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Dive Review of Undersea Hunter in
Costa Rica

June, 2010, an Instant Reader Report by MAX WEINMANN, MA, US
Reviewer   (3 reports)
Report Number 5576
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
New Guinea, GBR, Sea of Cortez, Fiji, Vanuatu, Australia, Palau
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

rainy, cloudy  
choppy, surge, currents  
Water Temp
77   to 82    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
75   to 100    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):
Tropical Fish
Small Critters
Large Fish
5 stars  
Large Pelagics
  5 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
Shelves and ledge available. Cramped and competing for space. Don't
consider it particularly friendly set up for photographers.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
2 stars  
Shore Diving  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
2 stars    
1 stars   
2 stars    
I recently had the opportunity to visit the Cocos Islands aboard the
Undersea Hunter in early June. As most of us here at the forum, I was very
excited to travel to a new and very talked about destination which promised
a great deal of big fish action. This anticipation was only fueled by
reading the dive operator's blog and previous reviews. My imagination was
primed with hopes of big animal encounters and I felt sure that the chances
were in our favor.
On arrival at the Undersea Hunter, we were introduced to the crew and the
dive masters. Toby hailed from Germany originally, but now lives mainly in
Spain. He would prove to be a delightful, resourceful and very capable DM
who worked tirelessly to support all the divers.
Of course, the crossing was the worst in years, and all but the hardiest
sailors remained below in their cabins awaiting the clunking rattle of the
anchor chain which would signal our arrival at Cocos.
The crossing left us somewhat exhausted, but excitement at having arrived
rapidly eclipsed the fatigue and had us scampering top side to be briefed
and get in the water.
The check out dive was fine: everyone adjusting weights, checking out their
suits and adjusting their camera equipment.
It was the typical rush to acclimate prior to doing the "real
dives". We were quickly split into 2 groups which turned out largely
to be the "allies" vs the "germans".
We were regaled with stories of tiger sharks, schooling hammerheads and
other tales of wonderment and big animal encounters. Sadly, it was not to
happen. Not for the entire trip really. I realize one has no control over
nature and it just happened that the El Nino was not in our favor. Isolated
hammers, galapagos sharks were witnessed but not the schooling masses we
had so hoped for. Most of us understood, and made the best of it with
levity and humor, but events would unfold which would certainly challenge
Diving was definitely not for the faint of heart. Currents were extremely
strong leaving many of us exhausted to merely reach a handhold on the reef
below. If one was also carrying a camera, the burden was merely increased.
Efforts didn't always pay off, and we would be straining our eyes, only
imagining shadows somewhere off in the distance...despite DM insistence
that there were hammers "just out of view". Re entering the boat
was often a challenge amidst the chop and swells accompanying the cooler
weather, but the single driver on board was skilled in helping us up and
finding us despite surfacing at a distance or the rain. This site is
clearly only for the very skilled and fit. Currents may shift and change
and toss divers effortlessly about. A good understanding of your
limitations and buoyancy control is essential. The potential for injury,
both physical or DCS is very real. In fact one diver did develop DCS and
was sucking down 100% O2 once it was evident why he was not well. Despite
advice to stop diving from the physician who was on board, he decided to
continue after a short break. One has to remember that in the event of
injury, there is no easy access to medical care. Even if a doctor is on
board, facilities are the very bare essentials and inadequate for anything
beyond scrapes and bruises. If there is a serious injury, the boat must
turn around and head back to the mainland : another 36 hours away.
As time went on, a neophyte diver who happened to be a new hire to the
company kept shouting out giddily that her dives were the "best
ever". It soon began to grate upon us as we were in no need of a
company cheer leader, and the dives were typically mediocre at best.
Entertainment was provided on board, perhaps to distract us, when our cheer
leader continually flirted with the crew and one of the DM in a very
sophomoric way. We did encounter hunting wild dolphins on 1 dive and that
was indeed a truly magnificent encounter. It whetted our appetites for more
but it was not to be.
In addition, we were informed early on that the water filtration system
might emit a sulfurous odor, and so doors should be kept open down amongst
the cabins. Sure enough, the cabin area smelt like an unattended mens room
in summer; it was very unpleasant. However it did seem to appeal to the
cockroaches who were found scampering about the dining area and in our
cabins. Food was good, but not always plentiful, although the chef did his
best to attend to everyone's culinary needs and idiosyncrasies.
As time progressed it became evident that our hopes of big animal
encounters were going to remain merely that : hopes. Such is life on dive
Upon our return, the crew quickly dissolved into the background once tips
were given and we found ourselves searching quickly for our rides back to
the hotel and ultimately home. No one from management appeared despite our
encounter with DCS during the trip, which left us dismayed and curious.
Just what would it take for them to be interested in events that took place
on board?
Would we return? Very unlikely.
While we realize that many people have had completely contrary experiences
with this outfit, in our opinion, we found that management was lacking and
was not responsive when we contacted them after the trip. Our concerns over
the handling of DCS, the cockroaches, pungent sulfurous aroma all went
unanswered despite later remarks and inquiries. Perhaps of equal concern
was the fact that the subsequent dive blog seemed to remark on a different
trip altogether. If more than 1 hammer was seen, then the blog described it
as "... the largest schools of hammerheads were seen at...".
There were other examples of exaggeration of events which would only serve
to entice prospective divers, much as we had been. 
We left feeling that marketing imperatives had superseded any others. We
were disappointed to say the least. That is not to say that there will not
be other trips which will no doubt be spectacular, but in our opinion what
will remain are the unfortunate tactics of aggressive marketing, issues of
professionalism and utter lack of communication.
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Other dive reports on Undersea Hunter

All Costa Rica Dive Reviews and Reports
Diving Guide to Costa Rica
Diving Reviews for All Dive Destinations

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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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