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Dive Review of Sandals Grande St. Lucian in
St. Lucia

May, 2006, an Instant Reader Report by Steve Giles, CA, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (7 reports)
Report Number 2454
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Bahamas,Bonaire,Channel Islands,Cozumel,Fiji,Grand Cayman, Hawaii,La
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

sunny, cloudy  
calm, noCurrents  
Water Temp
81   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Depth and Time limits were strictly enforced.  All divers in a dive group
(mixed beginner with experienced) required to surface together.  Completed
all dives with 1500-2000 psi remaining in 3000 psi cylinder.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
2 stars  
Shore Facilities  
If you plan on taking photos, plan on shooting either wide angle (divers,
sponges, etc.) or macro (small reef creatures).  Theree is nothing in
between.  A fresh water bucket is set up on the boat for cameras, however
people were allowed to rinse masks in this bucket (mask de-fog is not
necessarily recommended for use on cameras) AND people were allowed to
rinse wet suits in this bucket --- we all know what people do in wetsuits.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
1 stars  
Shore Diving  
1 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
2 stars   
1 stars    
First of all, let me admittedly say that Sandals is not a "dive
resort" per se.  The Grande St. Lucian is beautiful with meandering
pools and gardens.  Food and service and condition of rooms are first-rate.
 SCUBA is offered as part of an all inclusive package.  Four of us (all
well experienced divers)were steered to St. Lucia by a travel agent who
touted the island as an "up and coming dive destination" --
Prior to booking we contacted the resort dive operation by phone, spoke to
the manager, and were told that as experienced divers we would not be
required to dive with beginners.  Our experience during our week at Sandals
was that, although very personable and pleasant, the dive operation
personnel would tell you what they think you want to hear, and then do as
they pleased.  We were misled on several issues. 
Upon checking in at the dive operation at 8:00 AM, filling out several PADI
release of liability, medical forms, etc., and having our certification
cards scrutinized, we were told that in order to dive, we must pass an
in-water proficiency test to be held in a nearby pool at 11:30 AM.  All
four of us passed with flying colors (a couple of us have nearly 3000 dives
under our weight belts and the other two have over 1000 dives), but we lost
out on one day of diving.  To placate our displeasure, they put the four of
us on an afternoon snorkel boat with about two dozen snorklers and allowed
us to make a 20 foot dive (and burn nearly 1/3 of an air botttle). 
The following day (and each day thereafter), we made a "deep
dive" (70 fsw max. for 30-35 minutes) and a shallow dive (20-40 fsw
for 40 minutes). Coral growth on these deeper reefs is healthy and
beautiful, not so on the shallow reefs where pollution has taken its toll. 
During the week, we saw virtually no pelagics of any kind -- NONE!  Reefs
are dominated by small fish, crabs and eels.  The largest reef fish we saw
were in the neighborhood of 8-12 inches in length and these were few and
far between.  Fish traps are everywhere, which explains the scarcity of
sizeable reef fish and the absence of pelagics. I would advise that
experienced divers not bother with the diving at St. Lucia, unless you are
there anyway, are absolutely bored with land activities and feel you have
to get wet. Although we took our own gear, the gear at the Sandals dive
operation appeared to be quality equipment, relatively new, and in good
repair.  There is no charge for the use of their equipment. 
We were encouraged to pay an additional $100.00 (US) each for a side dive
trip to Martinique which consisted of a "45 minute boat trip, 200 foot
visibility, and an 80% chance of seeing whales and/or dolphins on the
dive".  The boat trip to Martinique took 1.5 hours with a 2 hour
return trip, visibility was in the neiighborhood of 50 feet, and guess
what?  Not only were there no whales or dolphins, but the largest critter
that any of us saw on two dives was a respectably sized spotted drum in one
of the swim-throughs.
Level of experience is not considered when assigning dive groups aboard the
boat.  In fact, it appeared as though experienced and inexperienced divers
were intentionally mixed in order to relieve some of the responsibility
from each divemaster's shoulders. I would recommend the diving at St. Lucia
(deeper dives)for beginning and low-intermediate divers (except for one
really gross safety violation that we observed a divemaster commit with a
newly certified diver -- one that this divemaster had certified that week).
 Stay on the boat and cath a suntan during the shallow dives.  All in all,
the hotel is wonderful, but their dive operation is in serious need of
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