Nitroxjunkie

Nitroxjunkie

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My Dive Map

Reviews (37)

Cenotes Diving

5
5
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5

I have traveled to eastern Mexico on many occasions to dive on the islands of Cozumel and Isla Mujeres, and the mainland area known as the Riviera Maya. I was lucky to travel to Isla Mujeres (see my review) and the Riviera Maya (another review) in January 2020 just before the world was hit with covid19. The Yucatan peninsula is dotted with over 6000 cenotes, or sink holes, many of which are diveable. There's a large concentration of cenotes along the Riviera Maya in the areas of Playa del Carmen, Akumal, and Tulum. Dive operators in any of these cities can take you cenote diving.
Many of these cenotes have very interesting names, such as Taj Mahal, Dream Gate, Ponderosa, Garden of Eden, Temple of Doom, Carwash, Dos Ojos, and Pet Cemetery. Even though these are underwater caves, sport divers can dive them without a Cave Diver certification. The dives are called cavern dives, and even though most have an overhead, you will never lose sight of the entrance. The cenotes are essentially fresh water, but because of their connection via underwater rivers, in some of the cenotes salt water will seep in and cause a phenomenon called a halocline. This is a mixing of fresh water and salt water, and because of the density difference between the two, a zone of the mixed water causes an ethereal effect while passing through it. It looks as though everything seems out of focus. You will find a halocline in many of the cenotes. At least two different cenotes, Angelita and El Pit, have another phenomenon that appears like a cloud below you after entering the water. These are actually clouds formed by hydrogen sulfide gas caused by decaying leaves and other plant materials. You can penetrate the clouds and drop down under them for a totally different experience. At least one of these two is a must-do dive. Many of the cenotes are adorned with stalactites and stalagmites, leftovers from ancient times when they were filled with air.
Expect the water in the cenotes to be much cooler than the ocean. I was comfortable in a 3mm wetsuit, but my buddy was cold, although she does get cold much easier than I do. You also won't see much in the way of critters. The fish consist mostly of smaller, fresh water species like mollies, catfish, tetras, cichlids, etc. In many cenotes you will see an underwater sign consisting of a skull and crossbones with warnings: “Do not continue beyond this point. Certified cave divers only”. Many people believe that these cenotes are all joined by underwater rivers and cave divers have penetrated some caves for miles.
Most, if not all, of the cenotes that I have dived (well over a dozen) require an entrance fee, which was included in the price, along with transportation, lunch, and a cave certified guide. Some are more developed than others, with picnic tables, restrooms, gear changing tables and other amenities. These will attract more swimmers and tourists, but they never interfere with the dives because you make a partial penetration.
If you're looking for a new scuba experience, travel to the Riviera Maya and try Cenote diving. You won’t be disappointed!

Visited on 01/2020 - Submitted on 02/06/2022
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Diving in the Red Sea

5
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2

The Red Sea was a bucket list destination for me, and I recently checked it off. I did a 15 day trip on a liveaboard in the Southern Egyptian Red Sea. The trip began in Hurghada, where we spent one night and the following morning, before boarding the boat. We stayed in the marina area, and in the short time we were there, we found it to be a bustling city with friendly people.

The itinerary of our liveaboard took us to such places as Big Brother, Little Brother, Daedalus, Elphinstone, and farther south to Zabargad, Rocky Island, and Fury Shoal. Mid-way through the trip, we pulled into Port Ghalib (which was also our disembarkment point at the end of the trip) to refuel and to take on new provisions. Port Ghalib has a nice bazaar for shopping, restaurants, bars, and clubs all in the marina area. We saw several resorts along the coast, but some were closed because they cater to European tourists who weren't able to travel, due to COVID.
The Red Sea turned out to be a place to check some things off my critter list. At Daedalus, we encountered schooling Hammerheads, Mantas, Dolphins, and giant Napoleon Wrasse, among other things. Be prepared to dive near the limits of recreational diving and strong currents. This site is for advanced divers. Over the course of the trip we saw Oceanic Whitetips (Longimanus), Thresher Sharks, Silky Sharks, schooling Barracuda, Spotted Scorpionfish, Green Turtles, Cuttlefish, Giant Clams, Batfish, Octopuses, Bumphead Parrotfish, Giant Moray Eels, nudibranchs, and much more. Diving is conducted both from the main boat and Zodiacs. The Red Sea dive guides are experts at finding and pointing out most of the highlight animals. All of the reefs that we dove were very healthy and the coral is packed very densely.

