miga

miga

My Dive Map

Reviews (4)

Fiji

3
3
3
4

Fiji has been called the "Coral Capital of the World" which led us to believe that the reefs would rival those of the Red Sea and the Maldives, which in my opinion it did not. We dove the famous white wall on three different occasions. Dive guides will watch tide charts to determine the best time to dive it. If there is no current, the corals will not be feeding and will be diminished in apparent size. If there is too much current, the corals will be fuller but the divers will fly by too fast and not really see it. When we saw it the first time, it did not equal our expectations, but was better than either of the subsequent times. It was like individual small clumps of coral spaced at about 18 inches on center. I was never aware of much current which might explain why the wall failed to impress. The wall can be accessed through a tunnel starting at about 40 feet and dropping to about 70 feet.

The purple wall is not as big, but its color makes it lovely. The current was quite strong on our visit so it was pretty much a purple blur.

Hard corals are varied and abundant. Unfortunately, not all were healthy. One particular table coral I remember had a section that appeared bleached, another section that was covered in moss, and yet another portion that appeared healthy.

We were also disappointed by the fish life. Yes there were the normal schools of snappers, fusiliers, butterfies and angelfish, but they didn't seem as numerous or as varied. The sharks we saw in 33 dives can be counted on one hand, but we did see 8 eagle rays which is a personal high.

Nudibranches: one variety of chromodoris, one variety of nembrotha, one variety of glosidoris, and maybe 5 or 6 phyllidias.

Fish factory and Coral Garden were exceptions where quantity of fish was more abundant.

The water temperature in September was 75 degrees.

Visability is never as good as I hope for. During our 2 weeks there it ranged from 30-50 feet at which you could detect the presence of another diver.

There are two very nice National Parks on Taveuni. The Lavena Coastal walk is a pleasant walk along the beach for about an hour and then about a half hour incline that leads to a waterfall. Plan to swim in the pool below and maybe even climb up the rocks and slide down the smaller falls on the left, but be careful as the rocks are slippery. Buoma Park has 3 waterfalls; the first and most famous is a easy 10 minute walk. The highest fall is at least an hour climb and though a bit stenuous, is well worth the effort.

The Fijian people are quite friendly.

Visited on 09/2014 - Submitted on 09/29/2014
Read all Fiji Dive Travel reviews

Paradise Taveuni Fiji

4
5
3
4

“Out of the way. Out of the Ordinary.”

Paradise is located about an hour from the airport. The road is paved as far as the village of Somosomo, but mostly dirt beyond that. There are plans to continue the pavement, but as of this writing, no funds to do so.

Paradise Resort and Spa is owned and operated by Allen and Terry Gorton who live across the road with their adopted son and daughter who you might see on the weekend. They also have two very well behaved Rhodesian Ridgeback dogs that I believe would be left at home if any guest objects.

Arriving at Paradise you will be greeted by one of the managers with a Fijian lei and escorted on to the property. Halfway, we were met by owners Allen and Terry Gorton and a couple other staff members with coconuts with straws. In the “Wedding Bure” overlooking the ocean, Allen explained our vacation package and Soni gave us each a foot and lower leg “sugar scrub” and massage. Afterward Mikaili (a manager) gave us a tour which ended at our “vale”.
The bures (stand alone unit with living room and bedroom) and vales (one large room duplex or triplex) all have both luxury indoor shower (which we never used) and outdoor shower and Jacuzzi. The Jacuzzi, though nice, takes 35 minutes to fill which makes an effective deterrent to its frequent use. All rooms have a small refrigerator with minibar and bottle of filtered water that is replenished daily. The king sized bed was reasonably comfortable. There was also a sitting area. There was adequate storage area and plenty of areas to dry wet swimsuits and towels. The vales have air conditioners, but we only turned it on a couple of times during our 16 night stay – and could have survived with just the ceiling fan.

FOOD

Allen has spent 23 years as a professional chef in his native Australia. Although he still spends some time in the kitchen, they also have (so I’m told) an Indian chef.

