A Travellerspoint blog

Yenbuba dive site offered lots of variety

I'm glad a diver was passing by so you can see how large the coral is!; you can also get an idea of the excellent visibility underwater

I'm glad a diver was passing by so you can see how large the coral is!; you can also get an idea of the excellent visibility underwater

Blacktip reef sharks are viviparous — producing live pups instead of eggs — and give birth to up to 10 pups each year; the pups reach maturity at an average age of about 4 years old for males and 7 years old for females with an average lifespan of 13 yrs

Blacktip reef sharks are viviparous — producing live pups instead of eggs — and give birth to up to 10 pups each year; the pups reach maturity at an average age of about 4 years old for males and 7 years old for females with an average lifespan of 13 yrs

Chromodoris elisabethina nudibranch; this is one of the more common (and most colorful) nudibranchs which can grow to 20 inches

Chromodoris elisabethina nudibranch; this is one of the more common (and most colorful) nudibranchs which can grow to 20 inches

Bicolor angelfish; this species' diet consists of small crustaceans, such as brine and mysis shrimp, as well as tunicates, corals, sponges, worms, algae, and sometimes clams; fortunately, they don't live well in aquariums

Bicolor angelfish; this species' diet consists of small crustaceans, such as brine and mysis shrimp, as well as tunicates, corals, sponges, worms, algae, and sometimes clams; fortunately, they don't live well in aquariums

This two-spot lizardfish and cloudfin lizardfish are teaming up to keep an eye out for predators; they are typically very solitary so it's unusual to see two so close together

This two-spot lizardfish and cloudfin lizardfish are teaming up to keep an eye out for predators; they are typically very solitary so it's unusual to see two so close together

A Dutch diver, Max Ammer, began to spread the word about Raja Ampat in 1990; he spent time here and realized the biodiversity was like nowhere else in the world; he invited Australian fishery expert Gerry Allen to survey the area and the rest is history

A Dutch diver, Max Ammer, began to spread the word about Raja Ampat in 1990; he spent time here and realized the biodiversity was like nowhere else in the world; he invited Australian fishery expert Gerry Allen to survey the area and the rest is history

Eclipse butterflyfish; they thrive on a diet of coral polyps, tentacles of featherdusters and Christmas-tree worms; they need to hover motionless while picking at the coral and dart swiftly over short distances to get the worm before it retracts

Eclipse butterflyfish; they thrive on a diet of coral polyps, tentacles of featherdusters and Christmas-tree worms; they need to hover motionless while picking at the coral and dart swiftly over short distances to get the worm before it retracts

Twospot snappers are a long-lived and slow-growing species which reaches maturity at 8–9 years, and the oldest recorded individual was 56 years old

Twospot snappers are a long-lived and slow-growing species which reaches maturity at 8–9 years, and the oldest recorded individual was 56 years old

Raja Ampat's massive coral colonies along with relatively high sea surface temperatures, suggest that its reefs may be relatively resistant to threats like coral bleaching

Raja Ampat's massive coral colonies along with relatively high sea surface temperatures, suggest that its reefs may be relatively resistant to threats like coral bleaching

Clark's anemonefish; we visited the town of Yenbuba after this dive; unlike Africa, the villagers just ignored us as we walked around taking photos

Clark's anemonefish; we visited the town of Yenbuba after this dive; unlike Africa, the villagers just ignored us as we walked around taking photos

Olive green sea star; there are more than 2000 species of sea stars with some having more than 40 arms; these amazing creatures have eyes but no blood

Olive green sea star; there are more than 2000 species of sea stars with some having more than 40 arms; these amazing creatures have eyes but no blood

Unlike some dive sites, here you could travel slowly to just soak in all of the small creatures; there were so many varieties of coral too with each type being home to different animals

Unlike some dive sites, here you could travel slowly to just soak in all of the small creatures; there were so many varieties of coral too with each type being home to different animals

Orange-lined triggerfish; this species, given its broad diet and distribution, is a crucial component in coral reef ecosystems through top-down control and especially through consumption of sea urchins

Orange-lined triggerfish; this species, given its broad diet and distribution, is a crucial component in coral reef ecosystems through top-down control and especially through consumption of sea urchins

