Best Diving, Swimming & Snorkelling Spots Around the World

Have an itch to getaway and head out on a new adventure? Whether you are looking for a perfect dive spot, snorkel spot or just the best body of water to dip your toes in, we have you covered. There are so many spectacular options in the world to see, but only a few that offer something truly unique.  Here are a few you definitely won’t want to miss. They will give you an extraordinary experience you will remember for the rest of your life.

1. SILFRA GAP

You may have not heard of the Silfra Gap. It is really not your typical diving location, perhaps due to its severe lack of wildlife. Many normally have tropical destinations in mind when planning their scuba diving escapades and aren’t thinking of hopping into icy glacial melt water. However, the Silfra Gap is one you will want to add to the top of your list!

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This dive spot is located in Iceland. It is not a place you will find heavily populated by fish or marine life. Instead, this location, also known as the Silfra Fissure, provides you with something else to see and discover. It is a freshwater dive spot with some of the clearest water in the world. You can see out past 100 meters!

Here you will be able to dive down in the gap between the American and the Eurasian Continental plates. It is an experience unparalleled anywhere else in the world and there is even a section where you can touch both continents at the same time. I’m pretty sure is a serious bucket list tick item right there.

Keep in mind the water temperatures will be cold year-round, so a dry suit is a necessity for your dive. If you are not big on scuba diving or don’t have your dive qualifications, you can snorkel this site as well. Keep in mind you will have to take a guided tour where they show you the way and can take pictures for you throughout the excursion.

2. THE RED SEA

A top location for diving is the Red Sea. You can get to this locations many dive spots from Egypt, Israel, Jordan or Sudan. Egypt is probably the easiest and most common way to go for divers traveling to the area, however if you’re an avid traveler and want to escape the crowds, Sudan is the best place to go. The beauty is the temperatures and climate make this the perfect dive spot all year round.

The thing that makes the Red Sea unique and one of the top spots you should consider is the fact that this is a vast area with an abundance of shipwrecks. These wrecks make for every diver’s heaven since they are home to a variety of coral and marine life to explore.

A few top spots in the Red Sea you will want to try are the Thistlegorm Wreck in Sharm El Sheik, Abu Nuhas Reef in Hurghada and the Dahab Blue Hole.  The Thistlegorm Wreck is one of the world’s top wreck dives. The Abu Nuhas Reef is a little better suited for novice divers though if you’re just starting out. Finally, the Dahab Blue Hole is famous for its deep blue depths, but is rather dangerous.

3. GALAPAGOS

To most, the Galapagos Islands is pretty self-explanatory as to why it would be on the top of any diver’s list. The island chain is located off the coast of Ecuador. This is a subtropical location on the equator, so it will be warm and the weather doesn’t change too much from season to season.

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The Galapagos Islands is one of the best dive spots for Shark Diving. You are almost guaranteed to see some type of shark on your dive in these waters as many migrate through here. Some of the most common you will find are Scalloped Hammerheads, Galapagos Sharks and White-Tipped Reef Sharks.  Typically, this dive location is best suited for advanced divers due to some of the technical dive spots.

If you are not wanting to dive, that does not mean you can’t have a one of a kind experience in the Galapagos. These islands also offer the perfect destination for snorkeling and swimming. Gardner Bay is the perfect spot for you to take in the beauty of the island, snorkel and layout on the beach with the sea lions. There is an abundance of marine life here that will have you spending hours in the water taking in every stunning site.

4. GREAT BARRIER REEF

Located off the coast of Australia’s Queensland is every snorkeler’s dreamland, known as the Great Barrier Reef. This is the most bio diverse environment on the planet and one of the seven natural wonders of the world, so yeah - it’s a must visit.

Most people have heard of the Great Barrier reef due primarily to its size alone. It is the largest coral reef system in the world and home to over 1500 kinds of fish, 30 species of marine mammals and so many more varieties of marine life. It is a string of 2900 coral reefs, giving you so much to explore. Diving is a great option here as well if you are wanting to go a little deeper than just the water’s surface, however as the coral is relatively shallow, snorkelling is perfect in a lot of locations.