This is a destination that has something for everybody: photography (both wide-angle and macro), shallow reefs, deep dives, wall dives, big animals, and even some great caverns and caves to explore. All of this, and the Red Sea is one of the most economical dive destinations in the world. Our 15 day liveaboard was about half the cost of a 7 day trip on some other liveaboards around the world.
Egypt and the Red Sea are everything you've always heard that they are: a world class dive destination with friendly people, and magnificent diving at rock bottom prices. Every diver should check the Red Sea off their bucket list. Highly recommended!

Visited on 09/2021 - Submitted on 02/06/2022
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Sea of Cortez

5
5
5
4

We traveled to Baja California Sur to dive in both the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez in the same trip. After diving at lands end, where the two meet, the remainder of our diving was done in the Sea of Cortez. We dove in an area called “the corridor". It consists of shallow reefs with schools of fish, moray eels, invertebrates, etc. We also visited a dive site with a phenomenon called a “sand fall". It’s like a waterfall, but underwater and it’s sand cascading down the reef. After dives in this area, we saw a humpback whale migrating north into the Sea of Cortez, toward the area we were headed to next, Cabo Pulmo. Cabo Pulmo is a strictly enforced marine park where the dive sites seem to be untouched. We saw massive schools of fish, huge groupers, loads of invertebrates, and close encounters with bull sharks. Overall, we found the diving here to be excellent. We can’t wait to return to the Sea of Cortez to dive around the areas of La Paz and Loreto.

Visited on 11/2021 - Submitted on 01/29/2022
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Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort

5
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5

After diving in the Cabo San Lucas area, we made our way to Cabo Pulmo to stay and dive with the Cabo Pulmo Beach Resort. We had a rental car and the drive was very pleasant . The last six miles is on a somewhat rough dirt road. The resort is located right on the beach with bungalows and casitas scattered aground the property. Our casita was a very large (about 600 square feet) “studio” type accommodation with a full kitchen, living area, dining area, queen bed, indoor bathroom, and a great outdoor shower. It also has an upstairs covered deck with a table and chairs. There is a partial ocean view. We elected to take advantage of the “Eat, Sleep, Dive” plan which is all inclusive. Cabo Pulmo is very small (population 114) and there are a few other restaurants in town, but eating at the resort for all of our meals was very convenient. The resort restaurant serves an international menu with large portions and we thought the food and service were excellent. There is a swimming pool on the property used for scuba training but guests are free to use it throughout the day.
The on-site dive shop is operated by a very experienced staff and runs like a well oiled machine. Boats can't moor in the marine reserve, so the crews must launch the dive boats from the beach. It's an awe inspiring operation. Diving is very easy, mostly shallow reefs or wrecks covered with massive schools of fish, large grouper, and bull sharks, to name a few of the things to see. The dive guides from CPBR are very professional and act as unofficial guardians of the marine Park. The dive shop has a well-stocked gift shop for t-shirts, hats, and other apparel.
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay at CPBR and can’t wait to return.

Visited on 11/2021 - Submitted on 01/29/2022
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Tesoro Los Cabos Hotel

4
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We elected to stay here because of the location at the marina. The dive shop I was using is also located here. Our room was very spacious, modern, and clean. The complex was quiet at night, even though it's only a short walking distance to restaurants, bars, and clubs. Tesoro Los Cabos has a large pool with two hot tubs and a swim up bar overlooking the marina. There are several restaurants on the property, although a couple were temporarily closed. We ate lunch in the Vista Roof restaurant and the food was top notch. There's a gym with a nice workout area that will accommodate a lot of people and there was no waiting to use any of the equipment. TLC also has a full service spa if you need a massage after a few days of diving. The “downtown” area is a short walk where you can find more restaurants, clubs, liquor stores, grocery stores, etc. We rated everything at this resort as excellent. We recommend Tesoro Los Cabos Hotel and will return again.

