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Dive Review of Felipe Diving/Sol Caribe Hotel in

January, 2004, an Instant Reader Report by Roger Zander, Mi, USA
Report Number 1042
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Belize, Bonaire, Saba, Cozumel, Roatan, Xcalak
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
79   to 80    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
100   to 150    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Recreational 130 ft.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
2 stars  
Shore Facilities  
2 stars  
You're on your own.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
5 stars    
Our dive trip to Providencia, also known as Old Providence, was the second
half of a two island dive package.  I usually build my own trips, this time
I let Lauren McKinney, of Scuba San Andres, do the work.  We awoke early on
San Andres to be at the airport for the first flight from San Andres to
Providencia.  There is one plane, a Russian built LET 410 turboprop that
hops back and forth, it is the bus for the islanders.  The flight was
only 30 minutes and all 19 seats are filled for every flight.  At the
Providencia terminal, after passing immigration, we had to confirm our
departure flight before we could leave.  It turns out that tourists can
only stay a maximum of 5 days.  Our taxi, a Ford pickup, took us over a
concrete road that reminded me of Saba.  Lauren had arranged for us to stay
at the Sol Caribe Hotel, from what I observed, the nicest place on the
island.  The buildings, grounds and pool were all neatly maintained.  Our
room was overlooking the water, average size and clean.  The water was not
potable, we bought bottled water from a nearby market.  It was 10 am by the
time I walked down to the beach, the dive boat was just pulling away.  I
called out to Felipe, who turned around to pick me up for a wall dive and a
shallow dive at a place called Manta City.  I saw a couple small rays. 
Felipe Cabeza runs a small one boat operation, 100 yards from the Sol
Caribe.  The shop has been operating since Dec. 2002 and has basic service.
  My Apex first stage needed an O-ring, that was not a common size, bring
your own save-a-dive kit.  You rinse your own gear in the outdoor shower
and they hang it in the shop for you.  The dive boat has a Yamaha 75 and
Suzuki 85, I never saw more than one motor running a time.  Sorry, no
oxygen on this boat.  Felipe and the other local operators use an anchor at
all dive sites.  They try and drop it on a sandy bottom, if available. 
There were buoys purchased, white with a blue stripe, that the Columbian
government decided had to be yellow, instead.  So the site marker project
is stalled, for now.  My Alum 80 tanks were filled with 2700 to 3200 psi,
the compressor is outside under a shed, protected from the rain.  A two
tank trip costs 90,000 pesos or about $36.  The next days diving is to two
walls, one has some very large Grouper and the other has 3 turtles, one of
which allows me to swim parallel for a long period.  There is not an
abundance of fish at any site, so far.  After diving, we stroll ¼
mile down the road to Martins Place for lunch, the hotel serves breakfast
and dinner only.  The grilled fish lunch special with corn ice cream for
dessert, so good, I had it three days in a row.  My wife and daughter went
on the island tour by boat, which took most of the day.  They said it is
the best way to tour the island.  I decided to go diving instead.  We went
to a deep wall called Nicks Place, the top is 100 ft.  In the distance is
a shark, swimming away.  I couldnt tell what kind but, it was about 15 ft
long.  There is abundant black coral on this wall. That was a thrill for
me, since I have rarely seen it on other dive trips.  As we near the end of
the dive, I see one of the pins for the aborted buoy project.  Nearby,
under a relatively small rock, I discover 13 lobsters, packed like
sardines.  For the second dive, Felipe picks a shallow spot and we take
along an extra 4 snorkelers along.  This turned out to be an outstanding
dive for critters.  There were 3 large spotted eels, 2 nurse sharks, a
scorpion fish who showed his wings, and more spotted rays than I could
count.  The French grunts and goatfish were everywhere and hardly noticed
us.  We could swim very close.  The fish were sitting in cleaning stations
and there were photo ops everywhere I looked.  This was my favorite shallow
dive of all time.  Back at the Sol Caribe, we enjoyed another beautiful
Caribbean sunset.  Dinners at the hotel were buffet style.  A typical meal
is: oxtail soup, island salad, bread plant, sausage, potatoes, grilled
chicken, pork chops, multiple fruit juices, and rice pudding.  For our last
day of diving, Felipe took us to Petas Place.  We swam along a ridge, 100
ft at the top, and along one side we came to a huge crack that was begging
for me to explore.  Id need more air than the Alum 80 had left, so we
stayed at about 120 ft and shortly began our return.  We needed some
surface time, so Felipe motored slowly and trolled for fish with a bright
green lure.  Five fish later, we came to Felipes Place, which had more
than the usual number of fish seen at other Providencia sites.  Midway in
the dive, two spotted eagle rays arrived and did a double loop to give us
plenty of time to enjoy their graceful flight.  A beautiful end to a
memorable trip and left me with the desire to return again, soon.
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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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