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Dive Review of Ocean Frontiers/Royal Reef Resort in
Cayman Islands

Ocean Frontiers/Royal Reef Resort, May, 2003,

by Bradley Bowen, UT, USA . Report 620.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving All over the pacific, carribean and California.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy Seas choppy, surge, currents
Water Temp 78 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 0 to 0 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 1 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments Only a small camera table for underwater photographers, and on some dives it was filled to the limit.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments May 3 to May 10, 2003

Number of Dives: 343. Our third trip to Grand Cayman, and second trip with Ocean Frontiers. Consistent, outstanding service. We will be diving with Ocean Frontiers again. Be sure to book and pay for all dives you plan to do in advance as this operator often does not have any open spaces on its dive boats. We did four dives per day on 32% Nitrox, paying for all dives in advance, and never encountered any problems. Other divers were not able to dive as often as they had hoped. Crew is great at accommodating experienced divers entering the water first and exiting last who want an hour of bottom time, but you should alert them of your desire at the time of booking and discretely remind both crew members when you board the boat. Absent such a request, dive times are typically no more than 45 minutes on the first dive and 35 minutes on the second dive.

Dont be shy about telling the crew what you want to see. They will dive the South East end of the island every dive if weather permits because the sites are much closer to their dock and these are the dive sites where you will see Carribean Reef Sharks and Spotted Eagle Rays, as well as great walls with swim throughs. Shallow sites are a bit hammered, but are still a lot of fun to dive because many of the sites consist of tunnels and caves with huge schools of glassy sweepers and other bait fish, with Tarpon, grouper and parrot fish lurking about. If the weather is bad, they dive the North East end of the island, which has great walls and where you are more likely to see turtles. Wall dives are comparable to Little Cayman, but with fewer huge barrel sponges. Never saw any Pelagics at Little Cayman. Had bad weather the first three days and dove the North side. No pelagics, but wonderful walls, pinnacles and turtles. Weather improved the middle of the weeks and we spent the next three days on the South side. Reef Sharks on half of the South side dives, both this trip and our trip two years ago. Had nine Spotted Eagle Rays on one dive with a large female Carribean Reef Shark following three of the rays. Had glimpses of Spotted Eagle Rays on several other dives.

We knew from our prior trip that Ocean Frontiers night dive spots are not good. The staff was great at providing us with a map and instructions on locating the Babylon dive site from shore. We left a strobe on the shore about fifteen feet up the bank. The dive site is about four blocks from the shore and takes around 15 minutes or so to swim to at a leisurely pace. Dont use the air in your tank swimming out until you are at a depth of around 20 feet, or you wont have any air left to dive the pinnacle, which is just to your left as you come out onto the wall. We discovered that the cut through the reef out onto the wall was several hundred feet down the shore from where we had entered the dive site. Having a strobe high on the shore is critical to navigating back to the shore entry point as it is impossible to distinguish between the street lights at night. The swell, even on a calm night, makes the strobe difficult to see above the water, so place it high on the shore. We found this site safe and fun to dive on a calm night with these precautions and careful attention to navigation.

Although our group of four experienced divers on Nitrox and computers was allowed to dive its own profiles with no interference, we suspect that Ocean Frontiers persuaded one of its former dive masters to come along to do the first dive of the afternoon on a deep tunnel with an entrance at 110' on the wall. This diver said he didnt have a buddy and asked to join our group. He stayed deep the entire time, looking for the entrance to the tunnel, which was tough to find due to the thick coral growth. At the end of the dive he discretely pushed on the back of my wifes tank as she was swimming against the current returning to the boat. During the surface interval, we learned that this diver had formerly worked for Ocean Frontiers as a dive master for several years. When we suited up for the second dive he made excuses not to go. Just one example of the courtesy and professionalism we have encountered diving with Ocean Frontiers.

Although Stingray City may seem a little cliche for experienced divers, we decided to do the trip with Ocean Frontiers and found it much better than our prior experiences. In addition to the stingrays, we got numerous closeup photos of several Chain Morays and Goldentail Morays. The twelve foot Green Moray is like a puppy dog that followed us around, and allowed everyone in the group to pet and hold it as it slipped through their arms. An event I wouldnt have believed if I hadnt been present.

Ocean Frontiers does not encourage tipping and changes the boat crews around so that it is difficult to keep track of who you should tip. Of all the live aboards and dive operators with whom weve dove, none were more deserving of a tip than the people at Ocean Frontiers. We kept track of all the people we dove with and left tips for each of them in about a dozen of the small envelopes that Ocean Frontiers provided upon request.
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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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