Great list Matt! Indeed, there obviously there are some spots on this globe I have to visit. Can confirm the Maldives though. Has changed over time, but then again, the first time they were still “exploring” their “tourist economy” potential. Been there twice now and although definitely more crowded still holds its appeal. Be prepared for culture shock though. If you return to the “civilised world” you will wonder about the rest of the grubby world and catch yourself day dreaming regularly. 😉
1938: First swimmers’ mask with integrated breathing tubes. In 1938, French naval officer Yves Le Prieur introduces his "Nautilus" full-face diving mask with hoses emerging from the sides and leading upwards to an air inlet device whose ball valve opens when it is above water and closes when it is submerged. In November 1940, American spearfisherman Charles H. Wilen files his "swimmer’s mask" invention, which is granted US patent 2,317,237 of 20 April 1943. The device resembles a full-face diving mask incorporating two breathing tubes topped with valves projecting above the surface for inhalation and exhalation purposes. On 11 July 1944, he obtains US design patent 138,286 for a simpler version of this mask with a flutter valve at the bottom and a single breathing tube with a ball valve at the top. Throughout their heydey of the 1950s and early 1960s, masks with integrated tubes appear in the catalogues of American, Australian, British, French, German, Greek, Italian and Spanish swimming and diving equipment manufacturers. Meanwhile, in 1957, the US monthly product-testing magazine Consumer Reports concludes that "snorkel-masks have some value for swimmers lying on the surface while watching the depths in water free of vegetation and other similar hazards, but they are not recommended for a dive 'into the blue'". According to an underwater swimming equipment review in the British national weekly newspaper The Sunday Times in December 1973, "the mask with inbuilt snorkel is doubly dangerous (...) A ban on the manufacture and import of these masks is long overdue in Britain". In a decree of 2 August 1989, the French government suspends the manufacture, importation and marketing of ball-valve snorkel-masks. By the noughties, just two swim masks with attached breathing tubes remain in production worldwide: the Majorca sub 107S single-snorkel model and the Balco 558 twin-snorkel full-face model, both manufactured in Greece. In May 2014, the French Decathlon company files its new-generation full-face snorkel-mask design, which is granted US design patent 775,722 on 3 January 2017, entering production as the "Easybreath" mask (see Figure 3) designated for surface snorkelling only.
In addition to AirBNB try VRBO too. You can negotiate prices down significantly if you’re staying long enough, especially if it’s off-season. From my experience, all the best spots are found by talking to locals and other travelings when you’re there. A Lonely Planet guide can help you find cheap places as well, to stay until you find something better. You’re crazy to leave Vancouver with the summer coming imho!
We recommend you go from a beach your first time, not a boat. Jumping off a boat into deep water your first time can be daunting. Many first timers naturally are afraid that they will not float easily. Combine that fear with unease about breathing through a snorkel and using a mask, and pretty quickly it becomes a less fun first experience. This visitor story is why we suggest not going from a boat for your first experience.
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Some of the most relaxing vacations mean finding a secluded spot where you can unplug from the stress of modern life. The Cook Islands is a secluded paradise with welcoming people, great dancers, drummers and singers, with strong Polynesian traditions and culture that make visiting the islands so memorable. The largest island and the home of the capital Avarua, is Rarotonga. Avarua is famous for its fascinating churches made of white coral, and don’t miss the islands Saturday market. Northeast of Rarotonga, visitors to Atiu may want to learn about the local “moonshine” known as tumunu at a local bush beer school. Neighboring Mitiaro stands in water 14,750 feet deep and has white coral streets lined with bright orange Pumarumaru trees. Although it is surrounded by coral reefs and is home to many underground caves and lakes, Ma’uke is known as “the garden island.” Finally, the second largest and oldest island is Mangaia, a beautiful location known for its fossilized coral, otherwise known as “makatea.”
Swim Slowly! Exhaustion is a common problem for first time snorkelers. Swimming takes a good bit of energy. The trick with snorkeling is to stay relaxed and calm. You can wipe yourself out quickly if you are not careful. Only swim at a speed that allows you to breathe slowly and easily through your snorkel. Your snorkel does limit your breath, so keep your activity level at a pace that does not demand heavy breathing. Your fins will make it much easier. Learn to just float without effort. Only swim rapidly if necessary for safety.
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Goa is a state in India with some of the best beaches in the world. India is a place that you either love or hate, there is no in-between. Stepping off an international flight in a big Indian city is probably the most intense “culture shock” you will experience anywhere in the world. But if you spend enough time exploring India, you learn to love its ancient culture and the unique charm of the birthplace of so many of the world’s greatest religions.
I like to think of Mazunte as the esoteric spirituality capital of Mexico. This place is full of mysteries and good omens. Around the town, you will find many yoga and meditation retreats. If the modern corporate world screwed you up, this is a good place to start healing. I really like Hridaya Yoga academy and the extraordinary El Alquimista resort named after Paulo Coelho’s excellent coming-of-age book The Alchemist.