Live to dive

Please register or login

Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

Benefits of registering include

  • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
  • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
  • You can make this box go away

Joining is quick and easy. Log in or Register now!

billt4sf

Contributor
Messages
2,561
Reaction score
1,150
Location
Fayetteville GA, Wash DC, NY, Toronto, SF
# of dives
500 - 999
When my wife retires two years hence, we have the idea to move for a year or so to a place where we can dive a lot in warm water. I was thinking that this group might give us some ideas, as I know there is a TON of experience on this board.

The idea is to rent our house in SF and use that money to fund housing costs and some activity costs in the new location. We will have our retirement income also.

In thinking about a “dive life”, we would want to have great diving -- mostly shore diving as I don’t think we can afford a boat trip all the time (maybe depends on location), a stable government, good housing (a nice place to live, doesn’t have to be extravagant), an active life topside (for us, and so our non-diving friends will come visit), and a climate we can deal with. I am thinking it might be best to look for a place that has good housing at 1,000 – 2,000 ft elevation to temper the heat and provide a breeze. And of course good medical care since we are of retirement age.

I have in mind to check out: Dominica (can you shore dive there? How expensive are boat trips?), St. Croix, Saba, and St. Lucia. This is just my first scan at the possibilities.

I can’t be the first person to think of this. I am betting that there is some great experience out there that we could tap into!

I’ll take suggestions, comments or any constructive criticism.

Thanks in advance.

Bill & Emily
 

drrich2

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
10,076
Reaction score
8,508
Location
Southwestern Kentucky
# of dives
500 - 999
Did you consider Curacao? From what I've read, I didn't think Saba had shore diving, and haven't heard about it in St. Lucia. St. Croix has shore diving, but is there enough of it for what you want?

Richard.
 
OP
billt4sf

billt4sf

Contributor
Messages
2,561
Reaction score
1,150
Location
Fayetteville GA, Wash DC, NY, Toronto, SF
# of dives
500 - 999
I will check it out. We went through Curacao to get to Bonaire, and I do recall that it was a bit of a mess governmentally, and our Dutch friend familiar with the islands told us this as well. But worth a look.

Thanks,

Bill
 

diversteve

always tired
Rest in Peace
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
26,281
Reaction score
5,907
# of dives
I'm a Fish!
Maybe look for destinations here if shore diving is a priority: ShoreDiving.com - Your Shore Diving and Snorkeling Web Community!

There aren't any beaches on Saba - none, zero - the whole island rises out of the ocean on all sides. So a good guess is no shore diving either...lol. It's also extraordinarily hilly - the main road goes up/down twists turns across the island. Except for a few neighborhoods - it's about the only road. Saba also has the shortest airport in the world - only STOL planes fly in there from St. Maarten. google it, there's landing videos.

Unless things are really different from SFO, Dominica is either 2 or 3 connections and 24-27 hrs. flight time from here (Phoenix) I don't get the sense there's much shore diving there either but IDK much about it - never pursued it due to the flights.

St. Croix has Cane Bay wall on the north shore. You might PM DebbyDiver here - she lived on St. Croix recently so may have some insight into costs etc. We spent time on St. Thomas - it wasn't particularly affordable. Advantage there is it's the U.S.A. so probably less hassle buying property etc.

In terms of what you want Curacao might be a good option. The Dutch have regained control there afaik - it's now a Dutch Protectorate of some sort. They voted around 2007-8 when we were there. So a lot of that "mess" may have gone away.

Nice thing about diving there is that the entries are simple compared to Bonaire. The reef is farther out so they're almost all off sandy beaches, with diveops on-site and usually food. And the all important shade and bathrooms. The few on ironshore to the north have dive docks. There's also a "Buddy-Dive" style tank pickup/fill station mid-island called Relaxed Guided Dives. Not near a dive site but on the main road to many of them. My personal opinion is that Playa Kalki in Westpunt is the best shoredive we've done on either island.

Most people on Curacao live in Willemstad. It makes either end a lot quieter and pleasant. Almost too quiet, in Westpunt for example there's local people, about 4-5 resorts and the same # of restaurants. Everything else is 45minutes drive back to town.

