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Explore the lesser-known Southern Caribbean island of Bonaire, home to world-class scuba diving, sailing, and snorkeling. Stay at the Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino from now through December 21 from just $129 per night — a savings of 30% on this hotel’s seasonal rates.
Situated on the Caribbean, the Divi Flamingo Resort serves as the perfect base for both an exciting scuba trip or a relaxing beach vacation. The Divi Dive Bonaire, a PADI five-star dive resort, is located directly on the property, and guests can book dive excursions 24 hours a day through the Flamingo front desk. Further excursions like guided snorkeling, kayaking, and sunset sails are also available.
For those more interested in kicking back, the Divi Flamingo features beach access, two freshwater swimming pools, a casino, and a spa and salon. Rooms offer garden or oceanfront views and private balconies.
Book online at the Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino website or call 800-367-3484. This offer ends May 31.
The important thing to remember about manta rays – 3,000-pound creatures with wingspans reaching up to 22 feet – is that they’re born with their wings wrapped around their bodies, like manta-ray burritos. Want a little more? They gobble up to 300 pounds of plankton daily, by executing octuple backflips with their three-foot-wide mouths agape. The males also have “clampers” which have to be 1.5 inches long for them to be able to mate.
These are just a few bits of trivia you can pick up on your next Big Island visit by staying at the Sheraton Keauhou Bay Resort & Spa (bonus factoid: Keauhou Bay is where Kamehameha III, Hawaii’s longest reigning monarch, was born in 1813). For that and more, you only need to stop by the Manta Ray Bar & Grill (soon to transform into Rays at the Bay) on any given night, when the hotel directs its broad beams at the water starting at 7pm, and a dozen or more of the creatures come to feed. You can observe or listen to the Sheraton’s docent from its broad deck – an experience which combines nicely with pupus or a Mai Tai, or with an upward glance at the stars.
This takes focusing on your breathing to a whole new level. At the LaSource Resort and Spa in Grenada, first-time divers can overcome their fears of diving and practice meditation techniques and yoga positions, all while under water. This scuba-yoga program is taught by a group of professional divers called Aquanats, who lead Pranayama yoga poses. Pranayama yoga focuses on the science of breathing, which can help divers, swimmers, athletes, and magicians hold their breath for long periods underwater.
We love Bonaire (an ABC island in the southern Caribbean along with Aruba and Curacao) for its superlative scuba diving, and Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino is an excellent jumping-off point. Through December 23, the resort is slashing rates up to 30 percent (as long as you book by May 31). As an added bonus, book a seven-night stay for travel by May 31 or from July 1-October 31, and Divi will throw in a $200 air credit.
THE VALUE: Rates start at just $129/night!
THE CATCH: A seven-night minimum is needed to earn the air credit. Neither offer can be combined with the resort’s dive packages.
THE DETAILS: Check out Divi’s website to book the low rates, but you can only score the air credit by calling 877-459-3484.
WE’VE GOT MORE: For general trip-planning information, see our new Bonaire Travel Guide.
Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find the lowest rates and travel deals on flights to Bonaire.
The Luxury The 128-room Pullman Reef Hotel Casino, on Trinity Inlet in Cairns, Australia, features rooms with Jacuzzi-style baths, plush linens, and verandas with water or city views. A special package includes a five-day Learn to Dive course with Pro Dive Cairns and culminates with three days of exploring the Great Barrier Reef.
The Value The Smart Luxury Travel special covers four nights in the hotel, two nights on a dive vessel (expect bare-bones accommodations), nine dives, use of scuba equipment, all meals onboard, and the cost of PADI Gold Open Water Certification. Rates start at $1,265 a person, a savings of more than 25 percent off the standard Learn to Dive course, for travel through March 31.
The Catch Airfare is extra; a round-trip ticket from LA to Cairns, with a stop in Sydney, Brisbane, Singapore, or Hong Kong costs about $1,300.
From the Winter 2010/2011 issue of Smart Luxury Travel magazine by ShermansTravel.com.
For general trip-planning information, see our Great Barrier Reef Travel Guide.
Scuba diving Earth’s arcane waters is not for the faint of heart, but it’s one of those recreational activities that can be incredibly fulfilling and moving once you pass all the required courses and finish training. I found this out firsthand a couple of months ago when I received my PADI Open Water Diver certification in the Holy Grail of diving sites: the Great Barrier Reef.
