Question ISO “Best” All-Inclusive Dive Resort Options in the Caribbean

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drrich2

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Re: luxury - I’m not a luxury kinda girl. If I'm following a eat-dive-eat-dive-rest-dive routine... I can guarantee you I'm not really thinking about the resort or accommodations. I'm probably thinking about my next dive, stories to tell about it, and how my photos turned out. ;-)
I’ve always been intrigued with Bonaire, but shore diving is hard on me because I’ve had my left foot rebuilt, which inhibits my range of motion and ability to bear the weight of my gear without paying for it later.

Apologies if you've already addressed this, but you sound tailor-made for liveaboard diving, and with your dive count, I'd guess you've been some. So my questions:

1.) Have you done liveaboards before?
2.) If not, do you have any particular concerns about them? Motion sickness, being limited to the food they provide, confined area with fear of being stuck with something you don't get along with, etc...?
3.) Do you have a preference for liveaboard vs. land-based options, and if so, what is the reasoning for that?

I think like many divers do, I held off on liveaboards for years (oddball introvert), then took the plunge and loved it. I still go back to Bonaire for independent shore diving freedom, but I love those liveaboards.

P.S.: I'm thinking of Caribbean liveaboards where you giant stride in off the back of the boat. Some foreign destination liveaboards use pangas to transport divers from the main yacht to the dive site; I experienced this in the Galapagos, and stepping down into the panga in gear is something to consider if you've got a foot issue.
 

gbf

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Sorry to the OP.

I think my Bon comment kinda veered off into the usual "SNAAAKE!!! / Non-venomous, harmless" discussion. There's plenty of that in the Bonaire section for your entertainment.

What I meant originally was, in my view, IF you were considering Bon it is not the place for AI. IF open to non-AI then I love Bon and it could be a candidate, pending further research that might settle the boat/shore/crime/resort/condo stuff for you.

Lots of additional info in the Bonaire section (drrich2 is a fantastic resource).

Liveaboards remain my most favorite AI.

I bet you'll have a great time wherever you go - you seem like a joyful person.
 
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ScubaJoy65

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Apologies if you've already addressed this, but you sound tailor-made for liveaboard diving, and with your dive count, I'd guess you've been some. So my questions:

1.) Have you done liveaboards before?
2.) If not, do you have any particular concerns about them? Motion sickness, being limited to the food they provide, confined area with fear of being stuck with something you don't get along with, etc...?
3.) Do you have a preference for liveaboard vs. land-based options, and if so, what is the reasoning for that?

I think like many divers do, I held off on liveaboards for years (oddball introvert), then took the plunge and loved it. I still go back to Bonaire for independent shore diving freedom, but I love those liveaboards.

P.S.: I'm thinking of Caribbean liveaboards where you giant stride in off the back of the boat. Some foreign destination liveaboards use pangas to transport divers from the main yacht to the dive site; I experienced this in the Galapagos, and stepping down into the panga in gear is something to consider if you've got a foot issue.
Fair questions.

We were exploring liveaboards and then several things happened relatively close to each other:
  • Sept. 2019 - a fire aboard the MV Conception, a 75-foot (23-meter) scuba diving liveaboard, broke out during the night, killing 33 passengers and one crew member. The captain and four crew members barely escaped.
    Feb. 2020 - My daddy passed away. As a Daddy's Girl, you never get over that.
  • March 2020 - Lockdown for COVID started.
Question 2: No concerns accept protocols in place to prevent something like Sept. 2019 happening. AND When I do 2-3 dives in a day - I'm good. I've learned that more than that sounds good but then I get tired and cranky. Ha! Chilling by the pool with a beverage to tell diving tales is how I prefer to end my diving day.

Question 3: Not a preference. Just haven't explored liveaboards before and picking that back up has been delayed due to what I've shared. I'm thinking we will get around to it one of these days.

One of the things we've really enjoyed is exploring the country side and getting to meet the people when we travel to other countries. I think a liveaboard might inhibit those opportunities a wee bit. But that is not a dealbreaker. :)

Re: stepping into a panga -I've learned the hard way that anything that makes me bear the weight of the gear can cause me severe pain and even mobility issues for up to a week later.

