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The 5 Best Underwater Cameras for 2021 - Our Choices

The 5 Best Underwater Cameras for 2021 - Our Choices

You have taken the leap into a new adventure in life and become a certified diver. After buying the gear that fits your style and with a few trips to a resort or on a liveaboard, you notice many of your fellow divers are packing a camera of some sort. Some carry a small sports camera like the GoPro HERO, some carry a small compact and fully waterproof camera that requires no housing like the Olympus TG-6, and others carry a camera that looks like it was assembled by NASA. Now you have decided to become part of the photography crowd, but the question is which camera will best suit your wants and needs. The decision can be complex with so many options for the buyer. Once you start looking at cameras and housing and strobes, you may find your budget could be the driving factor. A full top end camera setup can cost a few thousand dollars.

 

We have selected what we believe are the best cameras in their category along with a couple of options on housings. This article doesn’t delve into the world of underwater strobes and lighting which deserves an article of its own. We hope this article helps you decide which camera might be your first purchase or if you already have an underwater camera and are ready to upgrade, what will be your next step.

 

Our categories are entry level compact, high-end compact, mirrorless, full frame mirrorless, and DSLR (digital single-lens reflex). Each type of camera has its own pros and cons.

 

Compact cameras offer an attached lens while both mirrorless and DSLRs offer interchangeable lenses. After shooting with a compact camera, many people eventually upgrade to a mirrorless or a DSLR. The advantage with a DSLR is the choice of interchangeable lenses. This difference limits the flexibility of a compact camera, although wet lenses that can be added while diving can help bridge this gap. You also have more flexibility with different focal lengths and better image quality from superior optics and a larger sensor. Interchangeable lens cameras also have reduced shutter lag and better focusing capability. These are huge advantages. 


Entry Level Compact Camera - Olympus TG-6

Key Features:

12MP Hi-Speed image sensor for low light performance and noise reduction

Dual Quad Core TruePic™ VIII Image Processor

F2.0 high speed Lens

4K and high speed video

Field Sensor System w/ GPS, Manometer, Compass & Temperature Sensor

Waterproof 


                               

                                               
The Olympus TG-6 is the same size as the TG-5 and has very minor improvements. The TG-6 will work in TG-5 housings. So, if you're really on a budget, take a look at the TG-5. Either the TG-5 or the TG-6 can be considered the best waterproof camera, outside of a housing. 

 

Although we are calling this an entry level camera, this is a very good underwater camera. It's also a good option for snorkeling because it's waterproof without a housing down to 50 feet (15 meters). 

 

The TG-6 has a high speed 12 MP sensor designed for excellent low light performance and noise reduction. It shoots 4k video, RAW photos, and includes built in WIFI, making transferring photos on the go easy. It's important to note that there is no full manual control on this camera. For the casual photographer who doesn't want to have to think about their camera settings this is probably not an issue. But if you want more control, you may want to consider a different camera. you'll be happier with an of the other cameras we mentioned above. For the housing, we recommend either the Olympus housing or the premium Isotta housing.

 

Pros

  • Smaller size for travel
  • Ability to change wet lenses underwater 
  • Much less cost 

 

Cons

  • Smaller sensor means less detail and more noise at high ISO
  • Shutter delay and focus delay is slow 
  • Less control over depth of field. 


High-End Level Compact Camera – Sony RX100 VII

Key Features:

1-inch 20.1 MP stacked CMOS sensor

BIONZ X processor

Built-in 24-200mm (equivalent) f/2.8-4.5 zoom lens

Electronic shutter up to 1/32000s

4K video with full pixel readout

S-LOG2, S-Log3, and HLG picture profiles

Pop-up EVF (2.36 million dots)


                                      

                                          

The Sony RX100 VII is packed with great features and improvements from its predecessor. New technologies have been integrated into the camera, which is similar to its cousins, the A9 and A6400. The improved autofocus tracking system, including animal eye autofocus makes the Sony RX100 VII a top choice for underwater photographers. You won’t find more useful technology for photographing underwater creatures on any other compact camera. Other upgrades include burst shooting without blackout and improved low light capability with a lower native ISO. 

 

There are three things that make the RX100 series one of the best underwater compact camera series. First, the 1-inch sensor size is larger than most other compact cameras. The larger sensor produces better image quality and better low-light performance due to a larger pixel size. Second, the auto-focus speed is faster than traditional compact cameras. Thirdly, the advanced 4K video features available in the RX100 series are the top-of-the-line when it comes to compact camera video systems.

 

The highlight of this camera is its unprecedented macro capability. The zoom on the 24-200 mm f/2.8-4.5 zoom lens cannot be beaten by other compact underwater setups. Details captured with this lens are remarkable. When combined with a wet macro lens, the realm of super macro photography is attainable. The tiniest details of the smallest subjects can be captured with this set up. For the housing, we recommend either the Nauticam housing or the premium Isotta housing.

