Monthly Archives: July 2016

5 Specialty Courses to take in Spain

 

Spain_Underwater

PADI Specialty Diver courses teach you new techniques and give you the tools to enhance your exploration. Would you like to have fun, build confidence and sharpen your specialty skills? Here are 5 PADI Specialty Courses that you should take in Spain:

  1. PADI Altitude Diver: any time you scuba dive at an altitude higher than 300 metres/1000 feet above sea level, you’re altitude diving. If you’re ready to discover a hidden world where few have ventured, then this course is for you. The Meseta Central (‘Inner Plateau’) is a vast plateau in the heart of mainland Spain, which has elevations that range from 610 to 760 m/2000 to 2490 feet. Rimmed by mountains, the Meseta Central slopes gently to the west and to the series of rivers that form some of the border with Portugal. Most inland PADI Dive Centres offer the PADI Altitude Diver Specialty course in the Lagunas de Ruidera Natural Park.
  2. PADI Deep Diver: there’s something exciting and mysterious about exploring deeper dive sites while scuba diving. To scuba dive with confidence at depths down to 40 metres/130 feet, you should take the PADI Deep Diver Specialty course. The Costa Brava in the north-east coast of the Mediterranean offers depths up to 50m/164 feet including dive sites like the popular ‘Illes Medes’ (Medes Islands) that are a natural reserve with the chance to spot pelagic fish all year round.
  3. PADI Underwater Naturalist: when you learn more about symbioses, underwater ecology, and aquatic plant and animal habitats, you notice behaviours and see creatures you may have previously missed. Cabo de Palos in the region of Murcia is an excellent place to complete this course. The marine reserve in this area hosts a wide range of Mediterranean plants and animal species and it is home to a good variety of spectacular Nudibranchs.
  4. PADI Wreck Diver: wrecks are fascinating windows to the past. Each wreck dive offers a chance for discovery, potentially unlocking a mystery or spying something others have missed. The coast of the Basque Country in the north offers some good opportunities for recreational divers with very interesting wrecks at reachable depths.
  5. PADI Digital Underwater Photographer: perhaps the next best thing to experiencing the wonder of life underwater is capturing those special moments to remember long after you’ve surfaced. The clarity of the waters and the amount and variety of aquatic life make the Balearic Islands a desired destination for underwater photographers around the globe.

The Spanish coast offers optimal conditions and environments to take most of the PADI Specialty Diver courses. All sorts of cavern systems can also be found in the area of Mazarrón y La Azohía, ideal to take the PADI Cavern Diver and PADI Sidemount Diver course.

Other dive sites like Cabo de Gata, Tarifa, Islas Cies or Columbretes Islands are perfect spots to take the PADI Specialty Diver course of your choice and enjoy spectacular aquatic environments.

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Need more inspiration? Find out what interests you and locate a PADI Dive Shop in Spain.

Divemasters Discuss Their Diverse Motivations

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I was talking to Brian about becoming a PADI Professional. He’s been in the dive business for some time and we’ve worked together a great deal over the decades. He’s a great man to bounce ideas off. We were trying to find a succinct way to communicate the value of becoming a PADI Pro and we had a lot to talk about, particularly since we were just wrapping up team teaching a divemaster course.

These divemaster candidates are a diverse bunch: Professionals and non-professionals, young and old, family folk and singles. As we tackled the last few course assignments, it was safe to say that they had all done well and enjoyed their experience of a challenging program; the early spring dive conditions had helped shape some able divers.

Their motivations for taking the course, and becoming PADI Members, were pretty diverse as well.

Istvan told me that he wanted to become a DM to “understand more deeply how not to just to care about myself, but about others too. It will give me so much extra experience and knowledge, which could be invaluable in certain situations. I also believe being a Divemaster is a leadership role that helps me grow myself in diving and in my day job too.”

PADI Divemaster

Christina said she “always wanted to travel and live in a warmer climate, to get away any second I can. After my very first dive, a discover scuba dive, I knew instantly that diving was what I wanted to do and that it could open the door for me to travel and work in places all over the world.” She works as a freelancer, which has its difficulties as work is not regular, and she can be between jobs for months at a time. For her, becoming a DM and a PADI Member is the first step to bridging those gaps, reducing the amount of deskwork she does, and hopefully, it’s a ticket to travel and pursue the lifestyle she has always wanted: “Somewhere warm, somewhere blue, surrounded by the ocean. [As a PADI Divemaster] I can now be the one to open up that door to someone else who is just learning.”

