Indonesia is one of the world’s top scuba diving destinations. This is because it has a huge percentage — 20% — of the world’s coral reefs in its waters. It’s simply is more beautiful under water world there than anywhere else!
Indonesia is made up of more than 13,000 tropical islands (many of them deserted) and boasts of the longest coastline of any country anywhere in the world. Nestled between the Indian Ocean on the east and the Pacific Ocean on the west, Indonesia is an equatorial paradise of unending beauty and mystery.
While scuba diving in Indonesia, you will have the opportunity to spy some of the more than 3,000 species of fish, 450 species of coral, vertical walls, wrecks, volcanic underwater mountains, and macro life of unbelievable diversity. And with nearly a thousand scuba diving sites directly off shore or reachable by a short boat ride, you will never grow bored of scuba diving in Indonesia.
Two of the most popular scuba diving destinations in Indonesia include Komodo and Bali. Following is a brief introduction to each.
KOMODO – Komodo Island is world renowned for its biodiversity. In fact, Komodo National Park is home to great diversity. A scuba diving expedition in this park will bring you up close and personal with colorful shallow reefs full of small marine life and deep water wonders such as sea mounts, walls, and pinnacles. You may even be able to spy a shark or two. Other wonders that you might see while scuba diving in Komodo, Indonesia include whale sharks, sunfish, mantas, eagle rays, pygmy seahorses, clown frogfish, blue-ringed octopus, colorful sponges, tunicates, and corals.
What sets Komodo apart from other parts of Indonesia, besides the Komodo dragon, is the fact that much of the reefs in the waters surrounding Komodo are part of a national park and has been protected from damage caused by dynamite fishing.
BALI – One of the most beautiful destinations in the world, Bali is one of the most popular islands in the whole of Indonesia. Shore-based diving is extremely popular here as well as boat dives. While scuba diving in Bali, divers will be delighted by vertical drop offs, coral ridges, volcanic outcrops, seagrass beds, and one of the most famous wrecks in the world. Marine life in this part of Indonesia includes hairy frogfish, cockatoo leaf fish, bumphead parrotfish, reef sharks, sunfish, and trevallies.
While the scuba diving season in Bali is year round, the best diving can be had from the months beginning with April and running through December. From December to March is the rainy season and visibility is hampered. But if you want to see sunfish and sharks, the best time to go scuba diving in Bali is from June to September.
The bottom line is this: Scuba diving in Indonesia is an experience that can be matched by no other. The sheer abundance of life and diversity of underwater formations is what makes Indonesia a popular destination for divers from all over the world.
If it weren’t for the coral reef located in the Florida Keys, the United States would have nothing to offer as far as scuba diving and coral reefs are concerned. In addition to the living coral reef that has been a main scuba diving attraction of the Florida Keys for more than 35 years, numerous dive able wrecks are scattered throughout the waters providing exotic and breathtaking artificial reef habitats.
Here is a brief overview of some of the wrecks you can visit while scuba diving in the Florida Keys:
Benwood – The Benwood is perhaps the oldest scuba diving wreck site to be found in the Florida Keys. This WWII ship was sunk in 1942 when it collided with another whip while dodging German U-boats near the coast of Florida. While the wreck is not intact (it was blown apart because it presented a boating hazard) it is home to a wide array of marine life. Scuba diving near the Benwood will bring you face to face with critters such as Pork fish, grunts, lobsters, moray eels, glassy sweepers, Sergeant Majors, Goatfish, and Christmas Tree Worms. Since the ship had run aground before it was blown up, the dive is a relatively shallow one and great for novice divers as well as advanced divers.
Cayman Salvage Master – This wreck that can be seen while scuba diving in the Florida Keys is a Cuban refugee vessel that was confiscated by the US government. The ship was tied up to a dock where she sank before she was re-floated. Then, during her burial voyage of 1985, she sank in about 90 feet of water coming to rest on her side. Recently, Hurricane Katrina righted the ship and now divers can swim along the hull and deck hoping to spy huge Jewfish and moray eels that reside in the open hatches of the wreck.
Duane – If you’re experienced at scuba diving, you might want to pay a visit to the wreck Duane while you’re in the Florida Keys area. This US Coast Guard Cutter was intentionally sunk in 120 feet of water in the year 1987. Due to the strong Gulf Stream current and depth associated with the wreck, only advanced divers are allowed to dive this site. The Duane is home to grunts, sponges, chubbs, jacks, barracuda, and numerous tropical fish.
