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Dive Review of Reef Gliders/Caribbean Reef Life/Tanglewood Villa, West End Resort in
Honduras/West End, Roatan

Reef Gliders/Caribbean Reef Life/Tanglewood Villa, West End Resort: "Caribbean Reef Life Underwater Photography Class in Roatan, A++++", Jul, 2016,

by Rik Pavlescak, FL, US (Contributor Contributor 19 reports with 15 Helpful votes). Report 8999.

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 N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments The purpose of this trip was to take an underwater photography course with Mickey Charteris, from Caribbean Reef Life. ([ link]). I've dived with Mickey at Reef Gliders in the past, and having bought a new camera, I wanted to learn how to use it properly. I'll review the dive shop: Reef Gliders, the class with Mickey, and our accommodations in this review.

1. Dive shop: Reef Gliders. This was my third time diving with them. They have been a consistently good, solid, reliable operation. They are safe, comfortable, easy-going. They have knowledgeable dive masters, conduct great briefings, and have a nice space to hang out between dives, with a built-in cafe on-site. The owners are involved in the local community, and hire locals as well, which is a plus. They provide on-site lockers and locks for storing you gear, and they lock everything up securely each night. Tip: Bring a water bottle--they've got 5 gallon jugs available for filling up your own bottle.

2. The 5-day Immersion Underwater Photography Course with Mickey Charteris from Caribbean Reef Life. Excellent. I started as a total novice with the camera, having only used a GoPro before. I had bought a new Canon G16 and took it out on one dive prior to the class. All of my photos from that dive were green with no distinct colors and the subjects all washed out. Dreadful. By the end of the first day, Mickey had me doing manual white balance and getting incredible color in my subjects and great blue backgrounds. The course progressed with instruction on flash photography, macro photography, art/composition, and editing. At the end of the five day course (10 dives) I feel completely confident that I can control my camera to get the shots I want. I can easily review a photo underwater and make the adjustments needed based on what I'm seeing. While the last lesson focused on editing photos, I've found that for most of my photos, only a bit of cropping was needed--not need to adjust for exposure, colors, etc. That's a testament to Mickey's great instruction during the first four days of the class, and insistence that his students get familiar with the camera and its controls and constantly learn how to make adjustments as needed.

I first knew Mickey as a dive master--and he was excellent in that capacity. For this course, he served as dive master and instructor, and pointed out many interesting photo subjects, including various nudibranchs and other macro subjects that I wouldn't have found on my own.

Mickey works with other dive shops (including West End Divers). I highly recommend taking a course with him if you're interested in using your camera to its fullest capacity.

3. My dive buddy and I stayed at Tanglewood Villa in the West End. Cost was $1000 for a week, for a 2 bedroom, 2 bathroom condo with a large living room, balcony w/hammock, and kitchen. Electric was extra, based on metered usage: our charge was $119 for 7 days. Cable TV was included, Internet available for a charge, and they provided a local mobile cell phone with 30 minutes prepaid which was helpful but rarely used. The condo was clean, nicely furnished and very comfortable. About a ten minute walk from Reef Gliders and the center of West End. The condo also has access to a nice, large swimming pool across the street. Web site for the Condo: [ link]

This was a really great trip: perfect combination of dive shop, underwater photography class, and accommodations. I would do it all again.

Some things I would recommend:
a) Bring FRESH, NEWLY PRINTED US BILLS. Shops and restaurants refused to take some of our money because it was too wrinkled or had tiny (and I mean really, really tiny) tears in the edges. They said the bank refuses to accept any "worn" US Currency. Using US cash is fine (exchange rate when we were there was 23 Lempura = 1 US Dollar), but it needs to be "fresh cash".

b) As recommended above, bring your own water bottle. Drinking water is readily available, cups are not.

c) Figure out what you'll do about sand fleas before arriving. Deet or non-Deet? There's an environmental angle/debate, but the sand fleas are horrendous. I didn't go to a beach, but just walking in the West End I got bitten terribly and my legs and arms are covered with marks a week later. Besides pesticide/prevention, I'd strongly recommend bringing your own anti-itch medication. I couldn't find Calamine lotion in the local shops, I did buy an Anti-Itch Cream that had menthol, but it wasn't very effective. I had some Benadryl pills, they helped a bit, but I didn't have a lot. Depending on how you react to bites (I understand that some people are less sensitive than others) I would prepare for the worst and then just go with the flow. That said, the sand fleas were the worst part of my trip--and as itchy/painful as the bites were, and as annoying as it was, they didn't outweigh the great benefit of the trip for me.

Food: Plenty of places to eat in the West End. I suspect some of the restaurants change regularly, but we enjoyed The Oasis (excellent ribs!), The Beach House (great strip steak), Sundowner (burger/fries), and Creole Chicken (rotisserie chicken). Wonderful desserts at the Roatan Chocolate Shop. Prices were just under or similar to south Florida/US prices. (Steak dinner for $25, 1/2 chicken with 2 sides for $11, burger/fries for $10, etc.)
Websites Reef Gliders/Caribbean Reef Life   Tanglewood Villa, West End Resort

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Costa Brava, Roatan, Key West, Cozumel, Key Largo, West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Grand Cayman, Little Cayman, Cayman Brac
Closest Airport Roatan Getting There Multiple flights from US: Atlanta or Houston

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm
Water Temp 76-79°F / 24-26°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 20-80 Ft/ 6-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Back on boat with 500 PSI. Dive masters went with groups of divers. I was taking a course so stuck with my instructor. We did our own thing while other divers did their own dives.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments Boats are small--so no rinse buckets on board. However, most sites were less than 10 minutes out from the shop. At the shop, they have numerous surfaces for cameras, equipment. They have big barrels with fresh water for dipping/rinsing. Locked storage for equipment when not in use or during meal times, etc. Reef Gliders also offers WiFi access to its divers. I did not ask for or see charging stations, etc. but I suspect an outlet would be available if needed.
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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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