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Dive Review of Nature Island Dive in
Dominica/Soufriere

Nature Island Dive, May, 2006,

by Phil Stasik, FL, USA . Report 2500.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Global dive experience. Based in Florida, trained in the Great Lakes, extensive diving in Florida, Bahamas and the Caribbean, Hawaii, Australia's Great Barrier Reef, Coral Sea, Ningaloo Reef, and the Maldives.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, noCurrents
Water Temp 82 to 85 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions No restictions, we were allowed to dive our computers responsibly.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 4 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 2 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Previous Undercurrect reports lead us to this well orgainized and laid-back operation that respects experienced divers. We only did five dives in a two day period, but we dove exclusively at Dominica's best locations in the Soufriere/Scotts Head Marine Reserve.

The dramatic and interesting volcanic topography of the island continues below sea level. The igneous rock forms beautiful ledges and truly vertical walls that drop to thousands of feet below. We've dived around the world, and found the massive sponges, dense gorgonians, plentiful anemones, and diverse fish life rival anything we've seen anywhere!

We saw a few turtles and sea horses but as expected not a lot of pelagics. The dive operators on Dominica have worked hard to establish a good quid pro quo with local fishermen, and they all seem to respect the value of their underwater resources.

We called Nature Island Dive only a couple of days before our short visit and they were totally accomodating. May is the start of their low season. The small, somewhat spartan shop owns a beautiful, two-unit cottage that is located directly on the rocky shoreline, about 1/4 mile south of Soufriere.

We rented the fully equipped lower unit which has twin beds and a sleeper sofa plus a full kitchen and an awesome balcony. There is no TV, radio, or air-conditioning, but we were told that rental cell-phones will soon be available for guests. The late May temperatures were a bit warm in the evening, but every window opens, providing good sea breeze/land breeze cross flow. Occational road noise and the song of breaking waves provided a yin/yan of white noise.

Restaurants are few is Soufriere and Scotts Head, so it is advisable to pick up some groceries when passing through Roseau. At the simple restaurants we found, fried chicken and fried fish were the staples.

Nature Island Dive owns two aluminum "six-pack" and one larger aluminum dive boat, all with lots of space, and a nifty fold down entry platform/ladder. They are equipped with oxygen kits, flares, and a cell phone. Since the shop is directly on the marine park shoreline, they don't have much of a need to go more than a ten minute ride from the town's small floating dock. As expected, divers return to shore following each dive, and this allows an easy walk back to the cottage for lunch or a chance to hang out with the nice staff. They take care of all of your gear at the end of the dive day.

Both divemasters that guided us, (Simon and Oscar), were outstanding. They made suggestions, but expected that we dive our own profile and computers. Our longest dive exceeded an hour and left us wanting to see more. Water temperature averaged 84 degrees, air temperatures peaked in the upper 80's.

The Scotts Head location is the southwestern tip of Dominica and provides walls and pinnacles at the confluence of the Atlantic Ocean and the Caribbean Sea. On our five dives, we saw visibilities that averaged about 80 feet with a few spots about 50 feet vis. and others exceeding 100 feet. Currents were mild to non-exsitent and the surface had light chop at worst.

The hard coral is quite healthy, but there was some widely-scattered evidence of bleaching. There is an abundance of crinoids in all colors, a lot of them residing in the plentiful azure vase sponges.

We saw many spotted and golden tailed morays on every dive. We enjoyed following a golden tail and a coney as they wandered the wall on a classic symbiotic hunting expedition. Cleaning stations were everywhere, and hungry Pederson shrimp were eager to give manicures. We enjoyed a few swim throughs including a cave filled with barred soldier fish. Large fish that we saw included one large grouper, one barracuda, one cerro, and possibly one tuna. There were schools of creole wrasses, blue and brown chromises, and a variety of bait balls.

The entire staff was knowledgeable and exceedingly friendly. They told us that the EU has provided some developmental funds to install a 4-person hyperbaric chamber that will be delivered to the Princess Margaret Hospital in Roseau by mid-summer 2006. Currently, Martinique, visible to the south, has the nearest chamber. Simon told us that he and a number of the other dive professionals on the island have already been trained to operate, and/or support the chamber.

The partnership of Karen and Simon seemed to be among the leaders of this small island's dive community and they promote sustainable, low-impact use of the underwater preserve. Soufriere is generally a sleepy, but well-placed location to explore what is arguably Dominica's best diving.

Beyond diving, Dominica is an amazingly unspoiled wilderness to explore. The island was created by a large number of volcanoes, seven of which are still active. The waterfalls, hot springs, boiling lake, trails, mountains, and birds are legendary. Nature Island Dive has a fleet of bikes and kayaks and divemaster/boat captain, Selwyn, serves as a naturalist tour guide.

Driving Dominica's narrow, winding, mountainous roads is a test of skill and nerves. We took two hours to drive our Suzuki rental SUV from the airport (on the northeast coast) across the World Heritage Site Rainforest through the Caribbean-urban streets of the capital Roseau down to Soufriere. A 4WD vehicle is a must for exploring. Driving can be fun if you allow plenty of time and keep your eyes open. Driving is done in the left lane, in the English tradition.

The locals were quite friendly -- speaking mostly Creole, but fluent English as well. We were approached by several folks begging and/or peddling mangos, papayas, bananas or coconuts. Unemployment is common, but most folks that we saw and met seem quite happy living in their island paradise.

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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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