Cindy Shaw

Cindy Shaw

My Dive Map

Reviews (11)

Casa del Mar Cozumel Hotel & Dive Resort

5
4
5
5

Casa Del mar was a very pleasant dive vacation venue for us. Their generosity to donate a weeks stay through a DiveHeart raffle introduced us to their hospitality. The staff we met at the LB Scuba Show graciously greeted us in Cozumel and made sure our stay met all our needs. Staff at all levels were friendly, inviting, and helpful. Our maid even created incredible towel critters for us including both a whale shark and a lobster. The dining room staff all introduced themselves by name and made it important to quickly learn our preferences from their varied menu. Rather than a buffet, we were able to choose from a very nice made to order menu tailored to our preferences. They felt like a part of our family after our week stay. The room was basic and comfortable, decorated in traditional mexican style and the bed was very spacious and comfortable. As underwater photography aficionados, it would have been nice to have more space and more easily accessible outlets for camera care. More hooks and places to hang things to dry after diving would also have been helpful. The diving was coordinated with Marine World across the main street, but a bridge overpass was available and lockers in the dock area to store and clean our gear. This was our third trip to Cozumel and I think I love the diving there more each time. The colors are amazing and I see more everywhere I look. The brightly colored and uniquely shaped sponges tempt me to imagine fairytales. This trip we spent time with many turtles, often "posing" for us along with large barracuda and myriad tropical fish of all sizes and colors. The house reef was truly excellent, allowing long, relaxed shallow shore dives to photograph arrow crabs, anemone crabs, brittle stars on bright sponges, and even basket stars. The boats of Marine World were spacious and not jam packed with divers in every corner. They put effort into pairing up experienced divers in smaller boats and seeking dive sites that allowed exploration not specifically timed to a large group. We truly appreciated this attention to making the dives even better. We were able to return to the wreck site more often as one of our favorites and add some afternoon boat dives to the reefs as well. Traveling as a couple and not part of a group, I felt that Casa Del Mar and Marine World did a great job providing a relaxed, very Cozumel experience.

Visited on 06/2014 - Submitted on 07/30/2014
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Sea of Cortez

5
5
5
5

Sea of Cortez is my go to destination for diving close to California where the water is warm and clear. The flight from Los Angeles to Los Cabos is just over 2 hours and easy to access. There are live-aboards and dive destinations both in southern Baja from Loreto to LaPaz to Cabo. I have been able to dive the full length of the Sea of Cortez on a live aboard and loved it all from the stark but beautiful landscape to the clear water filled with abundant sea life. The people of Southern Baja are friendly and welcoming, and the prices are very reasonable.

MIDRIFF ISLANDS

In the northern part of the Gulf, the Midriff Islands offer walls, multiple rocky area with myriad critters and sometimes encounters with Whale Sharks, Dolphins and other Big guys. The Diversity underwater is combined with beautiful deserted beaches and amazing sunsets.

LA PAZ

In the LaPaz area, an all time favorite is Los Islotes where playing with the sea lions is the norm. This dive consistently makes me smile and results in great photos to share later. In cruising the full Sea of Cortez, I found there was something to explore all along the way from macro critters in the rocks, jawfish coming up to peak at us, octopi, and all sorts of Angels, surgeonfish, and damsels.

CABO SAN LUCAS / CABO PULMO

The National Park along Baja's East Cape, just north of Cabo San Lucas is well worth time to visit and dive. Cabo Pulmo Parque Nacional has healthy coral reefs teeming with fish. Schools of puffers, groupers, grunts, snappers, and bright yellow porkfish punctuate the reef areas between healthy corals, fans, and all sorts of critters. The schools of jacks are amazing, you can descend right into the middle and they adjust to swim with you and around you by the thousands. I have been personally diving in Cabo Pulmo for over 5 years and it truly gets better with more and more fish each time I visit. I will continue to return to the Sea of Cortez as often as I can manage it.

