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Dive Review of Small Hope Bay Lodge in

April, 2012, an Instant Reader Report by Douglas Garrou, VA, US
Reviewer   (5 reports)
Report Number 6498
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
51-100 dives
Where else diving
Cozumel, Belize, Morehead City NC, Florida Keys, Jamaica
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
calm, choppy, no currents  
Water Temp
74   to 77    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
60   to 90    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Some (deeper) dives guided, with dive master interrogating air status at
end and dispatching buddy teams for additional unguided exploring at
shallower depths. Shallow dives unguided.   
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
2 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  4 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
4 stars  
Separate tank on dive boat, well marked for cameras only. 
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars    
5 stars   
5 stars    
This is a very interesting place that really hit the sweet spot for me. 
Tripadvisor covers the resort itself fully and quite accurately, so I'll
refer you there for details.  One added note is that the food was super.

Diving-wise, the real draw is the stupendous underwater terrain. The east
side of Andros is right on the "Tongue of the Ocean," a
6000-foot-deep channel that begins just offshore. Immense walls here truly
have to be seen to be believed. Astounding stuff.  There's a very long, and
well-crafted, tradition of deep air diving at Small Hope.  (Founder Dick
Birch, a colorful early scuba pioneer, set the record on air here years
ago.) They don't go to Dick's record 460+ feet, but they do routinely take
divers to 140-185 feet. These dives are heavily staffed and closely
supervised, and are made available on a case by case basis after the dive
staff becomes comfortable with your diving skill level (which they take
care to investigate through observation and discussion). Less skilled, or
less adventurous, divers can participate in these dives and are assigned to
staff who take them to shallower depths. Then everybody joins up for
meandering time (if available) at shallower depths. 

Swimming sea life is not nearly as abundant as in Cozumel or Belize.  This
is likely due to the lack of nutrients borne by currents (I experienced no
meaningful currents in a week of diving here) and possibly to the
deleterious effects of nearby Nassau and its hordes of tourists. I discount
the pollution theory a bit because the coral seemed highly varied and
really quite healthy.  For whatever reason, turtles and sharks are sighted
pretty commonly; I saw a number of each. One positive of the terrain is
that there is always the chance of larger oceangoing critters looming up
from the abyss. 

So think of Small Hope as visiting the Grand Canyon rather than the Bronx

As you may have gleaned from the comments above, I was extremely impressed
with the professionalism of the dive staff. They're friendly and quite
good, and the whole operation functions at a very high standard. Briefings
are excellent, boats are well equipped, "just in case" hang tanks
are a standard feature, etc. etc. They were able to solve a gear problem of
mine almost instantly, saving a morning of diving in the process. This
would be a terrific place to get instruction at all levels. 
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