Most of the people who come to Bonaire are SCUBA divers, hauling heavy bags of gear — buoyancy vests and regulators. But on this visit, I decided to try something different: freediving. No tanks, just a breath of air. I wanted to experience the transcendent silence and freedom freedivers talk about. The best man to learn from is in Bonaire, and I was about to get a one-on-one lesson from him.
Have Fins, Will Travel
Swimming with Caribbean reef sharks in the Bahamas, exploring the Northern Hemisphere’s largest barrier reef, or crossing the thermocline boundary to explore ghostly WWII wrecks in Papua New Guinea might sound daunting, but whether you have three days or two weeks, there’s time enough for one of these adventures.
Neptune's grandson on his record-breaking undersea endeavor
We talk with Fabian Cousteau as he preps for Mission 31, an endeavor to live underwater in the Aquarius habitat for 31 days.
Davy Jones's (Dive) Locker
For centuries, man has found countless ways to send ships to the bottom of the sea. Since the advent of scuba technology, we’ve found ways to explore them. Whether it’s to search for booty, take eerie photos, or just to pay respects, wreck diving is a not a sport for the timid. Often found in deep, cold water with strong currents and dangerous reefs, wrecks demand expertise, experience, humility and marine-grade bronze balls — not to mention a lot of specialized gear. This isn’t tropical holiday diving, so be prepared to shell out for equipment that can stand up to the conditions the Gunilda, the Thistlegorm or the Doria present.
Get wet, stay warm
Patagonia has always been a company with one foot in the mountains and one in the sea — climbing and skiing one day, surfing and paddling the next. When they introduced wetsuits to their lineup a few years ago, it was a big leap for the company, but not one they were unqualified to make. In fact, their experience building warm, lightweight and bombproof alpine gear transferred well to wetsuits, which we found out recently while testing the R1 wetsuit during a week of diving in Belize.
Gear for the jungle and the reef
Packing for a tropical getaway usually only involves deciding what color swim trunks to pack. But when your plans include jungle hiking, cave exploration and scuba diving, things get a little more complicated. The key is versatility — you need gear that works underground or underwater just as well as it does topside. For our week in Belize we made sure everything we took did more than just one thing well. This saved space in our luggage and let us be nimble yet well prepared. Here’s a sampling of what we took.
Blue Water, White Death
The history of shark movies is littered with some good, some bad and some very ugly films. Before Sharknado, before Open Water, even before Jaws, there was Blue Water, White Death, which may just be the greatest shark movie ever made.
Diving’s Identity Crisis
There’s a popular saying among nostalgic dive bums that reads, “Remember when sex was safe and diving was dangerous?” Times have changed, and while I won’t comment on the hazards of promiscuity and the risks of STDs, I will say that diving has gotten too safe. Or at least that’s the perception — and one that, ironically, is keeping people from diving. What diving needs is a re-branding campaign.
Just add water
While we love diving for its ability to transport us to an alien world, defy gravity and commune with nature, we also love it for the gear. Diving may be the most gear-intensive sport out there, with the possible exception of mountain climbing. Without your mask, you don’t see, without your tank and regulator, you don’t breathe, without your dive computer, you risk a nasty case of the bends. For our recent trip to the Bahamas, we packed along our favorite warm water diving kit, a collection of necessities, safety backups and just a little bit of style.
The deep end
Most landlocked divers recall with a shudder the pool sessions that were required to learn skills for open water certification. Often conducted in an over-chlorinated high school pool, they’re more a rite of passage than an inspiration. Well, for divers in Brussels, Belgium, pool sessions have a whole different meaning thanks to John Beernaerts’ NEMO33,…
Return to weightlessness
“Dolphins!” someone shouted and Captain Jack, his dreadlocks poking out of the back of his baseball cap pivoted our dive boat, the Mulac, around and swung into the path of the pod of Atlantic bottlenose dolphins who were arcing their dorsal fins out of the water in unison, their powerful exhalations audible a hundred yards…
Turning night into day
The idea of SCUBA diving at night can seem absurd, dangerous and terrifying to someone who hasn’t tried it. But for those who have done it, it can be exhilarating and downright addictive. The ocean becomes a different place after dark and a whole new set of creatures emerges from daytime hiding places – shape-shifting…
Latch on to Michael Phelps, Or Use This
The Bladefish 7000 Turbo ($1,735) is designed to help any underwater explorer keep pace with the surrounding marine life. If you’re last name happens to be Bond, it’ll probably work just as well as a taxi to various underwater missile silos. As the top of the Bladefish line, this high-powered version features a “Turbo” gear…
Get in touch with your inner waterman
You know that laid-back vibe that pervades among dive boat captains, fishing guides and surfers? It’s a sort of smug contentment that comes from being able to spend most days on, in or under the water in a warm climate. Well, that vibe is a little hard to emulate when you’re digging out from one…
Landlubbers Will Shiver Their Timbers With Camera Envy
There are few places more worthy of high-definition video than the underwater world. Sure, photos are great. But SCUBA diving is such a dynamic, otherworldly experience that still photography has always seemed a bit two-dimensional as a means to convey the experience to landlubbers or to re-live adventures back home. Coral reefs teem with thousands…
Dive Watch or Leviathan? How about both.
The new Korsbek Oceaneer is another high-quality dive watch emerging from the growing boutique market. We’ve touched on this trend before here at Gear Patrol, introducing you to companies like BaliHa’i and Zinex. These lines are a great place to find yourself a watch on par in quality with any well known brand; plus, you’ll…
Diving The Mesoamerican Reef
It’s always a good omen when you see a shark on your first dive. We had dropped down to 80 feet on Palancar reef when I spotted the distinctive dorsal and pectoral fins of a five-foot blacktip. I banged my tank to get my wife’s attention and made the vertical hand-to-head signal for shark. The…
The five fathoms club
You’ve slept everywhere: the European hostel circuit, Everest base camp, countless beaches, and world-class ski resorts. What’s next? How about 30 feet underwater? In a sheltered seawater lagoon outside of Key Largo, lies a former research habitat that has been transformed into the world’s only underwater hotel. Whether you go for a three hour lunch…
Dive Watch Fanatics, Your Grail Has Arrived Gear Patrol Contributor Jason Heaton showing his approval for the Doxa SUB 800Ti. In the late 1960s, Doxa, a venerable Swiss watchmaker, developed one of the most enduring and unique designs in a purpose-built dive watch. The Doxa SUB was like nothing else, with its distinctive orange dial…
Submarine Grade Steel On Your Wrist Swiss and Japanese brands tend to dominate the conversation when it comes to watches. However there are other brands out there that deserve praise. Take for instance Sinn, a German watch company known for its many exclusive technologies, unique designs, and expert craftsmanship. One of their most popular models…