South Pacific

Samoa: Polynesian Diving in Upolu

Tiny blenny hiding in reef, Samoa. Photo by Brandi Mueller.

Located in the Polynesian region of the South Pacific Ocean, the idyllic paradise of Samoa, which comprises the two main islands of Savai'i and Upolu and several smaller islands, is part of the Commonwealth of Nations. Brandi Mueller managed to venture to Upolu Island before the coronavirus pandemic forced countries to close borders and stay-at-home orders came into effect.

French Polynesia’s Tuamotu Archipelago

Situated east of the more widely recognized Society Islands such as Tahiti, Moorea and Bora Bora, the Tuamotu Archipelago comprises around 80 islands and atolls stretching northwest to southeast across the South Pacific Ocean, creating the longest chain of atolls in the world.

Matthew Meier shares highlights from his adventure in Tuamotu, after visiting the archipelago on the only liveaboard operating in the area.

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.

Tonga's Humpback Whales

Competitive group of male humpback whales. Photo by Don Silcock.

Our skipper, Ali, carefully maneuvered the boat into position and cut the engine, shouting, “Go, go, go!” at the top of his lungs. And go we did—straight into the deep blue water, with cameras held in vice-like death-grips and onto the path of over a dozen mature and rather excited humpback whales.

Fabulous Fiji

Scott Bennett writes: I’d like to introduce you to some of our friends, enthused our guide Manasa, a.k.a Papa, as he held aloft a well-worn loose-leaf binder. The photographs within produced nervous laughter and a couple of anxious glances amongst a few of the divers. Then again, with names like Scarface, Hook and Big Mama, these were no ordinary friends. They were sharks, and we would soon be making their acquaintance.

President Coolidge

Henry Nelson. Does the name ring a bell? You’ll not find him in any history book or see any monuments to his honor. However, the thousands of scuba divers who visit Vanuatu every year should bless this name. This former French/English colony, which was named New Hebrides till 1980, was also the second most important US base in the pacific during WWII.