Spice Islands Expedition Part 2; The Oceans and The Islands

I have been remiss in sharing with you some thoughts and pictures of the ocean environment while on our recent Indonesian dive trip through the Flores and Banda Sea’s, and Southern Raja Ampat.  I hit the ground with a significant thump upon arriving home after such an incredible diving trip and have struggled to get my fingers attached to the keyboard!

P1015534Let me say this – the diving in this region of Indonesia is without any doubt the best I’ve ever experienced.  It’s spectacular.  I have been spoilt now for the rest of my life.  If I had to sum it up briefly so you don’t need to read the rest of my rant below, come here for the unbelievable marine bio-diversity, the sheer number of fish in the oceans, the variety and number of dive sites, the beautiful corals and fans (they are everywhere – and wow) and it’s not crowded.  Over the 40 dives completed, we did only one dive where there was another boat on the same reef we were diving.  Magic.

PA180339So what’s it like diving this part of Indonesia?  There are currents, a lot of currents, that feed through corridors between islands and over and around bombies, sweeping nutrients that feed the reef as it falls into the welcoming arms of hundreds of sea fans.  They stretch out from either wall to ensnare passing food and are present in a dizzying array of colours.  Bright oranges, luminescent yellow, deep purple and vital green combine to launch an all-out assault on your senses.  Even in conditions of mediocre visibility (which you get some days because the sea here is so rich in these nutrients) the effect can be stunning.  Depending on the current, you may either drift past this jutting, multi-coloured army of webs, or, if calm, you can stop and discover the little gems that call these great walls home (you can’t help but fall in love with the huge variety of nudibranchs – they are stunning!).

P4111304Along the walls (and believe me, the walls are epic) are an amazing variety of soft corals in every colour imaginable – orange, green, yellow and purple, small fans, foxtail corals and whip corals.  In the deeper sections are masses of large pink, lilac and purple gorgonian fans and sea fans, green branching cup corals and sheet corals with barrel sponges abundant.  Really – this place is unbelievable.

P1015497With current and nutrient-rich water, the dive sites are thick with fish, dizzyingly so.  Hundreds of slender fusiliers and giant fusiliers fall cascading down the wall.  At 20 metres, you’ll come across another overhang with fans, and purple wire corals, protective shelter for juvenile coral demoiselles and yellowtail damsels. Ringed pipefish and ringtail cardinalfish watch out at you from their safe hiding holes.  Lion and scorpion fish are common.

P10101086-banded angelfish and blue-girdled angelfish weave amongst the branches of coral whilst orange-spotted trevally stalk past looking for their next meal.  Redtooth triggerfish and schooling bannerfish school off the reef in their hundreds.  Surgeonfish, napoleonfish sleek unicornfish, and many species of snapper – humpback, red, black and white and one-spot – all aggregate in large numbers here, as well as resident blue dash fusiliers swarming around you in large numbers.

P9265890It is common to spot a marauding legion of bumphead parrotfish here, crunching hard corals with their impressive teeth. In the same shallow water, green turtles are often seen while eating or swimming to the surface to get a breath of fresh air.  There are also larger species to be seen away from the wall in the channel.  Schools of jacks, giant trevallies, barracuda and tuna are voracious predators.  Mobula rays and occasionally passing eagle and manta rays dazzle your senses.  Sharks were spotted on almost every dive – and they get close!  It’s beautiful to be in a region where the ocean accepts you as part of its environment

PC251549Despite all of these fascinating creatures both large and small, it is the spectacular colourful scheme that will most likely impress you and etch this underwater wonderland deep in your diving memory.

P3190798There are some interesting and unexpected dives in the area – do a bit of a google search on Indonesian jellyfish lakes and you’ll find inland water bodies that are brackish and filled with non-stinging jellyfish.  Swimming through these jello infested waters will freak you out, no really, try it!

5100The ocean journeys where just as spectacular. Crossing the Banda Sea with the sun going down and a large pod of whales breaching not far from the boat with a cold beer in hand was a magical moment on the trip!

449A9674The islands themselves are stunning with crystal clear waters through the channels allowing for near perfect viability – from the boat…  Islands in their thousands were covered in lush jungle with palm trees protecting white sand beaches.

449A0062So, would I recommend this region of our planet for a dive trip?  Yes; it’s hard to get to, but that’s why it’s so bloody spectacular.  This is a dive bucket list must.


