Tag Archives: scuba

Top 6 Fun Activities to Check Out in Negril


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Time to start planning for winter vacation! The wet and the cold tend to hit the Pacific Northwest December to March, which makes it a perfect time for you to hit the waves!

Jamaica is the island of suntans and warm seas, and the natural heat is balanced well with cool Caribbean waters and occasional light showers. In the 1950s the town began to see major development as a resort destination, and today there is everything from scuba facilities to nightclubs and classy restaurants. The so-called “Seven Mile Beach” of Negril is the centerpoint of all the action,  ripe with sunbathing spots, snack sellers and miles of pristine sand.

Check out our Top 6 Fun Activities in Negril, Jamaica:

1. Deep Sea Fishing

Experts will take you on their boats and fish alongside you in the beautiful Caribbean waters. Trips can last up to a full day and at the end, they’ll take you to a local eatery to have your fresh catch cooked up and served.

2. Scuba Diving

Diving enthusiasts should definitely find a home in Negril, home to some of the best coral reefs and shipwrecks the Caribbean can offer. Specialists have decades of experience and can show you the best sites to dive with dolphins and seahorses. Don’t have experience? No problem! Get your certification on your vacation.

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3. Biking

Adventurers can rent a bike for the day or join a small group biking along the beach and into the subtropical forests that surround Negril. Guides always put safety and fun first, and can show you the best secret spots to explore. There are several routes available that cater to biking fans of all levels, from kid-friendly to outright hardcore.

4. Water Parks

Families should visit Kool Runnings Water Park, the area’s best slip and slide. With waters and a plethora of slides and pools of all sizes, Kool Runnings is a great place to take the family. It has everything from bobsled rides to trampolines, and tons of state-of-the-art slides.

5. Negril Lighthouse

Looking for a romantic escape? The local lighthouse is a signature landmark and a bona fide romantic spot. Located on the westernmost tip of Jamaica, it’s great for a picnic or a panoramic view from the top.

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6. Blue Cave Castle

An exciting resort named for the extensive cave system that lies beneath. A daring and magical adventure for all who enter, the caves as a snorkeler’s paradise with hidden corners aplenty.

It’s never too early to start planning your family Caribbean vacation! Call us up at 503-224-0180 or email info@wittravel.com to speak to one of our top agents today.

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Filed under Accommodation, Caribbean, Jamaica, News

Diving In Iceland

Welcome to Iceland! Today we’re returning to the land of fire and ice brought to you by our own foreign correspondent in Iceland, Wailana.

Last summer she joined a fantastic group for an unforgettable experience snorkeling between tectonic plates. Established in 1997, Dive.is offers safe, fun snorkel and dive days not far from Reykjavik and also off the coast of Iceland. The most famous trip is through Silfra Fissure in Thingvellir, a crack in the Earth where you can swim between two continental plates.

If you are a PADI-certified diver, you can join fellow divers on a day dive in the fissure. The tour includes two dives, each of about 30-40 minutes, at a depth of 18 meters. Optional add-ons include an afternoon of spelunking or the Golden Circle.

Otherwise, you can sign up for the snorkel tour. Even in summer, the fissure tends to be quite cold, but you’re fitted with high quality equipment and the best dry suit in the business. You can easily let yourself go, floating through the twisting fissure in pristine waters and the vivacious colors of this underwater realm. The fissure widens into a large lagoon area, where sand collects at the bottom. Wailana recommends keeping your hands laying flat on your back, above the water to be warmed by the sun (if there is any!). End your chilly day with a cup of hot chocolate and cookies.

Looking for something a bit more Advanced? In Akureyri, you can sign up for the dive tour in Strytan and its underwater volcanic cones. Swim in 79C water and feed the local wolf fish. In June, divers can even boil Guillemot eggs at 24 meters depth!

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Filed under Europe, Iceland, Travel by Scuba

Belize

Vilnius Lithuania

Over the past decade vacationers in search of sand and adventure have eagerly flocked to Central America, especially to the small country of Belize—beautiful, Caribbean-blessed Belize. Our clients return raving about their romantic and leisurely time exploring the many attractive cayes or exotic jungles. As English is Belize’s official language, navigation is relatively simple. We recommend clients visit during the dry season, from January to May. The rainy season occurs for much of the year, culminating with hurricane season from July to October.

