medas2005 - Bluewater Dive Travel



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Reviews (22)

Nai'a Liveaboard


The Nai'a was an unusual trip for me in that I went alone. Being a lone traveler was a bit different because you don't have that go to person on the boat or underwater. It tends to amplify the importance of the details.

First, getting there is great. It is the easiest place to get to of the far away spots outside of the Caribbean. An overnight from LA and you are in Nadi and a 1 hour drive and you are ready for the boat. I stayed one night at a Nadi hotel to catch my breath and ended up meeting half of my future boat mates.

The boat is most luxurious that I have been on, even compared to the Indonesian boats which are bigger, but in a more casual way. The owners make sure that you feel like royalty when you step on board. When the boat was first built, the owners created a deal where each return visit would get a slightly larger discount. They were more successful that they had hoped and ended up with a lot of very regular repeat visitors. I was one of only 2 or 3 out of 18 that had not been on the boat before.

The food is the best you can get on a liveaboard dive boat. They have chefs come in and design a 2 week menu that rotates for each night. White table clothes and fine place settings. Meals are a big focus of the week.

The water temps in Fiji vary quite a bit through the year. I was there in early November and the water was a bit cool, especially towards the end of the week after 20 or so dives. If you go in our summer, the water can be very cold while Feb and March are very warm. Be prepared.

We divided up into two groups for the week and the dive operation was very hands off once they were comfortable with your skills. I passed their muster and was left to kind of do my own thing with my camera. Because I didn't have a dive buddy, I was almost too alone at times. The good thing was that water visibility was always very high and we could see a long ways. We were also left to dive as long as our air and computers would take care of us.

The camera facilities were more limited than what is now current standard. I would not be surprised if they have updated their UW photography benches. Equipment has gotten a lot mroe common and bulky over the past few years.

The diving is very good from start to end. The Namena marine reserve has a half dozen world class sites. I dove there from the Cousteau Resort a few years earlier, but it was a long ways removed from the hotel and boat only went there twice a week, wind willing.

Chimneys is a pair of volcanic pinnacles which are really nice with schools of fish from the bottom at about 100 feet all the way to the surface. All of the reef tops in Fiji are full of colorful hard coral garden and the Chimneys were beautiful. Kansas is another amazing dive with fields of beige soft coral flowing in the current to make it look like, well Kansas. North Save-A-Tack is also an incredible dive in the right conditions. Schools of fish and a handful of sharks were everywhere.

Nigali Passage has to be one of the best dive sites in the world. Very similar to Ulong Island in Palau. It is a mile long channel between two bodies of water and at the right current conditions it fills with the entire food chain from the eaten to the eaters. A dozen sharks, 50 or so big groupers , and schools of bait for the big guys. They set up like a wall of feeders and you just watch the action happen. It is almost worth the trip for that dive alone.

Also spectacular is E6 which is a bit pinnacle out in the blue. While some divers said that this site has been hurt by El Nino is the late 1990s, it seemed pretty amazing to me.

Fiji did lack the huge variety of places like Solomons and Indonesia to the immediate west. We did not see the exotic creatures that one sees there.

One other side note, I did befriend an elderly woman diver who had logged 12,000 dives in her career and she was retiring after she left the boat. She was most famous for being the blonde on Sea Hunter who always needed to be rescued by Beau Bridges. She had many stories to tell about the creation of the dive industry over the 1980s and 1990s. For an avid diver, her stories were great. And she still kept up with the group!

Visited on 11/2005 - Submitted on 02/13/2014
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Paradise Villas, Little Cayman


Getting there is half the fun. You take a prop plane from Grand Cayman and land on a small runway with an airport building about the size of my bedroom at home. You get your luggage from the plane and walk across the road and you are at Paradise Villas. It doesn't get more casual than this.

I consider Paradise as the alternative to the much bigger and more polished Little Cayman Beach Resort where a lot of divers go to. Paradise consists of a dozen bungalows, right on the water with very lovely grounds. No TV to be found here. We did get a bit of Internet coverage.

The island is great. It has one of everything. One ATM. One grocery store. One fire truck which was given to the island by the government to keep them happy. One gas station that has gas about half the time. One road that goes around the island and is fun to take by bike but it is a bit of a trek.

