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Dive Review of Tropical Diving/L'Espadon in
Africa/Madagascar, Nose Be

February, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Bob Penhearow, ON, CA
Sr. Reviewer   (10 reports)
Report Number 5939
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
51-100 dives
Where else diving
Florida Keys, Dominican Republic, St Lucia, Philippines (Boracay,
Malapascua), Mauritius
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

windy, rainy, cloudy  
Water Temp
27   to 28    Celsius  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 60    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Depth & air parameters established  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
1 stars  
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
1 stars  
Shore Facilities  
There are no facilities on or off boat for cameras
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
3 stars
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars    
3 stars   
3 stars    
Report: Nose Be, Madagascar

Nosy Be is a 1.5hr. NW flight from Antananarivo the capital city of
Madagascar. Nose Be (big Island) along with the rest of Madagascar is very
poor and dominated by French with minimum English. Although Nosy Be has a
reputation of being a vacation centre in Madagascar remember you are in the
African continent and if you compare it to the Caribbean you will be very,
very disappointed. Ambatoloaka where Tropical Divers is located is 45 min.
from the airport (taxi $20). Ambatoloaka has one road running through it,
but for it's size has a number of decent restaurants and hotels. I stayed
at Buccaneers 2* ($45/night) and then upgraded to L'Espadon 3* ($65/night).
Hotel Coco-Plage, where the dive operation is located was closed for the
season. Scuba Joker, located near the luxury Hotel Andilan, is the other
PADI dive operator in the area but was also closed. For those who love
massages expect to pay around $10/hr.

Tropical Diving (TD) like Ambatoloaka is somewhat limited. TD operates
rather small boats designed for 10+ divers. There is no nitrox, no oxygen
on boat, no canopy nor any camera facility. There is however equipment
rental: I rented a Scuba Pro BCD which served well. The dive sites are
between 20-60mins away. Tanks (steel 12L) and weights are on boat, you
carry on the rest. All set up and change of tanks are done for you. Access
to the boat is from the shore. Diving from the boat is either a back roll
or giant stride, to exit you fin up from the water (no ladder). Water and
some fruit is available between the double tank AM dives.

Dive sites:
There are around 20 dive sites highlighted by TD. However, Jan-March is
cyclone season and the waves and rain are quite formidable assuming you
dive at all. Unfortunately, I arrived just after a cyclone in Feb. which
resulted in cancelled dives, limited dive site access and poor visibility.
As an example on one return, we had to dock at a nearby harbor, the small
boat could not cope with the 5-6' waves. Reduced to only 4 dives in my four
day stay, I would caution everyone to keep clear of Jan-March peak summer
and cyclone season. 

Due to the inclement weather, my dives centred around Nosy Tamikely Island.
We saw: Turtles, Stingrays, Groupers, Tuna, clouds of Fusilers etc

Nose Be is certainly worth checking out for the more adventurous diver. The
Outer Bank is where the larger pelagic fish are and by all reports
certainly worth exploring. Regarding TD, I would like to have seen a
greater emphasis on dive briefing and safety protocol: pre- dive check,
surfacing with buddies, improved dive briefing etc. However, the staff
member on the boat was very helpful in every way. It would be prudent to
check out Scuba Joker the other PADI operator nearby and then compare with

Would I return? Certainly, but in a couple of years time and only in the
calmer winter months: June-August. Hopefully in a few years, the dive
operators will be more advanced along with larger boats and an improved

Hope the above serves, Bob
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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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