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Belize is home to some of the most attractive reefs in the Caribbean, and the second largest barrier reef in the world after Australia’s. There are small beaches in the southern part of the country and throughout the cayes, but the main draws are the snorkel and diving. Many vacationers opt for one of the many islands or peninsulas along the Caribbean: the elongated Ambergris Caye, the more relaxed Caye Caulker and Placencia, or the biologically diverse Turneffe Islands. To reach these we can arrange air transfers out from Belize City. There are also the slower but more unique water taxes.

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Main attractions inland are Belize City and the many Mayan ruins that dot the jungles. Belize City keeps a historic museum known as the Old Belize Exhibit—an artistic display that offers a rare glimpse into 18th century colonial days. Older still are Belize’s ruins: the mystic Mayan city of Altun Ha, the lagoons around Lamanai ruins, and the dominating temples of Xunantunich are not to be missed—but you may have to choose just one to fit into your itinerary!

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Willamette Intl Travel can help you arrange any number of activities that you want during your time in Belize—whether snorkeling, scuba diving, fishing, cave tubing, zip-lining, etc. Several resorts allow you to book excursions before or on arrival. You may also opt to visit Belize Zoo with over 45 native species, or kayak downriver to spot howler monkeys, iguanas, turtles and exotic birds. Wherever you want to visit and whatever you want to do, our agents can make suitable arrangements to ensure a terrific and memorable vacation.

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Willamette Intl Travel regularly books clients to Belize, and our agents Linda and Pam have had firsthand experience on the ground. Call us at 800.821.0401 or email info@wittravel.com for more information.

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Filed under Central America, Travel by Ship, Where in the World is the WIT Client?

Top Ten Destinations for Diving

photo by Paul Toogood

Did you know that today is World Oceans Day? Officially recognized by the United Nations in 2008, The Ocean Project and the World Ocean Network have celebrated by promoting ecological awareness, community involvement, sustainable seafood events, and other ways to honor the world’s oceans.

Here at WIT, we are celebrating by taking a look at some of the best places to scuba dive around the world!

Cozumel, Mexico

Cozumel is home to the second largest barrier reef in the world, Paradise Reef, a series of interconnecting reefs full of shellfish, crustaceans, and colorful fish. It is also the site of “The Abyss,” a 3000-foot vertical drop that descends into darkness. Lucky divers can catch a sight of the Splendid Toad Fish, endemic to the region.

When to Go: September to May

What to See: orange ball anemones, file-fish, sea turtles, octopi, French angel, shipwrecks, file fish, trunkfish, stonefish, moray eels

Cayman Islands

The three Cayman Islands are great locales to dive around—there’s great visibility, very little runoff from the land, and ample amounts of Caribbean fish and invertebrates. Scuba diving is fantastic all year long on the leeward side of the Grand Cayman, where the waters are protected from wind and waves.

When to Go: All year round, water temperatures range from 80F in winter to 86F in summer.

What to See: Stingray City (a series of shallow sandbars with dozens of rays), Kittiwake Wreck, shallow reefs.

Tahiti

With temperatures between 79F and 84F in summer and visibility down to 120 feet, Tahiti is a great diving destination for the novice and seasoned expert alike. The island is known for its large marine life: from manta rays with meter-long wing spans, to Napoleon fish reaching over 35 kg. There are also several excellent training facilities to get your CMAS and PADI certifications.

When to Go: Year round.

What to See: gray shark, reef shark, sleeper shark, barracudas, dolphins, turtles, humpback whales (July-October), shipwrecks.

Galapagos, Ecuador

The Galapagos Islands boast a marine life as diverse and wondrous as the one on land. The waters are rich in phytoplankton, casting them a deep green shade. But do make sure you are with experienced divers—those currents are not to be trifled with!

When to Go: February to April

What to See: whale sharks, hammerhead sharks, silky sharks, Galapagos sharks, white tip reef sharks, eagle rays, dolphins, sea turtles, sea lions, fur seals, creole wrasse, seahorses, batfish, frogfish—and out of the water, marine iguanas and penguins!

Fiji

The Fiji archipelago is encircled by a huge reef, making shallow lagoons and a plethora of amazing scuba sites. Diving is a major attraction here, with a visibility of 130 feet deep, and warm waters from 77F in winter and 86F in summer.

