Hawkeye54

Hawkeye54

My Dive Map

Reviews (5)

Cozumel, Mexico

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My favorite things about Cozumel are the affordability and ease of getting there. From the United States, it's a quick single-connection or even direct flight and that means all in 1/2 a day, you can leave your house, hop a flight, and be IN THE WATER by 1PM: depending how far you have to travel. It won't cost you an arm and a leg, either! :)

There are at least a dozen reputable dive operators to choose from on this small island - probably more. Dive & Stay packages are quite popular, and can run anywhere form $350 to $1500 (USD) depending on the duration, location, and resort options selected. I personally took an eight day trip that included 7 days lodging, two meals per day, and five two tank boat dives with unlimited shore diving for about $800 USD...the eighth day I went solely on the local economy for about $60 USD. I'd rate the five, two-tank dive days about an average expectation for a dive trip in Cozumel but you can be as frugal or as liberal as you like. For the REALLY budget-conscious diver, there are a handful of cheap hotels in San Miguel that can be had for under $40USD per night if you want to try booking dives a-la-carte for less than what the resorts charge on their packages. There's a MEGA (grocery store) on the southern edge of the city for all of your grocery needs, or you can dine at one of many restaurants near the town square and along the main coastal passage way. I, personally, chose to mix my trip up and found it to be a little less money, but more stressful to do the a-la-carte-thing. However, if you want a REAL feel for the local atmosphere, I'd say that's how to do it.

The diving is good to great, with rather consistent visibility from 80' to 100'+, and water temps in the low to mid 80's (Farhenheit). However, that great visibility comes at a cost in current. Strong gulf-stream currents sweep past the island at all times of the year, so drift diving is the norm. (Also, the most enjoyable given the conditions) Many of the reefs offer some releif from the flow, but not much and you can plan on drifting at least a little from wherever you put in. The structure consists of some patch reef, spur-and-groove, and wall formations. (The walls being my personal favorite) Marine life will not disappoint! While there I saw zillions of little macro critters all the way up to nurse sharks, turtles, and spotted eagle rays. Very cool to see a mix of big and small animals. Oh, and did I mention the brilliant cobalt and turquoise appearance of the water that just SCREAMS dive paradise? :)

The currency is the Mexican peso, but US dollars are widely accepted. I found street prices to be somewhat less negotiable on Cozumel, as opposed to other hot tourism areas like Cabo San Lucas and Cancun. Dive prices were not negotiable at all with many of the dive operators I spoke to. (Y yo hablo espanol, compadres!) Oh well - The rates are still quite fair and you'll enjoy your time underwater in Cozumel.

Topside, the city of San Miguel sort of ebbs and flows with the cruise liner schedules. Boat comes to port: Town bustles. Boat leaves port: Town goes to sleep. I was surprised to find popular tourist clubs (Sr. Frogs, Margaritaville) empty or even closed after 5 or 6 PM on some days. That said, get out and explore like a local - Just be careful of solicitors: They're around and sometimes may try to sell you some things that can get you into trouble, depending which street you walk down. (I'd stick to the square and main roads if I wasn't with somebody local who could vouch for my interests) The square is a nice area to kick back and enjoy a little food and if you're lucky: Live entertainment via fire dancers, bands, mariachi, or other street performers. Cold beers can be had for $2-$3USD, or about 20-30 pesos.

Getting to and from the airport is relatively easy by taxi, and many resorts offer shuttle service. Also, there's a ferry that runs at least twice daily to/from Playa del Carmen if you feel like checking out what it has to offer (Mayan ruins, and Cenote dives are accessible from Playa). It takes about 45 minutes and will cost you from $10-$20USD each way.

I've already stated that flights to Cozumel are easy to come by from the US. Now, being the popular cruise stopover that it is, if you find yourself landing for a brief stay in Cozumel via cruise itinerary - It's probably an outstanding value as a port of call that offers great diving. :)

Enjoy!

