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Dive Review of Caribstu/Top River Pearl in
Trinidad and Tobago/Speyside

July, 2010, an Instant Reader Report by Richard W Zuckerman, IL, US (1 report)
Report Number 5840
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Dominica, Saba, Puerto Rico, USVI, AVI, Bahamas,
Tuks & Caicos, Cuba, Roatan, Costa Rica, Cozumel, Hawaii, Florida Keys,
Monterey Bay, North Carolina, 
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

choppy, currents  
Water Temp
78   to 80    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
30   to 75    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Diving permitted within limits of computer. Divemaster led every dive.   
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
2 stars  
Shore Facilities  
1 stars  
Caribstu's boat had been sunk and was in drydock. We were not informed of
this before or after we booked and not until we arrived at the dock for
first dive. Stu had hired local boat captain/divemaster and we dove from
his boat. No camera facilities whatsoever. Used a Sea & Sea 860. Did
not take a lot of pictures. Caribstu's own boat had a complete camera table
setup and facility that would appeal to the most ardent photographer.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
5 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
3 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
4 stars   
3 stars    
Caribstu-Stuart Samson-is a very experienced diver's diver who has created
a concierge-style diving experience in Tobaga. My wife and I flew to Tobaga
through Trinidad from Bonaire via Curacao. We had spent our eighth
bi-annual week at Bruce Bowker's Carib Inn so we had already been spoiled
by small boat crowds and the comforts of Bonaire. We always combine Bonaire
with another destination. We paid premium prices to dive with Stu based on
his extensive website and reviews we had read. I am a Master Scuba and my
wife is AOW. We have extensive Caribbean diving experiences including
liveboard, boat and shore diving.

We had decided to stay in Charlotteville as Stu was based out of there and
we were able to find Top River Pearl apartments. We rented a car at the
airport and, after adjusting to the English drive and road rules we drove
to Charlotteville. TRP is an apartment building set in a hillside above the
town. Beautiful views of the ocean, town and rainforest. Apartments are
nice with basic cooking appliances and decent beds. In high season there is
an expresso bar on site. Unfortunately, Stu's covered, beautifully
appointed 28' pirogue was in drydock undergoing extensive repairs and Stu
had arranged for a boat in Speyside with a local boat
captain/divemaster-Anthony.. We had to drive each day to Speyside and were
limited to diving that side of the island. The boat had no canopy or camera
table but did have a rinse tank for cameras. Stu did not offer any refunds
or reductions in his substantial fees even with the boat change.

Although we were in Tobago during the rainy season the diving was still
impressive. We had contracted with Stu for 6 dives over 3 days. We were the
only two divers so the daily 2 tank dives were built around our requests
and our profiles. Briefings were in-depth and comprehensive. All entries
were back rolls off the side of the boat. Most dives were drift dives and
recovery on a boat ladder hung off the side. First day we dove Black Jack
Hole which was basically a check-out  and 'get to know you' dive.
Visibility was limited due to the runoff from Venezuela. Reefs were
pristine and in great condition. Depths were never in excess of 90'. Dive
were at a leisurely pace with ascent and safety stops beginning with first
diver to reach 1000 psi. Anthony saw a Manta on the surface while we were
down. Surface interval was at Goat Island. Second dive was at Angel Reef
with huge Angel Fish and healthy corals. Strong current at entry point but
no problems on dive. 

Second day of diving started with Stu being unable to dive due to back
spasms. Anthony became divemaster and Stu became boat captain. Anthony took
us to Coral Gardens where we saw turtles. Surface interval was at Goat
Island. Second dive was Kelliston Drain which contains the world's largest
brain coral. Also saw nurse sharks on this dive. Visibility on both dives
was adequate but not exceptional. Anthony did a very nice job leading the

Third day we dove with Stu. Dove Cathedral off of goat island. Maximum
depth of 60 feet. Lots of Garden Eels and and more Angelfish. Surface
interval included snorkeling and drinks and fruit, which we had on every
dive. Last dive was at Spiny Bay where we saw a giant free-swimming Moray
eel out sunning himself on a rock. Also saw flounder and very large sea
fans and soft corals.

Pros-Stu is very safety conscious. Water on every trip for hydration. When
my wife exhibited skin bends after last dive he gave her oxygen, called
DAN, tried to contact the local dive doctor and would have taken her to
chamber if necessary. Dives were slow and at our pace not the divemaster.
Stu also put us in touch with a guide for rainforest trip. Overall we
appreciated the level of service we received although we certainly paid for

Cons-The previously described issues with the boat. The visibility
conditions due to runoff which were obviously beyond Stu's control. The
lack of Mantas and other large fish. (Again, not Stu's fault.) The fact
that Stu may be moving to Trinidad and may not be available in the future.

Assessment-If you are looking for a private guide experience on a remote
island with unique diving experiences in a laid-back atmosphere this is the
place for you. We would definitely go back during the dry season when the
visibility is 100' or more and the mantas and sharks are back in the colder
water. Tobago is a South Pacific-like island close to home. The experience
is well worth the effort of getting to Trinidad and Tobago. 
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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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