Mark told me that when he started diving, he never imagined himself moving forward to the professional levels of qualification. “The Master Scuba Diver rating sounded nice, and I thought that would be as far as I went. However, as I worked my way up through the system, I could not help but see the value in PADI’s progressive and compartmentalized training system. I saw the Divemaster course as being a perfect opportunity to move toward the standard of personal diving that I aspire to. Despite going into the course believing that I would gain a great deal from it, both in personal ability and confidence, my expectations were far exceeded.”

Go Pro - Divemaster

Ultimately, Brian and I agreed that in spite of all the diversity, there’s a common and crucial thread: Istvan’s leadership role, Christina’s opening up diving to others, Mark’s personal ability and confidence. Perhaps these define the most important reason of all to become and remain a PADI Pro: to develop the personal ability and confidence needed to become a respected dive community leader who’s in a position to introduce diving to new people.

To get advice about everything you’ll need to become a PADI Divemaster, visit padi.com.

Thailand

Thailand

At the heart of Southeast Asia, Thailand, the “Land of a Thousand Smiles,” is a country proud of its unique culture and famous worldwide for its cuisine. Thailand also offers miles of tropical beaches, lush rainforests, exhilarating cultural attractions and excellent scuba diving. With the Gulf of Thailand on the east and the Andaman Sea on the west, diving opportunities include fringing reefs, deep drop-offs, wrecks, walls, caverns, tunnels, pinnacles or open ocean seamounts. The Gulf of Thailand offers divers an amazing range of diving destinations. The beautiful island of Koh Tao, along with the pristine islands of Koh Samui and Koh Phangan, are must-visit dive destinations. Located in the north of the gulf region are the popular destinations of Pattaya and the unspoiled island of Koh Chang. These locations are world famous dive destinations with access to a range of different sites to suit divers of all levels. Many divers begin their adventures in Phuket, as some of the top Andaman Sea dive sites are within easy reach on a day trip or live-aboard. Khao Lak is fast becoming a favorite for many divers and Phi Phi Island is also a popular destination in this region with easily accessible dive sites to explore. The south-western coastal town of Krabi is the jumping off point for the enchanting Koh Lanta archipelago, as well as stunning Koh Lipe. Thailand is an amazing dive destination and there’s a lot to explore underwater in this tropical paradise.

 

Great Dives

  • Racha Noi & Racha Yai – Located near Phuket, these sites are full of beauty including mantas and whale sharks when in season, blue spotted lagoon rays, chevron barracuda and large schools of tuna and jacks.
  • Koh Dok Mai – This is a superb wall and drift dive, with hidden caves and crevices lurking in its limestone rock face. Glide by gardens of yellow tube corals and look for moray eels peeking out of the reef. The beauty of this site becomes illuminated with the sun’s beam above, and it is home, in season, to baby nurse sharks and whale sharks out in the big blue.
  • Richelieu Rock – About 200 km/120 miles north of Phuket, this horseshoe-shaped rock in the Andaman Sea might just be Thailand’s most famous dive site. Look for big stuff – giant, lumbering whale sharks, barracuda tornadoes, and clouds of tropical fish. You’ll also find shovelnose rays, seahorses, pipefish and cuttlefish. For underwater photographers, the hardest thing about diving this site is deciding whether to go wide angle or macro.
  • Bida Nok – Breathtaking both above and below the water, this site near Phi Phi Island crawls with sea snakes and hawksbill sea turtles. Moray eels, piles of wrasses and leopard sharks keep the action humming, while soft corals, parrotfish, and giant clams remind you that Mother Nature’s creativity knows no bounds.
  • Koh Haa – Accessible via Koh Lanta and Krabi, this collection of five big rocks has several dive sites that include swim-throughs, drop offs, and caverns. Marine life varies from little critters like the elusive ghost pipefish to the occasional hawksbill turtles. If you’re lucky, you’ll see manta rays gathering at a cleaning station.
  • Tarutao National Marine Park – This region near Koh Lipe comprises more than 30 islands, countless reefs, and access to vibrant seas full of marine life.
  • Chumphon Pinnacle – Located near Koh Tao, Koh Phangan and Koh Samui, this well-known dive site is a huge anemone-studded granite pinnacle that is ringed by a series of smaller ones. You’ll swim past batfish, trevally and giant schools of both barracuda and snapper. The occasional whale shark and manta ray also visit. Look for plateaus rich in branch corals, sea whips and barrel sponges.
  • HTMS Sattakut – One of Thailand’s premier wrecks, the 48 metre/158 foot HTMS Sattakut, which started out as the USS LCI -739, was sunk on 18 June 2011 in about 30 metres/100 feet of water near Koh Tao. The Landing Craft, Infantry (or LCI) was one of several amphibious assault ships deployed during WWII. The artificial reef is home to thick schools of fusiliers, yellowtail, barracuda, groupers, trevally, moray eels and blennies.
  • Sail Rock – North of Koh Phangan and Koh Samui is Hin Bai, otherwise known as Sail Rock, one of Thailand’s best wall dives. Critters here include bearded scorpion fish, sea anemones and pink anemone fish while yellow margined morays, reef crabs and painted shrimp also abound.
  • HTMS Khram – Located off Pattaya, this Thai Navy landing craft was purpose-sunk as an artificial reef in 2003. It lies upright in about 30 metres/100 feet with the top of it at about 15 metres/50 feet. It’s easy to see into the bridge and radio room, and peak into the rest of the hull through large holes.
  • HTMS Chang – Formally known as the USS Lincoln County, HTMS Chang is Thailand’s longest wreck at 117 metres/384 feet and sits at 30 metres/100 feet. After more than 50 years’ service in the Royal Thai Navy, it was sunk in 2012. It’s a great site with lots to explore including cabins, briefing rooms and the main holding area. The wreck is also home to a wide variety of marine life.

