Explore Our Magical Underwater World
The most exceptional diving spots
It is no secret that our founders, Vanessa and Jasper, are great lovers of discovering the underwater world, and they are experienced divers with logged dives across the oceans. V&J plans diving expeditions to the shores of the Azores; the clear waters of the Caribbean Sea; the glowing plankton-rich depths surrounding Hawaiian Islands; the coral triangle in the western Pacific Ocean; or a mere encounter with whales in the Tasman Sea. “Diving shows you a complete different world, so beautiful that is difficult to express in words.”- Vanessa Mestre.
In Jacques Cousteau own words “the sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever”. More than 70% of the planet is made of our oceans and more than 80% of our oceans is unmapped, unobserved, and unexplored – there is still so much to learn from the mysteries of the deep. From past experience working offshore and from their diving adventures, Vanessa and Jasper bring their luggage to the table, and we will provide the most exceptional diving vacations and expeditions. Together with world renown underwater photographers, marine biologists, and researchers we create unparalleled diving expeditions to the most remote and beautiful paradises around the world.
We have put together some of our favourite diving spots, for anyone that travels the globe in search of that one, unforgettable, diving day. Shipwrecks, vibrant reefs, or dancing with whales, each spot is a unique portal into the mysterious, beautiful world beneath the ocean's surface that awaits us.
V&J only works with private dive instructors and dive centres that prioritise environmental conservation and educational tourism, protecting the unspoiled beauty that attracts scuba divers from all over the world.
Consisting of 9 beautiful islands, the Azores Archipelago boasts a variety of geographical diversity filled with high-octane activities. Each island features unique sceneries, cuisine, and cultural charm. Located in the volcanic Atlantic between Europe and North America, this Portuguese island group has developed its own special identity throughout its dynamic history, and today boasts natural beauty. The underwater realm of the Azores present divers with intriguing topography and diversity of dive sites. A subtropical oceanic climate combines with the rich waters of the Gulf Stream, creating a healthy ecosystem that is rich with marine life. The Azores serve as a veritable beacon for whales. Resident sperm whales are joined by migratory blue, fin, humpback, minke, and sei whales plus orcas and several species of dolphins. The peak of whale spotting season is early spring.
The Azores is also an up-and-coming destination for shark diving especially with the beautiful blue and mako shark in these deep blue waters. Manta rays are also prevalent in these outstanding depths, along with occasional whale sharks, hammerheads, and a wide array of large fish. Have a look at our Unique Adventure to the Azores for more information.
Cocos Island (Costa Rica) [Photograph by Flip Nicklin]
When the topic is diving, Cocos Island will absolutely be mentioned in that conservation. Known as one of the most extraordinary places to dive, it is also a highly protected UNESCO world heritage site. The uninhabited Island, 550 km (340 miles) west of the Pacific shore of Costa Rica, and halfway to the Galapagos Islands, offers divers exceptional marine splendour. With a rich history of pirates, whalers, Tongan captives and German adventurers, scuba diving at Cocos Island truly earned the spot on the world map as a top diving destination, with supreme shark experiences in a Pacific playground for schooling hammerheads, manta rays, whale sharks, endangered sea turtles, humpback whales and many more. With the correct weather conditions, it promises diving schedules as many as 3 or 4 dives per day, to explore these ocean waters that are exploding with sea life and ready to unlock unforgettable experiences.
The only region where all together, new and unimaginable forms of life, may perhaps be found. Coral reefs account for less than 1% of ocean floor yet they are home to more than twenty 25% of marine life. In a time when much of world’s reefs are dying due to ocean acidification and rising of sea temperature, less than 1% of the world’s reefs are in a pristine state. The world’s finest reefs can be found within the Coral Triangle of Indonesia, where the Pacific and Indian Oceans converge.
Marine scientists recorded over 76% of all known hard coral species and 52% of identified Indo-Pacific reef fish species within this region. When combining both land and sea-based species, Indonesia ranks number one in the world. The diversity goes beyond the kaleidoscopic coral reefs and reef fish. The larger pelagic species can be seen constantly on the move to hunt prey. This includes oceanic manta rays, the great hammerhead shark, the giant sun fish, and the thresher shark as well as the world’s largest living animal, the blue whale and the world’s largest fish, the whale shark.
Have a look at our Raja Ampat voyage, step aboard a wooden schooner build by the Konjo Tribesman with 21st century engineering and sail the Coral Triangle on an exceptional sea safari that is created to your inspiration and requirements.
Ningaloo Reef (Australia)
Located 1.200 km north of Perth, sits a hidden magical place where words simply cannot do justice. Ningaloo Reef, the world’s largest fringing coral reef, awaits. This 260 km long spectacle is just a few salt-watery steps from the exceptional eco-luxe safari tents of Sal Salis. This place is magical because it is truly the rarest of places, where outback, reef and ranges meet and merge; amidst a spectrum of colour for which, only nature has the palette. Between May to October, migrating humpbacks are drawn through Ningaloo Marine Park. Whale sharks, blue whales, southern right whales, orcas, turtles, mantas, and a range of dolphin species are also part of the reef’s oceanic menagerie.
