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Help me decide

Discussion in 'Greater Caribbean and Bermuda' started by Mike Klieb, Jul 27, 2019.

  1. Mike Klieb

    Mike Klieb Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Deer Park Tx
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    I've got about 2500-3k to go for a 5 day trip in April or May 2020 . I was looking at Cozumel but figured I'd throw it up here since most all here have more experience with where are the best site are. Few thought were Anthony's key Cozumel Bahamas just not sure we were both certified this year and will be AoW and Nittox by the time the trip comes. The budget includes airfare from Houston.
     
  2. jonhall

    jonhall Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Indianapolis
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    For 5 days that amount of $$ would let me have a great time. I'll be on the East End on Grand Cayman at the end of April/first of May. My wife and I average about $2500 for 7 days when we go. April/May should be a great time of year to dive and there are 365 dive sites around the island. @KathyV may jump in and share great info about the sister islands.

    Grand Bahama (can't speak to other Bahama islands) will be cheaper and would have pretty good diving for the number of days you are going - after awhile you would be repeating dives.

    Cozumel can be done cheaper also. Diving is great. Haven't been in April or May, but June had great diving conditions (but it was hot!)

    St. Croix is my personal favorite although I haven't been for awhile. You can experience wrecks, reefs, and the famous Frederiksted Pier for cheaper shore dives and the time frame you have would have great diving conditions. No passport needed.

    For us, for whatever reason, Grand Cayman is more expensive, followed by St. Croix, Cozumel, and then Grand Bahama, but with your budget for 5 days, should be easy to swing.
     
    Redfoot and KathyV like this.
  3. KathyV

    KathyV ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Midwestern US
    4,864
    2,861
    113
    Is there anyway you could increase the time and budget to allow for a week-long trip? Realistically, with 5 days you will probably only get 2.5 days of diving because you will be traveling 2 days and you also have to wait 18-24 hours after diving before flying.

    But if you could spend a week that would open up more destinations, you referenced Anthony's Key but it isn't always easy or cheap to get to Roatan.

    If you are definitely limited to 5 days then you should consider destinations that you can reach quickly and easily (nonstop flights would be best) because you don't want to spend a lot of time traveling, and if you run into any connection delays they will eat up even more time. You might want to add Florida to your list of possibilities.

    You mentioned "April or May" but I think that it would be best to travel after Easter/Spring Break is over because they are in the high season. The prices usually start to drop in May (or at least late April). The water will be warmer also, and that is desirable IMO for more northern destinations like Bahamas and Florida.

    I know that you can fly direct to Cozumel from Houston. It is an economical option with excellent diving and the obvious choice when looking for a short dive trip from Houston. But I may be in the minority when I say that I don't think that Cozumel is a great destination for new divers. When I was a newer diver I initially had a hard time in Cozumel adjusting to drift diving and the currents and maintaining buoyancy control. Some people take to it easily - my husband didn't have any problems - but Cozumel doesn't seem like a great first dive trip to me, just my opinion.

    My suggestion is at the link below for the Cobalt Coast resort on Grand Cayman because it is good and easy Caribbean diving. You can probably fly to GC nonstop, and the package includes accommodations, food, transfers, taxes and hotel gratuities, and both boat and shore diving - which increases the number of dives you can get for the price. But it is a 1 week package that would cost $3000 for 2 people plus airfare (and Nitrox will be extra if you want to use it) so it may not work for you:
    https://www.cobaltcoast.com/grand-cayman-dive-packages/cayman-escape/

    Good luck with your dive training and trip planning!
     
    Redfoot, jonhall and chillyinCanada like this.
  4. divezonescuba

    divezonescuba ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Houston, Texas
    1,262
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    If you are limited to 5 days, it would also depend on what five days of the week you are looking at.

    If your five days included a Saturday departure, you could do Cayman Brac, Houston to Miami, to Cayman Brac on the way out and dive the same day. You could fit in an afternoon and evening shore dove that day. Cayman Brac to Grand Cayman to Houston on the way back, diving the day early before with 18 hours before the flight. We normally stay for a full week, but on one of our trips a couple of years ago, one guy left early on the fifth day. Your costs would be way under $2500. We are thinking about going there in early May 2020 for our group trip.

    Other than that Cozumel would be your best bet as you can be diving the same day you arrive and can dive the day before leaving with a late flight back to Houston. Costs would be way under $2000.

    A distant third would be Key Largo.

    Three of those locations are way better than Honduras, Belize, or the Bahamas.

    Come by some time and we can discuss your options.
     
    KathyV likes this.
  5. diversteve

    diversteve Technical Admin

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location:
    26,184
    5,765
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    The Bahamas would be last on my list. Nassau is expensive and all boat diving with one of two remaining operations. Both pick you up in the Nassau area but Cove's involves a 45min shuttle each way.
    Bahama Divers is near the shore side of the bridge to Paradise Island so they pickup there or on Cable Beach.

    Parts of Freeport/Grand Bahama could work - either in the Port Lucaya area where there's about 3-4 dive operators or one of the resorts on the south side - two of which have an onsite operator. Quieter there.

