By Leigh-Anne Harber

5 Best Places to Learn to Dive

We all have to learn somewhere and when it comes to diving destinations, these have to be the top 5 best places to begin your new addictive hobby.

Those who are day dreaming about diving in South Africa are sometimes not aware of the fact that we offer a different type of diving. So different in fact, that those who wish to partake in it need both experience as well as the right qualifications for most of the top destinations. This is why it is so important that you learn how to dive before you take to the depths. And the best place to get your fins is to head to any one of these 5 fantastic sites.

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Ko Tao in Thailand

When it comes to diving in Thailand, Ko Tao is considered to be the best place to do it. Beneath the waves, divers can see whale sharks as well as all sorts of interesting tropical fish. Ko Tao is also one of the best places for those who are only just learning to dive. The destination has a number of shallow sites to explore, including the Japanese Gardens and there are a few operators in the area offering lessons for beginners. Ko Tao is great for diving all year round, but for the best visibility it is best to dive between July and September. November and December tend to be rainy months and visibility is severely hampered.

Red Sea, Egypt

Dahab, with its perfect coral reefs, gorgeous beaches and great places to enjoy diving, is a place where both novices and advanced divers will find a lot to enjoy. The area is also well known for its “blue hole”, a diving attraction that has lured in numerous advanced divers. Dahab is the ideal place to learn to dive because it is not the most popular place. In fact, it is situated some 90km south of Egypt’s main dive destination Sharm el-Sheikh. The site offers year round visibility of up to 30 meters. It’s best to not travel between May and September when summer is simply scorching.

Caye Caulker, Belize

The Belize Barrier Reed Reserve System is second only to Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. And its stunning underwater sightings make it the perfect place to go diving. Fees to dive here are pretty low, when compared to neighbouring Caribbean Islands. Divers can look forward to diving here all year round although it is good to keep in mind that the rainy season runs from December to April when the waters can be quite choppy.

Santa Cruz, Galapagos Islands, Ecuador

This spot is at the convergence of three ocean currents and it is home to sea lions, turtles, hammerhead sharks, marine iguanas, and rays. The Galapagos has strong currents and quite cold waters which does make diving here a bit of a challenge. This is ideal for those who have just learned to dive and want to improve on their skills. Again, diving here is generally good all year round, with January to May being the best times.

North Male Atoll, Maldives

The great thing about this diving location is that it has numerous holiday resorts which offer guests the option of going diving. This allows learners to book their dive with their trip. The ocean is home to an interesting, colourful marine life and healthy coral reefs, some of the healthiest in the world. The best times to dive here are between November and April. During this time the ocean is calm and there are plenty of manta rays to see.

Dive the Big 5 offers superb diving in South Africa and Mozambique and guests can look forward to a real once in a lifetime trip.

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By tyla_admin

Interesting Facts You Might Not Know About Diving

Diving is one of those past times that for those who fall in love with it, can never seem to get enough! Any diver knows that it is not just about what you see when you take the plunge into the depths. It’s about the sense of freedom, like the weight of the world has been lifted. Every time is like the first time and many can agree that diving is without a doubt an addictive adventure.

Each diving destination, whether it is in South Africa, Mozambique, Australia or anywhere else in the world, has its own uniquely interesting facts and tremendously exciting things to see. But the act of diving itself is also quite fascinating.

Facts about Diving

  • When divers reach a depth of 10 meters and below, it becomes next to impossible to see the colours red or yellow. This means that if you were to somehow cut yourself while at this depth, your blood would look quite blue.
  • The word “scuba” is not something made up with no meaning. Instead, it stands for “Self-Contained Underwater Breathing Apparatus”.
  • There is such a thing as feeling drunk while diving. It is called oxygen narcosis and it has been known to affect most divers at some stage of their diving. It will generally happen when Nitrogen is breathed in at depths below 25 meters.
  • Sound actually travels quickly when submerged. In fact, it can travel 5 times faster than when above waters. This makes it just about impossible to determine exactly where the sound is coming from which is why sound is not something divers can safely rely on.
  • Each year, between 8 and 12 people will be killed by sharks. This sounds quite alarming right? Well actually, it is a drop in the ocean, pardon the pun, when you consider that humans are responsible for killing well over 30 million sharks annually.
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  • When under pressure, oxygen can become toxic. For this reason, if divers are going down to distances of more than 42m, they will use special gases with lower concentrations of oxygen.
  • Diving injuries, although quite rare, do happen. When officially recorded, they are called “barotraumatic injuries” but these generally refer to broken noses or fingers. Often, these injuries don’t even happen in the water, instead they happen while getting into or out of boats and tanks or weights connect with a diver.
  • The intense colours of the underwater world, as seen in documentaries or underwater photographs are not always a real representation of what is to be expected. This distinct lack of colour is due to the fact that water quite quickly absorbs light and the one colour that disappears the fastest is red. Professional photographers and documentary film makers will often use filters to counteract the effects of the light, giving viewers a distorted idea of what the underwater world looks like.
  • Scuba diving is listed as a risky sport but the facts show that only 1 in 211 864 dives will result in a death.

