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

May, 2003, an Instant Reader Report by Sandy Falen, KS, USA
Sr. Contributor   (23 reports, with 3 Helpful votes)
Report Number 505
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Guanaja,Cayman Brac, Little Cayman,Saba,Tobago,Dominica,Belize,Costa
Rica,Grand Turk,South Caicos,Los Roques,Bonaire,Curacao,San Salvador,Fiji
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
78   to 79    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 80    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
None - dive your computer.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
3 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
3 stars  
Shore Facilities  
1 stars  
The boats and shop had no specific accomodations for photographers,
although a salt water bucket was provided to keep equipment wet and
protected on the return boat ride.  Given the short distance to reefs, and
the time between dives, the lack of special facilities was not a problem.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
2 stars
Service and Attitude
1 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars   
4 stars    
St. Eustatius ("Statia") is a step back in time: a Caribbean
island with limited development, and roaming goats, donkeys, cows and
chickens at every turn.  The diving is relaxed, and the reefs are healthy.

The reefs of Statia were covered with giant barrel sponges and large,
beautiful gorgonians, along with tunicates of every color. We noticed a
great deal of brown algae, although we were told it alternately grows and
recedes. Statia seemed to have less coral bleaching than I've observed in
other Caribbean destinations.

The fish life appears healthy and fairly abundant.  Huge spiny lobster were
seen on virtually every dive  sometimes 10 or more in one crevice. It
seemed to be "mating season" for many of the critters, given the
level of activity on the reefs, and the number of juvenile fish observed. 
Interesting finds included burrfish, mating coral crabs, fighting lobsters,
a school of six tiny juvenile drums, a yellow phase coney, king mackerel,
nurse sharks, hawksbill turtles, very large angels, friendly morays,
numerous large stinrays, and one yellow seahorse.  The fish, in general,
seemed more curious and less fearful than typical, which may be due to the
small number of divers that visit the island, as well as the marine park

We encountered currents on a few dives, but nothing too serious.  When the
currents slowed down mid-week, the vis fizzled, too, dropping to 40 feet on
some occasions.

The staff at Golden Rock ("GR") was friendly and accommodating.
Divemasters Benji and Annouck were terrific  but don't look for them there
in future, as they're moving to Bonaire. GR just took delivery on a new
boat  a large pontoon that's fast and has tons of space in which to spread
out.  We often went out on the older, smaller boat, but had no complaints;
the boat ("Stumpy") was more than adequate and GR was making an
effort to separate divers based on expected dive profiles --  which we
appreciated greatly.  We were diving Nitrox exclusively, and found it to be
a huge advantage with Statia diving.  The reefs are fairly deep, and
without Nitrox, dive times would be significantly shorter. Several divers
found blue beads at the infamous Blue Bead Hole; and while I didn't find an
artifact, I found the dive site to be utterly fascinating for its critters
 including flying gurnards ("walking" along the bottom), sailfin
blennies, jawfish, garden eels, and juvenile fish of a multitude of

The Old Gin House does have its charms, but I wouldn't list the wait staff
among them. Service at the ocean side bar/restaurant was surly and rude, or
simply non-existent.  The breakfast that's included in the dive/hotel
package is marginal.  While it was to include cook-to-order eggs, the staff
seemed to resent having to make the effort, and sometimes didn't bother.
Bacon appeared or disappeared, depending on their mood.  For cold drinks in
the afternoon, I resorted to serving myself  including writing up my own
ticket.  We asked for ice cream several times and were told there was none,
although I later noticed a large container of it in the main kitchen's
freezer, when I retrieved some ice for my room.  The fabulous cuisine I'd
heard raves about never materialized, as the chef was on vacation for the
entire 10 days of our stay.  Of course, no one bothered to warn us about
that ahead of time, or even upon check-in.  Finally after two days of
seeing no activity in the main restaurant, I inquired of the staff.  I was
told a guest chef would be arriving the next day, but that never happened,

The pool-side rooms are roomy and clean, with nice furnishings, but have
almost no natural light. The beds were comfortable, there was decent water
pressure and plenty of hot water, and the a/c worked well, but
unfortunately, there was no in-room frig. The pool area could use a bit of
sprucing up, and the pool itself needed a good scrubbing.  The ocean front
rooms were quite nice, but unless you spend a lot of time in your room,
they probably aren't worth the price differential.

Lunches next door at Golden Era Hotel were very good and reasonably priced.
 I would also recommend Intermezzo, the coffee shop in town (which makes
fresh bagels and Panini sandwiches), as well as Ocean View Terrace for
wonderful grilled fish.  Meals in "upper town" were generally
less expensive than along the water front, and you really earn your dinner
climbing that steep road up the cliff.

It's worth the climb to explore Fort Oranje, and I was treated to a
personal introduction to the historical museum, courtesy of the charming
gentleman on duty.  Statia is loaded with colorful history, and the locals
are friendly and happy to share it.  This island is very much "old
Caribbean," and well worth a visit.  Don't go if you're looking for
fancy resorts and night life, and  non-diving companions might be better
left at home.
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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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