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Dive Review of Carib Ocean Divers/Coral Mist Beach Hotel in

Carib Ocean Divers/Coral Mist Beach Hotel, Feb, 2005,

by Ben Blair, NJ, USA . Report 1567.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments Iíve been trying to dive all of the islands in the eastern Caribbean, so when my wife and I decided to spend a weekend on Barbados, it gave me a chance to try out the diving. This created a dilemma, because there are so many dive operations, apparently to service all of the cruise ships that stop in Barbados, but almost no up-to-date information about them in the usual sources. So I was pretty much on my own in figuring out which would be the best dive operation to try out for just one two-tank dive.

Figuring out where I wanted to dive was a much easier proposition; all of the books I have on diving in the Caribbean pretty much pointed toward the S.S. Stavronikita as the site not to miss. This 365 foot freighter was sunk as an artificial reef in 1978, bottoming out at 130+ feet. It would be a good first dive, allowing me to dive one of the reefs as a second dive, most of which are considerably shallower.

Information on the Stavronikita said itís often overrun with divers from the cruise ships, so I wanted to choose a dive operation that would leave early in the morning, to avoid the crowds. Many of the dive operatorsí web sites indicated that they do this as a 100 foot maximum dive. I donít know whether Barbadosí Professional Association of Dive Operators puts a 100 foot limit on depth for its members, or if they self-impose this limit because they get a lot of inexperienced divers. If I could find a dive operation willing to do this as a 130 foot dive, it should help avoid a dive crowded with novices.

There was going to be less cruise ship activity in Barbados on Sunday than on Monday, so Sunday seemed like the better day to schedule the dive. All but one of the dive operators indicated by email that I could dive the Stavronikita as a 130 foot dive, and four could accommodate my early Sunday schedule. I decided to booked the dive with Lorenzo Garraway of Carib Ocean Divers; they take a maximum of six divers, and Lorenzo was very quick and enthusiastic in his replies to my emails (as were most of the other dive operators).

The dive was everything I could have hoped for. I was the only paying diver that morning. We got away from shore at or a little before 9:00 a.m., did a giant stride entry from the rear platform, swam to the bow of the boat, and started our decent at 9:17 a.m. (even after I first spent a few minutes taking pictures of the island from our mooring site). The divemaster, Dave, and I had the entire wreck to ourselves for the entire dive. Itís a beautiful ship, sitting fully upright and intact, with easy and safe penetrations at every level. Surprisingly, the marine life was pretty sparse, but the ship was so magnificent, and there was so much of it to see, that this didnít seem important. Visibility was excellent, even on a partly cloudy morning at a depth of 130 feet. Although Iím pretty tolerant of less than perfect visibility, having started out diving on wrecks along the New Jersey coast, we could just as well have been in 60 feet of water as we passed along the Stavronikitaís propeller at almost 130 feet.

When we finally worked our way up the wreck and then the anchor line, made a three minute safety stop, swam back at 15 feet to the rear platform, and climbed back on board, a second (and much larger) boat was tied on to another mooring buoy, going through a pre-dive briefing. But the two of us had this huge wreck entirely to ourselves, having arrived before any other divers had been there to stir up silt and diminish the experience. Having made hundreds of dives all over the eastern Caribbean, this is still one Iíll remember enthusiastically.

Our second dive was on Dottinís Reef. In Best Dives of the Western Hemisphere, the authors say ďIt is considered the prettiest reef in Barbados,Ē and rate it as the only five star dive site on the island. Although they describe coral canyons and walls averaging 65 feet, with drop-offs to 130 feet, after the deep first dive we stayed on top of the reef, with an average depth of 42 feet and a maximum depth of 50 feet. The reef was populated with the usual smaller Caribbean reef fish, and only a few moderately sized schools of brown chromis and creole wrasse.

The corals and sponges on top of the reef were healthy, and I did find a beautiful goldentail moray swimming about. But the highlight of the dive was a shy hamlet that I was able to study for a long time. Paul Humann describes this fish as ďShy and reclusive, but can be curious,Ē and ďoccasionally approachable.Ē Although Iíve seen a shy hamlet at least once before, on Carriacou in 1995, this was a great opportunity to observe this beautiful fish that Paul classifies as ďrare to absentĒ in the Caribbean.

Iíll certainly dive the Stavronikita again if I ever return to Barbados, and I wouldnít mind diving Dottinís Reef again, to explore some of its deeper canyons and walls. I highly recommend Carib Ocean Divers; Dave was an unobtrusive divemaster, and Tommy, who stayed on board, was extremely helpful with the gear. Iíve seen almost every conceivable approach to suiting up and getting in and out of the water on practically every type of dive boat, and Carib Ocean Diversí system is first rate. If youíre planning on a visit to Barbados, I donít think you could go wrong booking your diving with Lorenzo Garraway and Carib Ocean Divers.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Thirty-six different islands in the eastern Caribbean, Belize, the Sea of Cortez, several islands in the Bahamas, Key West, Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, and all along the Atlantic coast in New Jersey
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 80-82°F / 27-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 0-0 Ft/ 0-0 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None 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]
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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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