of 10 day cruise to Rangiroa.  Add to the boat the interisland flights and 2 nights hotel at the end points, and 3 nights at Fakarava and (terrible move by my bookers), 10 dives paid for Prodive).   Of course it didn't happen.   One night hotel was not refundable, the rest is a mix of refunds and mostly credits.   

Air Tahiti gave me until the end of Sept to rebook the interisland flights, so I figured things would be in good shape by February this year.   Book another international flight, more hotels (made sure all cancelable), new flight for a few bucks more, and upgraded the Fakarava hotel.    Come January, this was a 'should we do it or not decision' which we were leaning against when the country closed it borders again.   This time Chase got the interisland flight refunded, but I still have 3 nights and 10 dives there, and a dive boat credit that will probably be pretty good, but makes me a bit nervous until I do as it's ~13k USD.  

United was (eventually) pretty good about refunds/credits in a way I was ok with, but on the first try, I had made the daring move to use French Bee for the return flight, because the days of the week United does didn't mesh well.   Here I got the ticket class that did allow for refunds, but FB decided it would not honor that, despite the contract and US law prohibiting such for cancelled flights.   They continued to sell such 'non refundable' tickets even while deny my request and the case I opened with the DOT.   Happily Chase would do a reversal even though it was ~9 months after the time of booking.  

To date I've only lost a little bit of money and so long as I can use the boat credits, I'll be at least even.   It's more the loss of the trips that hurt (like for all of us), and for now, I'd rather avoid any more and pick the spots with the most potential to succeed, or the ones that can be arranged on fairly short notice.  

Someday I'll make it to Fakarava and Rangiroa, but maybe I'll take baby steps and try to get to Moreea for whale season.   When pandemic considerations no longer apply, it's a very accessible location from California.  

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Gulen in Norway is supposed to be a great macro destination, too, but obviously cold water. Maybe something to consider. Not been there myself, but it's high on my list.

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@sinetwo

I know this introduces more complexity, but both my friends in Bali and the tourism minister have now said Bali is opening (for a limited set of tourists) in October. Both the US & the UK are on the list of countries that will be allowed. Entry will likely require a negative test and proof of vaccination,


There are 3 reasonably good flights from the UK (all involving 1 stop) - Turkish (through Istanbul) Singapore Air (through SIN), and Emirates (through DBX).

Bali's R0 number is now <1, and the they are close to crossing the 70% vaccination rate (a condition for opening their borders). 

The north coast of Bali has excellent macro - often overlooked because of travel time, etc. 

As an aside, we spent several weeks in the Maldives this summer - great diving, but almost no macro (handful of nudis, a few other critters in two weeks of diving) , but we were there for the big schools of fish, sharks, mantas, etc.

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12 hours ago, oneyellowtang said:

@sinetwo

I know this introduces more complexity, but both my friends in Bali and the tourism minister have now said Bali is opening (for a limited set of tourists) in October. Both the US & the UK are on the list of countries that will be allowed. Entry will likely require a negative test and proof of vaccination,

 

Hey @oneyellowtang, yeah I just heard about that, that's also now an option, and Bali I know has tremendous macro, we've spent plenty of time in Tulamben :) 

 

Thanks for the heads up - we'll put it on our list of places to consider!

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It seems like Cozumel is back on the list. So it's either Cozumel or Kenya now! Thanks for all the advice folks. 

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