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Dive Review of Golden Rock Divers/Old Gin House in
St. Eustatius

December, 2004, an Instant Reader Report by Steven Schwartz & Beth Katz, NY, USA (2 reports)
Report Number 1560

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Reporter
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Most of the Caribbean, Indonesia, Micronesia, Fiji, Hawaii, Bahamas

Dive Conditions

Weather
sunny  
Seas
choppy  
Water Temp
80   to 82    ° Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
3
Water Visibility
50   to 75    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
Safety Stop @ 15 feet  
Liveaboard?
no 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
None 
Mantas
None 
Dolphins
None 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
> 2 
Whales
None 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
3 stars  
Shore Facilities  
1 stars  
Comments
Must request a rinse bucket for boat and dive shop.  No dedicated photo
area for working on cameras.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
4 stars
Food
2 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
N/A
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
N/A    
Beginners
4 stars   
Advanced
4 stars    
Comments  
We hesitated writing this review as we didn't want to let the cat out of
the bag. We had Statia on our radar for some time, but resisted traveling
there as we heard "negative" reports about the diving. Boy, were
we wrong! We were more than pleasantly surprised with the island, people,
hotel, food, and, most of all, the diving. 

We booked through Jan Stogner at Caribbean Dive Vacations (888-482-8875)
who we would recommend highly and would use again for future dive
vacations.

The island itself was very laid-back and quiet (with the exception of
roosters crowing at 4 AM and the ocean pounding in front of our room) which
suited us just fine. The people were friendly and polite and beeped hello
to us as they zoomed by in their cars. One drizzly night, a young couple
with their new baby picked us up as we were walking to King's Well for
dinner because the locals believed we would catch colds walking in the
rain! 

We splurged and booked an ocean suite room at the Old Gin House which was
wonderful as it had a balcony overlooking the ocean from which we could see
spectacular sunsets almost every night. Michele and Glen Fairies, the hotel
general managers, were more than accomodating during our stay and ran a
tight ship.

Dining on the island ran the gamut from Chinese (Sonny's is the best), to
Swiss/French (The Blue Bead is the place for pizza, fresh fish and
pastries) to German (King's Well has Win and Laura at the helm who happen
to be ex-Long Islanders from NY!) Unfortunately, eating dinner at the hotel
wasn't up to snuff as the new chef was young and inexperienced and ended up
overcooking everything. The waitresses definitely ran on "island
time" which was frustrating especially when we were the only ones
being served.  Continental breakfast was included (bread, rolls, jams,
cheese, ham, apples, oranges, cold cereal) and aditionally, we could get
eggs, bacon and/or sausages if we asked. The abslolute best meal was when
Rinaldo, one of the divemasters, celebrated his birthday by throwing a
party for himself.  He spear-fished and caught lobsters the morning of his
party and grilled and cooked everything fresh from the sea that night.  
He's looking to start his own roadside seafood stand and, when he does,
that's the place to go.

The dive operation, also run by Glen, was well organized.  The first day,
he transported our gear by truck to the dive shack. After that, we walked 5
minutes to and from the shack.  We left our gear at the shack after diving
and the crew would put it away for us each night before they locked up. 

Mike, the divemaster during our stay, was one of the best we've had during
our long career of diving. He was upbeat, gave thorough and detailed
briefings and was very safety-conscious. Most of all, he was patient as we
had a series of mishaps all on the first dive.  First, one of our computers
batteries died; second, one of the hoses on our BCDs was missing a gasket;
third, one of our watches flooded; fourth, one of our fin straps broke--it
seemed like we had a black cloud over us.  But, he smiled and joked through
it all.  He was very diligent underwater, but left us to dive our own
profiles once he was comfortable with our skills.
Toots, (short for toothpick?, which he was always chewing on) a
dive-master-in-training, was very quiet until we got to know him.  Then he
was happy to talk about anything while diligently loading and unloading
tanks and gear.
 
We usually dove 2 times in the morning and once in the afternoon (depending
on if there were other divers that wanted to go out).  The boat was
comfortable with usually 10 divers, but would go out with as little as 4 if
we wanted. Dive sites were about 15 minutes away or less. The diving was
excellent for the Caribbean (it's protected in the Marine Park)--very easy
and relaxed--on par with Dominica or St. Vincent.  The coral was healthy
and unbleached and the fish life (large and small) was abundant.  We dove
the wreck of the Charlie Brown which was sunk as an artificial reef a few
years ago and teeming with fish life.  Our night dive on Triple Wrecks had
to be one of the best culminating with a huge turtle (about the size of a
Volkswagen Beetle) sleeping on deck and a beautiful cuttlefish standing
guard over him.  Unfortunately, we never found any blue beads diving at
Blue Bead Hole but did find some small pieces along the shore.

During our time above water, we hiked the Quill (an extinct volcano), did a
historical walking tour of the town and the island, searched for blue beads
and generally communed with nature including free-roaming goats, sheep and
chickens.

We would defintely go back which is something we harldy ever do since there
are so many place to dive in this world and so little time.
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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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