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Dive Review of Blue Waters Dive'n in
Trinidad and Tobago

Blue Waters Dive'n: "Blue Waters Dive'n (Tobago) Ups Its Game", Feb, 2015,

by Daniel Spitzer MD, NY, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 9 reports with 4 Helpful votes). Report 8508 has 2 Helpful votes.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving N/A
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments
My introduction to Blue Waters Dive’n (BWDive) certainly was not auspicious. We had travelled well over 2000 miles, arriving fairly late the previous night, so my buddies and I were eager to suit up early the next morning. The first non-frozen water we had seen in weeks beckoned, and as competent divers, each with between 15 and 30 years of experience, we expected few hassles.

As I filled my Spare Air from a tank, Wayne Palmer, who runs the dive operation, sauntered over. “We don’t use those here, and they’re forbidden”.
“Why???”
“They explode, and anyway divers use them to extend their bottom time dangerously, and we come up here at 600 pounds. Besides which, the screw you have there {pointing toward the pressure release valve on the fill yoke} is not the original.”

Indeed, the screw was not the original, since the day before departure I realized it had been lost, so I had replaced it with a brass screw of the same size and a small washer. I had performed the engineering calculations – the screw would be subjected to a maximum push-out pressure of 36 lbs, which is a mere fraction of the safe working limit for that diameter and metal. It was perfectly functional, as I had already filled and breathed down my Spare Air once to test it. And I had emailed the dive shop a photo of the fill yoke the day before departure, asking if they had one, so he knew perfectly well that I was going to bring my Spare Air down, and his staff had not told me of this rule! (And we wont even begin to describe the hassles involved in bringing the empty thing through paranoid TSA security! Note – print out the TSA information sheet and hand it, and the empty/unscrewed spare air to the guards. Even then, hold your breath and smile a lot…)

But do they explode? A Google search that evening revealed no cases that I could document. Anyway, I left the ill-fated Spare-Air behind on the dock, figuring that things could only improve.

And improve they did. Blue Waters Inn (BWInn) is set at the northeast corner of Tobago, a verdant and in many areas mountainous island at the extreme southern end of the Caribbean chain. Sister island Trinidad has a population of over a million, while the resident population of Tobago is approximately 1/20 of that. Many sections of the island are undeveloped, especially the central spiny mountainous area. Birdwatchers (called “Twitchers” by the residents, when out of earshot) migrate to the island for its varied avian population, which includes aquatic and shore birds, residents of the rainforest and mountains, and numerous species of hummingbird. Indeed, the flock of Twitchers at BWInn far outnumbered the divers, at least during our February visit.

BWDive had acquired a spanking new dive boat some three weeks before our arrival – a well-found and comfortable Newton 36. The boat can readily accommodate 15 or more divers, though we were almost always a group of 6 or so, plus a few dive masters. Divers are asked to meet at the shop, at the top of the pier, at about 8:30, for a nominal 9 am departure, though of course “Island Time” applies. (In truth, I should not complain, since I was inadvertently 20 minutes late myself on one occasion, and delayed the group accordingly.) Most diving occurs along the southern shore of Little Tobago Island, about 15 minutes off the dock. Bottom time for those of us who don’t consume much air was almost an hour; I would typically return to the boat at 50 plus minutes with half a fill remaining in my Alu 80, despite not having my Spare Air available… Typical depth for the first dive was 65 feet, and after an hour surface interval, a slightly shallower second dive was in order. (Nitrox is available, but not needed given the depths and durations we encountered.) We were back to the dock by about 12:30 or 1 pm, and learned to pre-order our lunch at the end of breakfast to expedite our departure for an afternoon dive by about 2 or 2:30.

I have been diving for nearly 30 years, and the state of reefs worldwide is a far cry from what I both recall and also confirm when I review my old photographs. However, by contemporary Caribbean standards the waters around Tobago offer good diving. Sponges appear to be filling the ecological niche previously inhabited by hard corals. The population of fish seems to favor juvenile forms and smaller species, and the overall ‘energy’ of the reef – using the term both scientifically as well as in the lay terminology – seems to be about 30% of what it was but two decades ago. Caribbean-wide, many large coral heads are dead, and Staghorn, Elkhorn, Fire and Pillar corals have been particularly devastated. That said, one of the largest Brain corals I have ever seen sits about 45 feet deep off Little Tobago, and happily appears quite healthy. Bizarrely, perfectly intact areas of coral can be found immediately adjacent to or even growing on the skeletons of identical species. Very few sea urchins were evident, though the coverage of ‘creeping crud’ was far less than I have seen elsewhere. The Lionfish scourge appears less prevalent than further north, at least to this point, and I noted only 4 during nearly 12 hours underwater;

Turtles were routinely encountered, and they often seemed as curious about us as we were about them, effortlessly circling around us. We sighted one smallish black tip shark, one spotted eagle ray, a small school of tarpon, and a line of squid. Octopi and seahorses were noted on many dives, along with a few green moray, occasional lobster and crab, and large schools of black durgeon, chromis and creole wrasse. French and Queen Angelfish were common, while the occasional drum added to the undersea cacophony of snapping shrimp.