A natural symphony that only happens here. A reminder that this world can still astonish. A world even greater and more beautiful exists. The moment you submerge into the realm of whale sharks and humpback whale, your life changes. The whale shark season runs from mid-March to July.
This is the place for high octane diving. Exciting, demanding and, for the experienced diver, very rewarding. The Revillagigedo Islands are located south-west of Cabo San Lucas, at the tip of Baja California. There are few other destinations in the world where we can encounter such an impressive array of “big beasts” – humpback whales, giant manta rays, hammerhead sharks, dolphins, tuna, pelagic fish, and many other shark species. At Guadalupe Island you can get an encounter with great white sharks in superb visibility.
The “closest’ island to the mainland is San Benedicto, 390 km offshore, which has become famous among divers around the world for the dive known as El Boiler – a pinnacle covered in corals and patrolled by manta rays and sharks. Nearly 50 km to the south of San Benedicto lies Socorro Island. Also known as the aquarium, Socorro has manta ray cleaning stations as well as several pinnacles where schools of hammerhead sharks are often seen and bottlenose dolphins visit sites, such as Cabo Pearce, almost daily and long encounters are a frequent occurrence. Around 315 km to the west of Socorro is the infrequently visited Clarion Island. Not much is known about Clarion other than it is still relatively unexplored.
The friendly Islands, also known as Tonga, are called the Friendly Islands because of its friendly reception toward Captain Cook during his first visit in 1773. The Islands exist out of 169 islands located in the Southern Pacific Ocean. Stretching over 800 kilometres and with a total surface area of 750 km2, only 96 of these islands are inhabited. Tonga lies South of Samoa, about a third of the way between New Zealand and Hawaii. Tonga is known as one of the few places in the world where you can swim on a safe distance with humpback whales. These magnificent creatures pass through the islands between the months of July and October to mate and give birth. They then leave for their Arctic feeding grounds. In addition to humpback whales, divers can encounter manta rays, eagle rays, many shark species, and other diverse marine life in the area. The underwater geography is just as diverse as its marine life; with dive sites containing everything from coral gardens to caverns and vertical walls, Tonga truly has something for everyone.
Tubbataha Reefs (Palawan)
The tubbataha Reefs is an UNESCO World Heritage site located in the Sulu Sea to the east of Palawan, Philippines. The region's remote location along with challenging access make it one of the healthiest and least exploited areas of reef in the world, exciting out of 100.000 hectares of the spectacular reef system. Diving these reefs is very limited and controlled because they are so protected for very good reasons, when you can explore these magical waters, you will discover a wide array of pristine coral gardens mixed with steep walls dropping down into the deep blue. Tubbataha park area is an important fish spawning and breeding site and is significant in terms of global marine life species diversity and richness. Tubbataha is the best diving spot in the Philippines, and one of the most biodiverse diving spots on earth.
Tubbataha is home to no less than 600 species of fish, 360 species of corals (about 50% of the coral species in the world), 11 species of sharks (including tiger sharks, whale sharks, and whitetips), 13 species of dolphins, and whales, nesting hawksbill and green sea turtles. You can also see manta rays, schools of barracuda and tuna, and smaller marine life like nudibranchs, ornate ghost pipefish, seahorses, and frogfish. Amos Rock is often cited as the best dive site in Tubbataha, boasting colourful soft corals, massive schools of fish, large reef sharks and a gorgonian-covered wall. Washing Machine in the North Atoll is known for some of the best visibility within the marine park and is home to grey reef sharks and plenty of tropical reef fish. You might even see a whale shark or two if you're lucky! Black Rock in the South Atoll is a popular dive spot for whitetip sharks, rays and schools of grouper and giant trevally.
“If Jacques Cousteau was alive today, he would have built U Boat Navigator. No other private boat in the world compares to this dedicated diving vessel.” – Julia Zaltzman, freelance journalist.
The U-Boat Navigator is the ultimate diving vessel, fully equipped with underwater exploration gear, two Triton submersibles and a full dive centre with a decompression chamber for up to four people, a gas filling station including nitrox and trimix and a wet diving bell operating to a depth of 100 m. Guided by highly experienced diving instructors. She is more than capable of discovering depths of up to 1.000 m, ideal for dedicated scuba divers, or for guests passionate about world history, shipwrecks, or geology research.
Being involved in countless expeditions, being featured in documentaries, and discovered many new wreck sites across the Mediterranean, she is equipped with recording equipment and a media team so that you can relive every moment of your underwater expedition in ultra-high definition. The U-Boat Navigator sails the waters of the Mediterranean, Balearic, Tyrrhenian, Ionian, Adriatic, and the Aegean Sea. Get in touch with us for more information and charter possibilities.