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Dive Review of Frenchies and Big Fish in
Belize/Caye Caulker

Frenchies and Big Fish, Mar, 2008,

by Mike Messick, CO, USA ( 1 report). Report 4156.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Numerous places in both the ATL and PAC
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, cloudy Seas choppy
Water Temp 78 to 80 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 2 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

Subject Matter 2 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

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

Accommodations 2 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 2 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 1 stars
Comments First off, the days of Belize being an inexpensive dive destination have vanished along with the coral reef. For a 3 tank dive with a very plain sandwich-type lunch, you will pay upwards of $160 US. If the 3 tank dive includes the Blue Hole, $200 US will be your right of passage (I know, flat out unreal). Most hotels on Caye Caulker are also very basic accommodations yet approximate American hotel prices ($80-120/night for a "Motel6" equivalent). Food is also pricey, even a beer or 2 at the local supermarket is $2/bottle. So, be forwarned and be prepared to dig into the wallet. As for the dive operators, Frenchies management and crew were knowledgeable and nice, but be careful using their rental gear (which is included in the dive price). We dove with them 2 days, and on the 1st day 2nd dive my partner (who was using their rental gear) had her pressure gauge stick at 500psi, and was 30' underwater thinking she had 500psi when the tank ran dry. Being a neophyte diver with 10-15 dives, she exhibited great self control and swam to over to me for my octopus rather than panicking. Luckily it stuck at 500psi near the end of the dive or there may have been a serious issue at deeper depths. On the 2nd dive day with Frenchies, incredibly the exact same thing happened (different regulator/gauge): this time it was 700psi. Again, we were already off the deep end of the profile and at 35-40' depth. The dive master was close enough to provide his Octopus as her tank ran dry. Be very careful if using dive operator gear in Belize!!! Needless to say, we then transfered to a different operator for our 3rd day (Big Fish), which seemed to have better quality equipment. Since we were diving the Blue Hole (relatively deep dive), I donated my gear to my partner so she would feel more comfortable and used their rental gear (luckily no issues). The diving was decent, however Big Fish kept us very tightly controlled, which was understandable for the Blue Hole (at 150') but for the other 2 much shallower dives, I ended up having to surface with over 1000psi in the tank. I tried staying down at 35' and combing the reef underneath the other divers while they did their deco stop, but the dive master continuously banged his tank until I came up. Very poor job of allowing us to dive our profile, especially on these shallower dives where visibility was fairly good and I was easily in range of the group and dive master.

To wrap this up, unless you enjoy paying US prices for low end accommodations and sub par diving, I would not recommend Belize. The Blue Hole is unique to be sure, but more of a "check the box" dive than anything breathtaking or awe inspiring. The rest of the diving is rather mundane: marine life is present but not abundant, and the cost is flat out ridiculous for the quality of the diving. Save your money and head to Cozumel, or if you have extra greenbacks to spend and want better diving, head to Roatan or the Caymans (or anywhere else in the Caribbean). Take some friendly advice: do your research if diving is the main purpose of vacationing in Belize. I think you'll be glad you did.
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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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