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Discussion in 'General Travel and Vacation Discussions' started by Kharon, May 1, 2019.

  1. Kharon

    Kharon Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Upstate NY
    I've just got the word from the ortho back doc that I have extensive, severe disk degeneration. In my lower back there is just no more disk, so it's bone on bone. I need to talk with the doc more, but he said that diving will cause more damage.

    I can't do shore diving on Bonaire - too strenuous. In March I had two dives where I could hardly make it out of the water because of pain & weakness in my legs. I can't take pounding boat rides, especially long ones. And I can't do long travel times to and from.

    Does anyone know of someplace that's pretty easy to get to from Albany, New York, has marine life as good as Bonaire, where the boat rides and dive sites are calm, with boats you can do a giant stride from (can't do any more back rolls) and that have an attached ladder that you can climb with your equipment on.

    I know - a lot of stipulations and I'm guessing such a place doesn't exist. But I'm hoping to be able to take at least one more trip because my last one was horrid and I don't want that to be my last diving experience.
  2. noj3333

    noj3333 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Albany, New York
    Roatan, AKR... similar travel time to Bonaire, I like Delta with a layover in Atlanta.
    -Short boat rides (flat water when I was there, but I bet that's a crap shoot)...
    -Reef was better, IMHO, then Bonaire.... marine life, maybe slightly worse.
    -Giant strides, and a good ladder to get back on.

    I'd find someone to split the room with (super cheap if you have 2 divers), and stay for 2 weeks... no need to kill yourself with 3,4, or 5 dives a day, especially if you're there for 2 weeks...

    Also, Key Largo, but in my opinion, the reef (coral) is pretty bad, but there's some good marine life (fish, turtles, black tip sharks).
    jonhall and FezUSA like this.
  3. Ministryofgiraffes

    Ministryofgiraffes Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Toronto
  4. FezUSA

    FezUSA Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Hiram, OH, USA
    +1 Roatan for sure. Staying in the general West End vicinity means a lot of dive spots < 5minutes boat ride on usually flat water. Other than the shark dive, our longest dive ride was 15 minutes for non excursions (half or full day). From CLE we've done Atlanta and Dallas FW. Also Miami, but I hate Miami. We do it with 5 kids and the 2-jump flight is broken up nicely.

    There's plenty of dive operators, but you'll have to check on them to see egress options. We dive with and really like Sun Divers, but we back roll off both of their boats. AKR for sure has step-off boats, but I don't think all of them are.

    There's also plenty of options for where to stay at all different price points.
  5. Streydog

    Streydog Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: DFW, TX
    Another vote for Roatan. Check out West End Divers. They have a big boat that ticks all your boxes. They have a web cam at their dive shop over looking their pier where you can see the boats coming and going but I just looked at it and it is down.
  6. Ana

    Ana Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Pompano Beach, FL
    Have you consider gearing on and off in the water, depending on your range of mobility you may need assistance from someone, but once you have your gear on just descend and do your thing. Reverse the process at the end of the dive, then come up the ladder while your gear is being brought up by others.

    That's part of my plan if/when the day comes that I get to a situation like yours. My husband has a design for our boat to install a small crane-like device that will lower/lift the gear to/from the water . Hopefully that will extend our diving days even if it is limited to almost perfect sea-state.
  7. KathyV

    KathyV Orca

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Midwestern US
    I am sorry to hear that. I also have lower back problems and my husband has some medical restrictions and diving has gotten more challenging as we have gotten older.

    We loved Bonaire's shore diving in the past and also liveaboard diving, but we haven't tried either in several years because it's just not fun anymore. The Clearly Cayman resorts have become our favorite choices and they've made it easy for us to continue enjoying very good, Caribbean diving.

    They've just announced a new program with Cayman Airways, starting in November 2019, that includes flying directly from Miami to Cayman Brac, without the need to stop on Grand Cayman.

    After you arrive on Brac you will go through immigration and customs and then you can either stay at the Cayman Brac Beach Resort or get on a Twin Otter for a 5 minute flight over to Little Cayman to stay at the Little Cayman Beach Resort.

    So if you can get to Miami fairly easily from Albany, it should be pretty easy to get to the Cayman Sister Islands. At this time, as they are launching this new partnership with Cayman Airways, they are requiring a 7-day resort stay from Saturday to Saturday. But if you want to travel before November (or if it is easier for you to fly to Grand Cayman and then over to the Sister Islands) that should also be an option.

    Reef Divers is the onsite dive op at the Clearly Cayman resorts and valet diving is an integral part of their every day service and it makes things so much easier. When we arrive at CBBR or LCBR, we head to the onsite dive shop to show our C-cards, do the paperwork, and get our boat assignment. At that time they give both of us a numbered mesh bag. We go back to the room and we each put our dive gear in our bags (except non-integrated computers and cameras) and leave them in front of our hotel room door early the next morning for the dive staff to pick up.

