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5 Top Dive Sites in Ibiza

Part of Spain’s Balearic Islands, Ibiza is synonymous with idyllic beaches, peaceful retreats and vibrant culture. Below the waves, divers are treated to an equal measure of beauty, diversity and Mediterranean bliss. We’ve rounded up five of many incredible dive sites that surround the island, so read on and get ready to extend your scuba wishlist.

Don Pedro

The name could suggest this is the titular villain in a mafia movie, but fear not, there’s no chance of sleeping with the fishes here! The Don Pedro shipwreck is a formidable beast lying on its side 26m below the surface, just minutes away from the Port of Ibiza. Measuring 142m in length and with a maximum depth of 46m, the Don Pedro became the Mediterranean’s largest shipwreck when it sank in 2007. Although an unfortunate and costly mistake for the owner of the Don Pedro, PADI Advanced Open Water Divers haven’t stopped smiling since. You can expect to be guided around the enormous propellers and the wheel house, but the Don isn’t accessible for exploring inside. It’s not uncommon to hit some thermoclines here, so plan to wear a bit more neoprene than a 5mm suit if at all possible.

Minimum Level: PADI Advanced Open Water Diver
Keep an eye out for: Greater Amberjack, nudibranch

Fish Factory (Formentera)

Just a 30 minute boat ride from Ibiza you’ll find the Balearic’s 4th island, Formentera. En route to this insanely beautiful and peaceful island, there is a sunken fish factory, known locally as La Plataforma. Although the structure is underwater because of a violent storm, the seas around these islands are often calm and it’s not unusual to be accompanied by dolphins as you journey across from Ibiza. The dive itself resembles an underwater oil rig, with visiting dive boats mooring to the top of the platform at 11m. With a maximum depth of 33m, PADI Advanced Open Water Divers will drop to the bottom before spiralling their way up around the monstrous structure. PADI Open Water Divers will be restricted on how deep they can go, but it makes for the perfect deep dive during an Advanced Open Water Diver course.

Minimum Level: PADI Open Water Diver
Keep an eye out for: Conger Eels, Moray Eels, Barracuda, Scorpion fish

Dado Pequeno

Remember earlier we mentioned the Don Pedro? Well now you can meet the rock that sank it! As the huge ship exited the Port of Ibiza, it went mano a mano with Dado Pequeno – and lost. On first appearance, the little rock poking out from the Mediterranean is rather uninspiring and lacklustre, but as you get closer and the depths of the sea turn from a royal blue to the most vibrant turquoise, it quickly gets the dive juices flowing. This is a dive that has it all: depth, shallows, fascinating topography and a who’s who list of marine life. To put it into relative terms just how good this dive site is, it was always number one when discussing where to go on a staff jolly.

Minimum Level: PADI Open Water Diver
Keep an eye out for: Barracuda, Grouper, Octopus, Scorpion Fish, Stingray, Wrasse, and Amberjack

The Lighthouse

On the East coast of Ibiza, a 5 minute ride from Cala Martina, lies the Santa Eulalia Reef. This underwater rocky platform is surrounded by depths of 30m and has three unique dive sites on it. However, it is the famed lighthouse dive which grabs the most attention. It is important to note that this isn’t actually a sunken lighthouse, it’s more of a beacon, used to warn passing boats of the shallow reef. Perhaps locals referred to it as a lighthouse because beacon didn’t sound as good. In any case, the shallow platform starts at about 2m, the lighthouse goes from this depth down to 12m and then there are routes to explore down to 24m. With the dive site lying in such shallow water, the light is fantastic and the marine life never disappoints.

Minimum Level: PADI Scuba Diver
Keep an eye out for: Lobster, Octopus, Barracuda and (very rarely) Moon Fish

Cave Of Light

On the north coast of Ibiza, nestled in between San Antonio and Portinatx, there lies a hidden gem, the Cave of Light. Known locally as La Cueva de La Luz, the cave and surrounding columns can be likened to a block of Emmental cheese. Divers are free to weave in and out of the rock formations before entering the cave, where upon entry, you will be greeted with the most spectacularly piercing and dramatic ray of sun light – you know the kind –  the type of light likely to be booby-trapped in an Indiana Jones movie. Definitely a dive site for underwater enthusiasts and posers alike – just avoid on a rainy day.

Minimum Level: PADI Open Water Diver
Keep an eye out for: Shrimp

Tempted by these incredible dive sites? Locate a PADI Dive Shop and book your next trip to Ibiza!

PADI AmbassaDiver Birgitta Mueck Talks Wildlife Conservation and Underwater Filming

 

Birgitta Wildlife Header

Photo Boris Unger

We caught up with PADI AmbassaDiver, Birgitta Mueck, to talk about her passion for wildlife conservation and her work with Crystal Water Film Production…

What inspired you to take up underwater photography & videography?

It all started with my early passion for the ocean and its many charming inhabitants. As a small kid I wanted to spend as much time as possible close to, and in, the water. When my father (who is the founder of Crystal Water Film Production) went out on his diving and filming adventures, I was the little girl in the boat looking overboard watching his bubbles move around, imagining what it was like under the surface. This made me both curious and inspired, and I knew then that I would find myself making those bubbles one day.

