Pakman296 - Bluewater Dive Travel

Pakman296

Pakman296

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Reviews (4)

Beqa Lagoon Resort

5
5
4
5

This review is for Beqa Lagoon Resort on Beqa Island in Fiji. This is about the resort and its dive operations and will not review the general topside activities available in greater Fiji. Beqa Island is located to the South of Nadi, which is one of the main islands. We flew Fijian Air, formerly Air Pacific from Los Angeles to Nadi International. It was about 13 hours direct. The resort picked us up at the airport and transported us 2 hours south. We stopped about halfway for a bathroom/refreshments/try to sell us tourist goods at Jack’s of Fiji which is a chain of tourist shops. The harbor where we crossed to the island was about an hour from there. We rode the whole way with the wife of the resort manager and she gave us about a 15 minute briefing at the harbor while we waited for our luggage to be loaded which gave the bugs ample time to tear my arms and legs a new one. If you usually get bit, use whatever means necessary to repel the bugs, I used every available option but the lemongrass oil seemed to work well and not result in chemical smell. For people who are scared or freaked out by bugs, this is a tropical environment and the resort is located in a pretty remote area so you will see lots of bugs and some will be in the room but it would prove impossible to avoid that.
Overall the resort is well maintained and the staff is very helpful. We stayed in one of the beachfront Bure (room) and it had a small dip pool, deck, table, chairs, lounge chair, and hammock. It was very large and pretty luxurious as the room had two beds and sitting area. For those wondering, you can purchase liquor at the duty free shop in the airport but the resort does encourage you to drink it privately in your room or deck, which is what we did. The types of meals give you enough variety so I believe it would fit most groups and the various preferences they may have and the food was delicious. They incorporated local food items as well as the items us western folk expect. Topside activities include an opportunity to hike to a waterfall, travel to the capital, fish, travel to a surf spot, or just lounge. We did rent jetski’s a couple times and it was fun just blasting around on those.
The diving. The diving is beautiful and there is a large variety of species to see. Their claim to fame is being the soft coral capital of the world and it’s hard to argue that point from my view. There are two boat dives in the morning and shore diving in the afternoon. Afternoon boat dives are extra and they require at least 4 people to make a boat go. I at first felt bored that the afternoon didn't have organized dives but I slowly let go and started to enjoy the afternoon relaxation more towards the end of my trip. The one thing you must do is the shark dives. The shark dives are organized by another group but they made the whole trip worthwhile. The set up for the dives was well organized and the density of the sharks is pretty overwhelming. There were also GIANT groupers, bigger than the ones I saw in Key West on the Vandenberg.
Overall, if you are looking for lots of diving in a day, I would say Beqa is not for you. If you looking for good diving mixed in with relaxation, then this is a place you want to be. One last thing, stay on the marked paths, coconut’s would sporadically fall from the trees and hearing them thump the ground made me totally believe the statistic that more people are killed by coconuts than sharks.

Visited on 12/2013 - Submitted on 02/11/2014
Read all Beqa Lagoon Resort Dive Resort reviews

Scuba Diving in the Maldives

5
5
5
4

I visited the Maldives in May of 2012 and was on the sane trip as reviewer cdub. I will try not to be repetitive.
The water temps are in the 79-81 range and the air temp is in the 80-85 range but there is usually a nice breeze most of the day. Currents varied from spot to spot and there was generally a medium current, with some spots with very strong currents. We had divers with a variety of experience and nobody had any issues. Our locations were mostly in the North Ari Atoll which is one of the largest areas for diving. One of my favorite spots was Hukrueli Faru which has Manta cleaning stations. The depths there varied from 25-100 feet. Kudarah Thila made me feel like I was in an aquarium. The density and variety of life was amazing. Giant schools of Oriental Sweetlips with some Groupers mixed in. The biggest highlight for me was diving with manta's and seeing a napolean wrasse the size of a volkswagon beetle. We went chasing for whale sharks which we finally did see but there was such a crowd of tourists on the surface that it became claustrophobic so beware.
Topside there was not much opportunity since the biggest island is the capital which is 3 miles square. It was interesting to see the capital and and feel like you saw almost all of it in an hour. Seeing the planes landing on runway was surreal since it looks like the plane is going to land on the water. We did spend one night on the main island as we landed late the night before we got on the liveaboard, but I would have been happy staying on the very nice resort on the airport island that I was not aware of until the end of the trip. There was the comedy factor of seeing the rather absurdities(to us westerners at least) of the hotel set up and the insane amount of scooters roaming the "streets". I did skip a night dive and visited a very tiny island with some of the crew and a couple others from our group. The island was Rashdoo and we walk the perimeter in about 25 minutes. The people were very polite and hearing the mosques call to prayers was very beautiful.
Overall the Maldives will probably the greatest tropical location I will ever go to. I saw pretty much everything I hoped to see which made it worth the almost 20 hours of flying. This is definitively one of those once in a lifetime trip that you take if the opportunity comes.

