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Dive Review of Rhea Divers/Pestana in
General Travel/Other Locations/Porto Santo + Madeira

Rhea Divers/Pestana: "blue wonder", Aug, 2017,

by Michael Joest, Kehl, DE (Top Contributor Top Contributor 35 reports with 23 Helpful votes). Report 9774 has 1 Helpful vote.

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 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Porto Santo + Madeira
Atlantic diving – the idea sent chills through my body. Friends recommended it with only a short flight (4 h) plus huge groupers there and a dive instructor girl I met on Cyprus now working in M had sent pictures of an amazing and beautiful countryside and flora. M has so much to offer she wrote to me. Well, why not try, I thought. After the last 2 destinations with relatively poor vis I was longing for blue water dives with endless vis, even colder ones. A look onto a map to find Madeira by chance showed another island in the neighborhood – Porto Santo. Hey, brilliant idea, I love island hopping and get restless when staying too long in one place. P. S. proved to be a fantastic idea. Found a direct flight with Condor to P S. Pestana Hotel could not provide me with a dive center there, Google helped. Rhea Divers promised some good dives and even 22 C degrees in August, Miguel said, he would put one more to it just for me . 5 mm should do the trick, but somehow my second face warned: „better bring a 2 mm chicken vest with attached hood“, a wise decission. Stayed in Pestana Porto Santo a beautiful and large all inclusive hotel with great pools and well connected walkways to gorgeous endless beaches. Some hate all inclusive some love it, well if you manage to get away from the crowds and queues and get used to Pina Colada out of a machine it´s not too bad. Food and especially the red wine was excellent and tempting not to stop after one glass. Rhea Divers have a small place with pool in Pestana Columbus next to mine and their office, store, compressor and gear room at the marina, only short way to the Zodiac. Rhea was a goddess in Greek mythology. They offer two tank morning dives to sites, you reach in around 10 minutes. Miguel and his team are pros and you see it watching them handling gear and customers. Their joy in blue water is infectious. They provide excellent service, give profound briefings and safety is number one on their list. I´s fun to find this and be recognized as an experienced diver exchanging tipps and tricks with them. I chose a 12 liter steel, Miguel gave me 4 kilo weigths wich I did not want and returned after the first dive – no need for this with 12 l steel on my back. The first dive went to the Corvette Cordeca, built by Blohm & Voss in Germany. She was sunk on purpose for divers in 2016, sits on even keel in around 28 meters, not much growth on her so far. To make penetration dives safe they cut additional openings in each place to give entry and exit points and light to each room. Already from the surface you could see part of her. We went from one cargo hold all the way through the main body, saw crew quarters, kitchen, bridge with phones, engine room. Impressive to find the 2 huge diesel engines with a piston put on top to give you some idea of it´s size. Adventurous to swim all along the reling inside the wreck. Down at the belly of the Corvette a big grouper of 1.5 m approached us. He or she is tame they told us on briefing, you can try to touch and get real close with your camera. Got some nice shot of the animal. It was fascinating to look along the superb guns to the upper structure and surface. Vis you dream of in other places was extremely good. All around the wreck animals, stingrays hiding in the sand, single jacks cruising by. Thousands of small fish came together like on command and took shelter in one of the openings, captivating to watch. Smiling and exxcited faces on board said it all, this already was top notch and 5 stars and could continue, which it did. Only minutes away the second wreck Madeirense which was sunk for divers 6 years ago. The middle part is broken, so no deep entry inside the bowels. Down to the sand the computer shows 34 m nearly Nitrox 32 limit. We cruised around the upper structure and stayed there for more than 20 minutes. Breathtaking how much fish life was around, I thought of Sardine Run. Again thousands of small fish hang around. They scurried around, danced to the left then to the right, came together again in a rush only to scatter away again, it looked like these were guided from some conductor, an awesome picture and choreography. 