As I always loved the feeling of freedom snorkeling gives me, for a long time I was happy just discovering underwater life with only a mask, snorkel, and fins. In 2004, I started to bring a camera underwater while snorkeling. It was at this time, when a group of socializing sperm whales in the blue, pelagic waters of the Azores became my first underwater models! From that very first moment immortalizing my amazing encounter, and the feelings I got to experience with these friendly giants, I knew I was totally hooked! Thanks to the camera, I felt that I could share both my experiences and the interest and awareness I so strongly felt for the ocean, more easily. A good year later, I received my first PADI certification, which opened the door to discovering and documenting the amazing life hidden in deeper waters.

Through your work with Crystal Water Film Production, do you feel that you’ve impacted how others view aquatic environment and conservation?

Yes, we receive many e-mails from people who express their great appreciation for the work we do, emphasizing how our films and documentations have an eye-opening effect on them. I feel that our work does impact others’ views on aquatic environment and conservation.

Birgitta Orca in Sight

Photo Christian Tousignant

Are there any environment and wildlife conservation issues that you feel are particularly important at the moment?

I would like to highlight Marine Protected Areas and the importance of developing more, and bigger, ‘no take’ zones. A ‘no take’ zone is a protected marine area where all fishing pressure is removed completely, providing areas where fish are able to reproduce, spawn and grow to their adult size. Only a small fraction of the world’s oceans are protected today, and the vast majority of existing marine reserves need much better management to control the illegal fishing happening in them. During our recent film expedition, when recording ‘Life Against All Odds’, we were sailing and diving in the Mediterranean, Atlantic and in Scandinavian waters to document the difference between protected and non-protected marine areas. The difference we experienced truly was impressive, especially in the well managed ‘no-take’ zones.

What has been your most memorable diving experience?

That is a very difficult one as there are so many amazing diving experiences of various kinds! One of them was when we were searching for sharks in Nordic waters. We dedicated two years to the expedition, sailing and diving; trying to find, and film, cold water sharks in the waters of Scandinavia, Scotland and Ireland. We saw various species, from the smallest velvet belly sharks to huge basking sharks. During the entire two years, we searched for the spiny dogfish, a shark normally found in Scandinavian waters. The spiny dogfish was once one of the most abundant sharks, but, due to overfishing, its populations have decreased by at least 95% in European waters during the last two decades. Since this shark species is a late maturing fish, where the females mature at an age of 18–21 years, giving birth to only a small number of living offspring (2-11) after a two-year gestation period, it’s been very hard for the population to recover. After two years of searching, when our deadline for the film was almost upon us, we made one final dive on a 300 meter deep drop off in Norway. This was when we finally met the spiny dogfish! Not content with that, however, the sharks were attracted to our film lamps and suddenly there were hundreds of spiny dog fish surrounding us – both underneath and above us, they were everywhere! Imagine the sight of hundreds of hammerheads but with spiny dogfish! After so much time and effort searching for this shark species, it was a truly unbelievable experience.

We must work towards Wildlife Conservation in the Ocean

Photo Armin Mueck

Do you think it’s a diver’s responsibility to encourage the wildlife conservation of our oceans?

Yes, as divers we are lucky enough to experience the joy and beauty of the underwater world. With this knowledge, and pleasure we get from the ocean, also comes a responsibility to protect and encourage conservation. The great experiences we get while diving, and our strong passion for marine places and wildlife, make divers an inspiring and informed source of information. To actively share our knowledge and passion with others is a good start to encourage and spread the word about the importance of ocean conservation.

Do you have any tips for aspiring divers / underwater photographers?

The first thing, before even bringing the camera underwater, is to be comfortable underwater and with your dive skills, especially buoyancy. It helps a lot to spend time familiarizing yourself with your camera equipment in a controlled setting above water so that you don´t end up struggling to find the settings underwater, missing out on good shooting opportunities. Try to gain knowledge about what you are photographing and to study the animal´s behaviours. Always remember that the welfare of the marine life comes first. No picture is worth taking if it has a negative impact on the wildlife.

What does MyPADI mean to you?

For me MyPADI means to inspire others, raise awareness and share my passion for the ocean.

 

To learn more about how you can help the environment whilst diving, read our article The Power of Scuba Divers to Heal the Planet.

If you’re keen to learn more about underwater videography, try checking out our Underwater Videographer specialty course.

Spain


Nearly surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean, Cantabrian Sea and the Mediterranean, Spain offers a wonderful array of dive options. A combination of cold and warm water attracts a large variety of aquatic life and there are numerous points of interest for divers throughout the country. Spain has also a number of marine reserves including Cabo de Palos, Cabo de Gata and the Columbretes Islands in the Mediterranean and La Palma, La Restinga and Isla Graciosa on the Canary Islands in the open Atlantic. Each area has its own attraction. Some, such as the Balearic Islands in the Mediterranean are known for their visibility. In the south of Spain, near the straits of Gibraltar, areas such as such as Granada, Málaga, and Cádiz, have warm water nearly all year round. In the transition zone from the Atlantic Ocean to the Mediterranean, marine mammals are common and there are tremendous opportunities for whale watching. In the north, Cantabria, Galicia, Asturias and the Basque Country have colder waters, more significant tides and a bit less visibility, but they more than make up for this with a proliferation of sea life.

