Stefan´s divetravel site

Dive trip reports from rec.scuba.locations

Here I have saved good messages from rec.scuba.locations.

The posts on this page are all written in December 1998


From: gorace@omegabbs.com (thorsten schaette)
Newsgroups: rec.scuba.locations
Subject: Trip report Coz ( long ) 
Date: Fri, 04 Dec 1998 01:33:01 GMT

Hello, we are actually three : my wife, my daughter ( 16 ) , and me. The two girls started diving last year, and we had a great time over Christmas 97 in Coz. I am meanwhile also certified and this time I could join the two diving.

In order not to babble to much I have separated the Notes in :

To get there ..............

We booked the trip with Apple and those guys were very helpful and trying. Could stay in St Louis Marriot and parked the car for ten days for 59 $ ( that means 9 $ for the overnight stay, very cool, indeed ) Left in the morning with TWA to Cancun. Arrived in Cancun and found out that AeroCozumel had problems all day. It was a mess. We checked in after 2 hours waiting, got a flight number which was not even on the monitors, but were asked to check at the gate an hour earlier than check in . Go figure !!! After we got rid of almost all baggage ,we proceeded to the gate. More trouble in paradise ( or almost ). It was almost hilarious, but than it was our vacation and I don’t like Airports all that much. So we ‘teamed - up ‘ with a few other Apple customers and informed the poor Representative to get us a nice new air-conditioned bus to drive to Playa del Carmen instead of flying. He was kidnapped and had to go with us !!! After arriving in PdC he organized all 4 bicycle rikshas and loaded all gear ( lotsa dive gear and heavy stuff ) from 28 people on seemingly only 4 tricycles. How those poor guys made it down the main street with a big enough downslope to the pier, is still a miracle. They loaded the stuff on the ferry and Mr. Apple bought tickets. On the other side another Mr. Apple observed the chaotic unloading of our suitcases and gave us freebie Taxi vouchers to the Hotel. Very amusing and entertaining. In short it was pretty amazing, and the Apple Guys were really trying. Later found out, that we arrived some 4-6 hours earlier than the first flight .....which was scheduled at 1 p.m. ..... Lesson is to not even bother with that airport stuff in Cancun, rush out, take a taxi and drive to Playa del Carmen ( 50 - 60 $ ). This works out to be OK if you travel with 3 people. >7p>

Getting back was not a problem at all , except that TWA was trying to freeze us in that darn plane and now I have a bad cold . But it will go away, and I am not planning to dive anytime shortly anyhow :-)

The Hotel.........

we stayed in the Cozumelino ( way up north ). All inclusive. We stayed at the same place last year and liked it. Now, I would strongly suggest to find some other place. We will stay at La Ceiba next time, and except for breakfast we will eat what we like, when we like and where we like. The buffet at the Cozumelino was tasting all the same from day 3 on. The sit down restaurant was a little better, but wasn’t available for most of the time, due to shows and activities. ( very very low quality, one night the lady singer was a cheap copy of Sporty Spice but was singing like a karaoke try out ) The local kids who played a wooden xylophon were very loud, but not at all impressive after 5 minutes of ‘ music’ In general the music in that place was always loud as if you were in a discotheque, NOT my cup of tea, while eating. Biggest complaint however, was the fact that those silly arrogant security and bell boys didn’t let my diveoperator on the premises. I missed 2 ( for free !!! dives that way !!!! ) I will not tolerate, that my divemaster can not reach me, just because they have their own diveoperator in the hotel ( cattle boat .........) Calls from home didn’t get connected either. Wake up calls were 30 minutes later, than called for ??? Furthermore the water in front of the hotel was dark brown, due to the prevailing wind from the north. No snorkeling unless you walked down the beach for 1/2 mile or so. So fellow divers. Don’t go there. I used to like the place but it went downhill fast.

