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Dive Review of Ocean Encounters West/All West in

Ocean Encounters West/All West, Apr, 2009,

by Michael, MA, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 4 reports with 1 Helpful vote). Report 4741.

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 5 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments If you read Undercurrent report in June 08 issue, there is really very little I can add to it. Basically that is why I subscribe to Undercurrent. I read the report, liked what it said and made reservations. The trip has proved that report was accurate.
We did not do any shore diving, mostly because I am too lazy and I like boat diving. Also there were very few people on their very good size and comfortable boat, as few as two, and four-five on average, so I prefered to use this opprtunity. I hate crowded boats. Actually a lot of people we talked to dived shore dives only. Another reason we did not dive from shore is we do not have booties, just full foot fins which means you have to enter water barefoot. Not too easy with broken coral shores.
Ocean Encouters West (OAW) dive operation staff is very professional, very friendly and very helpfull. It has a full compliment of rental gear in great condition, and very well stocked retail shop. Over the years of diving on Little Cayman we were spoiled rotten by Paradise Divers and Conch Divers staff, so I am always a bit comprehensive about any dive operation. However OEW's staff of Julia, Angel, Tanya, Rudd, Jo, Alex and Tooky were just great. I would dive with them next time in a heart beat. Reservations were made with Bea, who was incredibly helpful.
As for diving, this was the best coral environment we have ever seen in our 20 years of diving. As a matter of fact while photographing there was sometimes no place to put your finger without touching live coral. Fish life was usual Caribbean, with more eels of any variety than than we have evr seen. One eagle ray, a couple of turtles. Needless to say that there was a good size hummerhead filmed right next to our appartments in 10 feet of waters a week before our arrival (video is on OEW website) and we were promptly informed by e-mail that manta was circling divers at Watamula for about 10 minutes ... the next day after our departure. Dont' we all have this happen? But on the morning of our departure a humpback whale was splashing next to moored dive boat literally 50 yeard from shore. So much so that my wife frantically dug out of suitcase already packed fins and mask, threw them from the balcony down to me and I ran down to the water to go snorkeling with humpback. Well, not quite of course, he apparently had different plans that day, but we saw him breaching further out after that. So much fo marine life. Not to mention that between dives one day we had a pod of dolfins riding in the bow wake with their babies. I have a video of that.
As for food there is a variety of options at all price ranges and ambience. The diving crowd is less American and more Dutch and German, at least in Westpunt which is an added benefit of international flavor.
We stayed in All West Appartments and liked them. You do need a car, the dive shop a woping 5 minutes drive away (5 minutes walk using the shortcut). The only thing to be aware of is that Westpunt is a real local fishing village, with dogs barking day and night. As a matter of fact we had to sleep with closed doors and AC running not to listen all night to doggy conversations. There are luxury resorts around Westpunt to stay in. We had dinner a couple of times in Kura Hulanda that is next to dive shop, very nice place.
Overall it was great two weeks and we will certainly be back.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Thailand, Bali, Australia, Little Cayman, Saba, Statia, Grand Turk
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 77-78°F / 25-26°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-100 Ft/ 15-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No restrictions, but was advised to stay about 80 feet. There was not need to go deeper
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales 1 or 2
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 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 N/A
UW Photo Comments There was a bucket with fresh water for cameras on the boat separate from masks. No table. I use digital compact without strobs so I do not much of photo facilities. There were plenty of photographic opportunites. In total of 11 dives I came out with about 400 acceptable images although I am pretty selective in subject matter. A few Curacao land and UW images are already uploaded to my website, "Travel" "Curacao" Gallery.
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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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