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The posts on this page are all written in May and June 1999


From: pmcduffee@aol.com (Pmcduffee)
Newsgroups: rec.scuba.locations
Subject: Re: ********DIVING VENEZUELA*********
Date: 29 May 1999 22:50:28 GMT 
>From: Stefan Kah

<stefan.kah@chemie.tu-chemnitz.de
> 
>Hi netfreaks, 
> 
>I am looking for informations (operators, prices) about good diving 
>spots in Venezuela 
>(especially Islas los Roques). 
>
>Stefan 

Stefan, here is my trip report about my experiences to Los Roques. It was in '97, prior to their being acquired partly to by Peter Hughes.

There still sounds to be some problems as PH does not completely control the operation, but from what I have heard things are getting better. Still, it wasn't that bad to begin with.

It's nice easy diving, and a nice break.

Below is a trip report from my trip.

Pat

-----------------------------------------------------------------------

Trip Report on Dive Trip on the Antares III Live Aboard in the Los Roques Archipelago off Venezuela.

Date of trip: August 22, 1997 through August 31, 1997.

Trip from Caracas to Los Roques was uneventful, no problem with all the dive and photo gear. The plane was larger than expected, 4 turbo-prop and could hold 40+ passengers.

The Antares III is a very nice boat, beautiful wood floor in salon and trim throughout the boat. Over all the boat is in very good shape, clean and well kept.

The Captain, Dominique is French, and wife run the boat and are part owners. They run a fine operation and are very aware of the needs and expectations of their passengers. A most pleasant experience.

The main salon and dining area is roomy and comfortable. The main salon and 2 main deck cabins have no air conditioning (they say they are waiting for a part and the repair man to make out to the boat). This did not present a problem as the temperatures were mild and the ventilation was good throughout the boat. The cabins below decks are air conditioned. The main deck cabins are the roomiest, have 2 doors, one to the outside, good for flow through ventilation. No hot water in any cabins. Actually the water in the cabins was an odd yellow orange color. No problem drinking it I guess as we haven't started glowing in the dark or anything like that yet. Ice and water provided in the salon was clear and fine. It may be just a plumbing thing in the cabins as we saw no signs of bottled water in mass. The shower on deck is hot.

Only 4 passengers on our trip which was very nice as the dive deck if you want to call it that is small, a full boat would be crowded. No real provisions for photo equipment. There is an ice chest provided for camera rinse with fresh water, don't know how many times it was changed during the trip.

Food was pretty good, but some meals repeated. Good soups, fresh made breads, plenty of salads, and a fair variety of foods. Not to Americanized as the food had a Caribbean flavor, even had black beans and rice in one meal. Had fried fish and rice a few times for lunch during the week. Little variety for breakfast. Pepsi, water, coffee, tea, something like juice always available.

The day/dive schedule was 1st dive approximately 8:00 am or a bit earlier, then breakfast, 2nd dive about 11:00, lunch about 12:30 - 1:00, 3rd dive about 3:30, snack, 4th dive about 5:00 or so, usually a good "change of shift" dive (day to night critters), dinner was about 7:30, and night dive close to 9:00 pm.

All dives are made from a chase boat, easy back roll and you're in the water. Exits were hand up your gear and climb in on small easy ladder, not a problem. The Antares III can handle 12 divers, but that would be pretty tight especially in the chase boat with all the gear. They have 2 boats but when asked if they had a full load of divers would they use the other boat, nope just the one.

Dives are swim/drift with boat chaser, slight to very mild current. Dive master in water on all dives with a buoy for the boat to follow. Anchoring in the park is not allowed, thus the chase boat. Had a problem with dive times being limited indirectly by dive master to about 40 - 45 minutes. Dives are easy, nowhere close to limits on computers, 1500 - 2000 psi left with this. Mentioned it and had no problems with diving your profile after that. Would get an up indication after an hour or more just to keep the days meals close to schedule.

Overall the dives were very nice, lots of usual reef fish, some flamingo tongues, actually quite a few bristle worms. It might have been mating season for morays as we saw several pairs. Nothing particularly large. Oh, except for the Green Morays, they were huge and frequently saw them swimming in the open. Saw one small to medium sized nurse shark on one wall. Fair amount of midnight parrots. Reef is sloping bottom with small walls. Did find one nice wall at the end of one dive, it started about 90' or so after a terraced bottom. It looked like it would be a great night dive. Asked for it and we got it, where we started was towards the end of the wall at about 75'. There were lots of orange cup coral, and a different black coral that I haven't seen before, whitish in color instead of the usual green color.

Corals are mostly soft fans and gorgonians, etc. There is hard coral and it is in pretty good shape. There is something going on though. Not black ring but something is damaging it. Large areas on a head may be dead, never seen this before.

All in all very nice dives. If you're into photo there are some good opportunities and some fair macro shots if you look for them.

The staff handles all of your gear during the week, even rinsing and hanging it on the last day, very nice touch. Very open to dive site selections.

Went to a turtle research station for a brief shore excursion.

No other divers on sites the whole week.

Crew mostly Venezuelan, speak little English, no real problem.