 

Pros

  • Sharp 8x zoom lens
  • Electronic viewfinder
  • 1-inch sensor design
  • Eye detection

 

Cons

  • Expensive
  • Can't start video while images are writing to card
  • Limited touch functions


Mirrorless Camera – Panasonic GH5

Key features:

20MP Four Thirds sensor

5-axis in-body image stabilization system

4K footage taken using full width of sensor

Internal 4K/30p 10-bit 4:2:2 video capture

1080 video at up to 180p, enabling 7.5x slow-motion

4K and 6K Photo

9 fps shooting with continuous autofocus

Dual UHS II card slots

5GHz Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth

                      


The Panasonic Lumix DC-GH5 is the fifth in the company's industry-changing video and stills 'hybrid' lineup. With its 20MP Four Thirds sensor and deep video-centric feature set, it looks likely to pick up where the GH4 left off as a favorite of indie filmmakers and photographers whose interests venture into the realm of motion picture work.

 

The camera offers carefully thought-out features designed to let videographers of all levels record what they need with the new system. The body is larger and the price tag increased as a result, but the video produced speaks for itself. And the GH5's still photo capability holds its own against the best from Olympus and Sony.

 

The benefit of mirrorless cameras is that they offer the flexibility of interchangeable lenses, with a higher quality and better focusing than compacts in a smaller, lighter package than their DSLR counterparts. As the mirrorless cameras are becoming more robust, we’ve seen the sizes of these cameras begin to increase, getting close in size as DSLR cameras. We’re not quite there yet, and the Panasonic GH5, which the largest of the mirrorless options so far, is still smaller than a DSLR.

 

GH5 underwater housings are smaller than DSLR housings, and support both the GH5 and GH5s cameras, in addition to a variety of micro-four thirds lenses. The Panasonic 12-35mm lens is a popular choice for underwater video. For the housing, we recommend the Nauticam housing as it supports the largest number of lenses.

 

Pros

  • 20MP sensor gives increase in resolution without increase in noise
  • Highly impressive video specifications (4:2:2 10-bit color, 4K/60p)
  • Auto ISO added for manual movie shooting
  • JPEG color improved
  • Dual UHS-II card slots, support for faster V60 cards in the future
  • Settings can be saved to card
  • Good battery life

 

Cons

  • On the larger end of the Micro Four Thirds cameras
  • JPEG sharpening improved 
  • Viewfinder resolution drops noticeably during high-speed bursts
  • Autofocus in video can exhibit focus hunting
  • Slight decrease in video quality when shooting high frame rates (180fps)


Full Frame Mirrorless Camera – Nikon Z6 / Z7

Z6 Key features:

24.5MP sensor

5-axis image stabilization system

1080 video at up to 120 fps

4K video at up to 24 fps

12 fps burst shooting

ISO 100-51200

273-point hybrid phase-detection autofocus

 

Z7 Key features:

45.7MP sensor

5-axis image stabilization system

1080 video at up to 120 fps

4K video at up to 24 fps

9 fps burst shooting

ISO 64-25600

493-point hybrid phase-detection autofocus


                                    

                                               

The most important distinctions between the Z6 and Z7 are the sensor resolution and autofocus - both are markedly better on the Z7. Additionally, the Z7 has a native ISO of 64, expandable down to 32, which is better than the Z6's native ISO of 100 (expandable down to 50). This means the Z7 will pull out more details from the shadows and highlights than the Z6. Other than that, the cameras are almost the same, including the same physical dimensions and weights. And of course, the cost, with the Z7 about $1200 higher in price.

 

The most enticing thing about the Z6 and Z7 is the excellent construction. The weather sealing is tough in variable weather conditions. The Z7 is much smaller and lighter than the D850 (675g vs 1005g). For the travelling diver, the Z6 or Z7 wins every time. 

 

The image quality on the Z7 is amazing. At first you might think that 45.7 MP is more than enough pixels in one camera. However, every bit of that information is useful. When you have so many megapixels on a full-frame sensor, you’re left with an ability to crop photos and produce a large, beautiful images with very minute details. Details like this will open new worlds for macro photographers.

 

The video on the Z6 / Z7 can be considered on par with the D850. This puts it at the top of the line for most underwater video systems. The color rendering is as good as in the Nikon D850 - which was revolutionary for Nikon at the time of its release. But the best feature on the Z7’s video is the autofocus full-time function. It outperforms the D850 and most other competing cameras. I did, however, have a little bit of trouble with this function in very low light. The most exciting thing for videographers using the Nikon Z7 is that it’s a full-frame camera with 4k video, capable of outputting video at 10 bits. Many cameras with this capability are over 10 times the price. An N-Log color profile is also available for the Nikon Z7, which will bring out more details after post-processing. 

 

For the underwater housing, we recommend the Nauticam or the premium Isotta housing.

 

Pros

  • Amazing image quality 
  • Very high resolution
  • High functioning electronic viewfinder
  • Smaller than competing DSLRs

 

Cons

  • Banding in low light
  • Noise at low ISO 
  • AF slightly lower performing than the D850
  • Battery life
  • Single XQD slot

Digital Single-Lens Reflex (DSLR) – Canon EOS 5D Mark IV

Key features:

30.4MP CMOS full-frame sensor

DCI 4K 30/24p video using Motion JPEG + 4K Frame Grab

61-point AF system 

Dual Pixel AF

ISO 100-32000

7 fps continuous shooting

Wi-Fi w/ NFC + GPS

       


The Canon EOS 5D series is one of the most recognized camera lines of the digital age and the Mark IV is designed to appeal to a wide range of professionals. Nearly identical in appearance to its predecessor, it features considerable upgrades, including: a higher-resolution sensor with Dual Pixel auto-focus, 4K video capture, an upgraded AF system, improved weather-sealing, built-in Wi-Fi/NFC, an interval timer and GPS. All this adds up to an amazing camera that fits into Canon's product line.

