July 2018 - Mexico
Back again to Isla Mujeres for another photo tour with the whalesharks (can't get enough of those gentle giants). 4 days on a private boat with a bunch of like-minded camera junkies. This time was different with giant mantas joining in the plankton feeding frenzy and on day 3 it was insane. The water was packed with plankton and the whalesharks were very close together and swimming slow then the mantas started to appear barrelling just below us - it was nuts and you didn't know where to look!
June 2018 - French Polynesia
After a late invitation to join an old friend from London and the Red Sea days sailing in French Polynesia I flew up to Rangiroa to join the boat (a 14m catamaran). We were anchored just inside the Tiputa Pass and it was a perfect base to explore the pass and surrounding reefs.
My first time in this part of the world and I was blown away by the visibility... I mean it was stunning! On average about 40m sometimes nearly 50m and the colour had a beautiful indigo hue. OK the coral life was disappointing but the big fish and shark action more than made up for it.
Tiputa channel is famous for huge currents and big fish action and it didn't disappoint. Due to the unpredictability and potential strength of these currents we decided to dive with one of the dive shops which, in hindsight, was rather prudent. With peak speeds of around 7 knots it is not to be messed with and local knowledge a must. We encountered dolphins (or heard them) on every dive in or around the pass and on one dive several of the females came to join us for most of the dive begging to be tickled and scratched. For wild bottlenoses they are certainly not unused to human attention - great fun!
When the current permitted (coming in to the lagoon) we would get dropped on the outside on the eastern side of the pass and drift in on the current. At the mouth of the pass at around 60m we could see masses of grey reef sharks (200+) swimming in tight formation but they were too deep to investigate. Unfortunately the current was only about 1.5 knots so I'm guessing that's why they wer hanging out at that depth. Still, an amazing sight to see so many and on the last dive we also spotted a 3.5m tiger shark swimming back out the lagoon below us - very cool.
We then sailed over to Tikehau (the next atoll to the west) and spent several days exploring the inside of the lagoon. Again, a great spot with many small black tipped reef sharks cruising past the deck of the restaurant in the resort. Then an overnight sail in the moonlight back to Tahiti for provisioning, Moorea for a week then on the Raiatea for my flight out back to Tahiti/AKL.
July 2016 - Mexico
Just got back from a quick 2 week trip to Mexico (my first trip) to swim with whalesharks off Isla Mujeres and dive the freshwater cenotes of the Yucatan peninsula.
Not sure why it took me so long to get to this part of the world but am glad I finally made it. It's an area that has long held its fascination and it did not disappoint.
Just visiting some of the Mayan ruins and learning about their culture from some of their descendants was in itself a worthwhile exploit. However the main reason was beneath the surface.
Isla Mujeres - Whalesharks
Arrived late afternoon early July after AKL-IAH-CUN a 17 hour journey but not too bad with a stop in Houston instead of LA.
4 days on a private boat with Gregory Sweeney and guests was just the ticket and we had no shortage of encounters with these gentle giants.
Thanks Gregory - great trip - some images here whalesharks
Playa del Carmen - Cenotes
After the whalesharks it was down to Playa del Carmen to dive the freshwater cenotes that riddle this peninsula.
What a pleasure to dive in fresh water - no rinsing of cameras, diving gear and after the constant 30+ degrees of high humidity a relief to enter the relative 24 deg coolness of the cenotes.
I only had time to dive 5 cenotes - Tajma-Ha, Chac-Mool, ChiKin-Ha, Dos Ojos and Angelita but they are all different experiences. A must for all keen scuba divers visiting the area. The crystal clear vis and the amazing limestone formations make it unforgettable.
Check out some images here - cenotes