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August 2019    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 34, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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CoCo View Resort, Roatan, Honduras

Forty years old, and still no better outpost for Caribbean diving

from the August, 2019 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver:

After a week of diving at CoCoView, I now know why so many divers are proud to call themselves "CoCo Nuts" and return to this dive resort time after time. The explanation begins in the "Front Yard," the nickname for the house reef, which remains fine diving since the resort opened up 40 years ago.

The Rooms on Stilts at CoCo ViewYou start with a leisurely walk from the cafeteria doorstep along a well-worn sandy trail to the water, then take an underwater path through gradually sloping eelgrass beds. About 50 yards out, a small free-standing dock in five feet of water is handy for holding a camera or checking gear. Fifty yards more and you reach the edge of a sloping sand wall. Going down in 80-degree water, I scared off a southern stingray as I kicked over to purple-tipped and corkscrew anemones protecting pistol shrimp, which emanated a sharp pistol-like "pop" when provoked by a tickle. One corkscrew anemone held Pedersen cleaner shrimp willing to give a manicure. Then a small eagle ray swam past while my dive buddy checked out a six-foot swimming moray eel -- and this was just in the first couple minutes.

A few feet farther down, I could see the looming shadow of the Prince Albert, a 140- foot tanker/ tramp freighter sitting at 65 feet since 1985. Now encrusted with corals and anemones (purple- tipped and pale varieties), the wreck is home to schools of Creole and yellow cleaner wrasse, four-eyed butterflyfish, parrotfish, French and queen angels, and a school of Bermuda chub. A five-foot barracuda hung off the bow. In the ship's open hold, a huge green moray lay so docile I thought it was dead. When I got within arm's reach, I noticed its gills were barely moving. On return from exploring the holds, it was gone. I dropped down to watch a scurrying smooth box crab, a strange creature that looks like half a colander with legs coming out the sides. Above, I was surprised to see my buddy following a cruising eagle ray. Great image.

We had arrived at the Roatan airport in the early afternoon, moved quickly through customs, boarded a bus for a half-hour drive, then went aboard a shuttle boat for a quick ride through a mangrove-lined lagoon to the resort. The first question asked on arrival was "How many of you have been here before?" Those who raised their hands were promptly dismissed and ran off to get into the water, less than an hour after passing through customs. Newbies were required to take a checkout dive with an instructor, then listen to an introductory talk explaining that the maximum depth was 130 feet and dive times were an hour, a limit that is largely a courtesy to divers waiting up top (I only made one dive out of 20 that lasted less than an hour). This orientation to the geography of the Front Yard is important, because when the boat is returning to the resort after dives, divers may jump in a few hundred yards from shore to mosey back underwater....


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