Join Dan’s Dive Shop aboard the Kona Aggressor II and spend an epic week diving in Hawaii!
We’ve partnered with Aggressor Adventures to offer a luxury trip aboard a 5 star liveaboard with fantastic diving from the Kona Aggressor II off the coast of Hawaii! This trip includes 7 nights aboard a 80-foot catamaran with spacious staterooms, salon, sundeck, hot tub, bar and grill. Diving includes up to 27 dives with all the amenities for Nitrox and Underwater Photographers.
Dives include the famous manta ray night dive and over 22 sites around the island. See a full list of detailed dive sites below. The diving here is volcanic and unique with an abundance of large and small marine life.
Hawaii is well known for its exoctic beaches, waterfalls, lush gardens, surfing, active volcanoes, and whale watching. Make the most out of your trip and add a couple days land accommodation either before or after the trip.
About the Kona Aggressor II
The Kona Aggressor II liveaboard operates out of downtown Kailua-Kona. Boarding begins Saturday November 2 at 5pm. Kona liveaboard scuba diving begins Sunday morning and ends Friday afternoon when the yacht returns to port. Disembarkment is the following morning, Saturday November 9th at 8am
The yacht sleeps 14 guests in privacy and comfort. She is an 80-foot catamaran, built and powered for comfort, safety, and stability and certified by the U.S. Coast Guard. Accommodations include 5 double staterooms and 1 roomy quad stateroom on the upper deck. Each stateroom bathroom and shower, extra storage and individual climate controls. The Kona Aggressor II has safes in every stateroom to store your valuables.
The Kona Aggressor II has a beautiful spacious salon, large shaded cocktail deck, sun deck with shading, chaise lounges, deck chairs, outdoor sound system bar, and grill. Diving amenities include freshwater rinse showers, camera tables, and nitrox. The sun deck features a “moon deck bar” with seating.
There is a variety of nightly entertainments, including diving, fish identification presentations, movies, games and more. A small library of books for exchange is maintained onboard as well as fish identification books for reference.
Quad Stateroom: DDS Diver Price $2535 USD, Regular Price $3035 USD. Full-sized beds (upper and lower) and two single beds (upper and lower) bunk-style, private bathroom, hair dryer, window, individual climate control and monitor with media player.
Deluxe Stateroom: DDS Diver Price $2735 USD, Regular Price $3235 USD. Double bed (lower) and single bed (upper) bunk-style, private head and shower, hair dryer, port window, individual climate control and monitor with media player.
Trip Price includes onboard accommodation, meals, beverages, diving & DDS trip t-shirt. There are no local taxes or fees
Not included: airfare, airport transfers, land accommodation, nitrox ($100 USD), rental scuba gear, and crew gratuities.
To arrive fly into the Kona International Airport at Keāhole KOA. Current Airfare prices are appox $800-900 return from Toronto. Plan on extending your stay in Hawaii on land? Contact Fawn for assistance booking hotels and airfares.
Deposit due at booking $225 USD / $290 CDN
February 1, 2024 $1000 USD
August 1, 2024 Balance Due
Cancel by Feb 1, 2024 for a full refund minus a $25 administrative fee.
Cancel by May 1, 2024 and 25% of the charter rate is forfeited.
Cancel by August 1, 2024 and 45% of the charter rate is forfeited.
Cancel after August 1, 2024 and 100% of the charter rate is forfeited.
Travel Insurance is strongly advised. For a quote with Alliaz Travel Insurance contact Fawn at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Average of up to 27 dives on this trip with multiple day and night dives. Average water temperature in November is 78 – 80F with thermoclines. A 3-5mm wetsuit and hood is recommended. All dives are from the yacht.
3-Room Cave: Kona Dive Sites200-foot lava tube with 3 large rooms. One way in, one way out. The dive is set up with line and cylume sticks to follow. Inside the caves there are mole lobsters, ghost shrimp, Hawaiian lobsters, puffer fish and nudibranches. Outside the cave there are frogfish, Reticulated Butterfly fish and turtles. An excellent dive upon request. Made only in extremely calm seas.
Au Au Crater: A submerged volcano crater with 3 sides intact, the ocean side wall has fallen. The walls range from 30-70 ft. and 50-200 ft., very dramatic topography with cleaner shrimp station, turkey fish and nudibranches. Good spot for pelagics such as oceanic white-tip sharks, hammerhead sharks, and large jacks.
Black Coral Forest: The boat is moored on in 50 ft. on a sand chute which drops to 90 ft. where the first black coral tree grows, from 90 ft. the black coral trees are endless. The rare longnose hawkfish lives here along with barracuda and viper eels.
Catacombs: A finger coral garden drops steeply to rubble and boulder sloping into the endless blue. The shallows feature swim throughs, tunnels, arches with sky lights and streaming sun rays.
Kalokos Arches: Three natural lava arches on a downhill slope at 50 ft. Turtles frequently seen, spotted eagle rays, good spot for nudibranches.
