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February 1998 Vol. 13, No. 2   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Travelin’ Divers Update

What to watch for . . .and watch out for

from the February, 1998 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Each month we supplement the Chapbook with new and up-to-date information, gleaned from our readers, our own experiences, and other sources. We’ve reorganized our approach to bring you more information in, we hope, a more usable format.

Watchout if you’ve scheduled a trip to Loma Loma, the little Fijian resort with arguably the best landbased diving in Fiji, if not the South Pacific. Dive operator Dan Grenier (Crystal Divers) folded up tent in January, and it’s currently without a dive operation.

But, watch for his new operation as he begins his search, he says “into Fiji’s ‘Outer Limits’, venturing into undiscovered country once more to find virgin reefs and prolific marine life large and small.” Ben and Buli are stying with him and I wouldn’t be a bit surprised if he joins up with past Loma Loma manager Lynette Mercer in an undeveloped area far north of Nadi. He will have “a special introductory offer, to help us explore and help name some sites.” Since he may be up and running by the time you read this, stay informed with his soon-to-be web site; (www.crystaldivers.com or email: dan@crystaldivers.com) Because Loma Loma didn’t advertise, half its business, Grenier said, came from our article two years ago.

And, look for a great diving sidetrip from Cozumel. If you want to get adventurous, follow the advice of Dr. Terrence W. Dunlop (Annapolis, MD). “Took ferry from Cozumel to Playa del Carmen (about 40 minutes and $10 r/t). Two tank dive in two separate cenotes under supervision of certified cave diver from Seafari. Most sites are fresh water with astounding visibility. Mostly no visual sensation of being in water, more like being in air. vis: 300 ft.+ water: 70- 74 degrees. All lights provided as well as very brief orientation to cavern/ cave diving. Mostly within sight of an opening, but not always. Not for the claustrophobic. Some cenotes require strenuous walks and climbs (in full gear). No marine life other than the odd cave fish, but a nice change of pace. Playa del Carmen, is nicer than San Miguel in Cozumel; plenty of nice shops and restaurants. Ferry operates from 6:00 am to 11:00 pm.” Phone: 011-52-988-51447; email: seafari@Spin.com.mx

Watchout for limited diving at posh resorts on diver-oriented islands. Consider Beaches Resort, on Provodenciales in the Turks and Caicos islands. Says John Foster, Waterford, CT, the “dive operation only went nearby to Grace Bay and offered limited dives each day. Beaches emphasis is not on diving but the great food and lovely rooms. I went with Dive Provo, but trips to West Caicos require a bus trip of about 45 minutes to another part of the island, with downtime sorting the divers and waiting for boats or transportation.”

Bonaire’s Harbour Village is another classy resort that takes its divers lightly; Sunny Morrison, Littletown, CO. says “Harbour Village Resort was lovely but only two boat dives per day were offered, and when the boat was full we were turned away. (They have three boats, but declined to open a second boat when the first was full!) And, Harbour Village required long pants for men in their restaurant, pretty silly on a hot, humid tropical island.”

Since everyone isn’t a live-aboard enthusiast, look for great landbased diving in Truk and Palau. If you’re a serious wreck buff, say Larry and Terry Roth (Orange Park, FL) “Blue Lagoon provides excellent guides. Spent more time on the deeper wrecks San Francisco, Nippo, Aikoku and the Oite Destroyer. We brought our own doubles rigs, which increased our safety margin. Blue Lagoon staff allows you to dive at your own level of expertise. Shared our boat with one diver on two days; the remaining days we were the only two divers. Blue Lagoon provided an extra dive guide on the three days we dove the deeper wrecks. Both guides always carried an extra tank, in addition to two tanks hanging from the boat. While their boats might lead you to think this is a third-world operation, don’t be fooled. Outstanding service. Our third trip and we wouldn’t dive with anyone else!”

