Posts Tagged ‘North Carolina’

World’s Best Destinations for Diving with Big Animals

Wednesday, February 3rd, 2016
Underwater Photo Atlantic Spotted Dolphins in the Bahamas

Jon Cornforth

Atlantic spotted dolphins are one of the many big animals beloved by divers in the Bahamas

Why do the Top 100 Readers Choice Awards, now in their 23rd year, still matter to divers? Because these are your picks, based on thousands of votes from the most experienced dive travelers on the planet. Why do they matter to us? Because every month you hear from our editors on what we think matters in the world of dive travel. For the January/February issue of Scuba Diving we get to listen to you, and we’re taking notes.

Here, we proudly present the No. 1 ranking destinations in the Best Big Animal Encounters category of the awards. The full list of winning destinations is below.

Underwater Photo Hammerhead Shark Bimini Bahamas

Bill Fisher

Bahamas

Best Big Animal Encounters in the Caribbean and Atlantic

Everyone likes a sure thing. Thus the Bahamas continues to rate so highly for big animals. Unlike ultra-remote locales requiring liveaboards and overnight motors before day one begins, here, hammerheads or Caribbean reef sharks mug for your lens just as soon as you unpack and assemble gear. Plus, the variety of species calling these islands home or waypoint is incredible. The hammerheads of Bimini. Oceanic whitetips of Cat Island. Tigers off Grand Bahama. And the place that helped the nation become synonymous for sharks: Nassau. Hopscotch between a few spots and you’ll quickly amass a portfolio of species — plus learn the behavior not only of the sharks but of the goliath grouper that serve as shark-feed second acts. One more perk: Although not as reliably seen, wild Atlantic spotted dolphins regularly cruise Bimini and the Little Bahama Bank, creating an ideal opportunity for those who’ve been wowed by the main attraction but want the show to continue. — Brooke Morton

Caribbean and Atlantic

1. Bahamas

2. Turks and Caicos

3. Belize

4. Cayman Islands

5. Mexico



Diver and Sand Tiger Shark Underwater Photo North Carolina

Scott Johnson

North Carolina

Best Big Animal Encounters in North America

They’re big, and they’re slow. Sand tigers, the predominant shark species off North Carolina, lack a swim bladder but manage near-perfect neutral buoyancy thanks to an ability to gulp air at the surface. It explains why they’re among the least hurried big animals, good news for photographers or any diver who simply wants to prolong face time with these snaggletoothed scavengers. — Brooke Morton

North America

1. North Carolina

2. Florida

3. California

4. Washington

5. British Columbia



Galapagos Sea Lions Underwater Photo

Doug Perrine

Galapagos

Best Big Animal Encounters in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

You could go to Galapagos just to see table-size black-blotched rays, quizzical sea lions, tornadoes of barracuda and jacks, turtles and manta rays galore. But really, you’re deluding your- self if you go for any other reason than sharks — clouds of hammerheads and whitetips, solitary tigers and packs of burly Galapagos. — David Espinosa

Pacific and Indian Oceans

1. Galapagos

2. Palau

3. Hawaii

4. Costa Rica

5. Maldives



How We Got the Numbers Thousands of Scuba Diving subscribers and online users rated their experiences at dive destinations in a variety of categories on a scale from one to five. Final scores are an average of the numerical scores awarded. A minimum number of responses was required for a destination to be included in these ratings.

The World’s Best Scuba Diving Locations

Friday, January 22nd, 2016
Sand Tiger Shark Swimming in North Carolina

Marc Montocchio

Top 100 Best Overall Diving 2016

Get ready for the No. 1 winning destinations of our annual Top 100 Readers Choice Awards.

Why do the Top 100 Readers Choice Awards, now in their 23rd year, still matter to divers? Because these are your picks, based on thousands of votes from the most experienced dive travelers on the planet. Why do they matter to us? Because every month you hear from our editors on what we think matters in the world of dive travel. For the January/February issue of Scuba Diving we get to listen to you, and we’re taking notes.

Here, we proudly present the No. 1 ranking destinations in the Best Overall Diving category of the awards. The full list of winning destinations is below.

