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Snorkeling With… Kefalonia Snorkeling/Blue Manta Diving and Aquanautic Club, Kefalonia, Greece

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In this ongoing series, we speak to the people who run snorkel centres, resorts and liveaboards from around the world about their businesses and the snorkeling they have to offer…

What is your name?

Makis Beriatos

What is the name of your business?

Blue Manta Diving & Aquanautic Club, Skala Kefalonia, Greece

What is your role within the business?

Managing Director

How long has the business operated for?

Since 2016.

How long have you snorkeled for, and what do you enjoy most about it?

Being a snorkeler (and free diver) for more than 30 years. Apart from freedom from bulky gear, snorkeling offers the opportunity not only to explore the best and most colourful parts of the coastline, but also you can share these underwater wonders with novice u/w adventurers with minimal experience, training or gear.

If you could tell people one thing about your business (or maybe more!) to make them want to visit you what would it be?

The Ionian Sea around Kefalonia is crystal clear and has huge biodiversity.

Close to our base, there are some extended offshore shoals and reefs that serve as a natural sanctuary but also are shallow enough for snorkelers to explore and perhaps spot a rare Loggerhead turtle or even an endangered Monk seal. And either within a group or in a private chartered snorkeling tour, the focus of our certified and experienced snorkeling guides is always the safety, comfort and enjoyment of our guests.

What is your favourite snorkel spot and why?

Our favourite snorkel spot is called Tilemachos’ Cave. In the heart of infamous Kakava Shoals, an offshore reef one mile from the SE tip of Kefalonia.  The site combines everything that the Mediterranean has to offer.

Within seagrass meadows (“Posidonia oceanica”) a rocky ridge rises, a death trap to ancient vessels passing through the area. At least two of those wooden merchant ships once roaming the Mediterranean, have found their final resting place here, scattering their ballast stones, lead and bronze parts of their hull and rigging and scores of amphorae – their primary cargo, proving the area a puzzle to seamen through the ages. But scuttled relics of more modern ships and boats can be seen around.

The full range of Mediterranean fish can be seen, with lots of colorful parrotfish and schools of damselfish and breams.  Quite often Loggerhead sea turtles and occasionally Monk seals are visitors to the site.

On the underside of a long shallow rocky ridge, a small yet impressive underwater cave where the dark chamber in the rock features two side-openings and one on the top acting as a skylight shedding ample light into the interior, awaits to be explored by scuba or free divers, giving the site its name.

The minimum depth of the site is 3m, while the max is 8m and, along with the crystal visibility of more than 20m, this means that snorkelers will enjoy all colorful fauna and flora. The temperature ranges between 22-27 °C in summer months and only occasionally a weak surface current may be encountered.

What is the main focus of your snorkeling trips?

We love to discover and observe marine life, but also it is hard to miss the evidence of the ancient and modern wrecks scattered around our sites. So our trips often turn into wildlife or u/w archaeology documentaries for snorkelers wanting to know more; so there is a bit of education involved. Needless to say, the visibility in the water provides great opportunities for our guests to test their u/w photography or video skills or become u/w models themselves!

What do you find most rewarding about your current role?

The chance to introduce visitors and novice underwater explorers to the marine world. This provides a chance to create new snorkelers or ambitious divers but also helps raise awareness for the ocean and underwater environment.

What is your favorite underwater creature?

I would say Mediterranean Monk Seals. Not only they are so graceful underwater, but also, they tend to interact with snorkelers when feeling not threatened. Encounters are not quite often but this adds to the excitement as one feels privileged to see such a rare and endangered marine mammal.

As a center what is the biggest problem you face at the moment?

The Global pandemic has shifted the focus from tourism, outdoor and fun activities but hopefully this will improve soon.

Is your center involved in any environmental work?

We collect and monitor plastic and other debris.

We provide monitoring for Loggerhead sea turtles and invasive species such as lionfish to environmental groups, university researchers and NGOs.

We are also involved members and certified by Green Fins / Reef World Foundation

Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?

We constantly try to explore new sites and discover more underwater life to show our guests. Soon we’ll have another fast RHIB designated for snorkeling that will grant access to nearby islands. Also, we are designing the “U/W paths of Kefalonia”; snorkeling (and diving) itineraries, signposted not only as for route but also as for sights and u/w flora and fauna one could discover. So, visitors of the island will be able to snorkel and explore on their own in sites well explored and designed to be comfortable and safe.

How do you see the Snorkeling / Freediving / SCUBA industry overall? What changes would you make?

Scuba Diving has stood still for some years, but Freediving and Snorkeling blows a wind of change into the u/w activities. Much more progress and publicity has been achieved in the last 10 years by freedivers and snorkelers carrying their action cameras than from the dive industry in the past decades. So, I see u/w activities becoming more widespread, more athletic and popular. If I could do anything it would be to promote snorkeling further and start designing services, sites and attractions more suitable for snorkelers.