    After a delicious breakfast we head down to the boat for orientation and find that our tanks and gear have already been set up and we are invited to check everything over and make sure that it is all okay. During each dive, we pick up our fins and mask and head to the back of the boat. We sit on one of the available seats and they bring our tanks rigs to us and put them on our backs and open the tank valve. Each diver puts on his/her fins, mask, and places the reg in his/her mouth and checks to make sure the tank is open. Then we stand up and take one giant step into the water to enjoy weightlessness and some very lovely Caribbean diving!

    If you'd prefer and if it is calm, you can get in the water first and they will hand your rig down to you and after the dive you can take it off in the water and they will haul it up.

    They have nice big ladders for getting back on the boat and the dive staff removes your tank and gear and switches it out for the next dive! After the dives are done for the day, we all leave our gear on the boat except our wetsuits, booties, cameras and non-integrated computers. We rinse those items in the available tanks and hang stuff in the convenient drying room and head to our room to clean up and then go to lunch. When we get back on the boat for the next dive our gear will be all clean and dry and set up for us so we can do it all again!

    They offer 2-tank dives in the mornings, an optional 3rd dive in the afternoon, and during the week - depending on interest - they may offer night dives or boat trips to the neighboring island (LC to CB; CB to LC) to check out the diving.

    If you are diving Nitrox, there is an area where you can analyze and label your tanks for your next dives.

    The reefs are close to shore and the boat trips are fast, especially around Brac, and they have big, stable, comfortable Newton 46 boats. The waters are usually pretty calm but of course that varies with the weather. The boat crew always tries to find the best spots for good, easy diving.

    The resorts are clean and comfortable, the dive staff are excellent, and the food is plentiful and delicious. I really think that you should check out the CBBR or the LCBR if you want to keep diving. The reefs are healthy and beautiful and Little Cayman's Bloody Bay Wall is some of the best diving we've experienced in the Caribbean.

    I've only done a couple of dives with Reef Divers at their new Cobalt Coast resort on Grand Cayman, but that might not be best choice for you because you might have to do more gear hauling, and shore diving on the house reef is a popular attraction at that resort. I'm not sure, check it out, but the diving is generally better IMO in the Sister Islands than around the west side of GC - although there is still good diving available especially on the north wall - and the west side is usually very calm and the reefs are close.

    Here is a link for a special they've just announced, the details of the new MIA to CYB flights are not yet published, but if you call the Reef Fantaseas Booking agents for the CC resorts they can advise you about that option and other flights from Albany.

    Here is the link for the CC home page:

    Once you decide which resort you'd like to try (if any) then you can look at the other packages offered and see if there is something you like better than the Holiday Special. You can also customize a package to your preference for an additional charge, like adding on lunch if not included, or a drinks package, or a 3rd dive per day to a 2-dive package. We usually take the 3 meals per day, 2 daily dives, and we skip the drinks package.

    The package prices include accommodations, transfers, meals, taxes, and hotel service charges but not nitrox or the dive shop tips. Will you be traveling alone or with a companion? I ask because there may be a single supplement if you are alone, I don't know. I think that they are going to be trying hard to make this new direct flight to Brac from MIA a success, so they may be willing to offer some good deals.

    My advice is to give CBBR or LCBR a try, good luck!
    jonhall likes this.
  8. Kharon

    Kharon Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Upstate NY
    I've been to Roatan. Never again. The airport process in and out is a horror I will never suffer through again. Maybe it was the time I was there but the visibility was very poor and the divirsity and size of fish was terrible. It was good for those who want to examine soft coral and bryozoans for hours to find a one inch seahorse. About the only fish that was there in numbers was creole wrasse.

    @KathyV - I'd give that a try but I no longer allow anyone to handle, let alone set up my gear. I've had people decide that they had a better idea and change things. I've never had anyone set it up exactly correctly. There are non-obvious things, how low the harness needs to be on the tank for perfect trim, which swiveled hose needs to be in front, air not turned on till just before splashing, that make a big difference.
  9. noj3333

    noj3333 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Albany, New York
    I'll agree with you on the airport, getting in was tough, getting out was ok.
    They were also doing some construction, so hopefully in a year or two that will improve.

    If fish the health of the fish population is important, check out Key Largo.

    Lastly, I'll agree that Roatan is not as fishy as Bonaire... but here's some pictures from my time there...

    Attached Files:

    chillyinCanada and FezUSA like this.
  10. KathyV

    KathyV Orca

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Midwestern US
    If you tell them that you want to set up your own gear they will be happy to let you do it yourself, but they will still be willing to do the heavy hauling. Just talk to them about it, they are very accomodating. It wasn't easy for us at first to let others set up gear, and we always inspect it carefully - but they consistently do a nice job and it is so much easier.

    I don't mean to sound patronizing, and it is hard sometimes to accept that we can't always do things the way that we used to - but you really need to protect your back - and if you want to keep diving (and walking!) then you may have to consider easier options, even if they are not exactly what you prefer.

    There may be other options, but this has worked well for us.

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