In 2009 I went on an extensive trip for ANWB REIZEN Magazine to discover Vancouver Island. One of the treats, besides insanely good weather, was a roundflight by Tofino Air. As most of my friends know I’m totally crazy about flying (even though I get more than my fair share of it) but this one really was one of the best ever. Taking off in a floatplane from Tofino and cruise over the wilderness below is a sight to behold. I can only recommend everybody to do this just once, it’s worth every penny!
Flying over Paradise Lake before landing there, watch video!!!
“You guys should put some seats up there” shouts Kev. 32 years old, Australian, tourist, but personal trainer at home with the appearance of a well-tanned dive instructor from the average tourist brochure. “I could have watched this I for hours, I’ve never seen anything quite like it”. His wife Denise nods and I can only agree, we just made a dive that went straight to our personal top-3′s.
Place of action is a small island off the coast of Malaysian Borneo that is so blatantly beautiful that you could live there. Anyone who has ever Googled “Lankayan” knows what I’m talking about: pictures of a small green postage stamp surrounded by the most beautiful blue waters one can imagine. Upon arrival, it turns out to be much more beautiful than the pictures, how often does that happen? When we walk the wooden pier, it is just clear waters all around us, full of corals with tiny shark fins cutting though the surface. It looks like an aquarium but it is real! The young sharks, not more than fifty centimeters long are a sign that the reef here is healthy, says the leader of the island resort. “Almost nowhere else in the world you see something like that in a touristy place” he explains, “Lankayan has been heavily protected since 2001, it’s all take nothing, leave only bubbles”.
That is why the place is still very popular among turtles, loads of them still come ashore to lay eggs, during certain periods it’s even a daily occurrence. And the hatching can be watched too as the eggs are dug up and placed in a protected area. There is nothing that beats the sight of baby turtles making a run for it during sunset. Truly magic!
Exactly a year ago I set out on a trip to two small islands near the Northern coast of Holland; Schiermonnikoog & Vlieland. As most people know, cycling is hugely popular in our country and these two islands are no different. So I went out for a week to produce an article and photos for the cycling special of ANWB REIZEN Magazine, a very popular travel publication. I hadn’t been to the islands sinds I was a high-school kid, aeons ago, and boy was I in for a treat. Some nice autumn weather, windy but not cold and the occasional raindrop just suited things perfectly. Autumn set in late that year so there were still loads of colored leaves on the trees.
Just the small scale of both islands, their loveliness and abundant nature will have me come back again very soon. I guess I have re-fallen in love again with the place. The feeling of being able to cycle around an island in an hour, or two for Vlieland, is just too good to be true. Add, centuries old houses and miles of unspoilt beaches and not too many tourists and you’ll see what I mean.
Photoseries on my October 2009 visit to the El Hierro Fotosub (underwater photography contest). This island, an Unesco Biosphere, is the smallest and most western of the Canary Islands (Spain) and is both spectacular under and above water.
An invitation to attend the Fotosub in El Hierro last year sounded almost too good to be true. But in fact it wasn’t only true, it was alos even better than expected. Great thing about attending as a photographer/journalist is that you don’t have competition stress but do get to dive almost as much as you want with big shots like Alex Mustard or Kurt Amsler. For an inexperienced underwater photographer like me that is certainly a treat!
So one chilly October morning I started out a long day of travel from Amsterdam to Madrid, then off to Tenerife before finally boarding a small prop plane for the 30-minute flight from one Volcano island to the other. For those who have never heard of El Hierro (or Ferro as it’s also called), I can’t blame you. I had never heard from it either but I feel lucky to have changed since last year. It’s the smallest and most western of the Canary Islands, an island group near the coast of Marocco. Back in the days (say, about 2000 years ago), it was thought to be the end of the world and it hosted the meridian for a long time before it was finally noticed there was a bit more to this planet than previously thought.
The island hosts several volcanic outcrops and is exceptionally spectacular in nature: huge volcanic fields compete with Pine forests, rain forest or dry stretches of land depending on what square kilometer you happen to be at. I don’t think I have ever seen such huge variety in landscapes in such a small place, no wonder it’s now protected as a Unesco Biosphere.
El Hierro is not only a fascinating place, it completely lacks any form of mass tourism. As it doesn’t host a single stretch of decent beach (at least all year round) 99% of people don’t even bother to come here. Which is perfectly fine to everyone that lives there or to anyone who does happen to visit.
Basically, one could write endlessly about the beauty of the place but we did go there to go diving. The Photosub is big event for the Island group and is a quite popular contest for photographers from abroad. Very well organized with a lot of attention to safety and the well being of attending journalist/photographers I might say. Add a very easy-going atmosphere and some superb diving and you kind of get the idea: there are worse places to be. Everywhere.
Diving hotspot and HQ for the contest week is the southern village of La Restinga, a quiet place with a good harbor and plenty of excellent diving opportunities. With a RIB it’s usually not more than ten to fifteen minutes to any great divespot in the clear waters. From huge stone pillars that take ages to swim around with nice big schools of fish to deserted place where large Groupers loom. Any of the divesites host fantastic underwater views and scenery. No, one doesn’t come here for coral formations but the rest of the wildlife more than makes up for it. So if you ever have the opportunity to visit: have no doubts about it, the place will blow you away. Under, as well as above water!
Report on scuba-diving El Hierro, the smallest and most western of the Canary Islands. Until the 15th century people thought this place was the end of the world so the meridian even went through it.
Nowadays it’s an amazing and peaceful island untouched by the claws of mass-tourism. A perfect place for diving and an incredible place to view topside nature. It holds rainforests, pine forests, endless lava fields, rocky cliffs and some nice and small harbours. A perfect place to be honest, no wonder it’s a Unesco Biosphere Reserve!
Click here for PDF.
About time to add some panoramic images from all over the world, a section that I will be updating more over the coming months.
Most of these have been stitched using the excellent Hugin stitching tool.
A three-day visit to an island which is ten hours by plane and a couple hours in jetlag. Crazy? Not really, considering I was there to photograph the famous Caribbean Carnaval on the tiny Dutch Antilles island of Aruba. It’s the second-largest carnaval celebration in the whole caribbean and famous for its laid-back atmosphere and accessibility.
And boy was it worth the trip! Two days of sunny and happy people parading the streets of both major towns on the island: the very easy-goinh parade on Saturday in San-Nicolas and the massive and crowded Sunday main event in Oranjestad. Hours and hours of incredibly colorful people and costumes. I don’t think I’ve seen so many feathers. I guess the images speak for themselves, please enjoy and make sure you’re in the neighborhood next year!