Keahole Point-Manta Theater: A new mooring installed in 2001. Mantas are often spotted during night dives. Lights are lowered into the water to attract tiny organisms for the hungry mantas. A very exciting dive.
Manuka Bay: A wide protected bay of lava fingers covered with encrusting corals. Several resident frog fish, flame angels, dragon eels, bi-colored anthias (very rare in Hawaii), sennat barracuda and garden eels. Snorkelers frequently encounter spinner dolphins. The night dives are awesome with an abundance of invertebrates including Spanish dancers.
Meadows: Shallow, gently sloping bottom. Lava tubes and arches around 30 ft., finger coral at 80 ft. where white sand flats dominate. Three shy resident white-tip sharks, frogfish, nudibranches under ledges, mantas, crocodile eels, and red-stripe pipe fish.
Okoe Bay: A beautiful shallow bay with a black sand beach. A gentle, white sand slope from 30-60 ft. Look for leaf scorpions, eels, decoy scorpions and an occasional manta at night.
Old Airport: A locally known good spot for eels and daytime manta fly-bys. Steep drop-off, anthias can be found here.
Oz: Yes, it does have a “Yellow Brick Road.” Lava ridge wall from shore to 20 ft., sand patches and reef give way to a ridge that extends straight out off shore 200 ft. the top of which starts in 40 ft. and gently slopes to 80 ft. The ridge top is covered with yellow lobe coral.
Paradise Pinnacle: Large bommie rising from 90-35 ft. out of black sand. Garden eels, cleaner shrimp, crocodile eels, turkey fish and hairy hermit crabs.
Pohoe Bay: A wide bay. Bare lava rocks with a white sand beach and palm trees create an “Oasis” look. This is the site of an ancient Hawaiian village. It is only ruins now with petroglyphs. Weather permitting, guests may snorkel to shore. Underwater, there is a healthy reef with a cave loaded with Hawaiian turkeyfish and the home to the only known pair of Hawaiian lionfish.
Rainbow Reef: The most southerly dive site is actually the most southern point in the United States. The sandy shoreline is flanked by steep cliffs. A shallow wall starts at 15-40 ft. The wall becomes rocky and drops of to a sandy flat at 100 ft. Large silver milkfish, garden eels and bi-colored anthias.
Shark Fin Rock: Also off the “Old Airport Beach,” lava ridges dropping down from shore, schooling surgeons, lots of puffers.
Stoney Mesas: Four large bommies from 25-65 ft. deep crowded together. Titan scorpion fish, turtles and wire coral with gobies.
The Hive: A large bommie 30-70 ft. covered with agile chromis resembling a swarm of bees. Cleaner shrimp station, leaf scorpions and titan scorpions.
The Maze: One of 2 sites off Miloli’i, oldest traditional fishing village in Hawaii. Lava ridges and bommies twist and turn to create the walls of a “maze” at 55 ft. Tinker’s butterfly fish, bandit angels, eagle rays and peacock groupers.
Thompson’s Reef: An exciting dive off a point where there can be a slight current feeding hundreds of Thompson’s butterfly fish. Sandy bottom with white-tip sharks.
Tubastrea Tunnel: Also off of Miloli’i Village. Lava fingers extend from shore to form a peninsula of canyons and ridges and swim throughs. The feature tunnel is 20 ft. wide, 10 ft. high and 40 ft. long. It is covered with beautiful tubastrea coral. There are 3 resident frog fish. Keep an eye out for sharks.
Turtle Pinnacle: A fun dive with several turtles, some are quite large. It is an actual turtle cleaning station. A small pinnacle at 55 ft. marks the spot. This is great opportunity for photographers because the turtles are still during their cleaning. Keep an eye out for schooling barracuda.
Wall’s Wall: Vertical wall starting at 45 ft. dropping to 100-150 ft. Lots of eels, octopus, pyramid and Thompson butterfly fish.
Dive Bikini Atoll with DDS! Have you ever wanted to dive the best shipwrecks in the world? Join us for one of the most anticipated scuba diving trips and Dive Bikini Atoll with DDS in May 2023 and you’ll see some of them!
A few years ago we embarked on a magical trip to Truk Lagoon and had the dream trip, only to ask ourselves how could we top Truk? Well we instantly thought Bikini Atoll, so after missing out on trips lately thanks to Covid, this Trip will be even more amazing. Join us in 2023. Very Limited Space Available.
About Bikini Atoll
Bikini Atoll is located in the Marshall Islands in Micronesia. This area is home to some of the biggest and best shipwrecks you’ll ever see. Pristine ships that were retired from war service and were sunk during atomic bomb testing in 1946 as part of Operation Crossroads where they were evaluating the effectiveness of these weapons against battle ships.
