Sunday, September 26, 2010

The right direction?

As you already know, I have been meaning to find a freediving club in Hong Kong to commence my freediving adventures. Been researching and reading up on freediving tips from several blogs and websites and all of them have suggested reading the 'Manual of Freediving' by Umberto Pelizzar and Stefano Tovaglieri as it basically encompasses what every freediver should know. I know that I should maybe stop reading books and websites and actually put my desires to action thus the topic question, is this really the right way to go about what I want to do? Well realistically, my committments have me tied up so at this stage, I can only live vicariously through others to learn more about freediving.

Anyway, the cover of the book is below and I will have to wait for a few weeks for this book to arrive from the states. I could buy it locally at an inflated price and also with a week or two waiting period but since I thought I was not in any rush, I chose the economic option.

Once I have read it, I will give my review and get started with my freediving lessons!


World record by New Zealander

An impressive feat by a New Zealander, Dave Mullins achieving 265m in the dynamic with fins category. Previous record was held by by Frenchmen Fred Sessa with 255m at the 7th AIDA Team World Championship held at Okinawa Japan. A clip of the world record session is below for your viewing.



Sunday, August 29, 2010

Extreme Freediving

Been a while since the last post. I presumed that by now, I would have at least snorkeled this part of the world (HK). How wrong could I have been. There are so many surrounding islands to visit and are screaming to be explored by me. Well, I suppose its about getting off my arse and reinvesting in snorkel gear. However, I do have dilemma's on what to purchase as I want to start scuba diving. So should I make the smart choice by investing in gear that can be used for both? The fins that I have looked at so far are the Mares Quattro Avante which has been around for yonks but I believe they have been the preferred choice for many scuba/snorkeling fanatics. I'll see where the road takes me.

Lately I have been watching and reading up on freediving and it has also grabbed my interest. Here is an amazing video of Guillaume Nery (freediver) completing an awesome single breath dive at Dean's Blue Hole.

I didn't think people could actually hold their breath for that long but it is all mind over matter. After reading some breathing techniques, training, etc for freediving, I managed to reach 3 minutes 43 seconds (dry apnea) for the first few attempts so this is my PB. My aim is to reach 5 minutes or more and hopefully be useful for my snorkeling dives. Been visiting the swimming pool at Kowloon park and have been practising a little too but there are just too many people!

I also looked into freediving courses/clubs in Hong Kong but have failed to find any. Might to have to look harder! Anyway, hope you enjoy the clip as much as I did and maybe given you more motivation to keep up these wonderful water sports! 

Till then..


Friday, June 18, 2010

Discovering tranquility in Hong Kong

When we visualise Hong Kong, most of us would say "large city, tall buildings, fast paced, mix between new and the old, pollution" and so on. Others who are more familar with Hong Kong know that there are hidden treasures surrounding this part of Asia.

Today, I believe I have met the tranquil side of Hong Kong. Our journey today took us to Stanley Bay (HK Island) where any form of transport must bustle through the luscious green hills to get to the other side. We headed to Stanley Beach which was much smaller than expected, however, it was free from all the pollution and and most of all, some of the scenery/landscape reminded me of Sydney. If you continued down Stanley Beach away from the main area, you head to a lonely little beach called Hairpin Beach.

Hairpin Beach is a private pebbly beach away from the crowds. Apparently the lifesavers stopped patrolling this beach since 2005 and left it alone. I am not too sure if the absence of lifesavers repel the locals from visiting this beach or maybe it is due to the pebbly beach, but as you can see the pictures below, it is most certainly serene.

I do not know what aquatic life I expect to see here and to tell you the truth, I do not think there is much to see here, but the water was warm and it would just be bliss to go for a nice swim. Unfortunately I don't have my snorkeling gear here in Hong Kong. Either I invest in a new set or have my gear posted from Sydney. I will have to have a think about it.

 View from the Hairpin Beach

 Clear, pristine waters..