When to Go: Year Round.

What to See: Astrolabe Reef, Bega Lagoon, Rainbow Reef

photo by Paul Toogood

Bali, South Pacific

The incredible diving in Bali is due to the island’s currents and its rich marine life—with a list of over 600 coral species and 3000 reef fish species. The Indonesian Throughflow is a flow of water that exits from the Indonesian archipelago into the Indian Ocean, carrying organic nutrients, plankton, and larvae that provide a healthy diet for the area’s fish and mollusks.

When to Go: April to November

What to See: Big Bumphead parrotfish, ghost pipefish, cometfish, anemonefish, morays, ribbon eels, octopi, mola-mola, or the ocean sunfish. Tulamben Wall—its purple gorgonian sea fan that stretches over 2 meters in diameter.

Cocos and Malpelo Islands, Costa Rica and Colombia

The Caribbean is home to some incredible samples of sealife. Nowhere else in the world can divers swim with such a plethora of sharks and large fish. Cocos Island has around 20 dive sites, with both shallow to steep options available. Malpelo Island’s main attraction is the scalloped hammerhead shark, which can swim in schools of up to 300 sharks.

When to Go: September to March

What to See: hammerheads, silk sharks, Galapagos shark, whale shark

Great Barrier Reef, Australia

At 2,600 km, this gigantic coral reef system is the largest in the world. It runs along the Queensland coast of Australia, and is composed of around 2,900 reefs and 900 islands. Due to its size, it offers scuba challenges for both amateurs and professionals, and is home to a great diversity of sealife—sharks, dolphins, or a saltwater crocodile if you’re really fortunate!

When to Go: August to January

What to See: tiger sharks, whale sharks, pufferfish, angelfish, surgeonfish, hawkfish, 360 species of hard corals, sea snakes, 6 types of sea turtles, giant groupers, Caribbeam reef shark, nurse shark, saltwater crocodile (rare), humpback whales, dolphins, dugongs.

Sea of Cortez, Mexico

Jacques Cousteau called this sea “The World’s Great Aquarium” due to its biodiversity. This is a great destination for North Americans due to its proximity and size. Also known as the Gulf of California, this strip of water separates the Baja California Peninsula from the Mexican mainland, and shares a coastline of around 2,500 miles.

When to Go: June to November

What to See: marlin, dorado, sea lions, whales, hammerhead sharks, barracudas, shipwrecks, devil rays, cow-nose ray, mola-molas, amber jacks, goatfish, turtles, moray eels, pufferfish, porcupine fish, flute fish, scorpionfish, lobsters, seahorses.

Vanuatu

Vanuatu in the South Pacific is a diver’s paradise—with a vast collection of caves, lava towers, coral mazes, grottoes and wrecks. A chain of 83 tropical islands, it’s a great spot to witness some great underwater sights—including the must-see SS “President Coolidge,” at 22,000 tons, the largest wreck dive in the world.

When to Go: April to October

What to See: SS “President Coolidge,” swordfish, marlins, barracuda, dolphins, unique starfish, dugongs, and Million Dollar Point (a stockpile of equipment dumped by the U.S. military).

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How to be a responsible, eco-friendly diver

  1. Maintain proper buoyancy: greater weight increases drag on your body, increasing the risk of damaging the reef or disturbing the floor
  2. Never touch a creature: touching can remove protective layers of oil or skin and possibly damage the animal. Watch out for the more delicate living coral.
  3. Be aware of your dimensions: Pay attention to what is around you and where you are going—divers operate in terms of front and back, sideways, and up and down. Make sure you keep aware of your surroundings.
  4. Secure your gear: firmly attaching your gear keeps it from banging around or potentially falling.
  5. Leave no trace: don’t leave anything, don’t take anything. Minimize your carbon diver’s footprint, and keep the reef intact.

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Willamette International Travel has worked with a variety of diving companies who tailor their services around your needs. We have sent clients on day excursions, shoretrips and multiday LiveAboard experiences alike in destinations such as Australia, Bahamas, Fiji, Christmas Island, Mexico, Hawaii, Egypt, and more!

Thinking about incorporating diving into your trip abroad? Ask us about some great scuba opportunities! Email our in-house certified diver at pamd@wittravel.com or call us at 503.224.0180.

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Filed under Features, Travel by Scuba