 

The 5D Mark IV is Canon's first full frame camera that can continuously focus in Live View during stills capture, and because of the way Dual Pixel AF works, focus is generally very accurate. It's good at sticking to the original subject on which you initiated the focus, and it's easy to specify the subject by tapping on it on the touchscreen in 'Face Detect+Tracking' mode.

 

Underwater and even in poor visibility, the camera will easily snap autofocus. And, if the camera is tilted from a near subject to a far subject, the focus triggers quickly and smoothly. The new autofocus features in this camera could be a milestone in video autofocus for underwater photographers.

 

No other DSLR camera on the market can master natural light white balances underwater without a color correction filter like this camera. This allows the shooter to take lights in the water and have the option to do natural or artificial light shooting on the same dive. The white balance procedure is a little bit different compared to previous models. This camera does not allow photos in video mode. This requires an additional step to switch to photo mode, take a shot, then go back to video mode. This is not big deal, but if you were used to the procedure on a previous Canon, it’s an additional step.

 

Canon has made some vast image quality improvements over the previous EOS 5D. Still images are superb and as far as video quality, Canon is the king. For the underwater housing, we recommend the Aquatica or the premium Isotta housing.

 

Pros

  • Improved dynamic range
  • True live autofocus in video mode
  • Now shooting 4K 30p
  • High 500mbps data rate
  • 4:2:2 color space
  • 1.64 crop in 4K movie mode

 

Cons

  • No zebra or focus peaking in-camera, but available on external monitors
  • Large file sizes for 4K video
  • Fastest CF card on the market required to ensure uninterrupted video








Diving Isla Cozumel, Mexico

Diving Isla Cozumel, Mexico

                                           

Arriving on the island is simple, as it has its own international airport. Flights from Miami, Montreal, and Mexico City all arrive directly at the Cozumel International Airport and are usually only 2 to 5 hours long. Visitors can also board a 20-minute connecting flight from Cancun.


Cozumel is a year-round scuba diving destination off Mexico's eastern Caribbean coast. The island is known for gentle drift dives, excellent visibility, and reefs teeming with marine life including corals, sponges, turtles, nurse sharks, and small rays. 

Cozumel is also known for its variety of dive resorts, from budget to luxury, and many of the resorts are all-inclusive. With a list of land-based activities, Cozumel is a popular travel destination for scuba divers and non-divers alike. Cozumel’s peak season typically runs from November to April and the resorts can be quite busy.

Geographically, the island is 45 kilometers long and 15 kilometers wide. The dive sites are all on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef, which runs past Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras, and is the second largest barrier reef in the world. The Marine Park of Cozumel was established in 1996 and protects the southern area of the island. Diving in Cozumel is suitable for beginning divers with shallow sites and advanced divers with deeper drift dives along walls and swim-throughs. Water temperature is warm year-round. Many of the dive sites are perfectly suited to underwater photography and offer opportunities for both wide-angle and macro subjects. 


                                   

The reefs are home to more than 500 fish species and a wide variety of coral. Divers also encounter turtles, groupers, green moray eels, nurse sharks, the splendid toadfish and other colorful tropical fish. Shore diving from resorts offers macro critters on the artificial reefs and the sandy bottom. Currents are minimal at these sites, providing ample opportunity to shoot anemone shrimp, juvenile drumfish, spotted moray eels, stingrays, trumpetfish and more. Night dives bring out more critters, including curious squid. And while rarer, divers should always be on the lookout for seahorses.

                                   

Some of the best dive sites around Cozumel include:

·      Santa Rosa Wall, one of the most popular deep dive sites. The wall begins at around 15 meters and extends deep into the abyss. 

·      Colombia wall, over 30 meters high and is home to a stunning cave, tunnel and cavern systems. 

·      Palancar Reef is the perfect first dive site for individuals not confident in their skill set. The reef extends over 5 kilometers and is home to huge coral clusters. 

·      Palancar Horseshoe is named after the U-shaped protrusion on the wall. This site is home to tunnels and swim-throughs carved into the reef. 

·      Punta Tunich offers swift currents and drift dives. Diving this location starts at around 20 meters where the sand bottom leads to extended ridges of coral. 

·      Barracuda Reef offers divers crazy currents and abundant marine life including hammerheads, black-tip reef sharks, eagle rays and barracuda. This is a northern dive site and a limited number of dive shops travel there.


                                       

Many travelers visit Cozumel from Caribbean cruises, typically just for a day. However, divers often spend their entire vacation on the island. With warm temperatures year-round, it is almost always a great time to dive in Cozumel. May to September has the warmest, calmest waters that are perfect for any level of diver. November to March is most popular for those hoping to spot bull sharks. While the waters are generally calm, they do tend to get rougher in between seasons. However, the more advanced waters typically allow for sightings of sharks and eagle rays. The waters are usually full of colorful reef fish and corals, but stingrays, nurse sharks, lobsters, turtles, and groupers can also be seen by lucky divers. 


