Archives for Ocean Photos

Menjangan Island Soft Tree Coral, Lemnalia cervicornis, Bali Indonesia (Steven W SMeltzer)Bali’s coral reef on Menjangan Island hosts some of the most beautiful coral reefs in the world. Menjangan Island has been a marine preserve and protected by the Balinese government for a number of years. The island is also fairly isolated in that once you arrive at the airport you have to travel 4 to 6 hours by car to get to the resorts close to the island. This Menjangan Island Octocoral Dendronephthya spp, Bali Indonesia (Steven W SMeltzer)means their are few divers that explore this marvelous site that is rich with all types of marine species and you can also on special occasions come across large pelagic species such as the whale shark.

Menjangan Island Scuba Diving History

Menjangan Island, in the north-west of Bali, is where diving first really started on the island back in about 1978, under the sponsorship of the Indonesian Navy, when it arranged a get-together of the country’s main diving clubs – Possi, Ganesha, Nusantara & Triskati.

That lead to Menjangan Island establishing itself as the premier dive location in Bali and many of the attendees went on to become the pioneers of commercial dive operations across Indonesia.  About a year later the Liberty wreck was explored for the first time since it had slipped down the slope at Tulamben in March 1963 and Menjangan Island was soon relegated to the background of Bali diving.


Menjangan Island, Gorgonian Fan

Menjangan Island is part of the 19,000 hectare West Bali (Bali Barat) National Park that was first established in 1982.  However, the island was made a game reserve by the Balinese Council of Kings in 1950 and has been fairly well protected ever since.  Both the relative difficulty of getting to the Menjangan Island from the normal tourist spots on Bali plus the fact that the site has been relatively protected since 1950 has resulted in a coral reef that is both vibrant and flourishing around the island.  The Liberty wreck in Tulamben is also still a favorite dive site, but has a very high amount of diver traffic and the site has predictably shown quite a bit of wear and tear.

Getting to Menjangan Island

If you are in the Nusa Dua, Kuta or Sanur area it will normally take you around 3.5 hours assuming no bad “jams” as the locals refer to the often crowded conditions of the roads on Bali. It can take up to six hours if the roads and traffic do not cooperate.  The best alternative is to stay at a local resort while diving on the north side of the island.  The Matahari Beach Resort and Spa in Permuteran is one of my favorites and is located next to the Coral Project in Permuteran Bay.  The hotel is definitely 4 to 5 stars and the largest of the resorts on this side of the island with excellent service, food and access to diving sites. I love the dive operator on the property, a Swiss German expat, who runs a very competent organization.

Getting to the Dive Sites

You can reach the dive sites via boats off the coast of Pemuteran Bay in front of the dive resorts or a boat from Banyuwedang Bay or Spine-cheek Anemonefish, Premnas biaculeatus, Bali Indonesia (Steven W SMeltzer)perhaps the boat service run by the parks service.  If you are staying at one of the resorts around Pemuteran Bay, taking the boat in front of your resort is the way to go.  The boat trip is about 30 to 40 minutes and the seas are usually fairly flat as the area around Menjangan Island is fairly well protected.

Diving is great year round and even in the “rainy winter season” the visibility is normally quite clear.  The island is not large and does not have much fresh water  runoff that will impact visibility.  There can be some current on various sites around the island so you may dive some of the sites as drift dives.  Remember to listen to the instructions of your dive master and enjoy the dive.

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New Year's Challenge Maui Paradise (Steven Smeltzer)

Will you take the New Year’s Challenge?  We have been extremely blessed this year and I want to wish you all a Happy New Year and a wonderful start to 2013.  We are traveling in Asia for the next few weeks and hopefully getting in some great dives.

During 2013 there will be many opportunities for each of us to make a difference in the lives of people around us.  Take time to consider what you have to offer and how you can impact different people in your life each and every day.


I have a vision where we can all work together to restore, preserve and protect our coral reefs.  Take the New Year’s Challenge.  In 2013 I will be focusing on coral reef systems and how individuals, companies and nations can:

    1. Better understand the state of reef systems around the worldFish Rain, Molokai Hawaii (Steven W SMeltzer)
    2. Evaluate impacts of over fishing and pollution and coastal development
    3. Identify the reef systems that are in the highest state of danger over the next 5 to 10 years
    4. Review and assess methods being used today to help protect and/or restore and preserve those reef systems
    5. Create a set of tools to help educate students, parents and governments about our coral reefs and the importance of managing this incredible resource for future generations
    6. Partner with local communities to establish one or two long-term projects that will focus on restoring and preserving a specific coral reef systems

Off to Work....

