Category Archives: Destination Posts

La Paz, Mexico

Located on the eastern side of Baja California, La Paz is a great getaway dive trip for some wonderful diving.  Jacques Cousteau called the Sea of Cortez “the aquarium of the world.” Club Cantamar is the place to stay!  Pedro Aguilar and his family started the diving service in 1983 and this has now turned into Club Cantamar Beach Resort & Marina.  The accommodations are quite nice and include standard rooms, suites, and small condos with an onsite restaurant. The marina is just a short walk away.  There are spacious outdoor dive lockers to store your equipment at night or during non-diving days.  Club Cantamar has five-day boats – three large dive boats and two pangas.  In addition, there are three liveaboards that have the capacity for 18 divers in private cabins.  Check out Club Cantamar Beach Resort & Marina’s full website for more detailed information.


There is no direct flight from the U.S. to La Paz.  The easiest way to get there is to take a direct flight to Cabo San Lucas.  Club Cantamar offers a private shuttle for about $100.00 to make the drive to La Paz.  This is about a three-hour drive through some very remarkable mountain passes, river crossings, and beach scenes.  However, I would not want to do this drive at night, as it is rather curvy in several places.


The best time to dive La Paz and experience the Sea of Cortez is between August through November when the water is warmer and clearer.  Diving in the Sea of Cortez offers incredible biomass with great numbers of king angelfish, fish balls, jawfish, eels, and yellow surgeons that are seen on most dives. One of my favorite dive sites is diving with a huge sea lion colony just north of Isla Partida at a site called Los Islotes.  The pups love to play and are very curious, but be careful of the big bulls – they are very territorial, especially during mating season.  They like to guard their harems.  If you like wreck diving, the Salvatierra and Fang Ming are both interesting and are home to an abundance of marine life


See entire Gallery of Images






Maine Gallery
I spent a few days visiting friends in Maine who live near Portland. A chance to get a glimpse of some of the spectacular Maine coast scenery was the highlight of my visit. Pemaquid Point Lighthouse was built in the early 1800’s and sets off a stunning backdrop against the rugged coastline on the tip of Pemaquid Point. The short drive to Popham Beach State Park was also a treat. The coastline was magnificent. Continue reading »

Wakatobi, Indonesia 2009

Wakatobi is one of the best land based dive resort I have ever experienced.  Wakatobi is like being at a Five Star Resort in one of the most remote places on Earth – located in Southeast Sulawesi, Indonesia.  Guests are flown from Bali, Indonesia via Wakatobi’s private charter jet to Maranggo Airport – a private airstrip that was build for the Wakatobi Dive Resort. The diving, food, service, amenities, and attention to detail are all first class. Their house reef is amazing and has been rated as one of the top shore diving spots in the world.  In addition to one of the top shore diving sites in the world, Wakatobi has received many other “top five” awards including top wall diving, marine environment, and ecological awareness.  For non-divers, the snorkeling is spectacular and accessible.  Spend some serious time looking at Wakatobi’s website (Wakatobi) – you will be impressed and get detailed information and descriptions about the resort. I can assure you that the testimonials about the diving and the resort are true.  I look forward to a return trip.

Wakatobi 2009 Gallery



A few years ago, Berkley White (Berkley White) and Dan Baldocchi (Dan Baldocchi) put together a trip to the Bahamas. Berkley is one of the world’s top underwater photographers and owner of Backscatter (Backscatter) and Dan leads Light & Motion and is the lead travel coordinator for Berkley’s photo trips and expeditions.

