Trip Report: Tiger Beach on the Dolphin Dream, Oct. 2020

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!

FettSolo

Contributor
Messages
273
Reaction score
145
Location
Lebanon, NH, USA
# of dives
200 - 499
Why Tiger Beach?
As a photographer and a shark lover, Tiger Beach has been on my list for a long time. @Dan posted on SB that he was putting together a group to go this fall, so I signed up with him.

Due to everything going on, the planning was a complete mess. For a long time, we were unsure whether we would actually be able to go. Then in September, two members of our group were suddenly unable to come, and our group fell apart (none of this is Dan's fault - he did a commendable job trying to make this all happen). Dan helped me in reaching out to Captain Scott, but even then, I did not concretely know I was headed to TB until a week before the trip. It was a stressful time!

The trip itself was 6 nights, from October 17-23.

Getting There
The DD leaves from West Palm Beach in Florida, which is a lot easier than flying to the Bahamas. I flew direct from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale via Delta, which was nice since they still keep the middle seats open. Return trip was on JetBlue. My total cost for the two flights was roughly $140. Airports were empty and the flying was easy. My aunt lives in West Palm Beach, so she was nice enough to drive me to/from the airport and the boat.

Dive Operator and Boat
I booked the trip directly through Captain Scott and the Dolphin Dream. The DD was one of the original TB boats and came highly recommended.

I admit I was not a huge fan of Captain Scott. I found him extremely difficult to communicate with in the weeks leading up to the trip. It would usually take multiple e-mails and phone calls to him to secure information that should have been given without me having to prompt him, such as the physical address of the boat. On the boat, he was a bit of a ghost. He never formally introduced himself to the guests onboard, and mostly he would just appear to grab some food. I didn't think he knew who I was until the day he came up and asked for my check for the remaining balance.

That being said, the crew was excellent. They worked hard to keep everybody happy both above and below the water. The chef was a nice guy and cooked some tasty meals (all standard American cuisine).

The boat itself is not a luxurious liveaboard, but it is nice. I ended up with a room to myself, which I appreciated. If I had to share that room, it would have felt a little cramped. There were two shared bathrooms between all of the guests, which I did not mind (and the crew made sure they stayed clean). There is no camera table, so you would usually see a couple housings hiding in a nook somewhere before the dives.

There were no Covid-19 measures. I wore a mask the first night onboard, but when it was clear no other guests were, I just didn't see the point in me wearing one for the rest of the trip.

The Dives
The first day (Sunday) was just 2 dives. Monday-Wednesday was 4 dives/day, minus 1 dive one morning due to a weather-caused late start. Thursday was 3 dives, since we needed time to head back to FL.

Every dive was a feed dive. Normally, only 2 dives/day are feed dives, but I had inadvertently ended up on a group trip led by Eli Martinez of SDM Diving, and Eli always does feed dives. This was a nice perk for me, as everybody else on the trip had paid a higher price than me for this privilege (since they had booked via Eli and I had booked directly through Captain Scott). I really liked Eli and would definitely consider actually booking one of trips in the future.

Basically, you would suit up and jump in once you're ready. I was usually the first diver in the water. You jump right into a group of lemon and Caribbean reef sharks. If you're the first one descending, the tiger sharks will come check you out it, which is exhilarating! I loved those moments.

Once everybody's in the water, we headed to a spot on the sand in a V formation. The crew member (or Eli) doing the feed would basically be at the center of that V with the feed box. The tiger sharks would usually come down the line to the box, which means everybody gets up close encounters.

I always stayed at the farthest out position on the V, so I could take shots without anybody around. This also meant my head had to stay on a constant swivel, as the tiger sharks could come from nearly any direction out there. Those tiger sharks get close, man... I even had one swim under my arm and brush against my chest as she did.

These dives were all thrilling and never got old, even though we were diving the exact same dive site the whole trip. I could not get enough of it. Every dive easily had dozens of sharks (Caribbean reef, lemon, nurse), with anywhere from 1-3 tiger sharks.

The dive site was around 45ft deep. Dive times were usually around an hour. I wore a 3mm wetsuit with a Lavacore vest and shorts underneath. The diving itself is very easy, but you really need to pay attention to the tiger sharks at all times. This is not a place to be chimping photos.

We did one night dive as well, which was cool and also led to a large loggerhead turtle encounter.

