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Travel News Dominican Republic

The eastern half of the island of Hispaniola, shared with Haiti, to the east of Cuba, the Dominican Republic is the Caribbean’s most popular tourist vacation destination. Over 6 million tourists normally arrive annually to visit its beaches, explore its mountains and lakes, and absorb its colonial splendor. Tourism accounts for over 11.5% of its GDP and is key to the local economy.

Paraíso, Barahona, Dominican Republic - photo courtesy of Anthony Lebron, Unsplash

Paraíso, Barahona, Dominican Republic

Famous beach resorts include Punta Cana, La Romana, Boca Chica, Sosua, Puerto Plata, Playa Dorada, Cabarete, Las Galeras, which offer many affordable accommodations, include all-inclusive options that are popular with European and North American visitors. Elsewhere there is the Eastern National Park and Lake Enriquillo, where you can see crocodiles and many species of birds, and the Samaná Peninsula and Silver Bank, which humpback whales migrate to every year to calve and feed. Santo Domingo, the coastal capital city, is also worth a visit as it is home to many fascinating architectural treasures, such as the First Cathedral of America – the oldest cathedral in the western hemisphere, its historic ‘Zona Colonial’, its museums and other buildings that date back to the times of Christopher Columbus. The Dominican people are also key to the popularity of the country, being a friendly mix of African, Spanish and Indian descent.

The tourism industry was abruptly halted on 1 March 2020, when the first known case of COVID was confirmed. The first death was recorded on 16 March. A state of emergency was declared the next day, all schools were suspended, and national borders were closed 19 March. Night time curfews of up to 13 hours per day were imposed, which were protested by many in Santo Domingo. However, its strict protocols and strong public healthcare sector appeared to have to desired result, and the Dominican Republic re-opened its international airports on 1 July 2020. The tourist sector report latest hotel occupancy at 85%, clearly demonstrating that there is tourism life after COVID.

Other marine creatures you could see are dwarf sperm whales, Atlantic sailfish, and various dolphin species – bottlenose, spinner, Risso’s and Fraser’s. Water temperature is 78-80°F / 25-27°C. A 3 mm wetsuit is recommended.

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Latest Travel News for Sudan

Located on the shore of the Red Sea, south of Egypt in north east Africa, Sudan is a large country steeped in history. Places like the ancient city of Naqa, Meroe and Kerma in the Sudanese City, stand as testaments to the greatness of the once great kingdoms of Napata and Nubia. Then there is the iconic Suakin, and the main cities of Khartoum and Omdurman on the banks of the Blue Nile and White Nile. In the south of the country, the climate is much wetter and the lands are dominated with grassed plains. Here you can explore Dinder National Park to see some of Africa’s most famous wild animals such as lions and antelopes.

Ancient pyramids of Meroe, Sudan

Ancient pyramids of Meroe, Sudan

In the highlands is the resort town of Arkawit, where visitors can escape the equatorial heat and enjoy hiking trails. Along the eastern coastline, lie Tawkar and Port Sudan, where scuba divers come to enjoy the little explored reefs and wrecks of the Red Sea and Sanganeb (Marine) National Park.

Despite being a very hospitable place, Sudan has some substantial problems that have hampered the development of tourism in the country. It ranks 181 in the list of richest countries in the world by GDP, so the government has never prioritized tourism. Many rich countries advise against travel to Sudan due to the risk of crime, terrorism, civil unrest, kidnapping, and armed conflict. Indeed much of the country has been gripped by civil war for the past 40 years. Darfur and all border areas, apart from the Egyptian border, remain very dangerous places to visit. Even so, over 800,000 visitors arrived in 2018, and tourism still contributes 4% to GDP.

Finding flights to Port Sudan can be a problem, but experienced intrepid explorers should be able to connect through Egypt, Turkey, UAE, Saudi Arabia, and a few other countries.

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Turks and Caicos Latest Travel News

The collection of Caribbean islands known as the Turks and Caicos are a beautiful holiday destination. Providenciales (known locally as ‘Provo’) is the most developed island in the country. Here you can find the picturesque, aquamarine lagoon of Chalk Sound, dotted with numerous green-topped rocky islets which you can explore by kayak or paddleboard. Also on Providenciales is the beach of Grace Bay is renowned as one of the best in the world, and the rugged coastline of East Caicos and Middle Caicos make for some spectacular natural scenery along hiking trails. The 24 km of underground caverns known as Conch Bar Caves on Middle Caicos is one of the largest cave systems in the Caribbean. Grand Turk Island is a very popular port of call for large cruise ships, where guests may choose to visit the capital CockBurn Town, the national museum, or play with stingrays at Gibbs Cay.

