South Pacific & Oceania

Australia: Victoria's Secret

“You can dive in Melbourne?” was the baffled response from a Queensland hotel concierge upon telling her I was heading to Victoria to dive. And this was from an Australian who WAS a diver! When overseas visitors think of Australia, the Great Barrier Reef immediately comes to mind. However, Australian diving is not just about coral. Along the continent’s southern coast is an undersea world far removed from the tropics.

Australia: The Little Life on the Great Barrier Reef

There is nothing small about the Great Barrier Reef. It is not only the largest coral reef system on Earth, but probably the most well-known. You would be hard-pressed to find divers who do not have it on their dive wish lists. It is Earth’s largest living structure and reaches over 2,300km (1,400 miles) down the coast of Queensland, Australia.

New Zealand: Poor Knights & Bay of Islands

Ever since the release of the Lord of the Rings, New Zealand has been synonymous with Middle-earth—a South Pacific wonderland of forests, mountains, volcanoes and geysers featured in the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit trilogies.  Although revered for its topside beauty, New Zealand remains somewhat obscure as a diving destination.

Treasures of Tasmania

There is an island at the bottom of the Earth playfully referred to as the end of the world, or the edge of the world, and if I did not know better, I could picture this to be true. Standing at the edge of some of the steepest cliffs in Australia on the Tasman Peninsula of southeastern Tasmania, I looked out over the steep, jagged coastline and the steel blue Southern Ocean.

Black Water Diving in Palau

The original concept of black water diving consists of going to an offshore location in the middle of the ocean at night and jumping into the abyss to watch the ocean’s diurnal migration. By hanging lights at around 15m for a stable reference depth and drifting over a contour of a 1,000 meters, or as deep as you can, one can see microscopic zooplankton rising from the depths, bringing with them an array of magical creatures.

Japanese Shipwrecks of Kwajalein Atoll

Look at a map of the Pacific Ocean and follow a line southwest of Hawaii. Right after crossing the International Date Line, but just before crossing the equator sits the Republic of the Marshall Islands. What could possibly be a map maker’s accidental green spots in the vast pool of blue representing the Pacific Ocean, many have never heard of these tiny islands which are home to fantastic underwater treasures.

Australia's Great Barrier Reef

Nudibranch, Snake Pit, Great Barrier Reef. Photo by Brandi Mueller.

If there was a place that inspired me to become a diver and invoked my passion and love for the ocean, it was Australia’s Great Barrier Reef (GBR). As a kid, I could spend hours watching television specials of this blue, fish-filled world that was so different from the Wisconsin farm town I grew up in.

Tahiti's Humpback Whales

Breaching humpback whale, Tahiti. Photo by Gregory Lecoeur.

As our dive boat glided through Papeete Channel off the northern coast of Tahiti, two distinct spouts appeared on the horizon. We were carefully making our way toward them when suddenly two tails emerged out of the water and then majestically disappeared again. Benoit, our guide, carefully got into the water. He quietly swam in the wake of the whales until finally, he lifted his fist into the air to indicate their presence.