Trip Report East Bay Resort: South Caicos Oct 2 - 9, 2021

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drrich2

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I checked out their Dive Packages page; the 2 7-night packages (note: the lower is no longer available, as the date range as passed) on offer both include breakfast and dinner; lunch is a $204 addition (but you said there's no place to buy groceries on the island). Includes 6-days 2-tank morning dives, but no mention of afternoon dives (even as optional add ons). The $200 '21 Drink Package' includes "include a choice of menu cocktails and well drinks, single-serve beers and ciders, house wines by the glass, and non-alcoholic beverages." So, are sodas included in the base package, or need one pay the $200 drink package price for Diet Coke or Coke Zero, etc...? What can you drink without paying extra?

So, if we go with the East Bay Escape Package, double occupancy rate in a standard room ($2,195 - I go for budget)), add lunch for $204, we're at $2,399. If you're not doing over 3 dives/day, and not all real deep, I doubt you need to pay the nitrox option.

So, if we don't get a special sale price, rough figures for a trip like this going forward:

1.) ~$2,400 Package with lunch.
2.) Whatever the upcharge is for afternoon dives.
3.) Tips for dive staff. If we assume you add 5 afternoon dives to the 12 morning dives, and tip average $10/tank (since it sounds like 'valet' diving), $170 (people tip differently, I'm not telling anybody how to do it, just using a figure I think is fairly common).
4.) Roundtrip airfare and baggage fees. Airfare to Providenciales is pretty cheap (compared to some places), and Southwest airlines flies there. Wonder what the puddle jumper flights (with baggage) add to the cost?
5.) Maybe airport parking back home while you're gone?
6.) Whatever you pay for COVID-19 Testing (if anything).
7.) Special 'health insurance' due to pandemic: $28 - $36, lets say $35.

I'm guessing this trip, going forward without sales, including airfare from where I'd fly out (I used April 2-9, 2022, to check), could be done for around $3,500 or so (plus COVID-19 testing and special health insurance), maybe a little more? Seems overall trip cost is conquerable to other mainstream Caribbean destinations.

@tridacna - does that sound like a fair total trip cost estimate figure? Am I missing anything important?

Ironically, considering the resort is an outgrowth from a Cayman Islands dive op., I imagine the Caymans may eventually be its main competitor.
 
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tridacna

tridacna

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I checked out their Dive Packages page; the 2 7-night packages (note: the lower is no longer available, as the date range as passed) on offer both include breakfast and dinner; lunch is a $204 addition (but you said there's no place to buy groceries on the island). Includes 6-days 2-tank morning dives, but no mention of afternoon dives (even as optional add ons). The $200 '21 Drink Package' includes "include a choice of menu cocktails and well drinks, single-serve beers and ciders, house wines by the glass, and non-alcoholic beverages." So, are sodas included in the base package, or need one pay the $200 drink package price for Diet Coke or Coke Zero, etc...? What can you drink without paying extra?

So, if we go with the East Bay Escape Package, double occupancy rate in a standard room ($2,195 - I go for budget)), add lunch for $204, we're at $2,399. If you're not doing over 3 dives/day, and not all real deep, I doubt you need to pay the nitrox option.

So, if we don't get a special sale price, rough figures for a trip like this going forward:

1.) ~$2,400 Package with lunch.
2.) Whatever the upcharge is for afternoon dives.
3.) Tips for dive staff. If we assume you add 5 afternoon dives to the 12 morning dives, and tip average $10/tank (since it sounds like 'valet' diving), $170 (people tip differently, I'm not telling anybody how to do it, just using a figure I think is fairly common).
4.) Roundtrip airfare and baggage fees. Airfare to Providenciales is pretty cheap (compared to some places), and Southwest airlines flies there. Wonder what the puddle jumper flights (with baggage) add to the cost?
5.) Maybe airport parking back home while you're gone?
6.) Whatever you pay for COVID-19 Testing (if anything).
7.) Special 'health insurance' due to pandemic: $28 - $36, lets say $35.

I'm guessing this trip, going forward without sales, including airfare from where I'd fly out (I used April 2-9, 2022, to check), could be done for around $3,500 or so (plus COVID-19 testing and special health insurance), maybe a little more? Seems overall trip cost is conquerable to other mainstream Caribbean destinations.

@tridacna - does that sound like a fair total trip cost estimate figure? Am I missing anything important?

Ironically, considering the resort is an outgrowth from a Cayman Islands dive op., I imagine the Caymans may eventually be its main competitor.
Covid testing was free and included as part of the package.
Puddle jumper is $200 round trip.
Afternoon dives and lunch were included as part of our package.

Your overall pricing is pretty close but I imagine that DEMA next month should reveal some aggressive packages and calling Reef Divers may help too.
 

Redfoot

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I love the T & C's- I have been there on the Aggressor and 3x land based (once on Provo and 2x on Ambergris Cay)

Thanks for sharing the report. I have talked to people who stayed at Sail Rock Resort on SC, and they spoke very highly of it.

When on Ambergris, we did not dive (COVID restrictions) but the staff said they often see hammerheads, reef & nurse sharks, occasional Tiger sharks (we saw one from the boat) as well as TONS of turtles, rays and whales in season. You never know what will show up in the Columbus Passage!

I snorkeled a lot around Ambergris and thought the reefs were very healthy. I saw several rays, turtles, variety of reef fish and one nurse shark.
 

Redfoot

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Excellent photos!

East Bay/Clearly Cayman should use those for attracting divers! A+ to your friend
 

Pressurehead

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Overall a worthwhile trip. Excellent diving and outstanding operation in the usual Reef Diver's style. I will attach a few pics in a forthcoming post.
Thanks for the report, green with envy, and yes, photos please.:alphaflag:
Edit: That was quick.
 