Visited on 02/2014 - Submitted on 02/11/2014
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Atlantis Dive Resort, Dumaguete

5
3
5
4

I was also on the same trip as the first reviewer cdub and I will once again try to avoid being repetitive.
The resort we stayed at was Atlantis and it has been the best resort I have stayed in so far. The resort picked us up from and back to the airport since we were staying one night on Manila and I really appreciated at how they made sure we had no problems checking into our domestic flights since none of us spoke the native language. They also gave us packed lunches for us to take into the airport. They were there in Dumaguete ready for us when we arrived and after that any questions or issues were resolved instantly. I would say the best aspect of this resort was the attention to the service. The staff was extremely helpful and very nice and they learned our preferences very quickly to make our stay more comfortable. The rooms were pretty standard, but very clean and the porches had tables and chairs to sit in. The meals were posted everyday and there was usually a western dish and more exotic dish. The food was so good none of us turned anything down. The chef apparently had worked in Dubai at a Gordon Ramsey restaurant and he deserved every compliment we gave.
Non diving activites included a morning trip to a local market and lunch there with local items. Nighttime activities were available in Dumageute and I had a great time socializing with the staff, I invited them to join us out on the town and the took us to some great spots and it was fun going out like a local.
The diving is great if you like to take macro photos like me. The muck diving seems at first disappointing but once you really look you see all of the tiny life and all of a sudden you can't spend enough time looking for subjects. If your thinking tropical reefs, this is not the best place for that. There are those spots and they are great but not the focus of the diving. This is a great place for playing Where's Waldo and looking for frog fish, cuttlefish, mantis shrimp, and we saw a blue ringed octopus. The water temps was about 80 degrees and visibility was in the 60 -80 foot range. We did spend a day going to Cebu to swim with juvenile whale sharks which is so far the best i've experienced. There were a lot of people but also a lot of whale sharks being hand fed by the fishermen. They tell you it is not allowed to touch them, but I was having trouble keeping them from touching me. We also went out to the outer islands to dive. Apo island was great and more in line when you think of a tropical dive. Another perk is even when we went on a day trip to the islands or Cebu the resort would bring a full crew and bring a full lunch spread for us. No simple grilled burger or sandwich with this group.
The photo room at the resort is the best photo room I have seen for divers. Plenty of stations with plugs, storage, and the each had a compressed air gun for cleaning and drying your gear. The dive shop was also spacious and they rinsed our gear every night and had it ready to go every morning.
Overall I am not sure I will ever go to another resort with this level of service, unless visiting their sister resort Atlantis Puerta Galera or their liveaboard the Azores. If you like to get your dives in, this is the spot as well. With 5 boat dives a day included, our group started to fatigue a bit on diving and skip some dives, even those of us who never have before.

Visited on 02/2013 - Submitted on 02/11/2014
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Best Diving in Australia - Top 10

4
4
3
5

GREAT BARRIER REEF: CAIRNS

The destination I will be discussing is specifically Cairns (pronounced Cans) which is one of the main points to the Great Barrier Reef. I also spent a small amount of time in Port Douglas which is the other main entry point and I will discuss the contrasts further down. The discussion is mostly about the place vs the diving as it was the first dive experience I had so my judgement is too newb for people looking for vast information on the diving. The city is located in the state of Queensland which is the Northeastern state. It is very close to the equator and is a hot and very humid place. I was there in their late winter early spring season and it was still in the high 80’s with 80% humidity. Direct flights to Cairns is available from most major cities, I flew from Sydney which is about a two hour flight.

If you are looking for a lot of night life and energy, Cairns is where you want to stay. It has no shortage of hotels and hostels available and the downtown boasts a large area for nightlife. It is the city where Australians come for spring break type activities and there are also a lot of European travelers. There was a lot of restaurants to choose from and plenty of bars to visit. *As a warning, the term hotel can be also applied to bars or pubs so you need to make sure your looking at the right thing when doing internet research*

Cairns is a major hub for reef diving and liveaboard boats. The service I used was the Silverseries and their boat the Silverswift, we went out to the outer reefs. The boat was a spacious catamaran style boat which was configured with a spacious back deck for dive gear and a retractable platform which allowed easy entry and exit for snorkelers and divers. The crew was very friendly and helpful and they provided everything you need for the day. The conditions were not great, visibility was about 50 feet which is not the usual but we were not there for the prime season. The life I did see included small fish like clownfish, schools of barracuda, one turtle that swam away very fast, giant clams, and lots of hard coral. Topside activities I participated in was a tour of the Daintree Rainforest (a World Heritage Site), a saltwater crocodile safari, a hiking tour of Mossman Gorge, and lounging at The Esplanade which is a public lagoon pool at the main park. There wasn’t any great stretches of beach there for people to spend time on.

GREAT BARRIER REEF: PORT DOUGLAS

Port Douglas is very different from Cairns because it is geared towards either an older crowd or people looking for a quiet experience. The downtown was small and very tourist oriented and there was dramatically less bars. Luxury resorts are more common here and the food options were pricier.

Overall this is a great destination for getting both the opportunity for topside activities as well as scuba diving. There are liveaboards available for more serious divers and plenty of services for the beginner diver or snorkeler. Also the local dive operators raved about using one of the operators to travel to the White Sundays (pronounced the Whit-Sundays). I mixed in my visit to Cairns while also visiting Sydney and Melbourne and it is very easy to reach Cairns from those cities.

Visited on 08/2010 - Submitted on 02/11/2014
Read all Best Diving in Australia - Top 10 Dive Travel reviews

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