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Dive Review of Dive Copamarina in
Puerto Rico/Southwest Coast

Dive Copamarina, Dec, 2009,

by Sherwood & Judith Smith, WA, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 7 reports). Report 5314.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving All over the Indo-Pacific, Caribbean, Australia, Maldives, Mozambique etc
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas choppy
Water Temp 82 to Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 1
Water Visibility 50 to 80 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions We had agreed to curtail depth on the wall dive, to shorten our surface time between dives, because of the sea state
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

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

Accommodations N/A Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude N/A Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments We had planned to get in a day of diving during our pre-Christmas week in San Juan. We chose to dive the south coast after email correspondence with an Undercurrent contributor who was familiar with Puerto Rican diving.

A two hour drive from San Juan, leaving at 5 AM, took us across the island to about ten miles west of Ponce, where, near Guánica, we found Caña Gorda Beach, and the Copamarina Resort. We had actually arranged the dive day ahead of time, by telephoning the dive shop at Copamarina Resort (800-468-4553 x729) from home, after having visited their website www.copamarina.com . The dive day came off exactly as advertised.

The PADI dive operation at the resort is run by divemaster Roberto Jobo Gutierrez (jobo_1976@hotmail.com). Since we were traveling lightly, with our 1mm suits, masks, regs, and computers only, he supplied us with like-new Mares BCs and fins, at no additional charge, a pleasant surprise. He actually gave Judith his own personal BC to use! We set up our alu 80 tanks on a well-maintained pier, and all gear was loaded onto the boat, a sizeable diesel-powered V-hull approx 28 ft, with a very adequate hard-topped canopy, by Jobo, and his deckhand Andy. There were a total of seven divers on the boat, plus the crew.

The ride to the first dive site, The Wall, was about 30 min through building seas. By the time we grabbed the mooring, the sea was running a good five feet, and getting geared up was accompanied by mal de mer among some of the divers. Entry was via giant stride off of the swim step. We gathered around the buoy with a down line, and descended into a typical Caribbean coral garden, with fans, sponges and plenty of small reef fish life, and swam over the top of the wall at about 50 feet, descending along the vertical face of a very lush spur and groove coral wall. Jobo had stated that with the current sea state, he wanted to shorten the surface interval, and asked us to curtail our depth to 70 feet, which we did. The wall featured the typical array of gogonia and fans, but remarkable to us, compared with typical Caribbean dive sites, by the intactness of all of the features. One could not tell that this site had ever been dived before. Water temp was a comfortable 82 degrees throughout the 50 minute dive. We were the last to surface, and discovered that Jobo had removed his gear, and was in the water in his swimsuit only, removing gear from the other divers in the heavy seaway, and passing it up to Andy, helping the less-experienced divers to re-board the boat. We found this to be a remarkable demonstration of responsibility and expertise. (In point of fact, he did the same after the second dive). The ladder was actually quite stable enough for the more experienced divers to climb out with our gear still on.

We bounced our way to the second buoy, at a typical coral garden with spur and groove formations, and a maximum depth of 50 feet. After an uncomfortable surface interval of about 35 minutes, with three seasick divers, we did another 50 minute dive. Fish life was more prevalent here, including large gray, French, and queen angels, as well as quite large filefish, two kinds of puffers, and copious schools of small reef fish. We found small lobster, large crabs, and many flamingo-tongue snails on perfectly intact sea fans. Again, the reef appeared absolutely untouched, not our usual Caribbean experience.

Another bouncy ride, fortunately off the wind, brought us back inside the reef, and into the calm bay where the Copamarina Resort is situated. Jobo assisted with the gear washing, and hung it to dry for us, while we consumed an excellent lunch at the resorts outdoor restaurant.

The two hour drive back to our hotel in San Juan, this time in daylight, gave us a chance to see the countryside in brilliant sunshine. Although Puerto Rican drivers are a little different, we were on divided roads, mostly national tollways, for the whole ride.

This is typical Caribbean Diving, which we find considerably less diverse than the Indo-Pacific, but well worth the trip for such pristine sites. If we were to return to Puerto Rico, we would plan on bypassing San Juan, and staying at the Copamarina, a beautifully appointed and well-maintained small resort on Puerto Ricos south coast, though somewhat isolated, and doing more dives in this area with Jobo. In all fairness, there may be a number of small shops and restaurants to discover in nearby Guánica, but we did not have enough time to explore.

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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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