Nitroxjunkie

Nitroxjunkie

Nitroxjunkie's picture

My Dive Map

Reviews (31)

Best Diving in Hawaii

4
4
5
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
Read all Best Diving in Hawaii Dive Travel reviews

Best Diving in Costa Rica

5
4
5
5

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
Read all Best Diving in Costa Rica Dive Travel reviews

Turks and Caicos

4
5
5
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
Read all Turks and Caicos Dive Travel reviews

Bohio Dive Resort

4
4
4
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
Read all Bohio Dive Resort Dive Resort reviews

Southern California

5
5
5
5

I live in SoCal and could write a book about diving here. I'll try to just hit the high points.

The diversity includes shore diving, wreck diving, oil rig diving, offshore islands, kelp forests, and aquarium diving. Between San Diego and Santa Barbara there are at least 100 shore diving sites offering different topography, marine plants, and marine animals. Most are easily accessible and the local dive shops can give directions, conditions, and tips on diving individual sites. In the San Diego area, about 2 miles offshore from Mission Beach, is Wreck Alley. Several ships have been intentionally sunk in depths well within sport diving limits. The best of these is the Yukon, a 350+ foot Canadian naval destroyer.

Farther north, offshore from Long Beach, there are 3 oil rigs that allow diving with prior consent. It's easiest to dive these on an arranged trip aboard a charter boat. It's a live drop off and pick up, since boats are not allowed to tie up on the rigs. You can expect to see large schools of bait fish, invertebrates like sea stars and strawberry anemones, sea lions, and a lot of other marine life. Whales are sometimes seen in this area. At any given time there are around 20 charter boats operating in southern California. They mostly take divers to the offshore Channel Islands.

In the south these are comprised of Catalina, San Clemente, Santa Barbara, and San Nicolas. The northern islands are Anacapa, Santa Cruz, Santa Rosa, and San Miguel. All of these usually offer great viability, and excellent opportunities for photographers and hunter/gatherers. One example of marine life found around the islands is the Giant Black Sea Bass which can weigh hundreds of pounds. They are making a wonderful comeback after having been hunted to near extinction. They have been protected for many years now and scuba divers are spotting them more frequently.

One of the highlights of diving SoCal is the kelp forests along the coast and around the islands. It's somewhat surreal diving amongst the fronds reaching from the bottom to the surface. Giant kelp is one of the fastest growing organisms on earth, up to 2 feet a day. The forests provide an excellent refuge for fish and invertebrates.

Another novel dive is at the Aquarium of the Pacific in Long Beach. For a fee, you can scuba dive in their largest tank surrounded by a myriad of sea creatures. It's a fun and thrilling experience. I have been a hunter/gatherer for many years and opportunities for game are plentiful: lobsters, crabs, scallops, mussels, clams, urchins, and many different types of edible fish. Abalone in Southern California have been under a moratorium for many years to allow rejuvenation of the species following a number of factors which severely depleted the population. The marine animals run the gamut from Blue and Grey whales to macro subjects like nudibranchs and seahorses.

The topside attractions are nearly endless: gorgeous beaches, world-famous zoos, theme parks, concert venues, museums, movie studios, some of the country's best restaurants, over a dozen professional sports teams, theater, symphony, etc.

Bottom line: Southern California is a diving vacation destination that rivals all others. This should really be considered a bucket list place that everyone should visit more than once.

Visited on 04/2020 - Submitted on 04/19/2020
Read all Southern California Dive Travel reviews

Truk Blue Lagoon Resort

4
3
4
3

We stayed here because it's advertised as a resort with a great location and on-site dive operation. The grounds are immaculate and well kept. It's located next to the ocean and the views are spectacular. The dive shop has its own mixing station and can give you any percentage you ask for, including tri-mix. The dive guides are very professional and knowledgeable. Individual gear lockers are not provided and storage is in a large communal area. The boats were good and the trips to the dive sites are pretty quick, since the resort is close.

Our room had a king size bed, balcony, and refrigerator. We found the room, furniture, and linens to be old and dated. The food in the restaurant was adequate, but nothing to write home about. Wifi is available in the reception area, but is spotty, at best. This resort is the original hotel on Chuuk and has not aged well. A refurbish and upgrade are due.

Be sure to visit the small museum at the resort. It will give you insight into the history of Truk Lagoon. Keep in mind that Chuuk is a very remote and impoverished island. It's not an ideal vacation destination, but a fantastic dive destination, unlike anywhere else in the world. The world class wreck diving outweighs the shortcomings of the resort. Add Truk Lagoon to your bucket list.