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Great Dives

  • Canary Islands – Due to their location and climate, it is possible to dive year round off the seven Canary Islands. There are hundreds of unforgettable dive sites teeming with abundant marine fish and colorful flora and boasting dramatic underwater landscapes. The Canary Islands are bathed by the Gulf Stream, which regulates the water temperature, keeping it between 17-18° C/63-64° F in winter and around 23°C/73°F in summer. The water is exceptionally clear and light penetrates deep underwater, a must for underwater photographers.
  • Baix Empordà of Catalonia  Just off Far de Sant Sebastià, Ullastres I, II and III are underwater pyramids reaching to within 7 metres/23 feet of the surface. They are draped in colorful gorgonians and are home to prolific sea bass, mackerel, wrasse and nudibranchs. There are also several wrecks of ships that passed too close, struck the pyramids, and sank.
  • Furió Fitó – Located just off of the Cape of Begur is one of the Mediterranean coast’s most amazing underwater rock formations. This enormous submerged massif begins at 14 metres/45 feet before dropping down to 55 metres/180 feet. The north wall features immense gorgonians and incredibly colorful coral formations. Depending on the time of year, this area also hosts octopus, snapper, grouper, rays and silver-plated walls of barracuda patrolling for food.
  • Murcia and the Islas Hormigas Marine Park – This could arguably be the best place to dive in Spain for the sheer abundance and variety of marine life. The park is home to huge groupers, shoals of barracuda, octopus, moray eels and eagle rays as well as nudibranchs and the occasional sunfish. From August to October, huge bait balls attract pelagic fish, such as tuna, common dentex and jacks resulting in spectacular feeding frenzies. You can also dive several world-class shipwrecks within the park.
  • The Medes Islands – These small islands lie just off the coastline of L’Estartit on the Costa Brava and are considered prime Mediterranean dive sites. The islands are protected as a marine reserve and this, combined with the region’s popularity with divers, has made many of the fish relatively unafraid and approachable. The visibility is normally very good.

Want to know more? Visit ScubaEarth® for further information on thousands of dive sites, marine species, destination essentials and more.

Dive Summary

Visibility – Depending on the dive site, visibility can range from 3-50 meters/10-160 feet.

Water Temperature – Varying between different regions, water temperature ranges from 10-26°C/50-80°F with a maximum of 30ºC/86°F in the Balearic Island zone during the summer months.

Weather – There are three zones: Mediterranean, with dry warm summers and cool mild winters; Oceanic, with warm summers and cool winters, in the north; and semi-arid in the southeast.

Featured Creatures – Grouper, moray eels, moon fish, codfish, mobula rays and barracudas are all frequent visitors. You’ll also occasionally see dolphins, whales, turtles and some angel sharks in areas with sandy bottoms. The invertebrate life and abundant coral are of particular interest to photographers.

Recommended Training – Take the PADI Deep Diver and PADI Underwater Naturalist courses to get the most from the dramatic seascapes and interesting marine life. The PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course is always a good choice to record your adventures.

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Travel Info

Note – Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

Language – Spanish, with English spoken in tourist areas.

Currency – Euro. Credit cards are widely accepted.

Major Airports – Alicante, Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga and Gran Canaria are among the busiest Spanish airports.

Electricity and Internet – Electricity is 220 volts, 50 Hz. Internet service is widely available.

Topside Attractions – Attractions and monuments are found dispersed throughout the country. A few examples include the stunning architecture of La Sagrada Familia, by Gaudí, a church without equal in the world. The Alhambra of Granada and the Giralda of Sevilla are beautiful creations that showcase the Arab presence in the Iberian Peninsula.

Locate PADI Dive Shops and Resorts in Spain

Information links:
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AmbassaDiver Manuel Bustelo Combines Adventure and Sustainable Living

manuel bustelo

PADI AmbassaDiver, Manuel Bustelo, recounts his early years on top of the Argentinian mountains to his eventual descent beneath the waves.


Under doctors’ advice, my parents regularly brought me to the mountains during my childhood to alleviate the symptoms of asthma. Born in Mendoza, a city in the Argentinean Andes foothills, it was just an hour journey to reach the pure air at a height of 2,000 metres/6,561 feet.  I have countless memories with my family on the mountains. Altitude became my natural playground and I ended up climbing most of the highest Andes mountains by the age of 18.

A few years later, I became the first man to mountain bike downhill from 6,800 m/22,310 ft. A documentary shown in nine mountain film festivals brought me to Central America to promote mountain bike races. It was at the age of 28 when, while sitting in a bar in Granada (Nicaragua) and chatting about my endeavors, someone asked me why I hadn’t tried scuba diving yet. Although all of my adventures so far were done at high altitudes or riding a mountain bike, I felt the call immediately!

manuel bustelo sucba diving

With knowing comes caring, with caring comes change.

