Trip Report: West Bay Divers - Paradise Oceanic Hotel - May 19-27, 2012 - part 1
Welcome to ScubaBoard, an online scuba diving forum community where you can join over 205,000 divers diving from around the world. If the topic is related to scuba diving, this is the place to find divers talking about it. To gain full access to ScubaBoard (and make this large box go away) you must register for a free account. As a registered member you will be able to:
Participate in over 500 dive topic forums and browse from over 5,500,000 posts.
Communicate privately with other divers from around the world.
Post your own photos or view from well over 100,000 user submitted images.
Gain access to our free classifieds marketplace to buy, sell and trade gear, travel and services.
Use the calendar to organize your events and enroll in other members' events.
Find a dive buddy or communicate directly with scuba equipment manufacturers.
All this and much more is available to you absolutely free when you register for an account, so sign up today!
If you have any problems with the registration process or your account login, please contact the ScubaBoard Support Team.
West Bay Divers, formerly affiliated with Ocean Connections, is based on the grounds of the Paradise Beach/Paradise Oceanic hotel complex. It is managed by two folks from England, Luke and Malcolm. The other instructors and divemasters include Nick (from Montreal) and Kane (not sure if I spelled that correctly) from Wales, and Deb from Argentina.
I made my reservation by e-mail and Malcolm responded promptly. I told him the days I wanted to dive and requested mornings if possible. I had several questions for Malcolm and he answered all of my questions very quickly. Also, as a point of reference, I’ve been coming to Roatan for 10 years so I am somewhat familiar with the area.
My goal was to get seven days of diving. Unfortunately, the weather did not cooperate. We had three days of really rough weather which impacted diving in many parts of the island. I did get three great days of diving in wonderfully clear water, and for that I am thrilled.
West Bay Divers runs four boat dives per day, two in the morning and two in the afternoon. If an extra divemaster or instructor is available, he/she can also lead shore dives. This turned out to be a very good feature.
I did my first dive, a shore dive, with Malcolm out of Mandy’s Eel Garden which is a short walk from the shop. Believe it or not, this is the first time in 10 years I have done Mandy’s as a shore dive. Usually, I jump in from a boat so this was different. I am so glad I did it because it was a very different experience and I really enjoyed it, so much so that I did two variants of it later in the week.
We then had the three days of bad weather so I just hung out at the beach and the pool. The following day, there was a large group diving in the morning so I opted to do another shore dive off Mandy’s with Nick. We saw a totally different part of that site that I had not seen before. We then went out to Butcher’s Bank on the boat, another good dive. The next day I opted to do still another shore dive from Mandy’s but we went westwards towards Black Rock. I hadn’t seen this part of the wall before so that was a good treat. We then did a boat dive from Black Rock and went almost to Pablo’s Place, another spectacular dive. Normally, I wouldn’t do this many shore dives but I really enjoyed the variety and had Nick as my private dive guide for most of the week.
The shop’s dive boat can hold maybe up to a dozen people. You have to board from within the water. It’s very shallow but I opted to use the ladder for entry. I didn’t see a camera bucket but I’m sure they would put one on board if you needed it. Keep in mind that most of the dive sites are no more than a five or ten minute boat ride.
One thing I like about the shop’s rates is that they include equipment in the dive rate and still have a reasonable price. I brought my mask and regulator and used their other equipment. The BCDs were in good shape. The fins and wetsuits were in reasonable shape as well. One thing I would suggest is that if you have a pair of booties and open heel fins, it might be worth bringing them. The reason I suggest this is that there is a part of the dive shop grounds that has gravel. It’s not something the shop designed, but rather the way the surrounding resort was built. If you are using full foot fins and are walking barefoot, you may have to walk on the gravel. It’s not much of a distance, but I would have preferred to have booties.
The dive briefings were usually given at the shop beforehand and were pretty thorough. On the boat, the backroll entry method was used. The dives averaged 50 minutes and were limited mostly by air consumption.
In terms of fish life, I saw lots of the standard Roatan stuff: jacks, triggerfish, trumpet fish, turtles, rays, squid, eels, parrotfish, etc. I also saw a few lionfish, but not as many as I’ve seen elsewhere.
In terms of payment, the shop takes cash and credit cards. They simply run a tab for you during the week and you pay at the end. I paid tips at the end of the week.
Overall, I had a great time with West Bay Divers and would dive with them again.