The first meal we had was a T-bone steak that came to us untrimmed (lots of fat) and was slighty overcooked from what I requested and tough. This had us worried about the rest of our 16 days there, but fortunately this was the worst meal we had.

Most of the food is a variety of Fijan and Indian cuisine and even the pickiest eater should be able to find something they like. A couple of our favorites were the Fijan seared beef and the Fijan chow mein with chicken. All of it is artistically presented, often in a coconut shell with a sprig of mint or a tomato rose.

You can pay ala carte, but most packages include a meal plan. Ours included cooked breakfast with fruit, fruit juice and cooked entre. Lunch was one course and dinner two courses. There is an upgrade package to 2 courses for lunch and 4 courses for dinner, but our package was more food than I wanted to eat. Lunch is ordered from a menu at breakfast and has choices that include a salad, a pasta, a curry, a pizza, usually a catch of the day, and a specialty – or you could choose from the appetizers.

Dinner is ordered at lunch and there are one or two choices for 1st course, 2nd course, and main course and dessert. Since we only paid for 2 courses, my husband and I would usually share either the 1st or 2nd course, have our own main course and then share dessert.

There are also 2 beverage packages that you can purchase to avoid the necessity of paying for individual drinks.
Once a week, there is a Fiji night when dinner is prepared “lovo” style on hot rocks. The staff with help from the guests will prepare palm frond baskets to hold beef, chicken and pork that is placed on banana leaves over hot rocks along with taro and casaba. Above that they place another thick layer of banana leaves. Guests sit at long tables under the stars (I’ve never seen so many) if weather permits or in the Oceanfront Restaurant. Sepo opens the evening by welcoming each guest. Dancers perform between courses. Dinner is followed by a kava ceremony. This is the traditional drink of Fiji and may give you a slight buzz.

Most packages for couples include a 4 course “romantic dinner”. I had trouble eating 2 courses at dinner and we never got around to doing this.

Most packages also include spa time in conjunction with an activity day. We only did one of the four in our package. This was a 50 minute couple’s sugar scrub followed by a 50 minute massage. We are really not spa people, but I heard others call it “amazing”. Many couples or individuals had 2 or 3 treatments (including banana leaf wrap or papaya polish) while there.

DIVING

The dive shop was managed by Mark, who signed on for 6 months that will end before Christmas. Salote, Christina and William are very good Fijian dive masters who will most likely be there long term. Presumably, Mark will be replaced by another dive instructor, but Allen can always step in as needed.

The “Lady Paradise” is the largest and fastest of the Paradise fleet. It is used for fishing, transporting snorkelers to a private beach and picking up guests who pay extra for that service as well as for diving. On one occasion, after our first dive , we travelled about an hour over rough sea to Sulu Bay to pick up a couple of guests who were an hour late in arriving, then another hour to our 2nd dive site, and back at the resort at 3pm for a very late lunch. Twice, (in our 10 days of diving) we dropped off snorkelers which wasn’t much of an inconvenience except for the day that the water got rough and we had to go back to get them and drop them at another site before our second dive.

Rainbow Reef with its 21 named dive sites is the main attraction of the Somosomo strait between Taveuni and Vanua Levu. The resort lists a fuel surcharge for up to $80 Fijian for only one diver going to Rainbow reef ($40 Fijian ea for 2 or more?) when there are less than 7 passengers. We did not get charged for the two times the boat was light (once for the guest pickup and once with snorkelers). The guides watch the tide charts and currents for the best times to dive the famous White Wall and the Purple Wall. If there is no current, the soft corals will not be feeding and will not look impressive. If there is too much current, divers will fly on by barely seeing what they came for.

It is typical to do two dives on Rainbow Reef in the morning and return to the resort for lunch. The afternoon boat time is almost always along the coast which is not as nice.

The house reef does not have much of the color of Rainbow, but heading west down at about 50 feet there are at least 3 Blue Ribbon eels and in nearly the same location we saw 3 leaf fish and some translucent shrimp. Heading Northwest from the entrance, in about 20 feet is a big bommie with four different kinds of anemonefish, and there are snakes (at least one large and one small) who roam about the area. On the night dive, you might see octopus or cuttlefish.

