basilkiwan - Bluewater Dive Travel



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Reviews (4)

Socorro Island Diving


Socorro is not a place for novice diver. The currents are strong, and even on calm days, there is a lot of surge (which is actually fun to ride in after awhile). None of that was unexpected -- after all, we were diving in the middle of the Pacific without any extensive reefs, or large islands to provide sheltered water.

The marine varies by season (we did not see whale sharks, for example, because they do not show up typically in January -- again no surprise), but is focused on large pelagic creatures. Socorro is all about wide-angle photography. We dove at 3 sites, (Canyon, Boiler, Roca Partida), all of which were very similar in the types of creatures you see. There is a surprising amount of interesting smaller creatures lurking in the rocks (I followed around a very sweet octopus for awhile) at the dive sites, but sadly they just tend to get ignored by divers in awe of the big stuff -- dolphins, sharks (hammerhead, silky, reef), and playful manta rays that seem to love swimming through the bubbles of divers. The experience of playing with the giant Pacific Manta rays, over and over again really made the trip worthwhile.

The dolphins were surprisingly shy (I know other divers have different experiences), but they did show up on 2 early morning dives at Canyon. Later on, we headed out in the panga boats, chasing humpback whales (there were 4 hanging out near the boat). We got close to one whale, but he dove immediately upon our approach. However, we did get to snorkel with a playful pod of dolphins, (and some curious sharks that made us a bit nervous), and got some nice video

If you want better idea about the trip, you can check out my video here:

Visited on 01/2014 - Submitted on 02/28/2014
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Turks and Caicos Aggressor II


I have travelled on a lot of live aboard dive yachts in the last 15 years, including the Peter Hughes (Aggressor & Dancer fleets) in Indonesia (Komodo), Belize, Turks & Caicos), as well as the Mike Ball boat in Australia, and the Explorer Ventures boats in Saba/St. Maarten/St. Kitts. We dove on the Turks and Caicos Aggressor in November 2009, and honestly, it was our favorite boat of them all.

Travel Coordination:

The Aggressor crew were at the airport, ready to take our bags and whisk us over to the boat, and similarly had shuttles ready to take us back to the airport (very sadly) on our return.

Accommodations / Food:

Rooms on live aboard dive yachts are always a bit tight (bring folding/soft-sided luggage!), but our rooms were very comfortable, with adequate storag efor all of our "stuff". The meals on the yacht were fantastic! As a really nice added bonus, when we came up from our night dives, the crew was waiting for us with hot cocoa. That was such a nice touch!


Like any good live aboard, the Aggressor makes the diving easy. Your gear awaits on the back of the boat, and you can just roll into the water -- up to 5 dives a day. That's why liveaboards cost more, but for ease and logging a lot of dives, it is a good deal.

What makes the Turks & Caicos Aggressor really special was the crew, led by Captain Amanda (she is still there at time of this posting, and we plan to go back within the next year). To date, all of my experiences on the Peter Hughes boats have been really positive, but I think Captain Amanda was our favorite – she was great in making us feel so welcome on the boat, and in guiding us to some really nice dive sites

Turks and Caicos is my personal favorite for diving in the Caribbean. The waters are particularly clear, the reefs are lush, there are some really nice walls, and a great variety of both large creatures (sharks, rays, grouper, moray eels, barracuda) and small creatures (nudibranchs, garden eels, Christmas tree worms…you get the idea).

One particularly fun dive by the crew involved the “pyramid of love” – a perforated metal pyramid shaped box (about the size of a breadbox), which is filled with frozen fish, and place on the reef. The crew brings it down on one of the dives, to draw sharks – it never fails. Ordinarily, I object to feeding wild animals, but in this case, it was kind of fun, and it wasn't feeding them from our hands. There were a couple of reef sharks cruising around, drawn by the scent of thawing fish, along with a large moray eel, a grouper (named Gulley, who was well known to the crew), and a little nurse shark. The nurse shark won, he flipped on his back, swam under the pyramid and basically sucked all the fish out. It was quite comical to watch! You have to admire his creativity!

Visited on 11/2009 - Submitted on 02/28/2014
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Belize Aggressor IV


Travel Coordination:

We dove on the Sun Dancer II in December 2012, and we really enjoyed the boat, and the diving. It was a second for me on the Peter Hughes boat in Belize (I dove years ago on the original Dancer boat, which sadly sank in a hurricane), and I can say that this time the diving was even better (or at least it seemed better). The Dancer crew were at the airport, ready to take our bags and whisk us over to the boat. Similarly, on the way out, the Dancer staff had a shuttle ready to take us back to the airport (they actually pre-arranged for us to have access to the poolside bar of the local Radisson hotel in Belize City for a couple of hours before heading to catch our flights home).

