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“Very mixed experience” 3 of 5 stars
Review of Caicos Adventures

Caicos Adventures
Grace Bay Road
(649) 941-3346
Website
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Certificate of Excellence 2014
Attraction details
Brooklyn, New York
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“Very mixed experience”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 25, 2011

Okay, here's the short story:

The Good: The dive masters are great, the boat is nice, the dive sites are good.
The Bad: They don't always deliver what they promise, and the owner "Fifi" can be a jerk, the prices are on the high side
All in All: I'd say it's a good shop for experienced divers, but skip it if you're training, a beginner or rusty.

The longer story: We are a family of five that booked our spring break to scuba dive in Turks and Caicos. We wanted to get our three kids (10, 12 and 15) their Open Water Certification, and I put a lot of time and energy into researching a good teacher and operation. We chose Caicos Adventures because we'd heard wonderful things about an instructor there, Matt. We booked him as the kid's private instructor, which I though was important given their ages. We also booked him as our private guide for several family dives after certification, as he'd know our diving habits and would be bonded with the kids. Also, my husband and I were very rusty - we did a refresher course, but before that hadn't dove in 17 years! - so thought a private guide was prudent. Caicos was more expensive than other operations we'd priced out, but we figured having the better instructor and operation was worth it.

Things started going wrong almost immediately. We arrived at the dive boat only to find out that Matt wasn't there. Someone had gotten sick and he had to drive the bus (!). On top of this, the kids weren't in a private class, but in a rather large group class with eight students. This after choosing Caicos Adventures BECAUSE of Matt, and confirming that he was their private instructor! On top of this, they didn't bring the right size wetsuit for my youngest. I'd told the operation all the sizes of my kids, but hers was too big and she was shivering and blue by the end of the first dive.

All of this was upsetting enough. Add to this "Fifi", the owner of the company. While the kids were in their classes, we were doing a couple days of diving - but remember, it had been 17 years, plus we were distracted with the kids. We'd told the company how rusty we were well ahead of time, and figured the divemasters would help us with whatever gaps our refresher didn't cover. And indeed, the divemasters did just that - they were great, supportive, matter-of-fact. Fifi, the owner, was a different story. He's the kind of guy that likes to tease struggling beginners. A strange trait for someone in the tourist trade. Or maybe, to be charitable, he doesn't know it upsets or embarrasses some people to be publicly teased for their every mistake or moment of confusion? In any case, instead of watching out for us, FIfi mocks us. I'm slow getting my gear on; I put my belt on the wrong way; I find the tank heavy when I stand up. He calls me "grandma", asks "where did I leave my brain", calls me disorganized in front of the whole boat at the morning briefing. Being publicly embarrassed of course makes me more confused. The mocking eases off as my competance increases, but still. My daughter says she doesn't like Fifi because "He's mean to Mom." Don't get me wrong - Fifi is also professional, and runs a tight ship. My husband likes talking to him. If you're a buttoned-up, experienced diver he'll treat you fine. But his way of mocking struggling divers almost ruined my long-planned, precious family vacation, and is so unnecessary. Looking back, I wish I'd known about Fifi and gone to a different operation, one better for beginners and rusty divers.

On the other hand, the boat was clean and nice, with good bathroom facilities. Our divemaster was good, and the kids' teacher was a harried but lovely woman named Sarah.

The next few days of diving were only a little better. The kids had a private instructor - Sarah again - for their second and final day of certification, but it still wasn't Matt. For the first day of family diving they had yet a different guide, still not Matt. It wasn't until the fourth day of diving that we finally met Matt - the third guide in four days. This was NOT what we had contracted for. They were supposed to have been fully bonded with one instructor/ guide by now.

Matt ended up guiding us on our last two dives, and he was wonderful. If only he could have done the whole thing! He was great with both the kids and the adults - patient, knowledgable, supportive, enthusiastic. A highlight was a night dive off Grace Beach - just him and the family, no Fifi, octopi and spanish lobster and squid and glowworms - hurrah!

Our other great guide was Chris, who had written several in-depth articles about marine life and was hilarious, kind, patient and knowledgable. On his dive we saw a giant eagle ray and tiny scarlet Lady shrimp.

One thing I will add is that Donna, in the office, was flexible with me on price, which I appreciate. Not only did she give me a significant break on the whole package, but when my son and husband had to skip dives with less than 24 hours notice she gave us a credit. On the other hand, I don't know who in the office was responsible for booking Matt as our private instructor and guide, but they seriously screwed up.

So all in all, I give a mixed review to Caicos Adventures. They're a pro operation with good equipment, experienced divemasters, a nice boat, good dive sites, etc. On the other hand, if you want a specific guide, forget it - you get what you get. The office isn't well-organized, so double and triple-check everything you've booked well in advance and right before your trip. If you are an experienced diver or have a very thick skin, you'll be fine with Fifi; otherwise you might not want to sign on for that kind of fun on your vacation. I wouldn't recommend Caicos for training kids - too disorganized. If you book with them for regular diving and can somehow get Matt or Chris, go for it, they're awesome.