In addition to these three wrecks that can be seen while scuba diving in the Florida Keys, there are several other wrecks in the area that have been intentionally sunk to become artificial reef habitats. Each offers a different experience and a unique look into how the ocean transforms a foreign object into a beautiful habitat where marine life can grow and thrive.
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Mallorca (derived from Latin “insula maior” (larger island)), the largest of the Balearic islands, has become a popular holiday destination for tourists from all over the world in recent years. The name of the island has become a synonym for cheap mass tourism since the 1960s.
But besides the well-known tourist centres around Palma de Mallorca and at the southern and eastern coast Mallorca also offers many diverse landscapes, excellent sites and perfect conditions for various leisure time sports, an untouched Mediterranean fauna and flora, an unspoilt Mediterranean wildlife and numerous historical sights. Charming little mountain villages, secluded and quiet sandy beaches and bays, peaceful and cozy fishing villages and the bizarre shaped, wild romantic rocky coastline await discovery. These spots can be best explored when you rent a bike or car and go out on your own for the experience of the unknown Mallorca on its coastal roads or wooded, mountainous hiking trails. Due to its geographical richness and its wide range of vacation possibilities Mallorca is an ideal holiday destination for individual vacation, group vacation, couple vacation and family vacation.
The Palma de Mallorca region with its long-established tourist infrastracture and the coastline of the adjacent Migjorn and Llevant regions are the main tourist area of Mallorca. The long sandy beaches such as Playa del Palma offer a large variety of leisure time activities such as windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing, waterskiing, jetskiing, boogieboarding, sea kayaking, scuba diving, surfing and swimming. The beaches may be crowded during high season. Palma de Mallorca, the island´s capital, offers some interesting historical sights, numerous bars, cafes and restaurants, various shopping possibilities and a vibrant nightlife programme. The 16th century Palma Cathedral (“La Seu de Palma” or “La Catedrál de Palma de Mallorca”), a Roman Catholic Cathedral, was built on the former site of an Arab Mosque and impresses the visitor with its French Gothic style. The Almudaina Palace (“Palau de l´Almudaina” or “Palacio de la Almudaina”), a former Muslim fortress built in the 11th century under the Almoravid dynasty, is a spectacular piece of medieval Moorish architecture. It was restored in the 14th century on the order the Catholic Spanish king Jaime II of Aragón as a palace.
The northern and western coast of the island is occupied by a long mountain range, the Tramuntana range (“Serra de Tramuntana” or “Sierra de Tramuntana”), which reaches from Andratx to Cap Formentor. The Tramuntana range with its wild romantic and rough mountain scenery, bizarre shaped rocks, pine woods and steep coastline can be best explored on mountainous hiking trails. Its calmness and isolation contrast with the noisy and crowded tourist areas at the southern and eastern coast of Mallorca. It is ideal for lovers of ecotourism and a perfect holiday destination for travellers seeking privacy and calmness. Some charming, picturesque old villages such as Lluc, Pollenca, Alcúdia, Sóller, Alaro, Arta and Deià lie hidden in the Tramuntana mountains, all of which are worth a day trip.
Located at the northeastern coast of Mallorca, the city of Alcúdia offers shopping possibilities and other tourist attractions. Its nearby mile-long and sandy beach invites to sunbathing and offers a large variety of water sports activities such as surfing, windsurfing, parasailing, sailing, scuba diving, canoeing, kayaking, kitesurfing, waterskiing, wakeboarding and bathing. Take a stroll through the charming picturesque old town of Alcúdia and visit its weekly markets. The nearby Roman amphitheatre is a worthwile historical monument.
The close-by Hidropark (“Parque Acuático”) with its swimming and boating pools, mini-golf courses and giant water slides is a worthwhile day trip destination for families. The nearby S’Albufera National Park (“Parc Natural de S’Albufera” or “Parque Natural de S’Albufera de Mallorca”) with its dunes, salt water marshes, lagoons and lakes fascinates the visitor with its untouched Mediterranean flora and fauna and unspoilt wildlife. It is known among nature lovers for its birdwatching sites.
Set high in the mountains near the northern coast of Mallorca between Sóller and Pollenca, the village of Lluc, an medieval place of pilgrimage, awaits discovery. The Monastery of Lluc/ Monastery of Our Lady of Lluc (“Monestir de Nostra Senyora de Lluc”) was founded in 1121 and dedicated to Saint James of Santiago de Compostela (“San Jaime de Compostela”), the patron saint of Spain.
