CoCoView Resort, Roatan, Honduras
Travel day - We left Albuquerque, NM at 6:15am and arrived at Roatan airport at 3:35pm on Continental with no problems at all. The resort staff picked us up along with others on our flight and after going through customs and picking up luggage, we were off to CoCoView Resort on an air conditioned bus. We arrived at a small dock where we were shuttled across a lagoon to the resort. It was raining lightly and this was not unexpected as we knew it was the "rainy season" when we booked. Storm clouds filled the sky but we didn't care, we wanted to dive dive dive.
After a quick check-in and some paperwork, we headed to our room - Lucky 13 for us, one of the oceanfront rooms on the second story. CCV is not a plush, fancy resort. It is rustic and cozy, only 27 rooms with a central clubhouse where all meals and activities are centered. It is just our kind of vacation. Dive eat dive eat dive eat dive.... just like a liveaboard but more space to move around.
Our bags were delivered to our room shortly after our arrival and we began to unpack as it got dark. At 6:20pm we all arrived back at the clubhouse for the beginning of dinner service. All meals are buffet style at CCV with several choices of proteins and veggies, a salad bar, and deserts. Tea, water, and lemonaide are on a self-service bar along with coffee and hot tea. Those wanting beer, wine, or sodas can purchase those at the bar right at the end of the clubhouse, also.
It rained during the night, which would be the pattern for most the week. We awoke early and watched the sun rise over the Front yard. Ahh, this is paradise! Around 6am the kitchen staff arrives by boat, and begin setting up the breakfast buffet. Juices (orange and pineapple), coffee, iced tea, hot water for tea and hot chocolate are all put out on the beverage counter and many of the week's guests, like us, began to wander in. I grabbed a glass of juice and wandered out to the wonderful walkways over the water in the front yard to see what critters might be out. Sure enough, a lovely chain moray was right there next to the walkway. A few other guests joined me scouting the water for sealife. I was told that there is a large green moray who shows up for breakfast each day and the guests feed him bacon. LOL I never thought I would hear things like that, but being at CCV, now I get it. The ocean and all its wonderful sealife is right there at your fingertips, 24 hours a day. A breakfast buffet service began at 7am, as it would each day, with a layout of fresh fruit, cereal, milk, PB&J, and such on the salad bar. Then two breakfast order stations with lines formed where a cook would prepare huge omelettes ot order,huge pancakes or waffles. Then several large self-serve chafing dishes would be brought out with scrambled eggs, bacon or sausage, or whatever the breafast specialty was for the day. A large toaster oven sits in the middle of the counter with a tray of bagels, english muffins, breads, etc. All the guests arrive as the service begins and everyone piles their plates high. This is the routine for the whole week.
After breakfast was over, we hurried to take the rest of our dive gear down to the dock. We saw that we had been assigned to the Red Boat for the week so we chose our dive lockers in the Red Boat gear room and ask about the nitrox tanks. Our boat capt Dave and DM Mel were there to meet us and give us the prceedure for the week. They brought us the nitrox tanks and showed us how to use their analyzer, log the tanks, mark the tape label. The Mandatory Orientation was to start at 9am so we hurried to the top room of the Clubhouse where Liz and staff members gave us the rundown of how things would work for the week. After the initial brief, all returning guests were dismissed to hit their boats while all of us CCV newbies stayed for more briefings. Once the briefing about the dive op, front yard tour, and other details were discussed, everyone scurried off to the dock again. This time we were instructed to get geared up and head to the shore entry area to meet a DM. As groups arrived at the area, a DM would walk out with them to the floating platform where a weight check was done. Then off they went. Our group was the last one and our DM, Mel, was there. After the weight check we followed the chain with floating bottles attached to it out to a sandy area approx. 15' deep. This is the area where everyone does their safety stop. The previous group was already gone so we all knelt down in the sand and Mel had each person do a mask flood and clear, and a reg recovery. Once he felt everyone was okay, he led us off on the Orientation. We followed the chain again out to the wreck of the Prince Albert. We didn't stop there but went directly over it and off to see where the marker is at Newman's Wall. A buoy with a long chain is there with an attached slate which reads, "30 degrees from this point is the Prince Albert". Everyone grabbed their compass and practiced finding the direction. Off again the group went, towards the wreck but this time around the end and off towards CoCoView Wall. Once we reached this point Mel showed us several large PVC pipes forming a diamond shape which were attached to the seabed and floating up several feet. We followed these markers and arrived right at the beginning point of our tour, the 15' bouy and safety stop area. As we all hung out there doing a safety stop, we noticed garden eels swaying to our side and lots of other bottom dwelling fish. The tour ended as we all followed the trail back into the resort which averages about 5' deep once you leave the safety s stop area. Dive max depth 72', dive time 40 minutes, 32% nitrox.