Visited on 11/2021 - Submitted on 01/29/2022
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Cabo San Lucas

5
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We traveled to Baja California Sur to dive both the Pacific and the Sea of Cortez on the same trip. Our first base of operations was Cabo San Lucas. We stayed at a condo resort near the marina. This was a great area because all the action is nearby. We were walking distance to the marina where the dive shop we were using is located and their boat was moored right in front. The marina also has a lot of restaurants, shops, bars, and nightclubs. This area can be crowded if a cruise ship is in port, but it’s easy to escape the crowds by walking down a few of the streets away from the marina. We found some excellent restaurants that aren’t frequented by tourists and weren’t crowded. It was very easy to supply our condo because a grocery store and liquor store were also within walking distance. We had a rental car and found driving around Cabo to be very easy and found most places without GPS. We found it to be a family friendly city with welcoming people, a wide variety of restaurants and accommodations, and plenty of fun things to see and do. We will definitely return again.

Visited on 11/2021 - Submitted on 01/29/2022
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Maui

4
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5

We traveled to Maui in September as two couples; two divers and two non-divers. We rented a 2 bedroom condo outside of Lahaina and drove there in a rental car we picked up at the airport. After chilling by the pool for a day, we decided to do some scuba diving. We reserved 3 days at a dive shop in downtown Lahaina, walking distance from the boat. We customized our dive package and chose the Molokini Backwall dive the first day. The diver operator provided a light breakfast before we headed down to the dock. It's a drift dive on a near-vertical wall on the back side of the submerged Molokini volcano crater. We drifted between 70 and 90 feet deep while watching the beautiful fish on the wall side. Many of these fish are endemic to Hawaii and found nowhere else in the world. About 20 minutes into the dive, we were surprised to see a pod of dolphins swim past in the blue water. Toward the end of the dive, we spotted a whitetip reef shark. During the surface interval, we ate the included lunch and the boat was moved to the corner of the crater. We started this drift dive just outside and made our way to the inside of the crater. This area has fantastic hard corals and we saw lots of fish, a moray, and a large ray. The water here was very warm and clear. There were a lot of snorkelers above us and we were able to wave to each other. Cookies were served on the ride back. These were two enjoyable dives.

Day two was the Hammerhead trip to Molokai. After a boat trip of about 1 hour, we did our first drift dive looking for scalloped hammerheads. About 25 minutes into the dive, we spotted several. It was exciting to see them, but we were hoping to see a larger congregation. Beggars can't be choosers and seeing even one Hammerhead is a thrill. After lunch, we made a second dive which was very much like the first one. We did see a small group of hammers and enjoyed the show. Once the diving was done, the weather was so perfect, the boat crew went out of their way to cruise around the island so we could see parts that divers and tourists rarely see. Even the crew was excited to be cruising these parts of the island under such pristine weather and ocean conditions. Breakfast, lunch, and cookies were included again.

Day three was a 3 tank safari to the far side of Lanai. This trip included three drift dives on sites less frequently visited than regular trips. The underwater topography is beautiful with really diverse reefs, sheer walls, and some swim-throughs. These were excellent dives where we spotted dolphins, whitetips, turtles, and tons of colorful reef fish. The captain decided to continue around the island instead of returning the way we came. As we started to turn the corner for the crossing back to Lanai, it was obvious the wind had come up and it was too rough to continue. We eventually turned around and went back the way we came. It was a rough ride and my buddy was seasick the whole ride back. Bummer for him! The same meals included, but I'm sure he wished he hadn't eaten at all.

The rest of the trip was spent on the topside with our wives. We drove the road to Hana, stopping along the way to visit some waterfalls, hike in a bamboo forest, and once we got to Hana, we spent time at the seven sacred pools. On other days we found some excellent snorkeling beaches and did some sunbathing. We found some really good restaurants and had fun shopping for souvenirs.

