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Dive Review of Ocean Encounters Diving/Breezes in

February, 2012, an Instant Reader Report by Terence Taylor, MD, US
Reviewer   (6 reports, with 1 Helpful vote)
Report Number 6459
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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

sunny, windy, rainy  
choppy, surge  
Water Temp
80   to 81    ° Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 50    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
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.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
Large Pelagics
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  
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):
3 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  
4 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
3 stars   
4 stars    
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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