How to start a scuba dive business

Guide To Scuba Diving

Guide To Scuba Diving

Many people think that space is our final frontier and that is not entirely true. While it is more difficult to get to outer space, we probably know more about the various planetsand environments in space than wedo about what lies beneath the surface of our oceans.

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How to start a scuba dive business

Learn the three things that your business must do everyday to be successful Discover the salt-sellers secret and avoid the trap that too many start-up businesses fall into How you can make your diving expenses tax-deductible so that the taxman picks up the tab for your adventures. How to identify your ideal customers and then where to find them. Why you dont need expensive ratings, equipment or facilities to start your business. How to use the internet to get free advertising and customers for life. Find out when divers buy equipment and how can you profit from the knowledge. Why a dive shop is the perfect part-time business and how you can take advantage of that knowledge. How buying into an existing business may be perfect for you. How to make commissions with no investment in stock. The advice in this book is not theoretical. Its based on the practical experiences of dozens of diving professionals. Business owners, men and women who do this for a living and make money day in, day out, season after season, doing something that they love. If you want to become a Dive Master or an instructor that greatbut instructors make $10 to $20 an hourwe want you to be making $50, $75 or $100 an hour as a business owner. Thats the skill you need. Because that kind of money can change your life. You can pay off those credit cards. Take your family to nice places. Go on great vacations. You might choose to instruct yourself or hire someone else to do that. Youre in control, its your business.

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On Water Scuba Diving

Most scuba diving is done from boats at some distance off shore, where divers are rewarded with good visibility. Reef, wreck, night, cave and drift dives are available. Some top dive sites include Ilet Pinel, a shallow dive on the island's northeast coast near Orient Bay Green Key, a barrier reef also near Orient Bay and Flat Island (or Ile Tintamarre), known for its quiet coves and sub-sea geological faults. Anse Marcel, on the north side of the island, is another popular choice.

Scuba Diving

The Turks and Caicos have fine scuba diving. The waters are crystal clear. The undersea life is colorful and exotic. Provo is unique among the islands. In fact, the late Jacques Cousteau proclaimed it one of the 10 best dive sites in the world. The reef runs the entire 17 miles of the island's north coast. Northwest Point is a premier wall dive with a vertical drop of some 7,000 feet. On Provo itself, there are a number of companies that can cater to almost every need. A single dive will probably cost you 50. A two-tank dive runs around 75. PADI open water certification costs about 350.

Diving Health Safety Health Requirements

Officially, a doctor should check you over before you do a course, and fill out a form full of diving health questions (see pi87). In practice, most dive schools will let you dive or do a course if you're under 50 years old and complete a medical questionnaire, but the checkup is still a good idea. This is especially so if you have any problem at all with your breathing, ears or sinuses. If you are an asthmatic, have any other chronic breathing difficulties, or any inner-ear problems you shouldn't do any scuba diving.

Please your senses and soul

Take a dive into the wide range of adventure activities such as scuba diving, surf, guad biking tours, sport fishing, mountain biking, horseback riding and white water rafting. You will be able to swim two coasts on the same day, and enjoy light or breathtaking adventures as you are in contact with nature and Costa Rica's fresh air. Whichever option you choose for your pleasant stay, it will certainly be pure natural fun.

Adventures on Water

ing sites in the Berry Islands, there are no dive operators. You take it as you find it. The barrier reefs are spectacular and unspoiled, ideal for scuba diving visibility averages over 100 feet. And there are great underwater photo opportunities. Snorkeling is good almost everywhere, but especially so in the shallows off Chub Cay.

Sights Activities

The following are two of the more reputable dive operations on the island Ploy Scuba Diving ( 0 3864 4212 3 www.ployscuba .com S 9am-5pm) Found at Ploy Talay in Hat Sai Kaew. Ploy also has branches in the Ko Chang Archipelago. Samed Scuba ( 0 3864 4100-3 aopraodivers hotmail.com) Based at both the Ao Prao and SaiKaew Beach resorts.

Biscayne National Park

One of the few aquatic national parks, Biscayne preserves and protects delicate underwater coral communities of colorful fish and marine plants, as well as providing a bird sanctuary on the tropical islets scattered around the bay. The stunning scenery of this undersea world may be viewed through a glassbottom boat, or more directly during scuba diving or

The Best Active Vacations

Scuba Diving in the Poor Knights Jacques Yves Cousteau rated this among the best diving spots in the world. This unique marine reserve has the best of tropical currents sweeping in to make it warm and inviting for a wide variety of tropical species that aren't found anywhere else in New Zealand's waters. See Into the Deep Blue Sea on p. 155. Blackwater Rafting in the Wait-omo Glowworm Caves Daredevils can now go underground to leap off waterfalls slink through dark, damp, underground waterways abseil off Lost World rock faces and do other things in the dark. See Hamilton & the Waikato in chapter 6. Trout Fishing in Taupo They say the fish in Lake Taupo are so big that when you catch one, the lake level drops. The dozens of other rivers (especially world-renowned Tongariro) and streams in the region also have rich pickings for the fisherman. See Taupo in chapter 7.

Eden Roc Resort And

Watersports are everywhere - two heated pools, windsurfing, scuba diving, and every kind of sports equipment, including fishing and diving gear, even chartered yachts. Rooms are newly decorated in a rainbow of teal, lime and violet shades, with Italian marble baths. Several one- and two-bedroom penthouse suites are available, with spectacular wraparound balconies, big-screen satellite TV and whirlpool tubs. All accommodations feature magnificent

Exploring The Islands

SAILING & SNORKELING TRIPS A cheaper alternative to skippering your own yacht around the Whitsundays is to join one of the numerous yachts offering 3-day, 2-night sailing adventures around the islands. You can get involved with sailing the boat as much or as little as you want, snorkel over one dazzling reef after another, beachcomb, explore national park trails, learn to sail if you want, call in secluded bays, swim, sunbathe, and generally have a laid-back good time. A few companies offer introductory and qualified scuba diving for an extra cost per dive. Most boats carry a maximum of 12 passengers, so the atmosphere is always friendly and fun. The food is generally good, the showers are usually hot, and you sleep in comfortable but small berths off the galley. Some have petite private twin or double cabins.

The Northern Beaches a warm blue paradise

Peru's far north coast, between Tumbes and Piura, features superb beaches of white sand and deep blue sea that stretch along a number of bays uninterrupted by bars, points or islands. They are ideal for watersports such as windsurfing, water skiing and scuba diving.The area also has adequate and comfortable hotel infrastructure.

Diving Snorkelling Water Sports

The Andaman Islands are India's leading destination for scuba diving, with world-class dive sites on well-preserved coral reefs, particularly around Havelock Island. Visibility is clearest from December to March or April. On the far side of India, the Lakshadweep Islands offer more coral-atoll diving from mid-October to mid-May. Dive certification courses and recreational dives are also possible in Goa.

