Thailand also seems like a good bet on the cost front as well. Maybe not for equipment and actually diving (although I don’t know) but at least for accomodation, meals, etc.
A QT3 diving expedition sounds like a great idea. I’ve heard some great recommendations for southern Africa diving from various colleagues. Cyprus also has some good dive spots (ok by day, but great at night, where in my experience it was better than the Red Sea for marine life). Ningaloo Reef in Western Australia is also reported to be better than the Great Barrier Reef - I hope to check this out later in the year.
Diving in northern Australia is best in the mid-late dry season (say July through Sept / Oct) particularly dates coinciding with neap tides to minimise water movement.
If anyone stops off in Darwin, I don’t much recommend the diving (poor vis, but decent wrecks) but the fishing is second-to-none! I could take a small group out to catch some barramundi, spot some crocs.
A night dive wherever we go is a must (well I think so anyway).
How are we looking to do this? ie is the purpose first and foremost to go diving? If so can I recommend that we do 6 days + travel time. 1 day get to know each other, drink beer, brag about how big that shark we saw last time was and compare scars, 2 days diving, 1 rest day, 2 more days diving. With 2 dives per day + a night dive on the day prior to the rest day.
I have no scars, but I bet my Great White beats whatever sharks you have ;)
As I said, it’ll be hard for me to find the time/money, but I’ll try - this sound seriously cool. So don’t let my participation be pivotal, but I’ll help with any planning.
[li]Red Sea is probably the destination where I’m most likely to make it (cheap and close by)
[/li][li]Thailand is high on my list and relatively cheap, so I’m all for that as well.
[/li][li]South Africa is really cheap for accomodation/equipment hire and have some great spots (and lots of sharks) - there’s also the added bonus of interesting safaris out of the water. I have no clue how expensive travel will be for you guys, though. It’s not cheap from here.
[/li][li] Australia is absolutely great for diving and a truly wonderful country - everybody should visit. However it’s out of the question for me for a simple reason. I met my wife in Sydney. Neither of us has been to Australia since, so we are planning to go in 2008-09 when my company will give me 5 weeks paid leave (on top of my 7 weeks vacation). We plan to go all 4 for at least two months, so me going alone next year, while she minds the kids wouldn’t go down well. Australia is also the most expensive location for me both for travel and accomodation.
Well, to my mind, this is absolutely a diving trip first and foremost. I had a blast with the diverse group at the Qt3 meet in San Diego last weekend, but this isn’t that. This is for folks who want to spend time and money to go somewhere for the express purpose of getting in the water.
But to reiterate, it doesn’t have to be hardcore. You don’t have to have as much experience as Nellie, who sounds like our most advanced diver, or even someone more middling like me. But if you’re coming just for the beer, conversation, and Mario Kart DS, you might be better served on something like the trip to Tahoe some folks are talking about. :)
Nellie’s suggestion of a six day spread sounds perfect. And, yes, a night dive or two is definitely in order.
Having said all that, here are the folks who have emailed me: Nellie, Hanzii, John Merva, krazykrok, Atman Binstock, and Joel Johnson. Equis tried to email me, but said his email couldn’t get through. So that’s eight, including me. Did I miss anyone?
Some of you are tentative, and we might get more folks interested. But I’m guessing this will end up being a trip of five or six of us, which is a perfect size.
I’m only going if Fire makes good of the coffee making promise!
But I agree. This should be a diving trip, with socializing as an added bonus.
I have no dive buddies - so when I finally get a chance to go diving I buddy up with some random stranger. While this is a great way to meet interesting foreign people and get to retell your shark stories yet again, it’s not optimal. A planned trip with a not so random group really sounds good.
Six days sounds fine - perhaps live aboard is worth looking into?
I’ve never tried it, because a random group is fine for one or two days, but a week on a boat with strangers doesn’t appeal to me - to much to lose, if it turns out to be a bunch of drunken Russians…
While Thailand does sound good I am a little worried that the two people who posted on its weather disagree as to the start of the rainy season. If it is going to rain lots in July there is next to no point going. Tom Chick may like diving with no visibility but I prefer to see stuff.
As for shark stories, you guys can compete amoungst yourself. I have seen one (while snorkling) and its graceful glide through the water convinced me that I was clearly lower on the food chain when in the water. If you could just point them out so I can stay far away :)
Plus I forgot Ningaloo (in northern Western Australia). I have only snorkled there but it too was fantastic (Cuttlefish are weird looking creatures).
Cuttlefish are cute, I never knew they changed colour like Octopus.
I don’t think experience matters that much, the only thing I’d suggest first and foremost is that if you haven’t dived for a while (like me as it happens) then make sure beforehand you do two things.