After the Second World War, the USA collected a ‘mock’ naval fleet for the purpose of testing the impact of different atomic bombs on a large fleet. These nuclear bomb tests were performed in several remote locations in the South Pacific Ocean, known as the Pacific Proving Grounds. Bikini Atoll was appointed one of the designated testing areas within the Marshall Islands. Between 1946 and 1958, not less than 23 atomic bombs were tested at Bikini Atoll, which resulted in a unique selection of shipwrecks from the US, Germany and Japan consisting of war battleships, cruisers, and an aircraft carrier.
More than 60 years later, the shipwrecks remain equally as impressive while they have become home to many kinds of corals and fish species. As a result, Bikini Atoll has become the ultimate wreck diving for the true fans! This exclusive and unparalleled diving destination is undisputedly ranked first on any serious wreck & technical divers’ bucket list. This is well justified; nowhere else on earth you will be able to dive into such a unique collection of historic battleships, cruisers, as well as the world famous USS Saratoga aircraft carrier with its 270m (888ft.) flight deck. For this reason, Bikini Atoll was declared the first UNESCO World Heritage site for the Marshall Islands archipelago in 2010.
About the Trip:
Exclusivity guaranteed when you Dive Bikini Atoll the charter is cut to a maximum of 16 guests over 10 or 11 nights per cruise. The Pacific Master
This custom-designed liveaboard was built with divers in mind to bring you the very best diving holiday experience possible. Previously, sailing the stunning dive sites of the Solomon Islands as M/V Taka, this steel-hulled vessel boasts an experienced boat crew, dive team and chefs to ensure the highest standards of service.
The ship features 12 cabins allowing comfortable accommodations, at a reduced capacity to cover the additional equipment required for this type of expedition based trip.
Tech divers will find on board all the latest technical diving facilities and equipment to explore these ultimate wrecks at leisure when you dive Bikini Atoll with DDS.
As a courtesy for the delay/postponement we have included the $500 port tax in the pricing.
2 single cabins (containing a bunk bed and some shelving, very small): Cost: $6500USD/person
2 double cabins (containing 2 bunk beds, quite large): $5650USD/person
4 double/twin cabins (lower double bed, upper single bunk): $7350USD/person
1 twin cabin (lower + upper single bunk): $7350USD/person
Deco bar for stage/deco stops
Booster pump for gas blending & rebreather tank fills
Most wrecks in Bikini Atoll are located beyond recreational diving maximum depths; therefore technical diving skills andwreck experience are required, which is perfect, as DDS offers the most progressive, modern, comprehensive and challenging technical diving courses in the business.
For questions and booking, please contact our travel partner:
Fly and Sea Dive Adventures
8528 123 St.
Join DDS in beautiful Roatan for a seven night stay at Anthonys Key Resort January 23-30, 2022. One of the original scuba diving based resorts, Anthonys Key Resort sits nestled on Sandy Bay beach. Your choice of over the water bungalows on a private key or hillside rooms nesteled in the rainforest. The resort offers pristine diving on the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef System, the largest barrier reef in the northern hemisphere in a 10,400 square miles protected Marine Park. Anthonys Key Resort focuses on sustainable practices such as Solar Power, No Single Use Plastics, and a Coral Nursery Program making this DDS Approved! The trip doesn’t just offer great diving, but also an amazing resort above water.
TRIP INCLUDES ALL INCLUSIVE DIVER PACKAGE
7-Nights Hotel Accommodations
Full American Meal Plan (3 Meals Daily)
3 Single Tank Boat Dives Per Day (6 days)
2 Single Tank Boat Night Dives Per Week
Air Tanks & Weights
Shore Diving During Shop Hours
Admission to Roatan Museum
Kayaking & Stand-Up Paddle
Day Excursion to Maya Key
Island Fiesta Night on the Key
Key Superior overwater bungalows feature warm hardwood floors that invite your bare feet to walk on, and Honduran hardwood furnishings elegantly arranged throughout. These bungalows in Honduras are air-conditioned, weather-sealed, and fitted with high visibility glass windows for spectacular ocean vistas. Access to the key is by island taxi boat, traveling back and forth in the lagoon.
Hill Superior bungalows are nestled within the lush tropical foliage of the hillside on the main island. They feature warm wood floors and Honduran hardwood furnishings that are elegantly arranged throughout. All superior bungalows are air-conditioned, weather-sealed and fitted with high visibility floor to ceiling glass windows for spectacular views. A large private deck connects all four bungalows in this category and is a great place for groups to relax and enjoy time together. Access to the hillside is approximately 60 steps up from the dock.
$200US Deposit Required at booking. Trip Balance Due November 1, 2021. Prices are in USD, include 19% tax and are double occupancy. Airfare not included.
Hillside Superior All Inclusive Diver’s Package $1279US
Hill Superior All Inclusive Non Diver Package $1100US
Key Superior All Inclusive Diver’s Package $1487US
Key Superior All Inclusive Non Diver Package $1309US
CANCELLATION POLICY You have until November 1, 2021 to cancel. The $200US deposit is non-refundable.
