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

Tropical Diving/L'Espadon, Feb, 2011,

by Bob Penhearow, ON, CA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports). Report 5939.

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

Weather windy, rainy, cloudy Seas choppy
Water Temp 27 to 28 Celsius Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Depth & air parameters established
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals N/A Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters N/A 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 N/A
UW Photo Comments There are no facilities on or off boat for cameras

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 3 stars
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments 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 TD.

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 infrastructure.

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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