Footnote – credit for the underwater photos goes to Justin Troiano, our dive master, organiser of fun and generally all round good guy.  My Canon 5D isn’t that big on swimming…


Spice Islands Expedition Part 1; Life and The People

Having just returned from 3 weeks sailing 1,200 nautical miles across the Banda Sea in eastern Indonesia on the beautiful yacht Amandira from Sumbawa (near Bali) to Sorong in West Papua, it’s time to share some stories and images of the adventure.  I’ll split this blog into a couple of sections; I’ll start with Life & The People, and follow with The Oceans & the Islands in a couple of weeks.


Most of our time when we weren’t sailing (to be fair, that wasn’t often!) was spent diving, which was the primary reason for the expedition. However, we did make time to visit some of the more remote villages and beautiful islands which was incredibly rewarding.  The people were warm and welcoming, with a peacefulness about their lives.  Being a mix of primarily co-existing Muslim and Christian faiths, one would usually expect some tension.  Its true that in the past this has been the case, but from our observation, they were truely accepting of the differences and live harmoniously, often with a Mosque and a Church side by side in the same village. The islands were beautiful, ranging from larger more inhabited and developed landforms covered in lush jungle accessible by road, boat and small airports, through to the thousands of tiny islands, mostly uninhabited, that made up the stunning area of Raja Ampat. Some of these Robinson Crusoe islands were eye wateringly beautiful with the quintessential palm fringed white sand beach and not a soul to be seen. If I’d seen a sign with a smiling real estate agent offering a sale and purchase agreement for one of these islands I’d still be there now building a wee hut and catching fish from my canoe.

449A8179The smaller seaside villages sustained themselves by growing vegetables and coconuts, but the primary focus was for them, was fishing.  The shores were always lined with multi-coloured jukung (outrigger canoes) either paddled or sailed out into the fish-rich seas around the island.  Drying small fish was prominent in most places and the smell was unmistakeable! Spear fishing and nets were also used extensively in the ocean harvest.  In the larger villages the early morning fish markets were colourful and rowdy as deals were struck.  We participated occasionally (much to the delight and significant amusement of the locals) and the fish were always fresh and delicious.  The people were always incredibly warm in their welcome and enjoyed chatting (where possible) and laughing with (at?) us.



Into the hills we found cooler and lush tropical rain forests abundant with cocoa, rice, banana and cassava growing in the rich volcanic soils.  One of the islands we visited had large cashew nut plantations and I discovered the hard way that trying to open a raw cashew with ones teeth was somewhat foolhardy given that the nut outer contains urushiol, a chemical found in Poison Ivy and is not on the recommended eating list!  Life in the small mountain villages here had a slower and more peaceful pace; but again we were met with smiling faces and cries of Selamat pagi! (good morning).


449A8258 (1)

Many of the villages in this area still enjoy a traditional way of life with the women chewing on betel nut, colouring their mouths and lips bright red. We were told (as we tried it – yuck) that it would “make your teeth strong”. Odd; most of the pro’s had lost a significant number of their choppers years ago! Weaving cloth from the cotton-like fluff obtained from the Kapok tree was prominent in some areas; a laborious and time consuming venture, often taking months to finish one elaborate hand spun, dyed and woven piece.


As we travelled further east into the The Maluka’s we were immersed in history of the Spice Islands where the tantalising scent of nutmeg, mace and cloves that were originally and exclusively found there, still hang in the air. We could see how the presence of these valuable spices sparked significant colonial interest from Europe in the 16th century.  The legacy the European traders left behind means the region is steeped in history and of course, evidence of the wealth and the bloody battles that took place to control the spice trade.  The islands are now known for their volcanoes and palm-lined beaches and the southern Banda Islands (were we spent our time) are still covered in nutmeg trees and include the active volcano Gunung Api. Colonial buildings like the Dutch East India Company’s Fort Belgica hint at the islands’ past as a center of the spice trade.  The villages were beautiful with multi-coloured well built houses; evidence that the locals were proud of their homes and their islands.


