Snorkeling Silfra - Iceland

The goal of being in two places at once is on most people's bucket list. However, this is normally from straddling a man made 'boarder line'. In Canada, you can have one foot in Saskatchewan and one in Alberta - Boom, you've achieved your goal. People in lab coats are still working on quantum physics theories to allow for actual biolocation, essentially all the stuff they talk about in those sic-fi movies where there are different dimensions of time in space etc. But, in the land of fire and ice you actually can be in two places at once, swimming in a crack between two continents and touch both Europe and America AT THE SAME TIME.

For those of you who aren't Geology nuts, Iceland is very special for a number of reasons, but perhaps the most famous reason is that you can be on the American continent one minute, and on the Eurasian continent the next. This can be found in the þingvellir national park with the real adventurers among us being able to swim through the very breaking point, the crack in the earth that splits us and the Americans apart! So, naturally, when I heard about this one I had to try it out! I dragged myself and fellow blogger, Workouts and Wanderlust, out to Iceland to give it a go with leading dive operator Dive.Is

Only an hours drive from Reykjavik, we met our guides in þingvellir national park ready for a good old safety briefing, before signing our life away for the thousandth time to try a new adventure activity! We'd booked in to snorkel this vast underworld, however if you have your PADI diving certification (and a larger budget than I have) you can go way below the surface with the team as well. 

The guys explained how the water for Silfra is fed from an underwater river, that starts with a glacier, so it is ice cold. The only positive is that this does mean the water stays a constant temperature all year round, so if you want to see Iceland as a winder wonderland, you can still try out this magnificent experience! However, with it being at a constant 2-4 degrees in temperature it is not somewhere you should go if you don't mind getting a little uncomfortable. While you're wrapped up in space suits, your face is still a little exposed so it stings! Great for the skin though I'm sure?

After a good hour of wiggling around getting into our dry suits (the most hilarious kitting up I've ever experienced), and with water temperature only just above freezing, it was time to descend into the abyss. Waddling down the steps in our suits and flippers was a bit of a laugh, and then it was my turn to float on in...

The only way I can describe the initial experience is feeling like a human ice cube in a glass of fizzy pop. If you haven't used a drysuit before, it prevents water getting into the suit to keep you warm in painfully cold water, and you stay fully clothed - feels weird. However, this created an odd affect without the use of weights where the suit is full of air so you float, almost out of control. But, this bizarre sensation is completely outweighed once you put your head underwater - it literally is some of the clearest water in the world with over 100m of clarity! 

The 40 minute swim / float in completed in four sections - Silfra Big Crack, Silfra Hall, Silfra Cathedral and finally ending in the Silfra Lagoon. With not many fish around, some people may question what there is to look at however I simply couldn't get enough. With locally dubbed 'troll's hair' (green algae that sticks to the rocks) and incredibly clear water, it didn't get dull at all while manoeuvring through all the rock formations. The fact that you're in-between the two continents during the Big Crack section doesn't escape you either!

Being led by the expert guides who would periodically stop and explain each section made sure that you could swim/float and learn about the names behind each part of the trip. Coming to an end just before you feel yourself turning to ice, we ascending out of the water slightly less than gracefully in flippers before making our way to the trucks and the desperately required hot chocolate! 

Having been something I wanted to try for so many years, it seriously didn't disappoint and I'd recommend to ANYONE who wants to do something a little unusual. A huge thanks to Dive IS for helping me tick this one off the bucket list this year, and I can't wait to hit Iceland for a third time to try some of the other awesome activities these guys have on offer. 

Snorkelling The Reef - Dominican Republic

We all get that urge to submerge every now and again, to swim down with the fishes and see another world below the surface. If you're me, it's a constant feeling and have been likened to a human fish far too many times - I just love being in the ocean! So, when I heard about Marinarium I couldn't help but head on over and see what's going on with the help of Olympus Tours Again

The Dominican Republic is found on the second largest island in the Caribbean, and it's coastline is split between the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. With such rich marine life on the doorstep, founders John and Alexandra Vasquez decided to try a new way to entice tourists to take an interest in the conservation effort here. They've created a multi-aspect trip that involves snorkelling, paddling and partying - something for everyone bringing the ocean closer to all. 

