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Dive Review of Jon Hildebrandt - General Manager in
Africa/Comoro Island - Moheli

Jon Hildebrandt - General Manager: "The Lure of Less-traveled places.", Sep, 2018,

by Bonnie McKenna, TX, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports with 6 Helpful votes). Report 10507.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 3 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments The Lure of Less-Traveled Places
Last year at the Frisco, Texas dive show, the word Moheli on a booth banner caught my eye. I stopped to investigate. Always looking for the unusual and the lure of diving an area as off the beaten track as Moheli, I was interested. Eight months later, my husband, two friends and I landed in one of the most less-traveled areas of the world. Moheli, is one of four small islands that makeup the nation of Comoros. The islands are nestled about halfway between Mozambique and Madagascar. The Comoros are often referred to as the Perfume Islands because this is where the Ylang-Ylang blossoms are gathered, reduced to oil and purchased by famous French perfume houses.
Laka Lodge, the only lodge/hotel on the island, is located on the western edge of Moheli Marine Park, was our destination. We were looking forward, not only to dive the local reefs, but to dive with the Humpback whales, who at this time of the year (July through end of September) were passing through. Other activities available at Laka Lodge are visiting the turtle nesting beach for Green and Hawksbill turtles and seeing the rare Livingstone’s bats.
Laka Lodge’s reception/dining room is a large comfortable area to spend time while using the internet and meeting fellow travelers. All of the bungalows face one of the two beaches. The rooms are large and comfortable. Although malaria has been eradicated on the islands, mosquito nets are suggested. Water is solar heated, enough for a good shower. Electricity, available 24 hours a day. The resort provides its own solar energy during the day and from the grid at night.
Meals are served at set times. The food is generally European or American style. Laka Lodge maintains a large garden to augment the vegetables purchased from the village. Fish is purchased daily from the local village fishermen. The kitchen must have hundreds of recipes because I do not recall, but once, having a fish dish repeated.
The dive operation is small, managed outside under the trees, but efficient. Divers must bear in mind, diving here is not luxury on the scale of the Caribbean, Philippines or Indonesian resorts or liveaboards, but adequate and safe. This is where you come for the adventure and discover a new and unfamiliar world. Three small converted fishing boats are used for diving on the reefs and snorkeling with the whales. There is quite a large tide fall in the area and as a consequence there can be a lot of current during those times of the day, so be prepared for a fast-moving drift dive.
The reefs in the area still show the result of destruction from either destructive fishing practices or bombing. The area is now protected, the reefs are making a recovery. Much of the fish life was familiar to me with variations of species diversity. The most unusual critter seen was a yellow eel. The Indian Ocean Reef Guide by Helmut Debulius describes a yellow or golden eel. Our sighting matched the description perfectly. My dive partner got a photo of it…I was not so lucky. The Comoros Islands is one of the only two places in the world where the elusive coelacanths are known to reside; the other place is Sulawesi, Indonesia.
Snorkeling with the whales was an interesting adventure. Bearing in mind the whales are migrating and not always hanging around, we were ‘skunked’ a couple of days. Although we got close, we did not get any photographs. On the last day we met a couple of, what was later determined to be Short-fin Pilot Whales. Apparently, not a common sighting.
Lemurs are usually associated with Madagascar, but much to our delight a troop of brown lemurs reside near Laka Lodge. In the evening, a pair of lemurs come down to a tree near the lodge, knowing there will be some banana treats being readily offered.
Although the diving was not as unique as I envisioned, it was no less exciting because it was an adventure off the beaten track. Was it worth the long plane ride to the other side of the world to follow my love for less-traveled areas? Yes!
Websites Jon Hildebrandt - General Manager   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Philippines, Palau, Chuuk, Yap, Thailand, Caribbean, so. California, Lembeh, Raja Empats, Guam, Thailand, Comoro Island - Moheli,
Closest Airport Moheli Getting There The easiest way to get to this destination is to take Ethiopian Airlines from the U.S. to Addis Ababa to Moroni then AB Aviation to Moheli.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, choppy, currents
Water Temp 73-75°F / 23-24°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30-60 Ft/ 9-18 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Dive with a guide especially when diving with whales.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales > 2
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 5 stars

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities 2 stars
UW Photo Comments All setting up and recharging has to be accomplished in your room. Rinsing gear after a dive is either hose or shower.
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Subscriber's Comments

By Elaine Morse in CO, US at Apr 24, 2021 15:00 EST  
Did they have any equipment to rent?
By report author: Bonnie McKenna in TX, US at Apr 24, 2021 18:18 EST  
I believe so, but email them just in case. When are you going?
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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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