I took my PADI Open Water Diver course in Roatan (Bay Islands, Honduras). My immediate thoughts were almost mathematical. I said to myself: ‘Boy, 70% of the beautiful planet you know is underwater. The oldest ecosystems were formed underwater. Thus, there’s plenty to explore beside the mountains you are used to. Get underwater now!’

I haven’t stopped scuba diving since and this has made me the man I am today. I have explored the world’s oceans and seas, had close encounters with healthy and not so healthy reefs, spent hours observing new marine species and witnessed the hugely damaging effects of plastic on our oceans. The changes I have witnessed in myself are a direct result of the catalog of memories and first hand experiences.

plataforma_ibiza

I could already see glaciers melting while contemplating the astonishing beauty of remote mountain ranges. It is what I have seen underwater though that has given me a much more deeper connection with Mother Nature. In the Great Barrier Reef I heard countless whales and dolphins whilst surrounded by so many fish that I could hardly see my buddy. In Roatan, I spent many safety stops with trumpet fish digging into sponge corals, turtles peacefully swimming and eagle rays in pods.

With knowing comes caring, with caring comes change. The PADI Open Water course pushed me closer to nature than I had ever been. My mission is to change perspectives about our oceans, marine species living in it and their much-needed protection.The oceans need our help and scuba diving is the tool to drive that help.

Things That Go Bump In The Night

Night Diving - Squid
There’s diving, and then there’s night diving. Night divers see and experience things daytime divers never can. Nervous about diving into dark waters? Read on and learn about what you’re missing by not being a PADI Night Diver.

Nocturnal animal sightings

Think you know your local dive site? See it in an entirely new way under the cover of darkness. Lobsters, crabs, eels and octopuses (yes, octopuses) all become more active after the sun sets. See familiar fish sleeping in holes, and encounter new critters you may not have seen during the daytime.

Night Diving - Manta Rays

Plan your next dive trip to experience epic night dives like mantas dancing in the moonlight. Or visit squid breeding grounds and see the seafloor transformed into a white carpet of eggs. Make a night dive during coral spawning season and you’ll experience something so amazing it was in the documentary Blue Planet.

Fluorescence diving (also known as glow diving) is another unique nighttime experience. With the aid of a UV light, the reef explodes into incredible, glowing colors. There’s also a good chance of experiencing the “underwater Harry Potter” effect. Read more about the magical side of night diving.

Night Diving - Glow Diving

Incredible photo opps

Nighttime is a surprisingly good time to shoot underwater photos and video. If you enjoy muck diving: stargazers, ghost pipefish, blue-ringed octo’s and other “bucket list” animals are active at night.

Try black water diving to discover the strange and eerie creatures that drift up from the deep. The experience is often described by divers as “like being in outer space” or “other-wordly.” Black water diving originated in Hawaii, but can now be experienced in other parts of the Pacific and also Florida.

Even if you can’t travel very far, a night dive has reliably spectacular photo opportunities.  A sunset over the water, or a full moon rising above the horizon never fails to impress.

Night Diving - Moonrise

Experience tranquility

Divers who are initially nervous about night diving later describe how tranquil it can be. Even if there are other divers around, they’re hard to see. So night diving can feel as though you and your buddy have the whole place to yourselves.

That said, it’s important to learn the do’s and don’ts of night diving. One of the things you’ll learn in the PADI Night Diver Specialty course is how to use a dive light. Just because you can’t see other divers, doesn’t mean they’re not there. Avoid underwater fisticuffs by learning to utilize a dive light without blinding others.

Night Diving - Dive Light

In the Night Diver course you’ll also learn night dive planning and techniques. For example: how to keep track of your buddy, and methods to manage buoyancy.

Search for a PADI Dive Center or Resort to sign up for a PADI Night Diver Specialty course, and you’ll experience the sport you love in a whole new way. If you’re still feeling unsure about diving in at night, try a night adventure dive as part of your Advanced Open Water Diver course.

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6 Winter Sun Diving Destinations

Colonel John “Hannibal” Smith from The A-Team said it best with his immortal words, “there’s always a plan B”, which is what some divers may be looking for right now as the season of frosty mornings and over indulgence really sets in!

Although there are cold water hotspots across Europe that shatter the myth that only good diving is found in tropical water, some divers simply prefer a bit of winter sunshine and a warm breeze as they get out of the water. Here is a list of 6 winter sun diving destinations that tick the balmy boxes:

CANARY ISLANDS

Winter Sun Diving - Canary Islands

Year-round sun, warm, clear water and dramatic underwater volcanic seascapes draw divers to the Canary Islands. Sometimes called “The Fortunate Islands” due to the subtropical climate and sandy beaches, the islands of this Spanish archipelago lie at the eastern edge of the Atlantic Ocean, off the northwest coast of Africa. The Canaries, as they’re also known, were an important port-of-call for Spanish galleons taking advantage of the trade winds on their way to the Americas.

The seven largest islands – Tenerife, Fuerteventura, Gran Canaria, Lanzarote, La Palma, La Gomera and El Hierro – are premier European tourist destinations and attract more than 12 million visitors a year. Those who come can pick their spot and choose from bustling cities with great nightlife or sleepy little villages where stress just rolls away.

