gavinmcd

gavinmcd

My Dive Map

Reviews (10)

Bali

4
4
4
5

I had the opportunity to visit Bali in July 2013. As far as the island itself, Bali is incredible! It is soaking with history, beauty, and culture - it is a really magical place. I'd highly recommend hiring a driver to take you a bit around the island to visit some of the temples, remote beaches, and other hidden places. The food on the island is absolutely terrific as well, and quite affordable.

As for the diving, I had the opportunity of visiting Tulamben and doing the USS Liberty wreck, as well as Nusa Penida. The Liberty wreck is a very cool dive - neat wreck with some interesting features. Next to it is also a nice coral garden dive, where we saw black tip sharks, ribbon eel groves, and some really neat little critters including mantis shrimp. Nusa Penida was fantastic as well. We did two drift dives along some of the healthiest and most diverse coral I've ever seen. We also saw two very large mola molas, which I hear are quite common to see here.

Bali is a beautiful spot to spend some time above water, and definitely worth checking out for the underwater attractions as well. Recommended!

Visited on 07/2013 - Submitted on 02/17/2014
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Roatan

4
5
3
3

UTILA REVIEW

I first learned how to dive on Utila back in August 2011. First off, let me say this is a *very* fun island. It is mostly geared towards a younger backpacker crowd, unlike it's slightly more grownup counterpart Roatan. Lots of dive shops for any pace and budget, some nice cheap little restaurants, and many great bars (don't miss Treetanic!) If you are looking to have fun and meet some new people, this is a great place to do it. I spent two weeks here by myself and had a total blast.

As for the diving, it is also quite nice. The conditions in August were terrific- some of the best I have seen anywhere. Very warm water (no need for wetsuit, even to 140 feet), and visibility was outstanding (100+ feet!) Coral cover and reef fish abundance and diversity were alright, although certainly not spectacular compared to other places throughout the world. There was a noticeable lack of large fish, and I did not see much interesting macro life (although I must admit, my eyes were not very trained at that point!) However, I did see many spotted eagle rays and even three whale sharks during my two weeks there, which was a real treat. The wall dives on the north side of the island are also quite nice, and I hear a good spot for tec diving.

Coral and marine life were ok, although this is also a fantastic spot to see whale sharks when they are in "season'.

All-in-all, I'd say this is a great spot to learn how to dive, although the marine life will probably not be as good as many other places the experienced diver has been. Regardless, this is a great little island for chilling out and having some fun!

Visited on 08/2011 - Submitted on 02/17/2014
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Cebu and Bohol

5
4
5
4

I visited Malapascua Island for about a week in September 2013. This island is off the northern tip of Cebu, and is about a 4 hour car ride plus 1 hour boat ride from Cebu airport (most dive resorts on the island can arrange all of your transfers for you). I was traveling in the Philippines and looking for something with a laid-back vibe and off the beaten path, but still with excellent diving - this was certainly the spot! There are just the right number of dive shops, restaurants and bars, and you can walk around the entire island in about 2-3 hours (there are no cars). Tourism has still not overrun the island, so the locals are very friendly and are down to hang out and show you a good time. I went as a relatively young, single traveler, but met a variety of people ranging from young to middle aged, and singles, couples, and groups of friends. It's incredibly inviting, so I think anyone would feel welcome.

Now, onto the diving! I was *very* impressed with the diving and conditions. Visibility was always good (70+ feet) and the water was quite warm (no need for wetsuit, although I normally went with one anyway). Marine life was spectacular. It is one of the best places in the world to see thresher sharks, which are spotted there year-round. It is also quite common to see manta and devil rays (which I had never seen before). The real treats though are for the macro photographer. Coral diversity and cover is excellent, and there is no shortage of amazing little critters - nudibranchs, all sorts of crabs and shrimps, and it is also quite common to see mandarinfish mating on nightdives - really neat! Additionally, there are some terrific wrecks (which are especially enjoyable for the tec diver).

Overall, I'd say this place is up there with my favorite spots I have ever been on a dive vacation. Highly recommended!

Visited on 02/2014 - Submitted on 02/17/2014
Read all Cebu and Bohol Dive Travel reviews

Belize

3
3
4
4

I visited Belize for work in January 2014, and was able to tack on a weekend of diving at the beginning just for fun. I was staying on Caye Caulker, a fun little island just a short plane flight or boat ride away from Belize City. This spot was a great getaway from the city, and is the epitome of "no shirt, no shoes, no problem." The island has a nice mixture of backpackers, expats, and locals - I think just about anyone would fit in here. As far as topside activities, I would highly recommend Caribbean Colors Arts Cafe for great breakfast and also great local art.

I was able to do one day of diving, where we went to Esmeraldas and the Tackle Box, two sites located in front of Ambergris Caye and part of the Mesoamerican Barrier Reef (about a 45 minute boat ride from Caye Caulker). Visibility was decent (70+ feet), although the water temp was colder than expected - I was very cold at the end of both dives while wearing a 3mm shorty. The dives were quite nice though, with several sitings of nurse sharks, sea turtles, morray eels, goliath groupers, trumpetfish, etc. I did not see a whole lot of small guys for the macro photographer, but that may have been a function of my dive guide who was moving much too quickly. Coral cover and diversity was decent, and these sites in particular highlighted some beautiful coral canyons.

Overall, I really enjoyed my dive experience. However, if I'm able to go back to Belize, I would really like to focus instead on the offshore atolls (Lighthouse, Glovers, Turneffe) and of course the Blue Hole. I have not yet been to these locations, but hear rave reviews.

