Diving the Americas - November ?

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inflex
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Diving the Americas - November ?

Post by inflex » Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:02 pm

I'm planning on taking a 10-dayish (1 week and 2 weekends) trip somewhere for diving this November, and I'm hoping you guys have some good recommendations. The only two general aspects I'm looking for are warm water and <$2500. Looking at the airfare prices today, I think that range generally limits the geographic location to the Americas.

So, what are your favorite warm water getaways in the Americas and why? If you could only do 5 dives at your favorite location, what would they be? Preferably, the location would have something rare and interesting as opposed to just reef UML (usual marine life).

Some places I'm considering so far: La Paz, Belize, or Bonaire

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Re: Diving the Americas - November ?

Post by Grateful Diver » Mon Aug 15, 2011 3:26 pm

inflex wrote:I'm planning on taking a 10-dayish (1 week and 2 weekends) trip somewhere for diving this November, and I'm hoping you guys have some good recommendations. The only two general aspects I'm looking for are warm water and <$2500. Looking at the airfare prices today, I think that range generally limits the geographic location to the Americas.

So, what are your favorite warm water getaways in the Americas and why? If you could only do 5 dives at your favorite location, what would they be? Preferably, the location would have something rare and interesting as opposed to just reef UML (usual marine life).

Some places I'm considering so far: La Paz, Belize, or Bonaire

Of those three choices, I think Bonaire is going to offer you the best diving opportunities. Where will you be going from?

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inflex
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Re: Diving the Americas - November ?

Post by inflex » Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:06 pm

I'll be flying from Seattle.

Seems like Bonaire has some interesting macro critters, but I'm a little concerned (from what I've heard from a few others) that the critters there tend to just fall into the UML category.

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Re: Diving the Americas - November ?

Post by Tom Nic » Mon Aug 15, 2011 4:19 pm

Hmmm.... I kinda like "UML"... especially when it's on steroids like Bonaire's reefs - but to each their own! :joshsmith: Of course I love critters and photographing the same, and I am not an adrenaline junky so...

If you make a point of diving Bonaire's "wild-side" you'll find lots more large critters and conditions a bit less mellow - although I wouldn't recommend doing it without a guide.

Without knowing where you have dove previously it's hard to get an idea of what your definition of "UML" would be.

Perhaps you should consider the Florida Keys and some of the artificial wrecks / reefs sunk there, or the Bahamas for the same reason.

Cozumel has some drift diving that can be a bit of an adrenaline rush, though the reefs aren't as nice as Bonaire's. That's about the only alternative I can think of for "UML".

I'm sure someone else will come up with something better.
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Re: Diving the Americas - November ?

Post by LCF » Mon Aug 15, 2011 5:39 pm

We had an incredible time diving the reefs off West Palm Beach in Florida. Lots of color and typical reef life, but we also saw quite a few Goliath Groupers and Lemon Sharks, and turtles. The Blue Heron Bridge, which is also there, is a macro paradise with a lot of very odd critters -- check out the long-running thread on the topic on ScubaBoard for some great photographs of things people have found there.

If you decided to head that way, I could put you in touch with someone who is working very hard to put together some attractive packages for divers.
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Re: Diving the Americas - November ?

Post by inflex » Mon Aug 15, 2011 9:45 pm

Thanks for the inputs so far.

I guess I'd define UML as the reef fish... triggers, damsels, groupers, puffers, angels, wrasse, morays, etc pretty much stuff you'd see in any tropical reef.

My question of "if you were to only do 5 dives..." was meant to refine the above a little. Is there a dive where you'd look for hammerheads, or another for pygmy seahorses, mimic octo, or an awesome wreck? What are the highlights of the destination? Not saying UML makes for a bad dive, but I'm turning into a dive snob. :)

Florida is a good suggestion. Between the caverns, manatees, reefs, and wrecks there's definitely a lot of highlights. Hmmm...

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Re: Diving the Americas - November ?