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

Locate a PADI Dive Shop in Thailand

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Dive Summary

Visibility – Visibility is generally good throughout the country and averages around 30 metres/100 feet.

Water Temperature – A pleasant 28-30° C/82-86° F year-round.

Weather – Its tropical location ensures that Thailand has a hot and humid climate year-round. The country is warm and wet during the May to September monsoon, then dries out from November to mid-March. Air temperatures range from 30–35°C/85-95°F. The diving is typically good all year, but the Gulf of Thailand is at its peak from May through September while the best diving is from October through April in the Andaman Sea.

Featured Creatures – Typical Indo-Pacific reef fish and critters are well represented and there’s a good chance you will see morays, puffers, triggers and Moorish idols, as well as mantas, leopard sharks and possibly whale sharks.

Recommended Training – Thailand is a great destination to learn to dive with the PADI Open Water Diver course. If you are already PADI certified, look to take the PADI Enriched AirPADI Deep Diver and PADI Drift Diver courses so you’re prepared for diving the many pinnacles and walls across this destination. The PADI Wreck Diver course is a natural if you plan to dive any of Thailand’s amazing wrecks. Thailand is also an excellent location to become a PADI Pro by taking the PADI Divemaster course or the PADI Open Water Scuba Instructor course.

 

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 – Thai. English is widely spoken in tourist areas.

Currency – Thai Baht. Credit cards are accepted in most areas.

Major Airports – Suvarnabhumi Airport in Bangkok and Phuket International Airport are the two main international airports

Electricity – 22O volts, 50Hz. Internet is common in cities and resort areas.

Topside Attractions – You are spoiled for choice for topside attractions in Thailand. Popular choices include pampering yourself with a traditional massage, visiting cultural centers or marveling at the many temples across the country. The cuisine and restaurants throughout Thailand are also a highlight of any trip.

Information links:
tourismthailand.org

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Locate a PADI Dive Shop in Thailand

AmbassaDiver: Indigo Bolandrini

Hi, my name is Indigo Bolandrini, I am 14 years old and a dive-fanatic. I live in a small town on the coast of the Red Sea and attend a British International school. I dive every weekend and on my school holidays. I started diving a few weeks after my 12th birthday and became hooked immediately, as I always had a soft spot for the ocean and would always watch TV shows about marine life and Jaqcues Costeau. When I was 12 I also became one of the world’s youngest Junior Master Scuba Divers, which was the first step into my diving life. To this day I have logged a few from 600 dives and hold over 15 certifications from DPV diver to underwater photographer. I am now an aspiring underwater photographer and marine conservationist.

What motivates me to go diving is nothing more than a huge passion for the sport itself and my extreme love for the sea and the gorgeous marine life it inhabits. Diving takes all my stress away and connects me with a world completely different from our very own. I love to wake up every morning knowing I can visit the colourful, fluorescent reefs soon again. On school weeks knowing I can go diving is an amazing feeling. Underwater Photography has also become a major motivation factor for me as I love to capture the sea’s moments! I came second place in the 2016 United Nations, Worlds Oceans Day contest in the youth category – which I am extremely stoked about!