We stayed 10 days, somewhere in the middle we rented a Volkswagen Thing ( and a thing it was ) and toured the island with a nice family from Idaho, which we met diving earlier. It was their last day, and we had a great time. Despite the broken accelerator cable and totally blown rear tire. I hitchhiked back to town and got a new ( NEW ???? ) lets say other rental. No problems there. It was fun visiting the other side of the island and go snorkeling. Had a light lunch at Playa Bonitas, very good. Later drove back to the center of the island to check out the ruins. Unfortunately the car switching adventure took to much time earlier, so the place was closed. Its gonna be there next time :-) Brought our new friends to the Ceiba and should have eaten there, instead of going to the Cozumelino and eat ‘free - all inclusive ‘ buffet there. Eating ( outside of our own hotel ) : on our second night we went to La Mission ( the one with the Scuba sign on their banner ???? ) and had good tasty food, a little expensive but well worth it. Our last night we spend with our Divemaster and Operateur Isidro Navarez and went to Prima. The girls had Lobster and I had Shrimp Au gratin. very very good indeed. Afterwards we went to Charlys and had a great time also . ( specially our 16 year old .....OH I AM SO GROWN UP ! daughter :-)

The Diving :

altogether 13 dives ( including one twilight and 2 night dives )

Operator : Sea Urchin , Divemaster and Owner Isidro Navarez. Sixpack fast enough boat, with very flexible schedule and great attention to detail.

As I said, I got certified in the Midwest ( vis 3 feet ! Thermocline, 30 feet max., and the usual panic which goes with that :-) So I asked for special observation from our friend Isidro. This guy is remarkable, really good predive briefing, buddy checks, in a very relaxing way. He leads the dives with rearview mirror, finds stuff all over the place, and attends to us newbies in a very unobtrusive manner. Never bossy , never rushed, just very sure and controlled, in other words a great guy and teacher. I really enjoyed diving with him and I will continue doing so in Coz.

1. Dive Yucab 51 feet 45 min.
2. Dive Yucab 48 feet 49 min.
My girls had no problems and I didn’t either , I used more air than I probably should, and I was a diving like a rollercoaster on my first dive. Isidro added and subtracted weight and made me very comfortable , knowing I had just enough weight to actually stay at 15 feet for the safety stop and don’t have to struggle. Ended the dive with 600 lb.. ( as instructed earlier ) We were 6 people on the boat and had another newbie with us, Isidro managed ‘both ‘of us very easy, and without any haste . After the day I felt so good I was dreaming to become Advanced Open water certified !

3. Dive Santa Rosa Wall 84 feet 35 minutes 600 lb.. ( Yes I know I am still an Airhog !!!! ) but it worked out just as the dive plan was told to us. Of course my girls had 1200 and respectively 1500 in their tanks :-) Went through caverns and drifted over the wall. I am hooked ! We saw some other rather large groups of diver, who presumably were trying to make a speed record flying over the reef , and sure enough that group was back on the surface, way before we finished the safety stop. They had a cool big boat, all twenty of them. No caverns no lobsters, no crabs, no eels, they sure must have seen something though .......

4. Dive Tormentos 57 feet 46 minutes 750 lbs Wow, my air consumption seems to get a little better. I also lost about 6 pounds of weight ! Saw the first ( of many Stingrays ) The other kid had a little trouble with the safety stop. Isidro gave him an extra weight and again everything went very relaxed . ( What else does he have in his BC???? and is he actually breathing or has he gills. I swear he had 2000 lb. air left ! )

5. Dive .... Nightdive Paraiso shallow 31 feet 47 minutes 950 lb. We arrived at Paraiso and observed 13 other boats and seemingly hundreds of eager divers, with fancy lightsticks in different colors. On a large boat the divers were standing on the back and trying to jump in all at once. Without calculating that the guys in front of them weren’t sinking like a stone. They actually jumped on each other. One person who waited a little to long actually got pushed. The name cattleboat makes sense. On a couple of other boats we observed ‘trading’ of the cattle..... you got a few with yellow sticks...... I got a few with green ones, lets trade them back. Wonder if the orange lightstick guy ever found his group , that evening. We had a blast to observe and than made the wise choice to go to the shallow part of the reef. We switched out the lights and had a great luminescence and we prolly saw all the fish the other guys were chasing away. All for ourselves.

