We have been trying to scuba dive at least one port per cruise since Sakari took an interest to this several years ago.
The last time we were here we went scuba diving. However, the weather did not cooperate with us and we were unable to dive at West Bay like we had hoped. I had really wanted to go out to Mandy's Eel Garden, but with the weather, we had to go over to the other side, where it was calm, and dive at Flowers Bay (which was fabulous!).
Once again, I contacted the dive company in hopes that we would finally get to dive West Bay and Mandy's Eel Garden. I knew out of all the ports we would be going to, Roatan was the place to dive. Then I got bad news...the dive shop we used last time was booked with a bunch of people that were staying at a hotel on the island that day. I started searching for someone else and although the dive company I decided to go with was more expensive (both for the dive and the transportation), their communication and all the time they took to answer my hundreds to questions was just great customer service and I felt so comfortable with them. They did say they don't normally cater to cruise ship people, but obviously was not going to turn anyone down either. They normally didn't include any transportation to and from the ships, but would arrange it for me because that was just something that was very important to me to have included. They ended up charging us $25 pp for round trip (which was more than any other place quoted us) but I guess it was worth it to know that we had someone waiting for us. The cost of the dive was $125 pp PLUS tax, which I didn't realize until after the dive. Some of the other companies quoted a price and said that it included taxes. So, I was caught off guard when we went to pay for the dive and it was more than what I had brought.
Our driver met us right outside the port and we walked a bit to get to his van and then we were off to West Bay. It's about a 20 minute drive there. We passed Flowers Bay, where we dove last time because of the bad weather.
We arrived at the dive station and checked in with our instructor. The thing I like about NCL is that their dock (Coxenhole) is closer to West Bay than Carnival's Mahogany Bay and therefore, you get there quicker.
She knew our history of diving and said she would make it a "quick" class. She legally had to go over everything of course, but she did it quickly as a review and we took our test. I was getting a good vibe from her, which I feel is important when diving and feeling confident.
We geared up with our equipment and was ready to roll....or dive...or sink....or something entertaining.
Ok, I gave in...sticking out the tongue is the "in" thing to do I guess. I wasn't fighting her anymore about it so I joined in.
Mandy's Eel Garden on West Bay would be our dive destination. It was located right in front of the dive site.
"A great site for photography"
"Swim thru channels"
"Garden Eels retreat into their holes in unison as you approach"
"When snorkeling or surfacing from a dive always remember to be aware of the glass bottom boat that often passes directly overhead"
Now one thing I did want to mention is that during my conversation with the dive site, prior to coming here, I was told "We are a 5 star PADI dive center that specializes in small group, concierge diving (meaning we carry, set up, wash and store your gear for you) all you have to do is dive." However, we ended up having to carry our own gear. I'm not sure if the other instructors were out on a dive with regular scuba divers, but our instructor seemed to be the only one around other than someone working at the front desk. I honestly didn't mind that we had to do this...as long as there are no steps involved because I simply can not get up and down steps with the added weight on my back. I've tried before. It's brutal for me. They had a ramp to use and we walked right down to the beach and into the water where we started our skills. I will say that she did offer to do it if we felt that we couldn't or didn't want to do it, but we said we were good. So, at least she offered. It would have just taken up a lot of our time.
Since we were the only 3 in our group, our skills check off went fast and it was time to head out. I was super excited and once again NOT NERVOUS OR ANXIOUS! I'm finally getting the hang of this and enjoying diving so much now. I think this will make 3 or 4 dives for me that I didn't have any anxiety at all and it went so smoothly.
Now I handed Sakari one of the camera's and I took the other. She started taking pictures immediately.
Then all of a sudden....nothing! Absolutely nothing! The camera stopped working. We have no idea why. The battery was good and we hadn't had problems out of this "older model" camera that we've had for several years until now.
I told her to turn it off and back on. She got a few more pictures. Then off we went again. She was playing in my bubbles in one of her pictures. LOL
A couple more times she gave me that "look" and pointed at the camera. I turned it off and back on and she continued. Then that was the end of it. It wouldn't turn back on anymore. Darnit. I just shrugged my shoulders and she would just have to go without unless she was able to get it to work again later. I felt so bad because she likes to take pictures when we are diving.
So here are the pictures she was able to get.
So now comes the abundance amount of pictures I took. Mind you, this is just a fraction of what I got that day, but it's still a lot. I'm just a picture freak...especially when it comes to being in the ocean.
When we first started, I completely forgot to put my camera on the under water mode and ended up with the green pictures...so forgive me. The setting I "usually" use is the underwater motion setting. That way if something is moving, it won't blur on me.
I also decided to take my fisheye lens with me on this dive. Although I forgot to put the camera on the underwater mode, I did remember that when the fisheye is on, I needed to adjust my settings in the camera to lighten the pictures because it makes them darker and the blues brighter as well. I love the way the pictures usually turn out with the color and feel that when I don't have the lens on, the colors aren't as "bright".
But, I have found that when you go underwater, you always get this bubble in the lens where the lens meets the camera and you have to shake the camera around to get it out. Otherwise you end up with pictures like this...
Now the reefs at West Bay are pretty shallow in areas when you start out so we were told to "snorkel" on the top but yet under water with our regulator.
It didn't take long before I discovered I was on the wrong setting and corrected it.
Sakari was trying to equalize her ears.
While she was getting the hang of that, I was taking pictures of the cute little puffer fish you see all the time.
Sakari is pretty good and knowing how far to go down and when trying to equalize her ears when to come back up and try again slowly. It takes her awhile in the beginning, but she will finally get it. We hung out on the bottom while our instructor stayed with her until she was able to finally equalize before going on.
Then we were able to go on...
Then we heard this very loud noise. We looked up and seen a boat coming toward us...oh my. The instructor went over to grab Sakari and make sure she was out of the way. At this point she had managed to equalize her ears, but had came up some during the swim and needed to get back down out of the way. It was somewhat scary for me to watch that. I know we were down far enough, but it seemed like the boat was right on top of us and it was a little crazy looking and sounding.
Hubby was doing good and I'm so grateful we have found the perfect pair of goggles that allows him to dive with us without having ear issues since he don't have ear drums. He has absolutely no problems with these goggles with the ear covers and he enjoys himself so much now with no worries of water getting into his ears or ear infections.