The 3 hour trip starts with boarding onto the glass bottomed catamaran to take us to the first part, and my favourite of the day! Mooring the boat far enough from the 'in ocean' aquarium, we were partnered up with or in water guides. These guys seemed to split up to around 2-4 people / guide and would stick with you then whole time you're in the water to make sure you're safe and also respecting the wildlife. Kitted up with snorkels & masks (and life jackets for less confident swimmers), we all started to climb down to the sea and swim across to the enclosures. Once at the first entrance, the guides lowered the gate for us to climb over ready to spend some time with the main attraction - nurse sharks!

The enclosure, floating in the ocean, is the perfect place for these animals to be researched and conserved. Large & deep enough for free swimming, we were able to float above and watch them without invading their space. I love being able to get up close with wildlife, so this was a serious treat for me! 

From here, it was onwards to the sting rays. Once again, a large enclosure for these guys to enjoy while we floated above and were able to share their space! Along with the larger creatures, the aquariums are in the ocean so you have to expect a few more surprises, With space big enough for small fish to swim in and out of, you do get to see some of the colourful reef life come and go during the first snorkel.

Back to the boat, after a little persuasion from our guide as I could have been in there for hours, we headed up to the top deck for some tanning and to enjoy the included bar! The journey to our next stop took about 45 minutes which was filled with dance lessons, drinking and relaxing - not a bad way to spend your time in the sunshine (especially when you check out the guys teaching the dance lessons ;D). 

To give us another chance to enjoy the water, we hopped back in further down the coast in a lagoon with an open bar at the back of the boat. Here, with the water so shallow, you can float, stand, swim around or just drink a little too much but essentially spend the time enjoying the ocean. 

I guess this trip is what I imagine a safari in the ocean would be like, being able to see everything, from some of the larger predators to the tiniest starfish. Anytime that I can meet some new wildlife is a plus from me! 

Black Water Rafting - Waitomo Caves

Before I reached New Zealand, I had never heard of anything like Black Water Rafting. Sure, I’d heard of the white water version so my instant thought was that it must be the same sort of thing? Completely WRONG! Black water rafting is essentially underground rafting and caving mixed into some crazy combo so not one for the faint hearted perhaps.

I tried it in the small town of Waitomo, preparing to delve into the deep with the Legendary Black Water Rafting Company. Starting in 1987, these guys know their stuff so navigating these caves is second nature thank goodness! I’m not the first to admit I’m not great with tight spaces and darkness, it’s a common fear for all of us after watching all those horror movies that are somehow all based during the pitch black night. It did make me a little nervous also knowing that New Zealand is fairly well known for pretty big earthquakes - being trapped underground while it’s all shaking can’t be all that fun. However, not one to shy away from a challenge when other people are watching, I followed the group dressed in the most unflattering wetsuit imaginable and clambered into the awaiting van.

We were taken to a section of the river that leads into the caves and were required to prove we could jump backwards off a mini pier with a rubber ring attached to my butt (you’ll be pleased to hear I passed) and clambered down the rocky entrance to the ‘unknown’. It’s always the worst part when you start, once you’re in I guess you acclimatise and see that being stuck in a hole with rocks above your head isn’t all that bad. The guides also give you some time to get used to it before really getting underway with your little rubber ring and the underwater river.  

The best way to describe a lot of it is one big lazy river, with few faster sections and waterfall tumbles to make it interesting. With every jump and section of caves, you can’t help but enjoy yourself a little more. Being the clumsiest person on earth, I did manage to slip up a few times so if you’re anything like me be prepared to come out with one or two bruises. Also, don’t believe what they say about the cave eels - I didn’t see any if they do exist anyway!

