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Dive Review of Rick Cavanaugh in
Dominica/Scotts Head

March, 2006, an Instant Reader Report by Rick Cavanaugh, MD, United States
Report Number 2481
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Belize, Bonaire, Bequia, Cozumel, Dominica, Grand Turk, Little Cayman,
Provodencials, St. Croix, St. Martin, St Vincent, Tortola,   Tobago Cays,
Utila, Virgin Gorda,  and the Florida Keys.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, dry  
calm, currents  
Water Temp
77   to 80    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
75   to 125    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
5 stars  
Boat Facilities
2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
5 stars  
Shore Facilities  
2 stars  
Small boats with no rinse tanks needed since surface interval was at shop. 
Excellent wide angle areas and excellent muck area as well.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
1 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
2 stars   
4 stars    
This was my second trip to Dominica and Nature Island Divers.  Our first
trip was one of our best scuba experiences and we went back for that
I have extensive diving experience in the Caribbean.  I have dove following
islands Belize, Bonaire, Bequia, Cozumel, Dominica, Grand Turk, Little
Cayman, Provodencials, St. Croix, St. Martin, St Vincent, Tortola,   Tobago
Cays, Utila, Virgin Gorda,  and the Florida Keys.  I have visited some
islands where there is little life left on the reef and there are divers
extolling the beauty of the diving.  I do not do this.  If I see a dead
reef, I will say the reef is dead.  I went to Utila based on others
opinions and I found the reef to be almost extinct.  
I am an avid underwater photographer and I am partial to locations with
good photography, both wide angle and especially macro.
We dove with Nature Island divers and stayed at their cottages located in
Soufriere. You two main choices for dive operators in Soufriere Scotts head
Marine Reserve are Dive Dominica and Nature Island.  If you are want more
convenient meals and rooms but do not mind crowded boats, longer boat rides
and less experienced dive masters, choose Dive Dominica.  If you want few
divers on a boat and more personal attention from dive masters and MUCH
more experienced dive masters, choose Dive Dominica.
Dominica is an exceptional dive location. There are some issues. But all
islands have issues.
The best diving is located in Soufriere Scotts head Marine Reserve.  This
is as far from the airport as you can get on this island.  The taxi ride is
about 1 hour and is very scenic and expensive.  It is about $60 one way.  I
would highly recommend NOT renting a car from the airport.  The roads are
very twisty and very steep.  There are very few road signs.  Take the
If you are staying in the cottages, the taxi will stop off in town at the
grocery store so you can pickup provisions.  Buy plenty.  There is almost
no shopping in Soufriere. Meals in Soufriere/Scotts Head are fish or
chicken.  Knowing this, do not buy fish or chicken at the grocery store.
The cottages have 2 Units.  The upstairs unit is smaller and is mostly dark
wood.  It has a larger deck.  The downstairs unit is larger and has a nicer
layout.  It has a small sitting room that could be used as a second
bedroom.  The kitchen/dining area downstairs is much nicer.  However the
downstairs unit has a much smaller deck.  Regardless of which one you
choose, both are quite nice compared to other choices in Soufriere/Scotts
There are few restaurants on this side of the island.  The food choice was
chicken or fish.  No choices on how it was prepared, just chicken or fish. 
I do not eat fin fish so, I ate a lot of chicken.  The Rain Forest Bistro
(Andres) is a must visit.  It is located up the mountain a little at
Andres House.  Reservations must be made a couple of days in advance. 
Once again, it is chicken or fish, but he is a farmer and grows his own
fruits and vegetables.  You will get some interesting local fruits and
vegetables. He has the best food on that side of the island.
Nature Island Divers use very small boats and they do not put more than 8
divers to a boat and when it is that crowded there will be 2 dive masters. 
Usually there were only 4 divers to a boat.  Some dives were only 2 divers.
 The dive masters are locals who have been diving the area for quite some
time.  They know where the critters are and are excellent in pointing them
out.  Surface intervals are at the shop since the sites are so close.  If
you are coming to Dominica to dive, then this is where you should go.
The diving is the reason to come here.  However, you will not see big
things.  The marine reserve is located at a fishing village.  They have
fished this area to death.  They still use net fishing.  Evidence is
everywhere of this.  The fishermen will throw stones into the water to
scare the fish into the nets.  Coral grows on stone never under it.  There
were a couple of sites where the fishermen have destroyed the coral with
the stones.  The stones where on top of the coral.  The only way for this
to happen is from the fishermen.  On one dive (I was not on this one) the
fishermen throw out the nets above divers and they pelted the divers with
stones.  The fishermen are not allowed to fish at the dive sites, but it is
hard to argue with poor hungry people.
The good news is that there is a huge amount of large colorful sponges with
colorful crinoids surrounding it.  The colors are fantastic.  It is easy to
shoot 100 wide angle photos on one dive.  I have never seen so many
crinoids anywhere. For those who are far sighted and do not like hunting
for macro life there are many very scenic sites with beautiful panoramic
views.  Most of these sites are around Scotts Head Pinnacle.  There is some
coral bleaching.  The majority of the Caribbean experienced a bleaching
event in 2005 and Dominica was effected as well.  About 50 % of the Brain
Coral is bleached and it does not look like it will recover well.  Overall
color of the area is excellent due to the amount of sponges present.
The area is also very good for Macro Photography. Seahorses, leech head sea
slugs, lettuce sea slugs, Miniature Melo, squat Anemone Shrimp, Spotted
Cleaner Shrimp, Mantis Shrimp, Bumble Bee Shrimp, Crinoid Shrimp, Sea Whip
Shrimp,  Pederson Cleaner shrimp, Regal Slipper Lobster, Stareye Hermits,
Neck Crabs and quite a few things that I could not find in any book!
If you like muck dives, dive the sandy area around the site champagne.  We
did a dive with dive master Oscar,  that lasted 1 hour and 55 minutes in
the champagne area.  I was amazed at some of the life we found.  It is an
incredible dive if you go slow enough and look! Champagne it self is not
overly interesting, the grassy area around it is!
We saw a few turtles, juvenile Drum fish, Sea Horses, Honeycomb Moray,
Chain Moray, Sharp Tail Eel, Spotted Spoon Nose Eel, Juvenile French Angel
Fish, Flying Gurnard, and other more common Caribbean Fish.  We did not see
any Frog Fish on this trip.  The dive masters have not been able to find
them recently.
Overall I rate Nature Island Divers and Dominica as one of the top
destinations in the Caribbean. 
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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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