Monthly Archives: December 2016

6 Ways Being a Diver Benefits You on Land Too

As a diver you learn many things, not only through the courses you take, but every single time you dive. Have you ever stopped to think that a lot of the things you learn while diving may just come in handy on land?

1. You’ll be more reliable

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One of the most important things you learn as a diver is the buddy system. Your dependence on your buddy makes you aware that they also depend on you – to conduct a proper buddy check, to stay close, keep an eye out for signs that things aren’t going smoothly and to communicate with them clearly when needed. Divers understand the importance of being a reliable buddy under the water which translates to them being a reliable friend on land.

2. Diving makes you more aware

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This point is two-fold – not only do you become more aware of our immediate surroundings (where other divers are and taking care to avoid damaging corals) but as soon as you take your first breaths underwater you’ll come to appreciate the beauty and vulnerability of the marine world. Naturally, you’ll then take steps to protect it when you’re on land and educate others about how they can do the same.

3. You become better at communicating

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Seeing as you can’t talk to your buddy underwater, you have to rely on other means of communication. You really have to think about how to best get your message across and this a skill that can be very beneficial on land too

4. You won’t need to rely on your GPS

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Navigation skills are really important as a diver – so much so that you learn some basic navigation skills as early as your PADI Open Water Diver course. Of course, being able to navigate has its benefits on land as well – how many times have you forgotten the way back to where you’ve parked your car? If you think your navigation skills need a tune-up, consider taking the PADI Underwater Navigator Specialty.

5. You’ll get a taste for adventure

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There’s nothing better than adventure. You learn this pretty quickly as a diver and once you have a taste for it, you’ll be doing so many exciting things on land that you would’ve missed out on before.

6. You’ll be happier – and more relaxed

Don’t believe us? Check out this blog, or this blog, or even this one.

So what are you waiting for! Find your local PADI Dive Shop and get under the water today. 

The Southern Tip of Africa: A Pelagic Paradise

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Scuba diving around the southern tip of the African continent is not for the faint hearted. The waters here are teeming with fish, and although this means the great hunters of the underwater world are omnipresent, the diving conditions can be challenging with strong currents and visibility varying widely between 5 and 30 meters. But for experienced divers and adventurers seeking unforgettable pelagic encounters, there’s no doubt that South Africa and Mozambique are must-dive destinations.

Most scuba divers have heard of the sardine run – a natural annual spectacle where millions of sardines migrate along the African coast, pursued relentlessly by hungry hunters. Since only a lucky few get to witness this event, it’s worth taking a wider view of southern Africa, which offers many more fascinating dive sites and plenty of big fish that can be encountered whatever the season.

Blue, mako and sevengill sharks around Cape Town

The diving around Cape Town offers year-round fantastic dives with big pelagics. From October to May (the summer months around the Cape) mako and blue sharks can be found cruising out in the open ocean, and from May to September the Great Whites can be seen hunting seals around False Bay. In addition, divers can encounter sevengill sharks, seals and even a small penguin colony throughout the year in the region’s kelp forests.

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Diving with the gentle giants of the sea in Sodwana Bay

A little further north, near where South Africa borders Mozambique, are the dive sites of Sodwana Bay. Divers visiting this destination between November and April have an excellent chance of meeting whale sharks – and occasionally manta rays – on their dives. Visits between May and November can bring sightings of impressive humpback and right whales as they make their migratory journey to the south through Sodwana Bay.

Up close with bull and tiger sharks around Durban

The coastal city of Durban is located on the east coast of South Africa. Slightly south of the city are two well-known dive sites: Protea Banks and Aliwal Shoals. Depending on the season, divers can find tiger, bull, hammerhead and sand tiger sharks on the reefs and in the open water, and even whale sharks have been known to pass through the area. Many diving operations here offer daily dives to the most interesting sites and these excursions (with surf launches and fast drifts) can be an adventure by themselves!