3 different jacks knifing through brought stress to thousands of fish. We hang on like in a spell mesmerized by this magic. Down in the broken part of the wreck a small school of medium sized barracuda were hovering. Nearby a huge group of red striped mullet was digging in the sand for food. It seemed like for us everybody assembled today here. The M easily can compete with the Vandenberg, she has much more fish life around. On the surface I guess my eyes told the story, this can please happen again on my short week here. For a change one day Tayla guided me to Bicudas, a site close to the Marina. Not much fish life around here but a canyon build out of square volcanic beams stacked one above the other. It gave an eerie impression like being in some science fiction movie. Vis was endless, wouh. Some small moray eels looked out of their holes, I found some masked moray where cleaner shrimps did good work even doctored in her mouth. To please undercurrent and it´s readers, this time I took a fish ID with me down into the blue. I found: Damselfish, Ornate Wrasse, Parrotfish, Seabras, Grey Trigger, Red Hogfish, Porgy, Blacktail Comber, Bearded fireworm, Amber Jack, Bogue, Scorpionfish, Stingray, Cardinal, Goldline, Conger some in small schools, some single or in pairs cruising along the reef. From Rhea Divers you get a nice certification to confirm you dove both wrecks. Porto Santo made 1000 points with these dive sites, which Madeira did not succeed in later on. The island has some beautiful long sandy beaches and magnificent nature behind these. I rented some 2 seater e-car and toured all around the island on one morning. There are mountains from volcanic evolution, steep cliffs into the blue in a nearly untouched nature. The climate is mild, 26 C degrees with a nice breeze blowing all the time around your nose. Don´t miss the mouth watering food and especially the red wine, where you surely will enjoy more than one glass. 4 different specialty restaurants alone wait for you in the Pestana, more everywhere around the islands small towns.
In the evening the ferry brought me to Madeira. In daytime it´s a wonderful trip, you will see so much of both islands and even the Islas Desertas. Arrival in Funchal was hell, your luggage is just stowed in heaps on some trailers, so everybody goes looking for his. This with 300 people around and you can easily imagine the overall picture. Only one street leads to the ferry so a long traffic jam results, when everybody tries to take off at the same time. I promised myself not to rent a car in Funchal, August seems to be the worst month for the Funchal people a taxi driver told me – but well good for Tourism. September, my friends told me, is a better time to come. I chose Galomar Hotel in Canico, 20 min away from Funchal. A modest hotel (3 star) connected to some other business next by where they offer accommodation for every demand, all run by the same German guy. The hotel sits on and in a steep cliff right at the seaside, stunning setting you won´t find elsewhere. Stairs and elevator take you down to different plattforms. On top a nice garden and snack bar, a bit deeper a good restaurant Atlantis with spectacular view on the cliff right and left and the litte bay beneath. Further down another snack, showers, a pool , recreational sun area, dive center, multiple entry points in the bay protected by buoys and cliffs on both sides. All this on various bigger and smaller plattforms and levels in between rocks. There is even a bridge to some other level and more place to get a good tan. There are the Manta Divers an excellent business which already won several prices from dive magazines for „Best of Atlantic“. It´s a well organized center with great competent staff. You get everything here, Nitrox, guided or buddy dives at the house reef, boat dives, scooter rental, apnoe training, night dives, lessons with a marine biologist, specialty courses etc. To guide a new group through all this and introduce everything and gear up took more than 1.5 hours. Definitely way too long for some experienced oldtimer. This was my first dive center with debriefing – hooray to that – where I learned that my octopus hose is not long enough to provide sufficient help for a buddy – well you never stop learning. Dives were good but less visibility than Porto Santo, maybe due to swell and construction work around the area? We had some medium fish life, small schools of reef fish – see above- some barracudas, groupers and sting rays. Most times we swam around some huge boulders nearly reaching the surface. They have a greyish ugly Aluminium „Tin Lizzy“ without any colour on it, which serves it´s purpose surprisingly well and is ideal for this area. Getting in and out oft he boat in the sometimes heavy swell needed strong arms and plenty of help. Please don´t miss out on the wine tasting, touring the countryside of the east coast, hiking and visiting the market on a Saturday.


Websites Rhea Divers   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving worldwide
Closest Airport Porto Santo Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm
Water Temp 22-23°C / 72-73°F Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 15-40 M / 49-131 Ft

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions no deco
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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