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Willar
07-31-2007, 09:06
My sister is planning to get PADI OW certified in the next few months. The plan is to get all the class and pool work done and then get a refferral slip to do the open water dives at some tropical destination. I am in charge of deciding on the destination so help me decide.

What is the best Caribbean destination to take a new diver for check-out dives and the first SCUBA dedicated vacation? Caymans? Bonaire? Curacao? Cozumel? Key Largo? Jamaica? Bahamas?

ertechsg
07-31-2007, 09:11
I vote for coz easy drift diving.

tx.lakerat
07-31-2007, 09:15
I vote for coz easy drift diving.

I'd second this...

WaterRat
07-31-2007, 09:22
Coz was my wifes first blue water dive and she loved it.

Ron

loudgonzo
07-31-2007, 09:28
How are the reefs presently in Coz? I've heard both that they're nowhere near what they used to be before the hurricane several years ago.

lucidblue
07-31-2007, 10:11
Just did my first dives after certification in Cozumel. I loved it! However, I wouldn't want to waste time doing the certification dives there. I recommend doing them at home and then just do as much diving in Coz as possible.

I was really comfortable diving there. We were lucky enough to have the DM/boat all to ourselves the whole trip. I wouldn't have wanted to be out with the resort dive ops that had tons of people. I think we got a lot of good knowledge and advice from the DM, plus he was able to take the time to find marine life that we would never have seen and also take a ton of photos of us.

Vercingetorix
07-31-2007, 10:13
Scuba Diving magazine did an extensive write-up a few issues ago and ranked the islands on ease of diving. Bonaire was the top beginner-level island dive-site. Boat diving is not required. You rent a jeep and drive to all the dive sites. The currents are not nasty. Lots to see. Good viz.

unclepooty
07-31-2007, 10:27
Just returned from week in Cozumel. First dives post certification for myself, wife, son, and friend. It was excellent to see and easy to do. Never saw the reefs before the storm, so can't compare conditions then to now.

Willar
07-31-2007, 11:53
I've been to Bonaire and really enjoyed it but I'm not sure how she'll like the surf entries. I think we might have done the tougher sites and I could take her to the easier sites. The cost of this trip would be higher than Cozumel.

I've been to Scuba Club Cozumel, enjoyed it very much and want to return, but many of the dives we did were 100fsw. Are there good dives in Coz for a newly certified diver? I know the diving just off SCC are easy but not much to look at. Do they have a "beginner's boat" that they do easier dives in the morning?

thesmoothdome
07-31-2007, 12:11
My vote would be for the Bay Islands or Belize, pretty much because the diving is easy and in most cases, current free. If money isn't an issue and you really want to immerse her in the experience, I'd shoot for a liveaboard. It's the quickest way to rack up dives and the diving is, in a lot of cases, superior to where land based operations will go.

TopSully
07-31-2007, 12:18
I did the referral thing earlier this year. Did all of my class and pool work in Pittsburgh and then went on vacation to St. Croix. I did my cert dives there and it was amazing.The diving was "easy" as in no current to fight while doing skills tests, the water was warm and comfortable and the marine life was abundant. The reefs are "recovering" and very beautiful. I can't compare to any other carib destination but I will return some day soon.

Illini_Fan
07-31-2007, 12:44
My son and I went to COZ for our first dives post-certification. Very easy diving, I'd recommend it.

ertechsg
07-31-2007, 12:51
I've been to Scuba Club Cozumel, enjoyed it very much and want to return, but many of the dives we did were 100fsw. Are there good dives in Coz for a newly certified diver? I know the diving just off SCC are easy but not much to look at. Do they have a "beginner's boat" that they do easier dives in the morning? Just hire a private DM from the dive shop you use. We use dive paradise the cost for a private DM was $30 did this for the first day then we just dove with the group. They will make her feel safe. And in coz no differant between 60 ft and 90 ft water so clear. Try to get full cert before going don't waste time cert down there. Go there to log some dive

ertechsg
07-31-2007, 12:53
Scuba Diving magazine did an extensive write-up a few issues ago and ranked the islands on ease of diving. Bonaire was the top beginner-level island dive-site. Boat diving is not required. You rent a jeep and drive to all the dive sites. The currents are not nasty. Lots to see. Good viz. Not sure I'd want to make my 1st open water dive with out add comfort a DM

pjm1128
08-01-2007, 10:04
I've heard Bonaire is one of the best/easiest places for new divers...good viz, no current, but I've not been there. I did my pool and class work in Jackson, MI, and did my OW dives by referral on Maui with a gal named Rene from Octopus Reef. She was absolutely AWESOME, and I would highly recommend her for private/group tours. While the location is important, I think one of the most important pieces is the quality of the dive operation you're utilizing for your certification. Undercurrent or your local dive shop might be a good place to check for diver recommendations of different dive operations abroad.

