Your Diving Travel Hall of Fame
Im sure it has happened to you; it happens to me all the time. The question is asked, Whats the best place you have ever dived?
In my years of diving, Ive been fortunate to visit a great many of the worlds most celebrated destinations. So, I think about this question frequently. The answer, though, is always the same; there are so many exciting places, you really cant distinguish among good, better and best. You can only single out a certain characteristic that makes each one unique, at the top of its class and unforgettable.
People dont always relate to this answer. I think new divers visualize one general ideal that is supposed to make a dive destination great. This vision probably includes such things as clear water, large stands of coral, schools of fish and so on. While the worlds top destinations often have these, they arent usually what creates that special sense of wonder that makes a place and its dives so amazing.
What do I mean? As a good example, one afternoon on a live-aboard, we anchored on a 30 foot deep sand flat. There was nothing larger than a few small, dead coral rocks on a sand bottom that stretched for miles. The water wasnt particularly clear. Usually, this would be considered an uninteresting place, with little to offer. In fact, everyone else on the boat concluded just that.
Late that night, the divemaster and I went in, hoping to see some nocturnal shells (many live in sand). To our amazement, the bottom was practically alive with creatures. Trails from Heart Urchins, nudibranchs, crabs and shells criss-crossed the bottom by the hundreds. The entire sandy plain was a huge metropolis, come to life. We were in the water for nearly four hours, while I shot roll after roll of film. There were tiny octopi, Crocodile Snake Eels and more. That dive became one of the best dives, best places on my list of favorites.
You see, it wasnt simply where we were, it was what we experienced while we were there. For those of us who write and photograph for Skin Diver, this sort of discovery is the job. We try to experience a destinations unique essence. Then, we work to communicate that through the pages of the magazine.
All divers have their own Hall of Fame. Those of us at Skin Diver, whose collective dive experience is such that weve probably dived more places than anyone in diving (Skin Diver was, after all, the first magazine to start writing about dive travel, in 1963), realized weve got a good collection of best places and best dives, and we should do something with it.
Well, weve decided to share our list. So weve created an award called the Skin Diver Travel Hall of Fame. Its based on the real diving experiences of Skin Divers editors and writers. It acknowledges those places that have unique and remarkable dive offerings that set them apart from all others. It may be natural phenomena, such as dramatic walls; or a man-made attraction, such as a collection of shipwrecks; or an incredible adventure, such as shark feeds. And, whatever that something special may be, there is also a professional dive community just waiting to share it with you.
Look for the first Skin Diver Travel Hall of Fame award presentation and watch for more to come in the months ahead (well be making in-person presentations at the dive consumer shows around the country throughout the year).
So, what was the best place I have ever dived? Well, Ill narrow it down as much as I can: It was one of those places that gave me an experience Ill never forget. Beyond that, Im happy to say the list is just too long to be able to choose.
Good diving and care for your ocean.