Article by John Tapley, Photos Courtesy Donna Lattin
Headquartered in Washington’s Emerald City, Seattle, South Pacific Island Travel provides opportunities for scuba explorers to get their feet wet and delve into some of the world’s most acclaimed dive destinations. With an emphasis on planning and personalization, the travel agency has been a mainstay for scuba explorers local and abroad looking for warmer, less hectic dive destinations, and combines over 30 years of scuba travel experience.
South Pacific Island Travel was founded and is owned by experienced Pacific Northwest scuba diver Donna Lattin, who owned Scuba Sport Expeditions in Renton until 1997. Following the closure, she worked with dive travel agencies and organizations, and founded her travel agency in 2000. Lattin elaborates: “I realized there were a lot more people wanting to travel outside of cold water diving. I created, in 2000, South Pacific Island Travel. We started thinking of the South Pacific: Fiji, Micronesia, Papua New Guinea, the Solomon Islands–big areas a lot of people hadn’t ventured out to. We moved to southeast Asia and Malaysia – and have now gone to Egypt and the Caribbean. It’s such a variety over 18 years, we pretty much sell everything but Reno and Disneyland packages.”
South Pacific Island Travel covers the swath of dive travel, managing each aspect from airline to destination and back again. “I call it one-stop shopping: you don’t have to go online and try to piecemeal your vacation. You give us a call, tell us what you’re looking for, and we can set up everything the minute you get on the airplane: we’ll do the meet-and-greets, all your transfers and accommodations, your scuba diving, meals, and extra land tours. There’s more than diving, liveaboard boats, and culture: we want to put to put it altogether in one package that has a personal touch – not just with a computer.”
The scuba-centered tourist agency offers incredible adventures for groups such as dive clubs and families, and individual divers. South Pacific Island Travel meets divers’ certification and comfort levels, offering them the best places to go for their skills and specialties.
“As a personalized travel agent, we feel our customers out and find out what diving skills they have, how long they’ve been diving, and then find the right destination for them,” explains Lattin. “We’re old-fashioned in that way.”
The company also plans itineraries for non-diving family and friends, and works their needs into the trip: tailoring each adventure for specific interests. Hiking, swimming, traveling in hot air balloons, and engaging in local culture are just a few extra activities the agency has to offer.
And these activities are replete, given the large assortment of dive destinations the company offers. Trips to Fiji, the Solomon Islands, and Papua New Guinea offer a one-two- three experience for convenience and variability; an upcoming trip to Cuba will feature a trip to the Garden of The Queens preserve: a pristine, protected area lauded for its untouched, natural beauty.
Out of these trips, the most exciting may be in the Maldives. In March, South Pacific Island Travel and guests ventured to the remote Pacific island. “It was my fourth trip to the Maldives, but my first in the deep south,” Lattin explains. “It was unbelievable: 100 percent visibility, a lot of live sand corals, and then your manta rays, sharks, and turtles. Everything is so alive in the south, it’s just beautiful… once in a lifetime on your bucket list.”
Thailand was part of this trip, and South Pacific Island Travel accomplished a feat in scuba travel: respectively, divers conducted 29 and 25 dives off the Maldives Aggressor II and the Thailand Aggressor for a grand total of 54 dives.
“We set this dive up about two years ago,” explains Lattin. “It’s amazing to have a group and go from one boat to another and not miss a dive.”
With a large assortment of destinations, an appreciation and respect for local cultures, and dive trips designed with the traveler’s needs at the fore, South Pacific Island Travel continues to be a pillar in dive travel.
For more information on South Pacific Island Travel, including upcoming trips and booking details, visit www.spislandtravel.com or connect with the agency on Facebook at www.facebook.com/Spislandtravel.
The Adventures of Monkey Boy Jones!
Joining Donna Lattin’s travels for nearly two decades is an adventurous, plush companion: Monkey Boy Jones. The stuffed simian has a passion for travel, and in his globetrotting days, has explored some of the finest diving locales the world over, such as Fiji, the Galapagos, Micronesia, Egypt, and other destinations. Whether traveling African sands atop a camel or cruising in the cool, blue South Pacific, Monkey Boy’s adventures have sparked good humor and enthusiasm for South Pacific Island Travel trips, and have been catalogued (with help from Lattin) for the world to enjoy.
Check out the thrilling Adventures of Monkey Boy Jones on his personal Facebook page at www.facebook.com/Monkey-Boy-Jones-61639223860.