Click here for Featured Dive Sites and Dive Summary

MALTESE ISLANDS

Winter Sun Diving - Maltese Islands

On a map of the Mediterranean Sea, if you let your eye fall to the center – just South of Italy’s heel and to the west of the Mediterranean’s heart – you’ll find an enchanting archipelago comprising Malta, Gozo and Comino, along with the smaller, uninhabited islands of Cominotto, Filfla and St.Paul. The administrative capital for all the islands, Valletta, is on Malta itself under the watchful gaze of impressive fortifications commissioned by the Knights of St. John in 1524.

Malta’s geographic position was beneficial for both trading and military purposes for centuries. More recently, however, the Maltese Islands are noted more for their scuba diving than for their long and checkered past. The clear blue Mediterranean sea offers some unique diving experiences with reefs, caves and wrecks to explore.

Click here for Featured Dive Sites

MOZAMBIQUE

Winter Sun Diving - Mozambique

Mention Mozambique and most scuba divers immediately think megafauna. Whale sharks and manta rays prowl the plankton rich water year round and humpback whales pass by on their way through the Mozambique Channel from the Antarctic. Mozambique, located on Africa’s southeast coast, has more than 2000 kilometres/1250 miles of coastline bathed by the southerly flowing Aghulhas Current. To the north, the Quirimbas Archipelago is home to the recently designated Primeiras and Segundas Marine Protected Area (MPA).

The largest MPA on the African continent, it protects rich coral reefs and mangrove forests and is an important nursery for myriad reef fish and five of the ocean’s seven marine turtles among other notable denizens. To the south, the Maputo Protection Area spans the coast from Ponta de Ouro to the Maputo River providing a haven for nesting marine turtles and conserving the offshore reef ecosystems. Off Praia do Tofo, Inhambane, whale shark alley (a plankton rich current fed corridor) attracts whale sharks all year round. Sightings are almost guaranteed. This alone will put Mozambique on many scuba divers’ bucket lists.

Click here for Featured Dive Sites

OMAN

Winter Sun Diving - Oman

With vast deserts and rich history, the Sultanate of Oman is becoming an increasingly popular tourist destination. Until the 1970s, the country was almost completely closed to outside visitors but since it opened its doors, the scuba diving world is richer because of it. Oman’s coastline is relatively untouched and there is great diving near the capital of Muscat.

You can also head to Oman’s northernmost region of Musandam, which juts into the Strait of Hormuz at the mouth of the Persian Gulf. This rugged, remote land has nutrient rich waters that support a massive amount of diversity and abundance of marine life. Far to the south, the area around Salalah has a pristine coastline with seemingly endless bays and beaches. Here kelp forests appear during the summer, made possible by cool upwelling during the monsoon, and then slowly die back in late September. This makes it uniquely possible to dive in kelp and on coral reefs at the same sites for a short time.

The best diving here is from October through May when the seas calm and the water warms up. Perhaps it’s time to take a scuba diving holiday to Oman before the secret gets out.

Click here for Featured Dive Sites

JORDAN

Winter Sun Diving - Jordan

From majestic ruins of bygone civilizations to bustling urban centers, Jordan inspires with breathtaking sights and plenty to do. This desert land features dramatic red sands, towering cliffs, vast plains of volcanic basalt and hills rich with olive trees. In addition, Jordan has a well-earned reputation for excellent cuisine, a wide range of places to stay (from five star hotels to Bedouin-style camps) and for making visitors feel welcome.

But for divers, Jordan’s southernmost tip, where the Red Sea’s tropical waters bathe some of the most spectacular coral reefs in the world, has to be the main attraction. While the total coastline is only about 27 kilometres/17 miles long, there are plenty of dive sites to choose from, many of them located within Aqaba Marine Park. Some of these sites are accessible from shore on the fringing coral reef that drops steeply down to depths beyond recreational diving limits. Here divers enjoy a wide variety of soft and hard coral and myriad reef fish, and some of the best diving in the world.

Click here for Featured Dive Sites

CAPE VERDE

Winter Sun Diving - Cape-verde

570 kilometers off the west coast of Africa, the Cape Verde islands are a scattered mix of spectacular diving, incredible marine encounters and beautiful lunar landscapes! The volcanic origins of the islands are the perfect environment for luxuriant tropical vegetation, hinting towards how the islands got their name – verde meaning green. Beneath the surface, the environment is just as dramatic and famed by the legend Jacques Cousteau, “like the garden of Eden of the African coasts bathed from the Atlantic.”

There is no rainy season in Cape Verde, allowing diving all year round. Due to Its geographical position and benefitting from various currents, the waters are an exciting mix of tropical and Mediterranean marine life. During the winter (January-March) humpback and occasionally sperm whales visit the islands on their annual migrations, whilst mantas, morays, turtles, and a wide variety of sharks are year round attractions.

The underwater world of Cape Verde can satisfy the needs of new divers just as much as it can the more demanding divers. With caves, deep walls and wrecks, a trip to Cape Verde is ideal for winter sun diving.

Find a local dive centre in Cape Verde here.

For travel advice to any of these countries, you can find more information on the GOV.UK website.