 Reminds me of Sydney except Sydney has beautiful sandy beaches

There is limited snorkeling/diving information in Hong Kong and it seems like you learn the ropes when you join an association or group of some sort. One website/blog I have found which provided good diving/snorkeling/nature information of Hong Kong is called Hong Kong Outdoors ( 

After looking at this website, one specific site I want to visit is Sharp Island. Apparently this site is favoured by scuba divers and snorkelers due to its pristine/clear waters and its aquatic life. Below is a picture borrowed from the Hong Kong Outdoors website. 

Sharp Island (Source:

Now that I think about it, I need to get my gear here ASAP! Hopefully my next post would be an actual snorkeling post and not about my snorkeling desires. In the meantime, I think I will have to continue searching for new areas to control my itchy feet. 

Till then.


Thursday, June 17, 2010

Learn to dive for free in Sydney

Once again, a little birdie has whispered into my ear and advised me of the wonderful contribution a group of marine biologists are doing in Sydney. They have created a website to educate the public about the conservation of the marine ecosytem by offering education, training in marine conservation and biology. To add the cherry on top, these dedicated marine biologists also offer free training on the Open Water Diver course (certification) which allows one to dive anywhere around the world. 

From what I can see, they are a non-profit group and are purely interested in the preservation and conservation of the aquatic life in Sydney.

For those that are interested, their website is:

You can find information about their free Open Water Diving Certification at:

I would like to add that I am in no way affiliated with this group and have posted this information purely because of my admiration of this group.

I will definitely sign up for this class when I return to Sydney :P

Bye for now..


Beauty at Menjangan - Part II

I couldn't resist to put more pictures of my unforgettable snorkeling experience at Menjangan Island. This time, I can describe my experiences by showing you a map of Menjangan Island.

Our first dive was at Pos 2 which was the from the beach. This was where our boat was moored and also had our authentic Indonesian/Balinese lunch. Our second dive was from Cave Point where I felt was a better dive spot than the first. Due to the strong tides and the unpredictability of the weather (cloudy with forecast of storm), our guide played it safe and chose these safer and covered options.

I was informed that the Anchor Wreck is also an enjoyable snorkel (I cannot imagine how much better!) but we would have to save it for next time.


Below are pictures of myself, my partner, and our tour guide. I couldn't resist putting more pics of our snorkeling session and have posted a few more for your viewing.

Me: Need a weight belt!

My partner in crime :)

Snorkel guide: underwater photography fanatic


Wedged in between coral

The picture below was taken by my partner. Boy does she have a keen attention to detail to find a heart-shaped coral amongst an entire civilisation of life. The flash has increased the colour intensity (brightness) of the coral to give it its contrast amongst others. 

Could be a nice spot to put a ring?

Amazing colours

Amazing aquatic life

Lot's of yellow

Since I enjoy underwater photography and keeping records of my snorkeling experiences, I am beginning to think if I should invest in a better camera with the proper underwater housing. I acknowledge it is an expensive investment but is it worth it? I will need to ponder on this.. 

Until then..


Sunday, June 13, 2010

Beauty at Menjangan Island - Bali

Just last week, I was lucky enough to visit Bali from Singapore for a few days. During our 4 day stay, I managed to sneak in a day of snorkeling at Menjangan Island. From what I have researched, this place was less frequently visited by tourists due to its distance. I believe I made the right choice! Unfortunately I could not visit the other popular areas such as Nusa Dua, Lembongan, and the Blue Lagoon due to our busy schedule but I must articulate the beauty experienced at Menjangan Island. 

The tour (for 2) commenced at 6:00am and it took about 3hrs to get to the ferry to Menjangan Island. It took another 30 minutes to get to Menjangan Island. Below are few pictures of the boat ride to the Island. 