This trip objective was to see and photograph tiger sharks, lemon sharks, Caribbean reef sharks, and wild dolphins.  We boarded Jim Abernethy’s M/V Shear Water out of Palm Beach, Florida.  Jim is quite a character and has a deep and abiding passion for sharks, dolphins, and the magnificent animals that inhabit the Florida and Bahamian waters. Jim really spends a lot of time educating his clients about what they see underwater and about the importance of protecting and preserving these impressive animals that we are fortunate enough to see and capture on camera.  You can read more about Jim on his website – Jim Abernethy

This trip was not disappointing.  The chance to dive the famous Tiger Beach, snorkel with wild dolphins, and see lemon sharks and Caribbean reef sharks up close was a real treat.  I must say that one of the tiger shark “supermodels” named Emma was a little intimidating.  Emma was most curious about Berk’s dome port!  I think my favorite part of this trip was snorkeling for 3 days with wild dolphins on the Little Bahama Bank.  You are not allowed to use scuba gear when engaging with the wild dolphins.  Sometimes the dolphins were just not interested in us humans, and sometimes they would engage us and hang around the Shear Water for an afternoon nap.  I like to think we humans have a spiritual connection with dolphins as they are sentient and sapient beings.  They are highly intelligent, wise, and live in highly organized family structures.  They were hard to photograph, as they often liked to swim their own course and direction.  These wild dolphins were simply glorious and the highlight of my trip.

Bahamas Gallery


Belize, Central America

My only diving trip to Belize was aboard the Belize Aggressor III out of Belize City.  This was my first time diving on an Aggressor & Dancer Fleet liveaboard (Aggressor & Dancer Fleet) and it was a great experience.  I like diving from a really quality liveaboard for both convenience and accessibility to more distant dive sites.  I found the crew to be extremely helpful and accommodating. The famous Blue Hole draws many divers to Belize to see the underwater stalactites in this world’s largest blue hole, but there are many other fantastic dive sites in the Belizean waters.  Many of these top dive sites include dives off of the Turneffe Islands and Half Moon Caye.  Dive sites were very flexible in terms of what our diving group wanted to explore and see.  During our week on the Belize Aggressor III, many of us took the opportunity to get nitrox certified.

Plan to arrive in Belize City a few days early or leave a few days later as I highly recommend taking some of the land tours.  One should definitely see at least one of the Mayan ruins in the area:  Altun Ha, Caracol, Lamanai, or Xunantunich.  City tours, river cruises through the jungle, cave tubing, and zip lining over the jungle canopy are all top attractions and a fun way to experience Belize.  All tours will pick you up and drop you off at your hotel.  We stayed at the Radisson Ft. George Hotel – Radisson Ft. George Hotel.  This is very convenient for boarding and departing from the Belize Aggressor III docks at the Radisson Ft. George dock in Belize City.

Belize Gallery


Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles

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Bonaire Gallery

Honduras Hot Spots for Hot Shots

I’ve had several occasions to dive in Honduras from Laguna Beach Resort on Utila.  I had the chance to dive from the Utila Aggressor II with Captain Nestor Vidotto and his great crew, but since this trip the Aggressor II has been sold to a private owner and no longer is part of the Aggressor fleet.  Having said this, the diving was great and opened up some new territories and some great dive sites around both Utila and Roatan – two of the Bay Islands of Honduras!  The third Bay Island is Guanaja. It was a special treat to get to finally dive the Coco’s Sea Mounts.  These seamounts lie between Utila and Roatan and are tough to reach via the day dive boats.  I was thrilled to hang out and watch this large school of spadefish.  This huge school was in total harmony and  circled the area in a rhythmic pattern about 60 feet down and just off the mount.  There are plenty of corals and colorful fish life,  and I recommend making numerous dives if you have the opportunity to get to these seamounts.

Another of my favorite spots was Black Hills where there is an abundance of pelagics along with smaller critters tucked into hiding spots all along the reef.  This Titan triggerfish was in a very secure hiding place, but I was very careful to make sure that this Titan was not nesting –  they can be extremely aggressive and have attacked and injured divers who get too close to their nest. On the benign side, I am always amazed by the beauty and abundance of bluebell tunicates in the Honduran waters. Their color stands out all along the reefs. Symbiosis abounds on both the Black Hill’s and the Coco’s Sea Mount dive sites.  If you take a few minutes to stop and observe, you will see cleaning stations everywhere.  This small snapper had just moved into a vertical position to receive cleaning from incoming wrasses.  Drums, indigo hamlets, angelfish, turtles, filefish, and basslets add both color and variety to both of these great dive sites.

