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Dive Review of Sandals/Sandals Grande Riviera in
Jamaica/Ocho Rios

Sandals/Sandals Grande Riviera, May, 2013,

by Paul Quick, FL, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 6986.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 5 stars Food 5 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments This is our second time to Sandals Grande Riviera (formerly Sandals Ocho Rios). The Sandals chain is an ultra all-inclusive resort network. I won't comment on the rooms, restaurants or other service, other than to say it is 6 star quality! Jamaica is not known for diving, but as I had done a resort course 20 years ago at Ocho Rios, I wanted to see what had changed in that time. As part of the price you pay for your Sandals package, you get 2, 1-tank boat dives a day. Dive times for certified divers were 9AM and 2PM, with classes diving at 11AM and private dives possible at 8AM. Things run on island time, so the schedule was a suggestion, more than a rule. Diving is normally done from a 46' Newton, but the Newton was on its way to dry dock, so we dove from a 36' single engine dive boat (unk make). This limited how far and to which dive sites we could go. As the schedule is driven by the need to get the boat back to the next dive time, Sandals enforces a 45 minute maximum dive time. Even with with the safety stop, none of our 10 dive times were more than 55 minutes. Boat briefing and dive site briefings were conducted on the boat prior to leaving the dock. The boats are equipped with all of the latest safety equipment. No ride to the dive site was more than 10 minutes, with most being less than 5 minutes. Once we arrived at the dive site, we all entered and descended as a group. The dive leader didn't point things out (even though he had gone over the signals for fish during the briefing) and just tended to keep pace for the group. Divers were allowed to spread out a bit, but if you got too far away from the group dive leader, you were summoned back with a rattle shaker. As the week went on and the dive leaders saw us more often, we were given a little more latitude. Dive sites were normally coral gardens or wall dives, with the exception of the wreck "Catherine". As the waters were mostly calm, dives were done in a circular route, coming back to the mooring point. Only one dive did open water pick up of divers and on that dive the dive leader pulled a surface float. Upon ascent, reentry to the boat was done with two rear ladders. A drift line was usually put into the water as well. Diver recount was done by air pressure check sheet. Overall the diving was only so-so, and mostly the same as 20 years earlier. Overfishing and runoff have played a big part in a decline of the size of fish on the reef. During most dives, fish were small, but plentiful, with a good mix of angelfish, butterfly fish and parrot fish. The biggest fish we saw was a school of approximately 50, 2-3' ocean triggers at the 90' range. We did see 6-8 hawksbill turtles. If you're a new diver, Sandals is a great way to add diving to your holiday, especially if travelling with a non-diver. If you're a more experienced diver, you may be disappointed, unless you're into macro. Nitrox is not available, even as a paid extra. Private dives and night dives are available at an extra cost, but are subject to the same time restrictions. I would recommend Sandals Grande Riveria and their dive shop if you plan to head to Ocho Rios.
Websites Sandals   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Florida, Hawaii, Guam, Palau, Indonesia, Malaysia, Grand Cayman, Bonaire, Australia, Mexico, Maldives, Thailand, Taiwan, Philippines
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas calm, surge
Water Temp 79-80°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50-75 Ft/ 15-23 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions No deco diving. 45 minute time limit. Must dive as group with dive leader.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? no

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 1 stars
UW Photo Comments No facilities at dive shop for UWP. Bucket on boat for cameras. Due to having to dive with the group, taking time for proper set up of photos was problematic. If you're shooting fish ID shots, it's not a problem, but if you're trying to do something more, you won't be happy.
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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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