For centuries, the islands of Banda Neira, Lonthor, Ai and most importantly, Run were a blip on the radar of Europeans, as the source of fabled spices, at the time worth more than gold. Arab traders kept the location of these expensive commodities a well-guarded secret. Europeans were willing to pay a fortune for these spices, which were used in various processes, from the preservation of foods, improving gentlemen’s ‘longevity’ and even for warding off the plague, all reasons why the spices were so highly valued. Once the Portuguese ‘found’ the Banda Islands as the source of nutmeg, this small group of islands quickly became one of the most valuable properties in the world. Wars were fought and atrocities carried out by several European nations for control of this tiny archipelago. With occupation in succession by the Portuguese, English, and Dutch over a period of several hundred years, many important world events occurred here that affected the course of international history. For a group of very small and sparsely populated islands, the Banda archipelago played an outsized role in the history of western civilization, and had an impact far larger than their modest size would suggest.


While on Banda we climbed the active volcano, Gunung Api.  While the entire volcano rises 5 km from the sea floor; the volcano itself is a 2000 foot climb above sea level. The slopes of Gunung Api are steep, and I mean bloody steep.  It took us nearly 2 solid hours of climbing up the lava covered path, a little like walking on ball bearings – one step forward, two backwards.  The views from the top were spectacular and the cone was impressive.  The walk back down was even more challenging.  I have no idea how we got down on shaky legs without any significant material damage. In 35 degree heat and 98% humidity the ocean never looked so good.


449A8885 (1)

We were on the island of Run for their 350 year anniversary that celebrated the deal done in 1667 when the Dutch and the English signed the Treaty of Breda. Back in the 17th century, when nutmeg was such a valuable trading property, England and The Netherlands were literally at war with each other to be the sole conqueror of Run Island.  The little island, produced the most nutmeg among the islands in Banda.  Under the Treaty of Breda, the Dutch secured a worldwide monopoly on nutmeg, by offering the island of Manhattan in return for England’s giving up claim on Run island.  Interesting deal….  But regardless, the costumes and enthusiastic dancing certainly did the occasion justice.


As we set sail from Banda for Misool in southern Raja Ampat, we were challenged to a race from the habour by a traditional war canoe native to the Maluku region is called a Kora Kora, a long and narrow wooden vessel that requires up to 40 rowers to manoeuvre.  It was an impressive sight to witness this traditional vessels in Banda harbour, filled with local men chanting in unison as they raced across the bay.  Kora Kora 1 : Amandira 0.


After yet another long overnight passage, we woke the next morning in southern Raja Ampat to the incredible beauty of thousands of small islands and beautiful beaches. Water bound villages on stilts were abundant with a focus on pearl farming supporting the region economically. The islands were been pushed up out of the oceans centuries ago building incredible rock formations and leaving behind gothic like caves hidden amongst the islands. Caves with human remains can still be found high up in the cliffs and inland salt water lakes filled with thousands of jellyfish make for a spooky swimming experience! Misool is a stunning part of Indonesia and now I’ll need to go back and explore the area more!


Enough for now, I will tell you all about the amazing diving and more about these beautiful islands in a couple of weeks. Selamat tinggal for the moment.

449A9359 (1)


Holy mother of God…

Look, I know I’m not exactly an angel, but striking me down is just going a bit far don’t you think? Sailing from Maumere to Alor last night we bumped into a tropical storm; and it was quite awesome. I’ve never seen rain like it, a waterfall from the sky would be the most accurate description. The lightning was unbelievable delivering near daylight to 20 minutes of chaos. And surprise surprise, the boat got hit. All our navigation gear has been fried like an egg. So we spent the night limping slowly back to Maumere hoping not to hit anything hard. Arriving here in the early hours now waiting for a technician to fly out from Bali to try and get things operational again. We found the top section of the mast lying on the deck this morning, I don’t think we need that bit! Let’s hope we aren’t stuck here for days… A few Hail Mary’s and a review of my most recent sins will fill in the time while we wait.

However, all is not bad. The trip so far has been great. We’ve primarily been getting miles under our belt having sailed from Moyo island near Sumbawa, travelling east through the Flores Sea past the active volcano of Sangeang and the Komodo National Park. Hopefully we’ll be underway within 24 hours and heading to the Banda Sea. We’ve had a couple of great dives, one at the base of the Sangeang volcano on black sand with sulphur bubbles rising from the ocean floor. The corals and sponges were abundant and amazing. Vivid colours highlighted by the dark sand made this dive the best of the trip so far. A wall dive on an atoll in the middle of nowhere rewarded us with sharks and great visibility.

