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One day dives in various Caribbean ports


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#1 holloways

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Posted 03 April 2011 - 07:17 AM

I'm taking a Caribbean cruise in May with a bunch of non-diving family members. While there I'd lover to to seize the opportunity to dive in a couple of the ports. Most of the info sources I trust (wet pixel, undercurrents, etc) don't really discuss one day diving excursions. The general web has a lot of info – but it seems to cater to newbie divers. I'd also like to avoid booking directly w/ the cruise ship if at all possible.

Any advice or suggestions as to (1) which of these places have good diving – and (2) operators that would not treat me like a second class citizen, cattle or a beginner - coming off of a cruise ship? Thanks in advance!


PHILIPSBURG, ST. MAARTEN
ST. JOHNS, ANTIGUA
CASTRIES, ST. LUCIA
BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS
ST. GEORGE'S, GRENADA
ORANJESTAD, ARUBA
WILLEMSTAD, CURACAO
KRALENDIJK, BONAIRE

#2 diver dave1

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Posted 03 April 2011 - 08:07 AM

I dove St Maarten a few yrs back and it was fair at best. They took us to a small wreck in sand flats with virtually no life on it for the first dive. The second dive had limited coral and a few fish. It was poor enough I passed up diving the rest of the week there. I would suggest passing diving there and visit Friar's bay and beach. Its a lovely, small beach with a great french restaurant. When we visited it, there were 2 eating places on that beach and the furthest from parking was the best. Take warning, its on the French side so some women are topless and generally you would be willing to pay them to cover it all up. But its a lovely beach and a nice place to unwind. A family of 4 females played cards next to us one day there. 4 generations of women, aged roughly 10, 30, 50, 70 all topless, playing cards. It takes about 5 min to get used to the change and just ignore it all.
You will need a rental car to get there and good directions. The last 100 meters of road was gravel but not too harsh. The restaurant on the beach only took cash when we visited. They had a seafood club sandwich that was fabulous but not cheap. The menu is a chalkboard and updated daily. Its a beach restaurant and will serve you at your beach chair or you can come the 20 meter walk to their shaded tables on the sand. The car rental companies will warn you not to drive on any non-paved road under penalty of death - or close to it. we ignored this for the very short gravel section to Friar's.
This map shows Friar's in the upper left section. The sign for the turnoff is small so be watching for it.
I would pass on Orient Bay and beach. Its a Zoo of naked people and businesses trying to make a quick buck on the gawking tourists.

St maarten map

On Bonaire, Buddy Dive is very nice but certainly not the only place that is good. You can shore dive from the dock or take a boat trip. If you cannot match up with their morning dive trip, just team up with someone and dive their shore line from their dock. Its quite easy and very nice. You might be able to pair up with someone going out when you arrive. If cash is less of a concern, pre-arrange a private guide to show you all the little critters that live there. You will need a ride from the cruise dock to their shop but they can likely arrange something if you contact them in advance.

A tough part of the cruise deal is the schedule. Often the morning dives are gone before you can get there. The nice shore diving on Bonaire should aid you there.

Cannot help you with the other spots but perhaps others here can.
dave

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#3 focker

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Posted 03 April 2011 - 08:21 AM

I'm taking a Caribbean cruise in May with a bunch of non-diving family members. While there I'd lover to to seize the opportunity to dive in a couple of the ports. Most of the info sources I trust (wet pixel, undercurrents, etc) don't really discuss one day diving excursions. The general web has a lot of info – but it seems to cater to newbie divers. I'd also like to avoid booking directly w/ the cruise ship if at all possible.

Any advice or suggestions as to (1) which of these places have good diving – and (2) operators that would not treat me like a second class citizen, cattle or a beginner - coming off of a cruise ship? Thanks in advance!


PHILIPSBURG, ST. MAARTEN
ST. JOHNS, ANTIGUA
CASTRIES, ST. LUCIA
BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS
ST. GEORGE'S, GRENADA
ORANJESTAD, ARUBA
WILLEMSTAD, CURACAO
KRALENDIJK, BONAIRE


My wife and I cruise often and have dove with some great operations that we arranged via email before leaving on our cruise. You will save money and probably get better service doing it this way so you are making a good choice. All of the operators I mention will pick you up at the ship and drop you off after your dive.

Here is operations I have dove with and can suggest:
St Lucia - We dove with Dive Fair Helen and had a great day including a nice lunch for $90. I am a huge fan of the coral/fish now in St. Lucia, just beautiful and I am surprised it is not talked about more. http://www.divefairhelen.com/
Barbados - We had a very nice day with Dive Barbados. We did two boat dives with them. http://www.divebarbados.net/
Curacao - I can't say enough good stuff about The Dive Bus! They are wonderful people, reasonable and you HAVE to try them!!! http://www.the-dive-bus.com/
Bonaire - We dove with Wanna Dive and had an excellent day. We did two boat dives and then a shallow shore dive. http://www.wannadivebonaire.com/

We did a jeep tour in Aruba and a beach day in St. Maarten because I have read the diving is just OK in those places so I have nothing to report there except the jeep tour is a lot of fun. We haven't been to Antigua or Grenada.

Let me know if you have any questions and I expect a full report when you get back!

Edited by focker, 03 April 2011 - 10:11 AM.