It’s certainly worth doing a little research for the best dive sites, as many companies offer snorkelling primarily with diving as a side option. While this is great for novice divers, the sites chosen are focused on the snorkelers meaning you can pretty much see the same wildlife without all the dive gear or extra cost for this extra. Instead, try and head out with a company who offer only dives as they’ll make sure you get the best value and experience for your money.

The reef running near Cairns & Port Douglas is probably one of your most popular destinations for snorkelling. It is the closest section of reef to Australia’s mainland. This location is great no matter what time of year you visit as marine life isn’t affected by the rains obviously. However, the best time to visit the area in general is from June to October when the chance of rainfall is minimal, and the days are nice and warm.

5. HAWAII’S BIG ISLAND

Rich in Polynesian culture, the Big Island of Hawaii offers some unique snorkelling opportunities where the beauty of the sea pairs with the history of the islands. There are several spots around the island that are truly magnificent.

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One such spot is Kealakekua Bay just south of Kona. Here you will find a monument of Captain Cook overlooking the bay. The side of the bay at the base of the monument offers the best snorkeling and will give you the chance to see beautiful reefs and vibrant sea life. Honaunau Bay is a great second stop for snorkeling as well for a similar experience. If you want to explore a little further out of the Big Island’s radius, Maui’s Olowalu Reef is a must see. A unique site here is the Turtle Cleaning Station, where you will be able to swim with these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.

Hawaii has a climate that is perfect to visit year-round. No matter when you chose to make the trip it will be a lovely temperature between 24-28 degrees and perfect for spending your days in the ocean cooling off.

6. BLUE LAGOON

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Iceland has another gem to offer to those looking for a unique experience. Located on the Southwestern side of the country, the Blue Lagoon is not so much a diving or snorkelling spot, but a natural geothermal bath that you will want to experience at least once in your life.

Known for its milky blue-green colour, the Blue Lagoon has a temperature of about 38 degrees Celsius. The lagoon is filled with minerals, silica and algae that are so good for your skin. It’s as if you were taking a dip in a natural spa and coming out rejuvenated. It is an ultra relaxing experience you will thoroughly enjoy and will be a memorable experience to keep forever.

You are able to enjoy visiting the Blue Lagoon all year round, however, it is the most populated from May through September. If you want it to be a little less crowded, you may want to travel to the destination outside of peak season. If you head here in winter, you can head into the water in the dark with the hope of catching a glimpse of the Northern Lights. Alternatively, in June & July Iceland has the midnight sun, meaning you can hop in at any time of night and still be in full daylight – super cool!

 7. CRATER LAKE

Nestled in the Northwest US in Oregon is Crate Lake. This is a site that rivals no other. This lake is absolutely stunning with its snow-capped mountains and the background and its stunningly clear deep blue water. Just to see it is worth the trip alone, but what fun would that be?

Crater Lake is the deepest lake in the United States and is the ninth deepest in the world, reaching depths of about 1,949 feet. This lake was created as the result of a volcano collapsing and a caldera (volcanic depression) forming. With there being no rivers or other means of water coming or going into Crate Lake, it is able to retain its beautiful clear and pristine water.

There is only one place you will be able to swim in Crater Lake. It is in the section known as Cleetwood Cove Trail and at the end of the hike you will reach the shoreline where you can take a dip in the lake. It is a bit of a steep trail to get there, but definitely worth the trek! The best time of year to visit Crate Lake is in the warmer months, such as July and August. It can get quite cold and snowy in the winter months so I highly doubt you’d want to take a dip then, even if you are a little crazy.

8. BELIZE BARRIER REEF AND BLUE HOLE

Only beaten by the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, the Belize Barrier Reef is just as comparable in terms of marine life and beauty. In fact, we found it slightly better in terms of crowd levels. As Belize is less popular as a tourist destination, it has a drastic difference in terms of visitor numbers (approximately 80% less which equates to around 1.5 million less people each year).