Probably the highlight of trip was seeing the glowworms. After a few more tumbling falls, we approached a much calmer section of the underwater river. Forming a long line sitting in our trusty rings, we each grabbed onto the boots of the person behind us and one by one shut off our headlights. As it got darker, we all looked up in complete awe at the glowworms lighting up the ceiling of the cave. It sounds really cheesy so I’m sorry, but it does give you some perspective in life. If a tiny little worm can produce that much light in such a dark world, why can't we do the same (metaphorically of course, I’m not expecting each of you to start glowing radioactively).

After this more relaxing section, we carried on through the caves until reaching an opening back to sunlight swimming / climbing out into a wooded area. I can tell you, this was rather surreal after 3 hours circumnavigating those under ground river systems! 

For those with a larger budget, you can try the Abyss or Odyssey which are a little more extreme including abseiling through the caves and slightly more hardcore caving but still allows you to check out the glowworms. For the less insane, there's also a riverboat tour of the larger caves to see the sparkling glowworm lights too so there really is something for everyone. You'll want some warm clothes to change into once you're back though, I was fucking freezing as you can imagine after swimming through cave rivers! Make sure you hit up the Waitomo caves if you're out there as you won't regret it. 

All images supplied by The Legendary Black Water Rafting Co. This is not a sponsored post however the images were requested from the team by myself as I haven't got any photographs of the experience since I don't have a cave-proof camera. 

Top 5 Skydive Locations New Zealand

Skydiving was a word that used to strike fear to my heart, and quite honestly would make me feel a little sick. However, during my trip to New Zealand and Australia last year I decided that it was time for me to get over all my fears and man the fuck up. This included white water rafting grade 5 rapids, black water rafting, freediving, swimming with a 5 and a half metre long croc, hugging a Komodo dragon, bush camping in the desert - you get the point. Anything that my immediate thought equalled possible death or discomfort I went for as a rule of thumb. Skydiving however, the activity that was most terrifying of all for me was actually the one I enjoyed the most. I think it's one of the world's little tricks that generally we love what we have hated or feared and this was definitely the case for me.

Now it's well known that New Zealand is THE place to launch yourself out of a plane, it's got the highest safety record in the world for skydivers and the scenery will take your breath away (as you hurtle towards it of course). So being helpful as ever, I've written up for you the top 5 places to jump in New Zealand based on my experience and from friends I travelled with along the way who shared their thoughts. Unfortunately I couldn't plummet 16,000ft in each of these locations due to the fact I was on a budget - you're looking at between $300-$550 NZD per jump depending on the height. But, I have been to each place and can only imagine how stunning it is from above!

Queenstown - NZone

Queenstown makes the list as it's considered the adventure capital of the world, so why would you not considered skydiving here? With tandem jumps from 9,000, 12,000 or 15,000 feet you are spoilt for choice. Queenstown from the ground is stunning so I can only imagine what it would be like from 15,000 feet with a Birdseye view! You'll get to experience the mountains, lakes and rivers from above - what more do you need to see? While I couldn’t jump here, fellow traveller Michael gave me his view.

Nzone skydive was amazing as there is no better feeling to fall through the clouds and see the mountain ranges open up below you as you fall 200km per minute through the overside. No better pace in my eyes.


Taupo is one of the most popular skydives in New Zealand due to the price. It really is the cheapest place to jump and you're definitely not compromising on the view as it's still awesome. In Taupo, you're also able to jump out of a big pink plane which made me a little jealous as the one I jumped from was just white (but still awesome). One of my closest friends, Erin of Canada did this jump last year, and this is what she has to say about it!

A 15,000 Ft jump over a beautiful lake and volcanos in the background, I knew Taupo was the perfect place for my first skydive. Me, being afraid of heights, I was absolutely terrified to jump, but it turned out to be the most amazing thing I’ve ever done. The free fall was for a minute but it went by so fast because I was having so much fun. My fear of heights completely vanished and once I landed I knew this would not be the last time I skydived.