I’d be lying if I said I didn’t have serious reservations about suiting up and walking off the edge of a boat miles away from shore – I’m no Olympic swimmer and the idea of being 60 feet underwater for an extended period of time seemed rather unnerving (after all, we weren’t born with gills). But, at the same time, the thought of splashing into a heaving ocean of fish and other aquatic creatures sounded exhilarating. If you, too, get overcome with a sense of excitement when you imagine yourself swimming an arm’s length away from wildlife you’ve only read about in textbooks, then scuba diving is right up your alley. Below, I’ve outlined what the certification process entails, as well as what you’ll need to do to receive your diving license – your golden ticket to exploring both uncharted and well-known underwater sites.
Oceans, lakes, glaciers, and rivers cover approximately 71 percent of the world, but few of those waters offer the same pristine fecundity and diversity as the mythical Great Barrier Reef. This past August, I received my PADI Open Water Diver certification with Pro Dive Cairns in Australia and ventured to new depths, exploring Earth’s granddaddy barrier reef – an aquatic treasure trove home to 1,500 species of fish, 360 varieties of hard coral (plus, one-third of the world’s soft coral), as well as 30 types of whales and dolphins. And that’s just skimming the surface. This underwater city encompasses 2,900 reefs, 600 continental isles, and 300 coral cays, making it the largest UNESCO World Heritage Site and a diving mecca for adventure seekers.
With so much to “sea” (and being a novice diver), I was eager to get my feet wet, both literally and figuratively. My five-day Learn to Dive program consisted of two days of rigorous classroom coursework and personalized pool training (which were headed by proficient dive instructors), before I cruised nearly 25 miles off the coast to put my freshly acquired skills to the test in the Great Barrier Reef. For the next three days, I called a 16-cabin vessel home, making nine dives (four training, five pleasure) in some of the natural aquarium’s outermost and secluded reefs, which were teeming with marine wildlife.
The famously luxe Conrad Maldives Rangali Island resort has recently rolled out one of those amenities that’s truly out of this world. Spread out over two islands in the Alif Dhall Atoll of the Maldives, the Conrad is known for (among other things) its underwater restaurant, Ithaa. The all-glass dining room is submerged 16 feet under the ocean and was the first of its kind when it opened five years ago. Dining here is an unforgettable experience in itself (everyone must wear sunglasses at lunch because it gets so bright). But to really step it up, the resort is offering a special opportunity in honor of the restaurant’s fifth anniversary.
Who wants to sleep (and wake up) with the fishes?
Adventure seekers and Scuba diving enthusiasts looking for the best bang for their buck can direct their attention to St. Vincent and the Grenadines where the Summer & Fall Dive Special from the Mariners Hotel and Dive St. Vincent gets travelers an 8-night stay with 12 dives (gear included) for $999! Divers of all levels are welcome and are sure to be awestruck by these gentle Caribbean waters that abound with exotic marine life and unique topography caused by La Soufrière, Saint Vincent’s own active volcano. When the underwater exploration comes to an end and divers are ready to relax, the boutique, 20-room Mariners Hotel with a picturesque restaurant and beach bar awaits them.
THE VALUE: With this deal travelers get the equivalent of one free night’s stay and two free dives! Additionally, this offer includes daily breakfast, round-trip airport transfers, and a 20 percent discount on dinner at the French Verandah Restaurant!
THE CATCH: Sadly, airfare is not included.
THE DETAILS: To book your dive special, visit www.marinershotel.com.
WE’VE GOT MORE: Use our Travel Search price comparison tool to find cheap fares to St. Vincent and the Grenadines.
Know before you go with our St. Vincent and the Grenadines Travel Guide.
Just south of Miami, the Cayman Islands boast long stretches of fine golden beach and superior conditions for scuba diving and windsurfing in the islands’ warm reef-protected waters. Located on popular Grand Cayman, The Reef resort offers secluded oceanfront accommodations on the island’s remote and unspoiled east end. Resort highlights include 152 spacious beachfront suites with private balconies and ocean views and a wide-range of daily activities like beach yoga, snorkeling, and stingray feeding. Don’t miss this 79-hour beachfront suite sale, with rates from just $79/night. Remember to book from 5pm on May 13 through midnight May 16 to take advantage of this limited-time offer for suite stays through December 20.
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