Vis was pretty bad on that dive, probably due to all the divers swimming out and back over the sand so we were glad we didn't bother trying to take cameras. We were hoping for much better vis out on the reefs away from the resort. With all the rain though, we weren't sure what to expect.
Lunch is served at noon each day and consisted of a salad bar and hot entrees. A menu board is located right next to the beverage area. Food was very good and after eating, we were definitely ready to head out on the boat for afternoon dives.
At 2pm each day, the dives boats leave for the afternoon trips, so at 15 minutes til, a horn sounds 3 times. At 10 minutes the horn sounds again twice. Then at 5 minutes, a single horn blast lets everyone know that they need to be at their boat for the dive briefing. Dave and Mel, along with the other boat crews, load your tanks and BCs on the boat so all we had to do was grab out fins, masks, and any other things we wanted onboard (like cameras, towels, dry bag, etc.). Each boat is 50' long and really roomy. A storage area is under the seats for fins and a nice large camera rinse tank is in middle of boat. Two buckets for mask rinsing were placed onboard, also. With only 12 divers onboard for the week, we had plenty of room! Mel began his briefing of our dive using laminated drawings which were immediately recognized as the table mats in the dining room. Too cool. The briefing was very good, better than dive briefings I have seen elsewhere around the Caribbean, with details on what we would do, depths, how to end the dive, etc. Mel's sense of humor was so refreshing, giving us details of what we might see and a percentage chance... like "on this dive I hope to find you an orange seahorse about 1/2 way through the dive. I say 75.5% chance. Now we go, arrival time at reef is 12 minutes and 15 seconds." LOL
The first dive was Gold Chain Reef, a nice vertical wall covered in colorful sponges and corals, nice overhangs, and lots of fish. We saw the first of many giant channel clinging crabs under an overhang. Once the first diver in the group reached 1500psi, Mel led us back up to the top of the wall were we all circled around under the boat enjoying the many cleaning stations, parrotfish munching, and such. As requested by Mel, as divers reached 500psi they returned to the boat after doing a safety stop at 15' with everyone returned to the boat in less than 60 minutes.
Two back ladders and a moon well in the center of the boat making getting back on the boat easy. Mel or Dave were always there to grab the camera or camcorder from us, then our fins. After everyone was back onboard, Dave passed around fresh pineapple. A large cooler full of water sits up front on the boat with paper cups so we all drank and ate while we discussed the dive. After a surface interval, the boat headed back to the Resort. We were all dropped off at Newman's Wall and found the dive to be easier than we had expected. Just keep the wall to your left and when the reef begins to get shallow look for the bouy marker with the slate, just as we were shown on the Orientation dive. From there we cut across the sand channel to the Prince Albert. The Wreck was covered in growth, lots of crabs and shrimp, a group of fireworms clustered on its side. Several large fish, including a big grouper circled around us as we swam around the wreck doing a basic orientation. This was going to be a fantastic night dive spot! After awhile, we found the chain on the north side of the wreck, and headed back in very slowly, watching for critters over the sand. Sure enough, the garden eels were poking up and waving back and forth like wheat in a field. Awesome dive! The walk back in was not as far as we thought and very easy. Once exiting the water, you just walk around the side of the Clubhouse and you are back at the dock and gear storage area. We took off our gear, rinsed things off in the rinse tanks, and sprayed ourselves down with Cactus Juice before walking back to our room.
Dinner service starts at 6:20pm each night with a salad bar, then buffet opens at 6:30pm. This gave us plenty of time to shower at our room and change for dinner, charge batteries, and even check e-mail. The clubhouse has internet access on your own personal laptop or a computer setup at a desk. We brought along our new tiny Acer 8" laptop for downloading photos and checking e-mail several times a day. Our daughter didn't join us on the trip (college student, living at home) so e-mail was a free way to chat with her several times a day and discuss what we saw.