They don't try to entertain you in the evenings with slide shows ,etc. like Peter Hughes, though the Captain is a wealth of information and a very nice individual. He's pretty sharp with a lot going on behind the scenes that you may not notice unless you just let him go on for awhile.

All in all a very nice trip. The Antares III is a well kept secret.

Pat and Charlotte McDuffee

       O
     o
    .
(:))

I Call you My Friend, because You are My Friend.


From: bookwork@interport.net (Joan B. Nagy)
Newsgroups: rec.scuba.locations
Subject: Re: Papua New Guinea
Date: Tue, 01 Jun 1999 22:29:07 GMT

Maxine & Fred:

The following is a report I sent to Undercurrent after a PNG trip in 1998. The muck dives were simply extraordinary--sea horses, cuttlefish, mating octopuses. Not to be missed.

Early August 1997, eleven-day trip on Telita. Won’t bother with details on the boat since it probably won’t be around much longer. But here’s a few things I wish I knew before I left: Water temperature in Milne Bay in early August was 75° to 77° F. A 3mm suit was the bare minimum; hoods a necessity for most. Those in 3mm/5mm were happiest. For the most part diving is surprisingly shallow; sometimes no deeper than 20 feet. So it’s not unusual to be in the water for an hour and a half—and still come up with more than 1000 psi!—and you can get cold.

August is the end of the rainy season in Milne Bay, but we got lucky. No rain at all so we saw the walls and bommies in all their glorious color. Fair weather also allowed stops at sites with some current not usually available that time of year so we did get to see some pelagics. But don’t count on schools of big fish; that’s not what Milne Bay is about. It’s macro diving with an extraordinary profusion of pristine hard and soft corals and crinoids, an overwhelming variety of reef fish, nudibranch galore, spectacular giant clams, and—if you’re lucky—such wonderful critters as yellow sea horses, leafy and dwarf scorpionfish, flamboyant cuttlefish, harlequin ghost pipefish, mantis shrimp, crocodile fish, pegasus fish, spanish dancers.

If, like me, it’s your first trip to PNG, be prepared to spend a couple of days with your mask flooded. I just couldn’t stop smiling at the beauty and abundance.

No restrictions whatsoever on Telita so divers should be experienced. Current dives sometimes require Zodiac pick-up: don’t forget your safety sausage.

And don’t go all that way and miss the highlands. We spent only two nights in Tari at Ambua Lodge (the lodges are expensive but worth it) and I was very sorry not to be staying on for at least a short trip on the Sepik, a few days at Madang, and a day or two in Mt. Hagan (and if you’re going in August anyway don’t miss the Mt. Hagan Show.)

Joan Nagy

bckma@aol.com (Bck ma) wrote:

>Maxine & Fred:
>My wife and I just came back from a 10 day trip on the Febrina, that was the
>single best diving experience of our "careers."  Acquatic Encounters/Marc
>Bernardi organized the trip.  We dove Kavieng, Witu, Father's Reef, and Kimbe. 
>With only 12 divers, we had great service, no crowds, and very personal
>attention.  The muck diving, at several locations, was a real highlight, and
>the reefs, coral, and fish were plentiful everywhere.  The water temp. was 84+,
>and the weather was great (first two weeks of May).  Alan Raabe, the
>skipper/owner of Febrina is one of a kind--he refers to himself as "formerly a
>legend"--and his crew is excellent, as is the food.  We did not do a Highland
>tour, although some in our group went.  Given the fact that it takes a little
>over 2 weeks to do a ten day dive trip, our time didn't permit any more.  If
>you have specific questions, just send me an e-mail, and I'll be happy to
>respond.
>Barry

From: "Donald Bradley" <bradley38@erols.com>
Newsgroups: rec.scuba.locations
Subject: Re: Belize vs. Roatan vs. ?
Date: Wed, 2 Jun 1999 19:28:24 -0400

I haven't been to Belize in several years but understand that things have deteriorated. Service is sloppy and its gotten quite expensive. I can't speak from recent experience.

I would really recommend Roatan. Absolutely great diving. I've been diving all over the caribean (cozumel, caymans, tobago, dominica, burmuda, virgin islands, grenada, genadines) and roatan is tops for diving. Great visibility, great walls, more sea life than I've seen anywhere else, and pretty island. Hilly but not mountous, lush but not rainforesty, locals are quite friendly, no crime, relatively little oppresive povery.

The major activity on the island is diving and not much else. There are few if any tourist stores so not much shopping. What night life exists takes place at the resorts. Moreover, there are few resaurants outside of the resorts. Most places you will stay will be all inclusive (room, food, and diving). Unlike Cozumel, Roatan doesn't have one big town and a main square. There are essentially several small towns and a handful of fishing villages. You can drive the entire island in about three hours. The roads are fairly good, the scenery is very nice, but there is a limited amount to see. Almost everyone lives in the small towns so there are relatively large areas of just rolling and steep hills (very lush but not rain forest). The locals are very friendly. You can take the local buses and hitchhike. Crime is not a problem. Relative to the rest of Honduras the island is well off financially so don't see the oppresive poverty that you do on the mainland.