Discover the wonders of some of South Africa and Mozambique’s finest diving destinations when you embark on a one in a lifetime journey with Dive the Big 5. Book your underwater tour of the great Indian Ocean today.

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By tyla_admin

All about Sunny Sodwana Bay

Once it was a rustic camping site with little more than a tiny café selling the bare essentials. Today, Sodwana Bay is a wildly popular diving site, with coral reefs and millions of fish stealing the hearts of all divers who venture here.

Just a few kilometres south of Mozambique, on South Africa’s northern East Coast, Sodwana Bay is a tiny dot on the map. The name is taken from the Zulu word which translates to “little one on its own”, and the bay forms part of the Greater St Lucia Wetlands Park which has been declared a World Heritage Site. This protected area covers an immense 150 km, stretching from the border of Mozambique to Cape Vidal. The coral reefs found up to 3 nautical miles out to sea are also protected.

While the bay is a wonderful place to have a holiday, given its remote location as well as the fact that most establishments here remain close to nature, Sodwana is best known for offering unforgettable deep sea diving. Home to what is considered the most beautiful coral reefs at this latitude (the reefs are regarded as the southernmost in the world), Sodwana has the honour of being South Africa’s only tropical dive site. This is the destination of choice if you hope to see indigenous tropical fish.

The bay is a mere 4 hours away from Durban, if you are driving, and is also quite accessible on well-maintained roads if you are driving from Johannesburg. Booking a diving trip would generally include transfers, so booking your dive through a dive company like ours will take out the stress and the hassle of planning.

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What you should expect to see

While diving at Sodwana Bay, you can expect to tick a whole lot of interesting sightings off of your list. From an abundance of tropical fish, schools of pelagic fish, moray eels, sponges and both hard and soft coral, divers will be endlessly fascinated by what they come across. At specific times of the years, divers could also encounter dolphins and whale sharks. The reefs, which are the main attraction, are believed to be around 4000 years old and they consist of numerous overhangs, pinnacles and caves.

These waters are some of the warmest you will experience. In the summer months, water temperatures hover at around 24 degrees Celsius while in winter, the temperatures will rarely drop below 19 degrees Celsius. In a nutshell, this is the perfect location regardless of the time of year you wish to go diving!

Visibility is very rarely less than 15 meters, while the diving depths in the area range from between 12 to 50 meters.

Beyond the countless oceanic attractions, the area outside of the water also offers plenty to see and do. The coastline has its own dense forest and it is the perfect escape for nature lovers of all kinds. There are wonderful nature trails, places to go fishing, bird watching spots and shallow water spots perfect for snorkelling.

Quick Tip

Summers are often incredibly hot but they are the best time of the year to visit Sodwana Bay. During these months, the loggerhead and leatherback turtles lay their eggs on the Sodwana beaches.

Book your dive with Dive the Big 5 and discover just why Sodwana Bay is such a popular diving spot.

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By Leigh-Anne Harber

The Best Places to go Snorkelling in South Africa

If scuba diving is not your thing, or should you not yet have the required experience, you can always try your hand at snorkelling and explore the depths from the surface.

South Africa remains one of the African continents best places to enjoy the thrill of deep sea diving. Travellers from all over the world venture to South Africa each year to see the country’s spectacular wildlife as well as the prolific ocean life swimming deep beneath the waves.

Read more “The Best Places to go Snorkelling in South Africa”

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By tyla_admin

Winter Diving in South Africa

South Africa is without a doubt one of the premier diving destinations for divers of all kinds. We are home to countless breathtaking deep diving locations where divers can get up close and personal with some of the world’s most intriguing underwater wildlife.

Diving throughout the year presents the opportunity to see all kinds of different marine animals, and for many divers, winter is the best time of the year to go exploring. Depending on where you go diving, you will need to prepare in different kinds of ways. Most of South Africa’s best diving locations can be found in the warm waters of the Indian Ocean while those wanting to go shark cage diving will have to brave the icy cold waters of the Atlantic Ocean.

South Africa enjoys an almost unbelievable amount of sunlight all year round. There are very few cloudy, rainy days, even when you are diving in the Atlantic Ocean. The Cape area is quite notorious for its cold winters but seeing as you will be beneath the waves, this really makes little difference. The Atlantic is generally quite cold but with the right diving gear, you will be well prepared for the adventure that awaits.