Field of cabbage leather coral; this species is a soft coral most often found in slow growing colonies attached to harder substrates such as rubble or other dead corals

Field of cabbage leather coral; this species is a soft coral most often found in slow growing colonies attached to harder substrates such as rubble or other dead corals

White-spotted puffer; these fish are solitary and quite shy, always swimming away from divers; to reproduce, the male builds a nest in the sand where the female lays her eggs

White-spotted puffer; these fish are solitary and quite shy, always swimming away from divers; to reproduce, the male builds a nest in the sand where the female lays her eggs

The small populations living within Raja Ampat continue to get much of their food from the sea; they have to be very independent due to the remoteness

The small populations living within Raja Ampat continue to get much of their food from the sea; they have to be very independent due to the remoteness

Yellowmask angelfish; some members of this species live in harems while others live in pairs, they can be highly territorial and make a loud drumming sound when alarmed

Yellowmask angelfish; some members of this species live in harems while others live in pairs, they can be highly territorial and make a loud drumming sound when alarmed

Yellowbar parrotfish; parrotfish are hermaphrodites and live in harems with a dominant male; at night parrotfish make a sleeping bag out of slime bubbles for protection against predators

Yellowbar parrotfish; parrotfish are hermaphrodites and live in harems with a dominant male; at night parrotfish make a sleeping bag out of slime bubbles for protection against predators

Harlequin sweetlips; juveniles of this species are a pale, caramel brown with bright white spots down its body camouflaged to look like a poisonous worm or nudibranch to deter predators; as they grow the colors change completely

Harlequin sweetlips; juveniles of this species are a pale, caramel brown with bright white spots down its body camouflaged to look like a poisonous worm or nudibranch to deter predators; as they grow the colors change completely

There are so many liveaboards that it was difficult to select one; I used www.liveaboard.com and focused on the itinerary (Raja Ampat North is best) and read the reviews from prior guests

There are so many liveaboards that it was difficult to select one; I used www.liveaboard.com and focused on the itinerary (Raja Ampat North is best) and read the reviews from prior guests

Humpback unicornfish; this species can grow to be a foot long but only the males have the horn

Humpback unicornfish; this species can grow to be a foot long but only the males have the horn

Posted by RNRiggins 03:19 Comments (0)

Congested Phuket is main party destination in Thailand

Construction on the 45m tall Big Buddha began in 2007 and is still very much underway; despite being visible from most places in southern Phuket, the views from the top weren't very good

Construction on the 45m tall Big Buddha began in 2007 and is still very much underway; despite being visible from most places in southern Phuket, the views from the top weren't very good

The Karon Viewpoint shows the beaches of Kata Noi, Kata and Karon; many visitors (there were lots of Russians) come here for a cheap holiday in the sun to escape winter at home

The Karon Viewpoint shows the beaches of Kata Noi, Kata and Karon; many visitors (there were lots of Russians) come here for a cheap holiday in the sun to escape winter at home

I'm not sure I'd ever seen a cuttlefish before; they are among the most intelligent invertebrates and also have one of the largest brain-to-body size ratios of all invertebrates

I'm not sure I'd ever seen a cuttlefish before; they are among the most intelligent invertebrates and also have one of the largest brain-to-body size ratios of all invertebrates

Cleartail lionfish; I don't think the water quality was very good based on the animals I saw which thrive in polluted waters (sea stars, sea urchins, parrotfish, etc.)

Cleartail lionfish; I don't think the water quality was very good based on the animals I saw which thrive in polluted waters (sea stars, sea urchins, parrotfish, etc.)