Questions about Covid 19 & travel to Roatan? Contact Fawn for full details. Travel Insurance is strongly advised.
A little over three years ago DDS Divers booked a trip of a lifetime to Truk Lagoon in Micronesia, a pre-war Japanese territory which housed their air base, naval station and in the aftermath became a wreck diving haven of some amazing World War II shipwrecks and victorious systematic attacks throughout the islands by US Naval and Airforce teams, in what was a retaliation effort by the United States for the attack on Pearl Harbour.
The US launched operation Hailstone which began on February 16 and 17th most notably, but also sparked a long term battle which lasted months after, as the US forces maintained pressure on the Japanese throughout this time and kept kicking them harder and harder when they were down, eventually starving out many of the Japanese officers who were unable to receive supplies from merchant ships and instead had to resort to cannibalism of local islanders, Korean comfort girls (they estimate 10’000 women were taken from their homes and forced to perform as companions to the soldiers) and some of their own wounded or dead troops.
The stories of the war on this side of the world was fascinating and there are many books, documentaries and videos available if you’re interested in finding out more. In the meantime, lets discuss the planning, the journey, the local area, how plans can change, shipwrecks, diving operations, diving itself, the experience and of course the very sad journey back home to reality.
Have you ever heard the age old adage that if it was easy, everyone would do it? We think that rule would apply here, you see, Truk (Chuuk)Lagoon is an area in the state of Chuuk in the Central Pacific region of Micronesia, among a series of beautiful islands that are located between Guam, Honolulu and the Marshall Islands (which are of interest to us, home to the worlds largest Shark Preservation Sanctuary covering over 200’000 square kilometres or 772’000 miles os protected ocean, as well as being home to another future dive destination….Bikini Atoll).
We departed Toronto in the wee hours of the morning with sand still in our bloodshot eyes as we marched like cattle off to an untimely fate….customs and baggage inspection stations.
I carried on my White Arrow Rebreather and the majority of my sensitive equipment, which I knew was going to be a unique experience for all involved, as we usually have quite the ordeal when it comes to getting regulators and a canister light through inspection points. I was searched or had to demonstrate application of the unit everywhere I travelled.
Air Canada was the carrier that took us to LAX, where it is highly likely they will want to weigh your carry-on bags. It’s about $400 if you had to check an additional bag all the way through round trip, so its worth chancing it or packing as lightly as possible. My checked bag had a weight allowance of up to 50lbs and was mostly clothes, fins, wetsuit, boots, trimix analyzer in a heavy duty pelican case and my shaving kit. I think the comment was made that divers should bring 1/2 as many clothes as they think they’ll need and twice as much money.
My carry-on backpack housed my regulators, backplate and harness, some books (I didn’t even have time to read), liquids, gels, pills, and I was able to stow my jacket and sweater in there.
My carry-on bag had the rebreather, wing, counterlung, breathing loop, tank bands, isolation manifold, canister light, backup lights, spool, primary reel and 2 Shearwater computers.
Once you switch airlines to United there is a much less of a chance that the carrier will weigh your carry-on bags.
Once we arrived at LAX we disembarked and had to change terminals, which involved walking 1/2 way across the entire airport and going through baggage check and customs yet again, this is where I got hassled and detained for the better part of 45 minutes because they kept insisting the rebreather canister was a scuba tank and that I was going to have to check the baggage, until finally after the 4th person tried to tell me this, they located a scuba diver on their inspection staff who verified that it indeed was not a scuba tank and they decided to X-Ray it one more time before letting me go to board my plane which was only minutes away from boarding by this point.
From LAX we flew to the beautiful Central Pacific Island of Honolulu, where we overnighted, got a great meal and a wonderful Teppenyaki experience at Benihana restaurant in Waikiki, where they chef did a fun choreographed show as he prepared our meals right at the table.
With our bellies full and anticipation high, we returned to the hotel, got a few hours of sleep and readied ourselves for the final leg of the trip, which would prove to be the longest as well, as we participated in the island hopping to 5 islands including our final stop in Chuuk.
After a total distance (approximate) of 13220km’s and about 32 hours (over 22 hours were spent in the air) we arrived to our final destination.
The Local Area
Chuck state was so beautiful, very reminiscent of when I was a child and my parents would take me on vacation to Caribbean islands that now are modernized and built up, but back then were very authentic, often poverty ridden and full of local culture that is unspoiled by foreigners.
The airport was located on the island of Weno, where we saw first hand a very simple and modest single story airport that had only 1 lane, a large single un-airconditioned waiting room with a giant fan at the snack bar fanning the patrons, while all the rest were trying to fan themselves as the a/c units were either not turned on or broken.
The runway was a single landing strip where the plane fly’s in and takes off from the same landing strip and they can only host 1 single plane at a time or they’d run out of room.