Sea Lions of Los Islotes: The Story Behind the New Limited Edition PADI Certification Card

Underwater photographer, filmmaker and PADI Course Director Luke Inman opens up about his passion for diving, his connection with the Sea of Cortez, and his relationship with the sea lion that inspired PADI’s new limited-edition replacement certification card.

Of all of the places you have traveled and dived, what has been the most inspirational?

Los Islotes in La Paz, Mexico shot by Luke Inman

Photo: Luke Inman

Near La Paz, Mexico, in the Sea of Cortez, Los Islotes is a nirvana for wild animal encounters. Los Islotes is regularly featured in the diving press as one of the top ten dive sites in the world. From my perspective and experience (and I have been fortunate to have dived all over the world), Los Islotes is my number one site. Most people would expect me to choose a deep wreck, an abundant pelagic dive site or a mystical cenote as my favorite dive site, but no—a shallow dive with an uninhibited sea lion at Los Islotes will always be my first choice.

How have the Sea of Cortez and Los Islotes captured your heart? How is it different than any other place on Earth?

Sea Lions in Los Islotes in La Paz, Mexico shot by Luke Inman

Photo: Luke Inman

Few places so close to a city can offer humans true interactions with wild animals.

My first visit to Los Islotes was a humbling experience. I felt enlightened by the sea lions. Arriving at the colony is best described as noisy sensory overload. The cacophony of sea lions barking, the calls of sea birds, and the movement of the ocean is punctuated by sea lion howls and whines. The sea lions enunciate to each other and welcome visitors to their home. The hubbub of noise is clear as the message penetrates your soul: “magic happens here.”

The magic is the sea lions enchanting and entrancing you. Not with illusion or wizardry, there is no incantation, no voodoo. Just finesse and charm, playful charm that allures and inspires everyone that visits.

How would you characterize the sea lions of Los Islotes?

Sea Lions in Los Islotes in La Paz, Mexico shot by Luke Inman

Photo: Luke Inman

Los Islotes receives more visitors than almost any other island in the Sea of Cortez. The sea lions appear to have become accustomed to human interaction and high levels of boat traffic with few ill effects. They have been universally delightful—even when they involve the menacingly large adult males. The sea lions have provided me with some of the most incredible interactions.

What is your favorite thing about diving with the sea lions?

Sea Lions in Los Islotes in La Paz, Mexico shot by Luke Inman

Photo: Luke Inman

The sea lions taught me true serenity and bliss of wild animal interactions. Sea lions can leave you smiling with the remembrance of childhood joys and innocence, the halcyon days of having no responsibility. The sea lions are my meditation. Visiting and associating with them has become a key component of my routine, a natural, nurturing therapy.

Tell us about your experience photographing the sea lion featured on the new limited-edition PADI certification card.

Luke Inman PADI Replacement Card

One of my most memorable experiences was with a young pup at Los Islotes, a yearling female marked and tagged ironically with the number “42” (which according to The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy is the “Answer to the Ultimate Question of Life, the Universe, and Everything”). She seemed to appear every time I dived at Los Islotes and taught me a lot about consorting with sea lions. She was patient, kind and, above all, affectionate. Whether she really held the answer to “life, the universe and everything” is a matter of debate, but I am sure Prefect & Dent would have agreed with me.

Our interactions always started with her gently colliding with me—but perhaps ambush would be a better description. This act was executed with the skill of a well-trained military diver. Like all good surprise attacks, I was invariably completely blindsided, but invariably and without exception she ended with her head pressed against mine so that I could feel her whiskers caressing my forehead.

She would then initiate play by gently biting my hand. This teasing nip would be the transition to her ensuring my hand was directed either across her body or behind her ear. Her goal seemed to be to get me to scratch her ears; when I stopped she would maneuver her head under my hand, initiating more tactile affection like dogs and puppies do. At times I would have to put my camera down and simply focus on giving her the love and attention she insisted on.

Several years after my experience with “42” she stopped appearing on my dives. I assumed that she had become too old or mature to continue to play with this bubbly, noisy intruder into her world. How wrong I was. I did meet “42” again—two or three years later—when a now large female greeted me underwater like her long-lost friend.

I had never witnessed profuse exuberance quite like this. It didn’t seem possible that this might be the same young pup that had so gleefully sought my company. The ambush technique seemed very familiar, as did the insistence on ear and tummy rubs. Once again I found myself putting my camera down and appeasing my long-lost friend’s request for some bonding and playtime. There was scarring from an identification tag, but the actual tag had long since worn away. I asked one of the regular researchers at the colony if it was possible for “42” to remember me. I was given a suitably skeptical look and told, “There is no reason why not, but we don’t look for things like that in science.”

Do you have any advice for capturing the personality and spirit of critters in underwater photography and videography?

Sea Lions in Los Islotes in La Paz, Mexico shot by Luke Inman

Photo: Luke Inman

Come and take a photo workshop with me – or enroll in a PADI Digital Underwater Photographer or Underwater Videographer course near you.

What are the top underwater photography tips that you live by?

#1: Do not harm the environment!

#2. Capture the moment.

#3. Tell a story.

#4. Worry about the art, not the equipment.

What do you hope your work will inspire in others?

I hope to inspire people to nurture the planet and conserve her.

