When it comes to detailed knowledge and personal experience, our team of expert diving holiday specialists is pretty impressive! From marine biologists and Conde Nast Top Travel Specialists, to a PADI instructor and an expert adventure traveller, we've intentionally sourced a team passionate about the holidays they curate.
Jacqui Brooks - The Indonesia Specialist
Recently named a Conde Nast Traveler 2022 Top Travel Specialist for Indonesia, Jacqui is an endless source of knowledge and passion when it comes to Asia and diving holidays.
'My favourite country for diving is Indonesia, due to the sheer variety of dive sites. You'll find world-class macro in Lembeh Straits, unbeatable biodiversity in Raja Ampat and mantas aplenty in Komodo. It's also one of my favourite countries on earth above the waves too. The Liberty Shipwreck in Tulamben, Bali, remains my favourite dive site to this day. It's an easy shore dive (so perfect if you've been out of the water a while) with plenty of swim throughs, including a cathedral-like cargo hold.'
Though Indonesia holds her heart, Jacquie's most memorable underwater experience was on a dive holiday to Mafia Island, located just off the Tanzanian coast.
'Snorkelling with whale sharks just off the coast of Mafia was surreal - multiple whale sharks and minimal people! These gentle giants aggregate here from October to March and a morning spent swimming alongside them was a truly magical and serene experience.'
Emily Chappell - The Marine Biologist
Emily, our resident marine biologist, has a tenacity to explore every corner of the ocean. While living in the Maldives and Curacao, she spent her days with a tank on her back observing and researching life beneath the waves and using her 'time off' to travel every chance she had. Now, she uses her passions and expertise to help other divers curate their bucket list holidays.
True to her marine biology background, Emily's fondest diving memory was 'witnessing coral spawning for the first time in Curacao. The explosion of life was inspiring and magical. It is not only the spectacle of the spawning that impresses in the complete darkness, but the explosion of activity and life that comes with it. Tarpons, sharks and all manner of predatory fish come to the scene when the corals spawn. The gametes rise in the water column in slow motion and it is a peaceful, but active spectacle to behold!'
The Aquarium Lhohifushi in North Male Atoll in the Maldives reigns top spot in Emily's log book. 'The long reef ends into a corner channel. We witnessed spinner dolphins as we entered the water. On the dive, there were numerous species from porcelain crabs and leaf scorpionfishes to turtles and fusiliers. We also encountered white tip sharks, eagle rays and a napoleon wrasse. Once you hit the corner, the coral pinnacle there is a manta cleaning station where we saw several mantas pass over our heads.'
Eleanor Seagle - The PADI Instructor
Having spent her 20's and early 30's as a PADI instructor in the Florida Keys, Eleanor has long held a passion for seeing others enjoy the underwater world. Certified when she was 11 years old, she went on to study underwater archaeology in university, conducting research trips to the Dominican Republic where her team mapped and preserved Columbus-era shipwrecks as well as the wreck from the last voyage of the infamous pirate, Captain Kidd.
Eleanor's infatuation with Southeast Asia has taken her back time and again, but it was her last trip to Indonesia that solidified a deep love for this corner of the world. Home to her favourite site, The Cauldron, Komodo's abundance of life and never-ending bucket list sightings raised the bar exponentially for all future dive holidays. 'You'll find blue ring octos, nudibranchs, devil rays, mantas, sharks, leafy frogfish and so much more on every dip beneath the waves.'
'Komodo was a new level of diving for me. Having spent the majority of previous holidays in Florida and around the Caribbean, I was not prepared for the level of reef structure, fish populations and sheer overabundance of creatures I'd dreamt of seeing since I first donned a tank. You realise why the coral triangle got its name and what coaxes divers to travel for days just to get a taste of this underwater Eden. The Cauldron site was especially exceptional. With a ripping current you'll want to tighten your mask and fin straps for, this site is named after the large pit cut out of the reef where the current circles down and all range of fish congregate to feed. We used a reef hook to grab the top rim and peered over the edge to see schooling black tips, mantas and tons of fish swooping around inside, while the current was tugging at us like we were flags in the wind.'
Andy Smith - The Adrenaline Junkie
A passionate traveller and adventurer, Andy is forever searching for the next exhilarating experience. Whether it be trekking through the Himalayas or cruising through the Galapagos, he has a distinct zeal for going anywhere and everywhere and saying yes to every challenge that comes his way.
His most memorable dive was when he found himself encapsulated by a bait ball of sardines, so thick it went momentarily pitch black. Always in pursuit of mastering skills, he found his buoyancy control finally clicked on this dive and solidified his confidence underwater, making all the difference in enjoyment.
Andy's advice for someone about to embark on their first dive holiday is: 'Just do it! Spend the first 10 minutes staying calm, watching how calm your dive master is and how they move - and then enjoy the view!'
Tom Barber - The Family Specialist
Recently named one of Conde Nast Traveler's Top Travel Specialists for Family Travel, our founder Tom Barber has an unpent passion for exploring all facets of the underwater world. From snorkelling the tranquil cenotes of Mexico to sitting cross legged on the sandy bottom of the Bahamas where bull sharks the size of small vehicles 'appeared out of the gloom to take lumps of meat from the chain mailed gloved hand of the guide.' Inhabiting the same space as these apex predators remains one of Tom's most memorable subaquatic moments, closely followed by what he describes as a 'life-affirming encounter' with the whale sharks that congregate off the coast of Belize.
Tom says his favourite dive destination remains the Maldives, where he always seems to luck out with mantas putting on particularly impressive dances as they somersault in the water column to filter feed. His twins experienced their first ever discover scuba diving course at the tender age of 10 at Soneva Fushi, where they cruised the house reef and instantly became hooked. And, true to his specialty in family travel, the one person Tom would love to dive with above all others is his wife.
'Diving is my favourite travel activity by a distance but my wife is not, and sadly never will be, a diver. I've tried all sorts of persuasion, because I believe diving together and reminiscing afterwards is a wonderfully bonding moment, but she remains a committed landlubber. It's one of the reasons I got the children doing it as early as possible.'
Like travel, diving is a hobby that craves mutuality. It's perfectly lovely on one's own, but seeing friends and family join in and get an equal thrill out of it, is unlike anything else. That being said, it's not everyone's cup of tea, and recognizing this from our own experiences, we have meticulously sought resorts that offer just as much above the surface as below to keep the whole family happy.