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Dive Review of Ocean Encounters Diving/Breezes in
Curaçao

Ocean Encounters Diving/Breezes, Feb, 2012,

by Terence Taylor, MD, US (Reviewer Reviewer 6 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 6459.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 51-100 dives
Where else diving Eleuthera, Bahamas, Exuma, Bahamas; Florida's East Coast
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 80 to 81 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 30 to 50 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions All morning boat dives were done as a group of 10 or less. Depths varied from 20-60 feet. It was a loose group, as all of us in our group were traveling together. Within the group format, we were given a fair amount of liberty. No psi limits stated, but we adhered to 500psi back on board.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments About 1/3 of the dives were done as drift dives, but extremely slow drift dives, allowing for some time with subjects. On boat facilities were adequate, although two of us had large DSLR rigs, so we had to carefully place our rigs in the separate photo wash tubs. Dry areas were limited, 2' x 2', but had lower shelf to accommodate equipment bags. No accommodation on shore except for picnic tables on dock.

The boat staff and DMs helped get gear in and out of the water, and rarely had to be asked- they usually offered first.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Resort: Adequate, mid-level all inclusive. Not on par with the top resorts like Iberostar or the Atlantis in Nassau, but adequate for most divers needs- most of us were not there to sunbath. Decent food, drink and accommodation at a reasonable cost. Of our group of 14, 4 were bubble watchers and found plenty of activities to enjoy our stay.

Boat Operator: Very helpful and knowledgable. Ran a competent operation, and made the diving hassle free and fun. The DMs were very helpful and knowledgable, pointing our many items on the reef. Since we were a group, provided us a 12' x 12' lockable room at the dive center for our gear (otherwise, request the tower next to the dive center so it is a short walk with your equipment). While they fill tanks at the neighboring resort, tanks were always available for afternoon dives.

The boats for our trip had about 18-20 divers, divided into two groups. Never counted, but boats could probably accommodate 26 +/-, so there was ample room. There was the dive deck, with stations along the exterior, and the photo table was between the stations in the forward portion of the deck. About half the dive deck was covered with the upper deck, which had cushioned seating for 10 +/-.

There was another smaller boat that was used for smaller group, but was never aboard.

The boats operated out of the adjacent resort Lion's Den (300 yards away), so very few delays and was usually close to on time (island time). Often stopped at another resort for 1 to 2 divers, but was done very quickly and only if it was on the way to the day's dive site.

One of our group badly cut their finger (arterial cut), and the DMs handled it well. They arranged to have a doctor waiting at their main facility. He dove the next day with a latex glove, and the DMs assisted him get in and out of the water.

In general, the seas were fairly rough, often in the 3-6' plus range. Most trips were 20-30 minutes except for two special trips to Klein Curacao and the Mushroom Forest of 1-1/2 hours. The anchorages were typically much less rough, due to moorings often within 100 feet of shore. Would recommend Klein Curacao as a special trip- the best reef we saw. Would not recommend (our group would agree) Mushroom Forest- much of the reef was dead.

Shore diving was easy. The House Reef is in fairly good shape, a steep slope from 20 to 100 feet, and was very good along the outside of the breakwater at night- octopus, eel, lobster, crabs, etc. The reef was a 150 foot surface swim then a drop onto the top of the reef. We did visit part of The Car Pile on the House Reef at 95-110 fsw, but we didn't feel it was worth it-guess we have had to many quarry dives. We did 2 shore dives which were easy (others stated Bonaire was easier), although getting through Willemstad can take 20-30 minutes, and you need a detailed map for their are few street signs, and many irregular intersections.

Overall, lots of fish and small critters, but nothing large. Lots of particulate in the water on all dives, and because many of the dives were so close to shore, a third to half the dives had significant surge. Near the house reef the breakwater had very signifiant surge.

Hard Corals, especially Mushroom Forest, have some areas of dead or sparse areas. Soft corals are much more health in most areas. Most dives are steep to vertical walls, tops around 20-30 and dropping to a 100 foot plateau in most areas. We did encounter a few "garden" areas, which were typically very healthy. Unlike Exuma and Eleuthera, most the dives have a sameness about them- while different, they were not different to a significant degree.

It appear the dive operation had a significant PADI training program, and having overheard several classes, appeared to take it seriously. After class and pool training, the lagoon provided an excellent protected venue to do the open water qualification dives.

Willemstad is a fairly good size city, with lots of freighter and cruise line traffic. Recommend taking an afternoon and enjoying the colorful city. The pontoon bridge is a must see. The resort has a free afternoon shuttle leaving around 2:00 and returning around 5:30- you have to sign up for it at the front desk.

Several of our group toured the island and enjoyed the trip, especially the nation park at the west end of the island.
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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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