Sports Outdoors Activities

If you'd rather see the lake from a boat, the Canandaigua Lady (& 866 9-ANCHOR www.steamboatlandingonline.com) is a replica 19th-century pad-dlewheel steamboat, available for meal and nonmeal lake cruises. From May to mid-September, they depart from Steamboat Landing, 205 Lakeshore Dr. (at the north end of Canandaigua Lake). Fall foliage cruises (mid-Sept to Oct) board at Woodville dock, Route 21 South (south end of Canandaigua Lake). Cruise prices range from 12 to 40. Scuba diving, windsurfing, kayaking, and sailboarding rentals and instruction are available from Canandaigua Sailboard-ing, 11 Lakeshore Dr. (& 585 394-8150).

Dive Accommodation Packages

At Fresh Creek, they offer a flexible package based on double occupancy at a rate of 235- 245 per night, per person, depending on the season. Singles pay a 45 surcharge for a private room, or they can have a private room with a shared bath in a family cabin and then they pay no surcharge. Dive package discounts are offered for stays of seven days or more. Included in the rate is the round-trip transfer to and from the hotel beachfront accommodations three dives per day breakfast, lunch and dinner daily conch fritters and hors d'oeuvres every evening, all bar drinks and beverages ( ) all hotel and food taxes service charges intro scuba diving lessons hot tub, bicycles, sailboat and windsurfer. Complimentary baby-sitting services are provided during the cocktail hour. s 800-223-6961. www.smallhope.com.

Internet Resources

Scuba Diving (www.scubadlving.com) The website of Scuba Diving magazine offers articles on all the Caribbean destinations, with links to dive operators. Also has an active forum. Skin Diver Online (www.skln-diver.com) The website for Skin Diver magazine has links to hundreds of articles about diving in each region.

Activities Water Sports

Traditional touristy stuff like banana rides, paragliding and paddle boats are available at most of the private lidos along the shore. Many also offer waterborne activities, including windsurfing, water-skiing, motorboat-ing, snorkelling and scuba diving. Yellow Fun Watersports (Map p88 2373 4366 www.yellowfun watersports.com) operates from the Portomaso marina, behind the Hilton hotel, and offers a huge menu of activities, including jet-ski rental, yacht charter, self-drive boats, water taxis to Sliema, Valletta or Vittoriosa, and trips to Gozo and Comino.

Sports Recreation

The best beaches in the area aren't on Key West itself and, therefore, this doesn't make the best port call for sun and sand lovers. You could try the beach at Fort Zachary Taylor Historic Site or sign up for an excursion that goes to beaches farther afield. The most popular sports are fishing, scuba diving and snorkeling. All of the operators mentioned under boat tours will also arrange trips for these activities. However, once again, your cruise line will also offer a number of recreation tours.

American West Steamboat Company Itinerary

DINING Casually elegant, with an emphasis on local produce. Don't look for five or six choices on the menu. With the number of passengers on these ships, it's difficult to get too extensive. But nobody ever left the table hungry. ACTIVITIES Not a lot of organized fun and games. Empress and Queen passengers don't require it and don't want it. A lecturer accompanies each cruise, offering insights into the passing scenery and cultures. But don't look for kayaks off the back of the vessel, or scuba diving, or anything of that nature. CHILDREN'S PROGRAM There isn't one.

The Nature of Adventure

Adventure for most people does mean an excursion into the great outdoors hiking, fishing, scuba diving, snorkeling, boating or horseback riding. A large portion of this book is devoted to that type of experience. But here on the mid-Atlantic coast, adventure can mean much more than outdoor recreation. This is an area rich in history and culture, home to some of the most delightful and intriguing towns and cities in the nation. Adventure here can also mean sightseeing. It can mean driving the backcountry roads in search of an exciting new experience. It can mean shopping antique stores, gift shops and craft fairs that abound throughout the region, not to mention some of the finest shopping malls in the southeastern United States. And, for the gourmet adventurer, it can also mean fine dining and luxury hotels.

The Capricorn Coast the Southern Reef Islands

North of Gladstone is Rockhampton and the pretty Capricorn Coast, named after the Tropic of Capricorn that runs through it. Rockhampton is also a stepping-stone to Great Keppel Island, a resort island popular with happy-go-lucky travelers and young Aussies on holiday. To the south, off the town of Bundaberg, lies another tiny coral cay, Lady Elliot Island, which is a nesting site for tens of thousands of sea birds, and has a first-rate fringing reef. Two little-known attractions in Bundaberg are its good shore scuba diving and a loggerhead turtle rookery that operates in summer on the beach. Farther south is the world's largest sand island the World Heritage listed Fraser Island, which can be negotiated only on foot or by 4WD.

Selecting A Dive Operator

That said, it is comforting to know there are many reputable operators in Thailand. PADI is very strong in this country and ensures its facilities are properly run or they lose their affiliation. Both PADI and SSI has in-country offices and representatives that check things constantly. But Thailand's recent boom into tourism and the popularity of scuba diving means there are also a few shoestring operations where proper

Seychelles Best Beaches

Praslin has all you need to decompress and throw your cares to the wind. Prepare yourself for soggy fingers and toes here you'll probably spend as much time in the water as out of it. But if playing sardines on the strand ceases to do it for you, there are a few walks, boat excursions to nearby islands famed for their birdlife, scuba diving and snorkelling that will keep you buzzing.

Le Meridiens LHabitation Le Domaine

These two adjoining resorts are set on the island's northeast coast, tucked into Marcel Cove. Surrounded by a 150-acre nature preserve, they are landscaped with bougainvillea, hibiscus and oleander. Guest rooms, with bright Caribbean colors, include 251 rooms at L'Habitation with garden or marina views and 145 rooms and suites at the newer wing, Le Domaine. Facilities include swimming pools, private white sand beach and shuttle service to casinos, Philipsburg and Marigot. Watersports include deep-sea fishing, boating (motor-boat, sail, power, catamaran and glass bottom), sailing, scuba diving, water skiing, canoeing, jet skiing, kayaking and more. Horseback riding, racquetball, squash, fitness center and tennis also available.

Activities For Everyone

Besides those big stripers, other bass species and catfish are available for the catching at Elephant Butte and Caballo Lakes. New Mexico's largest, Elephant Butte Lake is host to a full range of water sports including water skiing, kayaking, sailing, scuba diving, jet skiing and parasailing. Water skiing, scuba diving, jet skiing, sailing, parasail-ing and much more are typical activities at Elephant Butte Lake State Park. At most of the smaller mountain lakes, only electric powered motorboats are allowed.