    AKR really works best Sat-Sat since it's set up to work that way and so are most flights.. Plus that flight will be higher priced.

    Pick somewhere you can be at your resort/diving within an hour of arrival. Grand Cayman works for that, Plus if you go to Brac I hope you're content to do nothing when not diving cause that's all that's there.I know, my family owns there,

    You could actually be diving the day you arrive on Grand Cayman at places like Sunset House. SH is 15 mins. from the airport - in fact the departing jets fly over it.Decent rooms, My Bar onsite is a divers bar/grill plus their restaurant for the meal plan breakfasts. Downtown Georgetown is close enough to walk and once the cruisers leave around 4-5pm - it's pretty nice with lots of shops/restaurants. No beach at SH but Smith's Cove a short distance away is a pretty nice one - and a shallow dive.

    Ask the attendant in the tank rental shack to show you the 2 balls - one is the small wreck, one near the Mermaid. You can do both on one dive.
     
    KathyV likes this.
  6. KathyV

    KathyV ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Midwestern US
    4,864
    2,861
    113
    I agree in regards to the Bahamas but these are newer divers. We started diving Florida and the Bahamas and we had great trips and lots of fish life and sharks. It was only later that we discovered that the coral reefs aren't as nice as in the Caribbean, and that the water is warmer as you head further south, but I should have figured that one out!

    I also thought of Sunset House on GC. It's close and easy and the price includes transfers, breakfast, taxes and hotel service charges, and both boat and shore diving - and there are more things to do topside nearby - but the need to buy 2 meals per day and nitrox will increase the costs.

    Sunset House is offering a $1400 per diver (1-week) package in 2019 from July to October (low season), see link below, so perhaps the booking staff will be able to also offer the OP a good price for next May:
    https://www.sunsethouse.com/specials

    @Mike Klieb, is the $2500 - $3000 budget per person or the total for 2 people? Your post says "We" and so I assumed that the budget was for 2 people, and that is very limiting for a dive trip to the Caribbean, especially when your choices are limited due to the short time constraints.
     
  7. Hoag

    Hoag Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Ontario
    1,399
    1,013
    113
    With $2500-$3000 and five days, my first instinct would be to go to Vegas, but somehow, I don't think that is what you had in mind.

    As others have said, with a timeline of 5 days, your dive time will be severely limited.
    Day 1: Travel to destination
    Day 2: Dive
    Day 3: Dive
    Day 4: Maybe an early morning dive but most likely your diving is done.
    Day 5: Travel home

    I would look at and prioritize (and only seriously consider) places to which you can get non-stop flights out of IAH. In most cases, you might be able to fly to the destination in the morning and home in the afternoon giving you the morning on Day 3 to get in a dive or two.

    If non-stops to Provo, Turks and Caicos are available, I would seriously consider flying into Provo and then diving with Dive Provo and stay at the Ports of Call hotel. This combo is incredibly convenient because the two businesses are next door to each other and in fact share the same parking lot. Provo has a reputation for being very expensive, but the Ports of Call is not directly on the beach (less than a 5 minute walk), so it is a bit lower price, and there is a grocery store just down the street that has a Deli with a pizza oven and full pasta bar that has great food for dinner. The diving that you will get from Dive Provo will be relatively deep (60ft sand flats to a wall) and will be about a 45 minute boat ride away, but it is good diving (and fairly "sharky").

    Others have tried to dissuade you from going to Nassau. I would agree with most of their points, however, the fact that you are only able to get away for 5 days does create a bit of a "LIMFAC" -- a "Limiting Factor". Although not ideal, if you can get non-stop flights IAH to NAS, then it might come into play.
     
    KathyV likes this.
  8. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
    10,758
    6,185
    113
    So, it depends on what you want to do. If it were me, diving would be the main/only activity

    I would think about Compass Point/Ocean Frontiers on Grand Cayman Scuba Diving and Snorkeling Adventures In The Cayman Islands April 13 is start of summer season. AM dives included in package, PM dives available, as are nights, Tues and Thurs.

    I might also consider Cobalt Coast Grand Cayman Cobalt Coast This could be AI and avoid a car. Three dives per day and unlimited shore diving, conditions allowing.
     
    KathyV likes this.
  9. carobinsoniv

    carobinsoniv Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Moultrie, Georgia
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    You will not go wrong in Cozumel but with that budget, you can stay longer and enjoy more dives. I have no experience with Anthonys Key but if you have extra time, maybe a Blackbeards cruise would work.I had a good time with them in the mid 80s. Good luck!
     
  10. Wstern5

    Wstern5 Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Brooklyn
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    Hi! I would recommend Grand Cayman as well, and definitely try to squeeze a few more days into your trip. My wife and I did The Sunset House for our first big dive trip and it was great. The diving is super easy, just what you need to build experience.

    If you are really trying to save and Nitrox costs extra, I would argue that you could go without. The dives are pretty shallow and you would need to have a good SAC to fully take advantage of the extra NDL. At least this was the case for us and we paid extra for Nitrox.

    I also think that Cozumel is more advanced diving. Not that you can’t do it as a beginner, but you will enjoy it so much more with some experience under your belt.
     
    Redfoot and KathyV like this.

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