 

The Sea Lion of Los Islotes limited-edition replacement PADI certification card featuring Luke Inman’s stunning photograph is now available for a short time. Visit your PADI Dive Center or Resort or PADI.com to be one of the first to get this new card.

To see more of Luke Inman’s work, visit lukeinman.com.

Sea Lions of Los Islotes: The Story Behind the New Limited Edition PADI Certification Card was last modified: January 26th, 2017 by Emily Bates

PADI Celebrates a Milestone with 25 Million Certifications

PADI 25 Millionth Certificate Winner

On 29 December 2016, in the final days of PADI’s golden anniversary year, a milestone was reached. Sarah Gleeson, a 22-year-old from Alberta, Canada, became a PADI® Open Water Diver earning her PADI’s 25 millionth certification. To celebrate the occasion, and 50 years as The Way the World Learns to Dive®, PADI gifted Gleeson and a buddy of her choosing with a dream trip to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. Her proud instructor, Bobby Post of Davy Jones Locker Diving in Koh Tao, Thailand, wasn’t left out. The PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer was invited to make the trip as well.

“When I received the first email from PADI CEO Drew Richardson, I thought it might be a joke from a friend,” says Post, who notes that Australia will be the sixth continent that diving has given him the opportunity to explore. “I can’t wait to see what Australia has in store for me.”

25 Millionth Certificate Instructor | Photo credit: Fat Fish Movies

After completing his own PADI Open Water certification in Bali and his PADI Advanced Open Water in Korea, Post was inspired by his instructors to pursue a career in diving so he headed to Koh Tao, Thailand, where he moved up in ranks from PADI Divemaster to PADI Master Scuba Diver Trainer.

“Seeing the looks on students’ faces immediately after their first dive made me realize I was doing exactly what I wanted to be doing in the world,” Post says.

As for Gleeson, it wasn’t until she and her boyfriend, Colin, stayed on Koh Tao, Thailand, and made friends with the divers there, that she was interested in getting scuba certified.

“Now that I can dive I have an excellent excuse to travel the world even more,” says Gleeson, who is currently six weeks into a backpacking trip through Southeast Asia with Colin. “Diving is a unique experience that allows you to see an entirely new world – an experience you will never regret.”

PADI 25 Millionth Certificate Winner

When asked about her plans when her backpacking excursion and the sure-to-be epic trip to Australia are over, Gleeson notes that she won’t be returning to the colder temps of her hometown in snowy northern Canada anytime soon.

“We are both so excited and love diving so much that we’ve even considered becoming dive instructors ourselves,” Gleeson laughs. “For now, we’ll start with getting our PADI Advanced Open Water certifications.”

But before any of that happens, Post, Gleeson, and her lucky boyfriend Colin will enjoy a three-night live-aboard dive adventure on the Great Barrier Reef aboard the Mike Ball Dive Expeditions vessel, Spoilsport. Also included are round-trip economy airfare to Cairns, Australia; four nights accommodation in Cairns, Australia; and a day trip to Daintree Rainforest, a World Heritage Site.

All smiles from the Davey Jones Locker team! Photo: Elliott Abbey

Dreaming about a trip to Australia? Check out these 15 Amazing Great Barrier Reef Photos.

PADI Celebrates a Milestone with 25 Million Certifications was last modified: February 6th, 2017 by Tara Bradley Connell

Riviera Maya and Cancun

Riviera Maya

Mexico’s Yucatan Peninsula was once home to a few small fishing villages. Today, it’s one of the most popular and dynamic tourist destinations on the western shores of the Caribbean. Here you’ll find high-end luxury resorts, fine dining, nightlife and shopping. You’ll also find stunning beaches with pure white sand bathed by warm clear Caribbean water, the second longest barrier reef in the world, and the perfect mix of diverse dive opportunities, cultural experiences, shopping and adventure.

It’s enough to satisfy the most hardcore scuba diver and landlubber alike, but there’s even more: diving and snorkeling in the Riviera Maya are not limited to the ocean. The region is renowned for its remarkable cenotes. These unique underground springs create sunbeam-filled caverns flooded with crystal clear fresh water. Some lead to extensive underwater cave systems and are the realm of the technical diver, but divers of all levels can easily explore others.

Another big bonus is nearby Cancun, where you’ll discover wrecks and reefs crowded with marine life. The Riviera Maya is a world-class dive destination and a whole lot more.

