Found in North Wales, this fantastic landscape is a must for photographers looking for lakes, waterfalls and mountain ranges. In addition, the area is fairly close to the coast and about a one hour drive from Angelsey which is renowned for fantastic UK diving although unfortunately I have yet to dive there.
I stayed in The Saracen's Head Hotel in Beddgelert, a warm welcome from the owner Min instantly made me feel at home and the food was good at reasonable prices. There are many pubs in the village as well as a small convenience store, fudge shop and pizzaria.
If you are walking up Snowdon along the Miners trail be aware the car park fills up early and although there are shuttle busses from the bottom of the hill isn't better to get there early to save your tired feet after the long climb.
Areas of Interest
Swallow Falls and Fairy Glen are well worth a visit and be sure to stop in many of the lay bys by the many lakes in the area. Betws-y-Coed is very good shopping for outdoor equipment and clothing if you have forgotten anything. The Bryn Tyrch Inn just outside Capel Curig serves excellent food.
An idyllic island retreat with it's own jetty (suitable for diving and photographing!), dive centre, turtle conservation program and lovely, spacious bungalows on stilts.
Lankayan is a 2 hour boat ride (dependant on weather conditions) from Sandakan on the North East side of Malaysia. I flew from London to Sandakan via Kuala Lumpur with Malaysian Airlines. Don't forget to take your dive certificate to check in desk to claim your extra 10kg luggage (check current regulations before travelling.)
The jetty is quickly starting to see signs of growth and a number of wrecks and structures have been sunk beyond the jetty to form an artifical reef. There are many local dive sites accessible by a short boat ride which are starting to show signs of recovery from dynamite fishing that was outlawed around 2000. The guides know exactly where to find the jawfish & ribbon eels. We saw a number of leopard sharks whilst we were there and a couple of turtles.
Unfortunately, when I visited (in January 2010) visibility was quite poor but daily displays from the mating and egg laying cuttlefish under the jetty more than made up for the conditions.
Land Photo Opportunities
Above the water the jetty and dive centre make a stunning setting for the amazing sunsets we had. At low tide the beach reveals beautiful ripples in the sand and with the many trees and stretches of golden sand there were lots of opportunities to get those paradise island images.
I stayed in the Lankayan Island Dive Resort (the only resort on the Island!) which has 23 wooden chalets on stilts all situated just metres from the seashore. Rooms are en-suite and spacious and are well equiped with many UK style plug sockets, plenty of towels and your own fridge and tea and coffee making facilities.
A paradise location for underwater photographers as you can shore dive anytime and any place with or without dive guides!
Bonnaire is part of the Dutch Antilles in the Caribbean located off the north coast of Venezuela. I flew with KLM via Amsterdam, a 9 hour flight. KLM were offering 2 x 23kg bags at the time I flew.
There are 60 dive sites on the main island, the majority accessible from shore. Most of the sites are situated along the Western, more sheltered side of the island. Ease of access varies depending on location, some sites are a nice gentle entry with others more prone to surge.
In addition to the main shore diving there are another 26 sites on Klein Bonaire accessible by boat from any of the many dive operators. We dived with Dive Friends Bonaire at the Yellow submarine, a nice large dive centre with easy access for picking up and dropping off cylinders.
Land Photo Opportunities
Where to start?! Bonaire is approximately 300km2 and has a large national park reserve to the north and the Island is reknowned for it's Flamingos, Mangroves and Salt Mines (with amazingly pink coloured water). To the south you can see the old slave huts, a great location for sunset and to the East the rugged coast and crashing waves offer many options for sunrise. In the town centre area there are a few small jettys giving you nice foreground interest for sunset. In addition there is a fantastic Donkey Sanctuary, a definite must of you have a fish eye lens for some quirky shots! The colourful buildings & churches against a blue sky are not to be missed.
We stayed in a Tropicana Apartment which I can highly recommend with plenty of space we had a 2 bedroom apartment with large dining area and small kitchen which was fully equiped. We also had free broadband access.
The local currency is Dutch Guilders or American Dollars, shops do still close on a Sunday and some on Saturday afternoon. The majority of consumables are imported to the Island so budget accordingly.