Tuesday, July 1, 2008

NCL Dawn Bermuda - Hartley's Helmet Dive

If you weren't human, would you want to be a fish? What if you could talk to a fish and ask them if they had a good life? Sounds a little fishy to you perhaps. Well, once you meet Greg Hartley, the owner operator of Hartley's Undersea Walk Bermuda, you might think that he and his family had these strange thoughts many years ago. He calls each fish by name and they eagerly come to greet him as he enters the water with his guests.

Greg's father started the family business over 50 years ago. He invented what is known as the Hartley Diving Helmet. It works like a glass turned upside down in water. There is a constant supply of fresh air pumped from the boat and the excess bubbles freely flow out the bottom. Your head stays dry and you can reach in to touch your face or adjust your glasses. You can even wear your prescription glasses or contact lens.

The helmet dives occur on the same reef every day and the fish have become used to the visitors. Some of the fish are so tame they'll let you pet and hold them. They might even do tricks for you (such as swimming through a hoop). They pose for underwater pictures with you and your companions. For a small fee, Greg will take digital photographs of you and your companions during your underwater sea walk. You'll have a copy of your pictures on CD, along with some marine pictures that Greg and his family have taken over the years, to take home with you as a lasting souvenir of your adventure.

The great thing about helmet diving is that you don't need to be certified or even be able to swim. Greg leads you around the sandy bottom in about 10 feet of turquoise water, between coral reefs and waving sea fans as tropical fish swim all around you. With Greg's various props, he actually instructs you as he points out the various marine life.

Our first helmet diving experience was actually in Tahiti. Since we had enjoyed that experience, we put Hartley's Helmet Dive on the top of our must do activities for our Bermuda cruise. You can purchase your tour through NCL or directly with the Hartley's. Since the ship's excursion was in the morning, we decided to book that tour instead of doing it directly with Greg.

Both our helmet diving experiences were fabulous adventures. Of the two, we liked Greg's tour better since it was educational in addition to being recreational. He and his family have a deep love and respect for the eco environment and strive to educate each visitor. With people like Greg providing these tours, we hope that the reefs will stay protected so that many generations will be able to enjoy their beauty.

I encourage you to check Greg's website for more information about the undersea walk. It is fun for the entire family, for young and old. Remember, no special skills are needed. All you need to be able to do is walk and follow directions to have a great time.

This tour was one of the highlights of our Bermuda cruise. I strongly encourage you to consider this tour while in Bermuda. There's still more to come, so be sure to visit my blog again.

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