Encounters with whale sharks and manta rays in Mozambique

Every diver seeking an experience with a manta ray or whale shark on their dive will find themselves in the right place during a trip to Mozambique. Diving here brings the closest thing to a guarantee you can get when it comes to manta or whale shark sightings. Around the city of Tofu there are numerous diving operations, each offering trips to the most famous dive sites, including Manta Reef, Giants Castle and Mike’s Cupboard.

Manta Rays

Find out more about diving in South Africa and Mozambique – then contact a local PADI Dive Shop and book your next trip!

Uncovering the Ocean’s Wonders with Gemma Smith

Gemma Smith is a PADI Master Scuba DiverTM Trainer, and Tec explorer from the UK. She works as a scientific diving field assistant on archaeological missions and was recently named one of the top 10 female divers in the world by the Huffington Post! Whether she is navigating underwater caverns, leading technical dives, or helping excavate historical wrecks, she continues to amaze us in her exploration of the underwater world.

We caught up with Gemma on a PADI® photoshoot in La Paz, Mexico, to get the low down on her diving adventures and My PADITM story:

How has diving with PADI impacted your life or career?

Learning to dive with PADI changed my life. At 17 I passed my Open Water Diver course, and from then I decided that diving was what I wanted to do with the rest of my life. I took more courses, dived as much as was humanly possible, traveled all over the world to dive new places and learn as much as I could about diving. Almost ten years later, I work as a professional diver instructor and diving specialist on archaeological projects. I never thought that learning to dive all those years ago would shape and impact my life in such a huge way.

Tell us what it is like to be a diving specialist on archaeological projects? How did you get into this field and what inspires you to continue scuba exploration?

I love working on archaeological projects. To see artifacts emerging from the seabed after hundreds, or sometimes thousands of years, gives me goosebumps. It’s a moment that can never be repeated! To think that some of these objects may not have been seen by human eyes for centuries is mind boggling.

Archaeology is definitely something that I have grown more and more interested in over the years. I started out on these projects as a CCR specialist with no real knowledge of archaeology, but as I’ve become more and more involved, I’ve actually started taking basic underwater archaeological courses so I can get even more immersed in that side of expeditions. There are still so many incredible discoveries out there to be made, and the chance to be involved in more projects like this in the future is definitely a driving force in my diving right now.

You assisted in the excavation of the Antikythera Shipwreck —a world famous historical shipwreck in Greece—could you tell us what it was like to dive and explore the Antikythera…and to be one of the first women nonetheless? 

Diving the Antikythera Shipwreck has been without a doubt one of the highlights of my journey in diving. It’s just such an iconic site! Discovered by sponge divers in the early 1900s, dived by the legend that is Jacques Cousteau on two separate expeditions in the 50’s and 70’s, and now to be on a modern excavation on the wreck from which the Antikythera Mechanism was found is just a dream come true for me!

Before diving the wreck, the fact that I might be the first woman to dive the wreck didn’t even cross my mind. All I wanted to do was dive the site with the rest of the research team and do my job well. The team I work with is amazing. I’ve never been treated any differently because of my gender. It wasn’t till much later that one of my teammates mentioned that I might have been the first woman to dive there. I was amazed! I think partly why it has taken so long to get a woman diving the site is because so few people dive the site anyway. I have no doubt that there will be more women diving there in the future though.

You also love teaching and exploring the underwater world with others, what is your favorite PADI specialty to teach and why?

I actually love to teach dry suit diving! I know it seems like an odd choice for a favorite specialty (especially compared to more glamorous sounding choices) but there is a reason. I started out as a cold water UK wreck diver, and quickly came to realize how many amazing dive sites there are that many people are put off from diving because of the temperature. If you can dry suit dive, suddenly some of the most beautiful and incredible underwater worlds are opened up to you, without you having to be thermally uncomfortable.

Some of my favorite dives have been in incredibly cold water; diving pristine wrecks in freezing Newfoundland water, Silfra in Iceland (famous for being the gap between two tectonic plates), mine diving in Finland….Spectacular dives that were comfortable because I had proper insulation and thermal protection. I would love more people to be able to see the beauty in cold water diving.

