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mac66

Island Hopping & Diving

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Our cruise next Feb goes to the following islands.

 

St. Crox USVI
St. Johns, Antigua
Castria, St. Lucia
Bridgetown, Barbados
St. George, Granada
Kingstown, St. Vincent
Basseterrie, St. Kitts
 
Going to be with family so I can't dive them all. Looking for the best three islands to dive at.

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On ‎5‎/‎24‎/‎2019 at 5:32 PM, mac66 said:
 
Mac,
 
Your list has a lot of great dive spots.  The best three will be dependent upon your preferences.
 
The one you can cross off is Antigua.  The diving is only OK, and it's far from the cruise port. 
 
The one I'd say is the very best, and thus not to be missed, is Grenada.  If you contact Eveline at ScubaTech Grenada, you'll have a great day.  There are lots of good wrecks, and the fish life is super-abundant.  They'll provide port pick-up and drop-off.  One thing for Grenada: Do not bother with the "Sculpture Park".  It's not a good use of one of your two dives, since there are so many other great sites there.  (www.scubatech-grenada.com)
 
The rest in the order you've listed them:
 
St. Croix:
 
I like N2TheBlue diving.  They are right at the port, and they are very responsive to emails.  They operate smaller boats, so you are with a reasonably sized  group, but this means you want to book as early as you can.  Their DM's do a very good job of pointing out the interesting things.   I like the sites up north of the pier more than the ones south.  (www.n2theblue.com)
 
St. Lucia:
 
Very good diving, and an island that's considered one of the best.  My own experience is it's quite good, but not "head and shoulders" above others.  The good sites are near Soufriere.  I've used both Scuba Steve's and Eastern Caribbean Divers.  I like Eastern Caribbean better.  Both pick you up right at the pier (in the shadow of the bow of the ship).  If it was me, St. Lucia wouldn't make the top three.  I'd book a land tour with Cosol tours.  Ask for Livingston.  (www.easterncaribbeandivingstlucia.com )
 
Barbados:
 
I love diving here, in large part because of Peter and Heather at West Side Scuba Centre.  They provide port pick-up and drop-off.  There's a great wreck dive there, the Stavron Ikita.  If you like wrecks, then this island should make the cut.  If you want to do it, let them know at the time of booking.  The dive shop is at the Boatyard Beach Complex, which provides a very reasonably priced beach day for non-divers in your group.  (www.westsidescuba.com)
 
St. Vincent:
 
I like it here.  The diving is what I call "typical Caribbean", which is great, but nothing that sets it apart from other islands.  Vaughn Martin at Serenity Dive will definitely make sure you have a good day.  The boat picks you up at the pier.  There's good fish life, and interesting underwater topography.  (www.serenitydive.net)
 
St. Kitts:
 
I always have a great day here.  There are several good wreck dives at very moderate depths, and if you want a great shark diving experience, ask to go to Brimstone Shallows.  Austin at Pro Divers St. Kitts is very easy to work with.  They are in the Marina immediately adjacent to the cruise port.  They meet you at the port entrance, and it's about a two minute walk.  (www.prodiversstkitts.com)
 
If it was me, and that's a big if, since it means my preferences not yours; I would rank them in this order:
 
1) Grenada
2) Barbados
3) St. Vincent
4) St. Croix
5) St. Kitts
6) St. Lucia
 
As I was creating this list, I had to really ponder.  2 through 5 are all so good, I'd have a heck of time picking which to drop if I had to.
 
Good Luck,
 
Harris
Denver, CO

 

Edited by omeinv

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On 5/25/2019 at 8:34 PM, omeinv said:

 

Harris, you have some great advice. I am going on a different island hopping cruise, and would appreciate your opinion (and ranking)on these stops as well:

Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, tortola BVI, st thomas...

I am sure my wife would like me to spend some time above the sea on a couple of these stops...

We have been to Aruba so I have  seen several of the sites there.

 

Thanks a bunch.

Chris

 

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Update,

 

Since this was brought up again I'd like to report that we decided to dive in St.Croix, Granada and St. Vincent. Schedule worked out best and my wife can come along and snorkel while I dive.

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4 hours ago, c_dudeman said:

Harris, you have some great advice. I am going on a different island hopping cruise, and would appreciate your opinion (and ranking)on these stops as well:

Aruba, Curacao, Bonaire, tortola BVI, st thomas...

I am sure my wife would like me to spend some time above the sea on a couple of these stops...

We have been to Aruba so I have  seen several of the sites there.

 

Thanks a bunch.

Chris

Chris,

 

I haven't been to Tortola, so I have no insight there. 

 

St. Thomas has nice diving.  In the past I've used Blue Island Divers, but it appears they've closed down.  They were based in town, close to the cruise piers, so were good if you like the wreck dives that are abundant in that area.  If reefs rather than wrecks are your thing, go with Aqua Marine St. Thomas.  They provide port pick-up/return.  They are a ways around the island to the south. (Maybe a 15 minute drive).  (https://www.diveaquamarine.com/)

 

It sounds like you know Aruba.  I really like it there, but most people like it least of the ABC islands. 

 

Bonaire has great diving for sure.  If you haven't dove the Salt Pier, and you can when you're there (you only can when no cargo ship is there), it's a great second diver.  There's usually a lot of good life, and it's and interesting site.  The depths are moderate, which is why I'd recommend it for your second dive.  The Hilma Hooker wreck is fun.  Otherwise I like the sites on the northern end of the island closer to the oil terminal.  I use VIP Diving in Bonaire.  They're really outstanding, but they do have a very restrictive payment policy that some don't like.  They include nitrox in the price of diving, as long as you're certified for nitrox.

