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

Golden Rock Divers/Old Gin House, Dec, 2004,

by Steven Schwartz & Beth Katz, NY, USA . Report 1560.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Most of the Caribbean, Indonesia, Micronesia, Fiji, Hawaii, Bahamas
Closest Airport Getting There

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
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
UW Photo 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
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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