The boats we took
A Silhouette of Java Islands

The local crews were amazingly friendly and was an experience to remember. A picture of them below:

Just before arrival, we were briefed that we will be visiting two sections of the island. One from the beach and another from the boat. We were also told that the reefs were 3 metres from the beach and to my astonishment, it was true. The reef began almost immediately. The water was warm. Warmer than the Great Barrier Reef. I only had my skins on and did not feel cold whatsoever. The total experience was just amazing.

About 20 metres from the shore there is a massive dropoff which was quite frightening. This was my first encounter with such a dropoff and I was told that there are amazing aquatic life down there which could only be experienced through scuba diving. Maybe next time?

Due to my lack of knowledge of coral names and tropical fish, I am unable to identify (name) most of the fish in the pictures below. I took almost 500 pictures but below are few of my favourites.

The group of fish (below) did not have any qualms approaching us snorkelers and seemed quite curious of what's going on. Maybe they thought it was feeding time?

Feeding time?

Beautiful coral and the community it supports

 A view I only have imagined seeing.. or through documentaries :)

Our tour guide, who is an avid snorkeler and underwater photographer knew where some of the more popular species inhabited. One species in particular was the famous Nemo (clown fish) which was about 4-5 metres deep. I was able to reach the clown fish (2) but was unable to get a good picture as I kept floating up. This made me realise that I need weights! Maybe next time I will be more prepared. Anyway, you can see this image better if you click on it.

Do people have 'clown' fish phobia's?

Another coral(?) that caught my eye was the one below. It had a beautiful blue tinge and was quite sparse in this area.

Blueatiful Blue..
 Some more coral..

This was the dropoff I described earlier. You can imagine the depth through the deep blue.

 Edge of the reef

 Scattered millions of blue green damselfish

 Close up of the scatter millions..

 Yellow Mellow

Common reef species: Blackback butterfly fish

 Nemo's mentor: Moorish idol

 spotted marble

I know my blog was supposed to be my snorkeling experiences in Sydney but I think having a variety spices up your life :) 

Snorkeling at Menjangan, Bali was my first snorkeling experience outside of Australia. Having been to the GBR, Menjangan Island provides a different experience due to its charismatic boats, local Balinese people, and its isolation. I hope to visit this site again and hopefully it will not lose its charm.

I wonder when my next snorkeling trip will be?

signing off..


Sunday, April 11, 2010

Underwater Sydney

Just recently, I was advised by a friend that a new professional website has been established to offer useful information on Sydney's marine life as well as providing beautiful photo's of their adventures. The website is called "Underwater Sydney" and  for those that are interested, their website is This site also has RSS feeds and an email subscription option for those who prefer information sent to them.

I personally thought this was an exciting addition to the limited resources of the underwater world of Sydney. Although the main reason for this website is to educate sydneysiders of the great intrinsic value of our local harbour, it most certainly offers much more for the scuba divers and the snorkelers. With limited useful guides/information apart from Chai's website, Sydney Nature, and a few more, I just hope that this website exceeds my expectations and continues to be a valuable source of information.

The underwater imagery and photos on this website are spectacular.. my god they out of this world! It's so humbling that my attempts to capture the underwater world (or lack thereof) feels inferior. BUT.. it is all a learning experience and of course I love doing it. I certainly look forward to the photo's to come.

As you may noticed, I have not updated my blog for some time. The water in Sydney is getting cooler and it is hibernation time for most scuba divers and snorkellers. Another season is over and for those that are lucky to be located in the warmer areas.. happy snorkeling! I hope to travel around South East Asia soon and maybe I will get the chance to catch up on some snorkeling. 

Until then.. 


Saturday, February 20, 2010

Random pictures

It has been some time since my last my post and this is mainly due to my lack of underwater snorkeling adventures. The weather has been less than mediocre and when there's hope of improvement, it's only clear on weekdays and turns for the worst over the weekend. I know that tomorrow will be a beautiful day for a snorkel in Sydney with the weather to hit 34C, but I have prior committments which prohibits me from going anywhere. Maybe next time..

