Places to avoid in the Caribbean?

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Rob9876

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It sounds like if you like scooters avoid Cozumel.
I don't want to bring that debate here, since it's already going on in another thread, but let me just say that in my opinion the roads in Cozumel are much better than many of the other places I've been in the Caribbean. Actually, even a good bit better than many places in the U.S.
 

Phil Ravlin

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I did Divemaster in Bayahibe in 2019, they take tourist to the closest dive sites over the best sites to save on fuel cost. Its best to request the shop go to a specific area. The better diving is near Catalina Island but it's a little further boat ride. The normal dives are not impressive at all. The town of Bayahibe is very cool, friendly people and pretty safe. No need for a car to explore.
Also, I will add that Isla Saona in the southern Bayahibe area was one of the most spectacular beaches I have seen anywhere on the planet. My avatar is a pic from that area. It was almost like a movie set...hard to describe unless you have been there. I will be back!
 

mac66

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May I suggest going a a cruise in the Caribbean. Just got back from a 12 day, Stopped at St. Croix, St. Kitts, St. Lucia, Grenada, Barbados, Dominica and Antigua. You'd be hard pressed to find a better way to dive in so many different places. (and yes I dived in some of them). Another itinerary stops in the ABCs (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao). Excellent diving in all those places as well. Been there, done that.
 

Doc

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May I suggest going a a cruise in the Caribbean. …..Been there, done that.
In the topic of the OP, I myself would put cruise ship diving firmly in the list that was being requested.

For a travel industry writing project, I acted as DM for several cruise ship diver port visits, at three popular Caribbean destinations. In short, it was not pretty, YMMV @mac66 , I get it!

(this goes back to the day when I actually was allowed to conduct a Discover Scuba type intro in the ship’s pool between ports. I have had a glimpse of an experience from the pro level vantage point. The real instructional crew convinced me that they’d generally disliked their roles, but that is endemic to most all ship staff, plus they knew they were dumping on a writer who was buying them beer, so there’s that.)

I also did two cruises posing as a ‘tourist agency’ FAM traveler, doing the ship’s pool intro and also diving at every port, my buddy & me swapping renting all gear and/or switching-off appearing at the dock in BPW, Poseidon reg sets, all that DIR black hondo stuff, various types of c-cards…. Same treatment. We don’t know you, all we know for sure is that you’re from the ship, thus- you are a great liability.

Most cruise ship divers that visit any given island do believe that they have a solid take on the overall diving there. If it rained? The weather there sucks.

Many Cruise Ship visitors experience diving at an island and use that 6 hours as a meter for deciding upon subsequent week-long visits. If one truly understands how cruise ship divers are treated by 99% of local dive ops, it would upset their math (and tummies).

Avoiding the ship’s excursion desk package offerings to find “better diving” or to miss the ill-defined “Cattle Boat”? It’s an illusion. You’re going to get the same exact “we do not trust you” treatment. Period. (and that ‘we’ll hold the ship’ b.s. is just that)

Cruise ship visits have a lot of great positives, none of which are related to diving other than that diving is the best shore excursion option other than the usual drivel. Most such divers arrive (nervously) without a buddy, so I have found, escaping their SO to find amusement (and sometimes peace & quiet) :wink: with other excursion offerings.

Been there, done that…
but, did you buy the T-shirt?
 

drrich2

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Doc. highlighted a range of issues with cruise diving. I've done some off and on over the years, and seen it discussed in various threads. Some take home points for me:

1.) Cruises can be wonderful family fun (depending on what your family likes), and some dive excursions can be convenient.

2.) It's a nice 'appetizer sampler' look at various Caribbean islands, but a very small sample size of the offerings of each.

3.) Cruisers often get off the ship and are available for excursions later than dive op.s prefer to head out, which can limit your options as to dive op.s.

4.) Because the dive op. doesn't know the cruisers, they may not wish to take you to the better sites, out of fear some of you may have lousy buoyancy control or abuse the reef. They don't know your air consumption rates or skill levels, so they have to do some least common denominator-style planning. Plus you never get to know the staff well. There are benefits to multi-day trips diving with the same staff.

