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Dive Review of Rich Coast Divers/Allegro Papagayo in
Costa Rica/Guanacaste

Rich Coast Divers/Allegro Papagayo, May, 2009,

by Randy and Carol Thompson, FL, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 11 reports). Report 4836.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Florida Keys, Jamaica, Florida springs, Southeast Florida, Bonaire, Grand Cayman East End, Cozumel, St. Lucia, St. Kitts, St. Martin, Turks&Caicos, Bahamas, Curacao, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, Massachusetts, Saba, Big Island Hawaii, Maui, Lanai
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 70 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 25 to 50 Feet

Dive Policy

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

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals N/A Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics 5 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
UW Photo Comments

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

Accommodations 2 stars Food 2 stars
Service and Attitude 2 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 2 stars
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments We dove 3 times with Rich Coast Divers last week. Basically, it's a reasonably good operation, with a few problems that prevent it from being stellar.

After your first day, they handle your gear, rinsing it and hanging to dry, then setting it up on the boat so that its ready for subsequent dives. Just be sure to check your gear meticulously before the boat departs. They forgot my wetsuit and we didn't discover it until they were underway, and although it was their fault, no way were they turning back to rectify the situation.

Had to make do with one they had on the boat that was way too big with a smaller, very compressed shortie over the top of it to keep it from flapping in the current. I dislike using others' wetsuits, which is why we spend the weight and effort to shlep mine from home.
Unfortunately, we observed that they did this very same thing to another woman two days earlier, so it wasn't just an isolated oversight.

Additionally, when we found on our second dive day that the cap had not been replaced on the my brand new Diva BCD in order to prevent water from entering the integrated octo port when rinsing, my husband took the time to explain it to the divemaster, demonstrating how to do it (like theyve never seen this type of gear before?) and emphasizing how important it is to do this after disconnecting the hoses and before rinsing in order to keep the port from becoming flooded. Even so, he found that the it had not been done the next time, and the same on the day we left. Its not like you have the option to do it yourself, as they bring the gear in a truck later after you return to the shop after the dive. Not a good thing for a shop to be so careless repeatedly with expensive gear.

Be aware that you will have about a 1/4 mile walk from the shop to the beach and back after the dive. BTW, we found that wearing our scuba boots was the way to go on the return to the shop after your dives, as the wet sand under my sandal straps caused abrasions on my foot the first day.

Also, you can expect a 5% upcharge for using a credit card and no travelers checks are accepted. According to Brenda, it's very difficult in CR to get them to clear the bank. Since our credit card charges an additional 3% upcharge for converting charges in foreign currency (this is common practice for most US credit cards,) we asked that the charges be put through in dollars. No go. So count on an 8% mark-up on your final tally, unless you want to bring a pile of cash.

No discounts for multiple dives, unless you plan on doing 5 days or more. Its a straight $80 for a morning 2-tank dive. $150 for a trip to Bat Island. Don't remember the price for Catalina Island.

Most days, few other divers on their stable trimaran, which was a pleasure. However, on our first day, it was a bit of a cattle boat. We were butt-to-butt trying to suit up. Not fun.

Absolutely LOVED our divemaster two of the days, Stefan, a tall blond Swiss dude who speaks impeccable English and is easy-going, kind, very attentive and untimately safety conscious. He's easily one of the best divemasters we've ever had. Dove one day with Earl, a nice enough guy, but he can be a little prickly. He didn't like that I pinged my tank too many times to get my husband's attention, and told me I was rationed to one, single ping, essentially because it irritated him to have to look back to see that I was OK. And he wasn't even our divemaster when this happened- Stefan was.

Sometimes, I can't get my husband's attention with one ping, and sometimes I do a lot of pinging if something's hard to keep an eye on because of the current and I need him to come fast before I lose sight of it.

Gotta say, I've been diving 19 years, and this was the very first time I've ever been taken to task by a divemaster for anything, let alone something so trivial. It didn't sit well with me. Additionally Earl swam us against a ripping current not once, but twice. On the last dive I was so exhausted I had to end the dive Why on earth swim AGAINST a strong current, when you can simply turn around and enjoyably watch the show blow by? Made absolutely no sense whatsoever. I was so exhausted, it was hard to climb the ladder.

You'll see lots of white-tip reef sharks, a few turtles, a variety of morays (saw not one,but TWO huge zebra morays!)more spotted eagle rays than you can count, mammoth stingrays, octopus, and more puffers than you have ever seen in your life! As far as macro stuff, we saw at least one nudibranch per day. The viz is nothing like in the Caribbean - close to probably 30' or so on the average - but the big stuff you'll see more than compensates. Lots of thermoclines where the temperature (about 81 degrees on the surface) can dip as much as 10-15 degrees makes deciding on a wetsuit a bit of a crapshoot.. Since we encountered several thermoclines on almost every dive, Id suggest planning for those few interludes of frigidity, then just unzipping a little if youre too warm in between, since better too warm than not warm enough.

Other than the aforementioned caveats, youll no doubt have a great time. Although theyre not the best operation we've ever been out with, theyre certainly far from the worst. Pre-dive briefings are informative. Safety is a clear priority. It's a solid operation, and affable Dutch owners Brenda and Martin van Gestel see things go smoothly.


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Subscriber's Comments

By gary brown in AR, US at May 27, 2013 05:49 EST  
Best to of just left off paragraph 5,6,8,9 and 10.too much whining!
By Carol A Thompson in FL, US at May 27, 2013 12:17 EST  
Thanks for the informative, constructive comment.
By Carol A Thompson in FL, US at May 27, 2013 14:13 EST  
Thanks for the informative, constructive comment.
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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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