                                       

The island itself has a rich history that is kept alive by the Mayan ruins scattered throughout the island. Visitors often take tours to the areas due to their remote locations on the island, but the venture is worth it in order to be immersed into a world that once was. Some of the most popular historical sites include San Gervasio and Cedral. In addition to the ruins, the island has plenty of stunning natural structures to explore. The island has what is known as a karst topography due to its foundation being made of limestone. Guests can choose to explore this as the limestone base results in cenotes, which are sinkholes filled with water. These are usually done through tours as well. 

 

Exploring downtown is a great way to experience the culture in Cozumel. With countless restaurants and shops, there is so much to discover. By nightfall, all of the tourists visiting from cruises will be gone, and the nightlife begins to vibrantly take over the island. Since most visitors are gone by this time, nightlife in Cozumel is mostly spent with locals, taking away the touristy feel and replacing it with a more authentic vibe. There are plenty of bars along the coast of the island, and there is often plenty of live music to dance to. 

 

Cozumel is a unique, vibrant island that provides many experiences. No matter who is visiting, they will be able to fall in love with some part of the island. Whether it be its history, the sandy beaches, the lively Caribbean waters, or the unique landscape, there is truly something for everyone. 

Eight Awesome Wreck Dives in the Red Sea

Eight Awesome Wreck Dives in the Red Sea, Egypt

The Red Sea gets its name from the algae blooms that can turn the blue waters red, and it is a direct translation from its Ancient Greek name: Erythra Thalassa. The sea is nestled between two continents: Asia and Africa, and it connects to the Mediterranean Sea. It is famous for its warm, salty waters and is known for its abundant sea life that lives amongst the coral reefs. It is also a sea that has been highly traveled for centuries, making it a great spot to explore some of the most unique wrecks. Here are just a few of the many amazing wrecks the Red Sea has to explore.


SS Dunraven, Sinai Pennsula


                                                     

Having spent over a century in the water, SS Dunraven is known for being a great dive for wreck and reef lovers alike. Not only is it covered in decades worth of coral growth, but a reef wall is located nearby. The ship sank after colliding with a large rock, and it now lays flipped over on the seafloor. There are many large entrances to the ship, making it easy for newer divers to explore. Marine life often consists of goat fishes, barracudas, and even turtles! There is also plenty of macro life that is great for photographers such as nudibranchs or even the ghost pipefish. The wreck is located just off the tip of the Sinai Peninsula in Egypt, and guests often reach the ship from Hurghada or Sharm el Sheikh. Photos courtesy of cassiopeiasafari.com.



 Giannis D, El Gouna


                                          

Giannis D is unique in that it is perhaps one of the most accessible wreck dives. The wreck is located less than five meters deep, so visitors who are only able to dive in open water can experience the wreck. The wreck lies at a 45-degree angle, making it a more challenging dive for those looking to enter the ship. More experienced divers can explore the interior of the ship, even the complex engine room with many twists and turns. Arriving at this exciting wreck is easy for visitors, as it is just a boat ride away from El Gouna or Hurghada. Photo courtesy of cassiopeiasafari.com.


Rosalie Moller


                                         


Having sunk just a mere 48 hours after the famous SS Thisleform, Rosalie Moller has spent decades growing thick coral all over its exterior. It is also home to countless artifacts from World War II, so it is a great site for those looking to catch a glimpse of history. Diving the Rosalie Moller is most popular amongst technical divers as the ship lies about 55 meters deep. The wreck is vibrant with pelagic life such as reef sharks and tuna. Due to its deep, isolated location, guests are only able to access the wreck through a liveaboard or private charter. 



Kingston, Strait of Gubal, North Red Sea


                                     

The Kingston ship sunk after colliding with Shag Rock Reef — located just off the shore of North Stradbroke Island. No lives were lost in the wreck, and the ship sits around 10 to 20 meters deep. The wreck occurred in 1881 and has since grown into a stunning living reef teeming with marine life. Most notably are the sea turtles, pelagic fish, and schools of anthias. The wreck is sitting almost perfectly straight, making it a great opportunity for beginning divers to explore a wreck with ease.  Most visitors experience this wreck from liveaboards, but it can also be done on the second tank of a day trip.  Photo courtesy of oceanstopines.com.


SS Carnatic, Abu Nuhas Reef, Egypt


                                          

Abu Nuhas reef is home to the famous Ship Graveyard, consisting of seven different ship shipwrecks in 1869. Perhaps one of the most notable wrecks is the SS Carnatic. The ship is located on the northern side of the reef and broke in half as it sunk. The ship has become entirely encrusted with hard and soft corals and is most known for its stories of buried treasure. Legend has it that the ship was carrying gold and copper that would eventually sink with it, and anyone who disturbs this lost treasure leaves the wreck cursed. Photo: Shutterstock



Salem Express, Hyndman Reef, Egypt 


                                    

One of the most recent, and most emotional, wrecks of the Red Sea is the Salem Express. The ship sunk in 1991 after colliding with Hyndman Reef. This caused the ship to take on great amounts of water, and it quickly sunk after a few minutes. Although the exact number of lives lost is disputed, it is possible that 1,600 people could have died on board the Salem Express. Nearly 700 of these people are believed to have been pilgrims who had just visited Mecca. There is not much marine life or corals growing on the ship, but divers often see items such as passenger’s suitcases in the surrounding areas of the wreck. The inside of the ship is sealed out of respect for every life that was lost on board. Photo: Shutterstock