The resort does not have a restaurant but the Hungry Iguana is next door and it is pretty good. A good breakfast and burgers during the day. We walked to the LCBR on a couple of occassions for a nicer dinner. And did I mention, the island has one big party each week. The week we were there, the young teen daughter of the owner played her flute for entertainment. The island also has some good bird watching with one of the best places to see boobies outside of the Galapagos Islands.

The rooms are nice with a little sitting area and a bedroom. They also had a nice sun porch. Nothing luxurious, but comfortable. The resort has a nice pool where lizards come to sun themselves during the sun of the day.

The diver operation is headed by Mark and Sabine who are great people, photographers, and divers. The shop is small, but professional.

We did almost all of our diving on the north (far) side of the island which was a bit of a bumpy ride in the windy season. We had been there a couple of years earlier in the summer and that was much nicer conditions than in March. I would say that this is best diving in the Caribbean in May to September.

The diving is all about the Bloody Bay wall and it is world class. The top of the wall is about 20 feet and goes straight down to 2500 feet. You can pick your depth and kind of see what you want. Lots of classic reef fish and a turtle or two every 10 minutes. This is a great place for children and beginner divers.

Night dives are great here and include visits from resident tame groupers who know that divers point flashlights at pretty little fish. See a cute little guy? Litght it up and you feel a shock wave over your should as a big grouper eliminates the little guy and replaces it with a puff of sand. Entertaining but not so much for the fish.

Just a bit further up the coast is Jackson's Point where there is another handful of very nice dive sites. A lot different topography with flat sand bottom and very pretty swim throughs. We saw turtles, eagle rays, and a couple of nurse sharks.

The is some good diving on the south side off the coast of the Villas. These sites are where you go when you can't get to BBW for world class diving. These south dives are very similar to what we saw on Grand Cayman. Good healthy corals and a lot of small reef fish. We saw some lobsters and a pretty interesting octopus.

If you like laid back, no pretension, this is a good place to go. There is plenty of diving for a week--20 or so dives and many of the sites can be dived at different depths. The water is very warm and visibility is 100 feet plus. I have been here three times which is always the measure of what you think about a place.

Visited on 03/2005 - Submitted on 02/14/2014

Hamanasi Dive Resort Belize


We rarely return to the same destination a second time, and this is the third stay at Hamanasi. First it is easy to get to and it is in the same time zone as the Midwest U.S. You can get to Belize City by noon from most departure spots in the U.S. You can fly a small commuter plane or you can drive a vehicle which we have done on our second and third visits to the resort. It is about a three hour drive and it is a lovely drive on very good roads (except for the last couple of miles).

The resort has an incredible number of activities for travelers. We have visited ruins, gone bird watching, tubing and visited the very lovely Belize Zoo. The rooms are large enough for 2 adults and 2 children, but are more pleasant for just two adults. The one thing that stands out is that everyone will learn your name by the second name. Everyone from the manager to the gardener knows who you are. It's better than Cheers.

The food is very good, but short of spectacular. Of course the setting with the Caribbean in the background is lovely, especially at night. If you have flexibility, head there when the moon is full and you will be treated to an especially nice view at night.

The diving is very good, but short of South Pacific standards. We saw nurse sharks, big turtles, eagle rays and a lot of pretty small things. The dive operation is wonderful whether you are a beginner or expert. I would suggest that you check their daily schedule ahead of time to make sure that your trip will let you go to the outer atolls which have the best diving.

The diving is a bit of a trek away from the resort. The barrier reef sites are about a 50 to 60 minute ride from shore (beautiful). The atolls are 2 to 2.5 hours away and the ride can be quite rough, especially in the winter months. They have planned trips there 2 days a week, so you can miss them if you are not there on the right days. The resort kind of works on a Sunday to Sunday schedule, so if you do something mid week like we did to get cheaper air fare, it may cause you to be out of synch.

The resort has a reputation for whale shark sitings in the late spring months, but I have heard that it is a real tedious trip to find them. If you don't see them, it is a long day of bobbing around in the ocean.

Visited on 11/2013 - Submitted on 02/07/2014
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Jean Michel Cousteau Resort


The Jean Michel Cousteau Resort is a well known eco resort on Fiji's second major island of Vanua Levu. It is near the small city of Savusavu which is not really a tourist town, but fun to visit nonetheless.

I think that this is the best place on the planet for diving parent who have young children through teens who might be learning to dive. I got certified when I was here with my family a year prior and have now accumulated about 700 dives so the hobby stuck. They have nannies to take care of your children (up to 12 I think), so every morning after breakfast, they get swept away and spend the next 10 or 12 hours with a Fijian nanny while you get to be a couple.

