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Eastern Pacific

When conditions are good, diving in California can be as beautiful as any place on earth, albeit a little colder than some. Swimming through a kelp forest on a sunny day feels just like walking through a terrestrial forest. Diving in California can include submarine canyons with sheer walls, rocky outcroppings, wrecks, kelp forest, and open ocean. Accordingly, the wildlife one can expect to see varies just as much.
Divers access this diverse environment via shore diving and by boat. Several "six pack" charters leave from San Diego and harbors in Orange, Ventura, and Santa Barbara Counties. There are also larger liveaboard-type boats. We have had great trips on the dive boat Horizon out of San Diego, which travels mainly to the Southern Channel Islands and Mexico. Truth Aquatics offer diving from three different vessels and primarily take divers to the Northern Channel Islands.
Our favorite places to dive in California are the Channel Islands, a group of 6 off-shore islands stretching from San Clemente in the South to San Nicholas in the North. The water temperature at San Clemente is warmer than most other places in California and the kelp forest can be stunning. San Miguel is probably our favorite Northern California location. The water can be quite cold (high 40's) but the marine life is incredibly colorful. We also travel to the local kelp beds in our 17 foot Parker skiff. Pete knows this area very well after making about 2000 dives here while working at Scripps.


We have been to the Sea of Cortez several times. The first trip involved trailering our boat down the Baja peninsula and camping and diving from shore. The second time was in October 2000 aboard the Don Jose which was chartered by friends. Most of the Sea of Cortez images on this site are from that trip. Although we didn't encounter the large animals that have made this part of the world famous (mantas, hammerheads, and whale sharks) we swam with large schools of jacks, played with the infamous sea lions at Los Islotes, and found many other colorful animals. We also fell in love with the town of La Paz, with it's beautiful bay, friendly people, and terrific margaritas. Bahia de los Angeles, only 9 hours from home, has become a favorite location of ours. The water is pretty murky but many inhabitants are a pleasure to see and photograph. The scenery is amazing and it is a wonderful place to just kick back, read, fish, eat and dive.

Probably the most famous islands in the world, we visited this archipelago in 1998, during one of the biggest El Nino events. The Galapagos was not what we expected due to the exceptionally high water temperatures and high amounts of rainfall. The warm water kept the normally huge numbers of hammerheads in deep water or well off-shore, keeping the number of encounters quite low. We did see our first and only whale shark which still stands out as one of our greatest underwater experiences. Whale sharks are the largest fish in the sea (the one we encountered was a small 14 feet) and use their huge mouths to sweep in tons of plankton for their food. We spent two weeks touring around the islands, including the Northern isolated islands of Wolf and Darwin aboard the Lammer Law, one of the largest trimaran sailboats in the world.
One of the things that made our Galapagos trip one of the best was the outstanding land visits we did almost every day. Our exceptional guides showed us all the animals that the islands are famous for such as iguanas, penguins, sea lions, tortoises, and the myriad species of birds. We also spent several days touring the area around Quito which gave us enough of a taste of South America to make us want to go back and see much more of this colorful region.

Cocos is famous for it's dense populations of large pelagic life such as jacks, sharks (hammerheads, silkies, silvertips and white tips), and whale sharks. Unfortunately, the area took a beating from illegal fishing so populations have been very low at times, including while we were there in January 2003. The diving is very challenging with swift currents on most dives. A private charter with some great people made this an unforgettable trip. We also loved Costa Rica and will return to see more.


We have been to Fiji to dive twice. The first trip was in 1992 where we stayed at the Matagi resort and dove mostly in the Rainbow Reef area. We returned to Fiji in April 2000 and spent on week on the liveaboard boat Nai'a and one week on the Sere Ni Wai. Both boats travel and dive mostly in the Bligh Water region, between the islands of Viti Levu, Vanua Levu and Gau. The visibility was marginal and many corals were starting to recover from El Nino, but the trip was wonderful, and produced my best wide angle scenic images so far. Fiji is most famous for her abundance of soft corals of every size and color imaginable. This trip also gave us our first experience of travelling in a country in the middle of a coup, but we had no troubles whatsoever, and the Fijian people, as always, went out of their way to make us feel at home.

We first visited the Solomon Islands in 1997. Pete's mother was in Guadalcanal during World War II and he had a great interest in the history of the region. I just wanted to dive this area that had a well-deserved reputation as one of the premier dive destinations, especially for photographers. We spent a week on the MV Solomon Sea and a week at Uepi Island Resort, which remains one of our favorite places to stay. I went back in 1998 as a last-minute addition to a trip with Chris Newbert and Birgitte (Deda) Wilms on the Bilikiki. These trips are world famous for photographers as Chris does a 5 day underwater photo course and they go to all best dive sites with photography in mind. Chris and Deda are the most gracious hosts and I learned a tremendous amount during the two week trip. The Solomon Islands does indeed have some of the most pristine coral reefs in the world, and an incredible diversity of marine life.

Like the Solomons, this is another Western Pacific location that resides near the top of the list of the world's best dive destinations and boasts of it's incredibly high diversity of marine creatures. We spent 10 days on the Febrina after spending a few days at Walindi Plantation on Kimbe Bay on the Island of New Britain. This was our first real liveaboard dive trip, and it spoiled us forever. The diving was truly spectacular, and was our first time to swim with and photograph sharks. One of the biggest highlights had to be snorkling with a pod of Spinner dolphins as they rode the bow of the Febrina.
After diving at Kimbe Bay, we journeyed to the highlands and where we spent several days at the Ambua Lodge, which we still rate as the most spectacular place we've stayed. We were able to see how the highland people called the Huli Wigmen lived and enjoyed breathtaking scenery and wildlife.
In 2002 we traveled again to PNG after I won a trip on the Chertan, a liveaboard that concentrates on diving in Milne Bay. This is "muck diving" at it's finest. We did many dives in shallow, silty areas and found some of the most unique marine creatures anywhere. Captain Rob van der Loos runs his boat in a very laid back manner but is great at showing his guests these unusual animals.