ADVENTURES

Our first adventure was “horseback riding up a mountain for a 360 We got nowhere near the top of the mountain. That afternoon we did the cultural walk which I could pass on.

The second adventure was to the Lavena Coastal Walk, Buoma Falls, the Date Line, and the waterslide… Don’t let anyone tell you it can all be done in one day! First there is an hour and a half ride to get to the other side of the island (2/3 on dirt road). The coastal walk is nice, but takes about an hour and a half with the last part being uphill to a lovely waterfall. (It happened to rain on us almost all day, but was still warm). We spent a half hour or more swimming in the pool and climbing up a smaller falls to be catapulted off into the pool. By the time we walked another hour and a half back to the van for lunch, it was 3:00 and my legs and feet were feeling it. At Buoma Park we only had time to make the 10 minute hike to the lowest of the three falls and at that it was see it and leave. It was almost dark by the time we made it to the dateline, and we weren’t able to go to the natural waterslide at all.

For our third adventure, we went with Sepo to Vuna village. The first stop was at the chief’s house where Sepo made the traditional presentation of kava root to obtain permission to visit the village. Sepo is a wealth of knowledge of history and legends. I wouldn’t say that this is something you must do, but I did find it interesting. Next we went to the blow hole which is unimpressive at high tide, which it was. Then we stopped at the “coconut oil factory” where 6 people opened the coconut, ground out the meat, cooked the meat and then extracted the oil using a worm gear press. Our final stop was at the waterslide, but since central and southern Taveuni were experiencing a drought, that could have been skipped.

For our last adventure, we returned to Buoma Park and climbed to the highest of the falls. It was at least an hour long very steep climb, but well worth it. At the top, the falls splits into three streams and is very beautiful. Since we had gotten to the park before it really opened, we had the pool to ourselves for about a half an hour.

BOTTOM LINE:

The resort is lovely, the staff couldn't be better, but I don’t think that “Out of the way” is really an asset. I have to wonder if a resort closer to Rainbow and accessed with less dirt road, might have been preferable - but looking only at the on line pricing for another very popular resort, it seems that we saved at least $150/day at Paradise with their limited 2 for 1 special. Also, we had some good dives at Vuna Reef which might be out of reach for more central resorts. That is where we saw 8 eagle rays.

I would suggest moving to a resort closer to the airport for the final couple of days to do Buoma and Lavena at a more leisurely pace without as much travel over dirt roads.

Visited on 09/2014 - Submitted on 09/29/2014
Read all Paradise Taveuni Fiji Dive Resort reviews

Hotel Cozumel & Resort

5
4
4
5

Our previous trip to Cozumel was in 1993. We had not planned on returning. We are dive snobs, thinking that the only good warm water diving was in the South Pacific. We were wrong. Over the years I have found that my enjoyment of a trip is directly related to my expectations. I was not expecting much, and I had a very good time.