If you have never been diving with sharks, I recommend Cara a Cara – “face to face” – for your first shark experience. The Caribbean Reef sharks “know” that your dive boat and divers are coming.  Divers can position themselves against a wall about 60 feet deep and watch these graceful and majestic sharks circle the

area.  These elegant sharks are enticed with small buckets of fish to keep them attracted to the area for some great observations and photo opportunities.  Sharks are a keystone predator and critical to the balance in the ocean’s food chain.  They are magnificent animals that continue to be demonized and destroyed by such brutal practices as shark finning.  California just recently banned this practice.  For more information and proactive information on shark finning and shark populations,  I would suggest checking out these two websites: Sharkwater and  Sharksavers

If you have never experienced diving through fabulous crevasses and tunnels, Mary’s Place is “the” place.  The swim-through is filled with healthy sponges, fans, schools of silversides, and great fish life..  With the respect to the diver behind you and to the life attached to the walls, one must be very careful to not kick up sediments with your fins or come into contact with the walls during the dive.  As you complete the dive, you will end up at about 80 feet and can either take another crevice back to the surface or swim around the wall and gradually made your ascent and safety stop.

Staying in Roatan, Eel Garden was another “hot spot.”  We chose to dive the shallows and sandy bottom, and observed large schools of squid hovering above  and several flounders moving and stopping on the bottom –changing their colors at each stop to blend into their bottom environment using their color changing cells – chromatophores.  With both eyes on top of their head, it is fun to be very still and quiet  and watch this founder observe and check out its surroundings.

Although I’m not an experienced wreck diver, I found the dive on the El Aquilamost fun.  El Aguila – “The Eagle” was sunk in ’97 and sits in three pieces with the deepest part in 100 feet of water.  The best part of this dive was seeing the surprise on my dive buddy’s face when one of the many large groupers swam in front of her. These groupers are quite friendly, but they expect some food fish in return!   I suspect the Captain Nestor had something to do with attracting this very large grouper my dive buddy.  Of course, this grouper swam right in front of my dome port to make it look larger than life!

Speaking of Captain Nestor, my favorite spot was Ted’s Point!  It was a thrill to see my first Stargazer – a Southern Stargazer!   Captain Nestor knew right were to find this big boy!  This was truly an amazing sight!  Like the flounder, the stargazer has top mounted eyes with a mouth facing upward (superior mouth) and is a master of camouflage.  The stargazer literally buries itself in the sand with only its eyes and mouth barely peeking out of the sand.  It then ambushes small prey swimming above.  The stargazer is not particularly good looking and perhaps this is a warning for predators.  The Southern stargazer should never be touched by divers a it can produce an electrical current that is delivered by an electrical organ.


Alor, Indonesia

Indonesia diving offers some of the best diving in the world! Throughout the thousands of islands that make up the eastern part of Indonesia that extend to Papua, you will encounter spectacular hard and soft corals, reefs bursting and incredible and diverse fish life, and opportunities to see amazing macro life. World famous underwater photographer Berkley White led a trip to the Alor area of Indonesia in November 2013. You can read the travel blog about this trip at Alor and Komodo written by Jennifer Penner.

Berkley, who owns Backscatter and his amazing staff offer a variety of photo trips each year – ranging from photo workshops, digital shootouts, and expeditions to world-class locations. Backscatter Underwater Video & Photo is the largest underwater photo and video retailer in the United States with two locations: Monterey, California and Derry, New Hampshire.