Interesting topography can augment a relatively repetitive dive repertoire and, toward the end of our 5 days of diving with BWDive, our subtle suggestions to try something other than the gently sloping shores of Little Tobago were heard and heeded. One afternoon dive navigated several pinnacles within the bay, with the violently breaking waves, as seen from below, looking strangely like active weather fronts in the sky. Our final morning featured a 45 minute boat trip around the northeastern tip of the island to the Caribbean side, and a site named Three Sisters, in deference to the three rocky spires rising out of the sea. Incidentally, that boat trip alone justified the effort involved in the entire vacation – the spectacular wooded cliffs dropping into the waves of the blue-green sea are the equal of any site I have seen worldwide.

Water temperature was 78 degrees (averaging the reading from several computers); one of our group bundled up in a 5 mm full suit augmented by a vest and hood while I made do with an old compressed 2 mm shortie – though after nearly an hour I was chilly. Visibility was routinely well over 100 feet; 5 foot swells were merely an inconvenience during the giant stride entry and ladder return via the stern of the boat. And this boat sports two well-designed stern ladders – with broad flat steps! Whoever specifies small round steps on dive boats deserves to climb one during rough seas… Bizarrely, despite significant surface current (all dives were drift) and the need to chase the boat while on the surface, the crew seemed reticent to throw out a tow line. However, this might reflect their relative inexperience with the new much larger boat; after several days of prompting, they began to entertain the idea. Speaking of divemasters, the majority of the group seems to assume that most divers wish to dive their own dive, and thus point out the occasional sight of particular interest, but do not guide so much as accompany. I will ascribe the lack of water, snacks and a functional head on the boat to growing pains, and assume that these services will be provided as the crew and dive operation accommodate to the new vessel.

With significant renovation nearly complete, BWInn is certainly a comfortable place to stay. Rooms are spacious and air-conditioned, though I turned mine off and opened the balcony door the moment I arrived - did I mention that I was trying to flee the cold? Satellite TV is available at the Bar and in the guest rooms, while Wifi signal is strongest in the area near the restaurant and pool or at the Dive Shop, as well as the 10-16 block of rooms. Since there is no commissary, and the city of Scarborough is over an hour away, pack everything you might need, such as over the counter meds and snacks.

Food at the hotel was readily available and well prepared, and included a vegetarian option each evening. Searching for some variety, we walked into the metropolis of Speyside one evening - a 10 minute jaunt over a small hill. One restaurant was closed, another held two patrons but with no food in sight, and the busiest had four, to which we added our threesome. Call ahead if you want to eat in town to ensure that you can be accommodated.

Conclusion

BWInn is considerably nicer than many of the dive hotels I have enjoyed, while BWDive provides easy access to some of the nicer diving the Caribbean presently offers. Wayne Palmer turned out to be both friendly and helpful, and deserves accolades for, among other things, spending considerable time and effort attempting to repair the flooded computer of one of my companions. Up to date equipment is available and appears well maintained. The recent arrival of the new 36 foot dive boat should open up a considerable number of more varied dive sites. If you enjoy studying birds, bring binoculars. And finally, diving with a computer is mandatory, while diving with a Spare Air is not…

Information

Most access to Tobago (TAB) is via connection from Trinidad (POS – Port of Spain), with service from a number of US cities on a variety of carriers. Caribbean Airlines (the corporate successor to BWIA) does run a weekly nonstop from New York JFK to Tobago and back. BWInn is about a 1 hr 20 drive from the Tobago airport. I was told that the same Trinidadian owns BWDive and BWInn; he has been extensively renovating both over the past two years.

Blue Waters Inn / Blue Waters Dive’n, Batteaux Bay, Speyside, Tobago
Tel.: 1(868) 660-6056 / 1(868) 660-5818
Fax : 1(868) 660-5195 [bluewatersinn.com link]
Websites Blue Waters Dive'n   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Widely in the northern hemisphere
Closest Airport Tobago Getting There some flights direct to Tobago, otherwise via Trinidad

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, choppy
Water Temp 78-79°F / 26-26°C Wetsuit Thickness 2
Water Visibility 60-90 Ft/ 18-27 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions Reasonable dive profiles are allowed; computer usage is mandatory.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

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

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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Report currently has 2 Helpful votes

Subscriber's Comments

By Hal Shanisin PA, US at Sep 13, 2019 17:06 EST  
Nice well rounded review. We may go. I hope early November is a reasonable time to go.
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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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