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Dive Review of Baja Diving & Service/Club Cantamar in
Mexico (Western)

Baja Diving & Service/Club Cantamar, Oct, 2007,

by Randy W. Saffell, OK, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 4 reports). Report 3714.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 2 stars Food 1 stars
Service and Attitude 1 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 1 stars Shore Diving 1 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 1 stars
Comments C-Cards: No one ever asked this diver for a c-card or anyone in our group. Nitrox was available and on the boat. I did see divers analyze their mix, but never saw any logs for divers to sign off on the blend.

Dockside: The dock area is one of the nicest features of the experience with large lockers made from chain link fence. There are not enough for all the divers they service so we had 5 of us in one locker until another came open. Of course you do have to have your own lock which is not on the webpage, but they do sell tiny luggage locks when you get there for $10.00. There are two large gear rinse tanks with hoses and a gear rental section. No one gives new guests any orientation on what is going on. It was up to the other divers to orient each other as new guests arrived. Plus, there are baskets to store your gear in to carry it back and forth to the boat. The baskets are a good idea since the boats have very limited storage areas, but often not even enough space for all of the baskets.

The crew started loading the boats with supplies about the time the divers were to show up. About 30 minutes was wasted each morning watching the crew load the boats. There was a lot of standing around time in the mornings.

With a different crew each day, very little rapport is gained between the guests and the crew, which is not conducive for them to know and respond to the divers’ experience and needs, nor conducive to allowing the crew to earn tips. Very frequently, divers on a package will tip the crew at the end of the week.

Site Choices: For the most part there are limited dive site choices. We dove on 2 wrecks, Fang Ming and Salvatierra. The Fang Ming was a PADI project and is diver friendly. The Salvatierra was originally sunk at another location and rolled to its current location by a storm, and is now mostly unrecognizable junk, but does have a great deal of sea life. The trip to Los Islotes for the sea lions is terrific and makes a good two tank boat dive. We dove it 3 times, the 3rd dive on request to see more sea lions.

Divers on a 5 day trip will dive some of the same sites more than once – not by choice. Although this area of La Paz boasts a large number of sites, we were exposed to a very limited few, with no explaination. We also visited El Corralito twice, El Bajo for the Great Hammerheads, Swanee Reef and La Partida.

None of the tanks I saw had a full 3000psi to start, most around 2800-2900psi. A vast majority of the ‘O’ rings were trailing bubbles, and we had one serious ‘O’ ring failure U/W. The DM just shrugged these problems off and found something else to do. One diver got geared up, turned on his air and found he had been set up with an empty tank.

Night Dives: We asked several times the first two days about night dives, but were never given an answer and no one would get back to us. They do advertise night dives on the web. We gave up!

Shore Diving: There is no shore diving.

Crew: The boat crew ranged from the apathetic to the quite helpful. Their best was one Japanese female DM that was quite enjoyable, but she was the definite exception. She did show us the only seahorse we saw.

Gear Handling: The crew did little in the mornings to be helpful but with the overcrowding there was no way they could do much. We always set up our own gear in the mornings and I would change my own tanks to make sure it was done right. I would trust no crew member.

Cattle Car: Make no mistake about it, Baja Diving Services is a cattle car operation of the finest kind. They will keep putting divers on the boat as long as they have the money to get on. There is no such thing to them as a crowded boat. Our last dive day our group of 5 got off the boat due to overcrowding and no room for gear or cameras. Even the DM had no where to put his gear. When we spoke up, we were told that they could get 5-10 more divers on that boat easily (which we translated to “get over it”). When the boat returned in the afternoon we were informed that dive sites were repeated, and that even with the five of us gone the diving had to be done in shifts and they ran out of food for the "lunch included".

When we confronted the manager of the diving operation that we got off the boat due to unsafe and crowded conditions, his only concern was that we should immediately clean out our lockers so other divers could move in. His response was “I’m sorry you feel that way.” (interpretation: “I don’t think there is a problem.”) He offered no apologies, and could not get away from us fast enough.

Problem Solving: Again, this is easy. There is no problem solving.
Summary: Baja Diving Services is a classic cattle boat operation. They will put as many divers on the boat as they possibly can. The staff is apathetic, not interested and will flat out lie to you. Club Cantamar is a nice place to visit as far as facilities. The management and staff do not give a damn about their guests. You are just a money supply and a bother. It just goes to show you cannot believe what is on a resort’s website.

Like one of our group said. “Running a cattle car operation is fine, as long as you have room for the cattle.”

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Cozumel, Truk Lagoon, Saba, Bonaire, Florida, Flower Gardens, Guadalupe
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas choppy, surge
Water Temp 85-85°F / 29-29°C Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 30-75 Ft/ 9-23 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Depth & Time: Even though we were diving very shallow the DM's would only allow 50 minute dives. We were NOT ALLOWED to dive our computers/psi profiles. We were ending dives with 1500-2000psi.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks 1 or 2 Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks 1 or 2
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

Subject Matter 3 stars Boat Facilities 1 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 1 stars Shore Facilities 1 stars
UW Photo Comments Cameras: There are no facilities for cameras. There are no camera tables on any of the boats. There were 1 and sometimes 2 large water barrels for everyone to put their cameras in. A hard task since our group had a Light & Motion HD video camera with lamp heads, 2 Ikelite video camera housings with lamp heads another video camera and 3 Ikelite Digital Camera housings with large strobes. None of the crew has the slightest idea of how to pick up a camera which led to the flooding of one housing and the destruction of a Canon Digital Rebel XTi on the first dive day. The flooding of the camera occurred after the crew took the camera from the diver following the dive, dislodged the port, and placed it in the rinse tank.

At one point the DM suggested we put our cameras down below to keep them out of the way because there was no room on deck to avoid them being stepped on, tanks dropped on them, or just plain kicked off the sides. When we told management about the camera handling issues, they just shrugged and said, “oh well” and then walked off.
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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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