After dinner, Ron and I headed back to the dock to analyze nitrox tanks and prep our gear for the night dive. We were the first ones in the water so we took out the strobe to attach to the safety stop buoy, and our diver number clips. Night Shore diving at CCV is so easy. There is a log where you put your room number and which tag number, what time you entered the water, and what time you returned. Once you reach the 15' bouy, you attach your number clip, this way letting the other divers know how many other divers are out. The diver who returns to the spot and only his number clip is remaining brings the strobe back in for the night. You must remember to bring back your clip, and to sign back in on the log or the nightwatch DM will be knocking on your door during the night to see if you are alive or they have to send out a search party. Great system!
I bought a light rig for my camcorder and this was going to be my first dive using it. After checking the housing for leaks, we headed into the water. We had not planned to do a long dive, just an quick run to the wreck, around a few times, and test my light. Wow! The light was amazing and the colors really popped on my LCD screen. I was totally thrilled with my new purchase... After the dive, we headed back to the room with the camera gear, then over to the bar in the Clubhouse for a beer and to chat with everyone about the night dive. A few other divers braved the lousy vis (the rain would haunt us all week, we were afraid) and most of them were coming back in shortly after us.
The daily routine continued with breakfast promptly at 7am, boarding the boat for the first of two dives at 8:30am. Our first dive of the day would be Connie's Dream today. I decided to take the light rig on the camcorder this time as I had been so pleased with my results on the night dive. I checked the plugs over and over (on the light) to make sure I didn't flood it. But, of course, I didn't check the camcorder housing as well as I should - and the inevitible happened. After the briefing by Mel, we arrived at the reef in no time and all jumped in. As I descended with my housing I notice a large amount of bubbles... then turned on the camcorder which came on and went off again.... yes, I looked inside the clear housing and saw water! Oh, crap! I panicked and signaled Ron that I was going back up. He shook his head no and grabbed the housing and signaled Mel. Mel signaled back, wait, and he swam over and grabbed the housing and swam up to the boat. I waited, actually sweating underwater, not knowing what to do or think. Oh no.... I have just flooded my housing, fried my camcorder on Day 2 of the dive trip!
Mel returned to us and I tried to continue the dive and not think about it...... yeah, right. I went into "fish spotter" mode and began pointing out things for Ron to take pictures of. This sucks but what else could I do? I found a little fish that looked like the sculpin we see so often in California - it turns out that it is called a Quillfin Blenny. Another new one for us. WE both love blennies so it was great to find something we hadn't seen in the Caribbean before in that family. Then Ron found a tiny red and white pipefish. Another new fish sighting for us! A big green moray was laying in a nice little coral head and posed for everyone. We returned to the boat after 54 minutes and my head was still spinning, worrying about the camcorder. Dave had opened the housing for me, drained it and cleaned it out, dried off the camcorder and wrapped it is papertowels. Wow, incredible service by our crew but I was worried about whether it was a lost cause. Salt water is a great electricity conductor and since I turned it on in the water, I wasn't sure about the outcome...
Since it had rained all night, Mel and Dave told us they thought the Dropoff Dive would be no good, so they asked if we would rather do a reef. Are you kidding? Of course we would! So off we went to John's Spot. Another great dive with a wall covered with life, a seahorse, several huge channel clinging crabs, schools of creole wrasse, blue tangs, and a huge trumpetfish.
Lunch was particularly good today - Grouper fingers, chicken noodle soup, potatoes, and the usual beans, rice, and tortillas. For dessert there was watermelon and peanut butter cookies. Mmmmmm.
At 2pm we again headed out on the boat, and this dive would turn out to be my favorite of the trip - Valley of the Kings. The wall here was absolutely spectacular! One area was covered with pink vase sponges, another area covered in barrel sponges, and yet another was covered with black coral fans. We swam into a deep crevace/canyon and back out again which was gorgeous. The walls on both sides were covered in all colors of sponges and I couldn't help but smile with joy (even though I didn't have the camcorder to record the view, I can still see it clearly in my mind!)
We headed back towards the resort, and the Dropoff dive didn't sound appealing to everyone, as it had rained in the morning,but Ron and I didn't care. We asked Dave to drop us off right over the Prince Albert as we thought it would be fun to explore the wreck for a whole dive. The two of us jumped in and the water was a murky green with 5' vis as we entered. Yuck. But at about 30' depth it immediately cleared out and the wreck was plainly visible. Woo Hoo! Another great dive and we were the only ones there until a group from another boat showed up near the end. It was so much fun, swimming around looking in all the rooms. In the sand under the bow we found a large group of lobster. I really like this wreck.
