The Ultimate Dive Sabbatical With Original Diving
A leading tour operator has a special division creating money-no-object diving trips. Here’s a recent itinerary
For most of us it is a problem we mull over on the bus on the way home, or to help us drop off on a sleepless night: just what is the ultimate dive sabbatical? Where would you go, what would you see, and in what order? But for some, it is more than daydreams. There is a growing demand for bucket-list sabbaticals, from the stressed-out super rich to those who have cashed in their property equity and seek the adventure of a lifetime. So much so, that London-based tour operator Original Diving has launched a special division to cater for those booking long breaks, undertaking the complex research and planning needed to put together a money-no-object, bucket-list-busting dream dive itinerary.
Tom Barber, founder of Original Diving, said: ‘Clients are increasingly coming to us seeking advice for longer trips where they can truly switch off, relax and reconnect with their surroundings. We’ve organised sabbaticals of all shapes and sizes, from once-in-a-lifetime trips spanning several countries, to people wanting to delve a little deeper into a destination, whether it be learning a new skill or giving back to the environment.
'Our specialists have visited more than 160 different countries, speak 15 languages between them, have in-depth knowledge of local conditions, and are well-versed in creating complex, logistically demanding itineraries to tick off the bucket list. From organising the coolest encounters per continent, to optimising your chances of encountering the big star animals such as mantas and whale sharks – and organising all the practicalities – we get quite a buzz about making these dream trips come true.’
Here’s one itinerary its team of dive specialists recently arranged for a couple of demanding divers:
Starting in late February, the divers would head to the Seychelles for a fortnight on the luxury island of Alphonse, taking in the remote Aldabra Atoll – the world's second largest. Next comes a direct flight to Indonesia by way of Jakarta, followed by a local plane to Sorong, to board a chartered yacht to explore Raja Ampat at their leisure. The liveaboard would meander down to the Forgotten Islands, then on to Alor, and finish in Komodo.
Next on the list is the Philippines for the dry season in April, diving with thresher sharks in Malapascua followed by some glorious muck diving at Dauin, just as the annual frogfish invasion takes place. At the end of the month, it would be an easy flight to Papua New Guinea to reconnoitre the outer reefs at Tufi at the start of the dry season – and hopefully find some schooling hammerheads – before a short flight across the Solomon Sea to visit Walindi Dive Resort in Kimbe Bay, New Britain, for some world-class seamount diving.
Another short flight to the Solomon Islands would see the divers spend 10 nights aboard the Bilikiki and enjoy 50m-plus underwater visibility, Second World War wrecks, and stunning marine life.
Next it would be back to Port Moreseby for a direct flight to the notoriously difficult-to-get-to Chuuk Lagoon, for even better war wrecks aboard the Odyssey liveaboard, with its knowledgeable crew. Stopping over in Guam, our divers would then head to Palau during the full moon, to witness the mass spawning events and enjoy a spot of black-water diving aboard the Palau Siren. After a few days of urban R&R in Tokyo there is a vast leap across half of the Pacific to Tahiti, the travellers may be lucky enough to see the first humpbacks arriving from Antarctica. Whatever happens, they will be able to enjoy the stunning channel diving at Rangiroa and Fakarava, undoubtedly some of the best shark diving in the world.
Now into June, a direct flight from Papeete in Tahiti would take the divers to Los Angeles, followed by a short hop down to Cabo San Lucas in Baja California, Mexico,
to embark on a liveaboard heading to the Revillagigedos, for peak baitball season and encounters with oceanic manta rays. This would be followed by a chance to chill out in Tulum on the Yucatán Peninsula, and take a few dives in the crystal-clear fresh water of the cenotes.
Finally, time to end the trip with a bang, with a liveaboard trip to the best high-energy sites of the Galápagos to find schooling scalloped hammerheads, pregnant whale sharks, frisky sea lions and marine iguanas!