New Year’s Challenge

Share What You Will Do in 2013 to Positively Impact Those Around You. Take the New Year’s Challenge.  If you hear of interesting reef projects or have ideas on reef preservation and restoration please share them and let’s work together to help care for and nurture our reefs.

What reef system concerns you the most?

What are the biggest issues impacting this reef system?

What are you doing to help bring awareness to others about the problems and issues on this reef system?

How could others help directly or indirectly with this reef system?

What is the near and longer term outlook for this reef system?

Remember we are all responsible for the care of our oceans, take the challenge…..the pool is open.


Happy New Year 

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A sunset in Grand Cayman can be extremely beautiful and on a sunset sail it can even be magic. There

Sunset in Grand Cayman (Steven W Smeltzer)

Sunset in Grand Cayman

are a number of companies on which you can sail and enjoy a sunset in Grand Cayman.  These range from a pirate party boat, beware of the cannons, to the more laid back cruises from Red Sail Sports. The cruises leave out of a number of locations on the west side of the island. As a professional underwater photographer and landscape photographer these sunsets are to “kill for” if you will pardon the metaphor.

Sunset in Grand Cayman (Steven W Smeltzer)

The Hand of God, Grand Cayman

The combinations of clouds, sun light and waves in this part of the globe provide an almost unreal sunset in Grand Cayman.

In fact, you will find great sunsets almost every night and outrageous sunsets about every other night. I was watching a particularly brilliant sunset and saw what I term as “The Hand of God” gently laying the sun to rest on the ocean. So go, enjoy the views and let your imagination roam. I have listed some of the better cruise operators below to view a sunset in Grand Cayman.

Sunset in Grand Cayman (Steven W Smeltzer)

Sunset Sail, Aye Calypso, Grand Cayman


Red Sail Sports
Days: Monday and Wednesday
Price: Adults…$40.00 Children (3-11)…$20.00
Departure Location: This trip usually departs first from the beach at the Westin Resort and then the Grand Cayman Beach Suites, both on Seven Mile Beach. OR it may depart from Safe Haven Dock on the North Sound in the Seven Mile Beach area.




Sunset in Grand Cayman (Steven W Smeltzer)

Jolly Roger, Grand Cayman




Jolly Roger

Pirate Adventure Cruise:
Days: Monday, Wednesday and Friday
Price: Adults…$40.00 Children (3-12)…$25.00
Departure Location: The Jolly Roger cruises depart from the South Terminal located in George Town Harbor, next to Atlantis Submarine.

Sail Cayman Ltd

Sunset in Grand Cayman (Steven W Smeltzer)

Romantic Stroll, Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman

Days: Charter (5pm to 7pm)
Price: Adults…up to 10 ($350) up to 15 ($450)
Departure Location: Yacht Club dock C-31

Whichever cruise operator you choose to view a sunset in Grand Cayman you will certainly enjoy the relaxing trip. We typically stay along seven mile beach and use Red Sail Sports as they pick up from two hotels on the beach (Westin Resort and Grand Cayman Beach Suites). Also if you book your scuba diving before you arrive on the island you can get a package (from Red Sail Sports) that includes the sunset sail. Regardless of which group you choose, it is always a good idea to book off island if possible as a number of operators have special deals for booking in advance.

Sunset in Grand Cayman

After you boat picks up its guests for your cruise you will get a short safety briefing from the crew. The Red Sail boat is a really nice Catamaran with a nice web deck upon which to sit, some bench seats up front and some additional seating at the stern (back of the boat).

Sunset in Grand Cayman (Steven W Smeltzer)

Sunset Cruise, Seven Mile Beach, Grand Cayman

The crew will have hors d’oeuvres such as chicken wings and fruit along with rum punch and assorted drinks. The sun will be about 20 or 30 minutes from setting after your briefing and you can settle down and enjoy the views.

Your cruise to view sunset in Grand Cayman will go up along Seven Mile Beach and then you will turn around and sail back down the beach. You get great views of the sunset and then after sunset you get great views of the islands. It does rain fairly often in Grand Cayman, but I can not remember very many times when we have not gone out on a cruise that was scheduled. When you get “on island” check the weather and confirm your booking and then relax.

Sunset in Grand Cayman (Steven W Smeltzer)

At Anchor, Grand Cayman

For the photographers on the cruise, if you will remember to underexpose your photos just a bit, you will get a lot better color contrasts and for those with higher end cameras you can also increase the saturation levels to further enhance the shot. But with sunsets like these you really don’t need to do much. They are fantastic “straight” from the camera.

So on your next trip to the Caymans whether you are going for Scuba Diving, Underwater Photography or just to relax remember to splurge and take a Sunset Cruise, you will certainly enjoy it.

The pool is open…

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