Alor is part of the Alor archipelago on the eastern Sunda Islands in southeastern Indonesia. A short domestic flight out of Bali to Maumere got us to our liveaboard dive boat – the Damai II ( . I must say, the Damai II was the most luxurious, well organized, and well-staffed liveaboards I have ever been on. Our expedition throughout the island of Alor and nearby islands (see our route) and its many dive sites was an amazing ten-day trip aboard the Damai II. Each and every dive site was different and proved new opportunities to see and photograph new scenes and critters. The crew, led by Geraldine Richards and her expert dive guides were extraordinary.

Some of our dive site highlights included a group decision to stay an extra day in Baenbabang – one of the best macro experiences this diver has ever experienced. We also had a chance to dive with the children from the village of xxx who show off wearing their homemade coconut goggles. I made some trades with them – trading my Speedo goggles. I treasure my newly acquired coconut goggles and showed them to my teammates on my Masters swim team – they were amazed. Another highlight of our trip was a journey north to the island of Kumba – which is an active volcano. It was erupt about every 20 minutes – I’ve never seen or experienced anything like this. You could actually feel the power of the regular eruptions! We spent a day diving nearby sites off of Kumba where I saw some of the most incredible sea fans and shelf corals. During this trip, I saw and photographed many new critters such as my first mandarinfish and my first acceptable photo of a pygmy seahorse – they are about the size of a grain of rice.

One of the incredible benefits and advantages on going on many of Backscatter’s trips is the one and only Erin Quiqley. Erin is an award winning underwater photographer and leading Lightroom guru and is an incredible asset to any photographer who needs help with any and all aspects of downloading and working with images. Erin also runs many workshops throughout the country and world called “Lightroom Bootcamps!” Check out “Go Ask Erin . Erin also does short imagining articles on Backscatter’s website. And you can read about one of her recent trip reports from Little Cayman.


Cayman Islands

The Cayman Islands are always a great scuba trip.  They are very accessible from the mainland U.S. and offer a diversity of diving sites that are easy and fun.  From wrecks and walls, big to small, wide angle to macro – the Caymans has it ALL!  I’ve done three trips aboard the Cayman Aggressor IV  – two of these trips were part of Aggressor’s Jim Church Schools of Underwater Photography with Mike Haber and Mike Mesgleski.   During the one-week of diving, we were treated to a variety of diving sights.   On the sandy flats of Three Fathom Wall off of Little Cayman, you can find yellow-headed jawfish incubating his eggs – you could see each embryo!  Cleaning stations are abundant and fun to observe – especially those of the large groupers and barracudas. Flamingo tongues were moving about on their sea fans.  And, turtles are usually spotted  on many of the dive sites off of Grand Cayman and Little Cayman.

On the bigger side of things, we dove several wrecks including the #356 Russian destroyer the M/V Keith Tibbetts off of Cayman Brac and the recently suck M/V Kittiwake.  The Kittiwake was a submarine rescue vessel and sunk in 2011 to form and artificial reef.  All of the wrecks hosted a variety of fish life with sponge and coral growth. Off of Grand Cayman, Sting Ray City and The Devil’s Grotto are always a fun experience that never gets old.  The dive sites off of Little Cayman are my favorite:  the Bloody Bay Marine Park offers a fantastic variety dive experiences.   3 Fathom Wall, Nancy’s Cup of Tea, and Randy’s Gazebo are just some of the great sites off of Little Cayman.  We spent four days diving Little Cayman.  There are both great macro and wide-angle opportunities for photographers.

During our entire trip, we had daily help and workshops on photo tips and ideas.  Whether you are a beginning photographer or have had a lot of experience, there is always something to learn on a Mike & Mike trip.  And the crew aboard the Cayman Aggressor IV is simply outstanding and extraordinarily helpful and competent.  And the cuisine was outstanding.

Although I prefer diving liveaboards because of the ease of having all of your equipment in one place and not having to carry anything anywhere, there are some great land based dive resorts on Grand Cayman and Little Cayman.




