St Helena, sitting out in the Southern Atlantic between Africa and South America, is one of the most remote diving destinations in the world. Its location in this vast ocean means that the coastline has been carved out by the forces of nature. Above water, forests give way to plunging cliffs and underwater giant steps, caves and caverns have been carved out of the stone over millennia.
For divers, this means that there are great places to explore, with overhead swim-throughs and dramatic seascape providing the backdrop to most of the dives here.
The thing that strikes you when you slip into the water in St Helena is the sheer abundance of marine life. The waters are protected from over-fishing and it shows. It has been a long time since we have dived a destination so full of life. Octopus, eels and crustaceans take shelter in every crevice. Schools of fish seek shelter under the overhangs and in the caverns. Between January and March, large numbers of Whale Sharks aggregate in these waters. Dolphins surf the waves in their hundreds, while mobula rays cruise below and humpback whales come here to calf. All this, and you will be in the water with only a handful of others on any dive you do!
The sheltered caverns that have been carved out of the rocks provide shelter where more delicate species can thrive and divers are warned to be careful not to disturb this precious ecosystem.
Flights into St Helena are via South Africa on Airlink and in peak season (Jan-Mar) you can now fly from either Johannesburg or Cape Town, making this a perfect opportunity to plan a longer dual destination trip. St Helena offers divers the chance to get off the beaten track and try somewhere very few divers have ever explored. Whale Sharks, wrecks, a diver’s playground created by Poseidon himself – there is lots to love on this island.
To read more about our trip you can pick up the latest copy of Dive Travel Adventures or read it online by clicking here.
For more information visit:
St Helena Tourism: www.sthelenatourism.com
Dive Saint Helena: www.divesainthelena.com
All images and text by Nick and Caroline of Frogfish Photography.
- Olympus OMD EM-1 MKII
- Nikon D800
- Nauticam Housings
- INON Strobes
Jeff chats to… Esther Jacobs from Fire Island Conservation in Mozambique (Watch Video)
In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Esther Jacobs from Fire Island Conservation – Mozambique.
Once ravaged by poachers, Ilha do Fogo is now the centre of conservation on the north-east coast of Mozambique. Soon, it will be opened up as an exclusive, luxury retreat, focused on scuba diving and eco-tourism. You can read our story on this HERE.
Find out more at www.fireislandconservation.com
Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.
Diving Mauritius in 2022
Mauritius, a dive destination in the heart of the Indian Ocean
Britain is, hopefully, winning the battle against COVID, and Mauritius is waiting with open arms to welcome divers from the UK to enjoy our magnificent Indian Ocean reefs. After the dramatic crash landing of the 300 metre bulk carrier ship Wakashio the island is fully restored to its pristine glory.
From the moment you arrive, you are among friends. English, French and Creole speaking, Mauritius has the best of many cultures. British, since from 1815 until 1965 Mauritius was administered by Britain, who took over from the French so the French flair and culture has remained, and the gentle influence of the dominant Hindu religion creates a harmony that makes it a wonderful, serene place to live. I wake up every morning to the scent of frangipanni outside my window, and walk down to the beach with my dogs, where we swim in the palm fringed lagoon. The air is clean and fragrant, with a whiff of cinnamon, a breath of curry and a hint of expensive sunblock.
You check in, and its time to explore. There is a wonderful site called https://bryandiscoversworld.com/blogs/ that will show you around Mauritius, so you can plan after diving activities.
Then its time to go to the dive centre, which is 800 metres from my house. We meet at 8.30, so I have plenty of time for breakfast. The dive centre is clean, well equipped and hospitable, with a coffee shop on the premises that serves food as well. Most diving centres in Mauritius are similar.
We are greeted at the front desk by a knowledgeable young woman who asks us to complete a qualification and health questionnaire. Mauritius diving centres like to be sure they provide the most appropriate service. If you travel alone and need a buddy, they will provide one. If you are nervous after a long break, they will gently assist you through a lagoon refresher session. If you want strong currents and drifts they will make sure these are part of the planning for your visit. Best of all, Mauritians love to dive, and it shows in their passion to show you their fabulous undersea world.
Diving in the North is year-round, with excellent visibility, plentiful variety and easy boat access. Many of the macro reefs are within five minutes from shore. But the best diving and most pristine reefs are to be found on the Norther off-shore islands. We dive with sharks in circling washing machine waters in cathedral- like hollowed out caves.
We dive on Djabeda, a coral encrusted wreck that was deliberately sunk and lies at 30 metres. Or the Silverstar, and advanced dive at 40 metres, where batfish shoals hang out.
We dive the spectacular drop offs on Coin de Mire Island, where sea fans and butterfly fishes abound. Rays and turtles, huge shoals of fusiliers, blue banded snappers and glow fish blend with white and yellow goatfish on many of the reefs.
We dive a reef 3 minutes from the dive centre where morays are plentiful, and there are at least 11 species on one of the reefs, some un-described. Look out for the beautiful lionfish and scorpionfish, there are some species here that are very rare indeed.
The West coast has an abundance of rays dolphins and whales, but care has to be take if you want to book diving there. The bulk of the Mauritius rivers drain into the ocean on the West coast and visibility can be poor to very poor.
The East and South coasts also offer excellent diving, but again, care has to be taken with booking dive packages as tide, wind and weather can be a prohibiting factor.
Most dive boats are comfortable, and all are registered and licensed with the Mauritian Tourism Authority, so there are few cowboys, and every dive centre must show its credentials on its walls.
This is the best time to book diving in Mauritius, where a wealthy First World environment meets Third World pricing for dives. The Mauritian diving industry is way behind the curve and has not yet registered that paying £150 for a 10-dive standard package is way lower than the norm for first class boat diving. Accommodation prices vary from £20 a night for a registered basic studio apartment, to £ 100 plus a night for 4- and 5-star resorts, all within easy distance of the dive centres. Its worth noting that apartments are booked by the room and can in some cases sleep up to 3 people.
You need a vaccination card, and a negative PCR test taken 72 hours before boarding. Flights are around 11 hours, and subsidized by the Mauritian government so shop around.
Words: Jill Holloway
Copyright Ocean Spirit Ltd
Images by Chris Sleap and Gunter Haag