Great Dives

  • Punta Cancun – This is a popular spot with divers and provides access to several dive sites and some healthy coral reefs. Located at the eastern end of Cancun’s hotel zone, the reefs contain colorful coral formations and you can hang out with a diverse array of marine life, including barracuda, rays and sharks.
  • Punta Nizuc – This site is famous for its snorkeling and diving thanks to an offshore reef rife with abundant marine life. Depths average 10 metres/30 feet and great visibility make this a spectacular spot where divers meet lobster, groupers, rays, sergeant majors and a host of other marine life. At Punta Nizuc art meets coral reef conservation and divers can visit a statue of a young girl lying in a coral garden. She’s part of an underwater museum, Museo Subacuático de Arte, that’s well worth exploring.
  • Playa del Carmen, Akumal and Tulum – South of Cancun, Playa del Carmen is a bustling town with a European vibe. Akumal and Tulum, both south of Playa, are seaside villages that offer a glimpse into the Yucatan of yesterday. Generally, the dive sites here are shallow with excellent visibility and boat rides are as short as five minutes. You’re likely to see turtles, barracuda, stingrays, lobsters and nurse sharks.
  • Pared Verde – Sloping rivers of sand divide sections of the wall which is well populated with coral, sponges and myriad macro invertebrates. Depths to 40 metres/130 feet are possible and the current can be a consideration. Larger pelagic species are frequently seen here, given the reef’s location in the middle of a sandy plain.
  • Cenotes – If you want to try something truly special, dive a cenote. These deep, freshwater-filled sinkholes formed when the roofs of limestone caverns collapsed and filled with water. The Yucatan’s elaborate cenotes have intricate cave systems and underground tunnels that draw divers from around the globe. Many cenotes boast pristine turquoise waters and a beautiful array of stalagmites and stalactites formed over millions of years.

Want to know more? Visit  ScubaEarth® for further information on thousands of dive sites, marine species, destination essentials and more.

Dive Summary

Visibility – For open-ocean dives off the Riviera Maya, visibility can range from 12 metres/40 feet in the winter to 27 metres/90 feet in the summer. Visibility in the cenotes and caverns is only limited by the quality of your vision.

Water Temperature – Water temperatures average 25-28° C/77-82° F in winter and 27-29° C/81-85° F in summer. The temperature in the cenotes is a little cooler.

Weather – Air temperatures range from 18-32° C/65-90° F. The rainy season is from May through October and the dry season is November through April. May and June have the highest humidity. June through October is hurricane season.

Featured Creatures – There are an abundance of hawksbill turtles and it’s common to see them while diving. Other locals include eagle rays, moray eels, lobsters, spadefish, parrotfish, creole wrasse, trumpet fish, angelfish and the usual Caribbean reef species. If you’re lucky, you’ll catch a glimpse of lemon sharks, nurse sharks and possibly even manatees on certain dives.

Recommended Training – Take the PADI Cavern Diver courses to make the most of the cenotes. Consider the  AWARE – Fish Identification course to help you identify what you’ll see and the PADI Digital Underwater Photographer course to capture images of all the marine life.

Cenote

Travel Info

Note – Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.

Language – Spanish, though English is widely spoken in tourist areas.

Currency – Mexican Pesos. Credit cards are widely accepted in tourist areas.

Major Airports – Most divers fly into Cancún International Airport (CUN).

Electricity and Internet – 110-120 volts, 60hz. Internet is widely available in resort areas.

Topside Attractions – Visit the Mayan Ruins of Tulum or Chichen Itza. Check out the great shopping, take a jungle tour, participate in various watersports or hang out on one of the excellent beaches.

Locate PADI Dive Shops and Resorts in Cancun and the Riviera Maya

Information Links
rivieramaya.com
cancun.travel
visitmexico.com/en/cancun
visitmexico.com/en/mayan-riviera

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Ibiza’s Underwater Nightlife

ibiza-night-dive

The small Balearic island of Ibiza is world famous for its sunset and thousands flock daily to the west side of the island to see the sun disappear behind the sea horizon. When day gives way to night, the underwater world also dramatically changes. Much like their human counterparts, the organisms that swim around by day disperse and the creatures of the night come out to play!


For the adventure seeker, night diving in Ibiza has to be up there on the list of things to do. The calm waters and almost flawless visibility lend themselves perfectly to creating ideal conditions for a night dive. Some PADI® Dive Centers prefer to do a beach dive, slowly wading in getting deeper and deeper, whereas others prefer to dive from the boat. Both are equally as exciting and the build-ups are filled with anticipation and adrenaline. As you approach the black, mirror-like water, the moonlight bounces across its ripples and the fluorescent lights that fill the beaches become just colourful specs in the distance.

moray-night
Expect to see the Mediterranean waters alive with squid, cuttlefish and octopus at night, but be prepared to be investigated by them too. As you shine your touch around, the naturally inquisitive marine life will undoubtedly show you some attention. Keep your eyes trained on sandy bottoms for stingrays, too.

A great spot for an Ibizan summer night dive is the Lighthouse. The shallow, rocky reef surrounded by drop-offs lends itself perfectly to the night crawlers! Find out more on Ibiza dive sites here.

If you remember from your PADI Open Water Diver training, we lose the colour red first when descending, leaving us with the infamous ‘blue wash’. Your torch beam will bring back those colours, giving you vibrant reds that otherwise go unnoticed in the day. Although be aware of highlighting small fish – there are stories of hunting barracuda taking advantage of a lit up meal ticket.

octopus-ibiza-night

Get Your PADI Night Diver

To become a certified PADI Night Diver, you’ll do three dives allowing you to master entry and exit techniques and become a navigation maestro! Finding your way around a dive site in the middle of a sunny day can be a head-scratcher at times, so imagine the skills you’ll want to master to make your way around at night. You will learn new hand signals and ways of communicating alongside honing your buoyancy skills.

Find your local PADI Dive Center and Resort to enroll in the course, and learn more about diving in Spain here.