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tridacna

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The sting rays are huge. This was not the biggest we saw.
Atlantic Stingray.jpg
 
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tridacna

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The Arch. A great dive. There's a Spiny Lobster up there! - nod to @Bob Evans
Arch.jpg
 

Brant Emery

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I just returned from a week at the new Reef Diver's resort in South Caicos: East Bay Resort. This was a reschedule of a reschedule originally planned for LCBR in 2020. I posted in the Bahamas forum because it's the closest I could find to the T&C.

Travel: Getting there is a psychological ordeal. You have to be fully vaccinated, get an Antigen negative test within 72 hours of travel and purchase special "health" insurance in the unlikely event that you test Covid positive on the way back. Once armed with all of that info, you complete a somewhat confusing form as per TCI regulations and the wait for approval begins. We were a large group of divers (20) and the wait was horrifyingly slow. Some people received instant approvals. Others had to wait until 2am on the Sat morning of travel. Less that 6 hours before lift-off. It was handled horribly by the TCI authorities. It should not take 3 days to issue these approvals. The three top industries in the T&C are tourism, tourism and more tourism. People were ripping out their teeth in frustration. Two divers who were departing on the Friday prior and spending a night at an intermediary city were told that they would not be boarded on the first flights by their airlines because TCI had not yet authorized their documents. Miraculously both received authorization 10 minutes before their flights. I spoke to several other passengers on the flight over who confirmed similar stories. The TCI authorities need to fix up this mess - it's a lousy way to start a vacation.

Once in Provo, we took puddle-jumpers to South Caicos. About a 20 minute flight made much more interesting when one of the Cessna's engines burned up 5 minutes after take-off and had to return to Provo. Those passengers had to wait for the first plane to return and then ferry them over. We were mostly all at the resort at about 4 pm.

Some background: South Caicos is a remote island of about 8 square miles. Aside from an aging fishing fleet, not much else happens on the island. There is some development happening on a minor scale with disastrous major ecological consequences. The developers destroyed an important mangrove swamp - little is done to enforce laws. Corruption is endemic. We went on a tour of the island (more later) and it was tragic to see the consequences of developer greed. There are some abandoned saltpans with a lot of interesting birdlife including many flamingos and packs of wild donkeys roaming around. The resort offers a free ride into town but it's really not worth the effort - there is nothing to see or buy.

Resort: Rooms are spectacular. I've been diving all over the Caribbean and NOTHING comes close. Each room has an amazing ocean view. They are large and newly furnished with kitchens, dining room tables, full size refrigerators and washer/driers. You need way less clothes than you think. Bring some Tide pods and you're set. Showers and bathrooms are magnificent. Divers sharing a room each get a separate bedroom. It's absolutely amazing. Like I said, I've never seen anything like it at a dive resort. You will not be disappointed. The resort has a pool and usual resort amenities including a spa. (Masseur is outstanding). To be honest, I'm not sure why kitchens are even provided - there is no place to buy any groceries on the island and all meals are provided at the resort.

Food: Similar format to LC, CB and CC. Buffet style served at 6:30 AM and PM and 12:30 PM daily. Food is good albeit a little repetitive. All supplies come from Provo by ferry so variety is somewhat limited although I think this will improve as time goes by. No one went hungry. The chef is quite obliging and will make custom dishes for anyone who asks.

Staff: Very friendly and well trained. Remarkable for a new operation. Always greet you with a smile. Made for a very positive experience. Tiaan (the F&B manager) is an excellent supervisor - things run very smoothly.

Diving: At last. Those of you with previous Reef Diver's experience will recognize the same boats from Cayman. They brought four boats over from their resorts there. These are large dive boats and one accommodated all of us (20 divers) comfortably.

You meet in the lobby at 8am and shuttle vans take you to the boat pier about 2 minutes away. All your gear appears magically on the boat (the Reef Divers' usual MO) and you're off to dive. Dive sites are about 12 minutes from the pier. Water temps were 86F. Vis varied from 60' to150'. I wore a rash-guard and swimming trunks all week. You return to the hotel after two dives at about 12:30pm and meet again at 2pm for your third dive. Your gear is removed from the boat, cleaned and it's back on the boat for the next morning dive.

Dive sites varied in depth from just over 100' to some that did not exceed 40'. We saw the most enormous sting rays that I've ever seen, black tipped sharks, many turtles and the usual suspects in the Caribbean. Unfortunately there is much SCTLD in South Caicos - brain corals are mostly gone. Underwater topography is very interesting with a lot of arches, swim throughs making dives quite interesting. Unlike most Caribbean islands, the T&C are not of volcanic origin. Everything is Calcium Carbonate (limestone) based underwater. It looks and feels different to what I'm used to in the Caribbean. Edges of reefs are rounder and whiter. Is it better than Coz? Nope but a nice change of scenery. Minimal currents on any of our dives, it's really easy and highly recommended for newer and experienced divers.

Unfortunately for us we lost two days of diving due to high winds and missed out on the Turks and East Caicos all day excursions. Thus the afternoon van ride around the island and morning boat ride to visit some of the nearby islands. Two interesting and worthwhile trips.

Dive sites visited included: Airplane (meh), The Arch (fantastic), Hawksbill Hotel, The Maze, Eagle Ray Alley (for good reason), The Grotto, Spanish Chain, Fish Bowl, East Bay Spur, Grotto Deep.

Overall a worthwhile trip. Excellent diving and outstanding operation in the usual Reef Diver's style. I will attach a few pics in a forthcoming post.
Which PCR test did you use nasal or saliva?
 
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