Favorite dive you’ve ever been on:

La Paz with PADI! I recently did one of the best dives I’ve ever had with the sea lions there. They really are like underwater puppies! They are just so playful and fun, and completely full of energy! I spent the whole dive having to clear my mask because it was flooding from me laughing so much. Every time I dive I’m happy, but this dive was truly special. 

How would you describe scuba diving in one word or sentence to a non-diver?

Underwater Astronaut 🙂

Finally, what does My PADI mean to you and why?

I’ve always loved outdoor sports, but never really felt like I had found one that was totally ‘me’. It wasn’t until I tried diving that I knew I had found my calling. I had never experienced anything like that first breath underwater! PADI opened up a whole new world for me that I would never have had a chance to experience otherwise, and for that I am truly grateful.

To read more My PADI stories like Gemma’s, visit mypadi.padi.com.

Canary Islands

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The Fortunate (for Divers) 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.

And that’s before you even get to the diving. Visibility of more than 30 metres/100 feet is normal, and water temperatures never drop much below 17-18° C/63-64° F, making it easy to enjoy the unique biodiversity. Divers will encounter both Atlantic and Mediterranean species, and some endemic to the islands themselves.

Great Dives

  • La Catedral – This site in Gran Canaria is considered one of the top dives in the region due to the unusual and impressive volcanic formations. Off the coast of La Isleta, just north of Las Palmas, is a morass of lava tubes, caves, arches and crevices. You’ll need a boat and local knowledge to enjoy the best dive on this site.
  • The Arona – For shipwreck lovers, Las Palmas in Gran Canaria has a variety of wrecks; some say these are among the best in the world. The Arona is basically in one piece, lying on its side in 40 metres/130 feet of water. It’s well known for the schools of barracuda and other pelagics that patrol her hulk.
  • La Restinga – There is a marine reserve on El Hierro where turtles, tuna and dolphins abound; even whale sharks put in an occasional appearance. As recently as 2011, an underwater volcano erupted here, and already marine life is moving back in. El Hierro is the smallest of the Canary Islands and is a bit remote – you have to fly to Tenerife and get a ferry – but the diving makes up for the effort.
  • La Burrera – Just off the small island of La Graciosa to the north of Lanzarote lies this site highlighted by a dramatic underwater seascape including pinnacles, columns and large rocky ledges. Marine life is protected here and thrives.
  • Cueva Del Palm Mar – Located ten minutes from Los Cristianos and Las Galletas in Tenerife, is a thrill for advanced and deep divers. Crystal clear water gives incredible visibility to view large rocks, a cave, lobsters, Atlantic barracudas and several species of moray eels. Though gentle and inquisitive, some of these toothy eels are quite ferocious looking.

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

Dive Summary

Visibility – Excellent, often exceeds 30 metres/100 feet, depending on local conditions.

Water Temperature – 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. Typically, 5mm wet suits in summer and 7mm suits in winter keep divers comfortable.

Weather – Mainly mild winters and warm summers. Year-round warm, sunny weather with average temperatures varying from 17°C in the winter to 24°C in the summer.

Featured Creatures – Fish species include sharks, rays, bream, jacks, grunts, scorpionfish, triggerfish, groupers, gobies and blennies. Invertebrates include sponges, sea fans, jellyfish, anemones, crabs, sea urchins and more.

Recommended Training – Take the PADI Deep Diver and PADI Wreck Diver courses for diving on the deeper wrecks. The AWARE – Fish Identification specialty course is also a good choice to help you identify the many unique species.

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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, French and German spoken in tourist areas.

Currency – Euro. Credit cards are accepted in hotels and tourist-oriented businesses.

Major Airports – Tenerife, Lanzarote, Gran Canaria and La Palma

Electricity and Internet – 220 volts 50hz; European Type C or type E/F two-pin

Topside Attractions – Take a hike up the side of a volcano in a national park, enjoy the buzz of the big busy tourist towns or relax on a beach enjoying the best climate in the world.

Locate PADI Dive Shops and Resorts in Spain

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