Instead I will post some pictures from past trips and reminisce about the good ol' times :P Most of the pics are of the friendly blue groper at Clovelly. Enjoy!


Blue Groper generous enough to share its sea urchin

*Pat* *Pat*

It's getting close to the end of summer with not much time left for a good snorkel. Better get out there soon! 

Signing off


Friday, February 12, 2010

Wobbegong Attacks

Strange things do happen. What is known to be a docile species, the culpurit of a 'shark' attack that occured at Basin Bay (Mona Vale) on Feb 11th 2010 turned out to be a wobbegong. 
This was (and still is) a species I hope to encounter on my trip to Shelley Beach. I don't feel any deterred knowing this news and I look forward to seeing one. Fingers crossed!

Read more at:

Signing off


Monday, February 8, 2010

Australia Day at Fairlight Jan 26th 2010

On Australia day, we decided to head to Shelley Beach at Manly for a snorkel. I've read so many positive comments on Shelley Beach that I thought I was missing out on one of Sydney's best snorkeling sites. That is when I decided to visit the place that everyone raves about. Unfortunately, it was a beautiful day (had rained during the weekend) and everyone else had the same marvellous idea to head to the beach. It was hectic! I believe we arrived around 1pm which I would suggest is smack bang in the middle of peak traffic at Shelley Beach. 

We drove around through the car park (few times), waited around, drove through the small streets, and after 20 minutes of targeting pedestrians thinking that they were returning to their vehicle, we eventually gave up. I decided instead to head to the less known destination of Little Manly Point as I have fished there hundreds of times and believed it would also be a fanstastic site to snorkel. Again, we were met with endless lines of cars and swarming human traffic. Almost giving up, I remembered Fairlight!

Now, parking was expectedly easy to find although we had to battle the heat for approximately 10 minutes. Better than nothing. Choosers cannot be beggars. This precious beach was also swarming with people having bbq's, picnics, etc. We also noticed a fair few people by the rock edge with snorkeling gear. We prepared in lightning speed and dived right in.

I recall the fluffy sand and the concrete floors were as hot as lit-up coal however, the water temperature was to die for! Fantastic! Below are some of the memorable pictures taken at Fairlight.

Red Morwong swimming through the crevice

I decided that Fairlight is/was the safest snorkeling destination so far from my snorkeling adventures. When I express safe, I suppose it defines how secure I felt. Even though we were 100m from the shore, it was not particularly deep (3-4 metres) with rock formations scattered where we could just rest on it. The abundance of marine life was amazing here. So many different species of fish and the sheer numbers gave me double vision. I could not keep up taking all the pics I wanted and I eventually got tired of taking pics and enjoyed the snorkel instead.

Crested Morwong giving me the silent treatment

The crested morwong seems like a regular here at Fairlight as I have seen dozens of pics in many forums/websites.

 School of Luderick

I could confidently state that luderick was the largest population here at Fairlight. Attack of the ludericks! Would have loved to catch them on floats :)

A groper joining the fun with ludericks

Amongst the luderick were also a few brown gropers. Their bodies show patches of blue where I think they are undergoing their sex-change transition. 

Leatherjacket attempting to hide.. poor attempt

Thought the leatherjacket above was pretty cute. Maybe because of its swollen belly and it attempted to take cover but failed miserably. 

Stripeys (Thanks to Chai, I now know the name)

Fairlight has countless rock ledges with millions (ok I exaggerate) of marine life seeking shelter underneath them. We saw a school of the yellow and black fish above. I got to find out their names!
Biggest octopus I have seen

Underneath another rock was the largest octopus I have ever seen. I managed to catch a glimpse of its tentacles and realised that an octopus was hiding underneath the ledge.This picture does not do the octopus any justice but boy was it enormous!

Brown/Blue Groper

I thought I'd add the picture above as it reminded me of an aquarium.