5.) It is a nice way to get a couple of dives in at a place you might never go for a dedicated dive trip. I treasure my 2 dives at St. Lucia (Superman's Flight and Fairly Land) with Scuba Steve's, but the overall trip costs have kept me away from a 'scuba trip disguised as a family vacation' thus far. My 4 dives in St. Thomas, 2 in Puerto Rico, 2 in Costa Maya, at least I've sampled it a tiny bit.

6.) Sometimes the experience is good and brings you back. Cozumel and St. Croix I did first by cruise excursion, then dedicated trip.

So, I'll take a centrist position, and say if I were after a dedicated dive trip, I wouldn't do it by cruise. I'd rather get to know a destination better, get more dives in (3 or 4/day, not 2), work with staff who get to know me and dive in a group that's a little more seasoned and trusted. But cruising can get you a couple of dives in places you'd likely never dive otherwise, keep the family happy and overall trip costs can be budget (I'm a Royal Caribbean cruiser; if you dive luxury lines, out of my experience).
 

mac66

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In the topic of the OP, I myself would put cruise ship diving firmly in the list that was being requested.

For a travel industry writing project, I acted as DM for several cruise ship diver port visits, at three popular Caribbean destinations. In short, it was not pretty, YMMV @mac66 , I get it!

(this goes back to the day when I actually was allowed to conduct a Discover Scuba type intro in the ship’s pool between ports. I have had a glimpse of an experience from the pro level vantage point. The real instructional crew convinced me that they’d generally disliked their roles, but that is endemic to most all ship staff, plus they knew they were dumping on a writer who was buying them beer, so there’s that.)

I also did two cruises posing as a ‘tourist agency’ FAM traveler, doing the ship’s pool intro and also diving at every port, my buddy & me swapping renting all gear and/or switching-off appearing at the dock in BPW, Poseidon reg sets, all that DIR black hondo stuff, various types of c-cards…. Same treatment. We don’t know you, all we know for sure is that you’re from the ship, thus- you are a great liability.

Most cruise ship divers that visit any given island do believe that they have a solid take on the overall diving there. If it rained? The weather there sucks.

Many Cruise Ship visitors experience diving at an island and use that 6 hours as a meter for deciding upon subsequent week-long visits. If one truly understands how cruise ship divers are treated by 99% of local dive ops, it would upset their math (and tummies).

Avoiding the ship’s excursion desk package offerings to find “better diving” or to miss the ill-defined “Cattle Boat”? It’s an illusion. You’re going to get the same exact “we do not trust you” treatment. Period. (and that ‘we’ll hold the ship’ b.s. is just that)

Cruise ship visits have a lot of great positives, none of which are related to diving other than that diving is the best shore excursion option other than the usual drivel. Most such divers arrive (nervously) without a buddy, so I have found, escaping their SO to find amusement (and sometimes peace & quiet) :wink: with other excursion offerings.

Been there, done that…
but, did you buy the T-shirt?

My diving experience is solely off of cruise ships. Sometimes I book my own dives based on research and/or recommendations and sometimes through the ship. Most dives this year were privately booked because the ships weren't offering diving excursions with the exception of one in St. Thomas in Feb. When I booked my own I was put on a boat with other divers who are staying on the island. Don't seem to be treated any different or shorted in terms of dive sites. Sometimes it feels like a cattle boat 10-15 divers, sometimes you get lucky and only have 4-6. The last cruise ship booked dive I did there were only 6 if us.

As stated one of the benefits of cruise ship diving is that it gives you a taste of a lot of different places to dive. You can then decide if you want to go back and spend some time there. To date I've dived in St. Thomas. Nassau, St. Kitts, St. Maarten, Grand Cayman, St. Croix, Roatan, Barbados, Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, Dominica, Granada, and Antigua. That's just 3-4 cruises.I've had some great dives in great locations. Diving in Cozumel, Costa Maya, Belize and back to Roatan in Dec.

While it is sometimes possible to do two 2-tank dives in a day during a port stop, I've found one is enough particularly if diving the next day or every other day. Plus you get to spend the rest of the day doing something else like being with the wife.

And of course there's always the cruise itself to fall back on. No worries about staying in a hotel or figuring out where/what you're going to eat and/or do every night. Good food, good drink, good entertainments, good service, friendly environment. Some people don't like cruising. I do. It's the best of both worlds, diving and cruising.
 

