Diving Torredembarra in Spain

During a long weekend to Tarragona, in Spain, I decided I should try to get a dive in so I contacted Ody Sea in Torredembarra. It's only 10 minutes on the train from Tarragona and then a walk to the marina. They've got their own cafe if you want breakfast before the dive or lunch after. I hired all the equipment and then I went out on one of their two RIBs to a site called Chaparo.

Do I Need A Drysuit in the UK?

Most people in the UK dive in a drysuit. I did my AOW in an ill fitting wetsuit in Cornwall in May many years ago and can still remember the water pouring down the neck where it didn't fit very well. Since then my dives have all been mostly dry apart from when my zip started leaking badly.

Diving the Lulworth Cove tunnel

Someone on a boat last year was telling me about how he had dived a tunnel near Lulworth Cove and he had video to prove it. So after the first dive on the Aeolian Skye this weekend, we went to look for it as a second dive. We were on a boat, but you could probably do it from shore and we were dropped near the west corner at the entrance to Lulworth Cove. We descended then came to the foot of the cliff in about 5m. Swimming westwards, eventually we found ourselves in a gully with the cliff on the right, and a ridge of rock going up to about 2m on the left.

The Philippines

On New Year's Eve 2016, I made my second trip to the Philippines. I flew direct from London Heathrow to Manila and then transferred onto a flight to Cebu. It was relatively painless as the terminals were adjacent to one another, both flights being with Philippines airlines. The other terminals are the other side of the runway and getting there involves catching a taxi which has to drive all the way round the airport on congested roads.

Using rental equipment

Just before Xmas, I went for a short break to Lanzarote and did 4 dives while I was there. It was good viz and there were lots of fish including some large barracuda. I also saw a couple of sea horses which was good. As I was on a hand baggage only flight and equipment hire was €40 for the 2 days, I decided not to take my own kit. Normally, I dive with a long hose and a wing, so a traditional regulator set up and a jacket BCD is a bit of a novelty for me. It wasn't too bad though, but the big difference I did notice was fins.

Punta Cana, Dominican Republic, November 2016

My previous experience of the Domincan Republic had been a week in an all inclusive hotel in the north with very average food and drinks of a dubious provenance served in plastic cups.This time, I booked a flight to Punta Cana with British Airways and a room in an apartment in Bavaro with booking.com. The taxi from the airport cost US$30, which seemed a little on the high side.

Cartagena, Colombia, March 2016

Cartagena de Indias is a major city on the Caribbean coast of Colombia. The old city is surrounded by defensive walls and is a well preserved example of colonial Spanish architecture. The new city is a mass of tower blocks and there's heavy industry further out in the bay.

Cuba

I first went to Cuba back in 1999. I stayed at an all inclusive hotel in Playa Santa Lucia and I wrote this trip report. Obviously it was a long time ago, but Lonely Planet currently describes Santa Lucia as "an isolated resort strip that's seen better days", so I wouldn't be surprised if it had changed very little.

Barbados, March 2016

Barbados was the first Caribbean island that I ever went to. I went back in 1996 and wrote this report, so I decided that a return visit was well overdue. I booked return flights with BA about as soon as they became available and got them for £506 return. I then booked a reasonably priced hotel in Worthing via booking.com and got a taxi from the airport to the hotel. There was a supermarket near the hotel and I had a fridge in the room which made breakfast and lunches easy.

Santa Marta, Colombia, March 2016

Santa Marta is another city on Colombia's Caribbean coast. It's a major port, but there is a small beach and a marina. The town itself has some nice old colonial style buildings. The Plaza de los Novios is a square around which are several bars and restaurants, and it's a nice and safe place to go for a drink or a meal. I stayed at the Nueva Granada hotel, which had a nice courtyard to relax in and a small swimming pool. Daytime temperatures were as high as 34C, so the pool was welcome.

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