Another school of luderick

As I said earlier, ludericks are plentiful here at Flourishing Fairlight.

School of squid

At this stage, we stayed in the water for about an hour and a half. Time flew right past us without us knowing it. Heading towards the shore, we found a patch of white sand that was occupied by a school of squid. Got hungry just by looking at them :) One was obviously the boss and them led them away from my hungry staring eyes. 

Although we failed to snorkel our intended destination, Fairlight was my best snorkel as yet. Would return within a heartbeat. The marine life was astonishing according to my beginner's point of view and I felt the most secure. Now that I had some time to reflect about Fairlight, the first word/phrase that comes to mind is 'Flourishing' Fairlight. This is because of the flourishing marine and plant life here at Fairlight. It might also be because of the alliteration 'Flourishing Fairlight' :)

The weather forecast does not seem positive for the whole month of Feb so my next trip is dependent on how the weather holds up. As I said on my previous post, Bushrangers Bay is definitely on my list and hopefully I will visit it soon! 

Signing off


Tuesday, February 2, 2010

The Camp Cove Experience 21st Jan 2010

January 21st, 2010 was the day I underwent the Camp Cove experience. I have been here several times in the past but it was either for fishing (12 years ago) or conducting a tour guide for my family and friends to boast our magnificent harbour. Parking this day was appalling as the weather was beautiful and it was still the school holidays. I have read from Chai's blog that the east side was occupied by large masses of cuttlefish so I decided to drop my gear on that side of the beach.

View of the city from the water (taken from the east side of Camp Cove)

The water was beautifully calm that day as you can see from the above picture. Underwater visibility was also very good. I think I have yet to learn about the definitions describing the clarity of the water and the methods to measure visibility distance underwater. Would this also be relative depending on the person's perception of clear water? For example, someone who is accustomed to the waters off the GBR may have a 180 degree definition of water clarity to someone like me?

Anyhow, sea urchins were abundant in this area but I did not see much fish life. One of the highlights of this trip were the cuttlefish. See pics below:

Who's on top?

  How many cuttlefish (hint:2)? Peek-a-boo, I see you!

This was my first encounter with so many cuttlefish and they were not timid and let me get extremely close. I believe I saw four at the one time but there could have been more. Oh, I forgot to mention that a few diving schools were also present here at that day. I believe they were exploring the reef just off Camp Cove.

Little blue fish x 2 (name?)

I also saw a school of garfish which was almost indistinguishable from the top as they just looked like extra long pencils. They were hovering over the sea grass just by the cuttlefish. The other fish that I found intriguing are the ones in the picture above. I do not know what species they are but it felt like they did not belong in Camp Cove as they looked like tropical fish. Call me dumb if these types of species are common within the Sydney region but they just looked too pretty :) That day I experienced my first small case of hyperthermia (I think) as I stayed in the water for quite a while and my pinkies were numb even an hour after the dive. My lips were also blue. I suppose you always have to drag me out of the water.

We ended our trip at Watsons Bay with the famous Doyles fish and chips. I hope you do not get hungry looking at the pictures below as it certainly is making me hungry.

Fish 'n' Chips from Doyles

Calamari and Chips from Doyles

If you ever get the chance to snorkel around Camp Cove, I suggest you finish off the day with one of the best fish 'n' chips store in Sydney. We also had a gorgeous view of Watsons Bay from the seats/tables offered by Doyles's fish 'n' chips to its customers. 

View of Watsons Bay from Doyles fish 'n' chips

If you fancy a more formal occasion for dinner, I suggest the Doyles restaurant at Watsons Bay. It is the white building at the back. 

Picture of Watsons Bay from the beach

I enjoyed my trip to Camp Cove even though the crowds were horrendous. Maybe that was what contributed to my liking of the place. I will definitely come back and explore the western side of the beach next time as I missed it this time. One of the best reasons to come back is also for the food! Come and enjoy!

Signing off