Best Overall Diving in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

A jellyfish underwater in Indonesia

Eric Madeja

1. Indonesia

Best Overall Diving in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

If the host of accolades from this year’s Top 100 alone don’t convince you of Indonesia’s greatness — Best Macro, Healthy Marine Environment, Best Underwater Photography, not to mention Best Overall Diving — we’re not sure what will. But we’ll keep piling on until we prove this archipelago of more than 17,000 islands has something for everyone. For metalheads, Bali is home to the most photogenic wreck on the planet — and perhaps most accessible — a U.S. Liberty-class ship lying 25 yards off Tulamben’s rocky shore. Healthy reefs and fish overload more your style? Eastern Indonesia’s Raja Ampat has hundreds of sites with colorful reefs where schools of fish are so thick you won’t be able to see your buddy. Macro divers will go gaga for the nudibranchs and weird critters in Lembeh; big-fish aficionados will love Komodo’s manta trains; and wall divers will get vertigo in Wakatobi. One trip to Indonesia and you’ll see what all the fuss is about. Just remember to tell your friends. — David Espinosa

Diver at Misool's Boo Rocks Indonesia

Brandon Cole

1. Indonesia

Best Overall Diving in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

A diver swims through the famed opening at Misool’s Boo Rocks, a favorite site for photographers.

Micronesia Underwater Best Dive Destinations

Shutterstock

2. Micronesia

Best Overall Diving in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

Aerial View Palau Scuba Diving

shutterstock

3. Palau

Best Overall Diving in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

School of Hammerheads in Galapagos Underwater Photo

Shutterstock

4. Galapagos

Best Overall Diving in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

Thistlegorm Wreck Red Sea Egypt Trucks Underwater

Shutterstock

5. Red Sea

Best Overall Diving in the Pacific and Indian Oceans


Best Overall Diving in the Caribbean and Atlantic

Scuba Divers on Bonaire Shore Dive Salt Pier

Allison Vitsky Sallmon

1. Bonaire

Best Overall Diving in the Caribbean and Atlantic

Diving is such an integral part of this spunky desert island not far from South America that it’s hard to separate the underwater and topside experience. Luckily, you don’t have to, because 24/7 access to its vibrant near-shore reefs is what sets Bonaire apart. If there’s a place you can have more fun than piloting your rental truck around Bonaire’s cactus-lined ring road, pulling off to submerge almost anywhere — slowing down just long enough to admire the flamingos or grab a burger at the kiteboarders beach — we haven’t heard of it. — Mary Frances Emmons

Underwater Photo Diver in Devil's Grotto Cayman Islands

Shutterstock

2. Cayman Islands

Best Overall Diving in the Caribbean and Atlantic

Underwater Photo Diver in Cenote in Mexico

Shutterstock

3. Mexico

Best Overall Diving in the Caribbean and Atlantic

Pier Beach Bay Islands Honduras Scuba Diving

Shutterstock

4. Bay Islands

Best Overall Diving in the Caribbean and Atlantic

Sharks Underwater Photo in the Bahamas

Shutterstock

5. Bahamas

Best Overall Diving in the Caribbean and Atlantic


Best Overall Diving in North America

Underwater Photo of Seal and Kelp in British Columbia

Brandon Cole

1. British Columbia

Best Overall Diving in North America

Your first B.C. dive will likely take your breath away, and not just because of the refreshing 50-degree water. Novice and expert divers alike regularly rate Vancouver Island the planet’s finest coldwater diving. The mix of engaging critters, hot invertebrate colors, artificial reefs extraordinaire, rugged scenic beauty and warm Canadian hospitality ensure your return. — Brandon Cole

Underwater Photo Diver with Plumose Anemone British Columbia

Brandon Cole

British Columbia

Best Overall Diving in North America

Bountiful marine life awaits divers in British Columbia, including giant plumose anemones and sunflower sea stars.

Underwater Photo Red Irish Lord in British Columbia

David Hall

British Columbia

Best Overall Diving in North America

Red Irish lords are one of the fascinating creatures found when scuba diving in the 50-degree waters of British Columbia.

Sand Tiger Shark Underwater North Carolina

Shutterstock

2. North Carolina

Best Overall Diving in North America

Underwater Kelp Scuba Diving California

Shutterstock

3. California

Best Overall Diving in North America

Manatee Underwater Photo Crystal River, Florida

Shutterstock

4. Florida

Best Overall Diving in North America

Coral Underwater

Shutterstock

5. Washington

Best Overall Diving in North America


How We Got the Numbers Thousands of Scuba Diving subscribers and online users rated their experiences at dive destinations in a variety of categories on a scale from one to five. Final scores are an average of the numerical scores awarded. A minimum number of responses was required for a destination to be included in these ratings.