NW Dive Dawg

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I personally would avoid Roatan.....not at all because of the quality of diving, but because of the horrendous conditions when not insulated in one of the resorts like Coco View or Anthony's Key. As long as you stay at the resort, everything is staged to be wonderful and harmonious and hunky dory..... But just take a trip into Coxen Hole to see the truth. You will see the filth and crime and crimes against animals and people that is totally hidden from the tourists. If you want to be murdered for your Iphone or your Rolex..... then just take an evening stroll into Coxen Hole.

Plus... the dolphin "experiences" are cruel in my personal opinion...
 

Doc

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I personally would avoid Roatan.....not at all because of the quality of diving, but because of the horrendous…
This applies to most any Caribbean island that has reached ‘cruise port status’.

In life, people who have never been hit by lightning often simply cannot believe that lightning exists. Much the same as the advice about driving a rental car or motor bike in paradise.

Most everybody survives, the rental car is undamaged, it’s the .005% of the sample that endures a horrible experience.

During my working life, I had ‘paper’ to carry personal weapons throughout the Caribbean. I was still quite edgy on various touristy islands, but only in neighborhoods that tourists had no reason to be in.

Roatan has adopted a model similar to others dependent upon cruise ship dollars, instituting “Tourist Police”. They are assigned to the $$$ areas and act as a visual deterrent in a ‘broken window’ policing model. It works, but no more so than Lion Fish culling. If you stop for a day, the predators come back.

As to animal abuse, vote with your wallet. Just do not go. Unfortunately, most money (by far) is made from cruise ship visitors. Animal mistreatment exhibitions would not exist otherwise, Roatan not only has two ‘dolphin pesters’ [I’ve seen way worse] but also the beyond hideous French Key ‘swim with the jaguar/monkey’ abuse and of course, the famous yet socially acceptable ‘shark rodeo’ where two DM’s started an underwater tussle that really actually did go all Thunderball. There is video of that. [Waiting for ubiquitous tourist video of a low IQ shark taking a chonk out of a Pod Person.]

I started diving Cayman in 1972. Roatan in 1985. Tobago in 1988. Most readers here have simply no idea in hell what they don’t know about the degradation of the reef environ… and the social decay.

It is our mission to discover, explore and destroy. How we doin’ so far?

That is the essence of this thread.
 

drrich2

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not at all because of the quality of diving, but because of the horrendous conditions when not insulated in one of the resorts
As an interesting aside, some years back in another thread it was pointed out that, comparing Roatan and Bonaire, Roatan is a destination where people tend to 'stay on the reservation' more so, as opposed to heading out in a rental truck and driving around the whole island, as someone on their first Bonaire trip might do.

There are a number of logistical reasons for such things; it doesn't necessarily mean guests are huddled at their resort in fear. Roatan is far from the only destination where people tend to stay mostly at their resort; IIRC, Jamaica has a reputation for this, too? And Papua, New Guinea? Belize City has a reputation for being 'rough,' and an ABC News producer got murdered in Belize, which led to awareness the odds of a homicide in Belize being solved are...not what we might wish. Oh, and how did I forget mainland Mexico?
But just take a trip into Coxen Hole to see the truth. You will see the filth and crime and crimes against animals and people that is totally hidden from the tourists. If you want to be murdered for your Iphone or your Rolex..... then just take an evening stroll into Coxen Hole.
A number of places have a 'red light' district, or similar area of ill repute. Some years back someone condemned Sabang in the Philippines based on what he saw there, yet Puerto Galera remains a popular destination. Despite what I posted above, Belize is a popular dive destination - but don't wander Belize City at night. St. Thomas is popular for cruisers...but I read things years ago from a resident's perspective that were scary! Divers love the island of Cozumel! Even Bonaire has reports of break-ins at accommodations.

Doc hit the high points. If you want a good dive trip, there's no reason for most people to avoid Roatan over crime. If you want a destination where you can roam far and wide day or night independently with little likelihood of blundering into a dangerous neighborhood and getting mugged, that's another discussion. I still feel pretty safe out after dark on Bonaire trips.

Plenty of American cities have neighborhoods ill-advised after hours for tourists, too.
 
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