I like the suggestion of a liveaboard. Perhaps one day.
 

drrich2

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Very good info. to know. The Conception was a Truth Aquatics boat; I had a trip on their very similar boat the Vision. The issue was the community bunk room was below the main deck, like the basement of a house, and the main exit was up some stairs into the main salon - which meant a fire in that area could block the effective exit. So if you do a liveaboard with your concerns, you'll want one with more than one exit path from your stateroom.

If you aim for 2-3 dives/day, the rationale for a liveaboard drops some. IIRC, @Dan indicated the deep diving in the Maldives is such that a liveaboard might offer 3 dives/day. 4 Dives/day at some distant foreign destinations isn't that unusual; perhaps skipping 1 dive/day wouldn't be so terrible.

If you do 2 dives/day then topside offerings become more important. Then I might be more tempted by Curacao in the Willemstad area than Bonaire. Sunscapes Resort Curacao (A.I.) or Lions Dive Resort (not A.I., IIRC) are close to each other. You could enjoy 2 tank boat diving trips, with the options to try some added shore diving if you wished. Curacao is said to have some easier entry/exits compared to Bonaire.
 

scubadada

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Fair questions.

We were exploring liveaboards and then several things happened relatively close to each other:
  • Sept. 2019 - a fire aboard the MV Conception...

...I like the suggestion of a liveaboard. Perhaps one day.
I did two weeks on the Red Sea Aggressor I in 2016. On Nov 1, 2019, shortly after the Conception fire, the RSA I caught fire and sank, with the loss of one life.

Many of us take much more care now to investigate the safety of the boats we are going to take, safety briefing, roving night watch, main and emergency exits, fire alarms, battery charging...

See my review of the Belize Aggressor IV Trip Report - Belize on the Aggressor IV April 9-16, 2022
 

dflaher

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You could enjoy 2 tank boat diving trips, with the options to try some added shore diving if you wished. Curacao is said to have some easier entry/exits compared to Bonaire.
Or...Curacao has a dive "operation" called The Dive Bus which provides guided shore dives, tanks and transportation. A little more $ than DIY shore diving, but you wouldn't need a vehicle and the OP could get assistance with the entries. Might be an option for afternoon diving if only morning boat dives were offered.
 

Lorenzoid

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One of the things we've really enjoyed is exploring the country side and getting to meet the people when we travel to other countries. I think a liveaboard might inhibit those opportunities a wee bit.
For the few liveaboards we have taken, my wife and I built in a few extra days topside to explore. It's really no different than a land-based resort: most of the places I consider true dive resorts are located off the beaten path of general tourism, and there's not much to do there other than dive-eat-dive-sleep-repeat.
 

tursiops

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Some foreign destination liveaboards use pangas to transport divers from the main yacht to the dive site; I experienced this in the Galapagos, and stepping down into the panga in gear is something to consider if you've got a foot issue.
And with some liveaboards you gear up in the panga/tender. Your gear is loaded for you.
 

DeepSeaExplorer

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What you wrote wasn't confusing as the emoticon says. It was sad re: the crime. Such is life. One more always be aware of their surroundings.
No worries… I couldn’t actually make out what it was anyway.
 

Hoag

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@ScubaJoy65 I know that you asked specifically about all inclusives, but what about a spot that includes your diving, breakfast & lunch, but not dinner or bar tab?

A few years ago, I went to a resort on Grand Turk called Bohio. It is run by a couple of Canadian expats named Tom and Ginny. A typical day goes something like this:

Get up & grab breakfast
Get ready for the 1st dive (including putting on your wetsuit)
Get on the boat for the (typically 5-10 minute) transit to the dive site
Do the 1st dive
After the dive, head back to Bohio for your surface interval and to place your lunch order
Get back on the boat for the (again, 5-10 minute) transit to the 2nd dive site
Do 2nd dive
After the dive, back to Bohio. Say "Hi" as you pass the restaurant. Grab a quick shower & head back for lunch. They will be bringing it out about the same time you are sitting down.
After lunch, your time is your own to nap, lounge around the pool, hop on a paddle board, whatever.
Dinner (note that dinner is not included in the price and is "a la carte")

The diving is typical of TCI, shallow (40-60ft) sand flats leading to a wall dropping of into the abyss. We saw lots of turtles and a couple sharks. (Grand Turk did not seem nearly as "Sharky" as Provo.)
I would go back to Bohio in a heartbeat! One last thing to note is that it is a fairly small resort and the owners will get to know you by name. Don't be surprised if after a couple days they greet you by name and with a hug.
 
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