After dinner we decided to just hang out in the Clubhouse and relax, skipping the night dive as it had started to rain lightly. The children's dance group arrived and put on a great show! Those kids are so enthusiastic and their smiles were infectious. Everyone laughed and clapped as they danced and then several guests were invited up to dance with the kids. Mel had requested we all be at the dock 30 minutes early in the morning as our first dive would be Mary's Place which is a 20+ minute boat ride. That was fine with all of us, so after downloading Ron's photos to the laptop and e-mailing the daughter, we had a few beers and headed off to bed early. My camcorder was sitting under a light, attempting to dry out. I didn't hold out much hope for it but I was going to try. What a day!
After a breakfast of biscuits and gravy, eggs, etc. we were off again on the boat.
Mary's Place was our first stop and what a fantastic dive. I had heard lots of criticism of this dive prior to this trip. Some people seem to love it, some think it is highly overated. I found it to be great fun and interesting, weaving in and out from a crevass, up a wall, down a wall, over the top. Mel found an orange seahorse on the outer wall.
During the surface interval, we cruised through the harbor village and Mel gave treats to some of the local kids. We all agreed that we wished we had bought something to bring to them so we offered to give some money to Dave and Mel to buy more and to bring us back another day.
Since we were so far from the resort, Mel and Dave again opted to skip the Dropoff dive and take us to the wreck, Mr. Bud. This was a great dive, not far from CCV, and the vis was crystal clear. The wreck is a fishing trawler and sitting upright in between a couple of coral heads. I loved going in and around the wreck while Ron focused on macro subjects. A huge group of silversides was inside the wheelhouse which was fun to swim through. Ron is usually really good on his air, but not long into the dive he realized his second stage was leaking air at a rate that cut our dive short. Before ascending to the boat, we did find a huge channel clinging crab next to the wreck under a ledge (the biggest crab we saw all week). His carapace had to be at least 10" across and his legs were each about 2' long. He stood up on them like a dog and acted like he was going to fight me when I got too close. Wow!
Lunch again was delicious with Conch Fritters, rice, and a chicken stirfry plus assorted fruit. We ate quickly and then Ron began to work on his reg. He cleaned it thoroughly and figured that it had some sand stuck inside. I headed back over to the clubhouse to check out the vendor's wares. EAch day a different vendor comes to CCV. One day is a lady selling handmade macrame jewelry with stones and gems. Other days vendors sell their black coral carvings or woven crafts. Two girls from Guatemala come one day with hand embroidered tapestries, bags, and wood carvings. I love handmade goods! Another cool thing at CCV is the hummingbird feeders which also serve as bat feeders at night. They are hanging on the porch at the clubhouse and any time of day or night you can find someone there eating.
Back on the boat at 2pm, we headed to 40' Point for our first dive of the afternoon. A nice little brown and white seahorse was found along with another pipefish, whip coral shrimp, and some large grouper. The Dropoff dive on Cocoview Wall was our last dive of the day and a great one. We decided not to spend too much time on the wall, and head past the Prince Albert to see the airplane wreck off in the sand. The vis was so clear we could see the plane from the bow. As we approached we were both amazed at how big it is. We both thought it was just a little two seater, but NO, it's a fairly nice sized plane, all in pieces, strewn along the sandy bottom.
Dinner tonight was supposed to be the BBQ picnic over on the Cay, but it was overcast and drizzling rain off and on all day, so the festivities were moved back to the Clubhouse. We had BBQ chicken, ribs, potato salad, and all the fixins. No hermit crab races though.
Our first dive of the day was Pirate's Point, a nice wall in a U shape. We circled around the wall, checking out the sights like a green moray, a spotted moray, some of the biggest barrel sponges I have ever seen, juvie trunkfish, a blue parrotfish with a remora, then we finished the dive under the boat as usual, making sure to be back onboard in under 1 hour. After the dive, Dave and Mel took us to do our surface interval at the Parrot Tree Condos coffee shop. We all indulged in goodies, like brownies or pastries and sodas, sitting on the veranda. Lovely condos! If I win the lottery I am going to buy one of those! LOL
Our second dive was the Dropoff at Newman's wall. Ron found his first arrow blenny,then just minutes later found another one. Woo hoo! He also found another pipefish. Wow, these guys are everywhere here! The wall was very nice so we spent most of the dive there, only making one lap around the Prince Albert on our way to the resort. After the safety stop we headed back, following the chain again, but stopped when we both spotted two holes rimmed with rocks. Oh My! There were 2 saddled blennies there, just their heads poking out, watching us. Too cute! I have never seen them before so I had to stop and watch. As I got lower in the sand, they came part way out and looked for me, like the yellowhead jawfish do. These guys are much bigger though, and sorta ugly. But I really was excited to see them and hang out for a few minutes. Another new species for me!