6 Dive Palancar Horseshoe 92 feet 35 min 600 lb. very cool swim troughs, great place. My wives favorite, again saw all kinds of neat stuff . And boy does 92 feet sound impressive. Actually almost wanted to go 8 feet deeper , but Isidro looked at me and got me back to reality ! Dive plans are there for a reason. Was I narked ? No I dont think so, altough it was a wonderful dive, almost to good to be true. If narked I am the only one where it doesnt dissapear on the way up :-)

7. Dive Paso del Cedral 53 feet 49 Min 600 lb. Cavern are soooo cool and the big green Moray eel was something as well. I swear that our divemaster knows him by his first name. I feel very comfortable by now ( Of course I do know that I will be a newbie for a long time )

8. Palancar Gardens 87 feet 38 min 550 lb. got a little nudge, that I had less than 600 lb. air left ! Well deserved ! Great Dive !

9. Dive Punta Tunich 64 feet 47 min 800 lb. ( No, I was not holding my air :-) Another big green Moraine, several spotted ones, a cool very colorful flounder ( seems strange, should not be in Cozumel , she had lots of colorful dots and a regular sized pectoral fin, so it was not a blue flounder ) A HUGE barracuda ‘smiling ‘ at us. Our Genesis Computers work very nice, this profile would not be possible with the charts alone. A little in the yellow but turned green during the safety stop again.

10. Dive San Francisco Wall 75 feet 47 Min. 550 lb. A 12 foot green Moraine ... ( kiddin, but she was at least 7 foot ) I was very close to her mouth, while the wife found her tail sticking out the side of the coral. Did she, or did she not, touch it ??? She came out of the hole and very close to my face ( which induced some heavy breathing !! ) I can not make up my mind were the nicest dive site is. Every reef is a little different and has so much interesting stuff to see.

11. Dive Paraiso Reef 39 feet 54 minutes 1000 lb. ( I am getting better at this ! ) Saw 2 ( TWO !!! ) Flying Gurnard, pretty big ones to boot. 12- 14 inches long . Cool fish, bottom dweller who uses his wings to lift up stones and walk on his short stubby fins . Seem to be not very many around. Isidro got exited about them and he was actually breathing !!!

12. Dive Las Palmas Twilight 52 feet 51 min 800 lb. This must be my favorite dive. A gigantic spotted eagle ray ( 7 - 8 foot wingspan ) cruised by maybe 20 to 30 feet away. Turned around, checked out a conch , and than disappeared over the wall into the abyss. This was a very special moment in my life. Also found an eel ( white bands looks like a snake ) 2 big Splendid Toadfishes , A doctor fish which swam head down to the ground and changed color from pale white to dark brown , juvenile drum fish ( the black and white ones with the long fins ) hundred of lobsters and and and ...... It was an epic dive !!

13. Dive Paraius Night 41 feet 50 min 1300 lb. his time we dove the deeper reef, not so much other people there. A ‘sleeping’ Stingray ( 4-5 foot ) another ‘snake eel’ lobsters ,crabs, 4 or 5 octopus ( sy ??) or octupii Our last dive for this year. We all felt very happy to had the opportunity to experience this and sorry that we had to take a break the next day and than fly home .

The Dive Operator :

Sea Urchin, Isidro Navarez The first 2 days we were 6 people on the boat, later in the week we dove with 4 people and the last days it was our family of three and Isidro, alone. What a great guy he is. I know I can call him a friend and I would be honored if he would call me the same. He told us that we were doing exceptional well and that he had no problems to take us to Punta Sur and Maracaibo next year. His exact briefings were excellent and to the mark. His Captain, Israel, was always at the right spot at the right time. He prepared all our equipment, lifted it into the boat, helped us to get the stuff on our backs. Served cold drinks and had a great smile all the time. Great service. He would put anti fog in your masks before every dive if you only let him.

Isidro was always on time ( actually 10 minutes earlier ! ) He has good rates ( although that subject is highly overrated , compare to the quality of diving ) And he is very flexible. All three of us are not morning persons, so we got picked up at 10 clock instead of 9,when there is a stampede on the dock :-) We cruised around leisurely, while the so called ‘fast boats were hammering their passengers into submission to reach the next locale. We made nice beach stops and slept on the beach or had a simple picnic. He never rushed us and we were treated like VIP’s. So please folks give him a try next time you are in Coz. If you already have your favorite operator give him a test day. I will bet you will arrange the next diving with him. Just make sure I can dive with him, if we go back to Coz . ( is called Newbie seniority )

Special Thanks

to my SSI Instructor Terry Trueblood. You were darn tough on me, I almost quit in that cold querry of yours. I didn’t understand than, the importance of clearing the mask endless times over and over. I had to sneeze real bad in 70 feet and I didn’t even thought to much about it. With all that tough repetitive stuff, you teached me good. Isidro sends his regards and compliments you to make a halfway good newbie out of me in only 6 dives ! I thank you to give me the confidence to really enjoy my vacation instead of struggling around half the time. Stress and Rescue Course ??? maybe a little later, it needs to get much warmer for sure !!!!