The Temple of the Golden Buddha is 250  years old and has many legends surrounding it; whenever anyone tried to excavate more of the buddha they were met with misfortune

The Temple of the Golden Buddha is 250+ years old and has many legends surrounding it; whenever anyone tried to excavate more of the buddha they were met with misfortune

Laem Phromthep is the southernmost point on Phuket Island; I rented a car but found the driving extremely nerve-wracking with the huge number of scooters going every which way

Laem Phromthep is the southernmost point on Phuket Island; I rented a car but found the driving extremely nerve-wracking with the huge number of scooters going every which way

It's hard to tell but this is a huge crown of thorns sea star; I think it's the largest one I'd ever seen which doesn't bode well for the health of the ecosystem here

It's hard to tell but this is a huge crown of thorns sea star; I think it's the largest one I'd ever seen which doesn't bode well for the health of the ecosystem here

Barred thicklip wrasse; some of the island's best beaches have been purchased by resorts in recent years and then closed to the public; Phuket is better suited to people who like all-inclusive resorts

Barred thicklip wrasse; some of the island's best beaches have been purchased by resorts in recent years and then closed to the public; Phuket is better suited to people who like all-inclusive resorts

With my Thai islands tour ending early I had 2 extra nights in Phuket so I booked a new hotel with views of Patong Beach; there was no beach at my beach resort but there was an infinity pool

With my Thai islands tour ending early I had 2 extra nights in Phuket so I booked a new hotel with views of Patong Beach; there was no beach at my beach resort but there was an infinity pool

Juvenile spotted parrotfish; I'd never seen this species before; March is dry season so the weather every day is about the same with highs around 90, high humidity and a light breeze

Juvenile spotted parrotfish; I'd never seen this species before; March is dry season so the weather every day is about the same with highs around 90, high humidity and a light breeze

Phuket's busiest Buddhist temple is Wat Chalong; it dates back more than 150 years but the temple seemed just like the many others on the island

Phuket's busiest Buddhist temple is Wat Chalong; it dates back more than 150 years but the temple seemed just like the many others on the island

I swam out to this island where I'd read there was good snorkeling; after the great visibility and gorgeous underwater scenery in Raja Ampat it was a big letdown here

I swam out to this island where I'd read there was good snorkeling; after the great visibility and gorgeous underwater scenery in Raja Ampat it was a big letdown here

I stayed across the bay in the hotel in the trees at the end of the road; it was a mistake to stay at the very southern end of the island since it took forever to get anywhere

I stayed across the bay in the hotel in the trees at the end of the road; it was a mistake to stay at the very southern end of the island since it took forever to get anywhere

Reticulated butterflyfish; I drove to Old Phuket Town one day to take a walking tour but there was absolutely no parking anywhere; after driving around I concluded there really wasn't anything worth seeing there

Reticulated butterflyfish; I drove to Old Phuket Town one day to take a walking tour but there was absolutely no parking anywhere; after driving around I concluded there really wasn't anything worth seeing there

Quoy's parrotfish; I visited Paradise Beach one day but there was a $6  entrance fee and they also wouldn't allow my Coke Zero in so I opted to go elsewhere

Quoy's parrotfish; I visited Paradise Beach one day but there was a $6+ entrance fee and they also wouldn't allow my Coke Zero in so I opted to go elsewhere

Posted by RNRiggins 02:20 Comments (0)

Diving Lau Lau in Raja Ampat, Indonesia

This was the location of our dive; the islands are typical of Raja Ampat as they are unpopulated, forested and lacking beaches

This was the location of our dive; the islands are typical of Raja Ampat as they are unpopulated, forested and lacking beaches

Many-spotted sweetlips; this species of grunt can grow to 28 in long; underwater visibility where we dove was exceptional with 100 ft being the norm

Many-spotted sweetlips; this species of grunt can grow to 28 in long; underwater visibility where we dove was exceptional with 100 ft being the norm

Clark's anemonefish; guests included a group of 5 in their late 30's from Seattle/Thailand who had grown up together, a Russian couple (49 and 51 and very experienced divers) celebrating their 30th anniversary

Clark's anemonefish; guests included a group of 5 in their late 30's from Seattle/Thailand who had grown up together, a Russian couple (49 and 51 and very experienced divers) celebrating their 30th anniversary

My dive group included a 31 year old guy from Malaysia and a fun 33 year old couple from Amsterdam on their honeymoon; the four of us got along extremely well and even played Cards Against Humanity together

My dive group included a 31 year old guy from Malaysia and a fun 33 year old couple from Amsterdam on their honeymoon; the four of us got along extremely well and even played Cards Against Humanity together