Pat in MI

Foo2
08-01-2007, 10:23
If you do your check out dives in Cozumel, I recomend using Blue XT Sea (http://www.bluextseadiving.com/). The dive op owner is Christi. She is a Texan that relocated to Cozumel. Her staff is great and you get good dives. I just dove with them and they let us burn our tanks as long as it fit into our table times under water. It was really nice. Our longest dive was 55 min. Just my $0.02. :D

TAH 73
08-01-2007, 19:17
Had a friend that did the dive referral, and in hindsight he said he would do the dives somewhere local with the shop that they did the main training from. He found that doing the referral they were just rubber stamping the paper to get him diving, whereas when he did the pool training they were a little more hands on when it came to correcting deficiencies in the diving.
Remember they only need to see a minimum standard to be able to pass, they aren't seeing a huge investment in you, more than likely when they see a referral they see someone that may dive with a few times, then bye when you get back on the plane. A local training agency has a little more of an investment, through the pool and class sessions they have had an opportunity to get to know you and your learning style, and have a little more investment in the diver. Hopefully they have the idea that you are a returning customer for AOW, and future courses, thus treating you a little better.

kwonger81
08-01-2007, 22:02
I went to Bonaire in January and would HIGHLY RECOMMEND IT for beginners. As a beginner myself (6 dives logged over 2 trips prior to Bonaire), I was nervous about diving without a DM, but it truly is a breeze. I would recommend staying at a place that has a nice house reef. We stayed at Den Laman (and Sand Dollar, a slightly cheaper option, is just next door) and the house reef, Bari Reef, is rated #1 in terms of fish diversity, so it is really excellent. There are lots of other resorts you can go to (eg Buddy's), so you could do a lot of diving off of docks to start off. We did 1 boat dive (Karpata - awesome dive), and 1 other shore dive (Oil Slick Leap - didn't do the leap though). I also did a night dive (Town Pier - highly recommended). I logged 11 dives during our week there and wish I could have done more ($120 for unlimited air for the week). The other places I've gone diving is Palawan (Philippines) and Costa Rica, and I can't imagine a better place for a beginner diver than Bonaire (but keep in mind I've never been anywhere else).

deepdiver47
08-02-2007, 07:21
What is the best Caribbean destination to take a new diver for check-out dives and the first SCUBA dedicated vacation? Caymans? Bonaire? Curacao? Cozumel? Key Largo? Jamaica? Bahamas?[/quote]

Key Largo is great as it is very easy for newbs. There is a dive op called Quiescence. They specialize in small groups of 4 and will take you where you need to go.

torrey
08-02-2007, 10:25
I've been to Scuba Club Cozumel, enjoyed it very much and want to return, but many of the dives we did were 100fsw. Are there good dives in Coz for a newly certified diver? I know the diving just off SCC are easy but not much to look at. Do they have a "beginner's boat" that they do easier dives in the morning?

Cozumel is the only diving I've done outside of Texas, but my first trip there I hadn't been diving long, and I don't think it could have been a better experience. I've been back several times since and find that I prefer the shallower dives because there is typically a lot more life to see and the sun can still bring out the vibrant colors of the reefs...not to mention longer bottom times! I've always gone with a local scuba club and we have used the same dive-op each time, and the DM's always ask us what we're interested in.

torrey
08-02-2007, 10:28
If you do choose to go to Cozumel, I bought a book last year that I really like - Cozumel Dive Guide & Log Book (http://www.scubatoys.com/store/detail.asp?PRODUCT_ID=CozumelDiveGuide). It has nice colorful maps and info of each dive site and what to expect there.

georoc01
08-02-2007, 13:10
Just make sure that if you do go to Cozumel that they know you are a newbie. I did some dives on my last trip there that I struggled with and would not advise for a new diver.