We’ve also spent time onshore in some of the small villages. The Indonesian people are peaceful, welcoming and incredibly engaging. I’m looking forward to hitting the open sea and the middle of nowhere!

Spicy spice baby

Sitting on Moyo Island as the sun drops over the horizon with our ride for the next three weeks silhouetted against the end of the day brings an enormous sense of excitement. The final preparations on Amandira are almost complete for our 1,200 nautical mile journey through some of the most remote parts of Indonesia. Knowing we will be diving in some of the worlds richest oceans while immersing ourselves in the romantic but bloody history of the spice trades, sailing through the Banda Sea and the Moluccas, finishing on the western shores of New Guinea just a shade south of the Equator – stimulates the adventurer in me.

Already the stories of remote villages we will visit and diving with Sperm and Blue whales in seven thousand metres of water during the crossing are being tossed about in casual conversation by the crew; like its normal! The volcanos we will sail past, the Hammerhead sharks we will dive with, the sunsets shared with Spice Islands inspired cocktails in historic Dutch East India Company forts – spice it up baby, 24 hours until we we sail.

The Gods must be angry!

The irony – it was almost a year ago to the very day when we were planning our expedition to Iceland and there were warnings of a potential volcano eruption in the region.  And can you believe it.  We are about a week away from leaving on our epic expedition through the Spice Islands in Indonesia and it’s happened again.  This one is serious.  Mount Agung in Bali is on the verge of a massive eruption.  Tens of thousands of people have been evacuated from the area and significant seismic activity is being recorded suggesting an eruption is imminent.  Unless something changes (unlikely), that means all the airports will shut, ash will blanket the area, chaos will prevail and the impact on the island of Bali could be disastrous – and of course we will not be going to the Spice Islands because we won’t be able to get in.

So I’m left questioning myself – what have I done to piss the Gods off so much?  Do I need to sacrifice a lamb, a small child?  Do I need to send virgins up the mountain and throw them into the molten lava? Give me a sign…

Mt Agung 1

17 days, 1200 nautical miles. The Spice Islands Expedition.


Only 6 weeks to go before we head off.  17 days sailing on Amandira from Mayo Island near Bali, finishing 1200 nautical miles later in Sorong, West Papua.  After sailing through the Komodo National Park, we head eastward towards Maumere and Alor to start some world-class diving in warm 30 degree, crystal clear waters abundant with marine life.

From there we hit the volcanic region near Maumere, on the east end of Flores island.  It’s supposed to be quite the experience with a trek up Kelimutu volcano to see the multi-coloured crater lakes then through to the remote island of Komba with a rare opportunity to watch an active volcano in all its glory.

From there to Alor – more than 100 tribes live there, where a traditional way of life continues in many of its villages, with thatched tree houses, tribal dancing and ikat weaving.  At the end of the Nusa Tenggara Island chain we transit across the Banda Sea to the less known Spice Islands.  Up to 7000 metres deep during the crossing, this is where if we are lucky, we’ll be diving with blue and sperm whales.

Four and a half degrees south of the Equator, the seven volcanic islands of the Banda archipelago were for centuries the world’s only source of nutmeg; earning the Moluccan their nickname – the ‘Spice Islands’.

Each tropical paradise is covered in dense forests, and the water surrounding the islands is teeming with sea life – the diving is apparently, unbeatable.  Historic villages can be found on five of the islands, with traces of Dutch forts on Banda Neira, Banda Besar and Run.  At 666 metres high, Gunung Api – Banda’s Fire Mountain – dominates the landscape.

After we have explored the Spice Islands we sail across the north eastern Banda Sea to a group of islands on the border of the Ceram Sea, one of the richest seas on the planet for marine bio diversity.  Pelagic fish patrol the deep water with blackjacks and dogtooth tuna, schooling bannerfish bide their time behind sea fans to catch plankton wafting in the current, fusiliers, surgeonfish and barracuda are abundant.

We continue our journey to South Raja Ampat and the islands around Misool before sailing to mainland Papua and the port of Sorong to end this epic expedition.

Blue whales, sperm whales, hammerhead sharks, remote island villages, active volcanos, spear fishing for dinner – I can’t wait.  The countdown is on.


What the Vegan? My month of hell…

I’m going a bit off-piste with this post, but it’s just too much of a good story not to share – I’ve decided to try being a vegan for a month.

