Pacific & Indian Oceans

The Ultimate Diving Experience with Jean-Michel Cousteau in Fiji

Oceanographer Jean-Michel Cousteau, son of legendary undersea explorer Jacques Cousteau, will be visiting the celebrated eco-luxury Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort located on the island of Vanua Levu, Fiji, this fall from September 14-21. During his stay, guests at the resort will have the rare opportunity to dive with Jean-Michel and explore the ocean through the eyes of one of the world’s most renowned environmental heroes.

There is no better place to learn SCUBA than the spectacular Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort in Fiji. It was Jean-Michel’s legendary father, Jacques-Yves Cousteau, who pioneered SCUBA gear during World War II when he co-created the Aqua-Lung, a twin-hose underwater breathing apparatus, with which he and his crew were able to explore and film parts of the ocean depths that had never been seen before.

With the unique advantage of Jean-Michel’s expertise, Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort is recognized for providing the best dive sites Fiji has to offer. From sites just 10 minutes away to the world-class Namena reefs, the resort offers a variety of dives for novices and experts alike. The dive center at the resort offers the most cutting-edge equipment and the most experienced staff on the island. Jean-Michel Cousteau Resort uniquely combines unparalleled dive capabilities and an expert staff with luxurious accommodations and amenities not typically found at dive resorts.

What’s more, guests can easily become certified to dive in just three days. An introduction begins with an instructor-led 30-minute lesson in the swimming pool. A resort course follows this, beginning with video instruction, in-pool instruction and then a shallow dive (up to 18 meters).

For more information, visit:

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Scuba Diving Trip Report: A Palau Primer

The island nation of Palau is located about 500 miles east of the Philippine Islands, at about the same latitude, but despite being close neighbors (geographically speaking) these islands are, in many ways, very different. The Philippines were, for me, mostly about the wonderful macro life. Palau was more about big animals, schooling fish, and interesting reef formations.

We started venturing to Southeast Asia to dive about eight years ago. Over those years, in all the locations we’ve been diving, we’ve noticed an alarming dearth of sharks. Healthy coral reefs need apex predators. Sadly, it appears that most of them have been captured and finned (while still alive!) to feed an enormous and seemingly insatiable market for (perplexingly prestigious) shark fin soup. There are signs that there is finally some much needed change occurring in consumer habits regarding this product. It remains to be seen if it is too late for decimated shark stocks around the world to recover.
In fact, in many locations where I have been diving, there are very few bigger-than-your-fist fish left at all.

In my ten or so trips to Southeast Asia, diving in as many different locations, I’ve seen not more than a couple of dozen sharks, in total. That is tragic. So it was heartwarming to dive the reefs of Palau and see sharks. On. Every. Single. Dive. We spotted white tips, black tips, gray reef sharks and several leopard sharks.

Getting pictures of sharks is difficult (with the Leopard Shark, a bottom lounger, being the easiest to get close to of the ones I listed above). Despite popular folklore, most species of sharks are reclusive animals, and are very wary of humans. Unfortunately that doesn’t help them if long-lined, or netted, or dynamite fished…

So sharky dives were one of the big highlights for me of this trip. Another was the hauntingly beautiful Jellyfish Lake, in which a pocket of the ocean became land-locked at some point in history, and the jellies, lacking the usual predators, evolved into non-stingers. This was a snorkel excursion, and spending an hour or so floating in a salty lake with literally millions of these poetic, benign creatures was lovely.

Palau is also very fishy, and again, it was so wonderful to see large schools of fish – jacks, and snappers, and crescent-tails, and barracuda, and grunts, and even a herd of bumphead parrotfish. The conservation culture of Palau, which recognizes the value of tourism, and seems to nationally embrace it, seems to really be helping to keep a healthy diversity of animals on the reefs and in the blue. As I said above, you don’t see a lot of fish anymore in a lot of locations in this part of the world.

Oh, and turtles. We saw lotsa turtles. And gargantuan giant clams. And flatworms. But we did not see many nudibranchs, or large varieties of anemone fish. If you follow my stuff, you’ll know I am a bit obsessed with anemone fish. ;^)

The reefs of Palau are reasonably colorful and diverse (although I’d have to say not quite as pretty as some other places I’ve been – Fiji, Raja Ampat, Komodo as examples), and we saw a lot of very large sea fans and some huge stands of lettuce coral. Given the amount of divers in the water (it is a very popular dive destination), and some of the very poor diving practices we witnessed, it was amazing to me that many of the fans and large corals did not yet have signs of diver damage.

Chandelier Cave, a very shallow cavern dive, was cool too. The archipelago of Palau (comprised of hundreds of islands and islets) was formed from limestone, and so is very porous and easily eroded. We dove the famous Jakes Seaplane wreck, just minutes from the harbor in Kuror, as well as a nearby freighter wreck. It is my understanding that there is plentiful wreck diving in Palau — mostly WW2-related sinkings. We also did several dives featuring blue holes, tunnels and caves, and we dove some pretty vertiginous walls. Palau certainly offers a broad menu of delicious diving.

