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Dive Review of Oceans Unlimited, Taino Divers, and Parguera Diver/N/A in
Puerto Rico/West Coast

Oceans Unlimited, Taino Divers, and Parguera Diver/N/A, Jun, 2004,

by Edward Clapp, CA, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 1254.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Hawaii, California coast from San Diego to Monterey, Florida, and over half a dozen places in the Caribban.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, noCurrents
Water Temp 80 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 80 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Required to dive with divemaster
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas 1 or 2
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

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 Didn't check.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments Puerto Rico's diving is good but not first class and it's expensive ($70 - $90 for a two tank boat dive). I can't recommend going just for the diving, but the island has remarkable beauty making it worthwhile to visit; diving can be a part of it.

Here are some of the things you should see in Puerto Rico:
o Phosphorescent Bay, an explosive night underwater light display (no diving, but be sure the boat you go on allows you to swim); you get to see fish swimming as dancing lines of light.
o Rio Camuy, a cave system formed by the 3rd largest known underground river.
o El Yunque, a tropical rain forest, with lovely hiking.
o Old San Juan, a beautiful city with fascinating architecture, enclosed in a fortress system.

Caveats: don't leave valuables visible in your car anywhere on the island. They are likely to disappear. You almost certainly will need a car and driving patterns on the island are, um, different than they are on the mainland.

There were a number of commonalities among the dive operations. All had useful websites, were helpful with arrangements, and were
competent and pleasant. They worked pretty much the same way, too. The boat leaves 8:00-ish, you dive, eat lunch which they provide, dive again, and return 3:00-ish. Briefings are adequate but (and?) there are no warnings about keeping hands off things or harrassing the animals. The areas have been fished (though that's no longer allowed at Desecheo, maybe - see below), so you won't see much by way of big fish. You are required to dive with the group lead by a divemaster; profiles are sensible but require either computers or faith in the divemaster. OU and Taino primarily dive off Desecheo Island, and at the end of the dive with them it's OK to use remaining air at shallow depth near the boat. Snorkling is possible for those who don't dive. PD dives off a wall and the boat is anchored too deep for this: you come up with the divemaster. Warning: it's not exactly calm out there and people were sea-sick on all three boats.


Differences.

Oceans Unlimited (www.oceans-unlimited.com)

OU has a large boat with a good-sized cabin with a head. It's got tables and indoor seating for a dozen or so people. With fewer people, or if most are on deck, there's space to stretch out for a nap. They also provide the best lunches. Given their size, they can spread out stuff for you to build your own sandwiches. But their boat is located quite a ways from their dive destinations and about a 45 minute ride.

OU also arranges trips to Mona Island, some 50 miles out, which people who've been there say is magnificant, though a recent Undercurrent review disagreed.

On one dive, OU permitted a diver to hunt for lobsters with a pole with a metal loop at the end. Their policy permits this, with the
expectation divers will be "taking only what they will eat, considering the size of the animal and of course releasing the animal if it is harboring eggs." The divemaster once pulled a crab out of a hole to show to people on the boat (I don't know how its fate).

Taino Divers's (www.tainodivers.com)

TD's boat isn't large, they have shade but no real cabin, and their lunches are premade with no suggestion that you could make specific
requests, which they do accept. If you have food preferences, you'd best let them know in advance (though you might want to bring
backup food: on one of our trips a vegetarian's request was forgotten).

One oddity about the operation is how you get on and off the boat: it's driven onto the beach and everyone forms a human chain to load it
and then climbs aboard. The process is reversed at the end of the trip.

The divemasters were good at spotting fish. They were also good at "encouraging" them to leave where they were so divers can better
appreciate them. On one dive, a nurse shark and an octopus were accorded this treatment.

They weren't so good at customer's needs. My dive buddy has ear problems, which we repeatedly reminded divemasters about. On our
last TD dive of the 2nd day, the divemaster decided on a dive called "The Caves", which featured swimthroughs at shallow and varying
depths. As described, the dive was to start with a few swimthroughs and then move to deeper water without the up-and-down that can
be hard on ears. Once in the water, she seemed to have forgotten about the latter part. After a few swimthroughs, we gave up and
stayed outside, but she didn't get the hint and never did the second part of the dive. This was a contributing factor to my dive buddy
missing out on a day with Parguera Divers.

TD does an occasional Mona Island dive.

Parguera Divers's (www.pargueradivers.com)

Their boat also isn't large and it too has some shade but doesn't have a real cabin. But then, the trip out is only 25-30 minutes and they
generally get back 12:30-1:00. As with TD, their lunches are premade and again you're not asked about preferences.

They do wall diving, so as mentioned before, you can't get a lot of bottom time in and there's no point getting on the boat if you intend to merely snorkle.

There may be scheduling issues for the different boats. Parguera apparently dives if weather permits, regardless of the number of
customers but TD needs to have enough to commit to a dive. I didn't get that impression from OU, but don't know for sure. All the
operations were clear about when dives were happening and we had no difficulty with cancellations.
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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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