The World’s Best Scuba Diving Locations

Friday, January 22nd, 2016
Sand Tiger Shark Swimming in North Carolina

Marc Montocchio

Top 100 Best Overall Diving 2016

Get ready for the No. 1 winning destinations of our annual Top 100 Readers Choice Awards.

Why do the Top 100 Readers Choice Awards, now in their 23rd year, still matter to divers? Because these are your picks, based on thousands of votes from the most experienced dive travelers on the planet. Why do they matter to us? Because every month you hear from our editors on what we think matters in the world of dive travel. For the January/February issue of Scuba Diving we get to listen to you, and we’re taking notes.

Here, we proudly present the No. 1 ranking destinations in the Best Overall Diving category of the awards. The full list of winning destinations is below.

Best Overall Diving in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

A jellyfish underwater in Indonesia

Eric Madeja

1. Indonesia

Best Overall Diving in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

If the host of accolades from this year’s Top 100 alone don’t convince you of Indonesia’s greatness — Best Macro, Healthy Marine Environment, Best Underwater Photography, not to mention Best Overall Diving — we’re not sure what will. But we’ll keep piling on until we prove this archipelago of more than 17,000 islands has something for everyone. For metalheads, Bali is home to the most photogenic wreck on the planet — and perhaps most accessible — a U.S. Liberty-class ship lying 25 yards off Tulamben’s rocky shore. Healthy reefs and fish overload more your style? Eastern Indonesia’s Raja Ampat has hundreds of sites with colorful reefs where schools of fish are so thick you won’t be able to see your buddy. Macro divers will go gaga for the nudibranchs and weird critters in Lembeh; big-fish aficionados will love Komodo’s manta trains; and wall divers will get vertigo in Wakatobi. One trip to Indonesia and you’ll see what all the fuss is about. Just remember to tell your friends. — David Espinosa

Diver at Misool's Boo Rocks Indonesia

Brandon Cole

1. Indonesia

Best Overall Diving in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

A diver swims through the famed opening at Misool’s Boo Rocks, a favorite site for photographers.

Micronesia Underwater Best Dive Destinations

Shutterstock

2. Micronesia

Best Overall Diving in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

Aerial View Palau Scuba Diving

shutterstock

3. Palau

Best Overall Diving in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

School of Hammerheads in Galapagos Underwater Photo

Shutterstock

4. Galapagos

Best Overall Diving in the Pacific and Indian Oceans

Thistlegorm Wreck Red Sea Egypt Trucks Underwater

Shutterstock

5. Red Sea

Best Overall Diving in the Pacific and Indian Oceans


Best Overall Diving in the Caribbean and Atlantic

Scuba Divers on Bonaire Shore Dive Salt Pier

Allison Vitsky Sallmon

1. Bonaire

Best Overall Diving in the Caribbean and Atlantic

Diving is such an integral part of this spunky desert island not far from South America that it’s hard to separate the underwater and topside experience. Luckily, you don’t have to, because 24/7 access to its vibrant near-shore reefs is what sets Bonaire apart. If there’s a place you can have more fun than piloting your rental truck around Bonaire’s cactus-lined ring road, pulling off to submerge almost anywhere — slowing down just long enough to admire the flamingos or grab a burger at the kiteboarders beach — we haven’t heard of it. — Mary Frances Emmons

Underwater Photo Diver in Devil's Grotto Cayman Islands

Shutterstock

2. Cayman Islands

Best Overall Diving in the Caribbean and Atlantic

Underwater Photo Diver in Cenote in Mexico

Shutterstock

3. Mexico

Best Overall Diving in the Caribbean and Atlantic

Pier Beach Bay Islands Honduras Scuba Diving

Shutterstock

4. Bay Islands

Best Overall Diving in the Caribbean and Atlantic

Sharks Underwater Photo in the Bahamas

Shutterstock

5. Bahamas

Best Overall Diving in the Caribbean and Atlantic


Best Overall Diving in North America

Underwater Photo of Seal and Kelp in British Columbia

Brandon Cole

1. British Columbia

Best Overall Diving in North America

Your first B.C. dive will likely take your breath away, and not just because of the refreshing 50-degree water. Novice and expert divers alike regularly rate Vancouver Island the planet’s finest coldwater diving. The mix of engaging critters, hot invertebrate colors, artificial reefs extraordinaire, rugged scenic beauty and warm Canadian hospitality ensure your return. — Brandon Cole

Underwater Photo Diver with Plumose Anemone British Columbia

Brandon Cole

British Columbia

Best Overall Diving in North America

Bountiful marine life awaits divers in British Columbia, including giant plumose anemones and sunflower sea stars.