Visited on 01/2014 - Submitted on 02/17/2014
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Crystal DIvers, Bali, Indonesia

3
3
4
3

I dived with Crystal Divers in July 2013. I was referred by a friend who lives there and recommended it as the best operation in Sanur. The boats were good, guides were great (and took time to point out lots of neat creatures), and the gear was well-maintained. We dived at Nusa Penida and the USS Liberty wreck, both of which were great dives. The corals at Nusa Penida were excellent, and this is also a well-known hangout for mola molas (we saw 2 on one dive!) The USS Liberty is a nice dive as well, as is coral gardens which is just adjacent. We saw several blacktip sharks there, a huge patch of ribbon eels, and lots of neat little critters including mantis shrimp.

There are no accommodations at Crystal Divers although they do serve some basic food and breakfast before your dives. It is not really a place you'd hang out much before or after diving, it is really just an "in and out" kind of place - but that's not necessarily a bad thing. Overall, I'd recommend it!

Visited on 07/2013 - Submitted on 02/12/2014

Truth Aquatics, Santa Barbara, California

3
3
5
4

I have done several trips with Truth Aquatics out to the Channel Islands. The operation is incredibly professional, and I could highly recommend it for trips in this area. Nice large boats with basic bunks, and great food is cooked throughout the day. They are also very well setup for spearfishers and lobster hunters, and have equipment such as kayaks and SUPs if you just want to hang out on the surface. Most people bring their own gear, although they can provide rental gear. While there are no divemasters in the water with the divers (this is quite common in California), they do have a divemaster on the surface keeping track of everything and ready in case of emergencies.

Great operation, and you have to dive in the Channel Islands at least once in your dive career!

Visited on 09/2013 - Submitted on 02/12/2014

Buddha View Diving Resort, Koh Tao, Thailand

3
2
3
3

I did my dive master training with Buddha View back in December 2011. It is quite a large operator, with lots of students and fun divers. This leads to an experience that is not very personalized - the boats are quite large (with dozens of divers on each trip), and the divemasters are often just so busy that it is difficult for them to spend much time with each customer. All this said, it is still very professional - decent gear, decent boat, decent training as well for courses. There are basic accommodations and food on site, although there are other great (and probably better) places to stay and eat along the adjacent beach. Make sure to try to Burmese curry at the little restaurant next door :) However, Buddha View does have a GREAT bar right on the water, which is very fun after a good day of diving.

Visited on 12/2011 - Submitted on 02/12/2014

Frenchie's Diving, Caye Caulker, Belize

2
2
2
2

I did one day of diving with Frenchie's on a trip to Caye Caulker. We went to Esmeralda's and the Tackle Box. The sites were decent (good corals, nurse sharks, morays, etc), although not much for the macro photographer. The operation itself was fair, but pretty lackluster - alright equipment, alright boats, and dive guides who moved much too fast. There is no food or accommodations on site, but plenty of options on Caye Caulker. I think if I were to go back, I might look into other operators on the island.

On the plus side, they do serve a nice rum punch after you're done diving for the day :)

Visited on 01/2014 - Submitted on 02/12/2014

Deep Blue Resort Utila

5
2
3
2

I learned how to dive at Deep Blue Divers, so it will always have a special place in my heart! I did my open water through rescue there, as well as nitrox and deep. I also stayed in one of the rooms right on site, which was included in the price of my courses. I had a terrific instructor who was incredibly patient (Jasmin!), and overall a very nice experience! Great captain, some nice dive sites, and even saw some whale sharks. The rooms aren't anything special, but are right on the water. There is a small bar/restaurant on-site as well which was basic but nice.

If you're going to Utila, this is a great choice!

Visited on 08/2011 - Submitted on 02/12/2014
Read all Deep Blue Resort Utila Dive Resort reviews

Evolution Diving Resort

5
4
5
4

I visited Evolution in September 2013 and stayed and dived with them for about a week. Overall, I was incredibly impressed with their operation. I went by myself, but felt right at home with the people working there and locals on the island. It is run by several esteemed tec diving instructors, so a high level of performance is associated with everything about the dive shop. Although I didn't do any tec diving on this trip, I was able to use a backplate/wing set up on all of my dives. Additionally, all of the divemasters are trained in excellent buoyancy control and precision, so they are really able to point out lots of neat creatures - this is a great spot for macro photographers, especially with Evolution's guides! The boats are great as well, and they even just built a new one specifically geared towards their tec diving trips (there are several good ones here, including a few wrecks).

As for the accommodations and food - accommodations are pretty basic, but very clean and right on the beach. The resort has its own restaurant/bar as well, which serves very good food (many say some of the best on the island!) and is staffed by some incredibly friendly locals. Overall, prices for accommodations, diving, and food were *very* reasonable.

Finally, a note on Malapascua itself. This is a really special place! It has still not been overrun with tourists and resorts (yet), so everything has a very lowkey and relaxed feel to it. Not to mention, this is one of the best places in the world to see thresher sharks - there is a cleaning station here, so they can be seen year round. Truly amazing animals to be with underwater! Other megafauna are common as well (ie, devil and manta rays).

I could not recommend Malapasuca and Evolution more highly! Great diving, great island life, and great operation. I truly hope to go back one day.

Visited on 09/2013 - Submitted on 02/12/2014
Read all Evolution Diving Resort Dive Resort reviews

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