Aida, Big Brother Island, Egypt


                                           

An iconic liveaboard destination are the Brothers Islands of Egypt. Aida is a wreck lodged in the reef just off of Big Brother Island at 25 to 60 meters deep. Those who visit this wreck range anywhere from casual divers hoping to see the beautiful coral to technical divers wanting to investigate the depths of the wreck. Divers often see large schools of fish and even the occasional pelagic such as the oceanic whitetip. This wreck is usually explored as a drift dive due to the strong currents, but for guests who want more time at the wreck, they can arrange a private charter for a more personalized experience. Photo: Shutterstock


SS Thistlegorm, Ras Muhammad, Egypt


                                         

Any list of the best wrecks in the Red Sea would be incomplete without mentioning the SS Thistlegorm. As one of the most famous ships to live in the Red Sea, the ship has sat for 80 years and is now teeming with marine life such as common reef fish, batfish, and barracudas. The ship once served the British Navy before it sank as the result of German bombs. Divers are able to find remnants of the past such as sunken ammo, motorcycles, rifles, Jeeps, and more. The wreck is easily accessed by boat and is typically a day-long dive due to the large size of the ship. The waters have a visibility of 25-30 meters and are ideal for advanced divers who are able to navigate the strong currents. Photo: Shutterstock

The Best Diving in the Philippines

The Best Diving in the Philippines

The Philippines is an excellent destination to fit any diver’s needs. The Pacific waters have it all: dive sites fit for new and advanced divers, great sights for macro and wide-angle photographers, and anything from wreck diving to blackwater diving. Not only that, but the land is stunning with white sandy beaches and dense jungles. Here are some of the top destinations in the Philippines for divers.


Malapascua Island, Cebu

                                         

Malapascua Island is a small island located just north of Cebu’s mainland. Malapascua’s waters are unique as they are the only waters where thresher sharks roam daily. The sea is part of a marine park and divers are able to watch the sharks be cleaned by the schools of fish. The sharks lurk in the early morning to avoid direct sunlight, so divers often start their day before the sun rises. As divers travel to the Monad Shoal, they will get to watch the sunrise over the calm waters. The island is also home to plenty of macro marine life such as nudibranchs, seahorses, scorpionfish, and more that are perfect for macro photography.  Photo courtesy of Hugh Ross.

Dauin, Dumaguete

                                         

Located in the province of Negros Oriental, Dauin is ideal for photographers and lovers of macro life. Underwater creatures often seen include seahorses, pipefish, nudibranchs, blue-ring octopuses, mandarin fish, and more. Not only that, but there is a unique collection of experiences that will be sure to excite any visitor such as muck diving and pristine coral reefs. Diving in Dauin is great all year long with the dry season lasting from December to May and the wet season lasting from June to November. Dauin is famous for its often cheap, always luxurious beachfront resorts. Photo courtesy of Dumaguete.com


Puerto Galera


                                        

As a vibrant town with diverse waters, Puerto Galera is perfect for any level of diver. The diving experience can vary greatly — ranging from canyons to wrecks to muck diving and just about everything in between. The location is also perfect for macro and wide-angle photographers alike due to the coral reefs’ rich biodiversity. Some of the reefs are even considered to have the most biodiversity in all of Asia. The town is also home to plenty of dive schools that are perfect for beginnings and advanced divers looking to expand their skills. Guests have just as much to explore on land as they do in the water as there are stunning mountains and waterfalls to explore. Guests are often able to see creatures such as nudibranchs, frogfish, seahorses, cardinalfish, and more. Photo courtesy of Asia Divers.


Subic Bay, Luzon 


                                         

Nestled just about 100 kilometers away from Manila Bay is Subic Bay on Luzon Island. The bay has a history of serving as one of the largest US Naval Bases in Asia and is thus home to more than 20 interesting shipwrecks. These wrecks are unique due to the volcano Mount Pinatubo that has coated the wrecks in ash. The USS New York is perhaps one of the most well-known wrecks in Subic Bay due to its pristine condition and canons. The ship is only available to explore during select times due to its proximity to the pier. For technical divers and divers experienced in deep water diving, the F-4 Phantom wreck is a dream. At 45 meters deep, the plane is often teeming with fish in the calm waters. Diving in the bay is great all year round but is ideal during the November to May dry season for greatest visibility. Photo courtesy of Arizona Dive Shop, Philippines.


Tubbataha Reef

World Heritage Site


                                        

With the most biodiversity in Asia, divers can encounter 600 species of fish and 360 species of coral in the Tubbataha Reefs Natural Park. Tubbataha is the largest marine park in the Philippines at 970 square kilometers. Guests can only experience the lively waters on a liveaboard during the calmer months of March to June. Diving experiences often include wall diving as well as exploration of the two atolls, Jessie Beazley Reef, lagoons, and coral cays. Perhaps the most exciting experience from exploring the park is the chance to see large marine life such as whale sharks, tiger sharks, and manta rays. Photo courtesy of Philippine Tourism USA.