Finally, what would you say to our visitors to promote the snorkeling you have to offer?

We like to consider ourselves underwater explorers rather than snorkeling and diving operators. So, for us it is a genuine pleasure to share with our guests all the u/w discoveries we make, and as we explore more and more it means that every visit will have something new to offer, for all and always with a focus on safety and comfort.

Where can our visitors find out more about your business?

Kefalonia Snorkeling

by Blue Manta Diving & Aquanautic Club

Skala Kefalonia

Greece GR28086

www.bluemantadiving.gr    info@bluemantadiving.gr  +306981449295 

FB/Instagram : Kefalonia Snorkeling

 

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Blogs

There’s nothing quite like a Snorkeling holiday in the Maldives!

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A Guest Blog by Ruth Franklin of Secret Paradise Maldives

1200 islands of 26 different atolls make up the island paradise of the Maldives. Once prehistoric underwater volcanoes, the coral reefs and ecosystems that surround these picture perfect islands offer some of the world’s very best snorkeling locations. There’s no better destination than the pristine tropical waters of the Maldives for first time snorkelers or veteran underwater lovers. With an average of 200+ sunny days per year, the Maldives really is second to none when it comes to choosing an idyllic snorkeling escape.

What is Snorkeling in the Maldives Like?

You’ve probably seen the picture perfect images of the Maldives floating around the internet, popping up on your Instagram feed or plastered across what it seems like, pages of every other travel magazine. Thoughts of ‘there’s no way that ocean water can be real’ or something along the lines of ‘that’s definitely photo shopped’ may have crossed your mind more than once. Take our word for it from us here at Secret Paradise, as we can assure you that yes – the water is really the colour depicted by the magazines. In fact, the island waters here reflect a spectrum of blue tones that seem to change façade with every spec of light. This island paradise is just waiting for you to dive beneath the surface to discover its abundance of incredible reef life and the spectacular coloured corals.

If you’re privileged enough to delved into the underwater world of the Maldives, you can expect nothing but excellent clarity and visibility, combined with blissful year round ocean temperatures of 26 – 29 degrees Celsius. You may also be thinking that a snorkeling holiday in the Maldives is probably out of your budget … Again, let us reassure you that there has never been a more affordable time to travel to the Maldives. A snorkeling vacation is very reasonable and can begin from as little as USD$50 per night … let us show you how.

What Are the Options for Maldives Snorkeling Holidays?

Here at Secret Paradise, we offer quality and value for money snorkeling day trips and bespoke Multi-day Island hopping itineraries. On our tours, expect to explore the uncharted local islands of the Maldives, an alternative to an expensive resort style vacation.

Staying on a local island in a guesthouse allows for exploration of some of the Maldives’ very best snorkeling sites and marine life, whilst experiencing the local tradition and culture of the Maldives. Think palm trees, white sandy beaches, sun bathing and of course snorkeling, all combined with wandering locally inhabited islands, tasting Maldivian foods and seeing local traditions first hand. Enjoy being transferred from your local island via a traditional wooden dhoani boat, to stunning nearby snorkeling sites – the very same sites that resort guests snorkel at, all for a fraction of the cost! Our affordable snorkeling holidays and day trips will leave you with long lasting Maldives memories.

Is The Maldives Best For First Time or Experienced Snorkelers?

The answer to this question is both. The Maldives is spread across a thousand small islands scattered throughout the Indian Ocean, meaning it offers vast ocean environments, perfect for both beginner and experienced snorkelers and everyone in between.

The islands here in the Maldives consist of both shallow and deep-water lagoons. Beginners can simply choose to snorkel the reefs adjacent to the shoreline, in the safety of still water. Intermediate snorkelers can explore reefs a little further off shore whilst advanced snorkelers who are more daring have opportunities to try the local ‘drift-snorkeling’ method, using the aide of the ocean currents to explore the underwater terrain. As the ocean currents here in the Maldives are extremely tidal, our local guides will accompany you to ensure that you experience a safe yet ‘bucket-list’ type of underwater snorkeling experience.

What Is The Best Time of Year For Snorkeling In The Maldives?

The snorkeling season of the Maldives runs yearlong. As the Maldives is located near the equator, it is susceptible to two monsoon seasons, better known as the wet and dry seasons. From May to November (the wet season), the abundance of reef life is more varied and the visibility levels are better on the western side of each island. December to April is generally known as the ‘dry’ period, where the eastern side of each atoll is best for snorkeling.

Buy or Rent Snorkeling Equipment?

When it comes to packing for your Maldives snorkeling vacation, deciding upon whether to buy or rent your snorkeling gear is certainly a great question and one that needs to be given substantial consideration, as everyone’s snorkeling needs are different.

Firstly, decide how often you think you may snorkel on your Maldives trip. Do you think that number is worthy of purchasing your very own snorkeling gear? Let us help you make a wise travel decision.

