Buzz Aldrin: my life in travel

By Melissa Lawford

Photography by Celso Diniz/Alamy

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November 2017

Col. Buzz Aldrin has packed a lifetime of adventure into his 87 years travelling around the globe and beyond. One of the first men on the moon, he also took the first “selfie” in space in 1966, visited 23 countries in 45 days with Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins, dived down to the Titanic and journeyed to both the North and South Poles. Here he reveals his most memorable destinations and the few that still elude him.

Florida, USA

The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is special to me because it’s where we launched from on Apollo 11. They’ve done an extraordinary job of making space accessible and fun for the general public. There’s an actual Saturn V rocket like the one we launched from to go to the moon. We host our annual Apollo 11 anniversary gala there each year in July right under that rocket. The gala benefits my Buzz Aldrin Space Foundation to promote and fund space education and hopefully to help inspire and create the next generation of game changers. Otherwise, in Florida I love sitting in my living room and watching the waves roll in on the beach. Occasionally I get up early enough to watch the sunrise over the Atlantic Ocean – it’s pretty spectacular.

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The Kennedy Space Center Visitor Complex is special to me because it’s where we launched from on Apollo 11 to the moon.

Stockholm, Sweden

I’ve been to Stockholm many times, as my grandfather immigrated to the USA from Sweden. The last time I got to see my cousin Henry Aldrin and his wife. We went with my mission director Christina and her family to visit the Vasa Ship. Many years before I had done a dive in Sweden with my son, Andy, when he was about 12 years old and we dived down to see the Vasa when it was still underwater. That trip we visited with the Hasselblad family and then in an official meeting I presented Queen Elizabeth with a Hasselblad camera. In the room with her were Prince Philip and King Gustaf and Queen Victoria.

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  • Up, close and personal with Astronauts Hall of Fame honouree, Buzz Aldrin © David Vintiner.

    Pilot portrait

    The Lunar Module Pilot of Apollo 11, Buzz Aldrin was the second person to step on the moon and has logged 289 hours and 53 minutes in space between NASA’s Gemini and Apollo programmes. 

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  • Stand beneath history at the Kennedy Space Centre, Florida.

    Infinity and beyond

    The colossal 363-foot Saturn V rocket that launched Buzz, Neil Armstrong and Michael Collins to the moon was the most powerful rocket to have ever successfully flown through space.

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  • Capturing the details of a life well lived © David Vintiner.

    It’s all in the name 

    Born Edwin Eugene Aldrin Jr, Buzz developed the nickname from his sister who said the word ‘buzzer’ instead of brother, before legally changing his name to Buzz in 1988.

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Lizard Island, Australia

People ask where my favourite diving site is and I say that I haven’t been there yet. How will I know unless I visit them all? One place I really want to get to is Lizard Island, in Northern Australia on the Great Barrier Reef. There’s a resort called Lizard Island, it’s by the same people who run the Visitors’ Centre at Cape Kennedy.

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Cocos Island, Costa Rica

The diving here in Costa Rica is supposed to be perfect because it’s protected. You cannot go on the island, only the park rangers who preserve it can go there, so I would dive from a live-aboard boat.

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  • Indulge in one of Buzz’s favourite activities: scuba diving on Cocos Island, in Costa Rica © Getty.

    Exclusive entry

    Cocos Island in Costa Rica was named one of the best 10 scuba diving spots in the world by PADI (Professional Association of Diving Instructors), but you’ll need an island ranger’s permission to get there.

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Maldives, Indian Ocean

I remember a friend of mine said that diving in the Maldives was paradise. Scuba diving is the main activity for me in tropical places, but the Maldives is special because I usually get to bring my whole family. It’s a rare family vacation together. We stay at the Soneva Fushi Island Resort – it's my favourite in the area.

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Sydney, Australia

The Park Hyatt by the Harbour Bridge is a pretty special location looking out into Sydney Harbour. And we have a friend named Brook with a yacht that looks like the Batmobile. I’ve never seen another like it, it’s black and grey and very sleek. My friend Sarina knows everyone so usually she arranges a party at her penthouse condo downtown which has the best views of the city.

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