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Dive Review of Felipe's Diving/Sol Caribe in

November, 2003, an Instant Reader Report by Sandy Falen, KS, USA
Sr. Contributor   (24 reports, with 3 Helpful votes)
Report Number 865
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Curacao, Bonaire, Saba, Dominica, Statia, Tobago, Guanaja, Belize, Los
Roques, Costa Rica, Cozumel, Grand Turk, South Caicos, Fiji, San Salvador,
Little Cayman, Cayman Brac
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
81   to 83    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
70   to 110    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 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  
Shore Facilities  
1 stars  
There were no special facilities for photographers. 
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
2 stars
2 stars
Service and Attitude
2 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
4 stars    
This is remote and virgin diving, and the island is a step back in time
compared to much of the Caribbean....  which is a large part of
Providencia's charm. After an overnight in San Jose, Costa Rica (SJO), my
companions and I flew West Caribbean Air (WCA) to San Andres, connecting on
to Providencia.  WCA was efficient and friendly, and when our flight from
SJO was late, the WCA staff whisked us through the San Andres airport to
ensure we'd make our connection.

The Sol Caribe Hotel was modest but adequate.  Rooms were spartan, clean,
and included a little frig and plenty of hot water (which at times was
dangerously scalding).  Service, though, was hit and miss, and the food
non-descript. The poolside bar was rarely staffed, although service is
available if you can pry someone out of the kitchen. Lunches at Martin's
Place (about a quarter mile down the road), were fabulous, and Martin
graciously accommodated us even when our long dive times meant we often
didn't arrive until mid-afternoon.  Lunches were so satiating and filling
that we often weren't hungry at dinner time -- which, given the caliber of
food at the Sol Caribe, was just as well.

The diving conditions were superb:  warm water (81 to 83 degrees), calm
conditions with almost no current, and while the vis varied during our 8
days of diving, it was, at times, breathtakingly clear. Felipe Cabeza was a
delight to dive with -- laid back and friendly, with a great sense of
humor. The dive shop is just a short walk down the road from the Sol
Caribe, and divers set up their gear on shore before wading out to a small,
open skiff. While I carried my own small gear bag, Felipe or one of the
staff members would carry the tanks and BCs, and they were always helpful
when it was time to suit up.  This isn't valet diving, but the trade off
for pristine and uncrowded conditions was more than worth it -- my friends
and I were frequently the only divers on the boat. 

While we didn't see as many large fish as I'd hope for, we did catch sight
of one Goliath Grouper, a few Eagle Rays, large stingrays, nurse sharks,
midnight parrotfish, and some of the biggest angel fish I've seen anywhere.
"Curtains of fish" aptly describes the huge schools of reef fish
seen on some of the shallower sites, and the little critters were equally
fascinating.  We sighted juvenile lobsters, masked hamlets, arrow blennies
-- and a more abundant grouper population than in other Caribbean islands. 
Much of the diving is along deep crevices -- straight vertical walls that
were encrusted with healthy and beautiful sponges and black coral. On our
last day, we cavorted in the water with a pod of dolphins for at least 20
minutes before moving on to our morning dive.

Boat rides were from generally from 10 to 20 minutes, and most surface
intervals were spent in some quiet cove, or at the "downtown"
pier. There is little to no tourist infrastructure in Providencia, and
almost no one accepts U.S. currency (including the hotel), so try to get
some Columbian pesos when you pass through San Andres. There is an ATM
downtown, but owing to unreliable phone lines, we were never able to
complete a transaction.  We were able to change some currency at the little
art & jewelry shop near the hotel, but in limited quantities. Moped and
"buggy" rental is easy to arrange at the front desk, but you'll
have to pay cash in local currency.  It's cheap, though -- at about $8/day
for a moped and $27/day for a buggy -- and you don't even have to sign a
contract.  The Columbian beer we purchased at the market next store was
quite good, and net of the mandatory bottle deposit, it cost about 35 cents
per bottle! Beware of credit card transactions at the Sol Caribe -- they
have trouble getting authorizations due to those unreliable phones.  When
the desk clerk seemed to think I needed to stand there for hours while she
made continuous attempts, I tactfully suggested that it wasn't my problem.

We made our dive, hotel, and WCA flight arrangements with Lauren McKinney
at Scuba San Andres (; and were pleased with the service. On the return
trip, we discovered that connecting in San Andres can be a cluster of
inefficiency, requiring no less than 3 x-ray machines and a hand search. 
Since our schedule returned us to SJO early in the day (but too late to
catch a U.S. bound flight), we stayed at the Vista del Valle Plantation
Inn.  It's a stunning mountain resort only 20 minutes from the airport, and
our only regret was that we were staying only one night.
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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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