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August 2004 Vol. 30, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Reports From Readers: Part I

Cozumelís adult dive operators, Bonaire bummers

from the August, 2004 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

We want to keep you updated. We've received lots of reports from readers, traveling divers, correspondents, and others, and between Chapbooks we like to offer updates that we think are important. Here's the latest.

Cozumel: There are perhaps more dive operators per square foot here than any place in the world. Some cater to the lowest common denominator of divers, but your fellow Undercurrent subscribers know the good ones. Aldora Divers ( has been a favorite for many years, and past issues and chapbooks have sung their praises. You can't go wrong with them, but here are a few others as well.

Liquid Blue is a favorite of serious divers, as Daniel Spitzer (Suffern NY) reports from his June trip to Cozumel, "A two-small-boats operation. Owner Roberto Rodruguez-Miramon and his brother Jorge share divemaster duties, while Roberto's wife Michaela (from Colorado) runs the office. It is a pleasure to dive with them, as they enjoy leading a small group through the nooks and crannies of the reef and pointing out interesting finds. Liquid Blue uses steel 100 or 120 cubic foot tanks, so deep dives such as a multiple entry of Devil's Throat are not time-limited. Liquid Blue dives to meet the experience and desires of its customers. ... Cruise ships disgorge masses, and on some nights it's best to avoid the center of town. However, on a Sunday, it is possible to enjoy a quiet dinner and walk around town, appreciating a different culture and marveling at the ability of an entire family -- husband, wife, and two children -- to balance on a single motor scooter. (As a neurosurgeon, I cringe, especially since there isn't a helmet in sight.)

Advanced Diver: Says Jack Gibson (Dallas, TX), "Richard and Tony did it for us again. On our first dive, 77 minutes at Palancar caves, we saw one of everything: a nurse shark, hawksbill turtle, spotted eagle ray, southern stingray, green moray, and a spotted moray. After 9 years of diving with them, I can tell you these guys are pros who give you lots of bottom time over Cozumel's best sites."

Blue XT Sea Diving: Chuck and Nancy Anson (Oceanside, CA) write that with Blue XT Sea in January, "we got long bottom times, good fast boats, experienced dive staff, and our choice of dive sites. They picked us up at the Plaza Las Glorious pier each morning around 8 a.m. Their dive boat is a fast twin engine boat that easily holds eight divers, but there were never more than six, plus the divemaster. They use aluminum 80s, and fills were consistently 3,000 plus. Most dives were over 60 minutes. The two divemasters, Raul I and Raul II, have each been diving Cozumel's reefs for more than 10 years."

Living Underwater: Larry Sandusky (Meridian, ID) says that in June owner Jeremy Anschel "actively solicited input on our diving preferences before recommending dive sites, then gave excellent, detailed pre-dive briefings. He was consistently attentive underwater, often checking your computer personally to make certain decompression dives were going smoothly. Living Underwater uses steel 120s for extended dive times and beautiful drift dives, with the time to closely examine the smallest reef creatures. Jeremy is a sharpeyed divemaster who will show tiny creatures with the same enthusiasm as the large ones. Jeremy and Living Underwater are living proof of Undercurrent's value to the discriminating diver."

Solomon Islands: Scientists have long thought that the world's most diverse coral regions end at Papua New Guinea, but researchers recently "set the marine scientific community on its ear after uncovering one of the most diverse coral reef systems in the world in the Solomon Islands." Dr. Alison Green announced in June that 15 scientists from Australia and the Solomons spent 35 days there and recorded 485 species of coral and 284 different fish types. She said the surveyed area had the second highest number of coral species in the world and for fish diversity it ranked equal with Indonesia, the Philippines, Australia, and Papua New Guinea. Many divers have known this for a long time, and with the civil unrest in the Solomons now under control, the Bilikiki is again the boat of the hour. Says Larry Schnabel (yes, Larry again), who was on board in March: "Boat comfortable, well organized, rooms clean and spacious. Food quite good, lots of fresh veggies, fruit, fish. Dove Guadalcanal, Russell Island, Florida Islands; divemasters let you dive your own dives without trying to mollycoddle you. Saw a few mobulas and whitetip, blacktip, and reef sharks, largest maybe 4 feet, but coral and smaller fish life abundant (saw four varieties of trigger fish and more varieties of Nemos). Some strong currents."

Bonaire:We get enough mixed reviews on the Plaza Resort to caution divers headed there to keep expectations in check. For example, a reader from Knoxville, TN, there in May, says that "My decision to stay at Plaza Resort was to satisfy my wife's (nondiver) likes for a nice beach, A/C, and cable TV. The Plaza Resort is the largest on the island. It also might be the most overrated. The rooms are huge and clean. Decor is basic and limited. We stayed on the 2nd floor (top) and our ceiling leaked in five places during a couple of rain showers. The landscaping around the resort was lacking. Bird droppings covered walkways under trees. I expected a lot more from this resort based on the rates I was paying." More than one diver has reported that unless they have booked a package in advance, they had trouble getting on the dive boats; there hasn't been enough room for all the divers at the resort.

And P.S.: Bonaire: To meet international security requirements, officials considered closing Town Pier to all diving, but that didn't happen. Nonetheless, divemasters and divers heading to Town Pier will now be required to provide identity information in advance to the harbor master, and permits will be checked by security officers. When ships are in port or under heightened security, no diving will be allowed. ... Bonaire's reefs are degrading because of runoff, sewage, and other matters, so Bonaire is putting in a new sewage treatment plant. Trouble is, reports the Bonaire Reporter, environmentalists say the proposed design will "do more harm than good to Bonaire's reefs."

Cayman Aggressor: Keep the weather in mind if you're headed aboard the Cayman Aggressor in winter. Susan Rae Sampson (Renton, WA) reports: "Last November, we took our chances on the weather and lost: We were unable to get to Little Cayman and Bloody Bay Wall." Rough seas can prevent the Aggressor from making the 70-mile crossing, which means that you may have to be satisfied diving the full week alongside all of Grand Cayman's day boats.

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