There are four good places to stay on the island.Two are essentially in the same spot and the third is on opposite side of the island. Coco View is on the Honduras side and the diving is characterized by walls, undercuts, and nice soft coral. The facility is quite nice and is the favorite destination of hardcore divers. The food is relative basic and not very fancy. They have a timed sitting for meals and if you not there, too bad. This is the group that do at least 4 dives a day. They run two, two tank dives a day and unlimited shore diving. You can do very good wall diving off of the pier (night or day). Major downside to Coco View is if the winds is blowing, the visibility goes down considerably (25 to 50 ft in the cut and 50 to 100 on the wall outside of the cut). Although the waves do not get huge, they can be uncomformtable for anyone who get sea sick (its a piece a cake relative to north carolina diving). Coco View is going to have the most people staying there. You may want to consider Fantasy Island Resort. Both are on little islands next too each other (fantasy has a bridge while coco view runs occasional water taxi to shore). You can swim >from one to the other. Fantasy has a better beach, better food, and is more like a resort (non-divers would like it better). The food is supposedly the best on the island and there are no set times to eat (they are much more flexible). You are essentially eating in the best resaurant on the island while Coco View is a cafeteria style meal system. They run three, one tank dives a day (9:00, 11:00, 2:30) and unlimited shore diving. They have the same accessability to the wall as does Coco View. Fantasy Island did not have as many divers on their boats (dove with six or seven) while Coco View had 12 or 15 per trip. Fantasy will run a trip around to the other side of the island. Fantasy is building a facility on the opposite side of the island that is a 10 minute bus ride from the hotel which they will be opening sometime. The pier they had was wiped out by the hurricane and their repairing it. When finished they will take the boat back over there and you can dive either side of the island. Coco View will occasionally run a trip over to Utila (depending on the wind and weather). Fantasy will match the rates at Coco View so the cost is a wash.

Inn of Last Resort and Anthony's Key is on the other side of the island. The reef is slightly further out on that side of the island and its is a protected marine preserve. Tended to see a lot more sea life on that side (although the other side was not bad), lots of turtles, grouper, huge nurse shark, rays. This side of the island is usually in the lee of the trade winds so is usually calmer than the other side. The Inn of Last Resorts itself is more basic than either Coco View or Fantasy. They have done a nice job. When I visited it, there were only two couples staying at the place and the dive boat came in with four people on it. I don't know how the food is. More basic than even coco view I would expect. Very nice people run the place and you would get a lot of personal attention. No beach to speak of and I don't think there is much shore diving.

Anthony Key Resort (which is down by the Inn of Last Resort) is a rather preteneous and most touristy place on the island. You have to take a water taxi over the the cabanas (rooms) which are located on a little island and back over to the mainland for dinner. Its all very cute. Tends to be too crowded and cattle carish for my taste.

An alternative to Roatan is Bonaire. Some of the easiest diving in the carribean is in Bonaire. Most of the diving is from shore (in fact, it is not necessary to do a boat dive for an entire trip). A road runs along the coast and little yellow painted markers are place along the shore. Where there's a marker, is a dive site. You suit up, walk to the water, swim about 50 yards and there's the reef. You have to rent a car and make arrangements with dive operation to have your tanks ready. They assign you a tank(s) and you bring them back to get filled and your off again. None of the dive sites is more than a half hour drive from anywhere on the island. The island itself is desert like. The night life is non-existent (except at the cassino). I was there last year and it was quite nice. Diving was good but not spectacular (but real easy). You have to rent a car but don't have any boat diving expenses. There are a handful of decent resaurants on the island to eat at. This is diving for people who don't want guided tours but want to do it on their own.

Another island that I would recommend is Dominica. Out of way and very beautiful. The diving is different because it essentially is on a series of sea mounts as opposed to coral reef. You tend to see big things as compared to the micro life of the reef. Beautiful soft coral, sponges, and the like. Has some excellent hiking as well. I would recommend diving with Nature Dive at the end of the island. Its located at Scotts Point (where all the diving is done). They can help you find a place to stay down there. They have a web page and are quite helpful. There is another dive operation closer into Roussa, the main town, but I can't remember it. Its an old operation and is quite good. There is a hotel next to it (they run there own) that is quite nice and has the best food on the island. The rooms are cheap on Dominica but the food is not.

At any rate, Roatan, Bonaire, and Dominica are my recommendations. They are all quite pleasant to visit. Be warned, however, that none have any night life to speak of. Just great diving, beautiful scenery, friendly locals, and safe streets.

Sam wrote in message <7gakr3$p9s@drn.newsguy.com>...
>My wife and I are in the early stages of planning a June trip.
>
>Roatan and Salt Cay are the two spots we're looking at.
>
>I'm wondering what people have to say about places to stay on Roatan. Looking
>for a pacakage covering room, food and a lot of diving _ ideally combining boat
>and beach.
>
>I saw an ad for Fantasy Island that looked interesting.
>
>Anyone know about them? Any other recommendations we should consider?
>
>Thanks your help.

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