Puerto Morelos and environs

Puerto Morelos is a great place for people who want to relax and enjoy the beach without a lot of hoopla. During low season the place is really slow and calm. You can walk a mile up and down the beaches with hardly seeing anyone (and the municipal government does a good job of maintaining the beaches). Even with the opening of several mega-resorts in the general vicinity, nothing much has changed in town because most of the guests in those resorts have little reason to go into Puerto Morelos. Offshore lies a prominent reef, which is protected by the federal government. It's very shallow and offers good snorkeling. It also protects the beaches from the surf and allows lots of seagrass to grow. But the water is as clear and calm as anywhere along the coast, and, because the reefs have been declared a national park, no motorized watersports are allowed, which adds to the town's tranquillity (but windsurfing and scuba diving are permitted). If you're looking for this kind of vacation,...

Outdoor Activities and Sports

Virtually all the tranquil coves around the island are ideal for snorkelling, with plenty of rocks and hidden recesses to explore. A favourite is the cove down from Estellencs (see p50). As for scuba diving, there are several centres, including at Port d'Andratx and Cala Rajada (see pp40-41), offering the gear and boat trips out to the best spots.

Diving in Mauritius Reunion Seychelles

A growing number of travellers come to the Indian Ocean for the mother lode of dive sites, and justifiably so. Though largely overshadowed by the iconic Maldives, scuba diving is increasingly popular in Mauritius, R union and Seychelles. Beneath the clear turquoise waters is a trove of unbelievable riches rainbow-coloured fish and large pelagic species (and yes, sharks are part of the package ), a dramatic seascape, a few wrecks and a host of dropoffs and reefs. It's not the cheapest place on earth to dive (Thailand or the Red Sea it ain't) but it's a great place to learn, and in turn love, scuba diving. Good news bar a few areas, the dive sites are never crowded.

Fun On Off The Beach

Scuba diving is the principal activity here, and this is one of the top dive destinations in Cuba. Over 50 dive sites are located within a 1-hour boat ride of the resort, and many are much, much closer. Visibility is excellent and the waters of the bay here stay calm year-round, making entry and exit a breeze. The place has

India For Thrillseekers

Next, head across the country to Chennai (pl026) to catch a flight to the Andaman Islands (pi 110) for India's best scuba diving. There's more adventure north of Kolkata (p485) -arrange raftingtrips in Darjeeling (p537) or trek Sikkim's Goecha La (p587) for eye-popping views over Khangchendzonga. Finish with something offbeat - canyoning over living tree bridges near Cherrapunjee (p611) in Meghalaya.

Spoil yourselves on

A couple of miles further along the shore you arrive at Southern Wales' Golden Coast - the watersports capital of the region. You can try you hand at all types of adrenaline packed watersports here. Kite surfing, Scuba Diving, Sea Kayaking are all available for you to try, but above all else, the region is best known for its surfing. With breakers crashing straight in off the Atlantic Ocean it's no wonder that Porthcawl's Rest Bay is fast gaining a reputation as the place to be to catch some fantastic waves. This coupled with the fact that this is the closest surfing beach to London means that more and more surfers are choosing Rest Bay over the more crowded and commercialised resorts of South West England.

Suggested Itineraries

Coastline for a week or so, opportunities to sail the clear waters off Cuba abound. The state-run marinas in Varadero, Jardines del Rey, Camaguey, Santiago, Cienfuegos, and Cayo Largo del Sur all offer charter sailboats, as well as a variety of day sailing options. See the individual destination chapters for more information. SCUBA DIVING & SNORKELING There are fabulous scuba diving and snorkeling opportunities on the coral reefs, ocean walls, and ancient wrecks that lie just off Cuba's coasts. Mar a la Gorda, Isla de la Juventud, Playa Larga, Playa Gir n, and Los Jardines de la Reina are widely considered the absolute top scuba-diving destinations, but in each case the accommodations options are either rustic or decidedly geared towards hard-core dive enthusiasts and almost no one else. You will also find perfectly acceptable dive opportunities and operations in Varadero, Cayo Coco, Cayo Guillermo, Guardalavaca, and Cayo Largo del Sur, as well as far more comfortable and varied...

Adrenaline Adventures

Thrill seekers should kick off their action and adventure tour of the west coast of Ireland with a rock-climbing (p266) session on the cliffs of the Iveragh Peninsula in County Kerry. The next day, travel north along the coast to the windy world of Rough Point on the lovely Dingle Peninsula. There, you can take flight with some white-knuckle kitesurfing (p290). Stay firmly on the water next and build your biceps even more with some sea kayaking (p381) at the small town of Kilrush in County Clare. Cross the wilderness of Connemara by mountain bike (p432 and p433) and head for Glassillaun Beach, County Galway. There, go scuba diving (p434) in some of the country's clearest waters and see colourful marine life brought north by the Gulf Stream. Down the road in Leenane, scramble down on foot to Killary Harbour to sail its sheltered waters in a catamaran (p436). Then test your physical strength and endurance nearby on a cross-country assault course (p450) at beautiful Delphi, located next...

Bunurng Marine Coastal Park

Eagles Nest, Shack Bay, the Caves and Twin Reefs are great for snorkelling Eagles Nest, Shack Bay, Cape Paterson and Flat Rocks are also popular scuba diving sites. The Oaks is the locals' favourite surf beach. The Caves is where the dinosaurdigaction is the Bunurong Environment Centre & Shop (p275) runs tours here in January.

Cheap Digs For Divers

Scuba diving is one of Saint Rapha l's biggest draws and a few hotels are set up to provide very low-cost accommodation, often with meals, specifically geared to the needs of divers. They are sometimes very basic but usually friendly and will often make special arrangements or offer deals to diving groups. Local diving clubs recommend these

Tips Peak Time on the Reef

If you're already a certified diver, remember to bring your C card and log book. If you're going to do a dive course, you'll need a medical certificate from an Australian doctor that meets Australian standard AS4005.1, stating that you are fit for scuba diving. (An all-purpose physical is not enough.) Virtually all dive schools will arrange the medical exam for you expect to pay around A 50 (US 33) for it. Remember, you must complete your last dive 24 hours before you fly in an aircraft. This catches a lot of people off guard when they are preparing to fly on to their next destination the day after a visit to the Reef. Check to see if your travel insurance covers diving. The Divers Alert Network (& 800 446-2671 www.diversalertnetwork.

Cotton Bay To Eleuthera Point

The other branch heads towards Banner-man town, where a vastly deteriorating road and dirt track (for 4WD only) leads south to exquisite Lighthouse Bay. Offshore reefs and two small islands are good for snor-keling and scuba diving, but beware strong currents. A short trail leads up to the East Point Lighthouse, the southernmost point of Eleuthera.