Franz Joseph Glacier

In the South Island, New Zealand is pretty special in that it's one of the only places in the world that has a glacier going into a rainforest. Doesn't make sense, but I'm sure science can explain it better than me. In Franz Joseph, you can do one of the highest jumps in the world, 19,000ft, and do it right above a glacier! With this, you can free fall for almost a minute and a half taking in the view as you go - what more could you ask for when adrenaline seeking?

Bay of Islands

The bay of Islands was one of the first places I visited in New Zealand, and I can understand why everyone would want to skydive here. It is what it says on the tin, a bay full of islands with sandy beaches and blue waters. The guys who skydived here got picked up in the biggest limousine I’ve ever seen and whisked away for their big moment. Tyne, one of the brave people who took the first opportunities to jump told me her thoughts!

Sky diving over the bay of islands was for me the highlight of my trip. For someone who is terrified of heights (to the point I dislike standing on a chair) it was a challenge I was determined to face sky high! It was so surreal and left me speechless - apart from mumbling thank you in Fijian in a daze to the camera afterwards. (I had just volunteered in Fiji to save confusion)

The view was spectacular as we twirled our way down to the ground (not for the nauseous if they say grab the reins!) What an exhilarating, breathtaking experience, putting your complete trust, faith and life into the hands of a complete stranger strapped to your back. If you are willing to make the jump then I would definitely recommend the 16,000 at bay of islands. The staff were so welcoming, hosting us for a day whilst we waited for clouds to pass and then bringing us straight in the morning after to ensure we had the best dive. I’d go again tomorrow if I could!

Abel Tasman

Skydive Abel Tasman - this was my chance. Abel Tasman national park is near the top of the south island, and the view you get is spectacular. Both the snow capped mountains, the beautiful ocean and best of all, you can see BOTH islands during your free fall. For me, this was so magical and the moment I jumped out of that plane was the moment I smashed through my biggest fear. From the moment we were picked up to the moment we jumped, the team here talked through exactly what was going to happen and ensured we were happy with our safety information. Essentially, when doing a tandem jump you have to do very little (which is lucky because I was enjoying it so much I probably would have forgotten to pull the parachute cord!) I cannot recommend the venue enough - so get your boots on and give it a go!

Now please don't take it that these are the only places to jump in New Zealand, these are just the only places I know people who jumped and told me about it and I hate to recommend things I know nothing about! Reviews online say that Wanaka is another incredible place to jump, and having visited the town I can see why. Auckland is also a cracking place to free fall and if you're itching to jump it's literally 1 hour from the international airport so you won't have to wait long if coming from afar. There are so many places to drop in this beautiful country so take the opportunity when it arises and don't give yourself a chance to question it just go go go!

Never Smile at a Crocodile

We all know the saying, and since we're young children we're taught to always stay away from big crocs - from movies like Peter Pan to Lake Placid and Rouge. Even in the UK, where there is absolutely no way we would ever come close to one we're still warned of the dangers. These animals are thousands of years worth of evolution to make them killing machines and are at the top of the food chain (if you don't count us of course) - so why would someone want to face death and swim with two adult crocodiles?

Well - perhaps I'm insane but I think it's just because I'm curious. From a young age I've been inspired by the likes of Steve Irwin (the crocodile hunter) and Sir David Attenborough to explore, learn and preserve the natural world and everything related to it. For me, swimming with the world’s top predators is a dream come true! Even before I started travelling and grew some balls, I wrote in my end of school yearbook that I wanted to swim with a great white without a cage.

So just imagine my delight when I learned that in Darwin, Australia, I could do just that and hop into a cage for a 20 minute swim with these majestic killing machines? I was not only going to get to smile at one, but actually get into its natural habitat and join it for a dip.

Crocosaurus cove is a specialised centre for replies and houses both the big crocs alongside snakes, lizards and other reptilian delights - my heaven but most people's nightmare. They offer a range of experiences including the usual snake/lizard holding, feeding and, of course, the cage of death (how safe they make it sound...)! You can also hold a baby croc and get a snap which is great for those slightly less adrenalin seeking and more normal than me.