Since the Middle Ages millions of Roman-Catholic christians have followed the ancient pilgrim´s trail from Caimari to the Monastery of Lluc to adore the Black Madonna of Lluc (“Virgen de Lluc” or “Nuestra Señora de Lluc”, also called “La Moraneta” by the locals), the patron saint of Mallorca. The monastery was renovated by Antoni Gaudí.
Situated at the northern coast of Mallorca, the charming picturesque 13th century town of Pollenca with its historical sights is also a worthwhile day trip destination. You might walk the Way of the Cross (“Via Crucis”) up to Cavalry Mountain (“El Cavalri” or “El Calvario”) and see the Mother of God at the Foot of the Cross (“Mare de Déu del Peu de la Creu” or “Madre de Dios del Pie de la Cruz”), a much-revered virgin statue housed in a chapel on top of the hill. The Plaça Major, the main square of Pollenca, has some good cafes, bars and restaurants and invites the traveller to having a coffee and relaxing after a day´s strolling through the twisted alleys of the medieval town centre.
Pollenca also offers a wide range of shopping possibilities and the lively and busy Sunday market at the Plaça Major is also worth visiting. Dominating the Plaça Major, the Church of Our Lady of the Angels (“Esglèsia de Nostra Senyora dels Àngels” or “Iglesia de Nuestra Señora de Los Angeles) built by the Knights Templar in the 13th century impresses the visitor with its austere Baroque façade.
Located at the northwestern coast of Mallorca, the charming, quiet town of Sóller surprises the visitor with some interesting sights. The Botanical Gardens of Sóller (“Jardí Botànic de Sóller” or “Jardín Botánico de Sóller”) and the Balearic Museum of Natural Sciences (“Museu Balear de Ciènces Naturals” or “Museo Balear de Ciencias Naturales”) invite to exploring the huge bio-diversity of Mallorca and are worthwhile day trip destinations.
The Bank of Sóller (“Banc de Sóller”,”Banco Central Hispano” or “antiguo Banco de Sóller”) and the Parish Church of Sant Bartomeu (“Església de Sant Bartomeu” or “Iglesia de Sant Bartomeu”) located at Plaça Constitució, the main square of Sóller, are further spectacular monuments. Founded in 1248 and originally built in Gothic style, the church was renovated in 1904 by Joan Rubió I Bellver, a pupil of Antoni Gaudí, in Art Noveau style. The bank was built in 1889 and designed in Modernist style by Rubió in 1912.
The Museum of the Casal de Cultura (“Museu del Casal de Cultura” or “Museo del Casal de Cultura”) is also worth a visit. You might as well make a trip with the Sóller Train (“Ferrocarril de Sóller”) running between Palma de Mallorca and Sóller since 1912 and enjoy the diversity of Mallorcas many different landscapes. A trip with this ancient train is really an unforgettable event and a main tourist attraction.
Further historical sites of interest in the Tramuntana mountains are Alaró Castle, Valdemossa Monastery, the Monastery of San Salvador (“Santuari de Sant Salvador” or “Monasterio de San Salvador”) in Felanitx and The King´s Castle (“El Castell del Rey” or “El Castell del Rei”) in Pollenca. Mallorca is also a paradise for golf players and offers a wide range of first-class golf courses in Andratx, Santa Ponsa, Son Gual and Canyamel, just to mention a few. Nature lovers and lovers of ecotourism might also visit Sa Dragonera Nature Park, Cala Mondragó Nature Park and Cabrera National Park and enjoy Mediterranean nature in its purest form on numerous hiking trails and in total calmness.
You get treasures of ethnic, scenic, gastronomic, and oceanic pleasures in Siam. Thailand certainly is the fascinating and exotic land of lovely people known for their fantastic culture, cuisine, and overall lifestyle. The land, of course, is well known for its beautiful beaches and pelagic pleasures. It is a wonderful destination for water sports in Southeast Asia.
Thailand definitely is the best pick, if you are looking to have fun & adventure packed water sports holidays. You can really have great holiday, beaching, playing beach volleyball & other beach sports, and enjoying numerous water sports activities, such as swimming, rafting, surfing, windsurfing, kitesurfing, sailing, and scuba diving in Thailand. Some famous destinations for water sports destinations in Thailand are – Mae Hong Son, Hua Hin, Phuket, Chumpon, Ko Chang, and Koh Tao.
Mae Hong Son, located near the border of Myanmar along the banks of the river Pai, is a wonderful town in the North West Thailand. The town offers you a nice opportunity to enjoy rafting the Pai River. You can join one of the rafting expeditions that are commonly organized in the heart of Mae Hong Son. Mae Hong Son can be accessed by car or bus from Chiang Mai via the Mae Hong Son loop. The town is also served by the Mae Hong Son Airport.
