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Dive Review of Buddy Dive Center/Fort Young Hotel in
Dominica

Buddy Dive Center/Fort Young Hotel: "Dominica is a Diving Diamond in the Rough", Nov, 2015,

by Gregory S. Yarnik, IL, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 8 reports with 7 Helpful votes). Report 8998 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments The island of Dominica had been on our wish list of Caribbean dive destinations for some time, and we finally went for it last November and December, 2015. We had planned to go in August but Tropical Storm Erika decimated much of the island and infrastructure, setting it back years and unfortunately destroying entire towns and killing 50 people. By the time the airport and most island roads reopened later in the Fall, life was mostly back to normal. I had been staying in touch with folks at the resort (Buddy Dive on Bonaire just opened up there) and they urged us to come in November as the island was recovering and open for business. Known as the "Nature island," Dominica is volcanic in origin and has very little tourism infrastructure (which, once one arrives, is mostly a good thing): one good-sized airport and one cruise ship dock in Roseau for a single, small cruise ship that arrives daily. The island slopes in elevation from around 5K feet at its highest point down to the shore line. The roads will take you up only to less than 3K feet of elevation. In light of this mountainous, forested topography, climbing and spelunking are also popular pursuits for those interested in more terrestrial activities. Fort Young, an 18th century hillside garrison that has been converted into a hotel, was still sprucing up from the storm when we checked in on November 28. Elevators were out of order and our room smelled badly of mold; however, our complaints were resolved promptly by hotel staff and we were moved immediately to a cleaner, mold-free room. Moving was easy, as we had no bags to schlep. They did not make the flight from San Juan and did not arrive at the airport till the next day, Sunday. Of course, they languished there one more day because there was no available delivery service until Monday morning when they finally arrived at our room at 0700. Luckily, we only missed the 2 Sunday boat dives and were reimbursed without any hassle. There is one restaurant on the property serving a buffet for breakfast and lunch, and a dinner menu of mostly regional island fare, fresh fish and the like, but all well-prepared. Additional restaurants and shops, etc., are only a short walk down the street into the town center. Buddy Dive recently opened their second shore-based operation at the Fort Young Hotel and it is a good one, maybe not up to the overall quality standards of the Bonaire original just yet, but seeing as how they were recovering from a massive natural disaster, they were mostly top-notch in all respects. Their new 40+ foot long Newton dive boat was badly damaged in the storm and was being repaired so we had to make do on a small, old, (but refurbished) former US Navy patrol boat. It was roomy and serviceable, but loud and had an emissions system that left a bit to be desired. That said, on-board staff from Buddy Dive (variously Captain Gus, Selwyn, Francesca, and Donnie) were terrific - professional, helpful when needed, but hands-off most of the time as there were only experienced divers aboard (no more than 6 to 10) every day for our 12-day stay. They provided excellent briefings and were extremely knowledgeable about the area reef systems and underwater topography. Still, when warranted, they made sure to point out cool critters and assisted everyone pre and post-dive. Several of the reefs suffered obvious storm damage, but most were no worse for wear by the time we arrived. Dominica is a diving gem by modern-day Caribbean standards, in no small part because it is a fairly undeveloped island and has protections in place for its near-shore underwater habitat. For those reasons, I would rate Dominica right behind Bonaire as a Caribbean dive destination. The reefs were vibrant, well-developed and supported a wide variety of fish and invertebrates. There was the occasional turtle, nurse shark, grouper or spotted eagle ray, but mostly the reefs teemed with the usual smaller inhabitants; especially abundant were worms, molluscs, cephalopods and echinoderms. Night dives are not to be missed as you couldn't fin 10 feet in any direction without spying a free-swimming octopus or squid. In addition, Buddy also offers a longer, off-shore day-long dive trip that includes dolphin and/or whale watching. Our trip was successful on both counts. The on-site dive shop offers all the amenities and has virtually brand-new gear for rental if needed. Overall, Buddy Dive Dominica gets high marks for its new operation, even though they were recovering from the ravages of Erika. The island of Dominica itself comes highly recommended as well, problematic travel logistics notwithstanding, for its beautiful topside topography and surprisingly diverse underwater habitat.
Websites Buddy Dive Center   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Kona, Little/Grand Cayman, Belize, Turks & Caicos, Bonaire, Aruba, Puerto Rico, Anguilla, Virgin Islands, Bahamas, Roatan, Utila
Closest Airport Douglas-Charles Airport Getting There Unfortunately, it is not an easy trip to Dominica from the states, even though it is only a mid-chain Caribbean destination. From Chicago O'Hare, we had layovers in Charlotte and San Juan. Once we arrived on Dominica, it was then a 1.5 hour van ride to the resort in the southwest shore town of Roseau. Total travel time was between 15 and 16 hours.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 82-85°F / 28-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60-80 Ft/ 18-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No restrictions - just stay w/your buddy and meet back at boat with 500 psi in tank.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales > 2
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments Separate camera rinse tank and plenty of room on-board to stage equipment.
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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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