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Dive Review of Peter Hughes/Paradise Dancer in

Peter Hughes/Paradise Dancer, May, 2008,

by Peter Swan, Az, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 4144.

No photos available at this time

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments The excitement was evident from the first contact at the Manado airport through the hour ride to the Paradise Dancer. Everyone was looking forward to the “second sailing” of the new Peter Hughes’ dive boat through the Sangihe Islands. Not only was it to be the ultimate live aboard, but it placed its new customers into an environment especially designed for an underwater photo safari with new dive sites as well as ones that have been only lightly dived. Each of us wanted to “hurry up” and get to this creatively designed three-mast schooner, specifically developed for SCUBA diving in the Coral Triangle. The boat was probably under hyped in that the accommodations were wonderfully luxurious while the ship was absolutely stunning. The motor yacht with sails was built on Borneo and designed to resemble the American fast schooners that traded across the Pacific from Boston and New York. Sleek lines and sailing excellence established the logical lines of design for these 19th century ships and were used as a baseline for the underwater photo safari luxury live aboard. The wooden decks and hardwood cabinets gave her a look that was remarkable and beyond expectations. Each of the cabins seemed 50 % larger than previous live aboards with a bathroom you could spend time in. The beds were roomy with a desk and plenty of storage space for each passenger. The boat was so silent that the night cruises between dive locations lulled one to sleep with no problem getting a full night’s rest. The lounge upstairs was spread out with plenty of couches and tables to work computers and photo processing. There was plenty of room for dinners either outside on the deck or inside in the lounge. The dive arrangements were excellent with individual baskets laid out under benches on the deck with plenty of room to hang suits and skins. Each of the two dive tenders was structured to move you quickly from the ship to the dive locations with 200 horsepower quiet engines. Entry into the water is easy with everyone rolling off simultaneously. Among the 16,500 islands of Indonesia there are over 600 types of coral and 3000 species of fish. This phenomenal variety of creatures ensures that each dive is unique and exciting. Each location provided an opportunity to delve the depths and photograph, or just enjoy, the changing scenery. As one who loves the interface between clown fish and sea anemones, the challenge to photograph the various combinations ensured lots of opportunities on each dive. I especially liked the blue anemones and the brown/black clown fish. With two dives in the morning and two in the afternoon, everyone had multiple opportunities to “get wet” and challenge the camera environment. Within the ten days, there were eight night dives to satisfy the curiosity as to the nightlife on the coral reefs of Indonesia. Each dive was unique and each time we surfaced we exclaimed, “that was the best one yet!” A unique aspect of diving in Indonesia is the fact that it is in the “ring of fire” with volcanoes and land movements occurring continuously in the region. We dove next to many active volcano islands and experienced the fun of looking up at the mountaintops, realizing that it is an active volcano, and then predicting when the next explosion was too occur (probably within the next 2000 years). One special trip was on the third morning when the early wake-up call led us all to snorkeling inside volcano-heated water. The steam coming off of the water at 0630 in the morning was a special sight as we approached the “hot tub” of the ocean. We all jumped into the normally warm water (84 degrees) and swam toward the steam. As we approached the hot water we wandered between warm and hot spots. Once I had found a rock to stand on, with a steady flow of hot water, I just stood there enjoying the lower back massage by swirling water that must have been between 100 and 102 degrees. As we sat in the water we looked up at the top of the volcano and saw a long plume of smoke that was being highlighted by the rising sun on the far side of the island. The last ones were usually a dusk dive or a night dive depending upon positioning for next day’s dives. The beauty of the coral triangle was evident on each dive and the colors were remarkable. All of the camera specialists were concentrating on the small beauty of the colors and corals. The fish were small and the creatures varied. The nudibranchs and other animals ensured that the photographers were happy. Periodically, there were wall dives with some current so that we could drift past the coral and just enjoy the scenery. Small and colorful were the words that described the phenomenal reefs and animals as well as the fish. Each photographer remarked on their best pictures of a turtle, nudibranch, sea snake or sea anemones. Each was proud of the selection they ended up with at the end of the week. The ten days were especially nice with my expectations surpassed. It was a good thing I used the checklist (from the Step Zero book); so I had all the necessary components for a successful underwater photo safari.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving past instructor, worldwide, author: Step Zero: Getting Started on a SCUBA Photo Trip. (
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 84-0°F / 29--18°C Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 25-100 Ft/ 8-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions safe diving habits with computers
Liveaboard? yes Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments The camera table had plenty of power (both 110 & 220), room and support. The handling of the expensive cameras was with special care as they moved them to/from the boats.
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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