Scuba diving is the major attraction of the Turks and Caicos. Lying next to Bahamas, on the edge of the Gulf Stream, the islands are perfectly situated to have plenty of pelagic visitors. This means the dive sites plenty of underwater action, with big schools of fish and plenty of big sharks. In fact, along with the Bahamas, the Turks and Caicos Islands are known as the shark capital of the Caribbean, French Cay is the place to be to see something special, such as hammerheads, bull and tiger sharks, lemon, and nurse sharks. Providenciales and West Caicos have some of the best walls in the Caribbean, and here you can see dolphins, whale sharks, eagle and manta rays, as well as whales.

Local island housing, Turks and Cacos - photo courtesy of Jay Cee, Unsplash

Accommodation on Turks and Cacos

The economy of the Turks and Caicos is based on tourism, offshore financial services, and fishing. Tourism accounts for 70% of GNP and just over 1.5 million visitors arrived in 2019, mostly from the USA. This ranks it 13th in the list of most popular countries in the Caribbean. However, the COVID pandemic wiped out international tourism in 2020-21 and this badly affected the lives of many people living here. The first confirmed case arrived 23 March 2020,[and within 4 days the police made a mandatory stay at home order and curfew. The first death occurred on 5 April. All airports were closed 15 May, together with the cruise port in Grand Turk. There have been 2 major waves – February and September 2021 – when cases rose to around 400 per day. To date there have been just 2,700 cases and 20 deaths. This ranks it 103 in the list of countries with most deaths per capita – very low. Currently 65% of the population have been fully vaccinated.

Our liveaboard cruises in the islands of the Turks and Caicos have been operating since July 2020, making them one of the most popular choices for intrepid scuba divers. These tours operate all year round apart from February and March (when the yachs move to the Dominican Republic to snorkel with the humpback whales at Silver Bank). Why not take advantage of the COVID-related special offers, fly in and check out this shark diver’s paradise?

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Latest Saba Travel News

A little known Caribbean island and special municipality of the Netherlands, Saba has remained largely untouched by the passage of time. Being 5 square miles of rocky, dormant volcano, it is a beautiful spectacle, above and below the waterline, and it retains a safe and friendly atmosphere in its small settlements with a population of just 1,500 people. The island has 15 marked hiking trails – from moderate to strenuous, where visitors can explore tidal pools, rolling hills and wooded areas. But most visitors come to explore its underwater riches.

The Caribbean island of Saba

The Caribbean island of Saba

Tabacon Hot Springs, Alajuela[/caption] The volcanic nature of Saba creates some great scuba diving, with over 30 marked sites. There is diverse structural topography and the Saba Marine Park was created to protect this unique range of habitats. There are deep water pinnacles and drop-offs, sloping reefs and shallow coral nurseries, lava labyrinths, and, rather unusually for this part of the world, excellent muck dive sites. Sharp-eyed divers can find flying gurnards, lobsters, frogfish, conch and lizardfish. Elsewhere whale sharks, manta rays, eagle rays, hammerhead sharks, and even humpback whales are seen. Overall, there is excellent fish diversity, with 400 different recorded species.

Around 11,000 international tourists visit Saba every year, mostly from the USA and the Netherlands, and they play a critical role of the local economy. The COVID crisis of 2020-21 therefore had a devastating impact on the island. Upon news of the outbreak around the world, the governor of Saba took the precaution of closing the airport, harbours and schools, because the inhabitants of the island are rather exposed to health risks since the local medical facilities only have 8 beds. Even still, the first known case of COVID was confirmed on 12 April 2020. By 8 May the island began re-opening, but with social-distancing to remain in place, together with the prohibition of large gatherings (not likely in Saba, in any case!). So far the island has reported just 11 cases and no deaths.

Dive The World offers Saba liveaboard cruises to dive at this unique island. Normally these trips would visit both St. Kitts and Saba. However, due to current COVID regulations, they are restricted to just diving at Saba. Guests must meet the St. Maarten entry requirementsOpens in a new window, which the boat uses as its port. These include PCR tests, insurance, and health form applications. St. Kitts cruises is expected to re-start in January 2022.