And in Palau, the Palau Pacific is a first-class resort coupled with a first rate dive operation. Dr. John W. Foster (Waterford, CT.) says PPR and Splash are a dynamic duo. The dive operation initially mixed English-speaking divers of all abilities together which sometimes limited the dive times of more experienced divers, but when requested, we were reorganized with a divemaster for the small group of advanced divers. The dive operator took us where we requested, but not to more distant dives such as Peleilu Corner.” Even nondivers rate the Palau Pacific as one of the top hotels in the South Pacific, not on the level of a Ritz Carlton, but very good.

But, on the way home, watch out for crime in Guam. Dr. Foster said “his tickets, passport and other documents were stolen there during the layover. Continental Micronesia personnel came to the rescue by replacing the tickets and obtaining permission for me to continue to Palau. Traveler beware!”

And Bonaire too, especially automobiles; Man, do we get complaints. Here are the latest, travelers beware: “We left some change in our truck ashtray, about $4 US; it was gone along with two cold cokes, when we returned from diving (shore) and the tire iron was on the front seat? When we left we saw the beach patrol about 1/4 mile down the road checking trucks.” (J.C. Mercer, Montgomery, TX)

And, in Belize, watch out for the drunken tourist syndrome. Says Gary Nagel (Milwaukee, WI). “When eating in restaurants on Ambergris Caye, check your bill carefully because the waiters will add an extra gratuity to it -- especially if they think you’re drunk enough.”

Watch out for the effect of dredging on CocoView. Says Jeff Houdret, Lansdale, PA, who made his sixth trip there in November “Beach diving in front used to be superb but years of construction and dredging [by Fantasy Island] have ruined visibility: now 10-30 feet, used to be 60-80. This degradation negates a key reason to choose the resort. Vis improves away from the hotel.” Still, he as a lot of good things to say: New rooms over the water and open to the sea are very pleasant. Food creative and excellent. Staff friendly and efficient. Savvy dive staff encourages new divers to quickly gain confidence.

Look for Florida Keys Diving off the beaten track with It’s A Dive, at the Florida Bay Club. Says Walton Fisher (Miami Beach). “Captain George gives a great briefing, then follow his instructions and you’ll see the whole show! They go to Carysfort Reef, a seldom visited site farther north. Good night dive on the Benwood. (305/453-9881)”

Watch out for bad winter weather off Cayman, so bad that Cayman Aggressor can’t make it to Little Cayman or Cayman Brac. It happened as early as October, this year, when the trip Randy Harper (Ellicot City, MD) took kept the Aggressor at Grand Cayman all week and “we had to dive Stingray City with Parrots Landing. During fall and winter trips over to Little Cayman and Cayman Brac are often cancelled due to weather. If you consider these critical, go another time of year.” And, the same weather can stop boats from Brac getting to Little Cayman and vice versa. Best bets for good weather begin in April.

And watch for Cold War diving to become all the rage. You see, wherever there’s water, some goofy diver will take a shot at it. I remember reading years ago about a bunch of English divers who hiked forever to dive a Scottish Loch someone had spotted from the air. They dressed up, only to find that the depth never exceeded a foot. Well, it’s deeper than that in Texas, at an old Atlas Missile Silo. Thirty years ago it sported an 82- foot missile pointed at the heart of Russia, but now it’s filled with water that seeped through the 4 foot thick concrete walls. Visibility is 130’, they say, but you need a light to look for secrets from the Cold War. Contact COM Sub-Aquatics in Midland TX: (915)686-7333; (915)686-0872 fax; (915)683-9127 InnCOMSAC@aol.com

And finally, a word for traveling couples. While an occasional squabble with your partner may be common, have you ever gotten more irritated with one another when in the tropics? Blame the heat. University of Missouri researchers, using 45 years of data, have found that the hotter it gets, the quicker tempers fray, and the more serious disputes becomes. Says one researcher “the people don’t realize that their perception of how insulting someone else is will be colored by their own irritability, which is conditioned by how hot they are.” So, stop shouting. Go diving and chill out. In Lahaina they call it Maui Therapy.

P.S.: Been traveling? Have information you wish to share with your fellow divers? Please send us your comments, criticisms and travel reviews for inclusion in an upcoming issue or the Travelin Diver’s Chapbook.

- Ben Davison and John Q. Trigger

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