Accommodations / Food:

Rooms on live aboard dive yachts are always a bit tight, but truthfully, our rooms were really comfortable, with enough room for all of our "stuff". The meals on the yacht were very good, just like you would expect on a Dancer live aboard yacht.


Like any good live aboard, Peter Hughes makes the diving easy. Your gear awaits on the back of the boat, and you can just roll into the water -- up to 5 dives a day. That's why liveaboards cost more, but for ease and logging a lot of dives, it is a good deal. For the money, the Sun Dancer II was actually pretty reasonably priced (especially when you factor in that all your food is included)

Belize has the 2nd largest barrier reef in the world, and the diving is really quite nice, with a variety of both small macro, photography creatures, (nudibranchs, sea horses, flaming tongue, small reef fish) and larger creatures, like moray eels, reef sharks, lots of turtles, eagle rays, sting rays, and barracuda. The diving overall was easy, with relatively calm waters, and the water was around 78 F, so I was perfectly comfortable in my 3mm wetsuit.

For a lot of people, the high point of a Belize dive trip is to dive the Blue Hole. Maybe I'm cynical but color me unimpressed. I liked diving there, but it is just a cave. If I want to see stalactites and stalagmites, I'll go to Luray caverns. My favorite dive sites were Long Caye Ridge and Long Caye Wall (where the reef just seemed very lush), and No Coco, where I got to play with a very sweet turtle.

You can check out my video to get a better idea of the diving was like:

Visited on 12/2012 - Submitted on 02/28/2014
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Captain Don's Habitat


Travel coordination:

We spent a relaxing week in August 2013 at Captain Don’s, as part of a group package for our dive club. This was our second trip to the resort (our first was in 2008). We arrived in Bonaire in the late afternoon, and were greeted at the airport by the resort staff, who helped us with our luggage and shuttled us quickly to the resort. Our arrival formalities were simple: we presented our vouchers at the resort lobby and then headed to the bar, where we enjoyed the view and a complementary welcome drink (rum punch, of course).

At departure, we brought our bags back to the lobby, and were taken by a shuttle bus back to the airport. It would have been a bit easier if the resort had some luggage carts available to help bring our bags from our room to the resort lobby, but everything was otherwise efficient, and very pleasant.


We stayed in the newer Oceanfront Junior Suites, which I believe opened in 2012. Our rooms were perfectly located, a few steps away from the dive center/lockers and dive piers, making it very quick and easy to go diving anytime we wanted.

Some online reviews have been more negative, stating that the rooms and the grounds need updating, but we did not find this to be case. The rooms at Captain Don’s are not overly luxurious, but the rooms are comfortable, and correctly furnished/appointed for a dive resort. Our rooms were spacious, clean, and very comfortable, with A/C, ceiling fan, a small kitchenette, and a large patio (with 2 chairs, drying rack, and table) overlooking the water. The resort faces west, so we enjoyed a gorgeous sunset view every evening, either from our patio, or at the resort bar, which overlooks the main dive pier.

Resort features

The resort is laid out along a short stretch of Bonaire’s west coast, on 20-foot bluffs facing towards the island of Klein Bonaire. There is a pool, a day spa (where I enjoyed a very good back massage on the last day), a photo studio (BonPhoto – where I took an excellent underwater photography course), the dive center, the bar, and the restaurant (Rum Runners), which sits in the center of the resort.


Rum Runners is Captain Don’s outdoor restaurant that sits on the bluffs overlooking the sea, facing towards Klein Bonaire. They serve all three meals, and our package included a full breakfast buffet (which includes an omelet station). (Note: there are other full board packages available with all 3 meals at Captain Don’s). Overall, we were happy with Rum Runners, and ate virtually every meal there, because of the outdoor ambience, as well as the convenience, since it is relatively long walk to the restaurants at neighboring resorts. The atmosphere is casual (as you would expect at a dive resort) but the food was good, though not stellar, and the menu was limited, focusing heavily on seafood options (which makes sense given what is locally available). The service was good, very friendly and casual. The bar had great rum drinks (what else of course, it is the Caribbean!). It’s certainly worthwhile to try out restaurants at the neighboring resorts, or to take a short cab ride into town (which I have done on previous trips). The Buddy Dive resort next door has a new, more upscale restaurant next door called “Ingridients” (named after their chef, Ingrid), which was excellent.


