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Dive Review of Aquadives/Aquamarina Suites in
Belize/Ambergris Caye

Aquadives/Aquamarina Suites, Dec, 2004,

by Richard Kollodge, NY, USA . Report 1530.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 51-100 dives
Where else diving Cozumel, Turks and Caicos, Curacao, Dominican Republic, Roatan
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, dry Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 78 to 79 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 60 to 70 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions None
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

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

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 1 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments On my third trip to Ambergris Caye, January 19-23, I stayed at the Aquamarina Suites hotel in San Pedro and did my diving with Aquadives, a shop located on the beach in front of the Sun Breeze Hotel, a 10-minute walk from my hotel.

Aquamarina Suites

My accommodation at Aquamarina Suites had a bedroom with two comfortable beds, kitchen/dining area and living room equipped with a sofabed and TV that carries about 50 cable channels from the US and other countries. A balcony overlooked the hotels courtyard, small pool and the sea.

A small restaurant adjacent to the pool area served solid meals at competitive prices, and the poolside bar served very weak cocktails from about 8 a.m. through about 11 p.m.

A little beach fronts the hotel. The water at the shoreline, however, is full of weeds, so wading really isnt possible. Swimming is possible from the hotels dock.

Staff were extremely helpful, courteous and friendly. But because the property doubles as a time-share condominium, however, I had to endure a very brief, low-key, low-pressure sales pitch one evening. When I expressed no interest, I wasnt approached again.

My only complaint with the hotel was the limited supply of hot water. Each unit appears to have its own small (five-gallon capacity?) water heater, which empties after the shower runs for a minute or two.

Aquadives

Aquadives frustrated and disappointed me from my first contact with them. My travel partner and I told the man working the desk that day that we were interested in doing the 11 a.m. and 2 p.m. dives each day. The response was, It doesnt matter. We asked him to explain what that meant, but we were repeatedly met with the same response.

When my travel partner and I informed the desk person that we both needed to rent some equipment, we were again told, It doesnt matter. I ignored his reply and said I needed a BC and regulator. He went to the racks and returned with obviously worn-out equipment. My travel partner needed similar equipment as well as a wet suit. When he asked for a full-length suit, the desk person again responded, It doesnt matter.

Eventually, someone else came to the desk to finish outfitting us and to finalize our paperwork. The new desk person brought my travel partner the only full-length suit they had. But sadly, the suit had a gaping hole in the back. So my travel partner had to settle for a shortie, which was inadequate for the 78-degree water.

The next day, an Aquadives boat collected us from the dock at our hotel and brought us to their own dock in front of the Sun Breeze Hotel, where others came on board. We traveled outside the reefonly five minutes awayto our first dive site. When my travel partner assembled his equipment, his regulators second-stage started free-flowing, which could not be controlled by holding a finger over the mouthpiece. The dive master told him not to worry and to use the equipment anyway. When we entered the water, it was apparent that my travel partners first stage was also leaking air. The low-pressure hose to my BC had a leak, and the air-dump valves in the back were broken. I, too, had a leak in my regulator. My travel partners leaks were so bad that he ran out of air long before everyone else (I still had 1,600 PSI in my tank).

Other equipment problems plagued us on every dive: blown o-rings, leaks, broken pressure gauges, and so on. The whole time I was there, I never saw any equipment that was not obviously in disrepair. I constantly worried about equipment failure under water. Miraculously, there were no disasters.

Dive masters seemed competent, but their laissez-faire approach concerned me. On our final dive of the trip, the dive master apparently became bored and returned to the boat 20 minutes before the divers and didnt bother to alert anyone.

The staff at Aquadives also clearly suffered from morale problems. On one occasion, the dive master got into a heated argument with one of the office staff. On another occasion, the office staff were fighting with each other.

I strongly recommend avoiding Aquadives. I have never seen an operation so shoddy and shabby.

My terrible experience with Aquadives confounded me because the shop is apparently owned by the same people who own the Aquamarina Suites, which is a professional, competent and quality operation.

The diving

Four of our six dives were disappointing because of extensive reef damage and an absence of marine life. Two dives were much better (Hol Chan Cut and Tacklebox Canyon), with healthier coral and more fish.

On my previous trips to Belize, the coral seemed generally much healthier and the fish abundant. I dont know what caused such a change in conditions in only about 18 months.

Visibility was about 60 feet, compared with probably 150 feet in the past. I assume the decrease stemmed from the surge and waves brought on by unusually heavy winds.
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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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