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  #1  
Old April 16th, 2006, 12:53 AM
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Talking REVIEW - The Dive Bus, Curacao, April 4, 2006

Dive review – The Dive Bus at the Dive Bus Hut, Curacao
April 4, 2006 (RCCL Empress of the Seas)

Rating of 1-5 stars:
Overall *****

People *****
Equipment *****
Diving ***** (Pierbaai Reef on the way to Car Pile ***** 68ft/42min
Pierbaai Reef on the wall ***** 60ft/59min)

I wouldn’t dive with anyone else on Curacao! What a blast!

Personal dive biases: I am a Floridian with >350 dives, certification through rescue. My diving experience has been under all sorts of conditions, but I no longer dive rough, deep or cold water (why bother?), and avoid weekend warriors whenever possible. My diving preference is drifting on reefs, and I have been known to bring home a bug or two.

I found The Dive Bus while poking around on the web looking for diving on Curacao. The website http://www.the-dive-bus.com was functional, informative, and a whole lot of fun. My initial E-mail was answered within minutes by Suzy. Originally, our intention was to do the house reef and animal feed at the Curacao aquarium with a guide from The Dive Bus, as they could pick us up at the terminal, and we could head over to the aquarium for the dive, lunch, and animal feed in any order, depending on when we got there.

Not too long after we booked, the access to the port was cut off to all but taxi services, and Mark and Suzy expanded their dive operation by opening The Dive Bus Hut on the beach at Marie Pampoen next to the Surf and Turf restaurant. Suzy E-mailed me to let me know the new developments, and we decided to dump the Aquarium dives in favor of beach diving, fresh fish at halftime, and beers and dive stories afterward.

I then proceeded to post the information on our Cruise Critic thread for the sailing, and through many E-mails, postings, and other cheerleading, we ended up with a group of 17 assorted divers, discover/refresher divers, snorkelers, and some folks that just wanted to hang out on the beach. The best part was that there was something to do for the non-divers. Suzy had endless patience with us while we figured out all the details, including my scatterbrain in having us listed for first the wrong month, then the wrong day, and finally the wrong ship docking time. Luckily, between Suzy, and one of my CC buddies, Christine (aka Froggie Q), I finally was able to get all the details straight. We then added four more folks from the ship during the previous stops, for a grand total of 21 people! (6 divers, 4 discover/refresher divers, 6 snorkelers, and the rest to hang out)

In the morning, we met at the Schooner Bar, and got off the ship in one group, right after 11am. We were able to stuff ourselves in 3 taxi vans, and negotiated a price of $4 each for the trip. I paid for the whole group on the way over, and included a tip for the drivers, and everyone paid me ($100).

We crossed that TALL bridge, and worked our way down to the coast until we arrived at the Hut – about a 15-20 minute ride. Suzy, Mark, Frank and Jesper were waiting for us. We made introductions, and Suzy got the numbers of the taxi drivers so they could pick us up in the afternoon.

The divers were divided into two groups – the 3 old hands, (Instructor Chris, Keith and I) geared up and headed off with Frank as DM. The newer group then geared up and headed out with Jesper as DM (Laurie, Doug, and Tom W.). Suzy then started the class with the 4 Discover and refresher divers (Christine, Sam, Tom M, and Li). That’s true personal service! The snorkelers flopped in, and the rest built sandcastles, hung out on the lounges, yakked, and had a good time.

We old hands headed out into the water. Wear thick booties – there are LOTS of rocks on the bottom. Swam out of the cove and dropped over the edge into some absolutely beautiful fairy-tale reef – vis about 80 ft or so, with murky areas at the edge of the vis. Water temp was about 81 F, making me glad that I was wearing a wetsuit. Unfortunately, there was a bit of current caused by some surge and wave action left over from some freaky weather patterns that had been occurring over the past couple of weeks, and that’s what caused the decrease in vis (80 ft a decrease!). There was just enough current to make my head cool, and to make me actually have to fin a bit. We never did make it all the way down to Car Pile as the current started to increase, but the journey was absolutely beautiful! Fish, fish, and more fish of every kind, and then some more kinds of fish, cruising around beautiful corals and sponges. Arrived back at the cove with 1300 left in my tank, which beat all three of the fellas (once again!). We never saw the newer diver group, but yakking over halftime, we found out that they didn’t go quite as far as we did, and stayed a bit shallower.

When we got back, Mark was distraught to hear that the vis was down and there was a bit of current – evidently it was a very unusual occurrence. Mark and Frank then debated on how to do the second dive to avoid the current and get some better vis.

We ordered the fish of the day, and got a WONDERFUL fillet of snapper, a salad of lettuces, carrots and cucumbers with a light, tasty dressing, and fries that were just like I like them – crunchy on the outside, chewy on the inside. Keith and I shared the fish and salad with a few fries, and I gave the rest to the snorkelers as we had another dive, and neither one of us wanted to spend it burping. If the diving had not been so gorgeous, we would have whistled up another plate, some beer, and called it a day. However, the sparkling water beckoned for another dive.