Hotel Cozumel is much larger than any dive resorts I’ve been to in recent history. We arrived early in the day and had to wait in the large comfortable lobby for our room to become ready. We were on an all-inclusive plan which worked quite well. A plastic wrist band was put on us at check in and we could eat as often as we wanted and as much as we wanted at any of three locations subject to their hours. The main dining room had hours for breakfast, lunch and dinner and was closed between times. There was some confusion at first on what time they opened, so we ate poolside in order to make it to the boat dock in time for our group’s pre-dive devotions. Later we discovered that they opened earlier than we had thought. All meals there were served buffet style and breakfast included fruit, rolls, scrambled eggs, omelets made to order, pancakes and several Mexican dishes. Lunch and dinner had a variety of Mexican and American dishes and pasta cooked to order. There were always several delicious pastries for dessert.
Poolside you could always get hamburgers, tacos, guacamole and drinks as well as a couple of prepared dishes.
Across the street by the dive shop was another place to eat. The theory was that you would come back from your dive and have food readily available. We rarely got back in time to eat there.
Our room was on the 3rd floor, a l-o-n-g way from the elevator which we seldom used. The most direct path to our room would have been out the lobby, through the pool (we went around) and up two flights of stairs. This was the preferred path, except during a rain squall.
The rooms were air conditioned (though our dripped and got the floor wet), spacious and comfortable with a covered balcony that had built in pegs for drying wetsuits, swim suits and towels. There was also free wifi.
Hotel Cozumel also has a lot of amenities you don't find at smaller resorts. Exercise room (never saw it) large pool (never used it), and I think they offered massages and of course shopping, both in their own shops and in kiosks around the pool.
Water coolers were available near the hotel rooms so we could fill up our bottles. Even though I was very careful, Montezuma did make a brief appearance.
The Paradise Dive Center was across the busy street but also accessible by underground tunnel. It was well equipped with rinse tanks, drying racks and lockers in which to store dive gear. These did not drain, so we always put fins on the bottom. It was only a short walk from locker to dive pier where boats would pick up divers at scheduled times. A lot of divers move through this area but it is well organized.
The dive shop was well equipped with both rental equipment and things to buy.
Our package had 4 days of two tank boat dives and we added one night dive and one additional 2 tank boat dive. The slow boat we had chosen was large enough to transport our large group (about 20) without feeling too crowded, but there were few amenities other than the head. (Smaller, faster boats are also available for a little more money.) Drinks and cookies were provided. Nitrox was available for an additional charge. It was really was not needed, although one of my two computers had me in “deco” on the 2nd dive our last day.
The diving was surprisingly good. We didn’t visit any of the places that I remember from 21 years ago, (Tormentos, Santa Rosa, Colombia, etc) and I would be hard pressed to tell you where we did go. The reefs seemed to be in good shape with a lot of animal life...and lots of new pelagic life that doesn't look good in pictures. Along with the usual snappers and sweetlips , we saw several turtles, some nurse sharks, a couple of eagle rays, and arrow crabs. I wish we were as observant as our cameras, for when we got home we saw that the lobster was carrying eggs and there was a juvenile spotted drum on the wreck.
Most dives were “drift dives” but our captain was always diligent to watch our bubbles and meet us when we surfaced.
The night dive was particularly good. We saw a couple of flounder, several octopus, two varieties of stingray and the highlight was the “splendid toadfish”. One member of our group now has its croaking sound as his ringtone.
We usually do a lot more diving on a dive trip, but this one was also a “missions” trip with the Worldwide Christian Scuba Divers Organization (WCSDO). We spent a couple of days helping out an inner city church make improvements to their property. It felt good to make a contribution to the community as well as to get in some good diving.

Visited on 03/2014 - Submitted on 08/29/2014
Read all Hotel Cozumel & Resort Dive Resort reviews