Visited on 12/2016 - Submitted on 04/15/2020
Read all Truk Blue Lagoon Resort Dive Resort reviews

Truk Lagoon

4
4
3
2

Our trip to Chuuk was a real adventure. We departed from Los Angeles on United Airlines to Honolulu and connected with the legendary “Island Hopper" to complete the trip. This route stops at the islands of Majuro, Kwajalein, and Pohnpei before arriving in Chuuk. The reason scuba divers come here is because it's known as the holy grail of wreck diving. These are not the stripped down, purpose sunk wrecks you see at many sites, but World War ll wrecks sunk during Operation Hailstone in February of 1944. These ships and planes are still much the way they were when they went down. The majority of their cargos are still onboard, including trucks, airplanes, tanks, mines, bombs, machine gun bullets and thousands of other artifacts, including Noritake china. Human remains can still be seen on some of the ships, reminding us that these are sacred places, to be treated with reverence. It's unlawful to remove anything from the wrecks, so the artifacts can been seen for years to come. But, these aren't the only things to see. Since these wrecks have been on the sea floor for over 75 years, they're covered with hard and soft corals, sponges, anemones, and other marine growth. There is also an abundance of fish life including schooling fish and sharks. It's almost like diving on ship-shaped coral reefs. There are over 20 wrecks within recreational limits, and more for technical divers. On the outer barrier reefs, you're able to dive on sheer walls covered in beautifully colored corals. My favorite dives were the Fujikawa Maru, Shinkoku Maru, and the Betty Bomber.

Topside activities are somewhat limited, but you can explore lighthouses, some large gun installations, and military cave networks. We stayed at a resort that has a small museum dealing with the history of Truk Lagoon. The people are friendly, but the culture is male dominated and women should be sure to dress modestly.

Accommodations and restaurants are limited, but keep in mind that this is a really remote island and you should limit your expectations. We found everything adequate and kept in mind that we came for the scuba diving and not vacationing. There are few souvenirs to be had, in the way of handicrafts, like woven items, handmade casual jewelry, and carved wood. One of the fun items is the hand-carved “love stick". Each one is unique and has a wonderful story of courtship behind it.

Bottom line: This is a place best suited for divers only, with modest accommodations and restaurants. Any shortcomings can be excused because of the world class wreck diving. Definitely a bucket list scuba diving destination and it's easy to see why it’s called the “Wreck Diving Capital of the World".

Visited on 12/2016 - Submitted on 04/13/2020
Read all Truk Lagoon Dive Travel reviews

Palau

4
5
5
4

After a week of diving in the Philippines, I was able to take a non-stop flight directly from Manila to Palau for another week of spectacular diving. Palau is everything you may have heard about, and more. For scuba divers, Palau has just about everything you might be interested in: sheer walls, colorful reefs, drift diving, wrecks, caves and blue holes, big animals, macro life during blackwater diving, and jellyfish lake.

There are so many different dive experiences, it's hard to choose a favorite. A few of the best wall dives are Peleliu Wall, New Drop Off, and Big Drop Off. These are full of life, including giant sea fans and pelagics are often seen. German Channel is considered one of the world’s best drift dives where mantas are frequently spotted. Peleliu Express is another exciting drift dive. There are many wrecks to explore including the Helmet Wreck and the Zeke fighter plane and other World War ll wrecks. There are several blue holes at the surface that lead to a large cavern with an exit onto the wall. Chandelier Cave is an easy dive where you are able to see stalactites and stalagmites and surface in air pockets inside the cave.

Some of the big animals that can be seen while diving in Palau are: several species of sharks, mantas, dugongs, Napoleon wrasse, and giant clams. For macro diving, black water night dives are offered, where macro creatures are the main attraction. Jellyfish Lake is a unique snorkel dive where you share the water with thousands of non-stinging jellyfish. It was closed in 2017 due to a drastic population decline, but was reopened in 2019. Palau’s signature dive, and one that appears on every list of the world's best dives, is Blue Corner. There is a very strong current here, requiring a Reef hook, where you hook in and watch the parade of large numbers of Gray Reef Sharks and White Tip Reef Sharks. This is a must-dive site for experienced divers. On the boat rides to many of the dive locations, you will weave your way through the Rock Islands, a beautiful trip among mushroom-shaped limestone outcroppings. There are many dive operators to choose from that dive all the best spots.

There are plenty of things to do when not diving. World War ll history in on display during a land tour of Peleliu, where there are still many relics left on the island after one of the fiercest battles of the war. Palau has a rich culture, which can be explored at the local cultural center. A wonderful souvenir is a storyboard, which is a hand-carved wood plank that tells the story of one of many legends unique to Palau. Some of the local islanders also chew betel nut, which gives them an energy boost. It turns their teeth red after chewing. Everyone here is super friendly and warmly welcomes visitors.

There are lots of resorts and hotels to choose from and many restaurants, some of which serve a local favorite, fruit bat soup, prepared using a whole bat which is served in the soup. It can be washed down with one of the local beers, Red Rooster.

