This is my chapbook report from 2007. The W hotel chain is opening a resort on the northside of the island next March or April.
Hix Island House promotes themselves as being an eco-lodge, and it is that.
It is located in a 13-acre natural refuge of native trees, tall grasses,
birds and butterflies, and tranquility (no phones, television, or typical
room and turn-down service).
At Hix Island House the outdoors becomes indoors. Their self-contained
all-concrete lofts highlight views of the Caribbean and palm-lined beaches
minutes away; the open-air private terraces include outdoor showers where
you can bathe in the trade winds. This is because the "fourth
wall" where the balcony doors would normally be doesn't exist; the
entire room is open to the elements. If it rains, it can blow into your
room. So do the insects. The comfortable beds reside under mosquito
netting, and even in the dry month of April, you'll need it. Don't get us
wrong, we'd go back. Mornings and evenings are brilliant. Meeting John Hix
at his weekly cocktail party when he is in residence was also a highlight
(wait'll you see the view from his house). But if it was rainy or humid,
all you've got is a hurricane shutter and an overhead fan.
Ecology is important at Hix Island House. Solar panels augment the
electricity and hot water. Water is collected and your shower and basins
flow to the landscaped foliage. The pool features an electro-static
filtration system, so it's like swimming in fresh water.
Unfortunately our experience with the dive operations left a great deal to
be desired. We spoke with Nan-Sea Charters before we left and booked (we
thought) 6 days of diving. We arrived after their office had closed for the
day, called them first thing in the AM and there was no answer. Finally at
10:00 they answered the phone and were already on the boat. OK, we'll dive
the next five days. But they only had us down for one day, not six, and
were full for the next three days. The boat only holds six, and it's real
cozy at that.
So bright and early the next day we trucked into Isabel II, the main town
and booked a couple of shore dives with Blackbeard's Sports. They have no
boat. Got the tanks and followed them into the bush to Bahia Corcho, geared
up, met the four newbies who would be in the group, and entered via a small
rocky beach. The DM said he was going to go real slow due to the new folks,
so we swam out over the eel grass to a small patch reef and descended to,
well, 27 feet. Yes, 27 feet, and the leader took off like a shot with never
a backward glance, not that there was much to see, except us wondering
where he was off to in such an all-fired hurry.
After a second dive to 25 feet (really packing in the N2, you know?) along
the shoreline where there was a small reef with some sergeant majors, an
arrowhead crab, some chubs, and other small tropicals, we gave up on the
diving until Nan-Sea could take us out on Thursday.
Thursday we schlepped our gear down to the small pier in Esperanza, kind
of a funky beach town with bars and restaurants opposite the quay. The
Nan-Sea boat is a 28 footer and it's necessary to set-up the 3000 psi
aluminum 80's on the dock. When it's time to slip into your BC, the DM sits
on the stern of the boat with your gear, and you sit on his knee to shrug
into your rig. A backward roll and you descend to a patch reef with some
mahogany snappers, the sergeant majors, a few parrot fish and the other
usual suspects. This is a square profile. After a 20 minute SIT, we were
back in the water on another, nearly identical reef. When we got down to
700 psi, we noticed our computers were in deco. We hung for the required
time, reboarded via the small ladder, announced we had been in deco, and
were told that as long as we did the hang, it was OK.
Showed up Friday morning with the same group set up our tanks on the
dock.......and the boat wouldn't start. The DM offered to take us on a
shore dive after lunch to the former Navy Pier on the other side of the
island. So we called at 11, noon and 1:00. Finally got a call back from the
owner at 3:00 who said he knew nothing of the planned dive.
Folks, other than a few free-lance guides you may run into in one of
Esperanza's imbibulational emporiums, these are the only two operations on
the island. If you aren't diving there are some nice beaches, but skip
Green Beach because the sand fleas are brutal. So if you're up for a full
week of interesting Caribbean diving, while prices are reasonable, you can