Bottom line: Maui is a place for sun, fun, and great diving. No passport required for US citizens. Be sure to have shave ice in Lanai with all the extras. You won't be disappointed.

Visited on 09/2015 - Submitted on 05/08/2020
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Best Diving in Costa Rica

5
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We have a friend who owns a vacation home in Costa Rica and he offered to let us use it. The house is located in Tamarindo near the beach. We chose a week in January and went as a group of six. Three of us are scuba divers and the other three are non-divers. It was intended as an adventure trip to do some exploring around the country and squeeze in some diving when possible. We flew to Liberia, rented an SUV, and drove to Tamarindo, which we used as our base.

The next day, we made a 1 hour drive to Playas del Coco and found a dive shop right on the main street to take us out on their boat. They suggested the Catalina Islands because there was a good chance to see Giant Pacific mantas. We were the only ones on the boat and after about a 1 hour ride, we hit the water in search of our elusive quarry. About 10 minutes into the dive, we had our first sighting, a 15 footer that snuck up from behind and passed us within near touching distance. What a thrill to have such a close encounter! Throughout the rest of the dive, we saw several more giants coming, going, and circling around us in very near proximity. It was a shame our exhilarating dive had to end. When we got to the surface, we couldn't contain our excitement. Once we were back on the boat, our divemaster told us that after the surface interval, we would move to a site with a cleaning station, in hopes that we would see more mantas up close and personal. We weren't disappointed. We settled in behind a rock outcropping and waited, hoping a manta would show up. It didn't take long. An 18 footer swam up to within a few feet of us and hovered in place while being tended to by several fish picking bits off the manta. After several minutes, it moved on but it wasn't long before another showed up. It was a repeat of the same show. In all, we saw three different mantas come to the cleaning station during the dive. It was truly a day to remember and we had a lot to talk about during the hour boat ride back to Playas del Coco and the hour drive back to Tamarindo. We decided it was worth the drive to return the next day.

When we returned to the shop, it was decided that we would dive in the Golfo de Papagayo whose sites are much closer and only about a 20-minute boat ride. We went to a site called Meros, a small pinnacle. The visibility here wasn't as good as the previous day, but we were rewarded with schools of grunts, moray eels, some nudibranchs, and some large groupers. The second dive was a site called Monkey's Head, a large rock that resembles the head of a gorilla. It was mostly typical marine life seen in the area, but we did see a squadron of spotted eagle rays. That definitely made this dive a winner. We only dove 2 days but would like to return to dive the Bat Islands for a chance to see bull sharks.

The rest of our trip was devoted to topside activities. We set off for the town of La Fortuna. This isn't a day trip so we stayed at a great hotel just outside of town. From here we were easily able to visit La Fortuna Waterfall for a good part of the day and a wonderful thermal resort on a day pass to enjoy their incredible hot springs. This was all in the shadow of Arenal Volcano. We continued to Monteverde National Park to hike in the cloud forest, cross hanging bridges, listen to howler monkeys in the trees, and zip line over the jungle canopy.

We returned to our base in Tamarindo where we relaxed on the beach and one of our friends spent the day surfing. The last thing we did was a night tour to Marino las Baulas National Park, which is a leatherback turtle nesting area. It is required that you be guided by a park ranger for the safety of the turtles and their nests. It is definitely worth the visit to see these majestic turtles on the beach.

Bottom line: Costa Rica is a real nature lover's delight. The diving was really great and way better than we thought it would be, the topside activities are fantastic, the food is delicious, and the people are warm and welcoming.

Visited on 01/2018 - Submitted on 05/04/2020
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Turks and Caicos

4
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4

We've traveled to Turks & Caicos many times; several visits to Providenciales (Provo, as the locals call it) and once to Grand Turk.
Provo is the most developed and highest populated of the islands. Each time we visited, we were traveling with a small group of friends and rented a villa to accommodate all of us. Being able to cook for ourselves and buy our own liquor and wine, helped defray part of the food and beverage costs. Each villa had a pool and ocean access, so we felt it was a more private experience. There are many to choose from and there are websites dedicated to T&C villa rentals. If this isn't an option for you, there are many hotel options.