We switched over, geared up again and headed out of the cove to the drop off, and this time took a different route by heading down the wall. The vis was up to 90-100 ft this direction, with no noticeable current. More wonderful reef, and more fish, and lots of eels (my favorite)! Just another day of diving in paradise. Chris’s flash was going off constantly, and I was really missing the camera I flooded back on our first dive of the cruise. On our way back to the cove, we passed the Discover diver group led by Suzy, and traded lots of OK! and WOW! signs.

Got back to the cove with 1500 this time, and I started dip rinsing and packing gear for our return, and a cold Polar beer for me magically appeared in Keith’s hand. I love it when that happens! Unfortunately, we only had about two hours left of port time, so Suzy called the taxis, and we swapped a couple of stories and sunk some Polars while waiting for the taxis to show up. One taxi came almost immediately, and most of the snorkelers headed back. The other two taxis followed shortly, so we had to say goodbye, get soggy hugs, and head back to the ship.

WE WILL RETURN!!!!!! and bring more CCers!

Wendy


Instructor Chris graciously sent me some of his pictures, and I have posted them on my webshots. Check out his photos at http://community.webshots.com/user/wendyandkeith
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  #2  
Old April 16th, 2006, 02:10 AM
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Wendy, thanks for taking the time to write an excellent review. The dive bus sounds like an ideal setup for cruisers, especially divers traveling with non-divers. Really sorry to hear about the housing flood. I know I would feel sick about that happening to me, so sick that I'd have to get that DSLR I've been wanting but couldn't justify.
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Old April 16th, 2006, 07:10 PM
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Default From Wendy's group

Special thank you to Wendy for pulling the day together. We were part of the snorkle group and had a great time. The beach was pretty much ours and the water close to shore had a lot of little fish. Current there wasn't bad, so those of us who tire easily had a good swim.
This day was well organized and one of our cruise highlights...Thanks a bunch Wendy..you are terrific..enjoyed reading your review...now to look at the pictures.
Katherine
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Old April 17th, 2006, 11:19 PM
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Thumbs up The Dive Bus

Wendy - I can't thank you enough for encouraging me to go on this excursion!

I was certified to dive in 1999, dove the Caymans and decided I would never do it again because it scares me. Wendy told me about The Dive Bus and I started emailing Suzy. My family of 5 - husband Tom, 14 yo son Sam, 3 yo son Sean, me and Grandma Becky all went along on this trip. If you are nervous about diving or have someone in your group not sure about diving this really is the place to go! My son Sam had a Discovery Dive while I had a refresher and Sean and Grandma played on the beach (Tom dove deeper without us). Suzy was so patient and they are really fun people too! My only regret was not enough time post dive to enjoy a beer on the beach and chat with The Dive Bus folks! We are honestly considering going back for a land vacation and having Mark and Suzy certify Sam (far better than the cool waters of Pend O'Reille Lake ID which forced me to get dry-suit certified!). I can't recommend The Dive Bus enough!
Christine
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Old April 18th, 2006, 02:07 PM
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Thumbs up Great Excursion!

Thank you again Wendy, this was a fabulous find for all of us who went. The people were wonderful and the prices could not have been better.

For those reading this with intentions of booking with the Dive Bus Hut, you will not find greater people. DH Tom had the intro dive with a lesson, 20 min dive at about 13ft then a rest and a 40min dive at around 40ft. He was amazed! Thank you Suzy and the price was only $65

Due to a hearing loss in one of my ears, I am not allowed to dive but do love to snorkel and this place did not disappoint. The cove is very well protected and there is additional snorkeling outside the cove and along a protected reef area in front of the neighboring hotels. I had my own equipment so there was no charge at all

One warning, if you are going here be sure you have water shoes! It is a must, there is broken glass at the beach and lots of coral immediately in the water. There are lots of colorful lizards (iquanas) running around and they love handouts of lettuce or fries from your lunch plate

We would recommend this place to anyone going to Curacao!
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Old May 2nd, 2006, 11:39 PM
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Talking We're famous!

Suzy posted us on their website as the 'Cruise Ship Invasion!' The family pictured is CC member Froggie Q, with the whole family in Dive Bus gear (Christine, Tom, Sam & Sean)

http://www.the-dive-bus.com/index.ph...=290&Itemid=77

Our group is also in pictures 2-47 of the April 2006 diving photos. Mark managed to get me in that horrible suit in the background of #4.

http://www.the-dive-bus.com/index.ph...&Itemid=10#pic

We're looking forward to going back!

Wendy
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Old January 1st, 2011, 09:54 AM
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Default best snorkel spots for live coral in Curacao?