“Why” is a good question to be asking right now!  Perhaps it was the movie “What the Health” we watched last week (its on Netflix).  Perhaps it’s the mounting evidence that eating meat and dairy is slowly killing us.  Perhaps its because we are destroying our environment by producing these things (apparently if we gave all the food we grew to feed animals to the starving people, we wouldn’t have a hunger problem anywhere on the planet).  Perhaps I’m questioning why I don’t cut out the middle man and eat the nutrition animals eat rather than getting them to convert it into energy for me.

One thing I am questioning is the food industry sponsored “food pyramid” that keeps shoving shit down our throats to make money rather than looking after the health of the planet.  You don’t need milk for strong bones (apparently, that’s a big fat lie – it’s just a pile of hormones we don’t need – I stopped breast feeding 49 year ago), eggs really will kill you with fat, processed meats are in the top category on the list of carcinogenic things that will kill humans, and cooked meat is in category 2 (fish, chicken, pork doesn’t really rate any better).

Or perhaps its just that I’m 50 years old and I don’t need as many calories these days – so I can either give up animal fats, or give up wine.  Easy choice really.

Then, I can’t help but think of this YouTube video taking the piss out of vegans – If Meat Eaters Acted Like Vegans.  Let’s face it, the word vegan sounds like a disease anyway.  And then you discover that there are many vegans who are bloody unhealthy.  A kilogram pack of sugar is vegan, white bread is vegan, Coke can be vegan, processed crap can be vegan, that fucking Quorn – who the hell invented that crap?

So – to make it easy, I’ve decided to go “plant based”.  That means if it wasn’t a plant that was growing recently, I won’t eat it – no meat, no dairy, no fish, no processed crap.  There are now more chick peas, lentils, black eyed beans, black rice, brown rice, wild rice, spelt, quinoa, mung beans and chia seeds in my cupboard than the local organic shop has.  If anyone ever tells you that going plant based in cheaper than eating meat – its horseshit (oh, then there’s the coconut yogurt, the fermented cashew nuts, the black tahini, the tempeh, seaweed salt – you name it, we have it).

Here’s my week 1 diary:

Day 1 – 3, no major issues except I can’t sleep, the insomnia is worse than when I gave up smoking!  Sick to death of being worn out, averaging 4 hours a night.  And, the plate of tomatoes for breakfast didn’t really cut it

Day 4 – high use of alcohol to combat sleep issues – seems to work a charm.  But apparently in the first 4 days you lose a gallon of mucus out of your body because you’ve removed dairy from your diet.  Don’t ask.  Mood swings.

Day 5 – first restaurant experience, good grief; now I actually feel sorry for vegans!  One certainly doesn’t need to spend any time deciding between the 2 beef options, the venison, the lamb the chicken, the fish or the risotto with cheese in it (they all look really good).  My dining companion across from me chose Steak-frites with a beautiful French butter dripping all over it.  We only had one choice – the vegetarian medley (with some adjustments to get all the dairy out of it).  The wine was good, thank God.

Day 6 – what do drunk vegans eat?  Historically my venison, oyster and Manchego cheese toasties were amazing at 1am!  Shit.  Humus, fermented cashews nuts, tomatoes onion and garlic with black beans – tell that story to the boys at the pub without getting punched.

You can just see it now – next year when I’m in Gabby (the expedition 110 Land Rover Defender) in the Australian Outback, covered in dust and grime looking like Indiana Jones, pulling up to a pub in Woollingwhereever, asking for a pint of VB and a tofu burger.  What a tosser!


Getting my cholesterol checked, let’s see if that’s come down in week one – apparently these plant based diets fix everything from heart disease to Syphilis. I’ll keep you posted (on the cholesterol).

So anyway – I’m into week two now, I haven’t died, the food is actually bloody good.  I can’t help but wonder whether the meat and dairy industries have been lying to us all for years – the more you read, the more one starts to question conventional wisdom as the smell of industry lead bullshit floats through the air.

I’ll see how the rest of the month goes, I may end up eating a bit of fish moving forward.  Dairy?  I think you are off my list (except if I’m in Italy or France!).  And meat?  Time will tell – I think the contradiction of shooting a deer when you are a vegan could be a little hard to explain!  And the wood fired oven just won’t ever look at me the same way again.

Do I feel better after week one?  I think I do – but I need to stop drinking so much to combat the sleep deprivation – then I’ll know for sure.  I still have unanswered questions; industry lies vs. weed smoking mung bean eating hippies.  I can’t work out the truth so the only way to really find out is to try it.