Montego Bay Northwest Coast

Some of Jamaica's most remarkable nature spots are within easy striking distance. The snorkeling and scuba diving in the limpid waters of the Montego Bay Marine Park are world class, and the rafting on the Great and Martha Brae Rivers is truly unforgettable. And barely an hour from the resorts - though truly a world away - rolls the eerie hillscape of Cockpit country, Jamaica's most unspoilt (and often impenetrable) region, where the hiking and caving are terrific, and you can take exhilarating horseback rides straight into the sea.

Encore Unearthing Flinders

Only a short fight from Launceston is Flinders Island, which at 60km long by 20km wide is the largest ofthe 52 islands comprising the FurneauxGroup at the eastern end of Bass Strait. This island has beautiful beaches, especially on the western side, and also has good fishing and scuba diving. There's no shortage ofshipwrecks either, some clearly visible from the shore.

In Vanuatu New Caledonia

There are strict depth and time precautions upheld by your dive operator. But the temptation to stay longer at relatively shallow depths is great and is probably the main cause of decompression illness (the 'bends'). Any muscle or joint pain after scuba diving must be suspect. Novice divers must be especially careful.

Kawah Ijen Ijen Crater

rt and culture are strongly bonded to Bali's unique form of Hinduism called Hindu Darma . Classical dance dramas are based on the old Hindu epics of the Ramayana and the Mahabarata, but contain an element of local folklore peculiar to the island. The very soul of Bali is rooted in religion and is expressed in art forms that have been passionately preserved over the centuries. It seems that almost every person is an artist. Whether expressed through beautiful and intricate paintings and dances, extraordinary carvings, superb weaving or even in decorations made for the myriad shrines, the island is live with art. Regular performances of the popular dances such as the legong kraton, the barong kris and the baris dances, easily found throughout Bali. They usually staged for tourist by the village people. The Kecak is performed at night by torchlight. They have managed to preserve their culture despite over whelming foreign influences brought to the region by an ever-increasing number of...

Punta De Manabique Tour Company

FUNDARY also offers a variety of overnight trips. Accommodations are at El Saraguate Eco-hotel near the community of Punta Manabique. This rustic lodge offers comfortably equipped shared rooms with mosquito nets and baths and an area for tents or hammocks. Fresh fish and seafood dinners are outstanding. The beach here is incredible and the lodge offers a variety of aquatic sports, including kayaking, trekking, snor-keling and scuba diving. The basic package includes only accommodations and meals starts at US 75 per person. For more information, contact Estuardo Herrera, Director, Reserva Punta de Manabique, 17 Calle entrada 5ta and 6ta Avenida, Puerto Barrios, Izabal, s 502 948-0435 or 948-0944, e-mail manabique intelnet.net.gt.

The Best of Australia

flaybe we're biased, but Australia has a lot of bests. It's got some of the wildest natural scenery, the weirdest wildlife, certainly some of the most brilliant scuba diving, the best beaches (shut up, California), the oldest rainforest (110 million years and counting), the world's oldest human civilization (some archaeologists say 40,000 years, some say 120,000), the best wines (stop browsing the Napa and come see what we mean), the world's most laid-back people (when they're not from Melbourne and watching Aussie Rules football), the best weather (ignoring the Wet Season up north), the most innovative East-meets-West-meets-some-place-else cuisine all lit by the world's most pervasive white sunlight.

Sunset Reef Lcm David Nicholson

On the right side of the reef you can see the statue of the mermaid in the distance. Amphitrite has been overseeing Sunset Reef for several years now, and has graced the covers of Skin Diver Magazine, Sport Diver Magazine, Scuba Diving Magazine and numerous others. The creation of Canadian sculptor Simon Morris, she is a nine foot tall bronze mermaid, well anchored in 55ft of water. This statue makes for great wide angle photos, with yellowtails and French angelfish coming around to pose as auxiliary models.

The Whitsunday Island Resorts

Long Island Club Crocodile Club Croc is probably the most unpretentious of all the Whitsunday resorts, and its package deals make it popular with families and young couples. It faces a wide, curving bay that has good reef snorkeling. Lots of beachfront watersports await catamaran sailing, windsurfing, surf skiing, jet-skiing, water-skiing, scuba diving, and more. You can join organized activities, like jet ski races, or do your own thing. Entertainment can be anything from a raging dance club to casino games, live bands, karaoke, talent shows, or cane toad races. Other free activities include aerobics, beach and pool volleyball, basketball, table tennis, and tennis. There are also 20km (12 miles) of national park trails where you often see wallabies. There's a kids' playground and a free Kids' Club for 4- to 14-year-olds.

Whitsunday Islands Nearby Reefs Dive Sites

More than 100 continental islands make up the Whitsundays, including the Cumberland Group and the coast from Mackay to Bowen. The Whitsundays appeared as islands when the seas rose after the last ice age, drowning the valleys between the islands. This area is nowa tourism hotspotforsailing,island hopping, holidaying and scuba diving.

Dolphin Resort and Marina

A wealth of sports and recreational amenities are offered for resort guests. Among them are the lagoon-like freshwater pool and waterfall, surrounded by an arbor of trees, plants, exotic birds, fish and flowers and a strip of beach boasting soft white sand. There is complimentary use of the fitness center, a life-size chess set, day sailers, kayaks, and sailboats, as well as rods and reels for fishing and masks and fins for snorkeling. Pontoon and fishing boats can be rented. Canoes and bicycles also available. Arrangements can be made for scuba diving, snor-

Hike Swim Play

Think of Israel and the Palestinian Territories as one big playground. Starting in the south, the main activity is scuba diving and you can do this in Eilat (p345) and Dahab (p377). The area also has some great hikes, including the walk to the top of Mt Sinai (p382) and Nakhal Gishron (p354). You could also spend a week hiking the boulders, cliffs and ancient buildings of Petra (p363). Activities along the coast include kiteboard-ing off the beaches in Tel Aviv (p 164), horse riding near Netanya (pi86) and scuba diving over the ruins of King Herod's port in Caesarea (p210).

For a Roman Emperor

Designated a protected marine area, the Baia Underwater Park featuring archaeology and the environment. Local diving centres are authorised to give tourists guided tours In the underwater park, with scuba diving or boat trips during which you can glimpse the marvels of Roman civilisation In the depths (Alllauro tel. 081 7611004 Associazione Aliseo tel. 081 8545784 Calypso Diving Centre tel. 081 8040314).

Other Activities

Not up for scuba diving but want to get down with the fishes With helmet diving, hoses Cairns is the scuba-diving capital of the Great Barrier Reef and a popular place to attain Professional Association of Diving Instructors (PADI) open-water certification. There's a plethora of courses on offer, from budget four-day courses that combine pool training and reef dives (from 370), to four-day open-water courses ( 470). Five-day courses ( 580 to 700) include two days' pool theory and three days' living aboard a boat. These live-aboard courses are generally more rewarding as you'll dive less-frequented parts of the Reef.