Anilao, Batangas


                                         

Famous for its muck diving and blackwater diving, Anilao is an ideal destination for those looking to get up close and personal with the smallest of critters. Macro photographers will love swimming through the pinnacles, walls, and coral gardens to get the perfect shot. Some of the critters include elusive subjects such as the Ambon scorpionfish, Bobbit worms, and stargazers. The best time to dive in Anilao is from October to June, and April and May are considered to be the peak of the season. However, diving is available all year long with colder temperatures from December to March and rainier weather from July to September. The location is extremely convenient as it is just two hours away from Manila and has access to all of the dive sites from Balayan Bay, Batangas Bay, and Maricaban Island. Photo courtesy of Mike Batrick / Crystal Blue Resort.


Bohol, Central Visayas


                                        

Located in the Central Visayas region, Bohol is an island most well-known for its coral reefs and the unique Chocolate Hills. The Chocolate Hills are perfectly rounded hills that turn brown during the summer, leaving them to look like drops of chocolate amongst the dense green jungle. However, the land isn’t the only distinct quality of the island as it is also known for some of the best diving in the world. Divers can find both hard and soft coral along the stunning coral reefs or find large marine life such as the blacktip shark. Certain dive sites, such as those found off of the nearby Balicasag Island’s shore, are perfect for more advanced divers. There are strong currents with steep walls and even hammerhead sharks from December to January. Although Bohol itself is a popular tourist destination, Anda is the perfect spot for visitors who want to experience the amazing Bohol dive sites and be set away from busy tourist life. Diving in Bohol can be done all year long but is best from January to May. Photo courtesy of Dive-Bohol.com.

Six Awesome Liveaboard Destinations

Six Awesome Liveaboard Destinations

 

Liveaboards provide a one-of-a-kind experience for travelers looking to fully submerge themselves into a diving adventure. Guests are able to spend a week (or more!) filling their days with diving and their nights watching the sunset across the open water. Liveaboards can provide all of the same luxuries as a typical on land resort such as spa treatments, snorkeling, gourmet meals, and excursions. Here are our picks of some of the six best destinations for a liveaboard vacation.


1) Galápagos Islands - Ecuador


                                          


The Galapagos Islands are scattered across the equator and have warm weather year-round. While diving in the Pacific waters surrounding the islands is great all year, December to May is the warmest season with the calmest waters and highest visibility. Divers during this season most often see hammerhead sharks and manta rays. July to November is ideal for more advanced divers hoping for more intense, choppier waters. Although the ocean is generally a bit colder during this season, it is known for nutrient-rich water that attracts all kinds of sea life, specifically whale sharks. Diving in the Galapagos is done on liveaboards from tenders or Zodiacs, and guests are able to have a unique experience living out on the open waters. 


2) Socorro Island - Mexico


                                              

Socorro Island is the largest island in the Revillagigedo Archipelago and is famous for its vibrant wildlife, both on and off the shore. The volcanic island does not have an airport, making it a popular spot for liveaboards. The diving season lasts from November to May as that is when the water is at its calmest. Throughout this season, divers often get to see hammerhead sharks, manta rays, whale sharks, and humpback whales. From January to March, there are even frequent sightings of bottlenose dolphins. In addition to these, sightings of silky sharks, Galapagos sharks, whitetip reef sharks, and silvertip sharks are possible as well. Getting to the Socorros requires an open ocean crossing about 22 hours from Cabo San Lucas, Baja California.


3) Raja Ampat - Indonesia


                                      


Located off the coast of Bird’s Head Peninsula in West Papua, Raja Ampat is an Indonesian archipelago that is known for its extensive biodiversity. The islands form part of the Coral Triangle — an area known as a home to 76% of known coral species. In Raja Ampat’s waters, there is countless marine life and stunning coral reefs to see. The most popular sights include manta rays, reef sharks, walking sharks, turtles, nudibranchs, and so much more. Diving in Raja Ampat is ideal from October to April as it has the driest weather with calm seas that make for smooth liveaboard sailing. The clear waters consistently have a visibility of 80-100 ft all year long, which is perfect for spotting even the smallest of critters. 


4) Tubbataha Reef - Philippines


                                      

Tubbataha Reef is a protected marine park in the Philippines’ Sula Sea. It is known for being a nesting ground for green sea turtles and is made up of a northern atoll, southern atoll, and the Jessie Beazley Reef.  Visitors can only explore the clear waters from a liveaboard as it is located over 10 hours away from land. The diving season takes place from mid-March to mid-June as that is when the water is at its calmest and clearest with a visibility of up to 114 feet. The reef is known for its vast biodiversity as it is reported to have over 1,200 species — 181 of which are threatened.


5) Solomon Islands - Oceania Pacific

                                        


Diving in the Solomon Islands is perfect for visitors hoping for a more private, secluded experience with untouched reefs. There are nearly a thousand islands in the archipelago, and almost all of them are uninhabited. The water temperature is consistently in the low to high 80s, making it comfortable to dive in year-round. However, January through April is monsoon season, which brings the greatest amounts of wind and rain that could disrupt diving. What makes the Solomon Islands so unique is that their waters hold a time capsule that sends divers back to World War II with its numerous plane and shipwrecks at various depths. In addition to these one-of-a-kind wrecks, divers can also explore reefs, walls, slopes, pinnacles, and more. Visitors can choose to spend their time in the Solomon Islands on a liveaboard or from a resort on land.