Visited on 12/2013 - Submitted on 02/21/2014
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Kona

4
5
3
5

Kona offers an incredible variety of activities. Diving is always my first choice, so exploring that was my primary objective. Both shore diving with easily obtained tanks in town and boat diving with operators in the harbor are available. I did both. The shore dives were sometime difficult to get to with gear, but consistently nice once in the water. Others were very easy entries right into reef areas or very cool lava tubes such as at Mile4. By boat, we were able to see some of the deeper reef areas and even find an isolated squat lobster. The reefs were mostly monochromatic with light colored hard coral or black lava rocks, not much in the way of anything else. In some areas the fish were plentiful and others sparse. I cannot recommend it as colorful exciting diving. I had hoped to do the popular manta night dive, but the operators were not going out as they said it was a lull in the timing for them and only 1-2 mantas had been showing up. I wish I had been able to anticipate that, but it is nature. Topside, the drive to the volcano was great, but you do need a full day and need to be aware of elevation with diving so early in the trip is best. Kayaking, beachcombing, coffe and nut tasting, and vivid sunsets even in the rain all combined to make this a fun vacation which anyone including families would enjoy. Going to Kona just for diving, probably not

Visited on 09/2012 - Submitted on 02/21/2014
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Cayman Islands

5
5
5
5

The Cayman Islands certainly offer diversity without a long trip from the states.

GRAND CAYMAN

Grand Cayman has beautiful beaches and probably the most topside activities or restaurants anyone would want. There is shopping, bars to hang out in, and live music. Cathy Church has a shop at Sunset House where you can often meet her and see her beautiful underwater photos from the area. The seven mile beach area is beautiful for walking and photo opportunities. You can even make a side trip to "Hell", a small area with black volcanic rocks, a few curio shops, and an actual post office you can send mail from with a postmark from Hell. For diving, the reefs are easy to reach from many dive operators and offer a diversity of schooling fish, sponges, turtles, rays, and even sharks. The Kittiwake wreck as well as other wrecks in the close vicinity add variety and interesting structure which I really enjoyed. We were lucky enough to see the tail end of silversides on the wreck of the Balboa right in the Harbor too. StingRay City on scuba with a small group was so much fun feeding the rays. You need to protect your fingers from the eager snappers though. Grand Cayman makes a good dive vacation, but for us it was a great stop with plenty of good diving over 3 days on the way home from Cayman Brac.

CAYMAN BRAC

Cayman Brac offered multiple relaxed dive spots on reefs all along the edge of the island. As a photographer, I never lacked for subjects both wide angle and macro and anything in between. Schools of bright snappers brightened the reefs among colorful sponges. Turtles munched on big sponges with no worries about divers hanging about. My favorite were the groupers who followed us like pets. It seems the dive guides hunt the lionfish and then feed the groupers, so they joined us right away each dive. My poker stick resembled the dive guides spears, so they followed me closely and would even "show" me where the lion fish were, confused when I didn't feed them. I quickly learned that if I poked at an area with my stick, the groupers would go right there, a great tool to get them to pose right where i wanted them in my reef scenes. The boat dives were offered mostly in the mornings, and we were on our own in the afternoons. A highlight dive is the Tibbets wreck with great structure and lots of life. The shore diving was really easy to access with actual ladders or stairs and even showers at some sites. We could easily get to reefs and wrecks by ourselves from shore and take as much time as our tanks allowed. The dive boat did make the excursion across to Little Cayman's Bloody Bay wall one day which is very achievable from Cayman Brac. The amazing strawberry sponges were in abundance there. They look dark brown without light but the first time my strobes lit one up I was amazed at the super bright rich red color. They became my favorite focus on the reef. I like the idea of being able to dive off both islands while staying on one.

It is easily possible to visit all 3 of the Cayman Islands in a single dive trip and be able to enjoy the diversity they provide.

Visited on 08/2013 - Submitted on 02/21/2014
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Maluku Divers Resort

4
5
5
5

I enjoyed my time at Maluku Dive Resort once I got there. It is a long way from California both in distance and atmosphere. If you end up with a lengthy layover in Jakarta, which we did both ways, I do recommend a stay to rest comfortably in a close by Hotel. We used POP going and FM7 returning, both very comfortable. I had never traveled in Asia before so the crowding took some negotiating for me. Once we finally arrived on Ambon, Maluku Divers were there for us and made the week stay worth the effort to get there.

ROOMS

The rooms were spacious with both AC and ceiling fans. 2 Double beds with good mattresses could be kept separate or made into one big comfy bed. Your choice with your dive buddy! There were 2 large seating areas with room for full camera set up and editing space including enough outlets (but bring your adapter) and good lighting right in the room. The decor was basic but included underwater photos. A really nice shower and bathroom area was ample to share among 2 persons easily.. Our room was right on the edge of the water, and almost all had water views. The early morning light over the water coaxed me up early for a filling breakfast that was no problem for my gluten free needs (eggs prepared any way, rice, and many other choices) and allowed plenty of time for our 8:30 morning dive departure. The afternoon and evening meals offered easy choices as well.

