The island nation of Indonesia straddles the equator between the Indian and Pacific Oceans and lies at the heart of the ‘Coral Triangle’ - the epicentre of the world’s marine biodiversity. Nowhere on earth can visitors experience such a range of spectacular diving - from encounters with huge whale sharks and oceanic manta rays, to muck dives with beautiful Rhinopias and the exceedingly rare psychedelic frogfish.
We have put together a brief ‘FAQ’ to help our guests understand how our search engine works, how you can make an enquiry and booking, how your money is protected when making a booking through ZuBlu and why we describe ourselves as ‘Asia’s first sustainable dive platform’.
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
How does the search work?
We’ve built the ZuBlu platform to put the power of discovery in your hands. On our homepage, select up to 3 categories of marine life you would like to see as well as your intended month of travel, then click ‘Find your Perfect Trip’ and let our search engine do exactly that. Alternatively, you can simply select a category of marine life without a month and we will show you the best places to see them, or just a time of year and we’ll suggest the best places to go diving during that month. Our aim is to match your preferences with the most suitable destinations across all the countries we feature, giving you the best chance to find your perfect dive experience.
How are results displayed?
Our search results page acts a portal to the best diving in Asia and will display a list of destinations based on your preferences entered on the home page. You can then further refine your preferences by changing the species you wish to see, when you want to travel, what other highlights are important to you - beaches or nightlife for instance - as well as the number of other people traveling with you. You can even select combinations of these in order to narrow down your search even more, as well as toggle between destinations that are particular good for diving or snorkelling. Our responsive ZuBlu search engine will adapt and update the search returns, even as you change your preferences.
Importantly you can also share the results of your search using the buttons found at the top right of the search page, making it easy to share what you have discovered with your friends or family.
What are the marine life categories?
We have broadly defined 8 marine life categories that allow you to quickly select the type of species and dive experience you would like to search for. The majority of the categories are fairly intuitive – sharks are for sharks, turtles are for turtles – but some may require a bit of explanation:
- ‘Wrecks and Caves’ includes different types of wrecks, such as boats or planes, as well as caves, caverns and swim-throughs for example Sipadan’s ‘Turtle Tomb’ or the shark tunnel underneath Gato Island in Malapascua, Philippines.
- ‘Macro creatures’ includes all the small, bizarre, cute or fascinatingly-ugly creatures you may find on any reef in Asia, but are particularly associated with ‘muck diving’ destinations. Given the incredible diversity of these ‘critters’ we cannot possibly include every single species. Instead, we have focused on iconic and sought-after species such as seahorses, flambuoyant cuttlefish and harlequin shrimp.
- ‘Reefs & Walls’ encompasses the various reefscapes that you might want to see - from healthy coral fields to isolated seamounts - as well as a few species that are often identified with these types of reefscape or habitat.
- ‘Mammals & Pelagics’ includes whales, dolphins and other underwater mammals, as well as pelagic species such as the rare Mola mola or Sunfish.
What about species?
If you are looking for something in particular, simply select the broad category your fish of choice falls under, then click the ‘refine’ button. A whole array of species or sub-options will appear and by clicking on a particular species, such as ‘Whale shark’ under ‘Sharks’, or ‘Seahorse’ under ‘Macro Creatures’, you can now refine your search even more precisely. If you can’t see something you are looking for then get in touch and we will do our very best to find the best destination to see a species we don’t list. As ZuBlu grows we’ll add more and more options but for now we have aimed for a broad, representative selection of different species - we would rather feature a few iconic species and build from there, rather than try to shoe-horn in every nudibranch, shrimp or reef fish from the start.
What if I am using a mobile device or tablet?
If you are browsing the website on a mobile or tablet, you will see that pages with a lot of information, such as destinations and resorts, have the different page elements divided between tabs that appear across the top of the page. Simply click on these to explore all the different information that would normally be displayed on a larger browser page.
I know what country I want to visit - how can I view destinations in only one country?
If you already have an idea of which country you would like to travel to you, can either quickly view a selection of different destinations within that country from the top navigation bar, or you can use the ‘Add Country’ filter on the search page to narrow down the destinations shown.
