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Destination, Resort, Dive Guide and Critter-Spotter Recommendations


TimG

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With thanks to @Sergio for the idea:

 

If you have discovered a resort you like, a dive centre or a dive guide or critter-spotter you can recommend, post the details on this thread. We will build a list by country of the places/people as a guide. Similarly if you have a bad experience, let us know too and we will draw attention to your post.....

 

We will update as new information is posted.

 

 

AUSTRALIA

 

CARIBBEAN

- Sint Maarten: Ocean Explorers - recommended by @TimG

- Turks and Caicos liveaboard: Explorer Ventures "Caribbean Explorer" -  recommended by @TimG

- Grenada: Aquanauts - recommended by @Stig


INDONESIA

- Lembeh Straits: NAD Lembeh - recommended by @TimG

- Bali: Tauch Terminal - recommended by @TimG

 

MALAYSIA

 

PHILIPPINES

- Anilao: Dive Operator: Anilao Photo Academy - recommended (see below) by @Sergio

 

RAJA AMPAT

 

REBREATHER SUPPORT

 

RED SEA

Liveaboards: Emperor Divers - recommended by @TimG

Red Sea Diving Safari - recommended by @JustinO

 

SABAH

 

SOLO DIVING permitted

 

 

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Thank you @TimG.

Well, I guess I'll make a start here then;-)

 

Country: Phillippines

Location: Anilao

Dive Operator: Anilao Photo Academy

URLs: https://www.anilaophotoacademy.net/https://www.facebook.com/anilaophotoacademy/

 

I went there 2 years ago to do my first underwater photography class with Tim Ho, which was great and can only be recommended. They are set up to cater to us underwater photographers and both Rina and Wayne (the Jonses 😜) are both top-notch photographers. Anilao is mainly known for its rich macro environment, but few know that there is quite a bit of wide-angle to be done there too - well less the big pelagic fish unless you include some of those divers into your shot 😜. One of the things I tried 2 years ago was blackwater diving which I wanted to try but didn't know whether I'd like it or not - well suffice to say that I got hooked and after trying it went out every evening. I usually get a dive guide for myself, but actually wouldn't have an issue sharing one as well as there aren't any fun divers on any of the dives you'd do.

The accommodation is basic, but clean and has lots of space to deal with your camera gear in the room. There is also a dedicated camera close to the dining area and every guest gets their spot. They have everything you need to set up your gear and are very generous to lend you some gear for the time you are there if something breaks or doesn't work as well or if you just want to try something out. The guides I had have been very knowledgeable not just in spotting interesting critters but also critters so they can be photographed. Some of them take photos as well and will correct your position or help you with getting a better vantage point.

I went back there last year and will go back there in May as my first stop - I like it that much.

The cost to dive (you typically pay for room and food as well as your day dives) is very reasonable.

I can only speak very highly of them, as all the staff are super friendly and Rina is the best - top efficient, manages the place as I haven't seen in many places.

I can only recommend this place.

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I would add:
RED SEA:
Red Sea Diving Safari. Their "open deck" policy helps you go in whenever you feel, and stay around what interests you.  Plus they often host workshops.  If you can't find the tiny slugs, then ask to dive with either Sarah, Ellie, or Flavia, and they will find you things you won't believe! 

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Question for @TimG: what do yo think about adding information about solo diving to the list? I know this is a sensitive topic, but for me this option is crucial. I'm very much used to solo diving (about 2 out fo 3 dives I do are solo), and sometimes travel alone. I do not always want to be forced to take a guide, join a fun diving group or buddy up with people I don't know (which sometimes is a lot of fun, but sometimes also more of a PITA).

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20 minutes ago, Fabian said:

Question for @TimG: what do yo think about adding information about solo diving to the list? I know this is a sensitive topic, but for me this option is crucial. I'm very much used to solo diving (about 2 out fo 3 dives I do are solo), and sometimes travel alone. I do not always want to be forced to take a guide, join a fun diving group or buddy up with people I don't know (which sometimes is a lot of fun, but sometimes also more of a PITA).

 

Sure, Fabian. we can do that. 

 

We could also add Rebreather Support too if folks would find that useful.

 

 

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Recently back from Grenada and I'd recommend Aquanauts Grenada as a friendly and professional dive outfit.  They're not that photography focussed (sorry!) but have rinse tanks for cameras only and keep to small guided groups so we sometimes had a guide for just 3 of us on a dive.

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I'd be interested in a rebreather section, as I often dive rebreather + solo.

 

Of the two, however, solo is much more important.  I tend to go crazy when I find a really good subject and only have 30 seconds to shoot.

 

Take pictures ... race to rejoin the group .... take pictures ... race to rejoin the group.  Repeat for 60 minutes ....