Underwater Photo Red Irish Lord in British Columbia

David Hall

British Columbia

Best Overall Diving in North America

Red Irish lords are one of the fascinating creatures found when scuba diving in the 50-degree waters of British Columbia.

Sand Tiger Shark Underwater North Carolina

Shutterstock

2. North Carolina

Best Overall Diving in North America

Underwater Kelp Scuba Diving California

Shutterstock

3. California

Best Overall Diving in North America

Manatee Underwater Photo Crystal River, Florida

Shutterstock

4. Florida

Best Overall Diving in North America

Coral Underwater

Shutterstock

5. Washington

Best Overall Diving in North America


How We Got the Numbers Thousands of Scuba Diving subscribers and online users rated their experiences at dive destinations in a variety of categories on a scale from one to five. Final scores are an average of the numerical scores awarded. A minimum number of responses was required for a destination to be included in these ratings.

The World’s Best Destinations for Wreck Diving

Thursday, January 14th, 2016

Why do the Top 100 Readers Choice Awards, now in their 23rd year, still matter to divers? Because these are your picks, based on thousands of votes from the most experienced dive travelers on the planet. Why do they matter to us? Because every month you hear from our editors on what we think matters in the world of dive travel. For the January/February issue of Scuba Diving we get to listen to you, and we’re taking notes.

Here, we proudly present the No. 1 ranking destinations in the Best Wreck Diving category of the awards. The full list of winning destinations is below.

Pacific and Indian Oceans

1) CHUUCK

Many places boast a few shipwrecks as gee-whiz alternatives to biological reefs, but there’s only one Chuuk, also known as Truk. More than 50 Japanese ships, planes, subs and all manner of machinery, weaponry and fascinating (and sobering) wartime history are on display, the result of America’s deadly aerial barrage on the Japanese fleet in February 1944. This warm, calm lagoon in Micronesia holds a World War II mari- time museum without equal. The 433-foot-long Fujikawa Maru is superb, both for military and marine-life attractions — Zero fighter planes in the hold, deck guns draped in soft corals — and is shallow enough for novices. Tec divers descend 175 feet onto the phenomenal San Francisco to see tanks, trucks and bombs. Shinkoku offers bright invertebrates and school- ing fish; inside, a soldier’s bones rest in sick bay. Chuuk is also a mass grave, a testament to the tragedy of war. — Brandon Cole

Go Now: visittruk.com

2) Red Sea

3) Palau

4) Thailand

5) Hawaii

North America

1) NORTH CAROLINA

Diving North Carolina’s wrecks doesn’t force you to choose between swimming the top deck alongside sand tiger sharks or penetrating. At a handful of sites, including the USS Indra and the tanker Atlas, drop inside tight quarters to navigate alongside these big fish. — Brooke Morton

Go Now: visitnc.com

2) Florida and Florida Springs

3) Washington

4) California

5) Great Lakes

Caribbean and Atlantic

1) BAHAMAS

You might expect that a nation of 700 islands would boast a massive collection of downed ships — and it does. Your favorite might change to whichever one you dived last, be it the shallow and marine-life-rich SS Sapona cargo steamer off Bimini or Edward Williams off New Providence, where you’ll likely come face to face with Caribbean reef sharks and goliath grouper. — Brooke Morton

Go Now: bahamas.com

2) Cayman Islands

3) Bay Islands

4) Curacao

5) Bonaire

Dive Hacks: Tips for Wreck Diving

Monday, October 26th, 2015
Diver near wrecks in Morehead City, North Carolina

Tanya Burnett

Shipwreck fanatic (aka metal head) Robert Purifoy talks wreck diving.

Shipwrecks are magnetic to divers. Mysterious, poignant and sometimes haunting, sunken ships have compelled humankind since we first figured out a way to breathe underwater. There’s something seductive about the hidden treasures they harbor in their rusty bellies, and some of the world’s most popular dive destinations owe their fame to wrecks.

From the historic warships of Chuuk Lagoon, Palau, Bikini Atoll and the Scapa Flow to the man-made attractions of the Florida Keys, New Zealand, Grand Cayman and Australia, the draw of artificial reefs is global. But sunken ships pose unique challenges to divers, including the potential for entanglement in fishing line, laceration by sharp metal or becoming lost deep in their bowels. Specific training and equipment are prudent when attempting any wreck dive, and there’s no quick and easy substitute for experience.