My then 8 year old son said it was the best vacation ever because they only gave him food that he loved. Simple view of life. He also got to go out into the ocean on a bubble marker which to him was like diving. He got certified 3 years later when he was 11, so it had a profound impact on him too. My oldest daughter who was then 15 got certified along with me and has now been on over a dozen liveaboards, so their formula for hooking divers is amazing. She came home wanting to be a marine biologist which didn't happen, but her love for the ocean has never left her.

Every night the resort would have a resident marine biologist give a talk on what they saw during the dives of the day, so there was very strong focus on diving.

The resort really caters to people learning how to dive or have family learning how to dive. The divemasters were all very good at persuading the snorkelers to become divers and regular divers to become advanced divers which I did in my return to the resort this time.

They had two very nice boats that held about a dozen folks each. Very comfortable and pleasant.

The resort went diving in three locations: inside the reef, outside, and Namena. The outside reefs were anywhere from 45 to 90 minutes away. One special dive was Dreamhouse which was a nice pinnacle at about 90 minutes. We saw a hammerhead there and sometimes they saw tiger sharks which we did not see. All of these dives were classic wall dives and some had swim throughs down at about 100 feet. We saw mantas and an eagle ray or two on most dives.

The food was fantastic with incredible variety. We had a combination of buffets and single entres. A lot of fish and chicken with an occasional piece of beef. Deserts were a stand out as well.

The inner reef dives were also good with some nice pinnacles and a good variety of hard and soft corals, but they were affected by the sediment of runoff so they were OK.

The twice a week trips to Namena were the highlight for divers. They were about a two hour boat ride away and thus left early in the afternoon and returned at about 5PM. Chimneys were my favorite dive site although most patrons who had been there multiple times like Grand Central Station (I was not able to go there until 5 years later on the Nai'a Liveaboard boat--it is very good.

Fiji has a lot of seasonal weather patterns. April is the end of summer and we had some pretty nasty storms but rarely missed some diving. This area can get hit by some pretty strong tropical storms in February and March. Water temperature was in the low 80s but drops pretty rapidly as you get into May and June.

We also went on a few night dives and they were very good as well.

We stayed here twice and my wife cried both times when we left because she liked it so much. She does not dive, but had plenty of activities and enjoyed her time sans small children. The Fijian people are loving and kind and have a great heritage. We got to visit a native chief's home and shared in a kava ceremony which was quite unique as well.

Visited on 04/2002 - Submitted on 02/14/2014

Iguana Crossing Isabella Island Galapagos


My son and spent 5 days here before we left for a week on the Aggressor for a week of diving. I wanted to expand our experience to include more than just live aboard diving.

First, getting here is grueling. After a flight into Baltra, you take a "taxi" to Santa Cruz and then taken a rough boat ride to Isabela. Once there, the ride is only five minutes to the Iguana Crossing Hotel. The hotel is spectacular--right on the beach with a beautiful view. The Junior Suite that we had was one of the nicest resorts that we have ever stayed at anywhere. If you have a family, you will never have a better experience anywhere. The resort had wireless, but not very good. Best to use it early in the morning before people wake up.

The food was good, but pretty limited. We walked into town one night and had a nice meal for a very good price. I would recommend this option.

We did a variety of activities, the best being a hike to the top of the volcano and a boat ride to Tunneles. On the way there, we saw dozens of mantas doing barrel rolls on the surface. Wow. We went snorkeling there and a couple of other locations along the southern coast of Isabella. We also saw flamingos which were close by to the hotel. Very cool.

We went diving once along the southern coast and saw a few sharks and rays. It was all very fun. I would recommend that you spend 3 to 5 days here.

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



I do not think of the Kona as a true destination for diving. But it is a great multi-purpose family vacation spot with many things to do.

By far and away the best diving is the manta night dive. It is very good for divers and for snorkelers. The diving is about 30 feet deep and you all sit down in a circle around the projector which brings in plankton which brings int he mantas. The arrival rate is very high. We had one female show up and she was a show animal. She swooped and danced for as long as we had air in our tanks. At one point she swooped over my daughter and looked like she was going to crash right into her but then belly rolled on top of her instead. My wife, who does not dive, saw the whole show from right overhead. I have talked with others who have been there recently and they have seen up to 30 mantas on a night. For divers and snorkelers, this is just fantastic.