 

Another thing with VIP, is that you can select basically any site on the island, and the day includes lunch, and all the time you need.  Generally we start as soon as the ship docks, and between long dive times, a long surface interval, and monkeying around using their nice facilities to clean gear and relax we are there the vast majority of the time in port.  I mention this since you have the concern about others in your group.  The other places you probably could still be a part of an afternoon activity after diving. ( https://vipdiving.com/ ).

 

For Curacao, it's shore diving (like Bonaire).  The diving is a little more varied there than Bonaire, and so I find it more interesting.  I really enjoy diving with Hans at CURious2Dive.  He provides port pick-up and return.  Nitrox is available at an extra cost.  ( http://www.curious2dive.com/ )

 

If I were going, rest assured I'd dive all the islands.  But to rank them:

 

1) Curacao

2) Bonaire

3) Aruba

4) St. Thomas

 

I don't know where I'd put Tortola in the list, since I've not been there. 

 

On my list Bonaire edges out Aruba in large part because I don't find Bonaire very interesting save for diving.

 

Harris

 

 

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I dived St-Thomas with Admiralty Dive last march and was very satisfied (tiny boat with 1 captain, 1dm, 1 pig and 3-4 divers).  Jerry the captain picked me up at the port.  We dived a wreck (95ft) and a shallow reef (avg 45ft).

 

In Tortola our dive was cancelled due to boat problems so I went snorkelling to Norman again instead.  Chatting with the operators (who are also scuba ops), they told me the corals and other underwater life hasn't really recovered from the last hurricane.  Even snorkelling it was obvious to me (the bottom was scrubbed clean in the caves area which used to be full of life). 

 

I agree with Harris for Curacao, Bonaire, Aruba, St-Thomas and would put Tortola way at the bottom of the list for now.

 

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I'm going to resurrect this post.  Please update when you're back how everything went.  We are going to these same exact locations in August 2020 on our Celebrity cruise.  My husband and I are wanting to pick 3 dive spots.  We are newbies - we went on our first scuba adventure on our last cruise, in St Maarten.  We absolutely loved it, which I knew we would.  We'd like to get certified.  

 

If anyone has any advice for me, please let me know.  Thanks!

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2 hours ago, luvabargain said:

I'm going to resurrect this post.  Please update when you're back how everything went.  We are going to these same exact locations in August 2020 on our Celebrity cruise.  My husband and I are wanting to pick 3 dive spots.  We are newbies - we went on our first scuba adventure on our last cruise, in St Maarten.  We absolutely loved it, which I knew we would.  We'd like to get certified.  

 

If anyone has any advice for me, please let me know.  Thanks!

Melissa,

 

I was just on the Celebrity Summit in the middles of January, with an itinerary of St. Kitts, St. Lucia, St. Vincent, Grenada, Barbados, Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire.  We dove in all ports, so I have very current info on those. 

 

For St. Croix, the crew at N2 The Blue has apparently bought the business from the prior owners.  The staff that has always made it great is still there, so it's likely better than ever.  The new name is Nep2une.  Their location is the same ( half a block from the port gate).  Their website is now: http://n2scubadiving.com/

 

On this trip I was disappointed with Serenity Dive, in St. Vincent.  They booked too many divers for the boat, and chose dive sites that were pretty lack luster.  This was a dramatic change from the last time I used them.  As a result I'm going to re-order my ranking above.  It is now:

 

1) Grenada
2) Barbados
3) St. Croix
4) St. Kitts
5) St. Lucia
6) St. Vincent
 
For your situation, newly certified divers, and with your request for three diving ports, I'd rank Grenada first then St. Croix, and third St. Kitts.  I always have a great time in Barbados, and I'm sure you would as well; but St. Croix and St. Kitts have their own advantages in your particular situation.  They have very interesting dives at moderate depths. 
 
Also, as it sounds like you're in the process of getting your Open Water Certification, let me encourage you to check with your training center about incorporating Nitrox training into your Open Water Course.  Usually new students don't understand why they'd want this right away, and consequently miss the opportunity to do it at the same time.  It will add some cost, but typically they "bundle" the courses, saving you money over taking the two separately; and the material you learn in the Nitrox course will enhance your understanding of diving generally.  By taking that course, you'll be certified to dive using nitrox.  In Grenada, Scuba-Tech provides Nitrox for those certified for it. 
 
Please feel free to email me, using the link below, if you have questions. 
 
Harris
Denver, CO
 
 
 
 
 

 

 

 

 

 

Edited by omeinv

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On 2/5/2020 at 10:25 AM, luvabargain said:

I'm going to resurrect this post.  Please update when you're back how everything went.  We are going to these same exact locations in August 2020 on our Celebrity cruise.  My husband and I are wanting to pick 3 dive spots.  We are newbies - we went on our first scuba adventure on our last cruise, in St Maarten.  We absolutely loved it, which I knew we would.  We'd like to get certified.  

 

If anyone has any advice for me, please let me know.  Thanks!

 

I will certainly report back when I get back in March.

 

One thing you could do if you want to get certified is do your preliminary classwork and confined water (pool) dives at home and then do your open water dives on your cruise (called referral dives).  You will need 4 open water dives on two separate days.

 

Most dive shops will do referral dives and test you out on the requirements. That's what I did last year.  I took the class/pool sessions in the January at home then did my 4 dives on a cruise (2 dives in Curacao and 2 in Aruba) in February.  It worked out well.

 

Since you have until Aug (and warm weather) to get certified that may or may not work out best for you.

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To Melissa - Definitely get certified before your cruise.  I got certified in 2018 and dove twice in St. Maarten.  Plan to dive Aruba and Bonaire next month on Summit.  

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