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Dive Review of Indian Ocean Diving Academy in
Australia/Christmas Island

March, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by Peter Donahue, MA, USA
Report Number 1972
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Perth, Australia
Andros, Bahamas
All over the Caribbean and at least eight different states
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
87   to 88    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
100   to 150    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
1 stars  
There was no accommodation made on the boat.  My camera sat on the deck.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
5 stars    
Never leave for vacation in a blizzard.  One gear bag went missing for four
days...the other for eight days, but the trip was worth the aggravation. 
Lisa Preston at Christmas Island travel ( phone:
61-8-9164-7168 made all the reservations and even took us on a superb shore
dive in Flying Fish Cove, the main harbor.  She found a pair of leaf
scorpion fish, a nest of dragon eels among all the giant clams and
nudibranchs clammoring to be photoed.  She chased my missing gear bag and
Des Hill, the National Jet manager of the airport, delivered it personally
to my room, full of apologies.  There's only two flights a week and the day
my bag was due to be delivered, the flight was canceled as they were
putting in a new engine.  It made it the next day.  
Marcus at Indian Ocean Diving Academy ( Phone: 61-8-9164-8090
and his partner, Claire, were friendly helpful guides.  We were the only
customers on the boat for four of the six days we were there - a twenty
foot, open outboard, with a canvas top that was launched every day.  The
first dive, an extra crew member was aboard - Lynn - the local school bus
driver.  There was a current that she chose not to dive in and the dive
plan was to swim upcurrent in search of some small animal.  At this point,
Lynn let me borrow her mask with magnifying lenses in it (it's tough to get
old) and in fact I had it until my own arrived.  The boat isn't anchored,
so we swam up current in 90 feet of water to get to some coral head...I
never got there.  After 40 minutes, I surfaced and chugged up current,
trying to keep Marcus and my dive buddy in sight.  The dive boat had
drifted at least 1/2 mile behind us and they never saw me.  The shear
cliffs of the island made a swim to shore out of the I bobbed
and swam and swam and bobbed and after 20 minutes the boat returned to pick
us all up.  That was the last upcurrent swim we made on that trip!
Lunch was an assortment of Malay that changed daily.  The fact that it was
never refrigerated on board kept me from eating it.  Fresh local fruit
(mangoes picked off a tree by the launch ramp) and water was aboard.  There
are no toilet facilities, so on the swim back to the boat, you would paddle
through people bobbing on the surface with their wetsuits 1/2 off, peeing. 
Rather gross from my standpoint.  There were no camera buckets aboard or
anywhere to change film, but the crew did their best to keep my gear safe.
Lunch often took place back at the ramp.  It was always 1 to 2 hours long
and then off for a second single tank dive.  Two tanks with lunch for six
days cost $815 AUS (at the time the exchange rate was .80).  So it cost
$652 US for 12 dives, extra tanks for shore dives were $10 AUS.  The dive
in the harbor was often 1/2 to 2 hours long.  We did it every afternoon and
we never got cold.  There were customers only two days and they were
locals.  There were no large schools of fish and the occasional 3 to 4 foot
shark caused endless chit chat on the boat.
Very relaxed briefings. The crew who alternated so one of them dived while
the other one tended the boat were silent guides.  If we chose to follow
them, they'd point out porcelain crabs, nudibranchs, ribbon eels, and all
the things I would have missed.  We dived our own profiles, most dives
lasting an hour.  We used aluminum 80s filled to 3000 psi and I heard the
words, "Be back on board with 700 psi".  The crew recorded our
depths and times and air remaining.  I came back with 700 psi every single
dive, but no one noticed (good thing they never looked at my gage, as it
was often at 0).  60 minute were the norm, but we were often in the water
for an hour and 1/2.
Bat fish cave had an underwater entrance.  We swam back in 200 feet and
climbed out of our gear and the water and hiked in a dry cave.  Stalagmites
and stalactites all over and a few hundred yards back, we found three cool
lifeless pools of water.  When we shut off our lights, the pools were full
of lantern fish...their faces glowing - what a surprise!  No matter how
fast you turned your light on, we never did see them except glowing when
the lights were out.  A bare hand, in the water, was soon covered by tiny
red shrimp, scouring fingers and nails for a meal.  It was almost a shame
to have to finish the dive my going back in the water.
The diving was very good.  The visibility of 150 feet was suberb, but it
was Marcus' quiet style that made the trip enjoyable.  He quietly
questioned my dive buddy, found out what I liked to do, diving-wise (which
is just about anything), found out what kind of crackers I like to eat,
chased all over the island until he found them (there's only three stores)
and did everything he could to make me smile.  Not an easy task.  He was
more of a host than a dive master.  That's high praise, coming from me.
The last night of our visit, he found us (in the harbor of course) and took
us on a night boat ride.  His girlfriend from Switzerland was visiting and
he invited us on a crew-only sunset cruise.  It was wonderful!
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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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