Indigo Dive

I have been working with Submerged Sports for nine months. I have been to the Birmingham Dive Show and also to the DEMA dive show in Orlando, Florida. Both were amazing experiences for me! I have also become an Intova Ambassador alongside a PADI AmbassaDiver. Submerged Sports have helped to raise my portfolio as a diver, even hosting my very own Kid’s Pool Conservation Party at my school! Recently I also became involved with Plastic Oceans. My goal is to introduce edible water bottle caps in Egypt, as they are one of the main causes of pollution in the Red Sea. This would mean even though they are thrown into the water, marine animals and eat the cap without it harming them and it remains in their digestive system. Over the summer holidays, I will make this my main goal with Plastic Oceans helping me. I see too much plastic in the sea everyday, I remove as much as I can but there is a very sad amount. I will also be taking other kids out to Marsa Alam to teach them about marine conservation and be hosting several clean-up dives across the Red Sea.

I am extremely proud to be a PADI AmbassaDiver as out of the millions of scuba divers with PADI, I was chosen to represent the words largest diving society. It is an honour at only 14 years old to hold such a huge responsibility. I want to inspire more people to dive and mostly to become more aware about the increasing problems with pollution in our seas and oceans, because if we destroy them we will have no where to dive, then no one will be able to see the beauty. I am proud to represent PADI, because they were the reason I entered the diving world.

I have met many people who are afraid of diving. What I always tell them is to always imagine being on a different planet, going on an exploration to discover something new. Fear is just a man-made illusion, which can be conquered through thought. Diving is just like walking on our planet with a tank of air on your back, just a couple of metres underwater, but with the added scenery of reefs, fish and bubbles! Compared to all the war and problems our world is facing, I myself feel safest not in my home, but underwater – and anyone who has the fear of diving should do too.

The two people who inspire me the most is Ahmed Gabr (The World’s Deepest Diver) who I got to meet last year at his World Record clean-up dive, and Leonardo DiCaprio. Whilst Leonardo DiCaprio is an amazing actor, he is also extremely passionate for our world’s health and the conservation of our eco-systems. It is my ultimate dream to meet him one day.

Explore Spain

Spain

Explore stunning archipelagos and marine reserves to find a huge variety of exotic marine life.

The Mediterranean’s allure has always been strong, so it is no surprise that the diving to be found along this portion of coastline in Spain is something to truly behold. The number of shipwrecks here pays homage to the varied underwater typography, whilst also hinting at a somewhat buccaneer past.

The coast of Andalucia offers a large variety of dive sites, where you can enjoy exploring vast meadows of posidonia oceánica, a marine plant known to grow in forest-like clusters and house more than 1200 species of marine life. Volcanic bottoms and big underwater rockas additionally make diving in these marine reserves an experience not to miss. During summer there’s also the chance of bumping into mola mola fish and stingrays. The ‘learn to dive’ opportunities in Spain, however, reach far beyond just the Mediterranean portion of Spain’s coastline. The south of Spain, near the Gibraltar strait, where the Atlantic meets the Mediterranean, produces a unique mix of warm and cold waters which attracts larger marine mammals, whilst the Canary Islands, emerging from the Atlantic as the result of volcanic activity, have produced magnificent marine landscapes that thrive with sea life. Great diving continues up to the north of Spain where you can explore the Islands of the Gods, or Islas Cies in Galicia. Further round, right on the border between France and Spain, lies Hondarribia, a small seaside town with some beautiful diving. Encounter octopus, starfish, Scorpion fish, Sea urchins and more.

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Top Spanish Dive Experiences. Start ticking these off!

  •  Be astounded by the sheer quantity of fish at Murcia and the Cabo de Palos Marine Park, a breeding ground for groupers, tuna, barracuda, plus get the chance to see shark eggs in various phases of development.
  • Dive underwater pinnacles adorned in multi-coloured gorgonian sea fans in Costa Brava.
  • Explore the nutrient rich waters of the mythical Pillar of Hercules.
  • Discover the warm waters of the volcanic caves, tunnels and walls in the Canaries.
  • Take a tour of the first underwater museum in Europe, Museo Atlantico, and come face to face with life-sized sculptures designed to highlight issues such as climate change, conservations and migration.
  • Enjoy the crystal clear waters of the marine reserves around the Balearic Islands. They are full of marine life and wrecks, like the ‘Don Pedro’ in Ibiza, one of the biggest in the Mediterranean Sea for recreational divers.