Robert Purifoy of Olympus Dive Center in Morehead City, North Carolina, has been intrigued by shipwrecks since before he was old enough to become certified. As the son of North Carolina pioneer George Purifoy, who was instrumental in discovering such famous regional sites as the U-352 and the USS Schurz, he started working on dive boats at age 10, earned his instructor rating in 1990, and now runs charters as captain of the 65-foot Olympus.

“The older shipwrecks that were true warships and have a history are fascinating to me,” says Purifoy. “Other wrecks I like for the marine life that congregates around them. Artificial or historic — every wreck has its own unique appeal.”

His backyard on the fabled Outer Banks of North Carolina boasts wrecks sunk on purpose and by tragic events, and offers a variety of challenges, from depth to size, condition and beyond.

“The U-352 is my favorite wreck, for sure. It’s easy to navigate and one of those bucket-list dives because of the history,” Purifoy says. “Another favorite is one of the newer ships that was sunk as an artificial reef, the USCGC Spar, because it’s got a lot of relief, sits close to the Gulf Stream for consistent good visibility, and is usually inhabited by quite a few sand tiger sharks.”

It’s a world-class training ground for wreck divers— here are four choice lessons from Purifoy’s logbook.

PREPARE FOR ACTION

Wreck diving can become complicated and strenuous. Before your next expedition (or local artificial reef ) consider the added benefit of taking a specialty course, having your gear serviced and increasing your normal workout.

“A little preparation goes a long way, and training is the first step,” Purifoy says. “We always recommend that people come out early and do a shallow warm-up dive to make sure they have their weight right, their computer is working properly, and there’s nothing else that might cause them to miss the dive. There’s nothing more disappointing than making it to that bucket-list wreck dive and everything goes as planned except for you.”

LEARN THE HISTORY

Finding out the layout and back story of a sunken ship can aid in navigation, clue you in to cool features and create a deeper appreciation for what you’re experiencing. Purifoy says your best source for information is always the local dive professionals, who have likely explored most every inch of the wrecks in their region.

“Knowing the history of the ship makes it come alive,” says Purifoy. “Beyond that, it helps you to set goals or objectives for your dive. Otherwise, you might surface and hear everyone else on the boat saying, ‘Wow, did you see that big propeller?’ And you’re thinking, ‘What propeller?’”

CONSERVE THE KICKS

Although there’s no substitute for proper buoyancy (which should be perfected before attempting a penetration), inside a wreck (after the proper training), limiting the amount of kicking you do will decrease the risk of a siltout or debris falling from an overhead environment.

“When penetrating a wreck that has a good water flow and visibility, I use a pull-and-glide technique as opposed to kicking,” says Purifoy. “It’s a technique that cave divers often use where you reach out and carefully take a handhold to give yourself a pull and just glide. If it’s a tight space where there’s not a lot of water moving, I use a very careful frog kick.”

TAKE THE RIGHT TOOLS

The rigors of wreck diving require specialized gear to solve specific problems. Packing along a bright light to illuminate the dark corners, a clean slate to diagram structural features, a reel and line to mark your path through winding corridors, and a sharp cutting tool to shred potential entanglements can increase your safety and enjoyment.

“With the proper training, I recommend a stage bottle, especially for penetration,” Purifoy says. “In addition, I recommend a dual-outlet-valve system where you have two first stages, so if you were to have a hose get cut or break, you could turn one of those valves off and still have a fully independent scuba unit to complete your dive.” His redundancy strategy can be carried over into other accessories as well, from dive computers to torches. “I always dive with at least two computers, or at least a computer and a secondary timing device,” says Purifoy. “And keep in mind that your backup light needs to be as good as your primary light because it may become your primary light.”

GEAR SOLUTIONS

The right tools — including a multipurpose cutting tool—increase your safety when wreck diving.

CRESSI ALLIGATOR

Cressi Alligator

Courtesy Cressi

This clever unit combines the strength of a knife with the utility of scissors in a single compact package (6.5 inches in length) that can fit comfortably inside most BC pockets. For added function, the blade is serrated to increase its bite and the shears are spring-loaded for easy use with gloves. Plus, it’s built from corrosion-resistant stainless steel, offers rubber handle inserts to ensure a positive grip, and stows neatly into a low-profile molded sheath.

MSRP $74.95; INFO cressiusa.com