Visited March 2011
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • French first
  • Japanese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Linden, Michigan
Top Contributor
59 reviews 59 reviews
26 attraction reviews
Reviews in 32 cities Reviews in 32 cities
121 helpful votes 121 helpful votes
“sand dollar mania!”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 11, 2011

Just returned from Turks and Caicos and my husband and I went on a tour with Caicos Adventures on our last full day. We called all over looking for a tour to take us to French Cay and Molasses Reef. I found a brochure at our hotel called West Caicos Safari Adventure. I looked online and found out it's also known as Caicos Adventures because the emails matched. There's a lot of choices for tours. We were very specific on what we wanted to do and the woman assured us they went to those places depending on the wind/weather conditions. They picked us up at our hotel and drove us to their location. Once there, we were told those reefs are too far and don't go there on 1/2 day trips. I was slightly disappointed but I understand it happens sometimes. Gordon was our captain. There was only 6 of us and it was super fun. Gordon is quite a character and even let my husband drive the boat. We went to one spot and saw about the same as what we saw snorkeling off the beach in front of Coral Gardens. Then we went to another spot and dove for sand dollars! Now that was pretty cool! I believe we made it home with about 15. It's no easy transporting those fragile sand dollars. It did rain on us but I had on a full wetsuit and never got cold. We were given unlimited rum punch, soda, water, and a small sandwich and a bag of chips. Overall good experience. I can't comment on the other tours but it looks like the boats are much bigger and would be more crowded. I enjoyed the small group we had.

Visited April 2011
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Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Dive with the Pros!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 22, 2011

Excellent operation with professional management and wonderful instructors, dive masters and boat captain. This is a first class operation concerned about your dive experience and your safety. I would highly recommend Fifi and his whole crew! Thanks for 4 wonderful days of diving.

Visited March 2011
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Charlotte, North Carolina
1 review
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Mixed bag”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed March 20, 2011

This is the only dive operator we used in T&C so I can't compare to other local operations but the experience was mixed relative to operators I have used in other places.

First the negatives...the hype on the website about "no cattle boats" and "exclusive dive sites" seems to be just that...hype. We dived on two days...23 divers plus staff the first day and 27 divers plus staff the second...I could hear the moos. On the second day it rained at lunch and there was barely room to turn around without standing in the rain...forget about eating lunch. On day two, we were clearly beyond capacity as the staff had to use some of the very limited dry space to store additional tanks. This day was a case of the company jamming as many divers on the boat as possible regardless of the service impact. The four "exclusive" dive locations were all within a thousand yard stretch of reef off of West Caicos and there were many other boats around us both days. It was relatively windy both days so I am willing to give them the benefit of the doubt on locations on the assumption that other choices were limited by the weather but we did speak to another customer who had dived with CA before and they said they had dived some of the same locations on their earlier trip. I'm also not sure I buy the story about faster access to various dive locations...I watched a smaller traditional V hulled boat leave at the same time and beat us to the dive site. The web site advertises 35 minutes to the West Caicos dive locations...it took us a solid hour both ways so wind wasn't the issue. And speaking of time...they asked us to be at the boat no later than 8:30am. We were not away from the dock before 9:30 on either day. I'm sure this was also a function of the sheer number of bodies they were trying to collect and get on board. The lunch was pretty sad...a single thin piece of meat, a piece of cheese and a thin square of lettuce on bread with a bag of chips...the only drinks were water and watered down lemonade.

The positives...the staff made up for some of the shortcomings. As professional and friendly as any dive masters I have ever dived with. Specific credit to Sara, Chris and Emma for going out of their way to make the day as fun as possible and to try to mitigate some of the discomfort of the crowding. The boat was clean and first rate and the big stable platform smoothed out the ride on a pretty choppy sea. We had our own gear but the rental equipment seemed to be relatively new and in good repair. Despite the apparent lack of exclusivity, the dive sites were nice. There were some signs of over diving with lots of broken coral in the flat sandy approaches to the walls but with so many dive boats in the area, it is what I would have expected to see.

I guess the reason I would recommend CA to others is that I see promise in the quality of the staff, the well maintained equipment, and the fact that other reviewers did not seem to observe some of the issues we saw but I would be reluctant to use them again or recommend them in what seems like the high season...too much risk of getting jammed onto...to use their words..."a cattle boat."

Visited March 2011
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
New Hampshire
2 reviews
Reviews in 2 cities Reviews in 2 cities
3 helpful votes 3 helpful votes
“Snorkeling out to French Cay was 1st Rate”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 5, 2011

We did a full day tour (8 am pick-up to 3:30 drop off) that was wonderful. Owner Philippe and crew Kevin were terrific. We motored out for 17 miles from the south of Provo to an unihabited island that is a protected bird sanctuary. We anchored in 3 different sites and snorkeled 45 min to 1 hour at each site. The coral was better than what we saw on Provo. The sea life was as good or better than we saw at 3 diffetent sites along the shore of Provo (Bight Reef, Smith Reef, and between Wheeland and the North West Point). We saw sting rays and an octopus (see photos). Lunch, beer, soft drinks, water, and rum punch was provided and was delicious.

Visited March 2011
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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