Contact a local dive shop/club and get some pool time to get yourself familiar with things again. Absolutely practice the things that worried you the most last time like flooding masks, dropping your regulator and all that jazz.
If you’ve got your own dive kit (I’ll be bringing my own) get it serviced whether it’s technically time to get it done or not. If you do have some kit I’d suggest bringing it, I’ve yet to travel anywhere and exceed the baggage weight limit with mine. Obviously leave weight belts/tanks behind.
Regarding experience, if you’ve got Open water that’s fine and I’m more than happy to buddy anyone regardless of experience. Again, I’d suggest that it makes most sense to buddy people like myself and Tom with the less experienced divers in the group.
I know technically that the rules say don’t use decongestants, but I’d strongly recommend the US contingent picking up some max strength Sudafed, compared to the UK stuff it’s magic. If nothing else, my supply is running low ;)
Six days sounds fine - perhaps live aboard is worth looking into?
I’ve only done it once in Egypt, but it was fantastic and made all the better by a really knowledgeable crew and a fantastic cook. The obvious downside is that you don’t have a lot of scope to do much else if you can’t dive for whatever reason.
I fear some may have misunderstood the thailand weather conditions.
July is fine, it is in fact, a really nice time other than the Nov - April periods. It hasn’t begun to rain yet. It is somewhere near the end of July that the monsoon winds start moving and the approaching thunderstorms muck up the visibility. More so on the east coast of Thailand than on the west coast.
Despite all that, I would love to go on a dive in Egypt and the mediterranean. Frankly, I’m kinda tired of the South China sea.
I’m based in Australia, so obviously Thailand / Oz is more feasible for me, but I can probably swing a trip further afield if I can bring my wife along too! (she’s open water qualified by inexperienced, I’m aow). Especially South Africa, where we can probably write it off at a work expense. But I’ll go with the general consensus if I can make it.
My experiences in the Red Sea were diminished by the fact the whole place seemed like a tourist hell hole in-the-making (this was Hurghada), with most dive groups not giving a crap about standing on corals and chasing dolphins. Found it a bit depressing, but there’s no doubt the diving there is very good. The hammerhead dive site that Nellie mentioned got serious praise from the few divers who visited it, but it’s not the easiest site to get to (long, rapid descent due to the current).
Oh, and I’ll enter the scar contest too - good chance of winning I reckon.
My experiences in the Red Sea were diminished by the fact the whole place seemed like a tourist hell hole in-the-making (this was Hurghada),
Sharm-El-Sheik is worse, believe me. If the Red Sea is an option then I’d strongly recommend doing it as a live aboard so you can avoid the above situation (and maybe find the Hammerhead site).
I would be happy with either Australia or Thailand I think but I as keep saying I can be reasonably flexible.
I do think that we should get this all confirmed asap though. That will help with getting time off, making arrangements, etc.
My vote would be either Australia or Thailand in late July.
Egypt is one big tourist hellhole and they bomb us too (but at least they don’t get tsunamis) - but the diving can be great. If we go there, which is still my #1 choice, we should find a nice boat and stay on it.
Croc scars don’t count - unless you dive with crocs, in that case you scare me and I can only go: CRIKEY!
Yes, but only if they pay me to…
As another option, I also have a friend who is an instructor/guide in Honduras.
Are we close to making a decision on where we might like to go at all? Maybe time to just take votes?
Ack, how could I forget the Maldives as well - always wanted to go as good friends of mine rate it their top dive place. Live-aboards are readily available there.
So top 3 choices? For me…
- Australia (Ningaloo / Rottnest / Great Barrier / Whitsundays etc)
But honest, I’m willing to go with the flow if the timing works.
Regarding where we go, and given that at the moment we’re coming from pretty much all corners of the world, can we suggest 2-3 places that, as a group, we’d like to do and sort out some comparitive costs and travel times and perhaps factor that into making a firm decision?
I’ll start if no one minds. Mainly because I’m sitting here waiting for my renderer to finish its job and that will take another 25 minutes.
- Egypt. I’ve never been and would dearly like to go. Unless it is too dangerous or too difficult.
- South Africa. Again, I’ve never been and would go unless it is too dangerous or too difficult.
- Thailand is the easiest for me to get to. If Thailand is the majority vote, then there’s no real need for me to worry about cost. Where I stay, it’s a U$100 flight ticket to Bangkok everyday.
- Egypt - Best diving I’ve ever done, more than happy to repeat. Not entirely co-incidentally probably the cheapest place for me to get to.
- Thailand - Never been there, sounds interesting
- Honduras/Belize etc. If Cuba is anything to go by should be worth a look.
Much as I’d like to dive Oz I dont think I can justify the cost for a week’s diving. Nor put up with the earbashing I’ll get from various friends and relatives I’ve never gone to visit down there.