Gee, I wrote a whole book. Sorry, if I wasted anybody’s time to read my babble. But my experiences have made me a diver for life ( although one of those crazy Newbies for a couple of more years ) and maybe we will dive together in the future. I am looking forward to it. Going diving for me is no longer done to just tag along my two girls anymore. I can hardly wait for warmer weather and its only December in Illinois............................

Thanks
Thorsten, Ulrike, and Pamela


From: joxley@aros.net (James Herlocker)
Newsgroups: rec.scuba.locations
Subject: Trip report Bonaire 11/28 thru 12/5
Date: 8 Dec 1998 01:41:28 GMT

Just spent a week, Nov 28-Dec 5, at the Plaza Resort. In my remarks, keep in mind that much of this is based upon my opinion and personal preferences, and as such, is not necessarily a recommendation for all people.

This was the first trip to Bonaire for my wife and I. We chose the Plaza based upon information that indicated this was likely the nicest facility on the island, in terms of accommodations, and also had an adequate dive operation. We discovered that the facility itself (rooms, grounds, service, etc.) is indeed the nicest, and the dive operation exceeded our expectations and was also an A-1 operation.

We stayed in a 1 BR villa, which turned out to be huge. Huge BR with 2 queen beds and 25 inch TV, huge living area with dining area table, full kitchen, 2 love seat sofas and another 25 inch TV, large balcony with table and chairs off the living area, smaller balcony off the BR. And a huge bathroom with oversize tub (useful for two participants) and complete with wall to wall granite vanity area.

The entire resort is built around two lagoons which harbor several sailboats and motor boats, many with permanent residents aboard. So a large number of their rooms are called "laguna view". There are of course a few wings of ocean view also, but I didn’t see any or many rooms without either of these views. A group of the villas did appear to have a non-laguna or non-ocean view though. (Ours was laguna.)

The grounds are both immaculately kept and landscaped with flowering bushes and plants beyond belief. This aspect of the Plaza added to our enjoyment of the experience immensely, partly due to the fact that the size of the grounds causes one to spend a bit of time walking between areas such as from rooms to beach, or dive shop or restaurants. If you’re in a big hurry this would perhaps be a negative. For us it was very enjoyable. There’s also countless singing birds, lizards and several resident iguanas to add to the show.

There’s also a large pool, for those who like pool activities and a very nice beach for beachgoers. Adequate lounges and a non-stop supply of towels for water activities, several beach showers, and they’ve also planted a good number of coconut trees for shade. (By the way, Bonaire is not really a "tropical" island. The indigenous plant life is mostly cactus, divi divi trees and other desert flora. Any coconut or palm trees have been planted.)

I give the dive operation, Toucan Divers, 5 stars (out of possible 5). We purchased a dive package with our housing. Six 1-tank boat dives and unlimited air for shore dives. Our week began with the best orientation for a week of diving I’ve ever received. (And I’ve dived all over the Caribbean.) We were told all about the Marine Park which surrounds Bonaire and Klein Bonaire, the typical reef pattern around the island, what to expect on certain dives, etc, etc, etc. (This orientation is mandatory for all divers to Bonaire; Marine Park regulations.)

Toucan Divers has two large boats with a third on order due in January. Currently, when needed, they hire a third boat from the on site Photo Shop owner. (That turned out to be our favorite boat. Although smaller, it’s real fast and made the ride to the sites real quick, perhaps 5-10 minutes instead of 10-15.) Depending upon your dive package, either a 1 tank or 2 tank dive is available every a.m. There’s also at least 1 scheduled 1 tank dive every afternoon and a few night boat dives during the week. All their gear is brand new and in perfect condition. The rental regulator even has a computer attached. They are equipped to provide NITROX too. The ample staff is always courteous, friendly, knowledgeable about specific dive sites (where’s the seahorses?) and very professional. The layout of the dive shop and facility allows very easy access with your rental car to load up tanks and gear for your shore dives. Dive lockers are provided, with keys, for storing gear and hangers are provided for hanging wetsuits to dry.