Like all of the landing strips we saw on the way into Chuuk, they were all on a picturesque and beautiful ocean backdrop, often times coasting into a narrow passage on the atoll that in this case developed into a beautiful island with lush greenery, while others were not much more than a sand island with a few palm trees and buildings and others were lush with mountains, their own microclimate and some lovely fishing bays and villages.
After a short distance but very long drive on an uneven road with potholes the size of a small crater, we made our way down past the shipping port and marina where the petroleum shipments, sea containers and any imports and exports take place in a bus playing some local authentic Chuukese folk music that was reminiscent of Bob Dylan or Yoko Ono, but yet strangely intriguing and hypnotic, but then again it could’ve been the jet lag starting to set in too.
We travelled at a snails pace of approximately 10-15km/hour and arrived a mere 3km’s later 25-30 minutes into the future at the Blue Lagoon Resort having driving through a very simple, poor and absolutely beautiful countryside with large mountains, palm trees as far as the eye can see, bunches of bananas in trees, local children playing ball, chopping coconuts with machete’s, girls dressed up in their best school clothing, giggling and waving as we passed by them, while we also noticed many buildings that were old wartime barracks converted to Churches, school houses, homes and more.
We were told that many of the roads and buildings are still the original constructed ones from over 70 years ago when Japan was ruling this territory.
Even The Best Laid Plans………
We booked this trip 3 years ago, with its intention to dive in style and enjoy a brand new 5 star dive experience aboard a boat that hadn’t yet been built, but last March that boat, newly minted and not even a full year of age (designed not for the rigorous winds, constant waves) built for a peaceful serene environment like Thailand, was caught in some unpredictable weather when a full out hurricane blowing winds of 100 miles an hour or more blew the ship around like a paper, sending it on a trip around the lagoon before its final fate of being beached on the reef, where it was later stripped by the crew of its valuables and burned to the waterline and then blamed on the locals who now truly resent their returned presence and would love to see the next boat sink after making such slanderous comments.
When such a tragedy befall upon our trip plans, many of our original guests were crushed morallyand since time was of the essence, we had to quickly look for other alternatives to keep the forward momentum of the trip going.
We turned to “Plan B” which was a combination land and sea package with 4 days on resort at the Blue Lagoon Resort and Dive Shop, which are both located at the end of the islands west/southwest point.
We hadnt the faintest idea what to expect with a number of the reviews being so mixed about the resort, which was the now known as the first leg now of what had turned into 2 part trip with the second leg of “Plan B” to take part on a live aboard dive vessel that also had good and bad reviews.
The Blue Lagoon Resort was a blessing and having the opportunity to stay on land, it gave us time to reset our internal clocks, slowly get used to the time change and soak up the sun and scenery as much as we wanted, with dives in the morning and afternoon if we wanted them.
Flying to Chuuk put us ahead in the future 15 hours as we are normally in Eastern Standard Time, so we took the time to adjust to the changes, enjoying some well needed sleep, some awesome local cuisine and our first series of 2 tank dives, which turned into a late morning early afternoon start by the time all of our gear was setup, tanks obtained and rigged, rebreathers (for those diving CCR) setup, calibrated, tested, doubles (for those diving twins) assembled and checked and then aboard the dive boats we went.
The photos online didn’t do it justice, but we figured regardless, the diving would be fabulous, we were surprised how much fun we had!
The resort staff were kind, food was great at the restaurant, the dive staff spoke english very well and the boats were efficient, although nothing special.
We are already planning our trip back here because it was such a great experience and a great value.
If you want glamour and glitz, you’re in the wrong sport, this rating of 5 star is for divers.
Bare in mind we are visiting and diving in a Third Worldcountry, if you want to be pampered find a different hobby or rent a luxury yacht for a week and try it yourself.
Be prepared to pay a lot for tank rentals and such at BLDS, unless you can pre-arrange a dive package, that was the only negative , as all of our divers had a $200-$300 tab at the end of the week, despite pre-paying for the lodging/dive charters ahead of time. If you’re diving single tanks its not an issue.
For rebreather divers, Sofnolime was available by the keg for purchase, while helium is stocked, so you don’t have to pre-pay for an entire bottle which ships over from Guam on a boat, which is what we had to do on the 2nd leg of the trip. Divers could request whatever mixes they wanted and the state of the art blending system made mixing quick and easy, so we were quite happy overall.
Helium is expensive as in around $5.75/ft3 in US Dollars, so blending for best mix or lightening up your END (equivalent narcotic depth) may be an option. Don’t expect to be blending 18/45 every day, unless you brought $1150usd cash with you (credit card add 3-3.5% most places) and want to burn through several K cylinders, which are rated at 217 cubic feet of gas per cylinder at 2015psi.
Next trip we’ll be looking into tank/gas packages with BLDS, as we got spoiled on the Thorfinn.