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Travel News Palau

The island nation of Palau lies in the Pacific Ocean and forms part of Micronesia, with Philippines to the northwest and Indonesian Papua to the south. Their natural beauty and geographic location are the chief attractions here. Comprising more than 500 small islands, the most popular drawcard in Palau is diving. The country is located on the edge of the Coral Triangle so the coral reefs and marine life display stunning species diversity. The government has banned all fishing in all its territorial waters thus preserving the health and attractiveness of the underwater environment for scuba divers and other users.

Liveaboard cruising in Palau - photo courtesy of Rene Paulesich, Unsplash

Liveaboard cruising in Palau

Another excellent activity is snorkelling in Jellyfish Lake – an evolutionary oddity where the millions of jellyfish have evolved exclusively within the lake to be totally stingless. It’s quite an eerie sensation to swim in waters so thick with jellyfish. Located close by are the rock Islands, a series of mushroom shaped limestone islets with spellbinding lagoons that nake incredible scenery. The azure waters, light grey walls, topped with verdant green foliage, create perfect photo subjects. In the south of the country lies the historic island of Peleliu, where you can explore various Pacific World War 2 sites, and even dive among the wrecks.

Tourism is incredibly important to the Palauan people. Revenues contribute an incredible 45% to the GDP and the country ranks 26th in the numbeer of tourist arrivals per capita, which is a staggering 5.2 tourists per citizen. With news of COVID spreading around the world, the Palauan government responded proactively, first by suspending flights with China, Macau and Hong Kong in February 2020, then with a total flight ban in March. Schools were closed in April, and a 14 day quarantine was introduced for all non-resident arrivals. Amazingly, Palau has already set up a “travel bubble” with Taiwan (allowing travel between the 2 low risk countries) before the first case of COVID hit the country on 31 May 2021, more than a whole year after the pandemic started. Only 2 cases and zero deaths have so far been recorded in Palau.

We hope you can join us soon to enjoy the shark- and fish-rich waters of Palau, and to kickstart the lives of the Palauan people once again.

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Latest Travel News for Mexico

Bordering the USA to the north at the spectacular Copper Canyon and connecting with the Central American countries of Guatemala and Belize to the south, Mexico’s unique geographic position lends it some remarkable diversity. The Gulf of Mexico runs along ,uch of its eastern coast, and the Caribbean Sea laps the eastern seaboard of the Yucatan Peninsula. The western coast forms the boundary of the Pacific Coast, but the long peninsula known as Baja California also creates the marine haven of the Sea of Cortez. Effectively a bridge between continents, Mexico is a country rich in its own cultural heritage, but its influence in the cultures of its neighbors is clear. Cultural attractions include Mexico City, Guadalajara, Guanajuato, Morelia, and Oaxaca.

The Cabo Arch, Bay of San Lucas, Baja California - photo courtesy of Christopher Kuzman, Unsplash

The Cabo Arch, Bay of San Lucas, Baja California

Many tourists come here from North America for the warm weather and beaches during their cold winter, and the spring break student parties in the coastal towns of Acapulco, Puerto Vallarta, San Jose del Cabo and Cabo San Lucas, Cancun, and Playa del Carmen. However, there is much more to Mexico as a tourist destination. The Mayan Riviera of the Yucatan Peninsula has some of the country’s best ancient ruins such as Merida, Chichen Itza and Tulum, as well as some fun aquatic and theme parks in the Cancun area. The world famous underwater cave system known the Cenotes are also located here. You can visit these aquatic geological wonders to swim, cliff jump or scuba dive. Cozumel also has some easy Caribbean scuba diving, with some nice walls, superb visibility, and an exciting bull shark dive.

One of the key attractions is the marine wonderland along the west coast which makes Mexico a popular destination for scuba divers. The Sea of Cortez is a migration spot for humpback whales, manta rays, whale sharks, hammerheads, as well as being home to a population of bull sharks and sea lions. It is also the location of the amazing mobula ray encounters, where thousands of these large rays gather and often jump out of the water. Orcas often follow along to prey on the rays. On the other side of Baja California is Magdelena Bay, home to the world’s second largest sardine run. This annual event attracts hundreds of sharks, whales and dolphins, as well as some rare pelagic fish such as marlins. Then, a day’s voyage offshore is the Mecca of the Socorro Islands, an area famed for megafauna encounters such as whales, many species of sharks, curious Pacific mantas, and massive schools of pelagic fish. It is truly a world class diving destination.

3. Guadalupe is a volcanic island 165 miles (265 km) west of Baja California and is a mecca for great white shark cage diving. Guadalupe’s shark population is said to be one of the most prolific on earth and the visibility here is usually excellent. From August-October you can join liveaboard trips here to see the giant sharks that are attracted to feed on the colonies of fur seals and elephant seals.

