Diving - We used two operators- Quabbin and Red Sails. Our experience with Quabbin was completely positive but there were some problems with Red Sails.
At the time were on Cayman, a weather system had come through from the North limiting our diving to the SE side of the island (til the last day.) According to the Divemaster's, this was not a bad thing since they hardl ever get to dive these sites and three some very nice dives.
Quabbin allowed us to dive our computers (after the first dive when they checked us out) and only once in three days were we recalled to the boat before we were done with the dive. In fairness, it was rough, cold, everyone else had been back in the boat for twenty minutes and was getting seasick and we had been down for 75 minutes. I was actuall doing a safety stop when they recalled us. The staff at Quabbin was helpful and (after some gentle chiding) did not try to adjust our gear for us to suit themselves. Once they got to know us, they pretty mmuch left us alone to dive. On one dive (the DM always went along on the first deep dive of the day) the DM was having problems with another diver who was having difficult equalizing. She signaled us to proceed and we did.
We dove with Red Sail on our last day because we wanted to do Sting Ray city and no one else was going out that day (XMAS day.) The weather had been bad on the N side of the island and there was a ripping current coming off the reef and into Stingray Cit. Ten minutes into the dive, it was aborted by the DM when one inexperienced diver (1st dive after certification) and one snorkeler were swept away by the current. Probably a wise decision. What followed was not. Both the DM and the Capt went in after the now 2 divers and one snorkeler leaving no one on the boat who could drive it (OK we would have figured it out.) There was no way they could possibly have gotten back to the boat against the current - especially towing someone else. Fortunately, another boat was close enough to pick them up. After some major complaining, our money was refunded but all in all I would have a hard time recommending Red Sail.
Eye of the Needle
Max Depth - 110 FSW Water temp - 83 F Viz - How far can you see? Time - 28
Nice wall dive down a sand chute to 110 and then back up through swim throughs. Very pretty wall. This was my wife Jeannie's first wall dive and now that's all she wants to do. Lots of fish. Saw an eagle ray in the distance.
Japanese Gardens W
Max Depth - 52 FSW Water temp - 83 F Viz - 60 feet Time - 56
Pretty reef with lots of juveniles hanging out in the staghorn coral. Tunnels through the reef where we saw lots of lobsters and crabs.
Palace Pinnacles E
Max Depth - 110 FSW Water temp - 81 F Viz - unlimited Time - 32
Another wall dive with huge coral pinnacles (hence the name) around the passage to the wall. Just swim down and then slowly circle up around the pinnacles. Stingray in the sand, spotted moray, lots and lots of fish.
Japanese Gardens E
Max Depth - 56 FSW Water temp - 81 F Viz - unlimited Time - 58
Ellen played with a green moray and didn't ven get bit. Spotted a super male parrot. Scorpion fish. Flounder. Again, lots of juveniles.
Palace Pinnacles W
Max Depth - 97 FSW Water Temp - 81 F Viz - 100 feet Time - 35
Eagle Ray, Stingray, lobsters, crabs, schools of Black Durgin. Pretty much the same kind of dive as the other side of the pinnacles.
Max Depth - 48 FSW Water Temp - 81 F Viz - 90 feet Time - 75
Probably my personal favorite of the trip. A maze of passages through the coral filled with fish amd micro life. Saw a couple of rays and some tuna came to visit. Caves filled with lobster and crabs. Fantastic dive.
Sting Ray City
Max Depth - 15 feet Water Temp - 82 F Viz - unlimited Time - 10
Yes, that's right sports fans, 10 minutes at 15 feet. Still, the current was strong enough that I used about 1/3 of a tank. There were lots of rays that hadn't been fed in a week and they were very hungry. Ellen's thumb got chewed and Jeannie got a nice bug Stingray hickey on her arm through her wetsuit. The current was too strong and we should probably not have been there. An almost tragedy that came out OK in the long run cause a snorkeler had the presence of mind to help a diver that through inexperience didn't know how to handle the situation. Probably not a dive I will want to do again.
Food can be terribly expensive on the island. Stay away from the known chains (McD, BK, etc.) and try some of the local food. The prices are lower and the food was generally (IMO) a little better.
The Wharf (on 7-mile beach) - Overpriced not bad but not great food complete with surly service and an inadequate wine list. Avoid the restaurant but go to the bar to watch them feed the tarpon. Happens about 9:15 or so and by 8:45 the lagoon is wall to wall tarpon. Quite a sight.
The Lighthouse - Worth the drive to the far N end of the island. Pricey but very nice. The service was quite good as was the food. The wine list was OK but not great.
Dirty Reids - Run by an ex-Marine. The sign outside says 'Surly service, warm beer, bad food' but they make a really good hamburger. They also have a good selection of beer. We ate there three times (and Ellen and Susan went a fourth.) It is convenient to the Enterprise - you could walk if you had a mind to. The prices are good and the atmosphere is - different.
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