“Plan B” Leg II SS Thorfinn
As the week progressed we neared the final tenure at our Blue Lagoon Resort time and began to look ahead to the second leg of the trip aboard the Steamship Thorfinn or SS Thorfinn as its know as.
At first glance online the Thorfinn looked older, had a few less amenities than our fantasy boat that was becoming an artificial reef with each passing day, and the reviews were not all that promising, nor was the massive black cloud of of coal smoke that was spouting out sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, soot, and ash as it slowly chugged towards us for pickup on the resort.
For a brief moment we stared eyes wide, mouths open, asking ourselves if we could just spend the rest of the week on the resort where we had land and clean air, but then we met the staff who came to collect us and our bags with 2 of the nicest laid out rigid hull aluminum chambered dive boats we’ve ever seen and they were nice and friendly and helpful, so we took the leap of faith off the dock and proceeded forward on to the next chapter of our journey.
The SS Thorfinn was massive, which makes sense as they’re known as the Largest Liveaboard dive vessel in the world at 170′.
The SS Thorfinn was originally a Norwegian whaling ship in its former life, prior to being sold. It was known as the “luckiest ship in the fleet” because it often got closer to its prey catching the most game because the hull was made out of military grade type 201 steel, which was non-magnetized, therefore masking its signal and having the animals swim along side the ship rather than avoiding it. That benefit cost the company a little bit of extra money, as sailors are a superstitious bunch, so it costs more to purchase the “luckiest ship in the fleet”.
After a little bit of a backstory of the ship, we were even more excited now and began to suspect that this part of the trip was going to be amazing.
As I wandered around the ship, I was suffering from sensory overload as there was so much area to explore. The ship was reminiscent of one of my favourite liveaboards, the Nautilus Explorer (whom we are a travel agent for), which was a similar looking ship with a similar layout, however, we weren’t expecting the SS Thorfinn to be as well equipped or stable.
The common room was where we could be found most days between dives, it was spacious, offered a wide array of movies, had wifi (10 mb per day is your daily allowance) so we could check emails and sparsely use the internet. There was small bar that the hospitality staff kept open from morning until 11pm for divers wanting cold water or non-alcoholic punches during the dive days, coffee or tea to warm up and a few drinks for those feeling so inclined after the day of diving had ended.
The decor inside the ship was cozy, clean and the hospitality staff were so efficient at picking up after us when we dropped a food item or left crumbs on a table, which was very impressive. Cleanliness is a huge thing aboard the Thorfinn which is what you want, as liveaboards in remote areas have to content with insects and rodents that are in abundance in an island paradise.
Our briefing and orientation was conducted by the captain himself, Lance Higgs, who at first glance instantly reminded me of Lloyd Bridges. He had a deep voice, reminiscent of a radio announcer, narrator, or a movie star, which made sense as to how Captain Lance was so natural at keeping the audience of excited scuba divers engaged for the duration of the speech.
At 78 years of age, Captain Lance has over 1/2 century of experience sailing around the world, until his journey took him to Chuuk where he has run diving excursions throughout this area for many decades. We hope he continues for many more.
The Roomson the SS Thorfinn were very clean and comfortable, with the bathroom facilities impressing me the most, as they were spotless. The beds were made daily and they were comfortable to sleep in. The air-conditioning could’ve been a little more powerful but the oscillating fans did their job and most nights we had good sleeps overall.
The Foodon the ship was great, although a little more North Americanized in comparison to Blue Lagoon, so we were treated to eggs, toast, pancakes, french toast, omelettes, spam, bacon, ham. Lunches were very good and varied but usually had a soup or salad, meat and veggie entree with a side and dessert, oh so many desserts, one for lunch and one for dinner on this ship.
Our dinners were great with the kitchen staff working hard to keep us well fed. They even made Diver Dan a very special birthday cake as he turned 71 on the trip! The last night we were on the boat they even had a massive barbecue for us as a thank you.
The Staff on the ship were quieter than on Blue Lagoon, as some were more shy or less fluent with the english language, but we had 2 dive guides (Katsashi and Erik) who were both very quality oriented and very kind, caring individuals, especially Erik, who was the recreational boats guide. Its so nice when you can feel the positive energy that the staff project, especially having been on some not-so-good trips on ships where the staff are infighting and don’t want to be there. Some of the staff care about the ship, the success and know the value of having happy divers, because they know they’ll try their best to come back if they had fun.
The SS Thorfinn is essentially a floating hotel and from this floating hotel divers depart aboard the ribs (rigid hull inflatable boats) that take the groups to different dive sites.
The Boatson the SS Thorfinn tries to vary where groups go daily, encouraging divers to mix it up and get a sampling of as many different sites as they can hit. Each boat goes to a different location unless otherwise agreed upon to facilitate the needs of advanced/technical divers, as well as less experienced/recreational divers, which is what we had, a mixed group of both rec and tech divers.