What are the 'Top Picks'?
We have carefully selected some of our favourite destinations or resorts that are particularly well suited to certain types of guest - underwater photographers searching for amazing critters perhaps, or couples seeking a romantic paradise. These ‘Top Picks’ can be found in the navigation bar at the top of the page.
What are all the icons used on the search page?
Species icons are used on the search page to help indicate what marine life you can see at the different destinations. We use a simple ranking to indicate the likelihood of seeing a particular animal – very likely, likely or possible - as this might vary throughout the year due to migrations, seasonal weather and other factors. This likelihood is illustrated by different transparency levels, shown below.
We have combined our first-hand experience with local knowledge from resorts and other diving contacts to produce what we call our ‘species calendars’ - summaries of how likely you are to see a species at a particular destination that are hidden away in the site database and used to modify search returns . However, as so often said by dive guides, nothing is guaranteed and you will see what you see; we just hope to give you a push in the right direction.
These species icons are used elsewhere on the site to simply indicate what you might see within a country, region or destination.
We use ‘Highlight’ icons to to help you refine what else is important to you on your holiday. Whether you are looking for pristine beaches or some alternative land adventures such as hiking, you can easily make your choice by selecting one or more of the different icons.
As with the species icons, we also use these ‘Highlight’ icons on destination pages to give you an ‘at a glance’ idea of what is particularly special about the location.
‘Ideal for’ allows you to modify your search by the number of people traveling - solo traveller, couple, family, or group. For instance if a destination has plenty of activities for children, we will indicate this with our ‘Family’ icon. If it is more of a romantic destination and great for honeymooners, we use the ‘Couples’ icon. We aim to work with a broad range of resorts at a destination so we can be sure we cater for every type of traveller, but the ‘Ideal for’ filter gives you a quick-and-easy way to show the resorts you are particularly interested in.
And other pages? What do those icons mean?
When we first start working with a resort, we examine their sustainable business practices and commitment to conserving the environment using a simple system we have devised in conjunction with ClearOceans. We then display the results using five icons, each one linked to a particular broad area we call our ‘Green criteria’ – environment, economic, experiences, marine and social. We display one of these green heart icons if the resort in question is making significant efforts or contributions.
The cost of staying at a resort is indicated with a simple, dollar sign scale from one to three, with three the most expensive. These are displayed on resort thumbnail pictures and give you an ‘at a glance’ idea of the cost of the resort to help you find the right resort for your budget.
A summary of the facilities found at a resort or dive centre are shown on the resort pages to give you a quick way to better understand what a resort has to offer. Some examples are shown below:
I have found my perfect resort - what now?
Once you have found your ideal resort, you can easily get in touch by clicking any of the ‘Enquire Now’ buttons found throughout the ZuBlu site. Alternatively, if you have spotted a particular package that you are interested in, you can make an enquiry specifically about that. Simply fill in the form with your name, contact details, and any additional questions or information and we’ll get to work.
What about if I don't know where to travel?
If you only have a few, vague ideas about where you would like to go, would like a more personalised service, or would like us to assist with an itinerary that is less ‘off-the-shelf’ and more ‘off-the-wall’, then you can contact us using our ‘Concierge enquiry’, which can easily be found in the footer navigation menu at the bottom of the page. To help us get a better understanding of what you would like us to do, we ask you to include as much information about your perfect trip as you can.
How do I make a booking?
After making a ‘Concierge enquiry’, we will quickly respond with an acknowledgement, then get to work checking availabilities, looking for suitable resorts or putting together your prefect itinerary. We will then send you a few suggestions or further questions so we can get a better idea what you would like to do and when, and ensure your next dive adventure is perfect for you. If you are making an enquiry about a specific resort or package, we will again quickly acknowledge your enquiry before approaching resorts and checking availabilities. We will endeavour to get back to you as soon as possible but given time zone differences and the remote location of some of our resorts, we may not get an immediate reply. As soon as we hear anything, we will let you know, but we will always keep you informed about how we are progressing with a booking.