Bottom line: Palau is a destination with world class diving, a rich culture, restaurants offering many different cuisines, and a warm and friendly population. Add Palau to your bucket list, you won't regret it.

Visited on 02/2016 - Submitted on 04/06/2020
Read all Palau Dive Travel reviews

Palau Pacific Resort

4
5
5
5

I chose to stay at the Palau Pacific Resort after reading some reviews and getting recommendations from other divers. I'm glad I did! This is a beautiful property with lush grounds that include tropical plants and a saltwater pond filled with reef fish and rays. The garden view room I stayed in, looked out onto the pond. My room had a king size bed, a/c, flat-screen TV, and free wifi. There was also a small patio right outside. It was kept immaculate by housekeeping and was a comfortable home away from home during my stay.

When I wasn't scuba diving, I spent a lot of time in the gorgeous infinity pool, on the beautiful white sand beach, on the resort’s hiking trail, or at their awesome bar. Every staff member was gracious and friendly. They tried their best to accommodate my every wish. The resort also has a spa, gym, tennis courts, and a gift shop. I ate at the buffet breakfast every morning. It is a very extensive assortment of eastern and western foods. The quality was extraordinary. Room service is also offered. I ate lunches provided by my off-site dive operator and dinners at several different restaurants within a short distance of the resort. Splash Palau is the on-site dive operator featuring a dive center, dive trips, and rental gear. I thoroughly enjoyed my stay and would definitely stay here again.

Visited on 02/2016 - Submitted on 04/06/2020
Read all Palau Pacific Resort Dive Resort reviews

Kona

4
5
5
5

I’ve been to Kona three times, and each time we’ve stayed at a beachfront condo just south of Kailua-Kona, the main town on the west side of the island. Hotels are also available, but we find the convenience of a condo to be much better. There are many to choose from. The ones we’ve stayed at were walking distance to restaurants, bars, and stores. We rented a car so we could have the flexibility of doing some exploring and getting to the dive boat each day.

For the non-divers with us, there were plenty of things to do, including hiking, snorkeling, visiting beautiful beaches, and shopping. Many beaches are within a short drive from Kailua, where the snorkeling is easy, in shallow water, and lots of fish are easily spotted. Several of these beaches have restrooms, showers, picnic tables, and barbeque grills. Hawaiian green turtles are plentiful here and are frequently seen while diving, snorkeling, and on the beaches. We've even seen them lazing right in front of our condo. Kona is also one of the places where you can see the endangered Hawaiian Monk seal. We saw them several times during our visits.

The diving here is mostly by boat to reach the top sites. On the boat ride, you're likely to see Spinner dolphins performing acrobatic maneuvers while leaping out of the water. Since Hawaii is so remote, there are many endemic species that are not found anywhere else in the world. About 20% of the fish here are only found in Hawaii. The topography tends to be a sloping reef, so you can start your dives deep and shallow up, finishing in shallow water where you might find lava tubes, arches, and craters. The visibility is often 80-100 feet. We frequently made 90-minute dives because of the shallow depths, but didn’t sacrifice seeing fantastic sea life for the extended time. Kona is also a place where you have an excellent chance to see Tiger sharks. We saw tigers on two different occasions. If you're lucky, you may see dolphins on your dives and hear humpback whales singing in the distance.

Two of the world's best night dives are offered here; the world famous Kona manta ray night dive, and black water diving, that one of the dive operators calls “Pelagic Magic”. Before we did the manta ray night dive the first time, I thought it might be very commercial and touristy, attracting large crowds. That scenario is somewhat true, but the opportunity to interact with a dozen or more of these large, magnificent animals is worth it. Divers sit stationary in a circle on the bottom, shining their dive lights upward to form a column of light that attracts plankton for the mantas to feed on. They come swooping in to feed and we had to duck our heads several times they came so close. This is an exhilarating and enjoyable dive not to be missed and only found in Kona. The black water dives are conducted far offshore, in deep open water, in total darkness. They are done to see planktonic creatures (many of them fish or other animals in their larval, or juvenile stage of life) that ride the ocean currents. This is very exciting, but not for the faint of heart.

Lastly, if you have time and a car, a drive to the east side of the island near Hilo is a good diversion. You can visit Volcanos National Park where you can see two of the world's most active volcanoes - Kīlauea and Mauna Loa.

Bottom line: Kona is a great place to visit for the tropical island experience, world class diving, a warm and welcoming population, and fun topside activities. Everyone speaks English, you don't need a passport, and the currency is the US dollar; all of this without leaving the U.S. Tip: Don't forget to try shave ice for a delicious sweet treat.

Visited on 05/2016 - Submitted on 03/21/2020
Read all Kona Dive Travel reviews

Pages

BE THE FIRST TO GET NEWS AND SPECIALS

Sign up for the mailing list today