Olongapo subic bay

The biggest attractions are scuba diving on one of the many shipwrecks that lie on the bottom of Subic Bay, or visiting the various attractions tied to local ecology. With a hire car, Olongapo is also a good base from which to explore Bataan, the area around Mt Pinatubo (pi34) and the Zambales coastline (p 138).

Tours Travel Agents

SCUBA DIVING Barracuda Diving India (Goa Marriott Resort, Miramar, Panaji & 0832 246-3333, ext. 6807, or 98221-82402 fax 0832 246-3300 www. barracudadiving.com barracuda vsnl.com) is a PADI-recognized dive center where you can rent equipment or take diving courses and get certified (from beginner to advanced levels). Venkatesh Charloo and Karen Gregory, both master diver-trainers, offer dive safaris south, in Karnataka, where visibility can reach up to 30m (100 ft.). Bookings can also be made through Atlantis Water Sports (see below). WATERSPORTS Most of the upmarket resorts offer a range of watersports facilities. Goa's best-established watersports company is Atlantis Water Sports (& 0832 309-2909 or 98900-47272). Jet-skiing, parasailing, windsurfing, wakeboarding, scuba diving, and other ocean-going pastimes are available from a makeshift structure roughly halfway along the beach between Baga and Aguada (at the foot of Vila Goesa Rd., Cobra Vaddo, Calangute). Just outside the Taj...

Visiting Tobago

Like so many Caribbean islands, Tobago offers an exquisite environment, but it has other major advantages. Until recently, Tobago's tourism industry was relatively undeveloped. There were only a few resort-style hotels on the island, and none were more than three stories high. Numerous small hotels and guest houses dotted the towns, and there was a very low-key feel to the island. Tobago has now found itself on the tourist map, and hotels and holiday villa construction projects are in the works around the island or planned to begin in the next few years. Poised between the quiet life of local people and developing tourism, Tobago is still a very friendly and safe island. There are beautiful beaches, of course, but Tobago offers much more. It is a bird watcher's paradise. It also has the oldest national park in this hemisphere and some of the best scuba diving in the Caribbean for experienced divers.

Enchanting

Like a pearl in its shell, New Caledonia is surrounded by an immense coral reef which protects it from the great depths and swells of the open seas. In this way, the mainland is cocooned in a superb lagoon, the largest in the world, promising innumerable treasures. Native flora and fauna protected in vast natural reserves, variety of species, beauty of underwater scenery, New Caledonia is a blessed marine environment. For diving disciples, it is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful sites in the world. Underwater scuba diving activities offered by professional operators in compliance with international standards are complemented by ocean walking - an experience accessible by most. Free diving also offers a charming and exciting spectacle.

Insurance

Even if you are fit and healthy, don't travel without health insurance - accidents do happen. Declare any existing medical conditions you have - the insurance company will check if your problem is pre-existing and will not cover you if it is undeclared. You may require extra cover for adventure activities such as scuba diving. If your health insurance doesn't cover you for medical expenses abroad, consider getting extra insurance. If you're uninsured, emergency evacuation is expensive.

Itineraries

Between Falmouth and Ocho Rios are pretty landscapes and historical sites. Tour the Green Grotto Caves (pi74), where the Spanish resistance and runaway slaves tookrefuge. Enjoy excellent scuba diving in Runaway Bay (pl72). At Chukka Cove (pi70), choose from tours including horseback rides into the sea.

Staying Active

IN-LINE SKATING The best places to go in-line skating are along the beach-side promenades at Bondi and Manly beaches and in Centennial Park. Manly Blades, 49 North Steyne (& 02 9976 3833), rents skates for A 12 (US 7.80) for the first hour and A 6 (US 3.90) for each subsequent hour, or A 25 (US 16) per day. Lessons are A 25 (US 16) including 1-hour skate rental and a half-hour lesson. Bondi Boards & Blades, 148 Curlewis St., Bondi Beach (& 02 9365 6555), rents skates for A 11 (US 7.15) for the first hour, A 5.50 (US 3.60) for each subsequent hour, and A 20 (US 13) for 24 hours. Ask about a free lesson. Total Skate, 36 Oxford St., Paddington, near Centennial Park (& 02 9380 6356), rents skates for A 10 (US 6.50) for the first hour, A 5 (US 3.25) for subsequent hours, and A 30 (US 20) for 24 hours. Ask about a free lesson. JOGGING The Royal Botanic Gardens, Centennial Park, or any beach are the best places to kick-start your body. You can also run across the Harbour Bridge, though...

Croatia

The formidable Velebit limestone walls, windsurfing off islands like Brac, spelunking in the subterranean caves that honeycomb the karstic landscape, or scuba diving off Vis, Croatia is an ideal venue. For those drawn to more sedate pursuits, Croatia offers numerous resorts along its many stretches of riviera, plus quaint agri-inns in the rural interior, where meandering wine roads are dotted with places to linger over a meal. For those who like to wander, there are leisurely day trips to offshore islands or pilgrimages to a plethora of religious sites. History buffs will revel in the castles, museums, ruins, and churches scattered about the countryside. The past is a living thing in Croatia, where every building, park, and hill has a story that adds to the lore of this ancient land.

Playa Grande

A stone's throw north of Playa Tamarindo, but far by dirt road, is Playa Grande (Big Beach), featuring the Baula National Marine Park, created in 1991. The marine park expanded in 1995 to include the Tamarindo Estuary Wildlife Refuge. Playa Grande is known for the giant leatherback turtles who nest there from October through March. The area also offers tours into the estuary to see crocodiles and mangroves. The leatherbacks, however, are the main attraction. Leatherback turtles get their name because they have a leathery hide in place of a shell. These enormous sea creatures typically weigh more than 275 kilos (over 600 pounds) but can get as big as two meters (six feet) and weigh in at 680 kilos (1,500 pounds). They lumber ashore mostly at night to lay their eggs. One estimate of the world leatherback population was down to 35,000 turtles, 900 of which nest here at Playa Grande. In season, turtle watchers mount platforms along the beach so they don't interfere with the egg-laying...

Outdoor Activities

LAKE CRUISES A delightful way to enjoy Lake Mead is on a cruise aboard the Lake Mead Cruises boat Desert Princess -k (& 702 293-6180 www.lakemead cruises.com), a Mississippi-style paddle-wheeler. Cruises depart year-round from a terminal near Lake Mead Resort (see below). It's a relaxing, scenic trip (enjoyed from an open promenade deck or one of two fully enclosed, climate-controlled decks) through Black Canyon and past colorful rock formations known as the Arizona Paint Pots en route to Hoover Dam, which is lit at night. Options include narrated midday cruises ( 22 adults, 10 children), cocktail dinner cruises ( 46 adults, 25 children), sunset dinner dance cruises with live music ( 58 adults, children not permitted), and Sunday Brunch cruises ( 37 adults, 18 children). Dinner is served in a pleasant, windowed, air-conditioned dining room. There's a full onboard bar. Call for departure times. SCUBA DIVING October to April, there's good visibility, lessened in summer months when algae...