March to June

South Africa, being in the Southern Hemisphere, has its winter between April and August although it only really starts getting cold towards the end of May. During these few months of the year, divers are in for a treat in so many ways.

The most exciting thing to do when you dive in the winter is the Sardine Run. Each year, hundreds of thousands of sardines will swim up the coast, causing a frenzy among divers, fishermen and predators alike. The Sardine Run doesn’t start at any particular time of the year, but generally, the sardines begin to appear in May and disappear as late as September. Those wanting to dive at this time of the year will usually have the option of viewing the Sardines from a boat or from the shore, while there is also the option of diving.

If spotting sharks is on your diving bucket list, then diving at this time of the year will give you the opportunity to see Zambezi Sharks, Oceanic Blacktip’s and Tiger Sharks at the Protea Banks and Aliwal North, Blue Sharks and Mako’s at Simon’s Town, and Great White Sharks at Gansbaai. Spotting Dusky Sharks and Whale Sharks are a bit of a rare sighting regardless of the time of year you visit.

The other diving locations include wreck and reef dives, but they can be enjoyed at any time of the year.

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Choose the Perfect Combination of Diving and Wildlife Safari

At Dive the Big 5 we are the only diving company offering both diving and the safari experience, all in one trip. You can customise your trip to South Africa by combining the two experiences in order to give you the ultimate African holiday. When doing this, you will have the perfect opportunity to spend one day diving in the best locations while the next you can be exploring the wildlife living in the Kruger National Park.

Book the ultimate diving experience with Dive the Big 5 and see the best of South Africa.

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By tyla_admin

Revisiting the Topic of Sardines

Revisiting the Topic of Sardines

The Sardine Run and all of the excitement that comes along with it is just a few months away. We thought that it is the best time to brush up on sardines.

 

  • It is believed that the name Sardine comes from the Mediterranean island of Sardinia, where sardines were abundant in the 15th
  • Sardines are in the same family as Herring, namely Clupeidae.
  • These small oily fish are rich in nutrients and consumed the world over and not only by humans but also seabirds, marine mammals and larger fish. Sardines along with other small pelagic fish account for about ¼ of all the marine fish caught throughout the world.    Most of us know sardines as an omega-3 fatty acid mostly enjoyed from tins purchased at the local grocer, but these fish can also be purchased fresh and then grilled, pickled or smoked.
  • Sardines are also used for commercial fishing purposes or made into fish meal or oil that is used in animal feeds. Sardine oil is also used in the manufacture of paint, varnish or linoleum.
  • Sardines live mostly in the upper layers of the ocean, to a depth of about 200m. At dusk, sardines move closer to the surface of the water and at dawn, they move into deeper water.  This phenomenon is known as Diurnal Vertical Migration.  This means that they follow the light.  Diurnal migration is used as a defence system from predators.  As sardines move to the surface they scatter, and when they descend again they concentrate on forming shoals.
  • Sardines are well camouflaged from predators by their colouring. Their abdomens are lighter than their backs.  Swarming together when predators are closing in on them confuses the predator, as predators are then not sure how big their prey is.  Predators also then struggle to single out one sardine in the group.  Safety in numbers really works for these fish!
  • Sardines live off phytoplankton and zooplankton. They play an important role in the marine food chain as they, by been consumed by larger fish, sea birds and marine mammals, then transfer the energy produced by the plankton to their predators.
  • Although Sardines can live up to an age eight years and measure up to 25cm from the tip of head to tail, they do have a very high mortally rate and rarely reach that age or size.
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Why are Sardines so healthy?

  • Sardines are an excellent source of protein and because they feed on plankton, they contain much less mercury and other heavy metals that are found in larger fish.
  • As the sun becomes a place we avoid, so more and more people are Vitamin D deficient. One can of sardines give you about half of the recommended daily amount of Vitamin D you need.
  • Sardines are a rich source of selenium. Selenium is needed for our bodies to produce glutathione while it is also important for maintaining a healthy thyroid.  Sardines are consumed with their skin and bones, thus making sardines a great way to get 1/3 of the calcium we need in one tin in its most absorbable way.

Spots for the Sardine Run are filling up and if you want to make sure that you don’t miss this year excitement, be sure to book your place today!

By Leigh-Anne Harber

All About the Sea Urchin

Sea Urchins belong to the group known as “Echinoderms” and globally there are about 200 different species found in the oceans.  Preferring warm water, Sea Urchins can be found on the rocky bottom of the sea or close to coral reefs.  They have a general lifespan of up to 30 years in the wild, however, the Red Sea Urchin has the longest lifespan of all and can live up to 200 years!!

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