The dive boats were aluminum hulled air ribs that were perfectly laid out for recreational and technical divers. Divers had a bench seat that opened up and had more than enough room for all but the largest camera systems to keep the deck free and clear. The ladder could’ve been 1-2 rungs longer and on more of an angle, but the surface staff handled the logistics of getting the divers back on the boat very efficiently in rougher surface conditions.
The Diving (The Part You’ve All Been Waiting For)
Simply put, it was awesome!
Anytime you put giant steel battleships in the water to dive around and through and there are guns, tanks, airplanes, trucks, cars, torpedoes, ammunitions, mines, portholes, artifacts, gas masks, human remains, great visibility, sharks, beautiful sea creatures, some varied coral formations and nice clean interiors free of coral to see the ship as it once was, you’re going to have a phenomenal experience.
Most of the sites were within recreational limits with some wrecks being in 65fsw/20msw, most being in the 100′ range, while a few more were in the 100-150′ range, a couple in the 160-180′ and the deepest dive, the San Francisco Maru at 210′.
Many of the ships were upright, with a couple of them laying on their sides.
Our dive logs looked something like this:
Yamagiri – Maru a stunning ship laying on its port side. The Yamagiri was hit by bombs or a torpedo on the starboard side. It features some fabulous swim-through’s with access to the entire ship. As you swim through this wreck you notice cases upon cases of Saki and empty bottles throughout this wreck and the many wrecks. Maximum depth was 100′ and we saw a cool black and white Lionfish on this dive.
The most notable feature of this wreck is in the engine room there is a skull wedged into the ceiling from a soldier being blown to pieces and the rest of his bones below and strewn around. There was possibly a second skull where it looked like only the back of the cranium was embedded into the wall and a large number of bones atop the machinery down a catwalk.
This was a phenomenal dive!
Momokawa – Maru lays in 90-130′ and features some stern bomb damage, while boasting a beautiful bridge area and torpedo casings throughout the holds.
S.S. Nippo – Maru was one of our personal favourites because we had the ability to dive a beautiful upright ship that had guns on the bow, truck frames inside the bow hold, direct access to the engine room via the hatches atop the ship or by going down onto the seafloor, you can swim in through the torpedo hole. As you make your way through the twisted metal, you see the damage explosives can do until the metal reforms back into a recognizable ship again after entering about 20′ in and up and through the hull. As you make your way towards the bridge the ship boasts a beautiful telegraph and a pair of Howitzer guns after of the bridge.
The Nippo featured some beautiful hallways to explore with access forward or aft. This was one we dove a few times.
Rio De Janeiro – Maru was one of the last wrecks we dove. It lays in a maximum depth of 100′, starboard side down and features helmets, guns, a phenomenal engineroom, a large aft gun, plenty of cargo holds full of goodies, including cases of saki stacked floor to ceiling up the walls.
San Francisco – Maru was our most favourite of the dives, not because it was the deepest, but because it was the best.
This wreck starts at 140′ to the bridge, 160′ to the deck and had a little bit of everything from torpedoes and shells in the holds, 2 tanks on the starboard side bow, 1 on the port side, trucks and truck bodies in the bow hold, a large bow gun in 150′, a pretty windlass on the bow, sharks, skulls, turtles, fish, it was our favourite dive for a reason.
We did 3 dives here, including 2 in the same day.
Maximum depth was 210′ and most of us dove this wreck as a technical dive on CCR or Open Circuit Trimix.
Shinkoku – Maru gave the diver the bonus of diving a beautiful coral encrusted ship from the mid ship point to the stern in a reasonable depth range of 30′-125′. The wreck sits upright and featured great fish life and a fun wreck with lots to see.
Shotan – Maru was a more technical dive in terms of depths with the average depth ranging from 140-180′. The ship was a lovely upright wreck featuring a gorgeous windlass, crane trucks in the cargo holds one off the port side mid-ship. An anti-aircraft gun was one of the highlights on the mid stern of the ship, with a stern gun as well.
Aikoku – Maru was one ship we were the least enthused to dive, yet, it was one of the most impressive wrecks and one of the most fun.
The wreck was involved in a freak explosion when the side gun on the stern shot down a US plane that crashed into the first cargo hold where the ammunition was stored. The explosion apparently was a massive mushroom cloud reminiscent of an Atomic bomb, as there was so much in the way of explosive mines, shells and torpedoes that everything instantly blew up, taking the front 1/2 of the ship off.
The bridge section of the wreck was ripped off by the liveaboard vessel the Odyssey, which was very unfortunate, as we would’ve liked to have explored that more, but it was ripped and lifted and twisted like a can of sardines.
The Aikoku was double the size of the San Francisco Maru making it the largest ship in the Lagoon.
A commemorative plaque is placed before the destruction of the forward section and there are lots of human remains around.