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Maldives Latest Travel News

Located to the southwest of India in the Indian Ocean, this gorgeous string of atolls is world famous as a romantic getaway. The countless pretty sandbars and atoll lagoons with amazing deserted beaches form the postcard-perfect scenery for which the Maldives is ever popular. Lazing on a private beach, relaxing in an infinity pool, or enjoying sensual spa treatments at one of the numerous luxury water bungalow resorts, is the extent of most tourist activities in Maldives. However, being a country with enormous ocean space and little land resources, watersports such as surfing and windsailing are available. But the Maldives have also become famous for its world-class diving adventures. Big schools of fish and plenty of sharks inhabit the waters, and diving in the Maldives has become known as one of the best places in the world to dive with whale sharks, manta rays and hammerhead sharks – all often on the same memorable visit!

Water chalets in the Maldives - photo courtesy of Rayyu Maldives, Unsplash

Water chalets in the Maldives

Tourism accounts for 28% of GDP and 60% of foreign income in the Maldives so the sector is critical to the economy and lives of the half million people that live there. Normally 1,500,000 visitors enjoy a holiday in the Maldives each year, but that changed when COVID arrived on 7 March 2020. A public health emergency was declared on 12 March, and the country recorded its first death on 30 April. The government had already placed travel restrictions on passengers from several countries that were known to have COVID outbreaks, but soon all international flights were suspended, tourist resorts were closed, and curfews imposed in Male City. The migrant worker sector was badly hit by the enforced lockdown due to the virus outbreak, and times were very tough for 3 months.

However, the government felt confident enough to re-open the country on 15 July to international visitors, one of the first countries to do so, in an attempt to limit the negative consequences on the economy. Passengers were required to have a confirmed booking before travel and to stay at only one resort or hotel during their visit. This is allowed some control over tourist movements, and tracking and quarantining any cases that were identified. This meant that the Maldives still managed to welcome over half a million tourists in 2020, during a year when most of the world was under some form of lockdown.

All boats provide onboard COVID PCR tests for guests that require one to return home after their cruise. So that is one less obstacle for you to come and enjoy the marine life of the Maldives.

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Latest Honduras Travel News

The Central American country of Honduras is bordered to the south by Nicaragua, to the west by Guatemala, and to the southwest by El Salvador. Yet its entire northern shoreline lies on the warm Caribbean Sea. It is off this northern coast where the Bay Islands lie – Roatan, Guanaja and Utila being the main ones. These picturesque islands have become the main tourist attraction of the country and offer hikes, waterfalls, gorgeous beaches, caves, and water sports such as kayaking and paddleboard. But they are best known for affordable scuba diving opportunities on lush coral reefs, famed for whale shark encounters. Cayos Cochinos also forms part of the Bay Islands but is more remote and less developed. Here you can escape the tourism hustle to enjoy a beautiful retreat. It is also known as the best dive spot in the country, with rare and big marine life encounters.

Waterfront in Roatan, Honduras - photo courtesy of Alias Matthews, Unsplash

Waterfront in Roatan

On the mainland, visitors can enjoy a variety of graded river rafting adventures at Rio Cangrejal, spot wildlife in the tropical rainforests of Rio Platano Biosphere Reserve and at Punta Sal, explore the natural wonder of Lago de Yojoa, or visit the splendid ancient Mayan sculptures at Copan.

In 2019, 2,000,000 tourists visited the country but the tourism industry accounts for only 2.3% of the GDP of Honduras and the country ranks relatively low in global popularity. On 10 March 2020 the first cases of COVID were confirmed. The government responded very quickly and closed all its borders on 15 March. It also suspended classes at all levels of education, ordered curfews, and, to assist those hardest hit by these measures, fixed prices for basic food items and medical supplies.

Our Honduras liveaboards are operational and offer diving at Roatan, Utila and Cayos Cochinos. These are the top dive locations in the country with beautiful coral reefs and sheer walls, spectacular wrecks, offshore sea mounts, and opportunities of whale shark encounters.