We are renting a car while stopped in Curacao, and have our own snorkel gear. Having read that much of the coral in shallow waters is bleached or dead from storms and hurricanes, can anyone direct us to a good beach and snorkel site that still has good coral in waters less than 15 feet depth?
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Old January 1st, 2011, 10:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayarrG7 View Post
We are renting a car while stopped in Curacao, and have our own snorkel gear. Having read that much of the coral in shallow waters is bleached or dead from storms and hurricanes, can anyone direct us to a good beach and snorkel site that still has good coral in waters less than 15 feet depth?
In 2006 the Marriott Emerald Bay had very nice off-the-beach snorkeling with a long reef at an angle to the beach. While I don't remember the quality of the coral, I do remember there was a very good variety of fish.
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Old January 30th, 2011, 09:50 PM
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Default Director's Bay

I recommend Director's Bay. I suggest getting in at Tugboat, swimming around the corner to Director's Bay, and then go back to the Tugboat beach. We went there on a tour (Curacao Actief), but I bet you could get a cab out there instead.
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Old February 1st, 2011, 11:09 PM
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Talking The Dive Bus!

If you want to see beautiful coral and have a great time in the water at Curacao, do it right and go on a guided snorkel tour with Suzy and Mark at The Dive Bus. www.the-dive-bus.com

Pierbaai is their house reef, and it's absolutely wonderful. They know every hang-out spot for all the reef critters. I'm actually a marine biologist, and I can't spot half the stuff they do.

If you tell them Wendy and Keith sent you, they'll let you come anyway. We'll be back there to dive in 28 short days, and I can't wait!

You can see the 'usual suspects' from the reef (and the on-shore festivities) in my dive pix. Everything from baby tropicals, to giant parrotfish, to seahorses and squid if you get lucky.

Have a wonderful time!

Wendy

dive pix
http://community.webshots.com/user/wendyandkeith
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Old February 7th, 2011, 12:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by w&k View Post
If you want to see beautiful coral and have a great time in the water at Curacao, do it right and go on a guided snorkel tour with Suzy and Mark at The Dive Bus. www.the-dive-bus.com

Pierbaai is their house reef, and it's absolutely wonderful. They know every hang-out spot for all the reef critters. I'm actually a marine biologist, and I can't spot half the stuff they do.

If you tell them Wendy and Keith sent you, they'll let you come anyway. We'll be back there to dive in 28 short days, and I can't wait!

You can see the 'usual suspects' from the reef (and the on-shore festivities) in my dive pix. Everything from baby tropicals, to giant parrotfish, to seahorses and squid if you get lucky.

Have a wonderful time!

Wendy

dive pix
http://community.webshots.com/user/wendyandkeith
I agree. We were in Curacao last Dec. We went diving with Mark and Suzy with The Dive Bus. The coral was abundant and colorful. We had 2 nice relaxing shore dives. We drifted along a wall of coral for a little while. You will love it. Afterwards we had lunch at the little restaurant there. It was a great way to spend the day.
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Old February 7th, 2011, 12:41 AM
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Oh sorry ... I thought you were looking for a scuba diving place. The reefs were shallow so it would be a good place to snorkel too.
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Old February 7th, 2011, 08:09 PM
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The original question was not who to book with, but what beach has the best live coral in depths appropriate for snorkeling.
But thanks for trying to help.
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Old February 8th, 2011, 11:23 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayarrG7 View Post
The original question was not who to book with, but what beach has the best live coral in depths appropriate for snorkeling.
But thanks for trying to help.
The first two replies were aimed directly at your question; the other two good recommendations for a guide.

What more could you want?
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Old February 9th, 2011, 10:40 PM
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Smile Great time with the Dive Bus!

Thank You Mark and Tripp,
Hope and I had a great time with you on January 26th 2011. We contacted the Dive Bus before our cruise departure and had all the information we needed before leaving our home in Florida. The dives were great and the access to the water through a little protected harbor was perfect for a shore dive that rapidly dropped down into some beautiful coral reefs loaded with fish. Tripp was a great guide and matched the dive to my experience. We went to 119ft on the first dive and 88 ft on the second dive. I took lots of photos and was glad that the visibility made it worthwhile. I brought my own gear for the dive, but found that I was having problems with my regulator at the shop. We did a quick switch out and saved the day with a borrowed octo. Thank you Mark!
I'd dive with the Dive Bus again any day!
Hope and Tony Hemmer
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Old May 6th, 2012, 04:19 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jayarrG7 View Post
We are renting a car while stopped in Curacao, and have our own snorkel gear. Having read that much of the coral in shallow waters is bleached or dead from storms and hurricanes, can anyone direct us to a good beach and snorkel site that still has good coral in waters less than 15 feet depth?
Does anyone have recent information regarding the quality of various snorkeling locations in Curacao? Any and all help would be much appreciated.
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