The diving topography is kind of boring, even compared to the Caribbean. Because of the remoteness of the islands, they do not get many eggs to setup shop. But we did see a lot of interesting animals. We saw lots of eels and several of them were quite interesting and unusual. We saw a half dozen turtles in 4 days of diving. We saw a leaffish, a frogfish at about 100 feet, and several interesting snail like creatures. I was surprised to see just how many things we saw in a few days.

The water is very clear-- up to about 100 feet of visibility in places. It was probably in the 75 to 78 degree range which is not real warm if you are diving more than a few dives a day.

We dove with one of the local dive operators and they were great. My two teens both got their advanced PADI certs while here. They were very comfortable with young and inexperienced divers. This is a great place to get certified. The only negative is that the logistics are a bit painful. You have to drive a harbor where you meet the boat and then have a 20 to 45 minute boat ride to the dive sites. The dive masters were great with my children and I was pretty much left by myself to snap photos and find little fishes.

We stayed in a two bedroom condo on the edge of town which was right on the water. We even were able to do a couple of shore dives which were pretty boring. We made steaks and fish on the grill most nights which we bought at the local Costco. It was every bit as good as a restaurant for about 1/3 the price.

Of course, there are so many things to see and do on the big island of Hawaii. My kids went parasailing which was a highlight. We had a luau at a local resort. We drove around the island to see the volcano on the other side. This is a full day adventure and you are best to leave at around 6am so you have plenty of time to stop and do things. I have not been diving anywhere else in the islands, but I believe that this is one of the best spots on the islands.

Visited on 03/2007 - Submitted on 02/18/2014
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Galapagos Aggressor III Liveaboard


Diving on a live aboard in the Galapagos should be considered to be on everyone's bucket list. I returned here after a decade away.

The boat is great and the accommodations are comfortable but not lavish. My son and I had plenty of room for sleeping and storing our clothes. Room care was great. The food was very good. In the top quartile of liveaboards that I have been on. They had great snacks after diving which is always appreciated.

Diving is now very restricted so liveaboards cannot dive in the central islands, only the north. The north includes Bartolme, northern Isabella, Fernandina, Wolf, and Darwin. We started out with a couple of days in the Bartolme area which is famous for its view. The diving in that are is full of fish and turtles. Of course, the core of the trip was in Wolf and Darwin. The Wolf conditions were quite harsh and challenging. Even at 60 foot depth, the surge was upwards of 10 feet so it was very hard to hold on. Hammers were in abundance though, so it was worth the effort.

The highlight was Darwin. We saw a pair of orcas which came right along side our boat. We saw hundreds of dolphins surrounding the boat. And we got to see whale sharks underwater. And then of course we saw hundreds of hammers above and below us as well as Galapagos sharks and silky sharks. The silkies can be a little scary as they circle you whir waiting for the boat.

In general, the water temperatures and visibility are not too bad. The exception are the dive sites on the NW corner of Isabela where it is freezer cold and visibility is very low. Fortunately you see lots of cool things like giant seahorses. The picture I have of the seahorse there is the most popular photp I have every taken.

This is just an incredible experience for anyone who likes to dive and loves nature. From the moment you arrive and get on the boat you will have fun. It really does not get any better than this.

Visited on 07/2013 - Submitted on 02/07/2014
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La Paloma Lodge, Drake Bay Panama


We were here with our family of five for a week. Many people come here for 3 or 4 days which is fine, but there is plenty to see and do in a week. I would suggest 2 or 3 days of diving together with lots of other rainforest activities. Getting there is a bit of an adventure in a small plane from San Jose that has to go up over the mountains. The air currents have fun and my children were white when we got there.

The lodge is reached after a 20 minute boat ride from the airstrip to dock. It's a good walk up the hill to get there. This is a place that requires a bit of fitness. The central lodge is where you eat and gather. It was very nice and had a beautiful view of the ocean to the west. The food was from a menu for dinner and buffet for breakfast. Very good lodge food, but not fantastic. Everyone was happy, but we didn't leave thinking food was the outstanding feature of the trip.

The resort has a small beach that is a bit of a hike down to the ocean. It was OK, but the pool was a lot better. Monkeys would also come to the pool and visit us which was pretty cool. You are definitely in the rainforest.

We went to the rainforest twice--once by boat and once by horse. Those were incredible days. We saw so many monkeys and other animals of the tropics. It was outstanding. On several occassions, we saw the great scarlet maccaws which was a trip highlight. We even saw them right at the lodge at one point. Very memorable.