Gozo Comino

The island offers all the attractions of Malta but in a more compact package good walking, a superb coastal landscape and excellent scuba diving and snorkelling, plus history in the form of megalithic temples and medieval citadels. If you're looking for action-packed nightlife you'll be disappointed, but if you're interested in a chance to enjoy warm hospitality and see how the rest of Malta must have been before the advent of mass tourism, you're in luck. A day trip won't allow enough time to sample this tiny island's treasures, however. It's worth scheduling at least a few days here, or, indeed, making Gozo the primary focus of your trip.

Live Aboards

Cathy Church is a legendary name in underwater photography and instruction, and is recognized as one of the world's foremost teachers and authors on underwater photography. She has been photographing underwater since 1967, holds a Masters Degree in Marine Biology and has received numerous awards over the years. She is on the founding board of governors of the newly established International Scuba Diving Hall of Fame, to be housed in the Cayman Islands, and was inducted into the Women Divers Hall of Fame in March 2000. She was also admitted to be a member of the Explorers'Club in 2000.

Diving

Cuba has superb scuba diving suitable for all levels and interests. There are more than 30 dive centers throughout the island managed by the likes of Marinas Gaviota (www.gavi ota-grupo.com), (ubanac n Na tica (www.cubanacan .cu) or Cubamar (www.cubamarviajes.cu). Though equipment does vary between installations, you can generally expect safe, professional and often multilingual service with these operators. Environmentally sensitive div

Diving Hazards

Because the region has wonderful opportunities for scuba diving, it is easy to get over-excited and neglect strict depth and time precautions. Few dives are very deep, but the temptation to spend longer than safe amounts of time at relatively shallow depths is great and is probably the main cause of decompression illness (the 'bends') in the region. Early pains may not be severe and may be attributed to other causes, but any muscle or joint pain after scuba diving must be suspect.

Marine Life

There's a big difference between the sea off the north and south coasts. Along the north coast the sea tends to be more placid, and there are far more reef areas. All the scuba diving at present takes place off the north coast. The south coast has less protective reef, and the seas tend to be wilder. Intrepid surfers have a chance to be explorers here.

Extreme Sports

Several areas specialise in adrenaline-rush activities, the greatest range being available at Bovec, famous for white-water rafting, hydro-speed, kayaking and canyoning - ie sliding down and through waterfalls and gullies in a neoprene wetsuit with the assistance of a well-trained (and licensed) guide. Bovec is also a great place for paragliding in winter you ascend Mt Kanin (below) via ski lift and then jump off. Gliding costs are very reasonable from Lesce near Bled. Scuba diving from Piran is also good value.

Diving Decompression

Because Fiji has wonderful opportunities for scuba diving, it is easy to get overexcited and neglect strict depth and time precautions. The temptation to spend longer than safe times at relatively shallow depths is great and a major cause of decompression illness (the 'bends'). Early pains may not be severe and may be attributed to other causes but any muscle or joint pain after scuba diving must be suspect. A privately run compression chamber is available in Suva but transport

The Authors

Three years ago she honed her skills at yachting, fishing and drinking kava. This time she improved her scuba diving and abseiling, and made sure the local beer still tasted great. I'd spend several days in Vila (p65), doing things that are too expensive and difficult back home game fishing, scuba diving, jet-boating. I'd do the Peletourfora hit of local culture, then head to Mystery Island (p106) to laze on the beaches. The locals are repairing ancient irrigation systems, so I'd poke around there too.

Dreamed Beaches

Costa Rican beaches are surrounded by forests with a vast natural diversity. Many of them also have beautiful coral reefs to dive and explore. Other sites offer activities, such as boat trips through the mangroves, scuba diving, surfing, sports fishing, walks along natural trails, or horseback riding.

Helping the Reefs

In recent years, the pioneering of scuba diving and snorkeling has attracted millions of visitors to the coral reefs, and the pressure on them is starting to show. Studies have shown that on reefs open to the public, live coral cover is three times lower than on reefs that are designated 'no-use zones'.

Dive Operators

There are at least 40 professional dive centres in Mauritius. Most belong to the Mauritius Scuba Diving Association (MSDA 454 0011 www.msda-cmas.org), which is affiliated with CMAS and makes regular and rigorous checks. Most dive centres are also affiliated with one or more of the internationally recognised certifying agencies, usually PADI or CMAS. Many dive centres in Mauritius are hotel-based, but they all welcome walk-in clients. In general, you can expect well-maintained equipment, good facilities and professional staff, but standards may vary from one centre to another, so it pays off to shop around.

The Islands Today

These islands are not for those vacationers who are looking for the high life, nightlife or wild times under the sun. But if you're looking for a week or so of sun, sand and relaxation, or if you're looking for some fine offshore fishing, or scuba diving, then the Turks and Caicos might be just the place for you.

Marsh Harbour

Pelican Beach Villas, a small resort on Pelican Shores across from Marsh Harbour Marina, offers five comfortable, two-bedroom, two-bathroom villas, each with a full kitchen, living room, and private deck on the beachfront. With all the amenities of Marsh Harbour and its marina close by, you'll always have plenty to see and do, from deep-sea fishing to scuba diving, and from boating to hiking. The resort is only minutes away from the airport and ferry dock, where you can take a sightseeing trip around the islands. The rate is 145 per night for one person, 160 for two, and 175 for three EP only. The weekly rate is 975, with an additional 75 per extra person. To make reservations, s 800-642-7268, or write Pelican Beach Villas, PO Box AB20304, Marsh Harbour, Abaco, Bahamas. www.pelicanbeachvillas.com. Abaco Beach Resort & Boat Harbour in Marsh Harbour adjoins Boat Harbour Marina. It's a modern hotel with an extensive range of facilities. The opulent rooms and two-bedroom villas, all...

Diving History

Recreational scuba diving began in the Cayman Islands in 1957, when dive operator Bob Soto brought the concept to Grand Cayman and opened its first dive shop. Up until that time, scuba diving was pretty much only done commercially or for marine research. His move transformed it into playtime for the general public, and is considered to be the birth of Caribbean sport diving. With Mike Nelson and Sea Hunt hitting US television and fueling interest in this adventurous sport, interest slowly grew. Soto also invented the concept of the dive package.

Central Grande Terre

The diverse scenery of the central areas of Grande Terre makes it a fantastic place to explore. It has high waterfalls, mountains, rainforest, beaches, red lateritic mining slopes and rolling plains. You can lose yourself in the silence of a small mountain village, or tribu, and experience that feeling of freedom you find in quiet, remote places. Its wonderful landscapes offer visitors an exciting range of activities from abseiling, quad biking, hiking and kayaking for the more energetic to gentle strolls through quiet forests for those seeking something more sedate. You can also go scuba diving or lose yourself for a day on a small desert island.