Bottom Line
Tiger Beach lived up to its reputation. I had an amazing time, and would highly recommend it to anybody who loves sharks!

Even though communicating with Captain Scott was annoying, I enjoyed everything else about the Dolphin Dream and would use them again for any future TB trips.
 

drrich2

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
10,129
Reaction score
8,570
Location
Southwestern Kentucky
# of dives
500 - 999
Nice review! Good, practical info. Got a follow up question. When I went to Jupiter, FL, for my 2nd trip, it was hoping to dive with tiger sharks on feeding dives with Emerald Charters. That happened, it was a special time for me, and I'm glad I went. Of the 3 tigers I saw, 2 were females I was told were close to 10 feet long, 1 was a male a little smaller (but still big enough to kill somebody).

I read in another thread the tiger sharks seen on Jupiter's feeding dives tend to be smaller than the largest out in Tiger Beach - where you might see a 14 footer (Emma, IIRC, is the one Abernathy's made famous) up to 16 feet (I've seen photos of tiger sharks around that size). In a nutshell, I don't anticipate aiming for Tiger Beach, because I think (for me!) 10 feet long is enough where tiger sharks are concerned.

In the words of that great sage Dirty Harry Callahan, 'A man's got to know his limitations.'

With that in mind, how long were the largest of the tiger sharks you guys saw on your trip? Did others who'd been before comment on the sizes of tiger sharks they'd seen there in the past?

I could be misremembering what I've read, and maybe it's not the difference I think it is. But I saw video of an enormous tiger shark swimming toward a diver (not an attack, the guy was just in his way), the diver lifted straight up off the bottom to evade, and the shark snapped to the side, missing his leg. Sobering thing to watch.
 

Zeke XA3

Contributor
Scuba Instructor
Messages
293
Reaction score
31
Location
Nassau - Bahamas
# of dives
5000 - ∞
Can i ask the rough price of the trip?

Ive been in the bahamas for a few years now and really wanted to do tiger beach as ive done bullies and HHeads, but the day trip version has been shut down for some time!
 
OP
F

FettSolo

Contributor
Messages
273
Reaction score
145
Location
Lebanon, NH, USA
# of dives
200 - 499
Hi @FettSolo

Did you dive with Dave Finch?

I did! Finch was great.

@drrich2 From what I recall, the tiger sharks we saw were anywhere from 10-12 feet. It sounds like that is average, though there are definitely larger sharks like Emma that frequently show up. I think Tiger Beach can be a safe experience for anybody who takes the sharks seriously (which you clearly do). You just really need to keep your eyes out at all times, because they can and will sneak up on you! Hard to imagine a 12 foot shark sneaking up on someone in excellent visibility, but I saw it happen all the time (and it definitely happened to me, despite my best efforts). Even then, the tiger sharks really just seem to like to check you out up close. But complacency is the road to trouble (in any situation!).

@Zeke XA3 Normal price on the DD to Tiger Beach for 6 nights, 5 days is $2,995. Due to the circumstances regarding my original group trip, etc. I was able to negotiate a lower price.
 

living4experiences

ScubaBoard Sponsor
ScubaBoard Sponsor
Messages
369
Reaction score
457
Location
Tigard, Oregon
# of dives
200 - 499
Why Tiger Beach?
As a photographer and a shark lover, Tiger Beach has been on my list for a long time. @Dan posted on SB that he was putting together a group to go this fall, so I signed up with him.

Due to everything going on, the planning was a complete mess. For a long time, we were unsure whether we would actually be able to go. Then in September, two members of our group were suddenly unable to come, and our group fell apart (none of this is Dan's fault - he did a commendable job trying to make this all happen). Dan helped me in reaching out to Captain Scott, but even then, I did not concretely know I was headed to TB until a week before the trip. It was a stressful time!

The trip itself was 6 nights, from October 17-23.

Getting There
The DD leaves from West Palm Beach in Florida, which is a lot easier than flying to the Bahamas. I flew direct from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale via Delta, which was nice since they still keep the middle seats open. Return trip was on JetBlue. My total cost for the two flights was roughly $140. Airports were empty and the flying was easy. My aunt lives in West Palm Beach, so she was nice enough to drive me to/from the airport and the boat.

Dive Operator and Boat
I booked the trip directly through Captain Scott and the Dolphin Dream. The DD was one of the original TB boats and came highly recommended.

