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Dive Review of Bas Harts Diving/Cas Blanku (rental house) in

Bas Harts Diving/Cas Blanku (rental house): "Curacao Dive Safari", Dec, 2015,

by David Vickery, NJ, US (Reviewer Reviewer 5 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 8826 has 1 Helpful vote.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food N/A
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments “Let’s go kill some lionfish,” my partner said as we geared up at Playa Porto Mari on the west coast of Curacao. Over the past several days we had been shore diving with Bas Harts Diving, a “customized” diving service. Bas’s guide Nick de Kleine would pick us up at our rented house at 9:30 with our washed gear stowed in the back of his pickup and ferry us to the best dive sites in the northwest corner of the island. If we wanted to sleep in pick up would be at 11:00 or noon. If we wanted the afternoon off to sit at a local pub in Willemstad and watch the cruise ship crowd careen about the same designer shops they’d seen in Aruba for yet another T-shirt, Nick would arrive promptly at 7 or 8 o’clock and have us back just after twelve.

At Porto Mari we set up our aluminum 80’s filled to 2800 psi on the shaded bench conveniently located between the dive shop and the showers. Nick was a well-liked former employee of the on-site dive shop and his guests were allowed to use the facilities without cost.

Swimming three abreast along the double reef system my buddy and I searched for specimens of Pterois volitans hiding under the coral heads. Nick carried a 3 ½ foot fiberglass spear and when we found a lurking predator would hook the rubber sling around his thumb, slide his hand up the shaft , take a one-handed aim and pfft, another one bit the dust, or maybe, sand. Small fry were shaken off the trident barb and became snacks for the resident spotted morays. Larger examples went into the Lionfish Containment Unit, a 28 inch PVC tube clipped to Nick’s BC. These were brought to the folks hanging out at a local bar in Willibrordus near the flamingo sanctuary. We sipped Amstel Brights while the fish were cleaned and distributed, to be grilled later.

Earlier in the trip we had spied two monsters hunting juvenile reef fish at Shon Mosa reef and badly wanted to take them but Nick wasn’t carrying his hunting gear. When we asked why, he said that some guests were squeamish about killing anything, even invaders decimating the reefs. We had no such scruples and over the course of the remaining six days took several dozen of the rapacious aliens. We took some small comfort in the high proportion of small lionfish, hoping that this was an indicator that hunting was eliminating larger adults.

When not putting the zap on lionfish we visited a resident red frog fish at Cas Abou, or watched an eagle ray feeding off No Name beach. In general the fish population was better than we expected, with schools of southern sennet, and clouds of tangs, durgons, grunts and creole and blue head wrasse. Smaller groupings included queen triggers, blue parrots, and lone barracuda. barracuda. At the very busy marina of Peskado near the Mt. Christoffel National Park we were watched a turtle feed at 30 feet when it suddenly got darker and we were enveloped in a bait ball of several thousand “herring” (we think they were mojarra). We stayed inside the ball for at least ten minutes before our air ran low and we were forced to ascend and repair to the Rancho El Sobrino a local beach bar/hotel where we had excellent Mexican grub and I demonstrated the proper method of concocting a shaken margarita to the unknowing staff.

We liked Nick’s laid back attitude and passion for the sea and its denizens. He was thrilled by an iridescent blue lettuce leaf slug we found and was quite content to point out smaller life forms like arrow head crabs or spotted drums. He also kept up a constant banter about life on the island and hipped us to some local issues. Hint – don’t hang around deserted beaches after dark – it ain’t healthy. The situation on Curacao is little different than Bonaire but it’s a bigger island and the west end is further from town and a police response. The beach clubs close at 5:00 in the winter and the security guards go home. Bas Harts Diving promises to take you to the little known dive sites, and they do. At the empty beach of Lagun one morning, Bas came along in a separate vehicle to stand watch on shore while we were in the water.

So we liked the service, and we liked being the only divers out with Nick, but we paid for it. A two tank dive was $150 per person, including rental gear. While we brought all our own gear, this did not entitle us to a discount. Bas feels that most people don’t maintain their gear well enough and he’s constantly trying to repair it on the fly or run back to his house to grab a replacement, so no discount. Nitrox was extra and we got the feeling they really didn’t want to deal with schlepping the tanks to a different shop to have them filled with 32%, and as we mostly stayed between 40 and 80 feet we breathed air and were fine with it. Water temp was between 79 and 81 degrees Fahrenheit, so her 5 mil and my over-and-under Pinnacle 3 mil vest/suit were fine, but we were by far the most heavily dressed divers. We were also the only people diving for 6 straight days. Due to the sporadic and brief rains, vis ranged from 80 feet at depth to 10 feet near the shore.

We stayed at Cas Blanku a four bedroom house above the sea in Cas Abou. We loved it for the 180 degree view of sea and the sunsets. The pool was clean and warm enough to hang even in winter. Be advised the wet seasons of December and May bring mosquitos and even my repellent aversive buddy covered herself in Off in the mornings and evenings. Beds were comfy but there were no blankets so we dragged the manager out on Boxing Day with better sheets and warm blankets. The kitchen was adequate but the appliances had seen better days. We bought tons of food at the Centrum supermarket near the airport and were glad we did. The restaurants in our area were either funky beach bars or high end joints like Daniel or Karakter (both worth a splurge). Besides, after a few libations watching the sun sink into the sea we rarely wanted to venture forth for the half hour drive necessary to scarf some goat curry.
Websites Bas Harts Diving   Cas Blanku (rental house)

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean hot spots, Caribbean Hide-aways, Central America, Mexico, Fiji, Hawaii, Palau, Australia, PNG, Bikini Atoll, Maldives, Indonesia.
Closest Airport Hato International Airport Getting There Jet Blue direct from JFK, other major airlines with a stop in Miami or Texas.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 79-81°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 10-80 Ft/ 3-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Since it was just us and the guide, we dove until our air was half gone turned around, did a safety stop at 500 psi/15 feet.
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 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments If you bring a camera, ask for a rinse tank in the pickup truck. Tourist beaches have dive shops where you can use the rinse tank.
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Report currently has 1 Helpful vote

Subscriber's Comments

By Ms Lynda Durfee in VA, US at Feb 08, 2016 13:45 EST  
Glad to read that Curacao divers are trying to eradicate lionfish. When I was there in Oct 2011, lionfish were plentiful, and I didn't see anyone hunting them.
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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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