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Dive Review of Scubaqua/Old Gin House in
St. Eustatius

Scubaqua/Old Gin House: "Unspoiled Island for diving and hiking", Aug, 2016,

by David Bader, NC, US (Contributor Contributor 19 reports with 3 Helpful votes). Report 9010.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 4 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling 4 stars
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Statia, as St. Eustatius is commonly called, is a beautiful unspoiled island in the Dutch Caribbean much like Bonaire used to be with a rich history. The town is small with plenty of local restaurants but food is fairly expensive. Other than diving, the only other thing to do is hike the volcano (The Quill). The USD is the local currency but bring small bills as few businesses seem to be able to make proper change. Island tours are available for $20 a person with either of the two main taxi drivers Bobby or Wade (Taxi-5).

The Old Gin House hotel is in the lower town and is clean and roomy. The rooms had mini fridges, expresso machines, large TV's, and an iron. Grocery stores are available in the upper town. Breakfast was included with our package but it was always scrambled or hard boiled eggs with undercooked bacon and assorted fruits, lunch meat, and cheese. While it was advertised for 7-10 AM, it was generally not available until 7:15 and there was generally nothing left by 8AM. Dinners were on the pricy side averaging around $35 for an entre. An option is to climb the cliff to the local restaurants in the upper town where cheaper meals could be found.

Scubaqua were great to dive with and they responded to any issues in a timely manner. Our first issue was with Win Air. They have a limited baggage allowance of one 50 lb checked bag and one 6 lb carry-on (not strictly enforced which I learned too late). Of 13 divers only three of us got our dive bags when the plane landed. Luckily, I was one. The owner, Marieka, immediately started making phone calls to Win Air and got the bags delivered the next day. She also outfitted all divers with rental gear, free of charge. They also arranged for box lunches for $10 so we didn't have to deal with the slow service of Old Gin Houses restaurant. Statia requires a dive guide for every 6 divers. Dive guides Noortje, Laura and Christelle were very personable and managed the dives very well. Capt Mike provided onboard entertainment with his singing. Max dive time was 60 minutes, including the safety stop, and depth for most dives were to 60 feet on a square profile. Air divers had to watch their decompression limits by the fourth dive of the day.

Dive sites had plenty of soft corals and marine life but mainly juveniles. Lots of green turtles but nothing bigger than some hawksbill turtles. They had lionfish which are not being actively hunted. We dove two wrecks, The Charles L. Brown and the Chien Tong. Both wrecks were coral covered and had some of the biggest lobsters I've ever seen. No penetration was allowed on the wrecks even though they seem to be set up for light penetration. Of course diving Blue Bead Hole is a must to try your luck to find a blue bead (the only thing you can take from the Marine Preserve). I wasn't one of the lucky ones!

Statia could be a great dive destination and certainly worthy of a visit. However, I don't like over regulation and Statia seems to have plenty of that. No shore diving, required dive guides, limited dive times, and no wreck penetration. I still would recommend a visit to see an island not corrupted by cruise ships.
Websites Scubaqua   Old Gin House

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience Over 1000 dives
Where else diving Caribbean Islands, Atlantic, Pacific and Indian Oceans
Closest Airport EUX Getting There Win Air is only carrier to Statia. No guarantee on baggage delivery.

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny Seas choppy
Water Temp 83-°F / 28-°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 75-100 Ft/ 23-30 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile no
Enforced diving restrictions Required dive guide for every six divers. 60 minute bottom time, including safety stop.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments Because of weight limits, I did not bring my UW camera. However, the dive shop had a camera table and two rinse tanks which were shared with regs and computers. The boat had only a small camera bucket which was sufficient for the few cameras onboard.
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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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