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gumbyDives

Member Since 27 Jul 2012
Offline Last Active Jan 24 2013 02:56 PM
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Posts I've Made

In Topic: Best liveaboard for Galapagos?

24 January 2013 - 01:32 PM

We dove with the MV Deep Blue in July 2010. I thought it was a good balance of cost/comfort relative to what we read about the other options at the time. We had one very good dive guide and one sub-average guy just trying to sell his video. Rest of crew was fine. Boat was in good shape and crew did their jobs without getting in the way.

We had a great experience at Wolf and Darwin islands. The rest of the dive trip paled in comparison. You never know what the next trip will hold, but any itinerary that spend more time at those two islands is worth paying more for IMHO.

After the cruise, we spent another week wandering the islands on our own. It's easy to get between the three main islands and there are plenty of lodging options and some amazing scenery / animal life on each. Our dives at Wolf/Darwin were incredible, but I do have trouble justifying the cost relative to considerably less expensive trips I have done to other prime destinations (Komodo, Sipadan/Derawan and Maldives, in particular were all ~half the price of our Galapagos trip). But for me, the Galapagos start making sense when I include the second week we spent on the island for a small incremental cost. Our final justification was the 3rd week hiking the hills around Quilotoa (near Quito) for next to nothing...

In Topic: Diving Malaysia

24 January 2013 - 01:02 PM

I spent a few days on Tioman in Aug 2011. The diving wasn't memorable for me, but it was a fine place to get wet. Nothing I saw would lead me to avoid Tioman, but I wouldn't build a dive vacation around it either... I dove with one of the foreign-run shops at the edge of town. Tiger Reef (?) had good rock formations and nice topside scenery with snorkling. That and a small sunk fishing boat are about all I do remember.

I recall there are frequent flights from KL directly to Tioman. We drove from Melaka (south of KL) to the port town and took a ferry over. That journey took ~6 hours. We were happy with the Berjaya resort, but there's plenty of backpacker through boutique hotel options - if you can find them online. We did Berjaya primarily because it was hard to get information about the lodging options ahead of time. We showed up a day early and stayed at a backpacker joint on the north end of the island for a night before walking south to Berjaya.

In Topic: Playa del Carmen / Cozumel / Isla Mujeres (or another whale shark place)

27 July 2012 - 12:36 PM

I've been to the area twice, most recently this past June. First trip we stayed in Playa del Carmen and took a day dive trip to Cozumel. This year we spent most of our trip on Isla Mujeres but added a few days in Playa just to dive the cenotes.

Playa: We used the same shop both times in Playa and I highly recommend Gerardo and Irene at Scuba10 for ocean or cenotes diving. Cenotes may not be for everyone, but you have to try at least once imho. Work with the shop you choose to select a cenote based on your comfort level with buoyancy/visibility and what you'd like to see (halocline, stalagtite formations, jungle, cavern openings to pop up into, etc). I think it is Dos Ojos that has a mid-dive surface into the jungle.

You can do a cenote and Tulum or Coba in a day, but you need to plan carefully. Many cenotes are a healthy drive down an unpaved road into the jungle. One of our favorite cenotes is El Pit and it is around 40 minutes off the highway down dirt track. Most are closer.

Whalesharks: We did two days. My wife did a day out of Cancun, I believe with "whale shark daddy". She was very pleased with the boat and service. The next day, we went together from Isla Mujeres with Mundaca divers. We booked both just a day or two ahead. Granted, Isla did not seem to have many tourists at the beginning of June. But it seems that at least a few of the shops work together to organize people onto boats for any given day. I wasn't very impressed with Mundaca divers' boat or service, but they got the job done. I think the Cancun shop was ~$125 and from Isla was ~$105 including wetsuit. Both days were amazing in terms of interaction with the whale sharks. The experience here was different from our previous encounters in Maldives, Galapagos and La Paz. Everywhere else, we swam hard to keep up with the one or two sharks that would appear at a time. Here, we just sat in one place and let them come to us. At times, we had 3-5 mouths to dodge. Photography was frantic.

Pyramids: Tulum is closest to Playa del Carmen and can be reached by public bus ~1hr if I recall. Coba is a little further, but I don't know if there's a direct bus. Chitzen Itza is a couple hours and there are many tours that will take you. We've done Tulum by bus and rented a car to do Coba and Chitzen Itza in a day. Tulum is beautifully set on a bluff overlooking the ocean. The ruins are small. Coba is set deep in the jungle, had fewer tourists and is less redeveloped. Chitzen Itza is large with amazing ruins, but heavily touristed and a good hike from Playa. Depends what you enjoy. But Tulum is so close it is sort of a no-brainer for a half day.

Playa- we like this town. It is compact and there is good local food within a couple blocks of the tourist strip.

Hope that helps. Have a good trip.