In general, we prefer to keep in touch with you via email but we are also happy to to chat by phone or Skype if you would prefer to ask questions and engage with us in other ways.
Throughout the process, we’ll aim to provide as much insight into the best travel arrangements but please note we are only able to advise on any flights you may require and are unable to book them for you.
When you have made a final decision, we will then liaise with the resort and ensure all accommodation and any pre-booked activities are confirmed. We will then send a summary of the entire booking and details of these arrangements for you to approve before a booking is made with a supplier on your behalf. You must carefully check the accuracy of the information sent to you, including but not limited to the dates, names, times and locations. We prefer to to send any documents to our customers via email whenever possible.
To understand more about the agreement you are entering into with us, as well as the role of Booking Agent we take in the booking process, please read our Terms and Conditions.
How do I know if the booking is confirmed?
Once we have finalised the itinerary approved by you, confirmation of the booking will only occur upon receipt of a requested deposit or the entire payment. At this point, we will be able to confirm your reservation subject to your agreement to both our and the relevant suppliers Terms and Conditions. Please note it is your responsibility to ensure your travel arrangements coincide with your booking and that all relevant insurance is in place and immigration requirements are met.
How can I pay for my booking?
We will send you a full invoice and request payment via the Trust My Travel payment portal. We are able to request payment in your local currency to avoid unnecessary FX charges and can accept payment by debit and credit cards. Please note we will charge a small administrative fee to cover any card transaction costs as well as any other transfer charges we incur in making your booking.
How is my money protected if I make a booking and payment through ZuBlu?
In accordance with The Package Travel, Package Holiday and Package Tours Regulations 1992, we protect your package booking through a ‘Trust Account’ payment system managed by our independent travel payment protection specialists, Trust My Travel Ltd. Your payments are initially deposited and held in a Trust Account and cannot be released until all contractual obligations have been filled and your holiday has been completed, or until the appropriate financial failure insurance is put in place.
We also use Trust My Travel Ltd to process payments to ensure your money is protected. We are a Protected Processing Member of Trust My Travel and our membership logo is available to view on our website. To learn more, please read our Terms and Conditions. Details of how you are protected can also be found by going to the Trust My Travel Ltd Terms. Should you have any questions about how you are protected or want to make a claim, please contact firstname.lastname@example.org and quote your booking reference.
I have paid for my trip - what happens before I fly?
Before you embark on your trip, we will have sent you all the relevant documents, contacts and details that you may require when you arrive at your destination. If you have any questions about this information or feel anything is missing, please do not hesitate to contact us.
Please ensure you have confirmed all your travel, medical, insurance and immigration arrangements as necessary and sent these to the resort, and ZuBlu. Any travel details are vital so that a resort can arrange transfers for you.
For insurance cover, we recommend DAN Asia Pacific and World Nomads.
If you have any concerns about traveling to your destination, please consult your country’s foreign office site. Or we recommend the UK’s Foreign Office Travel Advice for relevant and up-to-date information.
Before you embark on your trip, we will also send you some useful information about ways you can reduce your carbon footprint as you travel, and what you can do to reduce your environmental impact when you have arrived. As you may have already gathered, we believe sustainable tourism is the way forward for the travel industry and we hope our guests will be ambassadors for ZuBlu, and sustainability.
Can you help me whilst I am traveling?
If you have any problems or questions whilst you are traveling or at your destination, please get in touch with us and we will always endeavour to help in anyway we can. But we do suggest you always talk to the resort or dive centre in person first - they are ‘on the ground’ and far more likely to be able to assist you.
What happens when I get home?
We always welcome feedback of any kind and will contact you after your trip with a few simple questions. Whilst we know personally the resorts and dive centres we recommend to our guests, businesses and circumstances can change and we are always keen to understand why a resort may not have met your requirements, or a destination did not quite live up to what you expected from the description on our site. And of course, any feedback about ZuBlu, our site and the enquiry and booking process is vital to us. Only by talking to you, our guests, can we get a better understanding of how we can improve our business and procedures.
