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Dive Review of Chico's Dive Shop/Barcelo de la Jolla Resort in
Mexico (Western)/Puerto Vallarta

July, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Nancy Collins, NM, USA
Reviewer   (5 reports)
Report Number 4203
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Bonaire; Maui, Hawaii; Several Islands in the Bahamas; Florida; Salt Cay,
Turks & Caicos; Guanaja, Honduras
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, rainy, cloudy  
calm, surge, no currents  
Water Temp
81   to 0    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
35   to 50    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Only restriction was to surface with 500psi in tank.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  1 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
Very small 20 foot boat with no set up for cameras at all.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars   
3 stars    
Stayed at the Barcelo La Jolla de Mismaloya Resort about 30 minutes south
of Puerto Vallarta.  Resort was first class, all-inclusive, but the food
left a lot to be desired.  Typical all-inclusive buffet quality food, even
the two "reservations required upscale" restaurants at the resort
seemed to serve a variation of the buffet type food.  It was edible, but
that's about all I can say about it.  The room was fabulous, had been
completely redone, with two flat screen TVs on the walls and a lovely
balcony overlooking the pools and to the ocean.

Diving was arranged with Chico's Dive Shop located at the resort.  Two
tanks and weights were $98 US dollars.  They used a very small 20 foot boat
not equipped for diving.  No tank racks, they used a sea kayak to carry the
gear to the boat, then moved the boat over to the beach where you had to
climb in while they held onto it.  The first day the boat had a ladder to
exit the water, the second day we did not.  More on that later.  Entry into
the water was by backwards roll.  Rodolfo and Mario were the two dive
guides we had, Arturo manned the boat.  The boat followed us on the dives
(but they were not drift dives), and was there to greet us at the surface. 
We dove two dives on a weekend, both at Los Arcos, about a 10 minute boat
ride north from the resort.

The first dive was on a Saturday.  We dove a maximum of 60 and fish life
was much more than we had thought we would see.  Lots of pufferfish
(schools of them in fact), lots of King Angels, several eels, lots of
starfish.  Bottom was rocky, no coral to speak of.  Overall the dive was
enjoyable.  Vis on this dive was about 50  not great, but not horrible,

The second dive was Sunday.  It had rained all night and visibility was
awful.  For the first 15 below the surface, you could barely see each
other unless you were within 5 of each other.  We dove to 100 into
Devils Canyon on the drop-off from Los Arcos.  Vis improved to around 35
when we were at 50 and below.  

Operations were a little confused at the dive shop, but the staff were
extremely friendly and helpful.  The first day the engine on the one boat
would not start, so they towed it to a catamaran which belonged to Chicos
in Puerto Vallarta proper, then worked on the engine while we dove.  It was
running when we surfaced, but they neglected to tell us the original boat
would be leaving and so they drove off with our gear bags on board. 
However, they did call into town, and our gear was waiting at the Chicos
dive shop when we got there with nothing missing, not even the money we had
put in a dry bag.

We were supposed to do two dives on Saturday, but the dive shop at the
resort didnt have any more tanks, so we did our second dive on Sunday
instead.  Overnight the rain had caused the dive shop boat to capsize in
the little cove by the resort.  They were unable to right the boat and
finally took us out on the boat that had towed the dive shop boat the day
before.  Needless to say, the swim ladder from the dive shop boat was now
on the bottom of the cove.  Getting back on to the boat (a good 2-3 feet
above the surface) was a challenge without the ladder, but after several
tries, we made it.  Good thing Arturo was on the boat, it took him, my
boyfriend and the dive master with me kicking to get me back on the boat. 
My boyfriend and the dive master didnt have as big a problem, probably
because they have more upper body strength.

Overall this trip was great, it did rain, but July is the rainy season
there.  The people at the resort and the dive shop there were great and
always willing to do whatever you needed them to.  Everyone spoke great
English, so communication was no problem.

I would return to Puerto Vallarta, but would probably stay closer in to
town.  The resort was nice, but it was a 30 minute, $15 USD one way taxi
ride into town, so it wasn't as convenient as some resorts there.
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