And then there was Blue Corner — a revered dive site, often cited in ‘Top Ten Dives in the World’ lists. Hit it right, and it is magic. Hit it wrong and it can be hair-raising. We did it both ways, with the hair-raising version going down in my dive history as the gnarliest current dive I have done to date.

And finally, Palau is about interesting and poignant history. We did a full day land tour of Peleliu Island – the scene of one of the major land engagements between the Japanese and the US. It was informative and educational, and despite the passage of years, there is still abundant war memorabilia to see, both in the small museum, and literally scattered around the island.

We had an extra day after we got off the live aboard before flying home, and so we hired a local guide to take us on a cultural tour of Koror, the main island of Palau. It was very interesting and enlightening to learn about the people and their history.

As a popular divers’ destination, Palau is well set up with hotels, restaurants, and numerous dive operations. Several live aboard companies also have boats in the area. Our combination of a few days of land-based diving and tours, and a week on a dedicated dive live aboard, was ideal.

Judy G is a traveling underwater photographer. Check out her blog HERE and follow her on Facebook: Judy G Diver

More from Judy G

Don’t Be This Diver — What Not To Do Underwater

Macro Diving: Looking for Mr. Little

A Taste of the Philippines

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Where To Dive With Mako Sharks

A close up of a mako shark

Chris and Monique Fallows/

Mako Shark
Shortfin makos are found in temperate and tropical seas world wide.

Makos. They might look like skinny great whites, but these lightning-fast sharks are in a league all their own.

They’re not the biggest sharks in the sea, but they just might be the fastest — and the twitchiest.

Short fin mako sharks are sometimes described as miniature great whites on amphetamines. These toothy sharks look like a shrunken- down version of the ocean’s top predators, but they act totally different. While great white sharks slice slow, graceful circles around a diver, watching with an inquisitive eye, makos are twitchy sharks, hopped up on adrenaline, that blast through a chum slick, offering a split-second glimpse before they disappear into the abyss.

Thought to be the fastest sharks in the ocean, makos have an estimated top speed burst of about 45 mph. They can achieve these speeds thanks, in part, to their warm body temperature, which stays between 7 and 10 degrees warmer than the water and gives them energy. Like great whites, makos are known to jump out of the water, sometimes up to 20 feet in the air, though scientists haven’t found the driving force behind this behavior.

Makos are pelagic sharks that live throughout the world’s oceans, but there are only a handful of places where divers have reliable encounters with these incredible creatures.


Mako populations have been rebounding in recent years off the coast of San Diego, where free divers can join charters like those offered by SD Expeditions ( for the chance to go cage-free with these impressive predators.


The remote islands of the Azores sit along the mid-Atlantic ridge, a vast underwater mountain range that cuts through the middle of the Atlantic Ocean. From July to October, dive operators like CW Azores ( offer blue-water diving trips to swim with makos in the open ocean.


Most divers wouldn’t immediately think of Rhode Island as a shark-diving hot spot, but during the summer months, when the Gulf Stream moves close to shore, this stretch of New England coastline becomes a haven for makos and other sharks, as game fish move closer to shore. A number of fishing boats like Snappa Charters ( now offer trips to see them in their element.


With a top speed of more than 45 miles per hour, shortfin mako sharks (Isurus oxyrinchus) are thought to be the fastest shark species. They can be easily identified by their teeth, which are visible even when their mouths are closed. These sharks can have up to 18 pups at a time, and are listed on the IUCN Red List as Vulnerable.


Shortfin makos are found in temperate and tropical seas world- wide, but San Diego, Azores and Rhode Island offer reliable encounters.


Makos can leap up to 20 feet out of the water, though scientists are unsure of the reason for this behavior. Makos are aggressive hunters that feed primarily on schooling fish like tuna, mackerel and swordfish.


They average between 6 and 9 feet in length.

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Celebrate 26 Years – Save $800 on Okeanos Aggressor and Wind Dancer, Cocos Island!

Okeanos Aggressor/Wind Dancer

Celebrate 26 Years

Celebrate 26 Years – Save $800 Cocos Island! Book and deposit on a new reservation starting July 7, 2015 for travel to Cocos Island from December 9, 2015 – January 6, 2016 an…

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Geo Quiz August 2015


What South Pacific Nation covers over two million square miles of ocean?


French Polynesia covers over two million square miles and is comprised of 118 islands spread over five great archipelagos.


What nation has the most exciting current diving in the world?


The Tuamoto Islands of French Polynesia offer some of the best adrenalin diving in the world. Shoot through passages, drifting with the current surrounded by a variety of sharks. Nowhere else can you do this in such crystal clear waters.


What destination is easy travel from the west coast and is the same time zone as Hawaii?


Tahiti’s Faa’a Airport is less than 8 hours from Los Angeles with non-stop daily flights. Early morning arrival insures a same day connection to outer islands

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French Polynesia is not only a dazzlingly beautiful destination with fantastic diving, it is also the most sophisticated island nation in the Pacific. The accommodation and food is beyond compare for the discerning traveler.

Ready to go? Check out this exclusive deal Tahiti And Her Island Of Rangiroa – Unsurpassed Luxury!

For more information about French Polynesia and to book your next vacation visit

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