Visited on 01/2012 - Submitted on 03/03/2014
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Sinai Dive Club

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I dove with Sinai Dive Club in December 2013 and had a blast! Based on the northern Red Sea out of Egypt's Sharm el Sheikh, they run two boats and also have a dive shop at the Hilton Shark's Bay where you can do shore diving right from the resort steps. I did most of my diving from the boats, but did squeeze in a couple of shore dives early on my last day there...

I'll give a brief segment on the boats: The Angelina and the Angelina II. They're both liveaboard-quality vessels, with the Angelina II being a bit larger and including guest-access to sleeping cabins. (there are six, double rooms I believe) Both vessels have full-flush toilets and full heated/air-conditioned galleys with ample seating areas. The dive deck is roomy and well-managed by encouraging passengers to keep excess gear in assigned large milk crate baskets, so you won't have peoples' bags exploding all over the place and getting in the way. The Angelina II has an onboard compressor and I'm not sure about the Angelina, because the crew had enough tanks stocked to conduct all the dives we wanted. Tanks are standard AL80 @ 3000PSI and the fills we received were usually pretty full to within +/- 200psi of 3000. (Cutting a dive short due to low air was never an issue for me) Rear of the pilot house, there's a nice padded sunbathing area on both boats, and the Angelina II has lounge rooftop seating, as well. These are pretty much Yachts by American Standards, and the crew even serves lunch (often included in the dive package). The food was great-tasting and healthy to eat! Overall, I give the boats an A+, compared to most dive boats I'm used to riding on, which are typically much less comfortable and seldom serve more than a pre-packaged snack or might offer fruit to eat. The range of their day trips span from the Strait of Tiran to the HMS Thistlegorm wreck, with a minimum diver requirement to visit the Thistlegorm.

The dive guides were also very good. We had Nobey and Daria. Nobey was goofy and fun to play around with in the water, allowing us to pose for photos and such. Daria - Was absolutely fantastic to show us every tiny piece of the reefs we explored (she loves nudis), and took us on a great tour of the HMS Thistlegorm wreck where we got to see almost the entire thing in two tanks and even did some light penetration of the cargo holds. She was very friendly, knowledgeable, and had the stamina to conduct three, four, and even five dives a day without compromise of safety and composure. She spoke Russian and at least two other languages, yet very good English as well. The atmosphere was always fun while diving with Sinai Dive Club. :)

Rates were reasonable: We dove in the low season and received a moderate discount via an online promotion they were having. On average, expect to pay about 20-25 Euros per dive and don't forget to tip the crew: They probably won't remind you because they are so polite!

The shop itself is adequate, but you can tell the real investment here is with the boats. (meaning the storefront is minimal, since the boats are where you spend most of your experience) They have a few busses/vans and will shuttle you to/from your resort at no charge, so long as you arrange it. After my last dives, they even dropped me off with my luggage at a common entertainment area known as "SOHO Square" so I didn't have to wait in my hotel lobby between checkout and my departing flight. Very, VERY good customer service! A+

The reef at Hilton Shark's Bay is very nice for a house reef / beach dive! The relief drops to over 100' rather quickly, and there's a fair amount of sand w/ patch reef in the 20-40' range, with excellent snorkeling in the 10-15' range. Fish are everywhere, and Morays peek their heads out of the rocks - With one very large resident that I saw on both of my dives. Nudibranchs and shrimp could be found in the sand and amongst the thick growth of soft corals. Very pretty dives if you don't have time to go for hours on a boat. (The price will be about the same as taking the boat, though, and I think I paid 22 or 25Euro for two shore dives - Using my own equipment.)

Overall, I give this place the prestigious acclaim to be the BEST DIVE OPERATOR I've booked to date: That says a lot about the quality of both service and dive sites they maintain. A+

(I'll add more images later, so don't forget to check back for updates!)