Villas de Rosa / Aquatech

4
4
1
4

In 1983, Tony and Nancy de Rosa traveled to Akumal, learned to dive and a year later bought the property that was to become Villas de Rosa. It is now managed by their son Tony while Dad does sales out of Utah. The beach bar/restaurant is operated by the daughter Alaina with help (at least while we were there) from her mother.
There is no transfer service, so the best way to get to the resort is probably by cab. Mexico has fixed rates for cabs, but I think we found a cabbie who took advantage of us.
After turning from the highway, the approach is on an unpaved road for about ½ mile and doesn’t look like much at first glimpse, but looking at it from the beach was much more impressive. The “hotel rooms” which rent for about $80/night are quite pleasant and more than adequate. They have a comfortable king sized bed (converted from two twins), a small refrigerator, a flat screen TV, and free WiFi. They also have a small balcony facing the pool which makes a nice spot to dry wetsuits and towels. The staff is very friendly as you might expect in a family run resort. We were told that we could turn in our towels for fresh ones any time we wished, but this seemed to be subject to availability.
For those who want a luxury vacation, perhaps with a few friends, a suite would be the way to go. There is a “great room” with balcony that overlooks the beach and ocean. (Ground floor rooms have direct beach access.) The spacious kitchen also has that view. I believe you can opt for either two or three bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. (Bedrooms 2 and 3 access the common area either by going outside and entering the front door, or by going through bedroom 2 and 1.)
Though it is possible to walk out to the highway to get the “Collectivo” for transportation into town, or Tony would be happy to call a cab, we chose to stay on the property for all of our meals. By the pool is a menu in both Spanish and English and a buzzer. Push the button and within minutes there will be someone to take your order. These people don’t always speak English, but for those who do not speak Spanish it is easy enough to point to what you want. I thought the food was wonderful, though my gringo husband thought some of it was a bit spicy – but he did like their quesadillas and their hamburgers. The prices were quite reasonable. One bit of advice that we learned too late, anything that goes on the credit card gets taxed at 19%, so it is best to tip the waiters in cash.
Meals can also be ordered at the beach bar, though we never did.
For an additional $80 each, Alaina will give a private cultural tour. She knows a lot about the ancient Mayans and about some of the vegetation of the area. The trip include some alone time in a Cenote and a tour of a mostly dry cave. The morning is capped by a Mayan meal (delicious) at the beach bar.
Aquatech Dive Center
Though it might have different ownership, for practical purposes it is an integral part of the resort and I must confess to conflicted emotions concerning this operation. Having purchased a “package” that included 4 cenote dives and 4 nights at the hotel, we had ASSUMED that our diving would begin the morning after our arrival, but they didn’t have a guide available to take us. This meant that we had a free morning to walk the beach and generally twiddle our thumbs.
At 1 o’clock JeanLuc, our dive guide (can’t remember his real name) met us in a van that had obviously seen better days. The ride to Dos Ojos was about 20 minutes mostly on the highway but also on hard packed dirt approaching the cenote. JeanLuc carried my tank down as we went for a pre-dive look. On our first dive he was very attentive, which was good since I had too much weight (which he took from me) and I got down to 2000lbs of air early. (This was the turnaround point.) Our second dive was at the same cenote but on a different path. I loved looking at the stalactites and stalagmites and especially at the light streaking through the water when we came upon an opening. There was also a bat cave.
As JeanLuc turned the van around, my husband noted that the right front wheel looked like it was about to fall off. He called the shop and we waited for another van to pick us up – one that had a non-operational side door. Later, we were told that our first van had been in for service on the front wheel and that the mechanics had not tightened the bolts properly… that could be true…
There were no guides available for a dive for the next day so we scheduled our trip to Occidental Vacation Club and Xcaret on Monday and Alaina Tuesday morning with our last two dives scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.
We got a late start Tuesday afternoon, and JeanLuc had with him a student doing her final “Open Water” certification dive, but as he had assured us, she was a very good diver. But, our two dives that afternoon became one and the location was changed from Chac Moal which I had requested, to Taj Mahal which turned out to be a very lovely cenote. We were fascinated by the many locations where fresh water transitioned to salt through a “halocline”.
Wednesday morning we had planned to be making the 4 hour drive to Chichen Itza, but we had one more dive to do. It was after 10AM when a cab picked us up with JeanLuc and two other divers to go to Gran Cenote. My husband and I were 4 and 5 in the line-up. It was good that we were never very far from open air in this cenote as we lost sight of the others several times. Shooting video is not very conducive to “follow the leader”.
The final detraction from our stay at Villas deRosa, was when we returned and asked Tony to make arrangements for a rental car for us. He had told us repeatedly that it would take only half an hour, but when he finally called at 1:30, he was told that it would be 5:30 before they could get a car to us.
The final verdict
Villas deRosa has the potential of being a great resort, but they need to do a better job of communication and managing the expectations of their guests.
Aquatech Dive Center has a very good reputation and I believe that cave certification and cave diving are their primary focus. We only had experience with the one guide who, though nice, seemed a little bored with the cavern diving we were doing. They do need to do a better job at advance planning/scheduling and they should probably do a little better job of van maintenance. We did not rent any gear so I can only tell you that it is available for rent.
My husband who loves macro videography, says that he is glad that he has done some cenote diving, but is not anxious to do it again. I loved it and as long as there are new trails to explore, I’d like to do it… but then there are also a lot of other places to go…

Visited on 02/2014 - Submitted on 08/29/2014

BE THE FIRST TO GET NEWS AND SPECIALS

sign up for the mailing list today