My friend's wife is a Curacao native. She lives here but owns a rental house - 3br/2ba in a normal looking subdivision - might have a pool. She was getting $1200/mo. for it about 3 years ago. That was just paying the mortgage with almost nothing left over. She's keeping it in case they have to move back - her mom still lives there.

One other consideration for you:
Curaçao has the most modern hospital in the southern Caribbean, with a decompression room and facilities for major surgery.
www.curacao.com to get started.

My other suggestion could be Grand Cayman. Except it's wickedly expensive there. CI$ is fixed at .80 to the US$ so you're 20% down before you arrive. Most good meals in nice restaurants - not even oceanfront - ran us $40-50 for dinner pp. And food in the markets is high since it's all imported. Coming from SFO you may not find it as much of a shock as we did...

There are about a dozen shore dives but unless they have a locals rate, boat dives run 2/$100 or more. The north side is the quieter side but it's almost an hour drive to Georgetown/Airport from there. 2 dive operators nearby and there's a couple of shore dives but they're a really long surface swim out. Babylon is one if you want to research it.

One interesting thing my sister noticed while walking along the beach - IDK where they were but they stayed in Bodden Town south so I assume nearby - is that there seemed to be a lot of beachfront properties available. I wonder if it has to do with our economic downturn affecting them. No idea on prices.

Cayman is also very safe - there's 300 offshore banks there so crime isn't allowed...:D And there's also the hospital plus I believe some group is/has built a major medical research facility there - some multi-millionaire in conjunction with one of the U.S. university teaching hospitals. There's at least one and maybe two chambers on Grand Cayman also.
 
Last edited:

TSandM

Missed and loved by many.
Rest in Peace
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
36,349
Reaction score
13,654
Location
Woodinville, WA
Have you thought about Hawaii? Cost of living is high, but on Maui, if you're willing to live upcountry (which it sounds like you prefer) it's nowhere near as bad. There is a ton of shore diving. The government is stable and the language and money are what you're used to, and sanitation and clean water aren't an issue. There are also not very many bugs, at least on the dry side of the island. And it's pretty easy for people to come visit.
 
OP
billt4sf

billt4sf

Contributor
Messages
2,561
Reaction score
1,150
Location
Fayetteville GA, Wash DC, NY, Toronto, SF
# of dives
500 - 999
Have you thought about Hawaii? C.

Lynn, thanks so much for your detailed answer! A lot there for us to cogitate on and further investigate.

We do want to move to Hawaii -- after we have tried some more out-of-the-way (somewhat) areas of the world.

- Bill
 

morecowbells

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
1,145
Reaction score
986
Location
St. Louis burbs
# of dives
200 - 499
Saba is a wonderful and magical place to visit and dive. Clean, safe, with fascinating topography. With that said, it is a tiny island and while there is a hospital, I think medical care would be minimal and bare bones. I recently talked with a dive master who lived on the island for 1 year. While he loved the island, the food and the people, he desperately craved a change of scenery and more topside options.

I have not been to St. Croix but have heard mixed reviews about the safety and diving. Although Mexico has well publicized alerts', I always feel safe in Cozumel. You would have access to decent healthcare and topside conveniences such as modern grocery stores and movie theaters. Unfortunately, very little shore diving. All and all, I think Curacao would fit the bill. Interesting topside, endless shore diving and the perks of a city(i.e. hospital, movies etc.).


Approaching Saba from St. Maarten
IMG_0757.jpg
Windwardside, the more populated part of Saba
IMG_0916.jpg
 

Attachments

  • IMG_0759.jpg
    IMG_0759.jpg
    93 KB · Views: 334

drrich2

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
10,076
Reaction score
8,508
Location
Southwestern Kentucky
# of dives
500 - 999
Be mindful Hawaii has cooler waters than, say, Bonaire; buddy of mine shore dove there & said so, and I hear it from forum members, too. And front what I'm told the underwater topography is different from what I'm used to in the Caribbean. I'm not knocking it, just saying read up on it and see if it sounds like something you like.

I suggested Curacao because it's bigger and more populous than Bonaire, and much though I love Bonaire, I think 2 years stuck on it could instill some cabin fever. And Curacao is cheaper to fly to. It's close to Aruba, in case you wanted to visit there from time to time.