La Galigo; our boat had 11 guests and 16 crew members; my cabin is just above the water line in the red section towards the front

La Galigo; our boat had 11 guests and 16 crew members; my cabin is just above the water line in the red section towards the front

Royal sea cucumber; one of the largest varieties of sea cucumbers; people eat these but I can't imagine them tasting good

Royal sea cucumber; one of the largest varieties of sea cucumbers; people eat these but I can't imagine them tasting good

I can see where Salvador Dali got some of his inspiration; virtually all crew members smoked which is typical in Indonesia; they spend 11 months together at sea in a normal year with 1 month off each year

I can see where Salvador Dali got some of his inspiration; virtually all crew members smoked which is typical in Indonesia; they spend 11 months together at sea in a normal year with 1 month off each year

Golden-lined snapper; this common species is much sought-after by commercial fisheries with males growing to 14 inches

Golden-lined snapper; this common species is much sought-after by commercial fisheries with males growing to 14 inches

Clown triggerfish; because of its attractive coloration, this fish is one of the most highly prized aquarium fish but owners need to be careful since it has very sharp teeth

Clown triggerfish; because of its attractive coloration, this fish is one of the most highly prized aquarium fish but owners need to be careful since it has very sharp teeth

The chef made a very nice birthday cake as we celebrated Dominique's 33rd birthday; she was my favorite person on the cruise with a great sense of humor

The chef made a very nice birthday cake as we celebrated Dominique's 33rd birthday; she was my favorite person on the cruise with a great sense of humor

School of circular batfish; males can grow up to 20 in long in the wild with smaller varieties popular in the saltwater aquarium trade

School of circular batfish; males can grow up to 20 in long in the wild with smaller varieties popular in the saltwater aquarium trade

Posted by RNRiggins 01:36 Comments (0)

Graaff-Reinet, South Africa and scenic Valley of Desolation

The Valley of Desolation is a popular place to watch the sunset but we had thunderstorms for our visit; the geologic formations were still impressive

The Valley of Desolation is a popular place to watch the sunset but we had thunderstorms for our visit; the geologic formations were still impressive

The white part of town is on the left with wide streets and good schools; the black section is in the center with unpaved roads and poor public schools

The white part of town is on the left with wide streets and good schools; the black section is in the center with unpaved roads and poor public schools

The Dutch Reformed Church has seating to accommodate 1,500 people but was closed during our visit; it was influenced by the architecture of Salisbury Cathedral in England

The Dutch Reformed Church has seating to accommodate 1,500 people but was closed during our visit; it was influenced by the architecture of Salisbury Cathedral in England

We stayed in what was originally housing for slaves; Graaff-Reinet is the fourth oldest town in South Africa and is home to more national monuments than any other city in the country

We stayed in what was originally housing for slaves; Graaff-Reinet is the fourth oldest town in South Africa and is home to more national monuments than any other city in the country

Our lodging in Graaff-Reinet was one of my favorites; we had 2 bedrooms, living room, kitchen and bathroom; it was a historic place, beautifully restored to retain character

Our lodging in Graaff-Reinet was one of my favorites; we had 2 bedrooms, living room, kitchen and bathroom; it was a historic place, beautifully restored to retain character

Graaff-Reinet is known for being a flourishing market for agricultural produce, noted for its mohair industry, and sheep and ostrich farming

Graaff-Reinet is known for being a flourishing market for agricultural produce, noted for its mohair industry, and sheep and ostrich farming

Coke Zero is very popular here so I have an ample supply; this area is the main citrus growing region of South Africa and we drove past mile after mile of orchards

Coke Zero is very popular here so I have an ample supply; this area is the main citrus growing region of South Africa and we drove past mile after mile of orchards

The Valley of Desolation is a mecca for hikers and I wish we had had time for a hike; it reminded me of Bryce Canyon in Utah with its distinctive stone formations

The Valley of Desolation is a mecca for hikers and I wish we had had time for a hike; it reminded me of Bryce Canyon in Utah with its distinctive stone formations

The Valley of Desolation is only 14 kms from Graaff-Reinet; sheer cliffs and precariously balanced columns of dolerite rise 120 m from the valley floor, against the timeless backdrop of the vast plains of the Camdeboo