Hua Hin, in the northern part of the Malay Peninsula, some 200 km south of Bangkok, is a celebrated beach resort town in Thailand. It is best known for kitesurfing. You can hire your kitesurfing equipment, have kitesurfing instructions from experts, and enjoy kitesurfing. You can also joint kitesurfing lessons & courses for beginners. You can also enjoy numerous other beach and water sport on the beach resort, with an area around 86.36 km². You can also enjoy swimming, windsurfing, wave surfing, and rowing.
Phuket, the largest island and the southern province of Thailand, is best known for its beaches. It is popular destinations for beach & water sports. You can enjoy numerous beach & water sports activities, such as swimming, kitesurfing, yachting, windsurfing, wave surfing, rowing, snorkeling, diving, scuba diving, etc. in Phuket. Famous Phuket beaches include Bang Tao, Surin Beach, Laem Singh Beach, Kamala Beach, Patong Beach, Karon Beach, Kata Yai Beach, Kata Noi Beach, Ao Chalong, and Rawai Beach.
Chumphon or Chumpon, the capital of the Chumphon Province at the shore of the Gulf of Thailand, is a fantastic town in southern Thailand. Located about 463 kilometers away from Bangkok, Chumpon is famous for kitesurfing or kiteboarding, and other water sports activities. You can enjoy numerous beach & water sports activities, such as swimming, windsurfing, wave surfing, snorkeling, diving, fishing, and rowing. The town can be accessed by bus or by ferries.
Ko Chang, located on the Thai east coast 310 km away from Bangkok near the border to Cambodia in the Gulf of Thailand, is the second largest island of Thailand. It is famous for sailing and scuba diving. However, you can also enjoy several other beach & water sports activities, such as swimming, windsurfing, wave surfing, snorkeling, diving, and rowing in Ko Chang. The island can be accessed by ferries operating from Laem Ngop.
Ko Tao, an island located near the eastern shore of the Gulf of Thailand, is widely famous for scuba diving. Diving in Ko Tao is easy and full of fun. Often, you have encounters with turtles, stingrays, barracudas, lots of small fish, and reef sharks. The island is a great place for divers. It is a great place to learn diving, as there are hardly any currents. You can also enjoy several other water related activities, such as wake boarding, water skiing, sumo tube, wind surfing, and sailing. Ko Tao can be accessed catching ferries from Surat Thani, or Ko Samui, or Ko Pha Ngan.
Looking for places to visit in the South East of France? Well, I would not skip the Cote d’Azur as it’s a special place. If you’re traveling by train from Italy back to the UK, you’ll most likely pass right through it.
Top 10 Destinations in SE France
(places in order of driving from Italy; not ranked as best to worse)
1. Monaco: casino & nearby garden with meat eating plants
2. Nice: various impressionist art museums.
3. Nice old town. It’s beautiful and filled with fun little shops and places to eat. Did you know that the streets are narrow as a natural ‘air conditioning’-system for the town; not because towns at that time were build that way….
4. St. Paul de Vence: the world famous Maeght Foundation museum; and the fantastic old town itself. Walk along the outskirts of the town and make sure you get a coffee with a view. Gorgeous view, gorgeous town, gorgeous art everywhere!
5. Antibes: see the old market, and the old fort where Picasso used to work (there’s a Picasso museum now), and of course the wonderful harbour. Eat fish in the old town.
6. Villefranche: the Musee Renoir there was the artist’s home for the last twelve years of his life.
7. Biot is an ancient town known for its pottery. Very pittoresquely set on a mountain top.
8. Cannes: old town and harbour side. Gorgeous. Have a wonderful meal on a terrasse with ocean view and enjoy the sun, year round.
9. Grasse: visit the parfume factories and their nearby flower fields
Go beyond this, and drive for a couple of hours more and you’ll be in ..
10. Comptes: a town in inland Provence which is ‘in the middle of nowhere’. In the Auberge you can get a beautiful room and a wonderful 3-course meal that is just unbelievable for its location. Besides the auberge, the pub, the police station, a shop and the great, region-serving bakery, there’s nothing there, … oh besides, of course, its tower church. Beautiful hiking trails nearby. A once in a lifetime experience to be in a town where nothing seems to happen. Therefore, the road is just 1 horse (car) wide. There are campsites/ chambres d’hote not too far out of town.
For the coastal destinations 1-8, I’d find a campsite near Antibes and take daytrips to the other towns. All towns can be reached by train/bus.
There you have it. A great top 10 in the south east of France.