After lunch, the boat headed for Inside Outside Reef. This reef is another jagged wall, covered in gorgeous coral and sponges. I found a neck crab on a fan and played with him for awhile. This reef had lots of scattered coral heads on top of the wall with rubble all around...prime area to find a scorpionfish. Ron, Mel, and I all searched in vain but couldn't find one. There was alot of juvie fish there, and all kinds of small critters so we lingered in the water as long as possible.
We were Dropped off at CCV wall again and as I was swimming along I noticed something bright yellow and tiny. I swam over to check it out, it was a baby seahorse! This guy was tiny, like 2-3" long and right out where we could see him. Ron got some photos and we tried to get the other diver's attention but most had already headed off. As we arrived back at the markers, a group of squid joined us. Too cool!
Dinner was great once again and we sat in the Clubhouse afterwards for awhile, chatting and downloading Ron's photos for the day. We had planned to do a night dive, but I was absolutely pooped for some reason so I begged off. The night's entertainment was the Fire Dancers! A man and woman danced and performed outdoors on the walkways over the water, reggae music blaring and flames dancing and reflecting in the water. It was hard to get any photos, but I tried.
French Cay Bank was our first dive on the boat for the day and it was a great one. Lots of huge barrel sponges covered the wall, along with plenty of other colorful varieties. A pair of whitepotted filefish (one of my favorites) were hanging around on top of the reef under the boat, as was another huge crab eating out in the open. A juvie drum was found, I found another neck crab on a fan, and several lobsters were found under the old wooden wreck rubble.
Dropoff at Newman's wall was the second dive of the day and another great one. Ron found a yellow striped seahorse! Most of the divers headed straight for the resort but we lingered on the wall, looking for new fish and critters. A very large grouper and a dog snapper came by us and headed into a large cavern area. That was very cool. We watched them go and tried to figure out where they exited but couldn't find it. The wall is full of swiss-cheeselike holes and it was fun just looking into them to see what might be there. As we left the wall and headed across the sand channel we saw a large group of goatfish using their barbels to stir up the bottom.
Lunch was burgers, hotdogs, fries, baked beans, and chocolate cookies, yum yum!
Our afternoon boat dives began with Chimneys, a reef with a series of vertical holes upwards resembling a chimney. I really liked this dive as it was fun to swim into the chimney and look upwards. On top of the reef was more coral rubble and we again searched for the ellusive scorpionfish. No luck again BUT as we started our safety stop, a group of 30+ squid came to join us. WAAAAAAY cool !!!
Our fourth dive was the Dropoff at CCV wall. The whole group on the boat followed us so we could search for that little yellow seahorse. Sure enough we found him again! After stopping to admire him, we headed for the markers and all the garden eels were up, swaying in the breeze. LOL A couple of flounders were there at the safety stop area this time along with a group of yellowhead jawfish.
After dinner, Ron and I geared up for a Night Dive on the House reef. Once again we were the first ones out so we took the strobe. As we headed out, in less than 5' of water we were met by a pufferfish in the seagrass. Then a couple of squid joined us. Wow, this was going to be a great night dive! Our dive plan was to head over the wreck to Newman's wall for 20 minutes, then back to the PA for the rest of the dive. When we reached the wall, we didn't see very much at first, but realized we were being stalked by some large silvery fish. I would turn and shine my lights upward and catch them darting off as the light hit their underside. We guessed they were jacks of some sort, kinda creepy. As we kept searching the reef we began to spot sleeping fish and crabs out walking around. We then headed over to the PA wreck and as soon as my lights hit the underside of the stern, little bodies scattered like cockroaches! They were red night shrimp and tons of them covered the area. A big anemone of some sort was there in the sand with tentacles spreading out over a foot in each direction. We looped up over the top and the deck was covered with red-banded shrimp, several with eggs. Then I saw something move across the deck very quickly. I signaled Ron and we both shone our lights back and forth until it reappeared.... a conger eel! He was light blue, 2' long and 3" in diameter approx, with a dark blue stripe running the length of his body. He was gorgeous and another first for us! He disappeared as quickly as he had appeared so we headed back towards the resort. After finishing our safety stop (there were other tags hanging there so several other divers were out tonight) we headed back up the path. A coral head right there was covered with sleeping parrotfish. Then an octopus came into view, walking across the sand in 5' deep water. Ron followed him and found he had a friend hiding under a tiny coral cluster. Then the squid appeared again! Wow, what a dive. This was one of my favorite NIGHT dives in a long long time. Awesome!!!