Diving Bonaire is the easiest I’ve done in the Caribbean. The island promotes itself as the "home of diving freedom". Meaning they give you the orientation, do a check out shore dive at your hotel, and turn you loose to do your thing, if desired. Tanks and air are available 24 hours a day (probably at all dive operations, but I can’t vouch for that). The island is set up with yellow painted stones all along the coast marking the dive sites from shore (over 50). Literature is available everywhere indicating which dives are shore only, boat only or either. Also info is readily available on which might be more advanced dives due to current and waves, etc. If you want to do some shore diving without a boat group, this is the place to go! If you find you’ve arrived at a shore dive site and there’s already a car parked there, drive another ½ mile and you’re at the next site, which will likely be vacant!

Toucan Divers will more often go to Klein Bonaire then the main island sites, due to a boat being obviously required to do those sites. There’s only a handful of boat only sites on the main island. Most are easily accessible from shore. We’re talking 25 yards, and there’s the marker buoy. But the dive master usually asks the boat if anybody has a request and if nobody objects (due to having done that site already) we will go there. So they’re very flexible and easy to work with. (This is a different arrangement than I think Captain Don’s. I think they have a sign-up board.)

Night diving is also a snap. We chose to do one night dive only, on the full moon, right at our hotel. It’s called Eighteenth Palm and I really liked it in the checkout shore dive, so having been familiar with it, it was a good choice at night. Not to mention some great unexpected fish that we’ve never seen before showed up for the night dive.

Most divers plan their day such that they do 1 or 2 tanks before lunch, then pack up the car and do shore dives in the afternoon. My wife and I aren’t as hardcore as some, so we only did 2 shore dives in addition to the boat dives daily.

We toured the National Park on the north end of the island one afternoon, doing the "short route." Contrary to much literature, 4 wheel drive is not needed; our Toyota Starlet (subcompact) negotiated it without any problems. Don’t show up at 2:50, right before the 3:00 p.m. admittance cut off, like we did. If you do, the rangers feel they need to baby-sit you to make sure you get done by 5:00 when they close. It was hilarious: they came and found us 2 or 3 times to check our progress and urge us along. Then disappeared to either show up at another point, or when satisfied, ultimately beat us back to the entrance gate.

In summary, we can recommend the Plaza Resort and Toucan Divers without reservation. To us, the incremental higher cost (above our possible other choices Captain Don’s and Sand Dollar) was money well spent. Enjoy your trip.

P.S. Take bug repellant. The trade winds didn’t blow as usual while we were there and the mosquitoes harassed us.


From: pmcduffee@aol.com (Pmcduffee)
Newsgroups: rec.scuba.locations
Subject: Re: Diving in Cocos Island
Date: 8 Dec 1998 01:41:28 GMT
>From: "Richard Gale" 
>
>Has anyone in the news group dived the Cocos Islands off the coast of Costa
>Rica, what is the best time of the year, to visit, what is the vis/temp
>expected to be, My wife and I are hoping to go on the Aggressor in the next
>year. One other question what is available to do on the main land? is it
>worth spending a few extra days after the liveboard?
>
>Many Thanks Richard
>

To put it simply, Cocos is about as close to diving heaven that you can get.

If you want fish, I have never seen so many anywhere. There is a swimthrough on dirty rock, that has probably thousands of fish in it. If you want sharks, this is white tip city and by the end of the trip they are actually in the way. If you want rays, there is marble ray 101. It's at about 60-80' on dirty rock. They don't get out of your way. They are all over the place. If you want hammers, this is the place. When we were there is was just after the last el nino (not this one) so they were deeper. We didn't find them till late in the trip. Was about 145' down on dirty rock, well off it, and at about 50'below us there were about 175 of them. While we were going holy s**t, then another school came in above us which numbered at least 50-75.

AWESOME just doesn't make it.

A really neat night dive was off Manualita. The sea cucumbers were spawning, or whatever it is that they do. It was a sight from the Aliens. Unbelievable to say the least.

OK, I'm back now.

Cocos is one of those places on this planet that you just have to dive.

