Published in The Espectador on May 14, 2022, in Colombia
This is the story of Heiko and Rebecca, the dream crew for a luxury diving experience in the Virgin Islands.
Discovering the wonders of the underwater world is, without a doubt, a different and unforgettable natural spectacle. And although there are several destinations that offer this activity, practicing it in a personalized way can completely improve the experience.
To make this possible, &Beyond Yacht Charters proposes enjoying a vacation manned by two diving professionals, lovers of the ocean and true connoisseurs of the most amazing corners of the Virgin Islands. The diving experience begins on board commanded by Heiko and Rebecca, who will take you on a unique adventure in the Caribbean, prioritizing enjoyment, care and comfort at all times.
Crew members, hosts and diving professionals
Heiko, born and raised in Germany, is certified as an RYA Offshore Yachtmaster. He is a yoga instructor, a freediver and a lover of sharing unique experiences in nature. For many years he worked in technology, until in 2014 he decided to fulfill his dream of traveling the world. He toured Europe, Asia, Africa, Australia, and Latin America, visiting more than 30 countries where he climbed mountains, learned Spanish, scuba dived, and lived incredible adventures in and out of the sea. What started as a temporary trip, became a before and after on his way to a new lifestyle in the Caribbean paradise.
Rebecca, born and raised in New York, graduated in Economics and Psychology and worked in banks in the “capital of the world” and Hong Kong. She lived in different cities and her life changed completely in 2005 after a trip to Australia in which she learned to dive in the Great Barrier Reef. Two years later, she left the city to live surrounded by nature. She spent two months diving in the Philippines, three months on a marine conservation expedition in Madagascar, and four months completing her Divemaster internship in Malaysia.
After these experiences, she lived in Sweden where she discovered her passion for life on board. She was certified in PADI and worked as a diving instructor in Thailand, Hawaii and Indonesia, always with a dream pending: to live in the Caribbean. Today she enjoys her tropical life and sunrise every day with a view of paradise.
As well as diving professionals, Heiko and Rebecca are navigation captains and did their training and licensing together. For them, it is a pleasure to be able to accompany their guests, both those who have dived on previous occasions and those who practice it for the first time and may have certain fears or doubts.
After personalized and supervised dives, they will dedicate their clients to enjoying all the comforts and services on board &Beyond.
Rebecca is a lover of cooking and some of her specialties are the plant based and raw menus, since they both have a vegetarian diet. Heiko spends his free time exploring the islands, discovering new corners to share. Both usually entertain and surprise guests with their delicacies, their tours of the best spots on the islands and their passion for inspiring a lifestyle in harmony with nature.
Felix, the ideal boat to dive in the Virgin Islands
This season, Heiko and Rebecca carry out their experiences aboard Felix, one of the &Beyond Yacht Charters vessels fully equipped to offer a personalized service. The Felix yacht has four cabins with bathroom, in which eight people can sleep comfortably, has great lighting and natural ventilation, as well as air conditioning in each cabin, living room and outdoor spaces to relax and enjoy.
Together with &Beyond, Heiko and Rebecca create custom itineraries aboard Felix in the US Virgin Islands, primarily around St. Thomas and St. Johns and all their paradise islands. The British Virgin Islands can also be a perfect setting for practicing this sport.
These are some recommendations and experiences of Heiko and Rebecca.
What are some of the most incredible places to dive in the Virgin Islands?
One of our favorite dive spots is Great Lameshur – it’s covered in pink, purple and yellow corals, creating a beautiful underwater garden-like landscape. The marine life that we can find is very abundant and includes tropical reef fish, small creatures such as shrimp, crabs and snails and larger species such as green sea turtles, Caribbean reef sharks and nurse sharks.
What are the requirements to dive with &Beyond? Is it necessary to have any previous experience?
On &Beyond’s Felix Yacht we offer guided dives for certified divers, usually with Heiko, and an introduction to scuba diving called PADI Discover Scuba Diving, which is a highly supervised experience for those without scuba certification. The latter is done with Rebecca, who is an instructor and therefore qualified to do this program.
The dives we do are generally shallow (max 12-18 meters, average 6-7 meters), relaxed and easy dives for all ages and levels of divers, so even if a diver hasn’t dived in many years, locations are suitable and we also adjust our level of care and supervision. For those who have never dived before and want to give it a try, the PADI Discover Scuba Diving experience is the ideal way to try it out.
How many dives can be done during the stay with &Beyond aboard Felix?
At Felix three dives for certified divers are included in a minimum rental of six nights. All equipment (BCD, regulator, mask, fins, wetsuit, weights, tank) is included and these dives are guided by Heiko. Additional dives can be added for an additional cost, subject to the planned itinerary, other activities the group has requested, and at the captain’s discretion. Doing a dive will normally take up the entire morning between breakfast and lunch.
PADI Discover Scuba Diving costs $150 per person for a two to three hour experience that includes a brief theory lesson on the boat, equipment familiarization and practice on the boat, shallow water practice followed by a dive with Rebecca to a maximum of 12 meters if the guest can perform all the necessary diving skills during practice. Rebecca will carry a maximum of two participants at a time for safety.
What is the main differential of diving with &Beyond?
We offer a luxury diving experience. We help them with their equipment at all times, with their weight requirements, we supervise and review them more than once to check that everything is correct before entering the water. It goes without saying that during the dive, we focus on everyone being safe throughout the journey.
Before each dive, and in particular before the first dive, we provide a full and detailed dive summary covering all necessary information, tailored to our guests’ experience and comfort level. We provide a much higher level of service than many of our guests are used to – all they have to do is dive!