Post by LCF » Tue Aug 16, 2011 7:09 am

Another possibility would be the Riviera Maya. The reef diving is mostly UML, but there are the cenotes . . . and that qualifies as unique and interesting! And you can do a trip down there well within your budget, I think.
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Re: Diving the Americas - November ?

Post by John Rawlings » Tue Aug 16, 2011 7:38 am

If you're looking for something that is over and above your usual reef fish and scenery - try diving out of La Paz on the Sea of Cortez. The seamounts down there can treat you to swarming morays, schooling hammerheads, whale sharks, giant manta rays, jumping Mobula Rays, sea lion colonies, and the occasional whale sightings of several different species. I've seen everything down there from tiny seahorses all the way up to Blue Whales and everything in between.

Fair warning, though - none of the above are "constant". You'll either see them or you won't. I've been VERY fortunate down there and have encountered all of the above, sometimes on the same trip, but I have talked to others that have been skunked. There are NO coral reefs to "ooooh and ahhhh" over if the big animals fail to show up.

My favorite sites there are the El Bajo seamount (swarming Morays and schooling Hammerheads), La Reyna and La Reynita seamounts (Manta Rays) near Cerralvo Island, and the Los Ilotes sea lion colony.

It has been a few years since I was down there last, but I used to always stay and dive with a very good operation called "the Cortez Club", operated by James Curtiss, located at the La Concha Beach Resort. They were absolutely great when I was going down there each year, but I can't say how they are now after so many years of not going.

Here's their link: http://www.cortezclub.com/club/divecenter.shtml

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Re: Diving the Americas - November ?

Post by Penopolypants » Tue Aug 16, 2011 9:51 am

You may also see whale sharks in the La Paz area at that time of the year, and if you want variety you can head south to Cabo Pulmo (reef stuff, but HUMONGOUS schools of fish, and mantas!) or even farther south to Cabo San Lucas and do Gordo Banks for more large pelagics. The Baja has the joy of being inexpensive to get to, inexpensive to stay there, and the food is outstanding. We're going back to Cabo Pulmo for a few days in September not just for the diving, but for the shrimp tacos at the taco stand on the beach. Seriously, they were delicious!
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Re: Diving the Americas - November ?

Post by inflex » Tue Aug 16, 2011 11:20 am

Is it pretty easy to get around (with dive gear) in Baja? For the duration of trip, I'll probably have enough time to do a couple of different locations comfortably.

How is the Baja towards the end of November? There's some mixed info on the net on when to see the big stuff (some say November is great, others say October is the end of the season). It sounds awesome, as long as the timing is right! May have to save it for a better-timed trip if not.

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Re: Diving the Americas - November ?

Post by John Rawlings » Tue Aug 16, 2011 12:07 pm

IMHO the best diving is to be found in the La Paz area. We went there every year for almost 10 years, then Alaska Airlines stopped flying into La Paz. We flew into Cabo San Lucas and then drove up to La Paz with our gear - it was do-able, but was a real pain in the ass, and if we had had ANY car trouble we would have been in a world of hurt. As it was, we wasted an entire day that we could have been diving and we chalked it up to "let's not do that again". That was the last year that we went. Alaska is once again flying in to la Paz, but so far we haven't planned anything out to return

I found the diving out of Cabo San Lucas to be pretty dull and uninteresting, plus time-share salesmen, beach vendors and masses of drunk students can be pretty irritating.....but you CAN pretty easily make it up to Cabo Pulmo from there, where the diving is far better.

If I was to go back to Baja, it would only be to La Paz. The dive sites there are varied and scattered with the farthest ones reachable only after a long journey by boat. I forgot to mention that there is also some nice wrecks there - a sunken ferry on Swanee Reef (the Salvatierra) and a couple of freighters that were sunk as artificial reefs off the island of Espiratu Santo.

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Re: Diving the Americas - November ?

Post by inflex » Fri Aug 19, 2011 9:23 am

I'm currently waiting on some info from operators in La Paz on the wildlife that can be expected for the late November timeframe.

Has anyone dove Loreto in November? Info from there seems to indicate that there are whales year-round, along with some other stuff like sharks, mantas, and dolphins.

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