My top 10 dives of 2018

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Another year passed, but this one wasn’t like the others. For many reasons, things needed to change. My foot injury following my trip to Hawaii end of 2017 got something to do with it. When you find yourself almost unable to walk you have time to think and reassess your priorities. I realised my health was the most precious thing I got, and even by taking better care of it, sh** could still happen and will happen. My surface interval lasted 5 months until the end of April and I started my sabbatical adventure on the 1st of June. I “only” scuba dived in 3 countries in 2018 (vs 8 in 2017, and 6 in 2016) but I explored them longer and better.

My goal is not to tick as quickly as possible places off my bucket list for my diving blog. In those 7 months, I could have easily been to more places, but it was the last thing I wanted. That’s why I’m scuba diving all around Japan while learning Japanese, and that’s why it took me 3 months last summer to understand New Caledonia’s treasures.  From France to New Caledonia via Japan, here are my top 10 dives of 2018!

1 – Pas-de-Soucy, Gorges du Tarn, France

April 2018

After my long recovery surface interval, my first dive of the year came as late as the end of April after a blogging conference I attended in Millau, Aveyron. Scuba diving in the Gorges du Tarn got to be one of the quirkiest dives in France. I didn’t have the best conditions as it was the beginning of the season. Currents were strong so it was a challenging river dive. However, I could see all the indicators of an exciting dive with dramatic rocky landscapes, surprising aquatic life and even a spring flowing underwater!

Read the full story: Diving in the other south of France – part 1 – Millau & the Gorges du Tarn

2 – Thau Lagoon, Herault, France

April 2018

Thau Lagoon marine ecosystem is exceptional and counts a high concentration of seahorses among many other marine species. It was the third time I scuba dived near the arty seaside town of Sète, but I never had the opportunity to take underwater pictures so far. Finally, with a proper camera and a brand new strobe in hands, all I needed was the eagle eyes of an expert guide. During a long 70-minute dive, I came back happy with great close-up shots of these delicate seahorses that are usually so difficult to spot.

Read the full story: Diving in the other south of France – part 2 – Sète & Thau Lagoon

3 – Manza Dream Hole, Okinawa, Japan

June 2018

After 2 weeks of wandering around the Izu Peninsula peacefully, I finally made it to the scuba diving Mecca of Japan: Okinawa. As for my first trip to the most tropical prefecture of Japan, I decided to focus on the main island of Okinawa, Okinawa Honto. Based in Naha and then in Onna, I had the opportunity to sample some of the best dive sites of the island. However, one left a mark more than the others in Manzamo Cape area. The dive was not only spectacular thanks to its long vertical tunnel descending to 25 m deep, but the coral reef was also in excellent condition.

Read the full story: Diving in Okinawa, a first-timer guide

4 – Zamami, Kerama Islands, Japan

June 2018

Only 1-hour boat ride east from Naha, the capital of Okinawa, lies the archipelago of the Kerama, a marine protected area. I went for a 3-tank day cruise, near a different island each time. Each dive site displayed a variety of coral reefs and sandy patches, but the highlight came in Zamami, rightfully famous for its turtles. Beyond their abundant marine life, the Kerama islands enjoy warm waters and excellent visibility.

Read the full story: Diving in Okinawa, a first-timer guide

5 – Boulari Pass, Noumea, New Caledonia

July 2018

When I moved for the summer to New Caledonia, the thing I was expecting the least was excellent dive sites at the doorsteps of Noumea, its capital city! In less than an hour of boat ride towards Amédée Island and the barrier reef, dive sites boast incredible pelagic action, especially around the passes. For my first dive at the Boulari Pass, I was spoiled: reef sharks in the background, a couple of manta rays which came to say hi and a flock of 20 spotted eagle rays! This is usually a powerful drift dive, so I would only recommend it to advanced divers.

Read the story of the lagoon of New Caledonia and the impressions from my home in the heart of the Pacific Ocean

6 –  Butterfly Point, Koumac, New Caledonia

July 2018

It is quite a ride to drive all the way to the northern province of New Caledonia main island, but it was way worth all the efforts. My first dive on the double barrier reef of Koumac was at Butterfly Point. From the very first moments, I just couldn’t believe what I saw. The coral reef was in perfect state and densely populated, so much that I couldn’t decide what to take in pictures for some long minutes.

Read the full story: A scuba diving road trip into the wild of Northern New Caledonia

7 – Tiboane, Hienghene, New Caledonia

July 2018

All the dive sites in Hienghene all have a unique architecture made of arches and canyon, but Tiboane was more special to me than the others. It could be because I saw a humpback whale and its calf at the surface just before gearing up. However, among the schools of barracudas, the numerous large arches and swim-through populated by delicate giant gorgonians and whip corals felt more impressive. In the end, this where I took most of my best pictures while scuba diving in Hienghene.

Read the full story: A scuba diving road trip into the wild of Northern New Caledonia

8 – Eden Garden, Isle of Pines, New Caledonia

July 2018

Like its name let you guess, this dive site of the Isle of Pines is a paradise made a colourful coral garden but it is also the home of staggering macro marine species such as the colourful nudibranch Chromodoris Kuniei or Glossodoris Cruenta, but also many pygmy seahorses, the sweethearts of macro underwater photographers! After 3 months of scuba diving all around New Caledonia, and diving Eden Garden 3 times, I found this site had the best selection of what New Caledonia has best to offer scuba diving wise.

Read the full story: New Caledonia Islands, which one should you explore?

9 – SS President Coolidge shipwreck, Espiritu Santo, Vanuatu

September 2018

New Caledonia is an exceptional scuba diving destination but wreck diving is not one of its strengths. While there is a couple of artificial medium size shipwrecks in the lagoon of Noumea, if you are looking for the thrill of a massive historic shipwreck in the Melanesia area look no further than New Caledonia’s neighbour: Vanuatu. It takes a 50-minute flight to go from New Caledonia to Port-Vila, the capital of Vanuatu on Efate Island, and then another 50-minute flight to reach the island of Espiritu Santo. The SS President Coolidge was an American cruise liner turned into a military ship to transport troops to the Pacific Ocean during WWII. Its strange fate turned it into the largest shipwreck in the world accessible from the shore. As the depths go from 20m to 70m, both recreational and technical divers love it.

Read the full story: SS President Coolidge – a wreck diving adventure to Vanuatu

10 – Osezaki, Izu Peninsula, Japan

November 2018

I finished my year in Tokyo, Japan, to follow an intensive class of Japanese. So as far as the water temperature allowed, my drysuit being stored in France, I scuba dived every weekend, exploring more of the Izu Peninsula. I used to say Izu Ocean Park was my favourite dive site of the Izu Peninsula, but it was until I dived in Osezaki on the opposite west coast. The geographic location of Osezaki makes it a breath-taking viewpoint of Mount Fuji. With its dark sand beach, it is an ideal location for the many local dive centres to do scuba diving training. Osezaki Shrine has a hidden gem: Sentan dive site. Due to strong tidal currents, it is only accessible once a day at slack tides. What a delight among the large boulders: bright colour soft coral, fire sea urchins, sea anemones, boxfish, and many nudibranchs are some of the marine species you can see. Osezaki is also famous for regular sunfish sighting, so I know I need to go back.

Read the full story: My top 5 dive sites of the Izu Peninsula, Japan

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Posted by Florine

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