Scuba Safety Tips for First-Timers

One of the best places in the world to experience marine life up close and personal is the shores of Hawaii. While snorkeling can be fun, there’s nothing quite like descending to more extreme, yet manageable depths via scuba diving. But, before you do so, there are a few considerations to take into account.

Receiving the appropriate certification is crucial in your first steps as a scuba diver. Many inexperienced divers may think that simply snorkeling has equipped them with the skills necessary to safely scuba. However, without proper training and a basic understanding of common mistakes made, you are putting yourself, and possibly others in danger. Be sure that you are officially recognized by your local scuba training agency before entering the waters.

Another important consideration is receiving verification from your doctor that you are physically able to take part in scuba diving. The conditions in certain depths of water can be extremely hazardous to individuals who may suffer from hypertension, breathing disorders, or certain muscular inabilities. This activity can be surprisingly demanding in terms of physicality, and the pressure that comes with extreme depths heightens those conditions.

A hazard that all divers should be aware of is what is commonly referred to as “the bends,” or decompression sickness. This occurs most often when divers swim toward the surface of the water from extreme depths without stopping every 10-15 feet to counterbalance decompression. Nitrogen bubbles can form in the bloodstream causing extreme pain, paralysis, and even death in dire situations. Divers who may experience the bends are placed in recompression chambers to counter the effects.

Maintaining a relaxed mindset throughout your scuba diving experience is imperative. Beginners will be surrounded by professional divers should a situation arise, but being able to stay calm, breathe, and manage yourself is important for divers of all levels of experience. Panicking will only worsen the situation.

Always prepare yourself beforehand. Scuba diving when you’re tired, hungry, or sick can directly affect the quality of your dive, and your ability to effectively navigate the waters. Avoid alcohol before a dive as well. Aside from the obvious inebriation, alcohol can dehydrate the body, which can dramatically worsen the effects of underwater pressure.
Scuba diving anywhere around the world can be a fun, and rewarding activity as long as the proper safety procedures are followed. Work closely with professional diver beforehand to ensure you are taking every precautionary step necessary, and have a proper understanding of the common dangers that come with it.

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Cinque Terre: A Travel Guide

Directly translated to Five Lands, Cinque Terre is an area in the Liguria region of Italy comprised of the five coastal villages of Manarola, Riomaggiore, Vernazza, Monterosso, and Corniglia; all of which sit just north of the Tuscan border. With so many places to go in this Italian territory, planning a trip can seem overwhelming.

The first step in mapping out your visit here is choosing a village to call your area of residence. Though they are all very close to one another (anywhere from a five to twenty minute train ride between each), you’ll want to do a little research beforehand to decide which town you’ll enjoy the most.

Manarola

Lined with a large number of boats, Manarola is made up of a main street and a harbor where visitors are allowed to swim. Offering some of the freshest seafood you can find, restaurants and bars alike offer anchovies right from the sea, olive oil, olives, and fresh bread for all diners. This is a great spot for enjoying a late afternoon sunset with a drink in hand.

Riomaggiore

The southernmost town of the five, Riomaggiore is a bustling town where you can hear church bells on a regular basis, a stunning castle, and a beautiful scene of lights cascaded over the water as small fishing boats depart for their daily anchovy excursion. The heart of this town lies on the main street where visitors can find restaurants, bars, cafes, and gelaterias. Bar & Vini is a great destination for those searching for a scenic meal, as it is perched along the side of the mountain overlooking the sea.

Vernazza

Vernazza is a maze of streets leading to one main street, and is arguably one of the most visually appealing towns in Italy. Comprised of waterfront restaurants, a harbor, and a lively beach, the nightlife here is bustling. The classic, brightly painted homes and buildings here add a touch of history while maintaining their true beauty.

Monterosso

The northernmost village of Cinque Terre is Monterosso, and is divided into two towns; the new town, and the old town. The new town consists of apartments, hotels, a large beach, and restaurants and cafes, while the old town is a little more laid back, much like its name. Here, visitors can quietly shop amongst the various boutiques and admire the stunning views.

Corniglia
The smallest village of the five, this beautiful town resting upon the ocean cliffs requires a bit of a hike to reach. Visitors are able to choose between climbing 365 steps (one for each day of the year), or taking a bus from the Cinque Terre National Park, driving visitors both there and back. What may seem like a chore to reach, Corniglia offers some of the most incredibly beautiful architecture set upon the cliffs of the Ligurian Sea.

A Family Vacation to Hawaii

Most people consider Hawaii as a prime destination for honeymoons or romantic getaways. However, the 50th state of the U.S. is very accommodating for families of every size. With countless resorts spanning across the islands of Oahu, Maui, Kauai, and of course, The Big Island, Hawaii offers something for everyone. While some offer all-inclusive experiences that cater to your every need, every island allows you to create your own plan of travel tailoring to all members of the family.

On the island of Oahu lies the state’s capital, Honolulu. Seeing as flights here are frequent and less expensive than those to other islands, this may be your first destination. With points of interest like the Diamond Head State Monument, ʻIolani Palace, and the USS Arizona Memorial, Honolulu can start your family vacation off fantastic history lessons. For those seeking a more active trip, Hanauma Bay provides one of the most scenic snorkeling destinations in the world, as well as horseback riding, luaus, and the Turtle Eco Adventure Island Tour.

The Surfjack Hotel & Swim Club, just steps away from the beaches of Waikiki, is perfect for families with children, as they have two and three-bedroom suites to respect the privacy needed among larger groups. During your stay here, a dining experience at the hotel’s restaurant Mahina & Sun’s is almost necessary. This farm-to-table establishment specializes in crafting unique dishes of all sorts, with plenty of options for children.

Setting an entirely different scene, the farmland-covered island of Kauai is perhaps the greenest of all Hawaiian islands, lush with vegetation that spans across mountains and valleys. A hiking trip would be best fulfilled here, especially along the Napali Coast, though these trails may be best for more experienced hikers. If your family members would prefer less of a challenge, a drive to Waimea Canyon gives breathtaking views of coastal mountains and valleys.

Hotels like The Lodge at Kukui’ula provides amenities for all family members, like luxury rooms fit for parents, and a game room to keep the kids occupied. With the large variety of farms comes Kauai’s farmers’ markets, or “sunshine markets.” These offer some of the best produce in the state, and give great opportunities to experiment with flavor with their many exotic fruits, all of which contribute to the natural ingredients of JoJo’s Shave Ice; Kauai’s original home for sweets.

Home of the famous Wailea Beach, Maui allows you to get up close and personal with curious and friendly sea turtles through spectacular snorkeling adventures; something children of all ages can enjoy. For the early risers, catching the sunrise at the top of Haleakala National Park is an experience that won’t soon be forgotten. The Haleakala Volcano, naturally formed pools of Kipahulu, and bamboo forests set the scene for a truly breathtaking vacation. Maui’s beaches also come with a variety of sports to take part in, or view from the warm sand. Surfing, kiteboarding, and windsurfing are popular activities on this island.

If a family vacation is in your near future, Hawaii is one of the most accommodating destinations for families of any size. The numerous islands and seemingly neverending coastlines provide you with endless opportunities, with views to match.