6) Chuuk Lagoon - Micronesia


                                       


Chuuk Lagoon is a mountainous island that was once a former Japanese naval base during the second world war. The island’s history has been kept alive in its own waters with its array of sunken treasure, submerged ships teeming with marine life, and even human remains. Divers in the Lagoon’s Pacific waters get to explore part of this history, and often even find artifacts such as ammunition or guns. The wrecks vary in their depth, making them accessible for just about any level of diver. The temperature is consistently warm year-round; however, December to April is ideal due to the lack of rainfall and wind during this season. 

Rocio del Mar Liveaboard - Sea of Cortez 2021 Trips - Dive Adventure

Rocio del Mar Liveaboard

Sea of Cortez 2021 Trips

Awesome Dive Adventures

Saturday to Saturday
$2,845 per person, double occupancy

Liquid Diving Adventures Price $2,645 - SAVE $200

                                    

Called "The World's Aquarium" by Jacques Cousteau, the Sea of Cortez provides a world-class international dive experience with a domestic flight. Simply fly to Phoenix, Arizona, and, in just a few hours, guests are boarding the boat in Puerto Penasco, Mexico. 

The Sea of Cortez is a breathtaking destination for scuba diving, snorkeling, and exploration. Dive on untouched walls and reefs abounding in marine life. Encounter large and small whale species, snorkel with whale sharks, dive with playful sea lions, and see countless eels, octopus, fish, and jumping mobula rays. It's a macro photographer's dream with nudibranchs, colorful blennies, dancing jawfish, and sea horses. 

                                    

Between dives, guests hike and explore remote uninhabited islets and at night gaze at the Milky Way. Give the Rocio crew one week and they will create a lifetime of memories while forging new friendships aboard Rocio del Mar. Guests will dine on incredible cuisine and enjoy the friendly service that has made the crew famous.

           July 3-10, 2021 - July 10-17, 2021 - July 31-August 7, 2021 - August 7-14, 2021
                          August 28-September 4, 2021  -  September 4-11, 2021

Awesome Drift Dive Destinations

Awesome Drift Dive Destinations

                                     

 

For many of our fellow dive buddies, there’s nothing like a dive with wild current. Coral heads flying by, schools of fish and critters all doing their best to fight the flow and find shelter from the current in a coral head. Drift diving is one of the most exhilarating types of diving in the underwater world and there are some great dive destinations where you can jump in and enjoy the ride. No matter where you decide to experience drift dives, remember, Dive Safe! Whether you are an expert or a novice drift diver, safety comes first. Here are some rules to follow for a safe and fun drift dive:
– make sure you carry and use an SMB;
– streamline your gear to avoid damaging the reef;
– be properly weighted and neutrally buoyant;
– concentrate on your surroundings and changing conditions;
– do not fight current, work with it not against it.

 

Cozumel, Mexico

 

When planning a dive trip to Cozumel, you should prepare yourself for some great drift dives. Cozumel is a renowned destination for divers with a whole lot to offer. Cozumel is known for drift diving as well as other amazing reef dive sites. With its combination of great visibility, generally calm surface conditions, and strong currents, divers can experience drift diving at its best. Whether you’re an experienced diver, a beginner, looking to add drift diving to your skill set. Some amazing drift dives to try when diving Cozumel include Santa Rosa Wall, Pun ta Tunich, Palancar Reef, and Columbia Wall.

Santa Rosa Wall - Divers come back from Cozumel unable to stop talking about the Santa Rosa Wall, and for good reason. It is one of the deeper dive sites you will do when diving Cozumel, it is worth getting down there to see the fantastic coral formations, barrel sponges, and the incredible marine life. You can see sea turtles, huge groupers, and majestic eagle rays gliding through the waters here.

Punta Tunich is another great site. With coral ridges rising up from the sandy base at 70 feet, you’ll see schools of grunt and snapper, as well as large sea fans, bright, beautiful sponges and intricate corals. 

Planacar Reef offers three miles of reef and is suitable even for the beginning scuba diver. If you are diving Cozumel as a newly qualified diver and want an experience that lets you use the skills you learned, Palancar reef is easy and rewarding, with its hugely diverse sea life population and coral formations. The gentle currents and temperate water allow you to drift comfortably as you enjoy the surrounding world of colourful fish, sponges, coral and sea fans. This is also a really good dive site if you are an underwater photographer.

                                    

Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands are considered one of the best dive experiences in the world, thanks to the large marine critters and unique wildlife found at these special islands. There is no shortage of currents at the Galapagos Islands, which attract pelagic species to top sites such as Wolf and Darwin Islands. Jump in, go with the flow and enjoy the schools of hammerheads and rays that pass you by.

 

The Cabo Douglas dive site is located on the North West side of Fernandina Island. One of the central Galapagos islands, Fernandina has an active shield volcano 'La Cumbre', which has been subject to eruptions within the last ten years. Fernandina is one of the most unspoiled environments in the world and one of the few places in the Galapagos which has never suffered any kind of invasive species. Many of the animals on Fernandina exist only on the Galapagos Islands. Marine iguanas have also evolved to survive on these islands making them completely distinctive to the region. The island is also home to a great number of sea lions, turtles, pelicans and Galapagos penguins. The dive sites at Cabo Douglas don’t cover a very large area but offer the opportunity to see so many rare species that it is thrilling diving.