Last dive day!!! Today's first dive, Calvin's Crack. We had both heard that this is the best dive on Roatan so we were very excited to be doing it finally. It did live up to its reputation, too. After going headfirst into a tiny hole in the reef, we exited into a long canyon with high walls on both sides. After swimming down to the end we turned and headed into another "crack", and then another. This was really fun and each area we exited to the wall was spectacular, covered with all types of life. We flipped up to the top of the reef to finish the dive under the boat and Mel disappeared for a few minutes. He reappeared with a lobster tail in his hand and signaling to everyone to follow him. As we all did, he led us right to a small coral head and pointed down. There was a HUGE toadfish, and Mel was coaxing him out into the open with the lobster! Mel would pull off a chunk and the toadfish's huge mouth would open and gulp... it was so fast you couldn't even see it happen! After this fun show, we all headed back towards the boat. Ron stopped and signaled me. Two white and black nudibranchs were there! We called over Mel and the other divers and showed them these two approx 2" long nudies and even Mel was excited! Wow, what an excellent dive!
As we sat on the boat doing our surface interval, Mel and Dave asked who was diving in the afternoon. Only one person was able to do the afternoon dives. We all chatted for awhile and decided that we should skip the Dropoff dive and do the Mr Bud wreck instead, and that one diver would call it a day. Mel and Dave liked that option, so after dropping off a few divers at the dock who had other plans, off we went to do the Mr Bud again. This time on the wreck I decided to explore the wreck interior more so I went in and out of the openings while Ron laid in the sand with the yellowhead jawfish. A green moray and a spotted moray were found and the huge crab from the other day's dive wasn't in the same spot so we searched around for him in the coral. Three huge moon jellyfish were here at this sight and we all enjoyed floating along with them on the safety stop. A great last dive of the trip!
After the dives, we ate lunch and returned to the dock to start washing gear and hanging it out to hopefully dry out before packing. It was overcast again so some stuff probably wouldn't be completely dry, but at least hanging up the wetsuits on our deck would help. We then went to the Photo/Dive Shop to buy a few things, like t-shirts. Then we went to the office to pay our bar tab, other fees, and tips for staff. We then went to the dock to give our tip to Dave and Mel personally. Lastly, we hit the Gift Shop to pay our bill and finish shopping.
Friday night is Party Night at CCV. After a lobster and steak dinner, live music was provided and everyone danced or played games like "beer pong". Then a Limbo competition was held and finally a drawing for the free trip given away once a year.
After breakfast in the Clubhouse, we finished packing all our bags and headed out to do a final walk around the resort, stopping out on the walkways to watch the fish. I really love this little resort! It is small, homey, focused on diving and friendship - not glitz and glamour. We made our final rounds to say goodbyes to all the staff and also the birds and dogs. Our bags were picked up and taken to the dock for transport to the airport and we sat in the clubhouse, chatting with other guests, exchanging e-mail addresses and discussed plans to get together again. That is another nice thing about staying at such a small, cozy resort - you really get to know other divers, build friendships that you don't have time to do at big resorts. I know we will be staying in touch with most of the divers who were on our boat, we had such a great time together all week! Yeah Red Boat! The resort staff, including Liz, said goodbye to everyone at the dock and we all boarded the boat back to the mainland. There a bus took us back to the airport where our bags were waiting for us, guarded by CCV staff member. We retrieved our bags and got in line at the Continental counter. It took about an hour to get through the various lines, customs, and carryon bags were all opened and examined. Folks, please don't be stupid and try to take things you shouldn't! We saw one lady (not with our group from CCV) who had a carryon full of coral. Yes, she told them she found it on the beach and took it but she didn't realize it was illegal. She was taken away by guards and when she returned to the waiting area an hour later, she had no carryon bag. Geez, people! It is their country, please abide by their rules!