Hania Xavia

The Hania region offers visitors a wealth of activities and experiences, from mountain climbing, gorge hiking and scuba diving to lazing on the beach and dining on the day's catch in small fishing hamlets along the coast. Despite having one of the island's top tourist attractions - the Samaria Gorge - Hania for the most part maintains an authentic feel. It is renowned for its rugged natural beauty, and for its many stunning gorges and spectacular mountain ranges, such as the Lefka Ori and Mt Gingilos in the rugged interior. Its capital, the port town of Hania, is the island's most romantic and alluring town, with a rich mosaic of Venetian and Ottoman architecture.

South Central Coast

Undeniably, the beach is the big attraction in this part of Vietnam. Nha Trang and Mui Ne have become the favoured destinations for those whose idea of paradise is reclining by the water, cocktail in hand, contemplating whether to have a massage or a pedicure before hitting the bars later. These sedentary delights are juxtaposed with an excellent array of outdoor activities - swimming, scuba diving, snorkelling, surfing, windsurfing and kite-surfing - making this simultaneously the action capital of the country.

Culebra

Don't come to Culebra unless you enjoy digging your toes into sun-bleached sands on some of the emptiest and best beaches in the Caribbean or scuba diving and snorkeling with Technicolor fish on pristine reefs. This crab-shaped island, halfway between Puerto Rico and St. Thomas of the US Virgin Islands, is so tranquil it too might as well be underwater. And locals would prefer it stays that way, locked in a time capsule. At City Hall, municipal officials still use typewriters. One of the island's major exports seems to be shark-tooth jewelry. The main feature of the post office is a second-floor balcony with rocking chairs.

Diving Snorkelling

There is a string of marine national parks spread out along the coast between Shimoni and Malindi (see p309 for further details), with plenty of opportunities for snorkelling and scuba diving. The better marine parks are those further away from Mombasa. The Lamu archipelago (p356) also has some fine reefs off the islands of Manda Toto and Kiwayu.

Children

Older children and teenagers could find a resort a little confining after a few days and they may get bored. Canoeing and fishing trips might provide some diversion, while a course in sailing or windsurfing could be a great way to spend a holiday. Table tennis, tennis, volleyball or badminton might also appeal. The minimum age for scuba diving is 16 years, but most resorts offer a 'bubble blowers' introduction for younger kids, which is very popular.

Islands

Costa Rica has several islands to enjoy the sun, the sea, and feel the sea breeze. The most amazing one is Cocos Island,declared by UNESCO to be Human Patrimony . It is located 330 miles from Costa Rican territory, and it can be reached by boat in 36 hours. There are specialized operators who will take you to the island where you can admire the natural beauties, go scuba diving, or walk inside the island. This place also has an abundant sea life, like the whale sharks, white-tip sharks, tuna fish, parrot fish, corals, mollusks, or the hammer-head sharks, in quantities that are difficult to find somewhere else. Another popular island is Tortuga Island where you can enjoy the beach and several water sports. There is also Cano Island to go scuba-diving in its crystalline waters, and learn about its Pre-Columbian legacy. You should not miss visiting the islands of the Gulf of Nicoya.that can be reached within a short time. Here you will not only admire the natural riches of this zone, but...

The West Coast

Three huge bites have been chomped from the crumpled coastline of Corsica's west coast with its plunging cliffs, staggering views and glorious coastal driving. The gulfs of Porto, Sagone and Ajaccio, more sheltered than the wilder promontories that separate them, are edged by golden beaches whose shallow turquoise and aquamarine waters offer some of the island's best scuba diving and water sports.

Classic Routes

Spend a day mountain biking (p75), horseback riding (p74) or scuba diving Empty your wallet of pesos in Puerto Vallarta (p63), enjoying world-class dining, shopping and an all-around good time. Pause for a week of Spanish instruction in beautiful La Manzanllla (pl53) or head to Barra de Navidad (pi58) to relax with a book or venture by boat into the lagoon. Drop in to Manzanillo (pl62) for some world-class scuba diving or just to enjoy the ambience of the newly gussied-up downtown waterfront. Continue your beach-happy existence in Ixtapa at tiny Barra de Potosi (pi96), a quiet gem of a town with good scuba diving and opportunities for ecotourism. You should be wonderfully well-rested by now, and ready for the bright lights and resort-town decadence of Acapulco (p203).

Local knowledge

'It's like scuba diving,' he reckons. 'You're in three dimensions. You look down on birds and it's like looking down on fish. There are times when I think I might be able to fly.' He confesses to never having put this to the test. 'I'm not afraid of heights, and I've never had any problems up there. But it does get windy. There

Safety on Shore

Ecause so many cruise passengers can't wait to get off the ship and start swimming, snorkeling, diving or otherwise partake in water sports, the issue of safety while doing so is of considerable importance. Be aware of your own skills and limitations. Take the time to find out about surf conditions at the various local beaches before selecting the one that is most appropriate for your level of ability. Never go snorkeling or scuba diving alone, even if you are proficient at it. Novices should pay particular attention to local conditions. It is best to snorkel in protected waters. Going on guided snorkeling expeditions is a good idea if you are tackling more open waters. And, once again, be aware that coral reefs are sharp

Colombia Shallows

Also known as Colombia Gardens, Colombia Shallows lends itself equally well to snorkeling and scuba diving. Because it's a shallow dive (maximum depth 10m, average 2m to 4m), its massive coral buttresses covered with sponges and other resplendent life-forms are well illuminated. The current at Colombia Gardens is generally light to moderate. This and the shallow water allows you to spend hours at the site if you want, and you'll never get bored spying all the elkhorn coral, pillar coral and anemones that live here.

Easter Island

For many visitors, the moai are the single most definitive image of Easter Island and the whole purpose of their trip. But Easter Island is much more than an open-air playground for mystical types. It is also a great place for a few days' strenuous activity, with scuba diving, snorkelling, horse riding, surfing and hiking all readily available. For such a tiny island, there's a startling variety of adventure options. Savvy surfies seek out the adrenaline-pumping waves that crash on the rugged coast. Diving fiends rave about the crystal-clear waters off Motu Nui. And if hiking or horse riding are more to your liking, there's no better way to discover the ancient sites than on foot or horseback - the perfect combination of nature and culture. But if all you want to do is recharge the batteries, you could simply flake out on a porcelain-sand beach.

Glass Bottom Boat

Located at Rainbow Bend Resort, this is a great option for the diving or snorkeling novice. A shaded, glass-bottom boat with large viewing windows ferries the group out to the reefs, where they have a choice of snorkeling or scuba diving. If you're not certified for diving, and don't necessarily want to be, try the hookah diving (snuba), which allows you to float on the surface or go all the way to the sandy bottom. s 305-289-9933 www.seethereef.com.

