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Dive Review of Small Hope Bay Lodge in
Bahamas/Andros

Small Hope Bay Lodge, Apr, 2012,

by Douglas Garrou, VA, US (Reviewer Reviewer 6 reports). Report 6498.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 51-100 dives
Where else diving Cozumel, Belize, Morehead City NC, Florida Keys, Jamaica
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, choppy, no currents
Water Temp 74 to 77 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60 to 90 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Some (deeper) dives guided, with dive master interrogating air status at end and dispatching buddy teams for additional unguided exploring at shallower depths. Shallow dives unguided.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks Lots Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 2 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 4 stars

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments Separate tank on dive boat, well marked for cameras only.

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments This is a very interesting place that really hit the sweet spot for me. Tripadvisor covers the resort itself fully and quite accurately, so I'll refer you there for details. One added note is that the food was super.

Diving-wise, the real draw is the stupendous underwater terrain. The east side of Andros is right on the "Tongue of the Ocean," a 6000-foot-deep channel that begins just offshore. Immense walls here truly have to be seen to be believed. Astounding stuff. There's a very long, and well-crafted, tradition of deep air diving at Small Hope. (Founder Dick Birch, a colorful early scuba pioneer, set the record on air here years ago.) They don't go to Dick's record 460+ feet, but they do routinely take divers to 140-185 feet. These dives are heavily staffed and closely supervised, and are made available on a case by case basis after the dive staff becomes comfortable with your diving skill level (which they take care to investigate through observation and discussion). Less skilled, or less adventurous, divers can participate in these dives and are assigned to staff who take them to shallower depths. Then everybody joins up for meandering time (if available) at shallower depths.

Swimming sea life is not nearly as abundant as in Cozumel or Belize. This is likely due to the lack of nutrients borne by currents (I experienced no meaningful currents in a week of diving here) and possibly to the deleterious effects of nearby Nassau and its hordes of tourists. I discount the pollution theory a bit because the coral seemed highly varied and really quite healthy. For whatever reason, turtles and sharks are sighted pretty commonly; I saw a number of each. One positive of the terrain is that there is always the chance of larger oceangoing critters looming up from the abyss.

So think of Small Hope as visiting the Grand Canyon rather than the Bronx Zoo.

As you may have gleaned from the comments above, I was extremely impressed with the professionalism of the dive staff. They're friendly and quite good, and the whole operation functions at a very high standard. Briefings are excellent, boats are well equipped, "just in case" hang tanks are a standard feature, etc. etc. They were able to solve a gear problem of mine almost instantly, saving a morning of diving in the process. This would be a terrific place to get instruction at all levels.
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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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