We also encourage our guests to look at how they can support ongoing conservation efforts at the destination they have just visited. Our destination pages and our conservation section showcases some incredible organisations that are committed to conserving the marine environment at many of the destinations we feature, or across Asia as a whole. If you have had an incredible experience at a destination, we strongly suggest you consider helping by direct donation, spreading awareness of an issue related to the marine environment, or sharing the work done by a particular organisation so others can donate or support. You can also contribute to the ZuBlu Trust, an independent foundation currently being set up by ZuBlu.
You describe yourself as a ‘Sustainable dive travel platform’ - what is that?
We are often asked why we describe ourselves as ‘Asia’s first sustainable dive travel platform’. We also get ’Does your site run on solar power?’ Well no, it doesn’t. Although the server farm that hosts our site does implement green technologies to reduce its environmental impact and uses energy from renewable sources whenever possible.
However, our choice of hosting company is not the reason why we describe ourselves as a sustainable dive travel platform. Instead we use this phrase because we believe responsible and sustainable practices should be right at the heart of what we do as a travel agent and the travel industry as a whole, and we are committed to bringing sustainable businesses and local conservation to the fore.
Throughout the dive travel industry, there are companies and resorts that are reducing their environmental impact and making their business practices more sustainable, and communities and NGOs striving to protect the reefs, turtles and sharks on which they depend. It is these resorts and communities, and the work they are doing, that we hope to share with you - those that are making a difference in the destinations we ourselves want to dive.
Are the resorts you work with 'Eco Resorts'?
To help our guests make a more informed choice about where and when they should spend their holiday time and money, ZuBlu in conjunction with ClearOceans has designed a simple set of criteria which we use to assess the sustainable practices of a resort. It is not our aim to ‘mark down’ a resort in any way, instead we hope to encourage resorts in making the transition to more sustainable practices. We use the following broad categories:
- Environment - Waste, Chemical Waste, Recycling, Energy, Water, Carbon
- Social - Staff, Training, Community
- Economic - Local businesses
- Marine - Conservation activities, mooring programmes, guidelines
- Experiences - Guest involvement, responsible tourism
There are many dive companies and resorts throughout Asia that are making significant changes to their businesses and adopting more sustainable practices, setting up their own conservation projects, or supporting local initiatives. However, it is actually quite difficult to learn more about what is going on at a particular destination and such information is often completely ignored by other online dive travel agencies. So we have made it our goal to compile all of this information, for the benefit of both our guests and the resorts themselves. We think we should shout out loud about a resort removing plastic bottles and straws from its business!
What can I do as a guest?
Our guests are our ambassadors, for ZuBlu and for sustainable practices within the travel industry. We encourage all our divers to look at how they travel, how they can reduce their environmental impact when visiting a destination, and how they can support conservation efforts after their holiday. Ultimately, it is our guests as travellers that can make the biggest impact - ZuBlu simply acts as a portal, gathering and presenting what information we can, then giving our guests the best possible means to make more informed choices and facilitate change.
What are the conservation projects you list on your site?
We are proud to showcase a selection of conservation projects being conducted across Southeast Asia. Run by individuals and organisations, large and small, these projects protect habitats, reefs and marine life, encourage change to a more sustainable way of life, and help to ensure a future for our oceans and, in turn, our own species.
We encourage our guests and visitors to the site to learn more about these projects and consider supporting them.
What is the ZuBlu Trust?
For every booking made through our platform, ZuBlu will make a donation that will directly support conservation efforts in our destinations and to manage this commitment to conservation in an appropriate way, ZuBlu will set up an independent trust, registered with the Charities Commission in the UK and run by a board of trustees. We will donate a percentage of all our earnings to the ZuBlu Trust and the funds will then be used to support local projects and provide educational bursaries for the next generation of conservationists.
- We will showcase the resorts that are helping to protect the reefs and jungles that we love;
- The organisations that are rehabilitating injured turtles, or encouraging villages to stop using plastics;
- And we ourselves will directly support projects that are making a difference in the areas where we want to dive.