It's not Bonaire. Expect a lot of current, but then go with the flow(:)) Do your safety stop, and drift at least a half mile while you finish your dive with mantas, huge wahoos, and some dolphins. If you are really lucky, a couple Galopagos sharks will come up and check you out. This is a great experience, as they are just starting to make a comeback here after being very fished out. When we were there we saw 2. We were told that it was a rare experience then.

Costa Rica is a great country. Most likely you will arive and depart from San Jose. It is a nice city on the western side of Costa Rica. There are many parks and whatever you want to see. Whoever is doing your booking can arrange for whatever you want. Do some checking, as there is plenty to do/see. You can easily fill a couple days on each side of your trip.

Gawd, I hope I just didn't get this mixed up w/Quito and the Galapogos. Nope, just checked w/my SO. I'm ok.

You know diving kills brain cells, and I've a major case of part-timers(:))

We are planning to go back next year (`99 in maybe March) with an adjoining trip to Malpelo, which I think is very similar. Can't wait(:)) Aghhhhhhhh.

Pat


From: kvdlinde@aol.com (KvdLinde)
Newsgroups: rec.scuba.locations
Subject: Bonaire Trip Report (long)
Date: 10 Dec 1998 20:49:48 GMT

Dear fellow divers:
My wife and I just returned from a two-week vacation in Bonaire. It was my fifth trip and her third. We post this trip report here for your enjoyment.

TRAVEL

We took American Airlines from New York’s JFK to Aruba. From Aruba we took ALM to Curaçao and finally on to Bonaire. We departed New York at 10:45am and arrived in Bonaire at 8:30pm. A long trip, but well worth it. Our return flight went from Bonaire to Curaçao on ALM, and then Curaçao to Miami and Miami to JFK on American. We left Bonaire at 1:40pm and arrived in New York at 10:30pm.
We rented a double-cab pick-up truck with a cab cover from Hertz. This was a great improvement over our previous rentals, which had always been a Jeep. If you want to go shore diving, get the pick-up. It’s the easiest way to lug around your gear, and the hatch is a great platform to suit up right before a dive. Another tip, get a car with air conditioning. You’ll be glad you did, especially after you get back from a dive and your car has been sitting in the sun for an hour!

RESORT

We stayed at our favorite resort, Harbour Village, taking advantage of their super dive special package, which costs $788 per per week per person, excluding taxes and service charges. It includes room, continental breakfast, six boat dives, one night dive and unlimited shore diving.
Harbour Village is an outstanding resort in every way. The 80-room resort is made up of a series of two-story, yellow stucco buildings hidden amidst lush vegetation sandwiched between a marina and a small, private beach which is lined with palm trees and overlooks uninhabited Klein Bonaire. The rooms are very comfortable, and the service is top-notch.
There is a very nice shore-dive right off the beach called Something Special. You enter the water at the southern end of the beach, right by the marina entrance, and go down. A rope will guide you along the reef slope to a reef some 75 yards away. The slope is rubble strewn but features an amazing array of fish-life. The beach is also great for snorkeling. On the northern end, right where the swimming demarcation floats meet at a 90-degree angle, you can find two octopi among a small rock mound in ten feet of water. One is in a hole, and the other is hidden between the rocks on top of the mound. If you’re lucky, you might also see a pair of squid. And on my first snorkel, I even saw a small green turtle.

GREAT ADVENTURES

The dive operation on the premises, Great Adventures, is the best we have ever experienced. Most of the dive masters, like Jose, Ronald, John and Tom, are long-time employees who seem to enjoy what they’re doing and it shows. The only limitations they have on the boat dives is a 100-foot depth limit and a 60-minute max bottom time (they took great pains to emphasize this didn’t mean 100 feet for sixty minutes, as if anyone had ever attempted this on one of their boats recently!). Otherwise, their attitude is to show everybody a good time. They’re not pushy, or ever in a rush. If you need help, they’re there. If not, have fun. And they go out of their way. One day, we forgot to sign up for the morning boat dive and found the boat was full. No problem, they simply scheduled another boat just for the two of us. When I told them this wasn’t necessary just for us, that we could just as well do a shore dive, they didn’t want to hear about our protests: “you’re guests, and that’s that.”

