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Dive Review of Stuart Cove's in
Bahamas/New Providence

Stuart Cove's, Jan, 2007,

by Brent Barnes, OK, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports). Report 3325.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving [Unspecified]
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas choppy, noCurrents
Water Temp 74 to 76 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 60 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Depth limits and time limits
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 2 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Separate camera rinse barrel available.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments Did 10 dives over 3 days with Stuart Cove's including two-tank dive at Shark Arena for shark feeding dive. It is important to understand what to expect when diving with Stuart Cove's, especially if you prefer dive operations with small numbers of divers and individualized attention. In reality, Stuart Cove's is likely one of the most efficient cattle boat operations in the world. I estimated they worked between 100 - 180 divers through their operation each day with a large fleet of boats taking 10 - 20 divers per boat. As most hotels are on the north side of the island, they send multiple buses to pick up divers staying all over the island and also cruise ship passengers doing an excursion with them each morning. We stayed at the Comfort Suites on Paradise Island which is the farthest stop from their facility. This meant we were the first to be picked up each morning and the last to be dropped off in the late afternoon. We were picked up at 7:30 AM each morning even though the boat did not leave until 9:00 AM, and had a one-hour bus ride every morning while making stops at many other hotels to pick up other divers. This then repeated in the afternoon as we were the last to be dropped off. This meant a minimum of 2 hours on a bus each day, though buses were air-conditioned and comfortable. This bus time could be shortened by staying at a hotel closer to the shop such as on Cable Beach. Once arriving at the shop, you would check in to find your boat assignment and set up your own gear. Dive sites were all short rides from the shop. Briefings were good, divemaster was always in the water leading the group. Maximum depths and time limits were advised and enforced. Several divers were politely reprimanded when they stayed down longer than the stated 2 - 3 minutes after the shark feed to search for shark teeth before surfacing. The average diver at Stuart Cove's seems to be fairly inexperienced and they do cater to the beginner. I was frustrated on my first dive as all divers were asked to remain on the surface until all divers were in the water and had performed a buoyancy weight check. I was the first in and multiple inexperienced divers after me had to swim back to the boat to add or remove weight causing me to have to hang on the tag line for 10 minutes before everyone was ready to descend. This only occurred on my first dive of the trip and I suspect may be required on the first dive only. Divemasters were friendly with good briefings and polled divers to see where they had dove previously to try and minimize repeat dive sites. Boats were fairly spacious and covered and ice water or juice was provided. After morning dives, you had 30 - 45 minutes before the afternoon dive boats would load. There are no restaraunts nearby and there is not time to leave the grounds for food, so bring your own lunch or you may purchase homemade sandwiches and chips at the shop which were fairly tasty. After your final dive, you were responsible for unloading and rinsing your own equipment. They unloaded and rinsed rental gear. They do have a locked storage area where you can leave your personal dive gear overnight if you are diving the next day. They have a large amount of well-maintained rental gear. Stuart Cove's has been instrumental in assisting many underwater projects for Hollywood movies and has an interesting wall of fame with photographs of many movie stars and celebrities that dove or did work with them.
The diving itself had good and bad also. The reef system is not incredibly healthy and there is very little large fish life. There is no marine sanctuary or protected area so there is a notable lack of large fish. The walls on the Tongue of the Ocean were dramatic but do not have the vibrant coral or fish life seen at other major walls in the Caribbean. However, you do not come to New Providence to dive with schools of fish or see vast coral. Diving in New Providence is strictly about sharks and wrecks. Two of my dives were among my top all-time dives for photography. The shark feeding dive is outstanding and provides you with the opportunity for extremely close photographs of 15 - 20 large Caribbean reef sharks. I preferred the "pre-feeding" dive at shark arena as we were allowed to swim about the area and out over the wall with 15 - 20 reef sharks swimming closely between us obviously waiting for the upcmong feeding. The actual feeding dive was much more controlled, you had to sit or kneel in a semi-circle during the feed dive and could not move about. The wrecks are smaller but good and are fairly shallow, allowing good photo-ops and longer bottom time. Had lengthy encounter with a large lionfish and free swimming green moray on the Sea Viking wreck. Lionfish are becoming more common and are seen on many dives. Diving the Bond Wrecks on the "Tears of Allah" wreck used in Never Say Never Again and the scaffolding of the airplane "Vulcan Bomber" used in Thunderball were very interesting. The Vulcan Bomber has been down for over 40 years and makes for great macro photography. Visibiltiy was excellent throughout the trip.
We stayed at the Comfort Suites on Paradise Island, a comfortable but not spectacular resort. Main advantage is that it is next door to Atlantis and guests of Comfort Suites are given admission to all of the Atlantis attractions including the waterparks, though you must wear a special bracelet to get in. There is a great deal to do on Paradise Island but it is very expensive. Good place for the diver with non-diving families or friends.
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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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