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10 minutes ago, Proteus said:

I'd be interested in a rebreather section, as I often dive rebreather + solo.

 

Of the two, however, solo is much more important.  I tend to go crazy when I find a really good subject and only have 30 seconds to shoot.

 

Take pictures ... race to rejoin the group .... take pictures ... race to rejoin the group.  Repeat for 60 minutes ....

I feel you!

 

To not overcompliacte it for @TimG who takes the time to maintain the list (thank you!!!), maybe we could write the information somehow like:

[Location]: [Name of Divecenter] - recommended by [name] - Solo [yes/no] - Rebreather [yes/no]

Then it would be one list only and we don't have a chance of duplicates.

Does that make any sense?

 

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34 minutes ago, Fabian said:

To not overcompliacte it for @TimG who takes the time to maintain the list (thank you!!!), maybe we could write the information somehow like:

[Location]: [Name of Divecenter] - recommended by [name] - Solo [yes/no] - Rebreather [yes/no]

Then it would be one list only and we don't have a chance of duplicates.

Does that make any sense?


Thanks, Fabian! It would help me for sure! 

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  • 1 month later...

I would like to recommend Atmosphere Dive Resort in Dauin Philippines. I dove with Gaurdo and he was great.  Found pretty much everything we asked for. 

 

Also a for the Maldives we did a liveabord with Blue Force One for the central route.  It was wonderful.  Our guide was Xillie(not 100% on the spelling but pronounces shilly) I am looking to go again with them to their deep south liveabord.   

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On 2/24/2024 at 2:25 AM, Proteus said:

I'd be interested in a rebreather section, as I often dive rebreather + solo.

 

Of the two, however, solo is much more important.  I tend to go crazy when I find a really good subject and only have 30 seconds to shoot.

 

Take pictures ... race to rejoin the group .... take pictures ... race to rejoin the group.  Repeat for 60 minutes ....

This format can be frustrating for photographers however it can readily be addressed with some research.  For example the Lembeh dive resorts operate somewhat differently with group sizes of 2-4.  Their method is to find a subject for you and then once you have settled , go to find the next subject while you are working on your shots.  Then they return to take you to next subject.  You can also pay a premium for a private guide.  Many of the Lembeh strait operations publish their policies for this.

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  • 4 weeks later...
On 2/15/2024 at 4:46 PM, Sergio said:

Thank you @TimG.

Well, I guess I'll make a start here then;-)

 

Country: Phillippines

Location: Anilao

Dive Operator: Anilao Photo Academy

URLs: https://www.anilaophotoacademy.net/https://www.facebook.com/anilaophotoacademy/

 

I went there 2 years ago to do my first underwater photography class with Tim Ho, which was great and can only be recommended. They are set up to cater to us underwater photographers and both Rina and Wayne (the Jonses 😜) are both top-notch photographers. Anilao is mainly known for its rich macro environment, but few know that there is quite a bit of wide-angle to be done there too - well less the big pelagic fish unless you include some of those divers into your shot 😜. One of the things I tried 2 years ago was blackwater diving which I wanted to try but didn't know whether I'd like it or not - well suffice to say that I got hooked and after trying it went out every evening. I usually get a dive guide for myself, but actually wouldn't have an issue sharing one as well as there aren't any fun divers on any of the dives you'd do.

The accommodation is basic, but clean and has lots of space to deal with your camera gear in the room. There is also a dedicated camera close to the dining area and every guest gets their spot. They have everything you need to set up your gear and are very generous to lend you some gear for the time you are there if something breaks or doesn't work as well or if you just want to try something out. The guides I had have been very knowledgeable not just in spotting interesting critters but also critters so they can be photographed. Some of them take photos as well and will correct your position or help you with getting a better vantage point.

I went back there last year and will go back there in May as my first stop - I like it that much.

The cost to dive (you typically pay for room and food as well as your day dives) is very reasonable.

I can only speak very highly of them, as all the staff are super friendly and Rina is the best - top efficient, manages the place as I haven't seen in many places.

I can only recommend this place.

I wanted to give an update on this place, as I just finished spending 10 days there. In fact it has my first stop when coming to the Philippines. 
macro is as always spectacular and the dive guides are not only good spotters but many of them shoot as well and complement and/or help your thought and creative process which I really appreciate. The kitchen improved significantly and food was absolutely mouthwatering . dishes I didn’t expect at all, and everything freshly prepared.

blackwater was missing the critters which is probably due to El Niño but still managed to see something during each dive.
above all, they go out of their way if you have any troubles with your gear and always find a solution to continue shooting and also let you try out gear that they have there - and they have lots of it;-)

If you’re looking for an affordable place, with very friendly people, knowledgeable guides both in spotting and photography as well as great food, I can only recommend them wholeheartedly.

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