DINING

The resort restaurant, Casa Coral, is excellent. By special request, they will even set up a table for you on the beach at night so you can have a candlelight dinner under the stars by the sound of small waves breaking on the beach. We also recommend Richard’s. Very good food for a reasonable price. But our favorite restaurant is Mangerie de la Mer, on the boulevard in town. Terrific food for very reasonable prices. We went there for lunch and dinner a number of times. Go there for lunch and have the club sandwich with spicy chicken. It’s positively the best club sandwich you ever had.

DIVING

The diving in Bonaire was wonderful. The only drawback: there’s no “big stuff.” Expect some grouper, barracuda, and perhaps even a turtle, but that’s about it. On the other hand, there’s an overwhelming amount of the “little stuff,” which is why they call Bonaire the “macro-capital” of the world. We generally did the 9:00am morning boat dive, requesting dives around Klein Bonaire, a small uninhabited island just a five to ten minute boat dive away. Our favorites there were Forrest, Just-a-nice-dive, and Jerry’s Reef, where we experienced 100-foot visibility and saw two turtles.
In the afternoons we did shore dives. We dove 1000 Steps, Ol’ Blue, Barcadera (saw a Turtle), Pink Beach (saw a turtle) and many others. We did two trips to Washington Slagbaai park, where we dove Boca Bartol South and Boca Slagbaai. Boca Bartol South, which is only accessible if you drive the long route through the park, was a really nice dive, and quite unlike most of the other diving on Bonaire, since it was a spur and groove formation in shallow water (30 feet max). When you reach the bay, drive all the way to the end and park by the small hut. Enter the water to the right of the rock sticking out of the water and you’ll swim out over the widest groove. Go down in about 20 feet of water and have fun exploring the various spurs and grooves. I think there are about five or six. They say nurse sharks like to hide out there, although we didn’t find any. You can also swim out to the drop-off, but we didn’t do that.
Of course, no vacation to Bonaire is complete without a night-dive at the Town Pier. Under new rules, you can only do that these days with a certified dive master who has to get permission in advance from the harbor master. Go early to beat the rush. We hit the water at 6:00pm, right after sunset, and had the place to ourselves. When we surfaced at 7:00pm, about a dozen divers were ready to hit the water! The pillars under the pier are encrusted with beautiful corals and sponges, and since you’re in only 20 feet of water, you can stay down forever, and trust me, you’ll want to.

We can't wait to return!


From: Paul Bridges
Newsgroups: rec.scuba.locations
Subject: Trip Report on Baruna Adventurer (Indonesia) Nov 4 - 14, 1998
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 23:25:50 GMT

Trip Report on Baruna Adventurer (Indonesia) Nov 4 - 14, 1998

The Baruna Adventurer is a 100 ft diveboat with a capacity of 20 divers and 16 crew. It runs trips along the chain of islands from Bali east to Alor. There are various trips to pick from, varying from 6 to 11 days. The one we chose was 11 days on Nov 4 -14 from Bali - Komodo - Flores - Alor - Flores.

We were picked up at our hotel in Bali and boarded the boat about noon. There were only 4 divers on this trip. We had a standard cabin and found it very roomy. One large bunk with a smaller one above it. Washbasin and a large closet with small lockers at the end of each bunk. A private shower and toilet ensuite. Air conditioned on the cabin deck only. There was an occasional smell in the cabin, and no hot water. The middle deck had a large dining area, a lounge, and the dive deck. The upper deck had both a shaded and an unshaded sun deck. This was one of the most comfortable live aboard I have been on. The food was very good, though there was a lack of fresh after-dive snacks and desserts. Alcohol and canned drinks were extra with local beer cheap, and wine expensive (as it was throughout south-east Asia).

Diving was from zodiacs, with gear being donned on the dive deck, step into the zodiac and put on our fins. then a few minutes to the site.
Diving started with a checkout dive near Bali. We were given the dive rules, come up with 400 psi and stay with a buddy. Though after the checkout dive they added a new one to limit us to 60 mins. After the first day they usually scheduled 4 dives/day. In the 10 days I did 32 dives including 4 night dives, most dives were 60 mins. Water temperature varied from 78 to 86 with most dives in the 82 - 85 range. Visibility was generally in the 60 foot range, a few dives it was poor at 30 -40 ft. Occasional currents but not a concern. Diving was generally not deep. Most travelling was at night. Weather conditions were very calm, with some rain showers at night. Dive briefings were very good.