The diving is primarily around the island of Cano which is about an hour boat ride away from the resort. Most of the people that go there are snorkelers but the staff really likes to go in with divers because it is more fun for them. The diving is pretty wild. There some very strong thermoclines, the strongest that I have ever experienced. The water was upper 70s above about 50 feet and 70 below the thermocline. You can actually see the layer in the water. Visibility was average, probably about 50 to 70 feet.

The dive landscape is primarily is boulders with algae, not much coral to be seen. But lots of bigger fish. We saw a big school of barracuda, trevaly and jacks. Saw several mantas and a mobulla ray which I had not seen before. We also saw LOTS of eels. Maybe a dozen on one dive.

The Bajo del Diablo is a stone pinnacle that rises to within 30 feet of the surface. This dive site was great, similar to some of the dive sites in the Galapagos Islands. We dove here twice and the second time we saw about 25 white tips which were very active. It was almost a little intimidating because there were so many of them.

The dive operation was small but very capable. They were well prepared for helping divers who were novice to more experienced. Because most went snorkeling, we had a divemaster for two of us and he was great at finding things of interest for us.

Visited on 03/2003 - Submitted on 02/19/2014

Damai I (Dive Damai Liveaboard)


You really have to want to get here to make this trip. Our flight took us from Minneapolis to Tokyo to Jakarta to Ambon and then to Manokwari. The airport there is remote and far from anywhere. Our departure was delayed a full day because of riots in the town which was a bit scary. As a result of the 1.5 day delay, we missed a day of diving in the Cenderawasih Bay area which was OK, because it was pretty mediocre by Indonesia standards.

The Damai II is simply the nicest dive boat in the world. The rooms are enormous and spectacular. Many hotel rooms are not this nice. The boat had a nice home theater and we often watched movies in the evening. The food was very good and we had a lot of variety given the remoteness of the location. They had great post dive snacks. The only thing that they missed was popcorn and they promised to find it for future trips.

Of course, people come here to see whale sharks and this is the best place in the world to see them. I have also seen them at Darwin, but this blows that away. They are many, the water is warm and clear and you can literally spend the day watching them. We had two and sometimes three at a time. We parked our boat and just went in the water as we wanted without any real diving schedule. We also got to go on the fisherman platforms and feed the whale sharks from the surface. My memory of watching my daughter feed one of these beasts will always be with me.

We then headed to our next encounter which was with leatherback turtles which were laying their eggs on shore. Like the whale sharks, they did not disappoint. It was a life highlight for me. We also got to visit a native village and several of us played volleyball with the local people. I don't think that this was a standard part of the tour, but one of our crew members came from the village.

Finally, we moved on to Raja Ampat where we spent our final 3 days. Of course, the reefs and fish there are world class. If I could repeat just one dive trip in my life, I would redo this one. About the only negative was the time it took to get to Raja Ampat. It was a long cruise and took a full day without much diving.

Visited on 07/2013 - Submitted on 02/07/2014
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Cozumel Diving


Cozumel is where many Americans go to dive. It is easy to get to, relatively inexpensive, and the diving is very good. Although I like Little Cayman and The Belizean atolls a bit better, it ranks right up there with the best diving in the Caribbean.

I have been here a half dozen times, so this review is a bit of an amalgam of several trips. The weather varies a lot from season to season. June and July are my favorite times to dive here when the water is very warm and seas are flat as glass. Hurricanes are an issue here in August (it seems to attract early ones) and we were there once in August a week or so after a medium sized one, so the threat is real. It is perfect in early summer. Was there in late fall and it was very rough and we were quite restricted in where we went. Spring break was good as well, kind of in between.

Our family has stayed in a condo or two in the north part of the island which was great and good value. If you have a couple of kids and want a mixed activity vacation, this worked great. Diving requires a bit of a drive, so you kind of need a car to commute. If you want an all in dive holiday, this is probably not so good. I have stayed at the Presidente which is right by the best dive sites. The boat picked us up right by the hotel peer and you are diving in 10 minutes. You also are south of the cruise ship parking lot.

There are a lot of options in dive operators as well. We have avoided the hotel operators ard selected those that cater to more serious divers. We stay away from those that focus on the cruise trade and fill in with divers when they can't fill up there scuba buses.

Visited on 07/2005 - Submitted on 02/25/2014
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