In March we boarded Aggressor’s Tropic Dancer  for ten days of wonderful and diverse diving.  Palau has it all!  Under the expert direction of Captain Ike and his fantastic Tropic Dancer crew, we saw it all!

Mike & Mike’s Jim Church School of Underwater Photography put together a comprehensive ten day dive trip to Palau – located on the western edge of Micronesia. The incredible variety of dive sites range from seeing WW II wrecks, large sharks and mantas, coral walls and reefs, macro critters, outstanding fish diversity, and drift dives.

It was exciting to dive all the well-known dive sites such as Blue Corner, Blue Holes, Jellyfish Lake, Ulong Channel, and German Channel.  I had never used a reef hook before, but hooking in at Blue Corner felt like I was parasailing.  With just a slight inflation of the BC, you could just watch and photograph some of the big critters such as sharks, tuna, mantas, and large barracudas cruising back and forth in the deep current filled channels.  Once you unhook after watching the show, you can move on to the plateau area and visit with the very friendly resident napoleon wrasses.  These napoleon wrasses were huge, very photogenic, and not at all shy.

From the concealed and elusive to the downright bizarre and weird, you can find the colorful mandarinfish as well as the spiny devilfish on a dusk/night dive outside Chandelier Caves,  mandarinfish and spiny devilfish Mandarinfish have one of the most unique and beautiful coloration patterns of all ocean reef fish.  They are extremely shy and emerge from their coral rubble just before sunset to display courtship behavior. Mandarinfish only grow to a length of one to two inches.  On the other hand, the spiny devilfish comes out at night to feed.  It literally crawls along the sandy bottom with “legs” – a most unusual fish!

During the months of February and March, huge schools of Moorish idols engage in spawning aggregations of schooling Moorish idols. We saw this huge school as we emerged from the Blue Hole.  On just about every dive, very active and healthy sea turtles roamed and swam freely in the Palauan waters along with schools of jacks, snappers, butterfly fish, and angelfish.  Huge tridacna giant clams were abundant as well as tiny critters for macro hunting,  such as gobies on whip coral And cleaning stations were everywhere.

Drift diving along the Ulong Channel was a treat.  We had the chance to dive both directions during the trip. It was a very easy and fun drift dive. Along the channel are beautiful coral formations, an abundance and variety of fish life, turtles, and a massive formation of lettuce coral.

Throughout the many dive sites in Palau, colorful anemones with a variety of vibrant anemonefish dotted the reefs.  Many of the anemone fish were guarding recently laid eggs. Anemonefish live with their host anemone in a very close symbiotic relationship and will guard and protect the anemone that they call home.

A trip to Palau would not be complete if you miss snorkeling Jellyfish Lake.   Located off Koror, this lake is a saltwater lake and only snorkeling is permitted.  The lake is filled with millions of golden jellyfish that probably became trapped there thousands of years ago.  They have lost their ability to sting, but at first entry into the lake, it is a bit overwhelming to snorkel among these golden jellyfish.

Palau has significant World War II history and sights. Some of the underwater dives include the Aichi E 13A (Jake Sea Plane).  It was a long range Japanese reconnaissance plane that flew from 1941 – 1945.  2 pics of Jake E The “Helmet Wreck”, Iro Maru, and the Teshio Maru have many WW II artifacts and interesting structures.  The island of Peleliu was the sight of one of the bloodiest battles in the Pacific Theater.  It is well worth the time to take a land tour and see some of the sobering sights that took place on and around Orange and White Beach – 12,000 American and Japanese lives were lost at Peleliu.

Check out more descriptions and details of the dive sites in Palau on the Aggressor website. I thoroughly enjoyed each and every site and appreciated the variety and diversity of all of the dives.  Just about every dive site gives the opportunity for both wide-angle as well as macro photography.  While you are on Aggressor’s website, go to “special and unique charters”  and look at the great trips that Mike Haber and Mike Mesgleski offer – you will not be disappointed in what you will learn and accomplish in their photography and video instruction.