Dive quality varied from mediocre to superb, but generally very good. IMHO I would rate it behind Papua New Guinea, but ahead of the Red Sea, Great Barrier Reef, Cocos Isle, Caribbean. The sponges, corals, anenomes, crinoids, fish, and creatures were all very healthy and numerous. I don't remember seeing another dive boat after leaving Bali. Some notable dives as recorded in my log were:

We substituted a visit to the Komodo dragons for one dive, well worth seeing these huge carnivore lizards. We missed one dive for one of our divers to visit a doctor because of persistent ear problems. We gave up one dive so as to travel to the best dive sites on Alor island.

We disembarked at Maumere on Flores. Two of the divers had expected to fly out that day but there was no plane. My wife and I had booked a tour and a hotel for 1 night. Unfortunately after we were all in the boarding lounge the next day the only flight to Bali was cancelled so all four divers did not fly out until the next day. This is a remote area with unreliable air service so extra travel days are essential.

The crew were very good on the Baruna Adventurer, the dive master (Anton) and his assistant (Edwin) were excellent. Anton and the local Baruna representative went out of their way to look after us when the we were stranded because of the cancelled flight.

To sum up: A wonderful trip, and I hope to be back on this boat.


From: Paul Bridges
Newsgroups: rec.scuba.locations
Subject: Trip Report on Fantasea (Thailand)
Date: Fri, 11 Dec 1998 23:28:49 GMT

Trip Report on Fantasea (Thailand)

The MV Fantasea is a 97 ft boat with space for up to 15 divers (there were 14 on our cruise). It runs various cruises in the Andaman sea on the west coast of Thailand. We chose the 7 night cruise on Nov 18 - 25 that included 2 days in Myanmar waters. There was a surcharge of $100 US (in US notes) for this entry into Myanmar.

Because of rough seas in Patong Beach, we were driven to another beach to board the Fantasea at 8.00 PM on Nov 18, and immediately started an overnight travel to the Similan Isles. Our cabin was small with a double bed and some storage (no washbasin). There were 3 shower/toilets and 1 toilet on the dive deck which were shared by all. The cabins and a lounge were air conditioned. The upper deck had a large covered area where we ate all our meals, and a sundeck in the front. Food was very good with at least 2 choices for dinner, either meat or fish. A fresh snack was supplied after the afternoon dive. Beer and canned drinks were available at reasonable prices.

Diving was from the dive deck, either moored, or "live" where the boat was driven to the dive site, the engines stopped and all divers jumped in simultaneously. Pickups were usually by zodiac. Dive briefings were very good. The checkout dive was the first dive in the Similan Isles on Nov 19, starting with an "optional" buoyancy refresher. The dive rules were basically no decompression, always with a buddy, and back with 500 psi. 4 dives were scheduled on most days, including 2 night dives. I did 22 dives which was the maximum available for those flying out the morning after disembarking. The temp was a consistent 82-83 F. My dives varied from 40 to 70 mins, with most about 60 mins. Visibility was 20 - 80 ft with the normal being 50 - 60 ft. I made an effort to avoid deep dives, but many of my dives had a max of 80-100 ft to see special creatures, though there was usually a shallow area to finish the dive. We did have currents on some dives.

Dive quality varied from poor to very good and depended on location. Similan Isles, Ko Bon, Tachai were about the same, or worse than in the Caribbean.
Richelieu Rock, Burma Banks, and Western Rocky were very good. Fish were fairly plentiful with a good variety. We saw a large yellow seahorse, several frog fish, blue ribbon eels, sea snake, octopus, giant mantis shrimp, nudibranch, and a fair number of sharks. In general the coral and sponges were disappointing. There were several other dive boats in Thai waters, and there were often numerous fishing boats in sight.

We arrived back in Patong Beach on the evening of Nov 24, and disembarked at 7.00 AM the next morning.
The crew were very good, and really spoilt us on the dive deck, and the two divemasters Mark and Rob were both excellent. Mark went out of his way to find the rarer creatures.

To sum up: The boat was average for comfort, but very well run, the crew were excellent, overall the diving a little disappointing but some of it was very good.



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Last modified: November 28:th, 1998
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