One trend in dive travel that promises sizable rewards for agents
is the growing interest among divers in exploring the waters of
far-off destinations. "Places like Truk Lagoon, Palau, the Red Sea
and Indonesia, out-of-the-way places, are growing in popularity,"
says Bill Hamm, manager of PADI's International Resort Association
in Rancho Santa Margarita, Calif.
Following is a sampling of dive packages to a number of the
exotic destinations that are attracting today's divers. Prices are
per person, based on double occupancy.
Palau & Yap
Among well-traveled divers, the neighboring Micronesian
destinations of Palau and Yap are much loved for their crystal
clear waters, dramatic underwater terrain and big sea
In the waters off Yap, giant manta rays are the highlight, says
Mike Musto, president of Trip-n-Tour Micronesia in Vista, Calif.
"Some of them are 1,500 to 2,000 pounds." After diving the waters
of Palau and Yap, Yap's cultural attractions, village life,
traditional clothing and dance presentations,are the "frosting on
the cake," Musto says.
Trip-n-Tour Micronesia, which customizes dive itineraries, can
put together a land-based dive vacation that combines six nights in
Palau, with accommodations at the top of the line Palau Pacific
Resort, followed by three nights in Yap at the Manta Ray Bay Hotel.
The trip includes five days of two-tank dives in Palau, including
pickup at the hotel dock and lunch at one of the archipelago's
uninhabited islands, and two days of diving on Yap.
Price: $3,042, including air travel from Los Angeles on
Continental, air travel between Palau and Yap, airport transfers,
lunches on dive excursions in Palau, dive permits; effective Jan.
16 to May 31, weekend departures. Call (800) 348-0842 or (619)
Papua New Guinea
Reef & Rainforest, a dive and adventure travel wholesaler based
in Sausalito, Calif., combines nature, culture and diving on its
custom itineraries to Papua New Guinea. As a dive destination,
Papua New Guinea is acclaimed for the pristine quality of its dive
sites and its tremendous diversity.
Typical of the custom itineraries that Reef & Rainforest
offers to Papua New Guinea is a two-week vacation that combines
seven nights on the live-aboard dive vessel the Febrina for diving
in Kimbe Bay; three nights at Ambua Lodge with visits to the
villages and markets of the Huli Clans and guided nature walks, and
two nights at the Karawari Lodge, with visits to tribes along the
Price: From $5,450, including roundtrip air travel from Los
Angeles or San Francisco on either Qantas or Singapore Airlines and
Air Niugini; all domestic flights and transfers within Papua New
Guinea; accommodations; guided touring, and, on the Febrina, all
meals and diving. Call (800) 794-9767 or (415) 289-1760.
For well-heeled dive clients looking to experience an exceptionally
diverse and still largely unexplored underwater world -- and
willing to travel long distances to do so -- Ken Knezick, president
of Island Dreams Travel in Houston, recommends Wakatobi Resort in
southeastern Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Island Dreams, which customizes most of the dive vacations it
sells, will put together an air-inclusive dive vacation to Wakatobi
that includes 11 nights at the eight-room dive resort, two boat
dives daily, unlimited shore diving, overnights in Ujung Pandang
and Singapore, air and ferry transfers within Indonesia, all meals
and taxes. (Clients should be forewarned that ferry transfers are
14 hours long.)
Price: From $3,495 per person, including air travel in low
season on Singapore Airlines from Los Angeles. Call (800) 346-6116
or (713) 973-9300.
Thailand & Burma
Asia Transpacific Divers in Boulder, Colo., a division of Asia
Transpacific Journeys that was launched in 1998, is promoting a
live-aboard dive trip on the luxury nine-cabin M/Y Aqua One with a
scheduled departure from Los Angeles on March 4, 2000. The trip
features nine days of diving with as many as four or five dives
daily on a sailing that begins and ends in Phuket.
Among dive destinations on the itinerary are the Similan
Islands, the submerged rock pinnacles of Hin Daeng and Hin Muang,
Richelieu Rock, the Mergui Archipelago and the Burma Banks.
Price: From $3,795, including air travel from Los Angeles,
internal flights, three nights' hotel accommodations in Bangkok,
day tour of Bangkok, and transfers. Call (800) 642-2742 or (303)
The Red Sea
Adventure Express in San Francisco is offering a seven-night
live-aboard dive trip in the Red Sea. The itinerary visits the
newly reopened Marine National Park in the Red Sea, including the
sites of Elphinstone, Sataya and St. John's Reefs.
The Adventure Express trips are aboard the Miss Nouran and the
Royal Emperor, two luxury dive vessels operated by the British
company Diving World.
Price: From $1,395. Call (800) 443-0799 or (415) 442-0799.Dive Basics
Agents who are booking dive vacations are advised to keep these
essential dive travel guidelines in mind.
C-Cards and log books. Dive clients should be
reminded to bring along their C-Cards (short for certification
card) and their log books when traveling. A C-Card provides proof
to dive operators that an individual has been certified to dive,
and a log book, a record of a diver's underwater experience, helps
dive operators assess the diver's skill level.
Air travel limitations. Divers should be
cautioned to wait 12 to 24 hours after diving before flying, since
flying with residual nitrogen in the blood can cause physical
problems. Travelers are free to dive immediately after flying.
Matching destinations and clients. Before
sending dive travelers to destinations where underwater conditions
make for challenging diving, make sure they have sufficient diving
Excess baggage. Check with airlines regarding
baggage surcharges and restrictions for dive clients who will be
carrying their own gear and underwater photography equipment.