Red Sea, Egypt

Elphinstone Reef in Southern Egypt is a long sausage-shaped reef that sits in the open ocean and is perfect for drift diving. The walls of the reef drop thousands of meters to the inky depths and are covered in hard and soft corals and filled with marine critters. The currents will take you along the walls at ripping speeds of up to 2 knots, with no diving effort needed at all on the right day. Diving Elphinstone is definitely one to add to the bucket list for experienced divers looking for adventurous dives. The ‘Simply the Best’ itinerary offered by Emperor Divers includes the Elphinstone Reef. This cruise offers some of the best Red Sea drift diving sites, including Elphinstone Reef, Daedalus and the Brothers. Divers enjoy the colourful corals and critters and the occasional passing oceanic whitetip shark.


                                      

Palau, Micronesia

Drift diving in Palau is often compared to hang gliding. Instead of riding winds, you are riding the marine currents maintaining neutral buoyancy and perfect trim. Many of the techniques of drift diving were developed in Palau, including the reef hook. Using a reef hook is the bit different than a typical drift dive. The waters of Micronesia are known for the abundant marine life and amazing currents. The dive spots of Palau, like German Channel, Ulong Channel and Blue Corner will wow you and have you flying through the sites full of colorful soft corals, turtles, sharks, manta rays, and tons of other fish.



                                   

Maldives, Indian Ocean

 

The Maldives offers plenty of drift dives to those lucky enough to visit. Teeming with life, many species of sharks are commonly seen as well as sea turtles, schools of fish, manta rays, and whale sharks. Add Lhaviyani Atoll, Noonoo Atoll, and South Ari Atoll to the top of your dive list here. Most of the liveaboards in the Maldives offers itineraries that include some fantastic drift diving.

Atlantis Resort Dumaguete Welcome Back - 35% Savings

Atlantis Resort 

Dumaguete, Philippines 

Welcome Back - 35% Savings

                                   

Book a 2021 vacation and take 35% Off the normal rate for deluxe accommodations, delicious meals and up to five world class dives per day! Book Worry Free with the ability to reschedule your vacation for up to 18 months at the same rate.

Deposit 50% within 7 days of your booking, the remaining 50% is due 60 days prior to arrival if the country is open to tourism
Or
If the country is not open to tourism 60 days prior to arrival, you can reschedule the same vacation during the next 18 months at no additional charge for accommodations, meals and diving, subject to availability.

Guests may cancel up to 1 week before their arrival date with no penalties.
Cancel 2-7 days prior to arrival - 20% Cancellation Charge
Cancel 24-48 hours - 80 % Cancellation Charge
Cancel less than 24 hours - 100% Cancellation Charge
Cancellations will be given a credit, net of the cancellation charge, toward a future booking at either of our land based resorts or liveaboard to be utilized within 12 months. Offer expires March 31, 2021



Atlantis Resort Puerto Galera Welcome Back - 35% Savings

Atlantis Resort 

Puerto Galera, Philippines 

Welcome Back 35% Savings

                                      

Book a 2021 vacation and take 35% Off the normal rate for deluxe accommodations, delicious meals and up to five world class dives per day! Book Worry Free with the ability to reschedule your vacation for up to 18 months at the same rate.

Deposit 50% within 7 days of your booking, the remaining 50% is due 60 days prior to arrival if the country is open to tourism

Or
If the country is not open to tourism 60 days prior to arrival, you can reschedule the same vacation during the next 18 months at no additional charge for accommodations, meals and diving, subject to availability.

Guests may cancel up to 1 week before their arrival date with no penalties.
Cancel 2-7 days prior to arrival - 20% Cancellation Charge
Cancel 24-48 hours - 80 % Cancellation Charge
Cancel less than 24 hours - 100% Cancellation Charge
Cancellations will be given a credit, net of the cancellation charge, toward a future booking at either of our land based resorts or liveaboard to be utilized within 12 months. Offer expires March 31, 2021.





Cayman Islands Re-Opening to Divers - Forecast to June 2021

Cayman Islands Re-Opening to Divers - Forecast to June 2021




While our entire team is eager to welcome you back to our resorts, the Cayman Islands Government announced on February 4th that the borders will not reopen to international travelers in March as previously targeted.
 
No timeline has been given for the Cayman Islands to reopen the borders to international visitors.  The Cayman Government has announced that the path to reopening is contingent on much of the Islands’ population having received a full COVID-19 vaccination regimen.  The vaccination program is off to a good start but the endpoint to allow reopening has not been defined.  Despite this uncertainty, we are working towards reopening Clearly Cayman dive resorts in June 2021.  This timing coincides with the Cayman Islands General Election in May 2021 as we believe a reopening plan is unlikely to be announced before then.   
 
We plan to reopen our resorts at the very first opportunity when it is allowed by the Cayman Government and practical for our guests to return.  We hope that the June 2021 timeline is realistic but will continue to keep you informed as we receive additional details.

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