The current was very strong and to stay off the bottom at a comfort level I had would cause me to be far ahead of the rest of the group. Plus we hit an up current that was literally throwing me to the surface and I had to dump air really fast.

Foo2
08-02-2007, 13:34
Just make sure that if you do go to Cozumel that they know you are a newbie. I did some dives on my last trip there that I struggled with and would not advise for a new diver.

The current was very strong and to stay off the bottom at a comfort level I had would cause me to be far ahead of the rest of the group. Plus we hit an up current that was literally throwing me to the surface and I had to dump air really fast.

Just for info sake, you should ALWAYS inform the DM of your experience level and whether or not you have ever dived that particular location. The DM's want to see you enjoy your dive and be safe! :smiley2: Good tip georoc!

pjm1128
08-02-2007, 17:10
Had a friend that did the dive referral, and in hindsight he said he would do the dives somewhere local with the shop that they did the main training from. He found that doing the referral they were just rubber stamping the paper to get him diving, whereas when he did the pool training they were a little more hands on when it came to correcting deficiencies in the diving.
Remember they only need to see a minimum standard to be able to pass, they aren't seeing a huge investment in you, more than likely when they see a referral they see someone that may dive with a few times, then bye when you get back on the plane. A local training agency has a little more of an investment, through the pool and class sessions they have had an opportunity to get to know you and your learning style, and have a little more investment in the diver. Hopefully they have the idea that you are a returning customer for AOW, and future courses, thus treating you a little better.

That was not true at all in my case (certified on Maui). Rene (the gal I certified with from Octopus Reef) was certifying another diver at the same time I certified. This other gal did not do so well on some of the skills tests, so Rene made her do two extra dives and become more proficient at the skills before she would certify her. I do not regret certifying by referral at all!!! I DO think that you need to do your homework tho and pick a place where you will NOT just be 'rubber stamped', but actually have to perform the skills appropriately. And Rene's investment in me has been worthwhile (for both of us), since I've been back to Maui at least three other times that I've dove with her (and will continue to do so on future trips). She also certified me in Nitrox.

Pat

pjm1128
08-02-2007, 17:15
Just make sure that if you do go to Cozumel that they know you are a newbie. I did some dives on my last trip there that I struggled with and would not advise for a new diver.

The current was very strong and to stay off the bottom at a comfort level I had would cause me to be far ahead of the rest of the group. Plus we hit an up current that was literally throwing me to the surface and I had to dump air really fast.

I know personally that as a new diver, I would not have been comfortable with drift dives and current. You have to focus so much on just remembering the basics that to add current to the mix would have been quite overwhelming to me.

Black-Gorrilla
08-02-2007, 19:17
i didn't read all of the posts here... but if you come to Miami, you can do shore dives in a coupe diff. spots... hit up the reefs and wrecks from a boat... and celebrate on South Beach!!

RobT
08-03-2007, 03:55
You might consider CoCoView resort on Roatan. I have never seen a dive op that is as easy. Patty at Dockside Dive Center is a great instructor and the diving is so easy a caveman could do it!

The only problem I could foresee if you go there is that from then on all other dive ops would be compared to theirs and you will end up having to return again and again to be satisfied.

Later, Rob.

jawfish
08-04-2007, 08:31
My vote is for Cozumel. Very easy drift diving, plenty to see and a relaxed environement. You can't go wrong with this one!

I second Rob's choice of Roatan. Another GREAT choice for it's easy diving and friendly people.

quarrydiver
08-11-2007, 11:57
St. Thomas (Coki beach) has very easy shore dives, no passport needed, and dive shop 20 feet from the water. After she's comfortable, think about Blackbeard's.

quarrydiver
08-11-2007, 12:00
Blackbeard's is a great place to get in a bunch of diving but be careful not to push her on the first dive. Boat dives can be more intimidating for new divers.