Visited on 12/2013 - Submitted on 03/03/2014

Sea of Cortez

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I booked a trip to Los Cabos last September, staying in Cabo San Lucas and diving with the local operators there. I booked this trip alone, then had a new friend add on at the last minute. Let me tell you - She does NOT regret going on this dive trip, and it's often referred to as, "The trip of a lifetime" and "Best Vacation Ever!!!!". Needless to say, the diving didn't disappoint. On the first day we dove the sites: Santa Maria, Chilleno Bay, and Land's End. Santa Maria and Chilleno are both considered "Across the bay" trips by boat so you can expect a 20 minute boat ride. They're easily accessible by shore if you have a car, but renting gear for a beach dive is tough since most dive shops will prefer you reserve their boat's services and won't let you take rental gear off-premesis. The conditions were very nice at Santa Maria with 60' viz and there's a fantastic swim-through canyon just a couple hundred yards from shore. At Chilleno, the conditions were a little more surgy, and the bottom more rocky, but the diving was still great. We found BEAUTIFUL angels, hordes of schooling baitfish in the area, polyp and brain corals, and even a lively octopus! Due to the surge and rocky bottom, I wouldn't suggest this site for novice divers to attempt from shore -- Better to hire the guide boat, which will run you anywhere from $50-$80USD, depending on your bargaining abilities. ;)

Two dives down, and we were off to Land's End. Our guide told us we'd have a chance to see sea lions there and we did! The surge was incredibly strong and there's a west-to-east current there that can be nearly impossible to swim against, but overall this is one of my favorite sites in Cabo and the leeward side of the rock provides some shelter from the currents. We were lucky enough to have the sea lions play with us in the shallows and saw many snapper, filefish, morays, butterfly fish, and even a flounder in the deeper water (about 80' max depth near the rock). Again, this might not be the place for beginners due to the surge and currents, but after three incredible dives - we couldn't wait for more!

Overall, the dive guides were very friendly and accommodating, with the exception of one who was very new and a little bossy. The "local" sites are so close to the marina that I don't think it matters too much which operator you choose to dive with, so shop around for the best prices. We were there during the low season, and found the pricing to be somewhat negotiable -- That might not be the case during the winter high season? We dove a second day on the local sites; doing Neptune's Finger, Pelican Rock, and attempted Land's End again - But the conditions were too rough and we diverted to more or less drifting back to Pelican Rock. Neptune's Finger and Pelican Rock did not disappoint, either, with good visibility, mild currents, and lots to see for the Macro photographer.

Topside, there were plenty of reasonably-priced restaurants and I can't necessarily speak of the night life: It was almost nonexistent during the time we were there and many clubs would close early due to lack of clientele, but I can imagine it's hoppin' during peak tourism seasons. Scenery in Los Cabos is gorgeous, and I highly recommend getting a car and making the drive to Cabo Pulmo (where the diving is supposedly better but weather prevented us from getting wet). Nonetheless, we enjoyed the scenic drive there and this place is so far off the beaten path - You have to trust your directions! Haha - Twice we considered that we must've been led astray, but finally found the tiny seaside village right where the locals told us it would be. :) Cabo Pulmo is a little less than halfway to La Paz, so if you're headed that direction, it's a beautiful day of driving just to tour the area's scenic mountain roads. Of course, there's diving in La Paz too but call ahead to check conditions and schedules. You'll also find some good dining options in La Paz, which has quite a Metropolitan feel as it's a much larger city and less "resort-like" than CSL. Rounding out the day's trip, (and saving some time), we circled back through Todos Santos on our way back to Cabo San Lucas. (Todos Santos holds the site of the original Hotel made notoriously famous by The Eagles' song, "Hotel California".) Safety was never a concern and we found the locals to be more than helpful when we asked for advice/directions, although it definitely helps to speak a little Spanish and just plain be nice. ;)

If you're thinking about a trip to Los Cabos and the Sea of Cortez - Book it! This place was awesomely affordable with plenty for the adventurous diver to do and see. Oh - We also hopped a fishing charter and landed a 47" Mahi Mahi on our last morning there!

Visited on 09/2013 - Submitted on 02/26/2014
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