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Dive Review of Nan-Sea Charters/Blackbear's Sports/Hix Island House in
Puerto Rico/Vieques Island

Nan-Sea Charters/Blackbear's Sports/Hix Island House, Apr, 2007,

by David Vickery & Suzanne Leeson, NJ, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 11 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 3650.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Throughout the Caribbean, Central America, Palau, Yap, Fiji, Australia, Hawaii, PNG, Bikini.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 80 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 100 to 110 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Hard to have any restrictions when you're at 27 feet.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 1 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

Subject Matter 2 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 1 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments No facility on boat.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 1 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 2 stars
Advanced 1 stars
Comments Hix Island House promotes themselves as being an eco-lodge, and it is that. It is located in a 13-acre natural refuge of native trees, tall grasses, birds and butterflies, and tranquility (no phones, television, or typical room and turn-down service).

At Hix Island House the outdoors becomes indoors. Their self-contained all-concrete lofts highlight views of the Caribbean and palm-lined beaches minutes away; the open-air private terraces include outdoor showers where you can bathe in the trade winds. This is because the "fourth wall" where the balcony doors would normally be doesn't exist; the entire room is open to the elements. If it rains, it can blow into your room. So do the insects. The comfortable beds reside under mosquito netting, and even in the dry month of April, you'll need it. Don't get us wrong, we'd go back. Mornings and evenings are brilliant. Meeting John Hix at his weekly cocktail party when he is in residence was also a highlight (wait'll you see the view from his house). But if it was rainy or humid, all you've got is a hurricane shutter and an overhead fan.

Ecology is important at Hix Island House. Solar panels augment the electricity and hot water. Water is collected and your shower and basins flow to the landscaped foliage. The pool features an electro-static filtration system, so it's like swimming in fresh water.

Unfortunately our experience with the dive operations left a great deal to be desired. We spoke with Nan-Sea Charters before we left and booked (we thought) 6 days of diving. We arrived after their office had closed for the day, called them first thing in the AM and there was no answer. Finally at 10:00 they answered the phone and were already on the boat. OK, we'll dive the next five days. But they only had us down for one day, not six, and were full for the next three days. The boat only holds six, and it's real cozy at that.

So bright and early the next day we trucked into Isabel II, the main town and booked a couple of shore dives with Blackbeard's Sports. They have no boat. Got the tanks and followed them into the bush to Bahia Corcho, geared up, met the four newbies who would be in the group, and entered via a small rocky beach. The DM said he was going to go real slow due to the new folks, so we swam out over the eel grass to a small patch reef and descended to, well, 27 feet. Yes, 27 feet, and the leader took off like a shot with never a backward glance, not that there was much to see, except us wondering where he was off to in such an all-fired hurry.

After a second dive to 25 feet (really packing in the N2, you know?) along the shoreline where there was a small reef with some sergeant majors, an arrowhead crab, some chubs, and other small tropicals, we gave up on the diving until Nan-Sea could take us out on Thursday.

Thursday we schlepped our gear down to the small pier in Esperanza, kind of a funky beach town with bars and restaurants opposite the quay. The Nan-Sea boat is a 28 footer and it's necessary to set-up the 3000 psi aluminum 80's on the dock. When it's time to slip into your BC, the DM sits on the stern of the boat with your gear, and you sit on his knee to shrug into your rig. A backward roll and you descend to a patch reef with some mahogany snappers, the sergeant majors, a few parrot fish and the other usual suspects. This is a square profile. After a 20 minute SIT, we were back in the water on another, nearly identical reef. When we got down to 700 psi, we noticed our computers were in deco. We hung for the required time, reboarded via the small ladder, announced we had been in deco, and were told that as long as we did the hang, it was OK.

Showed up Friday morning with the same group set up our tanks on the dock.......and the boat wouldn't start. The DM offered to take us on a shore dive after lunch to the former Navy Pier on the other side of the island. So we called at 11, noon and 1:00. Finally got a call back from the owner at 3:00 who said he knew nothing of the planned dive.

Folks, other than a few free-lance guides you may run into in one of Esperanza's imbibulational emporiums, these are the only two operations on the island. If you aren't diving there are some nice beaches, but skip Green Beach because the sand fleas are brutal. So if you're up for a full week of interesting Caribbean diving, while prices are reasonable, you can skip Vieques.
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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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