I only visited St. Croix one day, on a cruise ship stop, and did 2 boat dives; here's my mini-trip report. Poster Reghunnicutt said:

The best shore dives are:

The Pier - Easy structured dive and lots to see. Great night dive. Air fills nearby.
Butler Bay - long swim to wrecks. Some current.
North Star - just dived this Friday from a boat but it is only a five minute swim out. A big wall and lots of very alive coral.
Cane bay - a wall dive with big sand chutes. I have see many reef sharks here. This is a very popular shore dive to the wall. Air fills nearby.
Carambola - another wall north shore dive. More to look at than Can Bay. Air fills nearby.

Here's another thread, where JonHall posted:

In early April the water is 79-80; by late June it can be as high as 84, so I would say expect about 81-82 degrees. Last dove in December 2012, water was 84.

Water on west side (Frederiksted) is calmer than water on north and east side. Walls: on north side, Cane Bay, which is a shore dive and has beach, snorkeling, and good place to eat; also on north side, Salt River Bay also has submarine canyons.

Best shore and night dive is Frederiksted Pier. Seahorses, frogfish, and many other critters come out at night.

The dive shop to go with in Frederiksted is N2theBlue. They are about a football field walk from the pier. Pick up a tank from them (they let us use their cart) and do pier as shore dive. Of course they will guide you also. We always jump off the pier on one side to enter and come up at a little wooden dock on the other side.

N2theBlue's boat dives leave from the pier also. Short rides to dive sites and great people. They also do other night dives. There is a small parking lot by the shop.

and Magellan said:

My wife and I went to St Croix about two years ago, and the shore diving was amazing. We stayed at the Waves which is just down the street from Cane Bay. St Croix is perfect for shore diving, when we booked our trip I made a reservation for several days of boat dives, but after arriving found out that we could do so much shore diving that boat diving wasn't really necessary except as an occasional adventure. So, I tried to cancel the reservations with Cane Bay Scuba, and switch to a tank rental deal, but they were very unfriendly about the whole situation. I remained friendly, used them for rentals and even went on a couple of boat dives near the Salt River area - the staff was great. At the end of the trip, when the time came to settle up, they were going to force us to pay for all the days we had reserved (keep in mind, we never "missed" the boat, I told them as soon as I arrived we would not be going out as planned, but would do shore diving instead, and I got a reluctant OK at the time). Well, thankfully a local friend called the owner and let them know that screwing us was not good business, when we had tried to be as accommodating as possible, paying for services amounting to over half as much as we had initially reserved. That tension, really left a bad feeling with me for that trip, but otherwise it was fantastic.

We did shore dives from the Waves, Cane bay, North Star (a favorite) all the way to Carambola Beach resort, and Fredricksted Pier. I brought a sling with me and killed lionfish for awhile, but the black tip sharks would show up so fast, and several at a time that my wife starting getting nervous!! This was one of the best shore diving destinations I have been to, with the obvious exception of Bonaire. The wall is so close to shore and the clarity of the water is really great, I used Google earth to map out several dives just by eye-balling the reefs from satellite images. I would really love to go back, but I think it would be a little more fun as a group; generally my wife and I were alone. A car is really all you need, if you can get one that isn't too low to the ground that might help, but you really don't have to go off the road that much to access the dive sites.

and

If you like shore diving as much as I do, you need to try St. Croix, I was pleasantly surprised and will probably go back eventually. The swim is not long at all, basically you have about a mile's worth of reef/wall centered at Cane Bay - that could easily be 5-6 dives without covering the same territory, but honestly, if you slow down and take your time you could probably spend almost all week just in this stretch alone. Also you have the Fredricksted Pier - easily 2-4 dives there (also great for a night dive), and Carambola (they have a dive shop on site), probably 2-3 dives there, just spend the day and eat at the resort, it's nice. I think if you wanted to be adventurous, you could probably scout out a few more places, so long as you respect people's property. Check out: Shorediving.com, I have yet to contribute to the website, but I should, some things are a little out of date, but it's a good start. Of course, you would probably still want to get in a couple of boat dives as well, the Salt River sites were a must for me. I really liked that trip because it didn't feel touristy at all, in fact the place felt a little deserted (we were there in May, end of the winter season), which is why I'd like to go with some other divers next time.

