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Dive Review of Carib Ocean Divers/Coral Mist Beach Hotel in
Barbados

February, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by Ben Blair, NJ, USA (2 reports)
Report Number 1567

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Reporter
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Thirty-six different islands in the eastern Caribbean, Belize, the Sea of
Cortez, several islands in the Bahamas, Key West, Palm Beach, Fort
Lauderdale, and all along the Atlantic coast in New Jersey

Dive Conditions

Weather
sunny, dry  
Seas
calm  
Water Temp
80   to 82    ° Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
0
Water Visibility
0   to 0    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
  
Liveaboard?
no 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
None 
Mantas
None 
Dolphins
None 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
None 
Whales
None 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  2 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
N/A  
Boat Facilities
N/A
Overall rating for UWP's  
N/A  
Shore Facilities  
N/A  
Comments
[None]
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
5 stars
Food
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
N/A
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
N/A    
Beginners
4 stars   
Advanced
3 stars    
Comments  
I’ve been trying to dive all of the islands in the eastern Caribbean, so
when my wife and I decided to spend a weekend on Barbados, it gave me a
chance to try out the diving.  This created a dilemma, because there are so
many dive operations, apparently to service all of the cruise ships that
stop in Barbados, but almost no up-to-date information about them in the
usual sources.  So I was pretty much on my own in figuring out which would
be the best dive operation to try out for just one two-tank dive.

Figuring out where I wanted to dive was a much easier proposition; all of
the books I have on diving in the Caribbean pretty much pointed toward the
S.S. Stavronikita as the site not to miss.  This 365 foot freighter was
sunk as an artificial reef in 1978, bottoming out at 130+ feet.  It would
be a good first dive, allowing me to dive one of the reefs as a second
dive, most of which are considerably shallower.

Information on the Stavronikita said it’s often overrun with divers from
the cruise ships, so I wanted to choose a dive operation that would leave
early in the morning, to avoid the crowds.  Many of the dive operators’ web
sites indicated that they do this as a 100 foot maximum dive.  I don’t know
whether Barbados’ Professional Association of Dive Operators puts a 100
foot limit on depth for its members, or if they self-impose this limit
because they get a lot of inexperienced divers.  If I could find a dive
operation willing to do this as a 130 foot dive, it should help avoid a
dive crowded with novices.

There was going to be less cruise ship activity in Barbados on Sunday than
on Monday, so Sunday seemed like the better day to schedule the dive.  All
but one of the dive operators indicated by email that I could dive the
Stavronikita as a 130 foot dive, and four could accommodate my early Sunday
schedule.  I decided to booked the dive with Lorenzo Garraway of Carib
Ocean Divers; they take a maximum of six divers, and Lorenzo was very quick
and enthusiastic in his replies to my emails (as were most of the other
dive operators).  

The dive was everything I could have hoped for.  I was the only paying
diver that morning.  We got away from shore at or a little before 9:00
a.m., did a giant stride entry from the rear platform, swam to the bow of
the boat, and started our decent at 9:17 a.m. (even after I first spent a
few minutes taking pictures of the island from our mooring site).  The
divemaster, Dave, and I had the entire wreck to ourselves for the entire
dive.  It’s a beautiful ship, sitting fully upright and intact, with easy
and safe penetrations at every level.  Surprisingly, the marine life was
pretty sparse, but the ship was so magnificent, and there was so much of it
to see, that this didn’t seem important.  Visibility was excellent, even on
a partly cloudy morning at a depth of 130 feet.  Although I’m pretty
tolerant of less than perfect visibility, having started out diving on
wrecks along the New Jersey coast, we could just as well have been in 60
feet of water as we passed along the Stavronikita’s propeller at almost 130
feet.

When we finally worked our way up the wreck and then the anchor line, made
a three minute safety stop, swam back at 15 feet to the rear platform, and
climbed back on board, a second (and much larger) boat was tied on to
another mooring buoy, going through a pre-dive briefing.  But the two of us
had this huge wreck entirely to ourselves, having arrived before any other
divers had been there to stir up silt and diminish the experience.  Having
made hundreds of dives all over the eastern Caribbean, this is still one
I’ll remember enthusiastically.  

Our second dive was on Dottin’s Reef.  In Best Dives of the Western
Hemisphere, the authors say “It is considered the prettiest reef in
Barbados,” and rate it as the only five star dive site on the island. 
Although they describe coral canyons and walls averaging 65 feet, with
drop-offs to 130 feet, after the deep first dive we stayed on top of the
reef, with an average depth of 42 feet and a maximum depth of 50 feet.  The
reef was populated with the usual smaller Caribbean reef fish, and only a
few moderately sized schools of brown chromis and creole wrasse.  

The corals and sponges on top of the reef were healthy, and I did find a
beautiful goldentail moray swimming about.  But the highlight of the dive
was a shy hamlet that I was able to study for a long time.  Paul Humann
describes this fish as “Shy and reclusive, but can be curious,” and
“occasionally approachable.”  Although I’ve seen a shy hamlet at least once
before, on Carriacou in 1995, this was a great opportunity to observe this
beautiful fish that Paul classifies as “rare to absent” in the Caribbean.

I’ll certainly dive the Stavronikita again if I ever return to Barbados,
and I wouldn’t mind diving Dottin’s Reef again, to explore some of its
deeper canyons and walls.  I highly recommend Carib Ocean Divers; Dave was
an unobtrusive divemaster, and Tommy, who stayed on board, was extremely
helpful with the gear.  I’ve seen almost every conceivable approach to
suiting up and getting in and out of the water on practically every type of
dive boat, and Carib Ocean Divers’ system is first rate.  If you’re
planning on a visit to Barbados, I don’t think you could go wrong booking
your diving with Lorenzo Garraway and Carib Ocean Divers.
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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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