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diving Nassau, St Maarten, Tortola, Half Moon Cay

Discussion in 'Greater Caribbean & Bermuda' started by divecouple, Jan 18, 2006.

  1. divecouple

    divecouple Registered

    We're going on a cruise in a couple of months and plan to dive as much as possible. Our ship stops at Nassau in the morning for 5 hours, St Maarten for an afternoon, Tortola all day and Half Moon Cay all day. Does anyone have recommendations for favorite dive sites or operators on these islands? Any that you can arrange transportation to and from the curise ship port etc. I'm sure that the ship will have suba excursions you can buy from them but wouldn't it be better to make our own arrangements. Probably cheaper too.

    We are new divers with about 12 dives since certifing so we will want to be with an operator who will be patient with us and where we will not feel pressured by the abilities and comfort levels of a large and more experienced group. We have done almost all of our diving from shore in Curacao by ourselves and feel comfortable with making our own dive plans and being very conservitive. We have only dove from a boat once and we were the only scuba divers on board, everyone else was a snorkler so we got to plan our own dive with the DM then too. He was on his third dive of the day so he was thrilled with our plan to stay fairly shallow anyway.

    Is there a shore diving option on any of these islands? Or all boat? What kind of easy diving is available?
  2. carlislere

    carlislere NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Austin, Texas
    I'm curious, what cruise line are you using?
  3. divecouple

    divecouple Registered

  4. mike_s

    mike_s Solo Diver

    For Nassau, you've only got about 2 choices of dive operators with Stuart Coves the most likely choice based on number of dives. There is another shop though closer to the boat that's up near the bridge to Atlantis.

    Here's your dilema in Nassau though. You've only got 5 hours there. (that's what I can't stand about cruise lines. they give you no time in port to actually see anything).
    The problem with your 5 hours is that Stuart Coves is on the south side of the island and the cruise boat port is on the north side. That and Nassau doesn't exactly have interstate freeways to move traffic at 80mph..... Seeing this, I don't see how you could get off the Cruise Boat, get to Stuart Coves, sign in there & pay, do 2 dives, and get back to the boat in time. That is if you're lukcy enough to actually have a arrival window that happens to be at the same time that Stuart Coves hes dives that morning....

    For this reason, if you want to dive there.... (and if they offer it). you really need to pay the extra few bucks and book with the cruise boat operator. that way if your dive trip is late coming back, they will hold the boat (because it's a Cruise line operated tour/excursion and you won't be the only one who booked it with them.). Chances are that the cruise boat excursion will leave from right near the boat anyway, however, they often use Stuart Coves for this regardless. You're still gonna be tight on time in the Bahamas.

    As for Tortola, you don't actually dock there but take a shore tender in. The diving there is good but many people prefer to snorkle in the Baths on Virgin Gorda. However, the HMS Rhone is the "big dive" there. (google it for more info).

    hope this all helps some.

  5. BurBunny

    BurBunny Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Delray Beach, FL
    Half Moon Cay is HAL's private island. No private vendors there at all. The dive excursion is pretty basic. 45' max if you bring a shovel. More like 40 in most places. Okay if you really want the nitrogen fix. Otherwise, even for dive-obsessed me, the island itself is far more rewarding. True powder-fine white sand, clear turquoise water with fish tickling your toes, horseback riding, they have a new stingray cove, but haven't been there since it opened, so not sure if decent or too small/murky. The most beautiful beach. I'm not much of a beach person, but when I'm on HAL, I'm first off the ship in HMC and they have to drag me back kicking and screaming at the end of the day. It's a great island for a beach day.

    St. Maarten... some people get some nice dives there, but the conditions can be highly variable. Often swellish if there's any wind. There are two major operators on the island who will accommodate ship schedules last time I checked. Dive Safaris has the cruise ship concession, so if you want to go independent, check Ocean Explorers.

    If you can get to the Rhone in Tortola... do it.

    Let me know if you have any questions.

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