The Valley of Desolation is only 14 kms from Graaff-Reinet; sheer cliffs and precariously balanced columns of dolerite rise 120 m from the valley floor, against the timeless backdrop of the vast plains of the Camdeboo

The Valley of Desolation was declared a national monument in 1939 and, with its staggering columns, is sometimes also referred to as the cathedral of the mountains

The Valley of Desolation was declared a national monument in 1939 and, with its staggering columns, is sometimes also referred to as the cathedral of the mountains

Nice three bedroom houses here sell for about $100,000; there are plenty on the market but I'd be nervous buying somewhere that may totally run out of water (they are in a prolonged drought)

Nice three bedroom houses here sell for about $100,000; there are plenty on the market but I'd be nervous buying somewhere that may totally run out of water (they are in a prolonged drought)

Posted by RNRiggins 03:56 Comments (0)

Amazingly, scenic hike up Table Mountain in Cape Town

An iconic photo from our trip!; Lee loved Cape Town so much that he's already looking at making a return visit

An iconic photo from our trip!; Lee loved Cape Town so much that he's already looking at making a return visit

I was elated to finally reach the top of Table Mountain; I hiked up it 3 1/2 years ago taking a different route but this route was much longer with much more up and down

I was elated to finally reach the top of Table Mountain; I hiked up it 3 1/2 years ago taking a different route but this route was much longer with much more up and down

The main feature of Table Mountain (3563 ft) is the level plateau approximately 2 mi from side to side, edged by impressive cliffs; Table Mountain is the only terrestrial feature to give its name to a constellation

The main feature of Table Mountain (3563 ft) is the level plateau approximately 2 mi from side to side, edged by impressive cliffs; Table Mountain is the only terrestrial feature to give its name to a constellation

This view of Table Mountain is what locals refer to as the tablecloth since the clouds often roll in and completely cover the top of the mountain; this can occur with little notice making for a dangerous situation for hikers

This view of Table Mountain is what locals refer to as the tablecloth since the clouds often roll in and completely cover the top of the mountain; this can occur with little notice making for a dangerous situation for hikers

Lee and I at the top of Table Mountain, one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature; I was exhausted and very thankful that the cable car, operating since 1929, was there to take me down the mountain

Lee and I at the top of Table Mountain, one of the New 7 Wonders of Nature; I was exhausted and very thankful that the cable car, operating since 1929, was there to take me down the mountain

About 92% o the species Protea occurs only in the Cape Floristic Region, a narrow belt of mountainous coastal land in South Africa; the protea is South Africa's national flower representing change and hope

About 92% of the species Protea occurs only in the Cape Floristic Region, a narrow belt of mountainous coastal land in South Africa; the protea is South Africa's national flower representing change and hope

This rock formation on our long hike up Table Mountain is called the camel; our tour group was lucky to have a sunny day since the top of Table Mountain is cloud-covered more than 300 days a year

This rock formation on our long hike up Table Mountain is called the camel; our tour group was lucky to have a sunny day since the top of Table Mountain is cloud-covered more than 300 days a year

Red crassula flowers on Table Mountain; this perennial is a small, succulent shrublet that grows up to 16 inches tall and is native to South Africa

Red crassula flowers on Table Mountain; this perennial is a small, succulent shrublet that grows up to 16 inches tall and is native to South Africa

Lion's Head looks so little when seen from Table Mountain; the city of Cape Town doesn't have many great sights but the surroundings are just spectacular

Lion's Head looks so little when seen from Table Mountain; the city of Cape Town doesn't have many great sights but the surroundings are just spectacular

The Table Mountain ice plant is a hardy, drought-tolerant ground cover that forms a ground-hugging carpet that faithfully blooms season after season; it is one of the many wildflowers we saw hiking

The Table Mountain ice plant is a hardy, drought-tolerant ground cover that forms a ground-hugging carpet that faithfully blooms season after season; it is one of the many wildflowers we saw hiking

Posted by RNRiggins 21:38 Comments (0)

(Entries 1 - 5 of 266) Page [1] 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 .. »