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Easily reachable from many places, we headed over from the small, Belize island of Caye Caulker. Hitting up two snorkel spots, we saw stunning coral and all manner of marine life. At one point, I there were SO many nurse sharks around me it was hard not to stroke them. Being a bit of a shark fanatic, it was actual heaven.

If you want to dive however, Belize has an even more special spot for you. The Blue Hole is world famed for being a huge oceanic sinkhole and can be found by Lighthouse Reef. If you want to try something pretty sensational, this is the place to jump in!

9. OMAN

Fairly unknown to novice divers, Oman has some of the best diving in the Arabian Sea. Pretty much closed off to all tourists until the 70s, Oman opened it’s doors to the world who expected mainly desert but has an unbelievable amount to offer.

Having a relatively untouched coastline, the area hasn’t been polluted by tourists too much which, as we know, is becoming a huge problem in popular destinations like Bali. The main highlight in Oman however is the fact that, for a few months each year, you can dive both coral reefs and kelp forests. This does only occur over monsoon however due to the cool waters, so should be reserved for experienced divers only. For the less experienced, your best bet is to dive from October until May when the waters are calmer for a more trouble free dip.

10. ATHERTON TABLELANDS

Another swim spot rather than snorkelling or diving, the Atherton Tablelands in Queensland, Australia are perfect for people who want to take a dip in fresh water. About an hour from Cairns, it’s a perfect place to visit if you’ve got some time left over after exploring the Great Barrier Reef too.

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The Atherton Tablelands have a huge number of waterfalls, lakes and even natural waterslides to enjoy. Being freshwater, it’s a little chilly compared to the balmy outside temperatures that Cairns has to offer, but is seriously refreshing. My favourite swimming spots are Lake Eacham, Millaa Millaa Falls and Josephine Falls. All are perfect for a dip and a relax, with Josephine having the natural waterslides to shoot down.

I do often get people asking about crocodiles here, and while you can find a few freshwater crocs here you won’t see the dangerous salty’s. Always check for signs at each swimming hole as they’ll clearly state if there’s anything to be looking out for, but your freshwater crocodiles are relatively harmless as long as you leave them alone. Saltwater crocs though… don’t mess with them! There’s a reason no-one goes to the beach in this part of the world…

11. THE PHILIPPINES

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I don’t think it’s really possible to end my round up of top dive, swimming & snorkelling spots without a quick shout out to the Philippines. Known world wide for some incredible marine life, it’s also home to crystal clear waters and white sandy beaches.

One of the best and most popular dives / snorkel trips here is the sardine run. This happens each year off the island of Cebu, with the best access from the small town of Moalboal. Literally be at one with an unbelievable amount of sealife, with the fish swimming in synchronisation to form underwater rivers of fish. As you can imagine, the sardine run will also draw in predators seeking to take advantage of the ‘ocean buffet’. While the predators here won’t quite match what you would see in South Africa’s run, it’s still pretty spectacular.

12. MALDIVES

Home to some of the most beautiful scenery in the world, with its crystal-clear water it is a perfect destination for anyone wanting to snorkel and enjoy the vast array of vibrant marine life. This is a great destination to visit year-round.

Most people will stay at a luxury resort when visiting the Maldives where the resort will have its own personal reef on the island. If you are staying in an overwater bungalow, it is truly a magical experience to be able to just jump off your deck into the crystal-clear water and enjoy the exploring the reefs right outside your room. You will also be able to see all the incredible sea life and coral from your hut or at some resorts, via under water spas and restaurants.

This is a great location for snorkelling, swimming in a breathtaking location and even diving! For scuba diving enthusiasts, you will want to take a boat ride out a little further from your resort. A few top spots you will want to check out are Fish Head and Banana Reef. These are magical destinations that will have provide you the chance to over a 1000 different marine life throughout your entire stay.

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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

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!