So, in the usual style for experiences like this - I booked in a time slot got a high five from the man at the desk, and told to sign my life away along the dotted line. By this point into our trip through New Zealand, Australia and the South Pacific it was a standard weekly practise for me to do this and gave a copy to my friend just in case I needed it for insurance purposes but I doubt any policy really covers this activity under adventure sports anyway.

I think my first point to make for anyone wanting to do this is to be aware that crocodiles are not the same in the UK. Before this, I'd seen them on TV and sure I was told they grow up to 22 feet in length, but the only time I'd seen them in the flesh was in the zoo and they weren't so scary? Well they're not scary because they're not even half the size of the fully grown ones! Immediate thought when seeing the first crocodile in this place - Oh Shit. Oh shit balls. Crap crap crap, and every other profanity you can dream up in your little heads. This was just MASSIVE! It's head was bigger than my body - well almost. But - if Steve Irwin could do it without a cage I could most certainly do it in one.

We had 90 minutes to explore before my big moment, so checked out all the crocs including the celebrity crocodile that starred in Crocodile Dundee! Being a fan of snakes also, we hit the reptile house and were even allowed to pop snakes in our hair for a while whilst wondering around - save to say this concerned my mother more than the swim as she has a realllllll fear of snakes that it's almost comical. There's even an area here where you can feed the baby crocodiles that are only around a metre in length. Here, was where I was told the price of the photo package which was unfortunately out of my tiny budget since most of my last cash was going into the dip, and we concluded that travel buddy Jess would do a superb job on my iPhone. In hindsight, I wish I'd just paid the man and gone into my overdraft, as with many of the experiences on this trip that I missed out on. Jess did a wonderful job, but with the photo package you get a gopro to get some awesome selfies with the crocs and they would have been taken with some swanky camera from angles that actually do the animals justice in showing their true size as their photographers can get to places barred off to the public.

At this point, looking at my watch I realised that it was my turn and headed towards the crocodile pools and I'm not going to lie, it's kind of awkward having to strip down into your bikini then walk out in front of a crowd of curious spectators who are ever so slightly hoping that the croc will break into the cage you're about to climb into. But, I personally think they must have been a little jealous as it was 40+ degrees out there and I was able to jump into nice cool water and chill off. Two very Aussie gents talked me through the safety procedures - don't put limbs out of cage (there were very tiny slits so I have no idea how I would have stuck anything other than a finger out anyway), wave & shout if there's a problem, they will pull me out if they think I'm going to die etc. then out comes the ladder and I climb on in. Unlike shark cage diving, this cage is more like a perspect clear tube with mesh & small holes to allow air & water in, and a hatch above them bolt you into. They explained that if it was a metal cage it would find a way to get hold and shake you about like a maraca. This way, Mr crocodile can't get a grip so while he may still jump up and try to bite the cage, he won't be able to break in (hopefully). With a snokel and mask handed down, I was latched in and left standing rather awkwardly in the cage while the guys run up to the crane. Yes - they lift and lower you into the enclosure using a crane, and your left swinging around above all the crocodiles until you're above the desired pool. This is when you're lowered nice and slowly into the pool and towards the animals  giving them a chance to jump up and try to bite your cage if they wish - oh hooray! Obviously, it causes the cage to swing about even more building up the nerves ever so slightly when it's literally a plastic wall between you and death.

However, I have to say once I was in the water and watching the two crocodiles swimming around me all those nerves were replaced with complete awe. They are SO MASSIVE but so graceful underwater. Their eyes follow your every move and they're constantly aware of your presence. At first, once the cage was lowered and settled, they left me alone but returned for a look every so often swimming right beside me and staring in. Not only was I able to swim with them chilling out, but I was also in their during feeding time so got to watch them hunt and eat from close up too! They really pull back and leap from underwater to grab their food. You can really see just how big this guy was when you compare my size in cage behind!

All I can say is this was one of the most incredible and memorable experiences of my life and I would recommend it to anyone who likes to try something different! A picture says a thousand words so I’ll leave you with a few below but if you want any tips, let me know and I’ll send them your way!