Let’s see what the cholesterol test says.  Back soon.

Footnote – if any smartarse tells me that some wine may have traces of egg and / or fish in it from the fining process, I really really do not care.

Don’t forget your backyard

Okay, so I’ll be the first to admit it.  I bloody love travel.  I love the adventure of it.  I love the challenge; and it excites the hell out of me to go and see new places and experience new cultures, meet the people, and eat their food (love the food).  I suppose (and being really honest here) I also get a real kick out of photographing new places.  I don’t know why, but I find it incredibly rewarding.  Getting the shot that you know will “the one” to represent the entire trip gives me a real kick.  Perhaps its vanity, perhaps its the artist in me – who knows?  But I’m not deep enough to spend much time trying to analyse that so lets just accept it.  I tried to find myself once, many years ago, and discovered there wasn’t that much to see – so I find its easier not to overthink these things.  Acceptance is a beautiful thing.

I’ve tried pretty hard over the last 12 months to find some great places; Iceland was truely amazing (I’d go back in a heartbeat), loved Scotland, and Italy; you’ll always hold a special place in my heart.  The trip to Indonesia to dive the Komodo National Park was spectacular and I can’t wait to go back in October to dive the Spice Islands – thats supposed to be mind blowing.  And I miss my Landrover terribly – a quick shot of her just to make me feel better, but that’s not really what I’m writing about – I digress. Read on.

Gabby Luna

Being forced to focus more on my own back yard over the last few months hasn’t been all bad.  I’m lucky; I live in an incredibly beautiful part of the world and being able to grab the camera and step out my front door to take a few shots has been rewarding.  And I’ve actually got some great shots.  I had a training session with Mike Langford from the Queenstown Centre for Creative Photography and found that inspiring.  He and his wife Jackie are two of New Zealand’s top photographers so if you are in this part of the world and want to shot the best of this region, drop them a line.  So, I suppose the point of the ramble is this; don’t forget your own back yard.  Its easy to get caught up in the romance and excitement the adventure of travel brings, but some of the best photos you might ever take could be just outside your front door on a cold winters day.  Lake Hayes below, a 15 minute walk from my front door.  So its not all bad, but I can’t bloody wait for the next adventure!  Watch this space people.

Lake Hayes

Selamat tinggal, Amandira

Amandira, a two-masted sailing ship measuring 52 metres from bow to stern, was handcrafted by the Konjo tribe and launched in 2015. The ship, a traditional Phinisi vessel, built to represent the ancient romance of the spice trade, is a truely magnificent piece of work.

We’ve just spent a week with Justin and his crew sailing the vibrant waters of Komodo National Park in Indonesia. I have to say, this is one of the most incredible trips I’ve ever done. The team onboard were amazing, the diving was some of the best I’ve experienced and getting off the boat was indeed a depressing moment in my life (sorrows drowned in wine).

But all is not lost, we’ve booked to return in October for a great adventure, a two week expedition to the Spice Islands. Can’t wait. It’s super remote and not that many people are lucky enough to explore this region of Indonesia. So Selamat tinggal Amandira (goodbye in Bahasa), we will see you again soon.


Bucket list: Komodo National Park, Indonesia

Located within the Lesser Sunda Islands in Indonesia, this place is magical. I can see why in 1991 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Since 1980 this 1700 square kilometres area that includes the islands of Komodo, Padar and Rinca, and 26 smaller ones, has been the protected home for the Komodo dragon, the worlds largest lizard (they grow up to 3 meters long; and believe me when I say they are unattractive wee critters). Later the park was also dedicated to protecting other delightful creatures, including thousands of marine species.

Komodo National Park has been selected as one of the New7Wonders of Nature and the waters surrounding Komodo are teeming with marine life. The area is part of the Coral Triangle, which contains some of the richest marine biodiversity on Earth.

And with that, the diving here is legend. Being in the water with 40 Mantas is a sight to behold (and a little unsettling as a squadron of them take aim at your head) along with enormous Wrasse, Sharks, Tuna and forests of coral that make Kew Gardens look a little lame. You get dizzy trying to take it all in. The camera is getting a good workout above the water. Snap below taken at sunrise on Padar, just another day in paradise.

Put this place on your list of must do’s before you kick the bucket…