I posted the above quotes because there aren't many Caribbean destinations lauded as good shore diving sites, and St. Croix is a name that comes up.

Now, here's a thread on Dominica, which it seems like I'm hearing more and more about on the forum, with some posters talking about good shore diving there. And a lot of natural topside beauty.

Richard.

---------- Post added August 1st, 2014 at 07:23 PM ----------

A few lifestyle questions that could impact your choice of island:

1.) How important are 'big stores' to you? I'm talking a big grocery store, a Home Depot, Walmart or Kmart, that sort of thing? What about movie theaters and shopping malls?

2.) Regarding the 'active topside life,' mainly for you (guests can probably enjoy touring the island), what things do you guys like to do? Dance, casino, wide variety of restaurants, shopping, gardening, zoos or botanical gardens, fishing, hunting, attending sporting events, hiking, bar hopping, what do you need the island to have?

Back before my wife & I had our little pre-toddler daughter, I casually thought about moving to Bonaire someday. I love to visit, but I don't think I'd want to live there. Full on bright sunny hot summer time, all year, on an arid island with cacti, drive in any direction and in under an hour you'd hit the ocean, can't get stuff from Amazon via Prime in 2 business days, no O'Charley's, smearing on sunscreen every day...

Richard.
 
OP
billt4sf

billt4sf

Contributor
Messages
2,561
Reaction score
1,150
Location
Fayetteville GA, Wash DC, NY, Toronto, SF
# of dives
500 - 999
Thanks Richard, that is very helpful. I think your questions about lifestyle are most important. It's really hard to estimate what we need! Of the things you mentioned, the only ones we do with any regularity are gardening and going to restaurants...but if they were all lacking, I'm not sure how we would feel. Having friends to do stuff with is critical!

Right now the short list for the Caribbean includes: Curacao, St. Croix, Bonaire, and Dominica. Is there something we should add to it? I know Dominica will be too small for us to stay unless we find a locale (island) nearby that we can escape to somewhat regularly. But it sure sounds like a wonderful place!

We were in Bonaire a few years ago, and sorry to say, we didn't like it. Maybe our expectations were too high or something. Someone mentioned to me that there is a good expat community there, so that is a plus. Maybe we should try again, though I do agree with what you said about living there for an extended period. I think I need trees.

Our current fantasy is Bali. Might as well dream!

Thanks again.

Bill
 

drrich2

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
10,076
Reaction score
8,508
Location
Southwestern Kentucky
# of dives
500 - 999
Bill:

Have you spent any time on BonaireTalk.com? It's got a forum with sections not just on diving, but moving to Bonaire and the bureaucratic hassles that entails.

A good friend (& main dive buddy) of mine attended medical school at St. James on Bonaire for a year & 4 months, and is now in Chicago for clinical rotations. So I paid a little more attention to it than I otherwise would.

On ScubaBoard, DiverVince & his wife have a condo. for rent in Bonaire called Vinibu; there's a blurb about him on one of their site pages; check it out:

VInce began scuba diving at the age of 13 in the Manasquan Inlet in New Jersey. In the days before mandatory certification, he was self-taught. He happily dove into adventures along the Jersey shore until his first trip to St. Croix in the U.S. Virgin Islands at age 22, after which there was no looking back. Anxious to do all his diving in the Caribbean, he purchased a condo on St. Croix in the 80s and vacationed there for many years. He sold the condo on St. Croix after his first trip to Bonaire in 1985, intending to travel the Caribbean looking for his next island home. In spite of many enjoyable trips throughout the Caribbean over the years, Bonaire's spectacular diving, perfect weather, and easy pace always beckoned, and, in 2005, he bought Apartment #9 at Bellevue.
Vince has been in the field of world-wide insurance and risk management for over 30 years. He looks forward to the day when he can retire and spend even more time in his beautiful apartment on the lovely island of Bonaire. He is currently treasurer of the Bellevue Owners Association.

So there's somebody who lived on St. Croix for years, then got a place on Bonaire which he has to this day, and I imagine he and his wife would be good folks to ask some questions, since those 2 are on your list.

Richard.

P.S.: I've been to Bonaire 8 times; haven't been persuaded to hit Curacao yet. But if I had to live on one a couple of years, I'd seriously check out Curacao for the non-diving part of life.
 

Top Bottom