I admit I was not a huge fan of Captain Scott. I found him extremely difficult to communicate with in the weeks leading up to the trip. It would usually take multiple e-mails and phone calls to him to secure information that should have been given without me having to prompt him, such as the physical address of the boat. On the boat, he was a bit of a ghost. He never formally introduced himself to the guests onboard, and mostly he would just appear to grab some food. I didn't think he knew who I was until the day he came up and asked for my check for the remaining balance.

That being said, the crew was excellent. They worked hard to keep everybody happy both above and below the water. The chef was a nice guy and cooked some tasty meals (all standard American cuisine).

The boat itself is not a luxurious liveaboard, but it is nice. I ended up with a room to myself, which I appreciated. If I had to share that room, it would have felt a little cramped. There were two shared bathrooms between all of the guests, which I did not mind (and the crew made sure they stayed clean). There is no camera table, so you would usually see a couple housings hiding in a nook somewhere before the dives.

There were no Covid-19 measures. I wore a mask the first night onboard, but when it was clear no other guests were, I just didn't see the point in me wearing one for the rest of the trip.

The Dives
The first day (Sunday) was just 2 dives. Monday-Wednesday was 4 dives/day, minus 1 dive one morning due to a weather-caused late start. Thursday was 3 dives, since we needed time to head back to FL.

Every dive was a feed dive. Normally, only 2 dives/day are feed dives, but I had inadvertently ended up on a group trip led by Eli Martinez of SDM Diving, and Eli always does feed dives. This was a nice perk for me, as everybody else on the trip had paid a higher price than me for this privilege (since they had booked via Eli and I had booked directly through Captain Scott). I really liked Eli and would definitely consider actually booking one of trips in the future.

Basically, you would suit up and jump in once you're ready. I was usually the first diver in the water. You jump right into a group of lemon and Caribbean reef sharks. If you're the first one descending, the tiger sharks will come check you out it, which is exhilarating! I loved those moments.

Once everybody's in the water, we headed to a spot on the sand in a V formation. The crew member (or Eli) doing the feed would basically be at the center of that V with the feed box. The tiger sharks would usually come down the line to the box, which means everybody gets up close encounters.

I always stayed at the farthest out position on the V, so I could take shots without anybody around. This also meant my head had to stay on a constant swivel, as the tiger sharks could come from nearly any direction out there. Those tiger sharks get close, man... I even had one swim under my arm and brush against my chest as she did.

These dives were all thrilling and never got old, even though we were diving the exact same dive site the whole trip. I could not get enough of it. Every dive easily had dozens of sharks (Caribbean reef, lemon, nurse), with anywhere from 1-3 tiger sharks.

The dive site was around 45ft deep. Dive times were usually around an hour. I wore a 3mm wetsuit with a Lavacore vest and shorts underneath. The diving itself is very easy, but you really need to pay attention to the tiger sharks at all times. This is not a place to be chimping photos.

We did one night dive as well, which was cool and also led to a large loggerhead turtle encounter.

Bottom Line
Tiger Beach lived up to its reputation. I had an amazing time, and would highly recommend it to anybody who loves sharks!

Even though communicating with Captain Scott was annoying, I enjoyed everything else about the Dolphin Dream and would use them again for any future TB trips.
I had reserved a spot with Captain Scott on his Tiger Beach trip for Feb 2, 2021, but back in October he wasn't sure it was going to run. I reached out to him yesterday and he is cancelling the trip due to lack of participants. I'd like to experience diving with the tiger sharks and hammerheads, and Jan-Feb seems to be the best time for them, so I guess I'll try for 2022.
 

Dan

Contributor
Messages
8,674
Reaction score
6,436
Location
Lake Jackson, Texas
# of dives
1000 - 2499
Why Tiger Beach?
As a photographer and a shark lover, Tiger Beach has been on my list for a long time. @Dan posted on SB that he was putting together a group to go this fall, so I signed up with him.

Due to everything going on, the planning was a complete mess. For a long time, we were unsure whether we would actually be able to go. Then in September, two members of our group were suddenly unable to come, and our group fell apart (none of this is Dan's fault - he did a commendable job trying to make this all happen). Dan helped me in reaching out to Captain Scott, but even then, I did not concretely know I was headed to TB until a week before the trip. It was a stressful time!

The trip itself was 6 nights, from October 17-23.

