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March 1999 Vol. 14, No. 3   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Editor's Travel Notes

from the March, 1999 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Editor's Travel NotesYouve probably heard me mention Larry Smith before. Because hes one of the best divemasters in the business, Im always interested in what Larry is up to. This time hes setting up a live-aboard operation that will move all over Indonesia. My picks would be the Banda Sea or Komodo tours; however, because of reports of rioting in Ambon, some schedules and departure cities may change.

For more info on Larrys new operation, Sea Contacts: 011-62- 361-725430, Fax: 011-62-361-725431 or http://www.seacontacts.com

The Solomon Islands are another great dive destination, and the Aggressor folks were taking bookings on a new Solomons Aggressor that definitely sounded promising. Before booking, however, Id make sure the boat had all its permits in place, as this area has a history of making it difficult for new operators to acquire the necessary live-aboard permits. For more info: 800-348- 2628 or 504-385-2628 or http://www.aggressor.com

The Undersea Hunter, which normally plies the waters off Cocos Island, Costa Rica, has been chartered by a mystery man for an entire two-month period just so he can sail and dive the South Pacific with a friend this year. While there, the Hunter will also be offering a few spots for those of us who arent fortunate enough to move in such circles. One trip is to start in the Marquesas and Nuku Hiva and continue on down through the Tuamotus, finishing at Rangiroa. While the diving lacks the species diversity found in many other areas of the Pacific, the adventure and charm of the south Pacific is a strong lure. It will probably also be good shark diving, especially in the current runs into the atoll. For more on Sea Ventures and the Undersea Hunter: 800-203-2120 or 506-228 6535, Fax 506-289-7334 or http://www.underseahunter.com

Two new resorts were touting imminent openings on the southern coast of Mexicos Yucatan Peninsula. Both are planning to open in February or March and say they will be diving Chinchorro Banks, an excellent diving area that few divers have had the privilege of exploring. The eighty-room Fiesta Americana, operating under the name of The Explorean, appears to be aiming toward the high end of the marketing spectrum with its new soft-adventure package. Word is that the Dive House on Cozumel will be running their dive operation. See: http://www.theexplorean.com or 1- 877-EXPLORE

The second resort in the area, Maya Ha, has a capacity of about 50 divers and appears to be focusing specifically on dive travel. For more info, see: http://www.mayaharesort.com

If the Nios or Nias arent messing with the waters around Kiribati (Christmas Island), the water temperature runs around 82 to 84 degrees. But its La Nia now, and Undercurrent readers Mac McInnis and Mary Kay Millhouse (Richmond VA) reported a cool 72 degrees on their November trip. The corals that took a beating in the heat of last years El Nio are bouncing back, and the reefs are looking good, as is the fish and critter life. They report a zillion endemic reef fish, octopus on every dive ranging from the size of a volleyball to that of a basketball, turtles, rays about the only thing we didnt see was a whale shark.

I also have it from reliable sources that there are a few dives (although Dive Kiribatis owner, Kim Andersen, doesnt much like to do them) where you can jump into rough-and-tumble whitewater with large and aggressive reef sharks for some dramatic photo ops. Prices are still a bit steep to get here, but this is a Pacific destination thats only three hours from Hawaii. Contact: 800-245-1950 or 724-935-1577, Fax 724-935-5388 or http://www.frontierstrvl.com

Back in our April issue, we took an insiders look at Grand Caymans dive operations. One of the operations we recommended on the East End was Ocean Frontiers. Ocean Frontiers has since fired its entire staff, reportedly replacing them with divers straight out of ProDives instructor school. I consider the East End some of the best diving that Grand Cayman has to offer, and Ocean Frontiers may already be back to its former standard, but Im taking it off our recommended list until we collect new information. Contact: 947- 7500 phone or fax.

A couple Canadians have bought the Club Caribe on South Caicos. The old Club Caribe had a lot of problems producing what they were selling, a fact that apparently escaped the new owners until they showed up at DEMA and heard it from everyone. The new owners of the property, now called Ocean Haven, are offering twodive- a-day packages with accommodations (24 rooms) and meals for around $800 a week. I hope the new version works, as I consider the walls out in front of South Caicos excellent diving. I still hold on to the memory of a squadron of 20 eagle rays in V formation I spotted cruising the deep walls.

The direct contact number on Caicos is 649-946-3444 or fax 649- 946-3446. In Canada, call 905-898- 0982 for phones or faxes, or log on to Ocean Havens website: http://www.southcaicosoceanhaven.com

The Oceanus, a live-aboard departing from Cozumel and diving Cuba, Chinchorro, and Alacrn, announced through an e-mail at the end of January that it had ceased operation and all trips had been canceled. Hortas Jose Antonio of Oceanus told me deposits were being returned on a first in/first out basis. Reader Frank Farmer has received his full refund, but like others he will have to eat airline charges for ticket changes and look for a new destination.

John Q. Trigger

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