Avid scuba divers Charles and Verena Lasvigne have spent the past decade travelling the world and exploring a bevy of exotic undersea spots along the way. Charles is the Director of Food and Beverage at Four Seasons Resort Seychelles, and Verena manages the Resort’s spa, as well as several others in the Middle East and Africa region. The couple achieved their diving certifications during sojourns to different
Four Seasons properties (Charles in Bali and Verena in the Maldives), and they’ve been hooked ever since.
They view scuba diving as an essential escape from the challenges of everyday life. “When you’re starting to dive, you learn about control and a world of silence,” Charles says. “You can connect with yourself, and you discover so much life that you had no clue existed.” Here, Charles and Verena take us on an exclusive diving tour, sharing their favourite sites around the globe and what to do when you’re back on land.
UNDERWATER: A WORLD WAR II SHIPWRECK
Charles made his first official dive in Bali. Today, the site of the USS Liberty shipwreck is still one of his favourite places to get under the water. (The Liberty was sunk by a torpedo during World War II and is considered one of the top dive spots in the country.) “I was very spoiled that that was my first dive,” he says, citing the array of amazing corals. When swimming in and out of the ship, which is only about 16 feet (5 metres) below the surface at its shallowest point, you can also expect to see mola, a rare species of giant sunfish that weigh an average of 2,200 pounds (1,000 kilograms).
ON LAND: LOTUS PONDS AND WATER TEMPLES
Above sea level, Charles and Verena recommend a romantic dinner amid the water lilies and lotus flowers of the Rooftop Lotus Pond at the Four Seasons Resort Bali at Sayan. Charles proposed to Verena there on the day he received his dive certification. Verena also suggests a day trip to one of Bali’s many water temples, specifically Tirta Empul, the holy spring water temple. “It’s a beautiful place,” Verena says. “Amazing and full of spirituality.”
UNDERWATER: WHALE SHARKS AND MANTA RAYS
“For us, if there was only one place in the world to go diving, it would be the Maldives,” Charles says. The unforgettable highlight: visiting a manta ray cleaning station. Manta rays come to areas with strong currents and rocks to clean themselves off. Here, it’s possible to see up to 40 rays at once. And you don’t have to be a strong swimmer – simply sit on the ocean floor, hold onto a rock and watch the party go by. “The mantas are very gracious and elegant in their movements,” Verena says. And if you’re interested in seeing more ocean life while staying at the Four Seasons Resort Maldives at Landaa Giraavaru, the Resort provides beepers to alert you when mantas and whale sharks are within view.
ON LAND: TRANSPORTIVE SPA EXPERIENCES
For Verena, a spa aficionado, the best land-based attraction in the Maldives is the Resort’s Spa and Ayurvedic Retreat. Stretching from the heart of the island to the middle of the lagoon, the spa has four glass-floor treatment rooms so you have a window into the sea life below as you unwind. At the Ayurvedic Retreat, you’ll meet with expert physicians who design custom treatments to address your particular needs. “The energy in the spa is just incredible,” Verena says. “It’s a healing experience.”
UNDERWATER: ST PIERRE ISLAND
As Seychelles residents, Charles and Verena recommend taking a day trip from the Resort to go island-hopping — the area is home to more than 100 islands where you can dive and sightsee at the same time. Make time to go underwater at St Pierre Island. “It’s essentially a little rock with two coconut trees,” Charles says, “but the water around it is like an aquarium.” In addition to the vibrant corals, expect to catch a glimpse of hawksbill and green turtles.
ON LAND: COCONUTS AND GIANT TORTOISES
From the capital city of Victoria, take a ferry to Praslin Island. There, at the UNESCO World Heritage site Vallée de Mai Nature Reserve, you can see coco de mer trees, which produce the uniquely shaped coconuts that are the national symbol of Seychelles. Next, head to Curieuse Island where you can have a barbecue picnic and spot giant tortoises in the wild.
UNDERWATER: CATALINA ISLAND
A one-hour boat ride from the beach at Four Seasons Resort Costa Rica at Peninsula Papagayo will take you to Catalina Island, another of the Lasvignes’ favourite dive spots. You may even see a whale on the trip over – Charles and Verena saw a whale and her calf pass by on their most recent trip. Once you get underwater, you’ll see large devil rays and hammerhead sharks. But there’s no need to be afraid, Charles says. “Our dive instructor told us they would pretty much ignore us, and there were no problems.”
ON LAND: ZIP LINES AND HOT SPRINGS
Though there are plenty of great activities to keep you busy in Costa Rica, the Lasvignes say it’s best to soak up the natural surroundings as much as possible. Their recommendation: Take a car to the nearby Arenal Volcano. “On the way, you’ll travel through a coffee field where you can get a taste of the local brew,” Verena says. Once you’re sufficiently caffeinated, zoom among the treetops via a series of zip lines, the longest of which is almost 2,500 feet (760 metres). Charles and Verena suggest making time for relaxation in the warmth of the area’s volcanic natural hot springs.
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