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#4 resappraiser

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Posted 03 April 2011 - 09:23 AM

I'm taking a Caribbean cruise in May with a bunch of non-diving family members. While there I'd lover to to seize the opportunity to dive in a couple of the ports. Most of the info sources I trust (wet pixel, undercurrents, etc) don't really discuss one day diving excursions. The general web has a lot of info – but it seems to cater to newbie divers. I'd also like to avoid booking directly w/ the cruise ship if at all possible.

Any advice or suggestions as to (1) which of these places have good diving – and (2) operators that would not treat me like a second class citizen, cattle or a beginner - coming off of a cruise ship? Thanks in advance!


PHILIPSBURG, ST. MAARTEN
ST. JOHNS, ANTIGUA
CASTRIES, ST. LUCIA
BRIDGETOWN, BARBADOS
ST. GEORGE'S, GRENADA
ORANJESTAD, ARUBA
WILLEMSTAD, CURACAO
KRALENDIJK, BONAIRE

I just got back a few weeks ago from a cruise. St. Maartens was one of my dive sites. Fair at best. Good viz, but nothing really exciting to see. Focker is right on with his recommendations. As far as Grenada goes, I haven't dove there yet, but I have been to the island twice. I strongly recommend you grab a taxi when you get off the ship and go to the Aquarium Restaurant. There were six of us and the driver came back and picked us up at 3:00 p.m. We would have stayed longer but the ship was leaving port at 5:00 p.m. Round trip taxi fare was $60.00 for all of us. And yes, the van was air conditioned. It's about a 20 minute drive. It opens at 10:00 a.m. and you can rent a lounge chair for $6.00 for all day. Great little beach with plenty of natural shade and crystal clear water. Kind of a private, out of the way spot. Very few tourists! The restaurant has a nice bar ($3.00 for local beer) and a really nice menu for lunch. When you get there, just walk down the driveway, through the dining area and enjoy! Here's their link: http://www.aquarium-grenada.com/

Bob

#5 holloways

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Posted 05 April 2011 - 11:12 AM

This is great. Just what I needed! Thanks so much. Here is some info I got on Bonaire. Maybe someone else will benefit from this info on Bonaire

Captain Don’s Habitat no longer picks up clients from cruise ships, and first preference for diving goes to guests at the resort, but there are 5 options for you: (1) Book directly with the cruise ship, (2) Dive Friends @ Yellow Submarine, (3) Divi Flamingo Beach Resort, (4) Buddy Dive Resort, or (5) Contact the dive operations manager at Captain Don's directly.


(1) Contact your cruise company and ask if they take reservations for dive excursions while docked on Bonaire, or if they work with any one dive operator specifically that you contact directly. Some divers still like to make their own arrangements, so here are 3 more options for you:


(2) This reputable dive operator on Bonaire has made arrangements for cruise passengers to sign up at the ship: 

Dive Friends @ Yellow Submarine

Kaya Playa Lechi 24

Kralendijk, Bonaire

Phone, if calling from the U.S. or Canada: 011-599- 717-2929

E-mail: info@dive-friends-bonaire.com  

Website: http://www.dive-friends-bonaire.com  

 

(3) The Divi Flamingo Beach Resort on Bonaire is just a 5 or 7-minute walk from where the cruise ships dock or you can take a taxi if you prefer. The Divi Flamingo offers a day pass and you can purchase diving or snorkeling. The dive operations manager’s name is Serge. The hotel number is (calling from the U.S.): 011 + 599 + 717-8285. Ask to be transferred to the dive shop. Otherwise, you can just arrive there and ask for the day pass, then go to the dive center. I’ve been told they get a lot of cruise passengers. I think the day pass at Divi costs like $10 or $15 per person (not sure). You can also try sending the reservations desk an e-mail at: reserve@diviresorts.com.

 

(4) Buddy Dive Resort picks up and returns divers to and from the cruise dock. It might be commissionable to you, but you’ll need to contact the gentleman who handles this directly at the resort to purchase the package for your clients and make the arrangements. His name is Rob Verschoor. He can be reached at 011+ 599-788-1762 or e-mail: rob.verschoor@buddydie.com.

 

(5) Captain Don's Habitat - You may try contacting the dive operations manager at Captain Don's Habitat directly and ask to see if they are able to accommodate you on the date and times you are requesting, but you might need to take a taxi to the resort.

#6 chadbeck

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Posted 07 April 2011 - 04:44 PM

I have done a few of the islands on your list.

Barbados-I also used dive barbados and also just loved diving with them. I found it very relaxed and a great day of diving. They picked me up right at the end of the cruise terminal. That said it is a bit of a hike to get out were they could pick me up as they can't pull in to the area because of the security.

St. Lucia.- I used Frogs diving http://www.frogsdiving.com/ They were one of my fav's ops from a cruise ship. picked me up on there boat right across from the ship. Maybe a 50 yard walk. They use only small groups( we had 5)-Dive your computer which is great and gave a briefing of 5 spots that fit the weather and let the boat decide on the site. We went with Supermans Flight for the first dive which is a great drift dive at the base of the pitons(A must do!) And the same 5 choices for the 2nd dive. Just a great group to dive with. Will go with them again when I go back for sure.

Curacao- I went with Ocean Encounters. They were ok just a larger group which was ok. Again picked up at cruise ship. The one nice thing about them was after the two tank you get free shore diving at the house reef so I was able to get in a 3rd dive before going back to the ship

If you have any more questions about the above just let me know.