Day zero. Getting our marks after a 26 hours trip from Paris to Havelock, going through Chennai, paperworks at the immigration desk, wait four hours in a hotel room in Chennai, then Port Blair, paperworks at Port Blair airport,, wait again four hours in Port Blair, ferry to Havelock, paperworks at Havelock harbor, no waiting (eh? what's wrong?), Island Vinnies' GQ, little paperwork, home tent... Wot? no paperwork?
Time for Luna to get into full action. Here's how it goes at Island Vinnie's...
Dixon's Pinnacle, named after softspeaking guide Dixon and, you guessed... a pinnacle.
Probably the best dive of the bunch I did (ok, best tied with...). Much impressed with the LOADS of fish there, here I'm running against bluefin trevallies, I could almost touch them, but -very surprisingly- they were faster than me...
Add on top of that a good viz, probably 20m.
A real pity I was struggling with my camera at the moment.
Dixon's Pinnacle coral life
This is how good it gets when it comes to coral life in the Andamans.
Maybe not the Similans for the soft coral yet really decent, and as for for fishlife it smokes Thailand anytime.
Not a masterpiece but I thought a little coral would prevent boredom from these schools of thousand big fish photos.
Note to myself : think about a real wide angle lens.
Did I also mention the schools of 'ccudas at Dixon's pinnacle?
A really good dive site.
Unfortunately, one of the two dives brings current, on the second dive apart from a turtle and the sight of Manty's blue fins in the distance, I saw nothing. (Manty, if you read me, I would have killed you for swimming so fast! I hate current, especially holding a dSLR housing and a strobe).
Time now to wander on Vinnie's beachfront at low tide : here's beach #5 in Havelock... and from what I've walked probably the best stretch, without rocks... though too many coral bommies for the dive boats, but we'll see that later on...
Just a few clouds on heaven : on the right side you'll be stopped by stray dogs while the left side is populated with low budget backpackers trying to find their path through life with beach yoga or masala frisbee.
A darker cloud above paradise : Kingfisher beer gives me headaches. Checked in a french guidebook, it's because of the high amount of glycerin, they say. So no Indian beer for me, the night before diving.
Here we are on South Button after a tedious two hours trip.
I have not achieved any spectacular photo of this site despite incredible hard coral variety, it seems this iste has never heard about El Nino.
This photo of a -probably juvenile- Ambon Chromis doesn't do any justice to this lovely dive site as it's obviously better than what you see here.
Perhaps this is a site that is worth forgetting the camera for the day and enjoying the coral fields.
Schooling Banner Fish
Another dweller of South Button, a dive site remarkable for its hard coral growth.
Any type of hard coral, staghorn, brain, table, salad, you name it, it's there. It's been a very long time I hadn't seen colorful hard corals, if you haven't yourself, dive South Button!
Spine cheek Clownfish
I wrote two photos above that one should consider diving this site, South Button without his camera. that is complete bullshit, I reckon.
Any underwater photographer admits after a few drinks he would kill for a good clownfish spot.
Well dear photographer colleague, South Button is the place for you. The Spine Cheek Clownfishes are simply gorgeous there, fat and bright. First time I saw such vivid yellow bands for that specie, I'm more accustomed to the standard orange/white color combo, even for the spine cheeks.
The other frequent dwellers of this site are the octopii.. but as you know, the weird octopus is plain crap for photo. I haven't seen one good coral reef octopus picture in my life yet, not speaking about coldwater pink octopii. So when one guide points nervously to both an octopus and my camera, I just pretend I shoot the beast to please the guide and afterwards, that I mistakenly erased the picture... but the truth is that I have NEVER depressed that shutter.
Day three : dive off day.
Haaaa.... beach #7... I have no words to praise this beach. On top of my list when it comes to beaches, with Perhentian islands or Koh Lipe.
Back in the water after a short break.
First dive with buddy Pedro from Teneriffe, night dive on "The wall" in the middle of the ferry channel.
A strange dive, almost devoid of fish life, plenty of soft corals aginst the wall with very very small crustacean life, haven't even seen a nudibranch. This is home for a real 100mm macro + a macro lens for 2:1 scenes.
Red Hingebeak Shrimp
100 mm macro + magnifying lens is the way to go at the Wall if you want to catch something, and don't forget the light. I was very short of everything with my 50mm which refused to focus neatly on the yet difficult to spot critters, here a hardly noticed hingebeak translucid shrimp.
From that night, I promised to myself to invest soon into a video light.
Note to myself : add to shopping basket with dome, ultrawide lens, 100mm macro and second flash...ouch...