What made this wreck so interesting was the layers of what looked like melted, shifted and randomly laid out sheets of metal on the bow area. As the ship ceased looking like a ship suddenly, it became a scrap metal pile that dipped down deeper and deeper sagging down towards the seafloor at 205′.
We’re looking forward to exploring this wreck again on a return trip.
Fujikawa – Maru is a very fun dive in 80-120′. It has everything from planes in the holds, to scenic swim-through’s, to pretty deck corals, ammo all over the ship inside and out and it sits upright very prim and proper like she’s on display for all to see her and her former glory.
Betty Bomber is a Mitsubishi G4M bomber that now rests in 50′ of water. The motors are a long swim from the sandy resting place of the planes nose and port wing over a bit of coral and about 300-400 feet away.
This is a great spot for the last dive of the day or for the beginner recreational diver.
Gosei – Maru is a great intermediate to advanced open water dive with loads of great penetration and lots to see. You start the dive on the bow in 15′ and make your way down the starboard side going towards the structures, holds and other sections. The wreck is 270′ x 40′ and max depth is 110′. You can see a torpedo hole on the starboard side midship. I-169 is a submarine and one of our more fun dives. It was not a remarkable wreck as far as penetration, but it was fun because it offered great wildlife with lots of manta rays and other critters. It also posed a fun challenge when we were told the Japanese soldiers who served on this wreck were only 4 feet 6 inches tall typically, so we wouldn’t be able to get inside the wreck…….Challengewas accepted and the fun began from there, as a couple of our divers were able to enter at midship and make their way forward, until part of the wreckage collapsed on us and we turned the dive at that point because the wreck was very unstable.
Depth range 70-90′
Kansho – Maru This wreck suffered some stern damage above the waterline, so there were some questions as to how it sank. The ship featured yet another stellar engine room, where boiler gauges were still in great shape, dials and even a clock still were in place. Like many of the engine rooms, there were switches and levers galore, and a beautiful propeller and rudder. Depth range to the stack was 40′ and the deck 65-100′.
Back To Reality
This Trip was one that had so many positives and it was thanks in part to the dive sites, the dive operators, the travel providers, but at the end of the day it was the guests who participated in the trip that made it all worth the distance.
We had such a magical group of people who shared in the experience, the unity, the inside jokes that random people will never understand (Turdle), but I can honestly say that this trip felt like family, and we’ve all become closer as a result of it.
We travelled together, watched each others backs, made sure that everyone was always accounted for, all the while trusting each other above and below the surface.
Truk was a trip that I think has stayed in all the guests minds and memories of late, with random texts being received, messages being shared and people reliving the moments that mattered on a regular basis.
We are very lucky as a shop to have such great divers, customers and friends whom we can share in these adventures with and for that I am truly grateful.
Here are a few random pics from the trip, we hope you enjoy them and we’ll see you on our next trip to Truk hopefully.
Dive Beautiful Cozumel – April 2016 with Dan’s Dive Shop
Join Dan’s Dive Shop and experience beautiful Cozumel, Mexico. Renowned for diving, Cozumel offers a variety of conveniently close, yet extremely impressive dive locations, frequented by snorkeling novices and dive experts alike. Featuring some of the world’s most spectacular underwater ranges, the reefs of Cozumel are known for their magnificent walls, towering coral pinnacles, underwater caves and swim-throughs.
With some of the greatest dive sites only 5 to 10 min away from the Allegro Cozumel Resort, a Cozumel dive vacation with Allegro is your very best choice.
Cozumel is a great place for beginner and advanced divers alike. Join us for your Open Water certification, Advanced training or take a Specialty course and rest assured you are in the best hands with divers you know and trust.
Our Ultimate Dive Experience package includes: – direct flight from Toronto – 7 nights accommodations at Allegro Cozumel – food and drinks at 5 on-site restaurants – 5 days of 2-tank boat dives – Nitrox – roundtrip airport shuttle – discounts at the on-site dive shop – free equipment storage and care at the Dive Shop – special rates on additional dives – taxes and hotel gratuities
Also Available: Cenotes dive experience, certification dives, night dives
Not included: Marine Park fees, dive boat gratuities
There’s nothing quite like traveling with DDS Divers to exotic places. In this case the destination is Cuba and the objective is clear: relax, enjoy, dive, repeat.
Join us for a great week of all inclusive diving and fun as we invade Santiago De Cuba at the Brisas Sierra Mar Hotel. Enjoy stunning views of the Sierra Vista mountains, a fantastic beach with great snorkelling, dive rich marine life from vast coral crags to gigantic groupers, historic shipwrecks from the Spanish War, and get treated with traditional Cuban hospitality.
Trip includes: Direct flight from Toronto (with Sunwing Vacations) All food and drinks Return airport transfers 5 days of 2 tank boat dives
All for only $1168 CAD including all taxes! Non-Divers are also welcome, cost is $818 including taxes.
Upgrade certifications by taking a variety of specialties or core training courses on your trip. Or just come and dive for the fun of it all.