Given the opportunity to spend time underwater, I find it hard to resist. Facing five days on the beach in Puerto Rico – hardly a burden to begin with – I was quick to schedule about as much time as I could diving with the operator at the hotel. That meant three days of spending the morning below the surface. The plan seemed sound.
The good news is that I was underwater, breathing canned air and generally at peace. The bad news is that the diving, particularly the first couple days, was not particularly great. I wasn’t expecting the best conditions or most amazing dives of my life, but the 20-30 foot visibility and minimal life of the reefs was below even those limited expectations.
There were some moments of awesome, scattered through the monotony of silty fan corals, that ultimately made the dives worthwhile. Day one included a spotted ray, swimming along not too far from us.
On day two we caught glimpse of a turtle at one point, and the conditions started to improve a bit. The parrot fish, plentiful throughout the week, were a bit less skittish and willing to pose for photos.
Day three was the best in terms of animal sightings, with a few different turtles spotted on the dive, including one that was not particularly skittish as I swam nearby, snapping a few photos.
Mostly for convenience we dove with the operator based at the El Conquistador Resort where we were staying. One of the crew, Nick, was awesome and diving with him for two of the three days was great. He was willing to respect the different skill levels of the divers on the boat and made sure that everyone was able to maximize their experience. The other guys were less than stellar, arbitrarily cutting dives short, stirring up silt as they guided and otherwise making things less pleasant during the dives.
That all said, I would still recommend them as an operator, in part because the overall level of care and comfort for customers was high. They took care of our gear between dives and overnight. They had great snacks on the boat for between dives. And, in a first for me, they had beer in the cooler for post-dive refreshments. Only for consumption after the second dive, of course, but it was a nice way to lead in to lunch time on the ride back to the dock.
That was quite nice.
I ended up with a few more photos, shared in the album here, that I’m reasonably happy with. Still, the overall quality and quantity of marine life left much to be desired. If I’m in the region again I’ll probably go diving again, mostly because sitting on the beach for a week would drive me bonkers otherwise. But I definitely wouldn’t go out of my way to dive the north eastern coast of Puerto Rico. There just isn’t much there to recommend it.
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