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Travel News Hawaii

Hawaii is a series of volcanic mountain peaks rising up from the depths of the Pacific Ocean. They are an isolated archipelago yet relatively easy to get to from Asia, Australia, Canada, and USA, of which they are a recognized state. The islands have a laid back Polynesian charm and tropical climate. They are renowned for their natural beauty, with plenty of wild coastlines and beaches, dramatic mountain slopes with cascading waterfalls, lava flows, and lush forests. Famous attractions include Honolulu with its Diamond Head Crater and Waikiki Beach, Kilauea Volcano, Haleakala National Park, Waimea Canyon, the Na Pali Coast, and the Hana coastal road. Activities include some world class hiking trails, some of the biggest surf-able waves in the world, and superb aquatic attractions such as kayaking, snorkeling and scuba diving at Kona. The Pacific waters that surround Hawaii are home to an astonishing number of endemic fish. Giant mantas, turtles, dolphins, and plenty of sharks inhabit the region, and humpback whales migrate here annually.

Diamond Head Crater, Honolulu, Hawaii - photo courtesy of Chase O, Unsplash

Diamond Head Crater, Honolulu

The tourism sector accounts for 20% of the local economy and welcomes over 10 million visitors annually. Yet all that came to a shuddering halt in early 2020 when the first cases of COVID-19 arrived. The first confirmed case occurred on 6 March yet it was thought that infected tourists were present as early as January of last year. The worst infected areas were Oahu and Lanai. State parks, bars and clubs were closed 17 March. A 14-day quarantine was soon imposed afterwards for international arrivals. Stay-at-home orders were also used until the end of April. Contact-tracing measures were implemented, and by May Hawaii reported the lowest rate of deaths per capita of all US states.

A staged re-opening began but a second waves of infections forced another lockdown until the end of September. Bars had again re-opened by March 2021, and the state began to impose entry to these establishments only upon proof of vaccination by June 2021. To date Hawaii has had 66,000 confirmed cases and 13,000 deaths. Although August 2021 has been the worst month of the pandemic by far in terms of case numbers, the state is still the safest place to be in the USA in terms of death rate. Vaccines began to arrive December 2020 and now over 55% of the population are fully vaccinated.

Our Hawaii liveaboard cruises along the Kona coast of Bog Island have been running as per normal since October 2020. This is the best place in Hawaii to explore underwater lava tubes, rugged pinnacles and archways, and to encounter the megafauna for which the islands are famous.

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Latest Travel News for Ecuador

Bordered by Colombia, Ecuador and the Pacific Ocean, Ecuador more than make up for its lack of size with a wealth of tourist attractions. Top of that list are the peerless Galapagos Islands with its astonishing natural wildlife. The islands’ splendid isolation has lead endemic species, such as giant tortoises, marine iguanas, as well as its famous finches which played a pivotal role in the establishment of the theory of evolution. The waters that surround the islands are equally as magnificent, and draw experienced scuba divers to encounter hammerheads, Galapagos sharks, seals, penguins, huge pods of dolphins, mantas and whale sharks. Other natural wonders include Amazon jungle retreats, the Cotopaxi and Cajas National Parks, Chimboraxo volcano, the Nariz del Diablo, the hot springs of Baños, and the beaches of Salinas, Montañita and Bahia. Activities include tours, as well as mountain hikes and white water rafting. Ecuador also has indigenous and Spanish colonial cultures, and you can experience these as you explore Quito, Guayaquil and Cuenca.

Llama in Ecuador - photo courtesy of Gleb-Albovsky, Unsplash

Llama in Ecuador

In absolute numbers, the tourism sector might not appear that significant to Ecuador. Tourism accounts for only 2.3% of its GDP, and 2 million visitors arrived in 2019. However, on a per capita basis of the host country’s population, Ecuador ranks 14th in the world in popularity.

The tourism sector was abruptly interrupted with the arrival of first COVID case on 29 February 2020, with first Guayaquil and later Quito being epicenters for the virus. By 13 March the government had ordered the closures of schools, and the borders were closed on 14 March. The government paid informal workers a stipend to stay at home, but half a million Venezuelans had the ride out the storm with no support. It is estimated that the pandemic caused a contraction of the economy of 10%. International borders were re-opened to international tourists without quarantine on 15 August 2020. Visitors are currently required to provide a negative COVID PCR test result or full vaccine certificate upon arrival. Additionally visitors to Galapagos must be fully-vaccinated. Further information on entry requirements can be found here: Ministry of Tourism entry requirementsOpens in a new window. 42% of the Ecuadorian people are now fully vaccinated.

The Galapagos liveaboards are fully operational, as well as the wildlife and natural history cruises. Due to the drop in tourism, there are some amazing deals around for a destination that is usually very expensive and fully booked many months in advance. So why not take advantage and plan a trip now to enjoy the amazing scuba diving in the Galapagos Islands.

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