MUCK DIVING

Muck diving was a new experience for me but our guides helped me to quickly learn the best ways to avoid kicking up the silt and balance to take my photos (BOUYANCY, gentle frog kicks , and a poker stick). I have a whole new appreciation for the photos I see from other muck diving destinations, some of those amazing critters are so very tiny!. Our guide Samuel stayed with the 2 of us throughout the trip and he was always helpful with positioning, patient to wait, and eager to show us more. His eyes are amazing as is his bouyancy. It was nice to have consistency with a guide who figured out our personal style and needs quickly and then catered to that each dive.

We saw some critters I could only imagine before including pygmy seahorses, mandarin fish, colorful frogfish, stonefish, myriad shrimp and crabs, and mantis shrimps that came right up to take a look. We only dove near a few coral areas so I did not get my usual fix of reefs and fish, but the quantity and diversity of critters made up for it. We never had to compete with other divers or dive boats. Even within our one boat, the groups were split between guides and did not overlap. They did a phenomenal job of creating a relaxed experience catered to our personal skill level in muck diving. I found very few things on my own, but saw plenty following Samuel from find to find.

The entire staff from managers Emily and Joe, the kitchen staff, and everyone I encountered in the dive staff was friendly and helpful. I liked them all. This is a great destination for anyone who wants to experience muck diving without the worry of crowds or trying to locate the critters. It does not offer significant reef areas or topside activities, but the focus is on muck diving. We did get to dive the wreck of the Duke of Sparta which has become a plentiful artificial reef and I strongly recommend that for both macro and wide angle.

For photographers, the set up is wonderful, with a great layout in the camera room including dedicated space and good lights as well as adequate space for 2 people to work easily in the cabin. They even provided a padded bag for the cameras and transported them to and from the boats with care.

I would go back soon if it were only closer.

Visited on 02/2014 - Submitted on 02/21/2014
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Rocio Del Mar Liveaboard

5
5
5
5

I have taken 4 trips on the Rocio Del Mar now and will go back again for sure. When she first started her dive charters to the Midriff Islands several years ago, I jumped at the chance to explore that part of the Sea of Cortes. The crew on board included many who actually helped build the boat with the owners, Dora and LoLo. On my 4th trip this November with them, this time to the Socorro Islands, most of these same crew members are still on the Rocio and welcomed us like family. It is a boat and crew that is warm and friendly, not cold in any way. A chef on board, Pancho for us prepared amazing hot soups with the midday meals and always had a variety of fresh fruit and snacks available. He was excellent and gracious about accommodating food sensitivities including my gluten intolerance and others allergies or preferences. He even baked special desserts for me. We had a room in the bow with a double sized single mattress bunk which was well padded even for female hips and had plenty of room for two. The shower and toilet area is small but your own and plenty adequate. Shampoo and conditioner is supplied in a wall mounted dispenser too. The dive deck allows plenty of space to get in and out of gear with a small storage area for small stuff. The crew returns your gear to your space between dives. Wetsuits hang in the open air to dry. I do recommend bringing 2 so you can alternate while one drys out. The trip they offer between SanJose Del Cabo and Rocky point allows an opportunity to dive the whole Sea of Cortes, truly a sense of exploration. The diving in the Sea of Cortes is unique and diverse. We found all types of colorful stars including several different basket stars. Damsels, rays, blennies, myriad nudibranchs, and so many more made each dive site unique as we worked our way from the northern end of the Sea of Cortes to the southern tip. The super curious and playful sea lions at Los Islotes were among my favorites along with the jumping mobulas. I go back repeatedly and will continue to choose Rocio DelMar whenever I can!

Visited on 11/2013 - Submitted on 01/29/2014
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Scuba Club Cozumel

4
5
5
4

Scuba Club Cozumel is a wonderful destination to arrive where you can put your stuff away and not worry again. The diving is organized on comfortable boats that pick you up from their own dock. Easy stair entry makes access to the house reef simple, which is good because there is so much to explore there from small stuff to bigger stuff. I saw something different each dive including big hermit crabs, eels, flamingo tongues, brittle stars on bright sponges, and schools of fish too. The food is on time and prepared well, though basic. The emphasis is on diving which works well if that is the purpose of your trip and for us it was. You can go into town if you choose, but the beauty of this location and arrangement is that you don't need to.
Many rooms are on ground level. We had a beautiful room up above with a view of that amazing azure water. Although the stairs were tough after lots of diving, the view was great. There was plenty of space to lay things out to dry and the room had a nice comfortable bed, bright decor, and a small table area which really helped with camera work.