Let’s face it, there’s nothing quite like owning your own snorkeling equipment – being assured that your own mask, fins and snorkel fit your face and body perfectly, not to mention they haven’t been worn by the many tourists before you. It’s a great little luxury if you believe you will be snorkeling frequently throughout your Maldives stay. It will also save you the hassle of searching for the snorkeling equipment that is right for you.

However, remember transporting and carrying your own snorkeling gear can often be bulky and heavy, and the last thing you want is for your equipment to be damaged in transit. Renting your snorkeling equipment is essentially easier, as your gear you won’t need to be transported from place to place. Fins especially take up a substantial amount of room in your luggage.

Another alternative is to purchase your own face mask and snorkel before your trip and hire your fins whilst on holidays. A mask and snorkel combination is small and lightweight – it takes up minimal space in your luggage. This way you will be assured that your mask will fit you comfortably, it won’t leak and it is sanitary, plus you won’t have to awkwardly lug fins around in your luggage.

Our Secret Paradise Packing Tip:

Cushion your mask between clothes to ensure the lens won’t be damaged in transit. As fins are durable, pack them on the outer edge of your luggage to prevent your other belongings from being damaged.


Discover more of The Maldives with www.secretparadise.mv

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Blogs

Turtles of the Riviera Maya & Cozumel

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A blog by Pro Dive International

Plenty of empty shells of recently hatched turtle eggs were spotted by our divers at Sabalos. They had been washed off shore onto the reef after the baby turtles had dug out of their nest at night and swam off into the sea.

The turtle nesting season on the Riviera Maya and in Cozumel happens between May and October, which means that you may be lucky to see some nests or even hatchlings during your stay with us.

Six out of the seven sea turtle species worldwide visit Mexico every year. We are lucky enough to get to see Green Turtles and Loggerhead Turtles regularly during our dives, as they are in search of food and a good clean.

The reefs and ecosystems here provide a great number of tasty snacks for a turtle, for example seagrass, sponges, crustaceans and many more. And while the turtles pass through the reef, they receive a top-notch cleaning service from many of the local fishes who feed on their parasites and algae growth.

6 Turtle Fun Facts

  1. Green turtles are so named because of their green colored fat caused by their rich diet of seagrass.
  2. Green Turtles are the largest hard-shell turtles in the world. The largest known green turtle weighed 395 kg/ 871 lbs, with a shell that measured more than 152 cm/ 5 ft.
  3. Loggerhead Turtles are so named for their massive broad muscular heads.
  4. Adult males are normally easy to distinguish from females because of their long tails visible extending past their shell.
  5. Female turtles normally return to the exact same location where they were born to lay their eggs.
  6. The sex of a baby turtle is determined by the temperature at which the egg is kept.

Turtles are regular visitors to many of our dive sites, but they are most commonly found at Tortuga – this dive site is even named turtle in Spanish! It’s located just off shore from our dive center at the Occidental Xcaret and easily accessible by boat from any of our Playa Del Carmen locations.

Moreover, for those of you who are not divers, we are lucky enough to have some extensive seagrass beds where green turtles love to hang out and eat, which is an easy snorkel off shore during one of our tours with a guide who is licensed to enter those protected areas.

Turtle Locations

Besides observing them underwater, you may be lucky to find some turtle nests in front of your resort on the Riviera Maya or in Cozumel. Hotel employees usually rope them off to ensure their protection.

Turtle conservation projects are a great alternative to learn more about their behaviors, importance for the marine environment, how you can help protect them, and to observe nests or turtles first hand:

Turtle Protection

Every sea turtle species on earth nests on Mexico’s beaches (save one that is only found in Australia). Consequently, Mexico is known as the sea turtle capital of the world and its turtle protection laws are so important on a global scale.

Current Mexican law classifies all sea turtle species as endangered.

Regulations

  • Turtles can’t be killed for their meat, skin, shell or eggs.
  • Native vegetation can’t be removed in nesting habitats, to stop erosion.
  • New regulations call for moving, changing or eliminating any light sources that illuminate a nesting beach, as baby turtles can become disoriented from finding their way to the ocean.
  • Vehicles can have a maximum weight of 300 kg on nesting beaches and only be used for patrolling and management of the nesting site.
  • Recently outlawed were turtle release events, as many places kept the hatchlings in confinement for several days until a sufficient number of participants had signed up for this activity. Upon release, they were too weak to handle the surf and avoid predators.

All of these and many more regulations help protect beaches, nests, female sea turtles, their eggs and hatchlings to make it a safer place for them.

How to start your Turtle Adventure

Let’s discover some turtles together during our dives! If you are not a diver, why not sign up for a PADI course; or join our Mexican Snorkeling Adventure at 15% OFF starting from Playa del Carmen or Tulum, if booked online until 16/09 & redeemed until Dec 22, with reference to this blog!

Contact:

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