Texaslight
06-08-2008, 11:24
Cozumel....Hands Down and it will get her more hooked than ever!!!!!!
We go 3-4 times a year...either Playa Del Carmen or Cozumel,
Look for the all inclusive...eg El Cozumeleneo, and their dive shop Scuba Du is awsome,
On Playa we love to dive with Scuba Libre awsome dive shop
Good Luck and have fun

sixboots
06-08-2008, 15:01
I got OW certified in Roatan this past spring with some friends & I'd definitely recommend it. Warm water, of course, no current, great visibility, lots of fish and coral and many relatively shallow sites to dive. Easy, fun, and pretty cheap compared to some other places.

bfisher
06-08-2008, 15:03
Know what I think? I think you should do asyou are doing. Narrow your choices to a few and then wait to see how your sister handles herself with the pool sessions. Talk to her and observe how comfortable she is with her skills.

Here is what I think about some of the dive locations mentioned as I've been to them at least several times (except Hawaii):

Cozumel--almost all the dive ops that I know of can do the referral. They will do it right because most are safety conscious (Christi was a good mention). The OW dives can be done from shore and would be in fairly shallow water, warm and with good viz.
After that you're going to do boat dives, and some she might not do due to the depth. This is where it is wise to communicate with the dive crew (DM). Many will have two DM's in the water--one leading and one trailing keeping an eye on people. The only problem I see that might arise is whether she is comfortable with drift diving. Sure it's easy traveling, but it can be stressful for a new diver thinking that they are not in control. For that reason I'm not so sure I'd recommend Coz as a "first" dive location.

Bonaire-- Been thee and diving itself doesn't get much easier. You can book a package at a place like Buddy's and dive right off their dock. Walk down one of two ladders and be chest deep in water. Duck your head and swim for the reef about 75' out. Or take your time and just flit around in the shallows in 20' of water till a certain comfort level is reached. Want to walk in from a beach? Then try the Plaza Resort.
There is little to no current in most mid island dive locations. Water is fairly warm at about 80+ degrees and viz is good here too, being in the 50-80' range.
You can do all the diving you want right at the resort. You can add some boat dives if you wish, depending on her comfort level. You can rent a truck and head up or down the coast to any one of about 70 sites. Most can be a little tricky getting to the water, but with a little care it's not so bad. Look for a decent entry before suiting up. The diving itself is really easy and off gassing cn be done in the shallows on the way to shore near the end of the dive.
How referrals are handled by any of the ops is something I have no experience with, but most are PADI approved so adhere to certain guidlines. Bonaire has a mjor interest in divers so can't mess up too bad. They've been at it for too long. Best to ask them before you book a trip.

Curacao-- I've only been there once and that was Jan of this year. Stayed at Sunset Waters and dove with Sunset Divers. The resort is nice by dive resort standards and the food was good. Dive resorts are not usually what some would call resorts. These places are not plush and require slacks and tie to eat a lunch--thank goodness. Be sure and ask for a room with a balcony if you go here.
Sunset Divers? I can't say enough about this dive op. From day 1 they expressed the idea of safety. Great crew and plenty of them. I'm sure they would be a very good outfit to do referrals with.
Their large boat was nice in that, although crowded, the whole floor is flat so it's much easier navigating with fins on to the back of the boat. Crew was very helpful assisting divers and for the most part picked dive sights based on water conditions, lloking for protected sites out of the wind.
The house reef was really nice too. I think I did about 8 dives right there during my week. Start out in the lagoon, wade out, and swim the shallows to the start of the drop-ff and reach whatever depth you liked, from 15' to 80'+. The only place visibility was bad was right at the mouth of the lagoon, but it cleared out pretty well after about 25' out.

I've been to the Caymans, Roatan, Belize, Riviera Maya, and done live aboards and seriously? I'd pick Sunset Waters and Curacao. Second choice would probably be something like Buddy's in Bonaire. There are lots of places in Bonaire.
I always liked Coz and still do, but it just might not be a best place for a new diver. It's one thing to get in the water and learn skills. A new diver always has apprehensions for a while about bouyancy and such and adding current such as Coz has can lead to overtasking the brain. Just my $.02.

One other thing I always like to add is that drifting is cool there is nothing ever mentioned about swimming your own pace at places without current. There is nothing says you have to swim hard and wear yourself out. In fact, I have this saying that "if you need fins you're going too fast". One of the nice things about doing shore dives is that you dive your profile---at your pace---and on your time table.

Hope some of my comments help.

longtailbda
06-08-2008, 15:25
Curacao nice beach dives plenty of shallow reefs several highly rated dive centers.