Visited on 06/2012 - Submitted on 01/29/2014
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Cayman Brac Beach Resort

4
4
5
3

We visited Brac Reef Resort in a quiet time which worked well for us avoiding crowds on the dive boats and the meals too. The food was buffet and good, making it easy to choose whatever you needed. The staff was always helpful. The rooms were clean and very close to the beach and dive center. The diving was on local reefs with abundant life. The dives were relaxing for the most part and conducive to taking our time with photos. The Tibbets wreck is a spectacular dive with so much to explore and so close too. We were able to cross over to Little Cayman's Bloody Bay Wall for a day trip from Brac which was great to be able to do without staying on the other island too. The blood red sponges are so vibrant when the strobe light touches them. Because the resort was at low occupancy, afternoon dives or night dives were not offered, leaving us with only 2 morning dives. This turned out to be no problem as they helped us easily rent a car on the island and the shore diving was great. By shore diving, I mean stairs and ladders in and out to beautiful wrecks, underwater bronze dolphins, and a wreck too. This is a wonderful location where you can dive, explore, rest, and connect to home if you want to.

Visited on 08/2013 - Submitted on 01/29/2014
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Matava Eco Resort

5
4
4
5

Matava is like a hidden gem. The staff walks out to greet you and you immediately feel incredibly welcome. Wading through shallow water on the path to and from the boats is part of the experience, but they help carry everything, and we are divers after all. Luxury is not an option, but a very good, comfortable atmosphere where you truly experience an island of Fiji is part of every day at Matava. The local school children arrived by boat one evening to share their songs and dances while the adults conducted a traditional Kava ceremony. It did not feel staged like others we had seen but a true celebration. The people at Matava made the islanders so welcome, they stayed singing, playing guitars, and enjoying Kava late into the night. This is definitely an eco resort and they do an amazing job with their own garden and well thought out conservation. Accommodating a gluten free diet was no problem for them and never felt like an imposition. This is not the place to go if you need to be constantly connected by internet or phones, but a place to be blissfully off the grid. The rooms are basic, but meet all your needs, especially after a day of diving. Wide decks look out to the water and the beds have graceful mosquito nets along with functional showers. Bugs were not a problem during our stay though we did see many land crabs in shells and coconut halves on the hike up to our room, Diving the great astrolabe reef from here was only a short ride on spacious comfortable boats with divemasters who live on the island and commute by kayak. The dives were in areas of abundant hard coral rather than soft, though both are there. The hard corals were large with lots fish big and small among them. The passes had more colorful soft coral which opened up in the change of the tides. We were able to see Mantas with the short excursion out to an area where I understand that is common there. The conditions inside the barrier reef walls were calm, though you could see the waves (surfable I understand) on the outer edge. Currents were variable in the passes, but negotiable. One area had the whole top of a reef section covered in a garden of anemones and clown fish. I could have stayed there all day watching and taking photos. Besides the many anemones and their buddies, I was thrilled to see many giant clams and the brightly colored sweetlips, I had only seen others photos of before. This is a location ideal for couples or friends who like a quiet pace and beautiful diving. The people were my favorite in my Fiji travels.

Visited on 05/2013 - Submitted on 01/29/2014
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Wananavu Beach Resort

4
5
5
4

It is a bit of a drive from the airport out to Wananavu, but worth the time. We stayed in a honeymoon suite up high on the hill with an amazing view and our very own pool on the patio which was so welcome after a day of sensational diving, good food and the hike back up the hill. The room was spacious with a big comfortable bed and a shower that gave you the choice of indoor or outdoor. As much as I enjoyed the room, view, and food, the diving captivated me. I had already dove this same trip in Bequa and on the Great Astrolabe Reef, but the Bligh water dives took my breath away. It was like diving inside a kaleidoscope with all the soft corals and anthas. I only wish 3 dive days were more the norm rather than 2 dive days, I didn't feel like I got to dive enough while I was here. This would be a great destination to combine diving and relaxation.

Visited on 05/2012 - Submitted on 01/29/2014
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