Diving Snorkeling

AQUAMARINE DIVE, LTD., Blue Waters Inn, Speyside s 660-4341, fax 639-4416, e-mail amdtobago trinidad.net, Web site www.bluewaters-inn.com. Snorkeling and scuba diving services are available for everyone ranging from novice to very experienced divers. PADI certification courses with four open-water dives cost 450. Advanced courses, such as search and recovery, night and deep diving are also taught. Rental equipment is available. DIVE TOBAGO, LTD., Pigeon Point, Crown Point s 639-0202, fax 6397275 639-2727. Right next to the Conrado Hotel, Dive Tobago will give you a three-hour Resort Course for 55. It includes hours of instruction by the shore, followed by a 1 -hour trip to a nearby reef with a fully trained diver. You'll not be left alone, so it is safe and a wonderful way to learn if scuba diving is for you. Each person is taught individually, and receives a dive master-signed certificate stating they've completed a resort course. Dive Tobago was highly recommended by an English...

Tobago

Tobago has many long established and very professional scuba diving and snorkeling shops. New ones are coming on the scene as word has spread of the unique dive sites in Tobago. There are also innumerable land tour guides, though you should exercise some care in your selection. There is much to see on the island and much to learn, but we were not always impressed with the guides' training and expertise. Though friendly and entertaining, they did not seem particularly knowledgeable about local plants, animals or birds.

Water Adventures

Vincent & the Grenadines and Grenada offer wonderful opportunities for scuba diving. There are many dive sites, wrecks and coral reefs with good visibility and easy access. Most islands have at least one dive operator and offer instruction courses. Several resorts have their own dive shops and operators. National Association of Scuba Diving Schools - NASDS

The Grand Strand

The so-called Grand Strand starts at the Little River on the Atlantic coast near the North Carolina border and runs some 60 miles south to the Santee River. Along with the coastal communities, it also includes several inland towns Loris, Conway, Andrews and Georgetown. On the coast itself lie Cherry Grove, Windy Hill, Atlantic, Pawley's Island, Murrells Inlet and, of course, Myrtle Beach. The coastal scenery is beautiful almost everywhere, spectacular in some areas. Here, anglers find the action outstanding, golfers do as well, you can go snorkeling and scuba diving, hiking, sailing, swimming, birdwatching and observing turtles. The shopping, too, is exceptional and, for those to whom a grand meal means adventure, there are restaurants galore.

Ocean Grove

Ocean Grove, 3km northeast of Barwon Heads and 12km west of Queenscliff, is the big smoke of the Bellarine Peninsula, where folks come for their supermarket and department-store shopping. There are some good surfing breaks around here, and some good scuba diving and snorkelling spots beyond the rocky ledges of the bluff.

US Virgin Islands

St John is the greenest island, literally and figuratively. It cloaks two-thirds of its area in parkland and sublime beaches, ripe for hiking and snorkeling. It also leads the way in environmental preservation, with limited development and several low-impact tent-resorts for lodging. Dizzying cruise-ship traffic and big resorts nibbling its edges make St Thomas the most commercialized island. St Croix is the odd island out, located far from its siblings and offering a mix of rainforest, sugar plantations, old forts and great scuba diving. Its economy is not based on tourism, which makes it feel even more off-the-beaten path.

Solo Travellers

Solo travellers have endless options for activities to keep busy. Though hiking alone is not a good idea, you can sign up for a guided group hike, which can also be a good way to get to know other travellers. Boat cruises, bike excursions, scuba diving trips and Spanish classes are other options.

Information Books

Comprehensive guides that give good descriptions of both scuba diving and snorkeling sites, along with information on local dive operators, include the much-revered Best Dives of the Caribbean by Joyce Huber, and The Complete Diving Guide The Caribbean series by Colleen Ryan and Brian Savage. Lonely Planet's Diving & Snorkeling series includes guides to Bonaire, Cayman Islands and the US Virgin Islands. Anyone curious about marine biology should check out Paul Humann's series on fish, coral and invertebrate identification. Titles include Reef Fish Identification Tropical Pacific and Reef Creature Identification Florida Caribbean Bahamas. Budding underwater naturalists will also want to arm themselves with Scuba Die. Caribbean Sea, a nifty underwater dictionary - printed on waterproof paper - detailing a variety of fish, plants and invertebrates, with corresponding photos.

Sights

Puerto Vallarta has amazing natural scenery and a growing number of cultural attractions. Beaches remain Vallarta's main draw, and many visitors have no desire to leave the warm sand. Restless souls need not go far to find activities such as swimming with dolphins, bungee jumping, mountain biking and whale-watching. Snorkeling, scuba diving, deep-sea fishing, water-skiing, windsurfing, sailing, parasailing, and riding the 'banana' can be arranged on the beaches in front of any of the large hotels or by making arrangements with the tourist office.

Hoover Dam Lake Mead

Out in Boulder City, and then perhaps drive back through the Valley of Fire State Park (a landscape of wind and water-hewn formations of red sandstone described later in this chapter), which is about 60 magnificently scenic miles from Lake Mead (purchase gas before you start ). Or you can spend the afternoon on Lake Mead-centered pursuits such as hiking, boating, even scuba diving in season, or perhaps a rafting trip down the Colorado River.

Tabarka

Just 22km from Algeria, the port town of Tabarka sits at the western edge of a beach-fringed bay, south of a rocky peninsula crowned by an imposing Genoese fort. Renowned for affording Tunisia's best scuba diving, its focal point is the marina, which serves both pleasure craft and fishing boats -the latter bring in the fresh fish and seafood served around town. During July and August Tabarka hosts four fabulous music festivals.

Ekpizo

You should take out comprehensive travel insurance covering you for private medical treatment and for evacuation if necessary, as well as for loss or theft of belongings and expenses incurred due to delayed or cancelled flights. Make sure your policy will pay for medical and hospital fees direct and that it covers you for holiday activities such as trekking, scuba diving, riding, and motorcycling, as well as for personal liability in the event of damage to rented cars or motorcycles.

Green alongside blue

Catalonia is a Mediterranean land and its history has been shaped by the sea. The coast is 580 kilometres long and runs from Cap de Creus in northern Catalonia to Terres de I'Ebre to the south. The imprint of the sea is one of the major traits of Catalonia's character and sailing activities are a great way to discover it. All along the Catalan coast there are many natural places that are essential for Southern Europe's fauna, including the Delta de l'Ebre Nature Park and the Emporda Marshes -two of the largest bird habitats on the Mediterranean or the Illes Medes Marine Reserve, a spot that is vitally important owing to its seabed, and which constitutes one of the foremost places in Europe for controlled scuba diving.