My husband and I both have a preference for live-aboard dive yachts, BUT, Captain Don’s is exceptionally good when it comes to shore-based dive resorts. Our package included 12 boat dives, plus unlimited shore diving (note: there are different package options available, including car rental to try out Bonaire many shore dive sites). The heart of the resort is the dive center, where they focus on making the diving “easy”. They have been organizing diving for years, and they know how to make it both flexible and efficient for divers.

We had our dive briefing on the first morning after our arrival, and began diving immediately thereafter. Captain Don’s runs a couple of boats (usually 2 at a time) off the larger main pier, offering 2 morning dives, and one afternoon dive. The dive center posts a sign up board for the boats on the outside the door. In addition, they have tanks available if you want to rent a car/pickup truck to try out the other shore diving sites around the island, and have tanks available around the clock if you want to dive on the “house reef” (La Machacca), right off the smaller 2nd dive pier (always a good and interesting dive site). There is an open-air locker room, right next to the dive piers, so you can leave your dive gear securely, if you don’t want to drag it back to your room at the end of the dive day. When you combine the boat dives with the shore diving, it is easily possible to do 3-4 dives a day (or even 5 dives a day), which is pretty good for an onshore resort.

Most of the dive sites are on Bonaire’s west side (as the east side has rougher seas), or around the small island of Klein Bonaire (directly facing Captain Don’s and Buddy Dive resorts). On this most recent trip, in August 2013, water temperatures were between 80-82 F, so after the first day I dispensed with the wetsuit and just dove with a rash guard and swimsuit, which was truly liberating. Bonaire is known for easy and pleasant diving, with beautiful reefs that have been well protected by the government, but without much in term of large pelagic species. That said, I ran into a pod of dolphins and photographed them underwater when I was diving off of Klein Bonaire on my previous dive trip (in 2008), but that was a freak occurrence. On this most recent trip, I was doing wide-angle photography and videography, and I found plenty of interesting seascapes, and larger noteworthy creatures to photograph, like eels, turtles, rays, and a colorful schools of all sorts of reef fish. Macro photographers will not be disappointed, as Bonaire’s reefs have plenty of nudibranchs, lobsters and sea horses among many other things. Among the dive sites of note that I tried out this were:

Hilma Hooker: This is a well-known wreck dive, in about 90 feet of water. The boat was a drug smuggling vessel that was abandoned in Bonaire’s main harbor, and “accidently” sunk while being towed away. The rudder is covered with barrel sponges and coral, and tarpon and eels are frequently seen cruising around.

Joanna’s Sunchi/Klein Bonaire: This was a long beautiful dive on a pretty reef, reportedly named for one of Captain Don’s girlfriends. I saw seahorses, cowfish and barracuda.

Bloodlet and Rappel: These were my favorite dive sites of this trip, they are adjacent to each other. They are both beautiful wall dives, covered with a verdant reef, and lots of sponges. I shot a lot of video and photos here, with squid, moray eels and porcupine fish.

The video link below should give you an idea:

Additionally, Captain Don’s is host to the BonPhoto studio, which is owned and operated by a charming young couple, Zsuzsanna & Leo. Zsuzsanna is a talented photographer and photography/videography instructor, and I took an underwater photography class with her that helped me enormously. Leo, her husband, teaches free diving, and also leads nighttime scuba dives (as a separate company, called Flow), using fluorescent lights and visors over our masks. We went on a fluorescent night dive on Captain Don’s house reef (La Macchaca), and it was the best night dive we have ever done. The fluorescent lights lit up all sorts of creatures that you would not normally see on a night dive with regular lights, like tube worms, and fire worms, and we saw brittle stars hopping around the reef in a mad dash to spawn (it was incredible – who knew they could move so fast?). In addition, we had tarpon and barracuda trailing us to hunt smaller prey lit up by our lights. It was an amazing dive!


The staff are polite, laid back, and very experienced. I had a dive computer die at the beginning of the trip, and they correctly diagnosed the problem (sensor failure – confirmed when I returned) and rented me a substitute computer on the spot for the week.


We tipped a standard 15% at the restaurant for our meals that we ate at Captain Don’s (except for breakfast, which was included in our package). As for the diving center staff, we gave a modest tip to one of the boat captains (Neto – he was fantastic), and then left the bulk of our tip (around 10%) in a recycled air tank where staff collect and share tips.

Visited on 08/2013 - Submitted on 02/26/2014
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