We used rental cars as our transportation to get to the dive boat, restaurants, shopping areas, and exploring. Restaurants range from five star gourmet to small local food joints. One of our favorites is a local spot specializing in the conch taken directly from the ocean to the restaurant’s kitchen. In Provo, there's food available to please everyone.

This island has a lot of gorgeous beaches, and its most popular one is Grace Bay Beach, which makes every world's most beautiful beach list. The turquoise water of Chalk Sound is likely the most beautifully colored water anywhere on earth. Other topside activities are too numerous to list here. There is also a robust nightlife.

The scuba diving around Provo mostly concentrates around the great wall diving of Northwest Point. This area can be crowded with boats from several dive operators. The dive shop I used took us instead to West Caicos, French Caye, and Sandbore Channel. The wall diving at these sites was fantastic. I can't remember a single dive that sharks weren't spotted. These locations require a longer boat but are worth the trip.

Grand Turk is a smaller, quieter, and more laid back Island. We stayed at a beachfront dive resort with only 16 rooms. There are beautiful beaches here as well. Topside activities are limited to watersports, beach combing, and exploring the island, including Cockburn Town, the very small capital city of Turks & Caicos. We went beach combing and found a good collection of sea glass. Keep in mind that cruise ships come here and the town may be crowded when a ship is in port. Most of the passengers stay at the cruise center, an enormous facility with restaurants, shops, a simulated surfing machine, and one of the largest swimming pools in the Caribbean. I highly recommend staying away from this place, as it is mostly a tourist trap packed with people when a ship is in.

The dive sites here are much closer and require only a short boat ride. We did mostly wall diving with swim throughs, canyons, and coral arches. There's an abundance of corals (including black coral at easily diveable depths) and plenty of marine animals, including friendly groupers.

Bottom line: Turks & Caicos is not a budget destination. Prices here are higher than many other Caribbean locations. That being said, it is one of our favorites. The beauty, people, food, and spectacular diving are all top notch. Don't forget to drive on the left!

Visited on 09/2017 - Submitted on 04/26/2020
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Bohio Dive Resort

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4

I had been diving in the Turks & Caicos Islands, based in Providenciales, several times but wanted to try Grand Turk. We stayed at Bohio Dive Resort. Our dive package included accommodations, diving, breakfast, and lunch every day. The resort only has 16 rooms, so it's never crowded. We stayed in a beachfront standard king room. It has a wonderful ocean/beach view from your private balcony. The room is furnished with a king-size bed, TV, mini-refrigerator, A/C, and ceiling fan. Beach towels are also provided. The room was adequate and kept clean with daily maid service, but we thought a little renovation was in order. The resort is located on Pillory Beach, a beautiful white sand expanse with lounge chairs and beach umbrellas. There's also a pool. The grounds are kept immaculate and the lobby and restaurant areas are beautiful. They have a small gift shop and offer spa services in your room from an outside vendor.

Breakfast and lunch (included in our package) are served on the outdoor patio next to the beach. You place your lunch order before leaving for the morning dives so they can have it ready for you shortly after returning to the resort. We ate dinner at the onsite restaurant every night. Jorika, the executive chef, changes the menu daily and prepares many cuisines, including Greek, Indian, Thai, Italian, and Spanish. They also offer a Saturday night barbecue, with reggae music, on the outdoor patio and Sunday brunch. We found all the food delicious, although somewhat pricey.

Diving is provided by the onsite dive operation, which was very professional and dedicated to giving scuba divers the best dives available. We did a lot of wall diving with swim throughs, canyons, and coral arches. There's an abundance of corals (including black coral at easily diveable depths) and plenty of marine animals, including friendly groupers. The boat picks you up right on the beach in front of the dive resort.

Bottom line: This is a beautiful beachfront dive resort with great amenities and world class diving. Two small negatives were that some cruise passengers came to Pillory Beach for a day trip and local children came to swim at the resort pool, sometimes monopolizing the deck and pool. These were not big problems for us and we never complained to management.

Visited on 09/2017 - Submitted on 04/26/2020
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