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Dive Review of Low Key Watersports/Sunset Ridge Villas in
Virgin Islands/Cruz Bay, St. John USVI

Low Key Watersports/Sunset Ridge Villas, Nov, 2008,

by Randy and Carol Thompson, FL, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 11 reports). Report 4521.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Bonaire, Curacao, Hawaii (Big Island, Maui, Kauai, ) St. Maarten, St. Lucia, St, Kitts, St. John USVI, central FL, Gold Coast FL, FL Keys (Key Largo, Islamorada, Marathon, Looe Key, ) Cozumel, Gloucester, MA, Lake Winnepesaukee, NH, Jamestown, RI
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 80 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 35 to 60 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Depth limits, time.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 1 stars Food N/A
Service and Attitude 1 stars Environmental Sensitivity 3 stars
Dive Operation N/A Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 3 stars
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Low Key is an OK operation. Jeremy was the best dive leader of all of them. He looked around for things to show us. His pre-dive briefings were always informative. We did 3 days of two-tank morning dives. The first day we had a dive master named Mike who swam us against a hard current for the latter half of the dive. I was completely exhausted. We felt that they push the surface interval. Granted, the dives aren't deep, mostly around 50' max. But to get on board, motor to the next site a few minutes and be expected to suit up and get in was not enough time on the first day, according to the tables (first time we didn't dive with computers in years, but just didn't have the room to take our reg set-ups in the luggage. And Low Key doesn't appear to rent them with their rental set-ups. Maybe we could have for an extra fee - don't know.)

The rental gear wasn't the best. ScubaPro BCs were good. On both the second and third day I had faulty equipment. The first day my gauge leaked air, and they replaced the reg set-up when I swam back to the boat before descending. The second day on the first dive I had a really crappy set-up. The octo free-flowed badly. The dive captain, an anti-social, gruff type, kept yelling at me to "put your reg in your mouth! Turn the octo face-down." I've been diving since 1990. Did he think I didn't know to do that immediately? I kept saying it WAS down, but because the free-flow was loud I guess he couldn't hear me. He told me to swim back to the boat. Jeremy appeared to be annoyed with me and messed around with it for a minute. When I lost hold of the ladder and put my hand on him, he said, "I need you to hold the ladder and keep your hands off of me." He fixed the problem, or kind of, clipped it to my BC and told me, "Now I need you to keep your hands off of it. Don't touch it." Like I was a little kid, and had caused the problem by messing with it. As it was, it free-flowed again on the descent, but stopped in about 5 seconds and didn't do it again. What about if my buddy had needed it? As soon as I descended and checked the gauge, I had a whisker over 2000 psi to start the dive. As if all this wasn't bad enough, the mouthpiece had been bitten clean through on one side and just the pressure of the water against it kept pushing that side out of my mouth, so I spent the whole dive holding the hose to keep it relatively level. Between dives, Jeremy swapped the faulty set-up and made sure I knew it was a brand new one, "right out of the box." It worked great. Why not do that at the first sign of trouble?

Be aware that Low Key expects payment in full for any package you get, up front. This is in addition to a hefty down-payment before you arrive on-island. We have been diving all over the world, have about 750 logged dives, and whereas deposits are commone, we have never once paid in full before diving, always settling up at the end of our trip. When I expressed surprise since the emails they sent me made no mention of this rigid policy, I got the cavalier, flip reply, "No cash, no splash." Real nice. Why not inform divers of that so that they can make an informed decision on which operator to use?

Dive personnel doesn't seem to like to mingle with the divers. All 3 days, the dive masters stayed up in the crow's nest with the captain. They weren't unpleasant guys - all were quite nice when spoken to. It's just one of the few times we've encountered dive masters who were so conspicuously unsocial. It gives you some confidence when you see the dive masters getting to know a little something about the divers they are taking under the water. According to dive master training, this is just proper protocol.

We missed our first day of diving because it was the weekend that the clocks are set back. However, even though we were at the shop the day before and discussed when to be at the boat, they never mentioned that USVI doesn't observe time changes. Since the only people diving with them the whole week were Americans, and almost all of the US observes time changes, you'd think they could have thought to tell us that. So we showed up what we thought was 40 minutes early, only to be told the boat had left 20 minutes ago. As was only right, they didn't charge us and we dove one day later than we had wanted to.

The corals are very lush, colorful, abundant, and varied in St. John. We were surprised that there wasn't more marine life. There were the usual tropical suspects. Not a lot of big stuff. A couple of turtles, no sharks (only a sleeping nurse shark we saw while snorkeling at Leinster Bay) and no rays (one seen while snorkeling.) Maybe 8 lobsters the whole week. One nudibranch, one juve and one adult spotted drum, and one crab. Lots of basket ball-sized sea urchins (which took up most of the prime real estate that would usually be occupied by lobsters, crabs and the like,) gobies and blue tangs. But the corals easily rivaled those of the Caymans for color, variety and health.

Parking is scarce in Cruz Bay. No dock. You wade waist-deep out to the boat. Boat had a nice platform and ladder, plus shade. No marine head, no shower, and only cold water for between-dive refreshment. They'll change your gear between dives.

Low Key isn't bad. It gets the job done. They're just aggressively mediocre.
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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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