Getting There
The DD leaves from West Palm Beach in Florida, which is a lot easier than flying to the Bahamas. I flew direct from Boston to Ft. Lauderdale via Delta, which was nice since they still keep the middle seats open. Return trip was on JetBlue. My total cost for the two flights was roughly $140. Airports were empty and the flying was easy. My aunt lives in West Palm Beach, so she was nice enough to drive me to/from the airport and the boat.

Dive Operator and Boat
I booked the trip directly through Captain Scott and the Dolphin Dream. The DD was one of the original TB boats and came highly recommended.

I admit I was not a huge fan of Captain Scott. I found him extremely difficult to communicate with in the weeks leading up to the trip. It would usually take multiple e-mails and phone calls to him to secure information that should have been given without me having to prompt him, such as the physical address of the boat. On the boat, he was a bit of a ghost. He never formally introduced himself to the guests onboard, and mostly he would just appear to grab some food. I didn't think he knew who I was until the day he came up and asked for my check for the remaining balance.

That being said, the crew was excellent. They worked hard to keep everybody happy both above and below the water. The chef was a nice guy and cooked some tasty meals (all standard American cuisine).

The boat itself is not a luxurious liveaboard, but it is nice. I ended up with a room to myself, which I appreciated. If I had to share that room, it would have felt a little cramped. There were two shared bathrooms between all of the guests, which I did not mind (and the crew made sure they stayed clean). There is no camera table, so you would usually see a couple housings hiding in a nook somewhere before the dives.

There were no Covid-19 measures. I wore a mask the first night onboard, but when it was clear no other guests were, I just didn't see the point in me wearing one for the rest of the trip.

The Dives
The first day (Sunday) was just 2 dives. Monday-Wednesday was 4 dives/day, minus 1 dive one morning due to a weather-caused late start. Thursday was 3 dives, since we needed time to head back to FL.

Every dive was a feed dive. Normally, only 2 dives/day are feed dives, but I had inadvertently ended up on a group trip led by Eli Martinez of SDM Diving, and Eli always does feed dives. This was a nice perk for me, as everybody else on the trip had paid a higher price than me for this privilege (since they had booked via Eli and I had booked directly through Captain Scott). I really liked Eli and would definitely consider actually booking one of trips in the future.

Basically, you would suit up and jump in once you're ready. I was usually the first diver in the water. You jump right into a group of lemon and Caribbean reef sharks. If you're the first one descending, the tiger sharks will come check you out it, which is exhilarating! I loved those moments.

Once everybody's in the water, we headed to a spot on the sand in a V formation. The crew member (or Eli) doing the feed would basically be at the center of that V with the feed box. The tiger sharks would usually come down the line to the box, which means everybody gets up close encounters.

I always stayed at the farthest out position on the V, so I could take shots without anybody around. This also meant my head had to stay on a constant swivel, as the tiger sharks could come from nearly any direction out there. Those tiger sharks get close, man... I even had one swim under my arm and brush against my chest as she did.

These dives were all thrilling and never got old, even though we were diving the exact same dive site the whole trip. I could not get enough of it. Every dive easily had dozens of sharks (Caribbean reef, lemon, nurse), with anywhere from 1-3 tiger sharks.

The dive site was around 45ft deep. Dive times were usually around an hour. I wore a 3mm wetsuit with a Lavacore vest and shorts underneath. The diving itself is very easy, but you really need to pay attention to the tiger sharks at all times. This is not a place to be chimping photos.

We did one night dive as well, which was cool and also led to a large loggerhead turtle encounter.

Bottom Line
Tiger Beach lived up to its reputation. I had an amazing time, and would highly recommend it to anybody who loves sharks!

Even though communicating with Captain Scott was annoying, I enjoyed everything else about the Dolphin Dream and would use them again for any future TB trips.

Glad to hear that you had a great trip!

I’m still waiting for confirmation from Captain Scott about my rescheduled trip. He mentioned that trip might be sometime in early next year. I have 4 other buddies that want to go with me there. If anyone interested in joining me, just PM me so I can pass the word to Captain Scott.

BTW, I’m on my way home from Cocos, just about to board the plane from SJO to IAH. We saw Tiger sharks almost every day in Cocos. As you said, @FettSolo those Tiger sharks are sneaky. They tend to sneak up on you from behind.
 

Top Bottom