Water temps: dive sites ranged from 79-81, vis terrible the first few days due to huge downpours of rain, skies overcast much of week. I wore my 5mm Thermoprene suit and a hood and stayed warm, others wore 3mm suits or just swimsuits. By the end of the week, doing 4-5 dives per day, I found that I was still warm but others on the boat were complaining about being cold every dive. Later in week we had more sun and less rain so vis was up to 100' on some reefs, averaged about 40-50'vis at PA. If the sun had been out more, I am sure the reefs would have appeared much brighter, too. I can definitely say that the rainy season at Roatan does affect the diving. It is still fantastic diving, just lower vis and darker overall.
Bugs: yes, there are noseums! Especially with all the rain, everyone got a few bites. Everyone used Cactus Juice anytime they were out of water except after the last dive of the day, then the DEET came out for the mosquitos which seemed to appear at dusk. The bugs seemed the worst over by the dock/gear room area so everyone kept spray in their lockers. As soon as the wetsuit came off, the bug spray went on. I didn't mind it so much as the Cactus Juice smells pleasant. We went through a whole spray bottle in the week. Ron didn't put on spray one day and used the restroom out by the dock, then walked to the room. He got covered in bites on his back! They were all pretty much gone the next day though. I got a few on my feet but likewise the bites were gone by the end of week. One lady did get covered in bites, all over her body, but she says she always get bitten and nothing helps her. Other than that, no one was really bothered by the bugs, everyone just assumed they were in the sand and used appropriate measures to prevent the bites. I didn't think they were an issue and they certainly wouldn't cause me not to visit Roatan. (Rumors about these horrible bugs had been one of the reasons it took us so long to actually visit Roatan. Now that seems like a very silly reason to miss such a great place!)
Nitrox: We used it all week and never got close to deco. Others on our boat didn't and had to end some dives a bit earlier. I highly recommend using it when you are diving so much. Once you show your nitrox card at dive op, you put a piece of tape on your gear locker saying "nitrox" and then the DM and boat capt will go and get the tanks for you. You then use the analyzer right there in the dive locker area, log your tank in the book, sign the tape on the tank with the nitrox %, and the DM or boat capt take it to put on the boat. We usually arrived at the dock before breakfast, analyzed the tanks waiting there for us, went to breakfast, and arrived back to find our tanks and BCs set up on the boat ready for us. The people diving air would arrive at this time and their air tanks and BCs would also already be onboard. All you needed to grab from your locker was a mask, fins, and have your wetsuit on halfway as the boat rides were short. It doesn't get much easier than that.
Overall evaluation: I would say this was a fabulous trip and I would rate Roatan diving and CoCoView resort as an Excellent Caribbean dive destination. Though the weather was rainy and overcast much of the trip, I think the overall health of the reefs and the dramatic walls, the small critter life, the ease of diving at CCV, the fantastic shore diving at CCV, the dive staff at CCV make me want to return again. My only disappointment was that we didn't see a single turtle or larger fish in great numbers. We did see all the usual suspects for Caribbean diving, just not in large numbers, with the exception of the smaller fish. We did see our first pipefish (2 different varieties), arrow blennies and quillfin blennies, banded jawfish, large-eye toadfish, neck crabs, black spotted nudibranchs, and a conger eel!
|2||Gold Chain Reef||82'||48min|
|3||Dropoff Newman's Wall||62'||42min|
|4||House reef - Night||43'||29min|
|7||Valley of Kings||78'||57min|
|8||Dropoff Prince Albert||63'||43min|
|11||Forty Foot Point||55'||55min|
|12||Dropoff CCV wall||53'||40min|
|14||Dropoff Newman's wall||61'||41min|
|15||Inside Outside Reef||80'||54min|
|16||Dropoff CCV wall||71'||48min|
|17||Thursday||French Cay Bank||83'||51min|
|18||Dropoff Newman's Wall||72'||46min|
|20||Dropoff CCV wall||71'||52min|
|21||House reef - Night||61'||51min|
|23||Mr. Bud wreck||69'||50min|
All the trip Photos here: CCV Photos
CoCoView Resort website: www.cocoviewresort.com