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“poor communications, unprepared for customers” 2 of 5 stars
Review of ReefCI

ReefCI
41 Front Street, Punta Gorda, Belize
00 501 629 4266
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Ranked #1 of 13 Attractions in Punta Gorda
Type: Water sports, Adventure
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Attraction details
Owner description: ReefCI offer all inclusive Monday-Friday Marine Conservation SCUBA packages on a beautiful Coral Caye in the Caribbean. World class diving, plentiful home cooked food and fun friendly people await you. Learn to dive or further your dive qualifications and help monitor the reef, commercial fish species and capture the invasive lionfish!! Whale shark season is March - June so visit around the full moon and you may also get to swim with these majestic creatures!!!
London, United Kingdom
Senior Contributor
33 reviews 33 reviews
5 attraction reviews
Reviews in 18 cities Reviews in 18 cities
26 helpful votes 26 helpful votes
“poor communications, unprepared for customers”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 15, 2013

We went there in April/May 2011. As someone's who's accustomed to expeditions / sketchy trips round the world, I quite like rustic places and a bit of adventure.

Reefci claims to be a diving holiday (not an expeditions), organised by English speaking people, and website made you want to believe its a good company to go with. It is, I guess, but not without many fundamental flaws:

positives:
organisers are nice
other people on the trip are nice
scenic
sense of adventure
good chef, fresh food

negatives:
Company didn't tell us in advance that they've moved to a much smaller island than the one Advertised on the website.
Doors and windows were not built yet in the living building (and being on a tiny island in the Middle of the sea means very very windy)
Diving equipment were not checked before loading on to boat.
Once at sea, equipment malfunctioned and needed to be fixed
We were not told about local sea conditions and typical swells, thus couldn't prepare for the seasickness (sitting on the rocking boat trying to fix equipment for an hour didn't help)
We've already filled in numerous forms about allergies and dietary requirement, but the "chef" (who was very good) clearly didn't get the memo.
We've fed back to say food portion was too large that we didn't want things to go to waste and if we can dish up ourselves, and was bizarrely declined.
The "chef" turned out to be a sleaze bag and tried it on with all female travellers
The actual dive site was so so, visibility is in general low, not particularly diverse in sealife. Some diving involved Lionfish hunting trips, if you fancy shooting poisonous spiky fish at close range with a rubber band tied on to a short metal pole.
At the end of the trip organiser actively "encouraged" tipping boat staff / sleazy chef / boat kids which made us felt a bit pressured.
The island is about 30 paces wide and 100 paces long, and completely exposed to the elements.

All in all, I wish I had spent the money on an actual expedition or an actual holiday than something that's struggling in between. We fed back to the company, and hopefully by now they've improved.

Visited May 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
ReefCI, Owner at ReefCI, responded to this review, April 16, 2013
Thank you very much for taking the time to post this review. We apologise that the trip did not meet your expectations. It is important for us to receive constructive feedback in order that we can consistantly improve our trips. Since April/May 2011 we have made a number of improvements to the island, we have a new (female!) chef who is getting excellent feedback and purchased a complete set of new diving equipment. Please view our recent reviews for more up to date feedback from our latest guests.
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This response is the subjective opinion of the management representative and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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89 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Any
English first
Bristol, United Kingdom
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 7 cities Reviews in 7 cities
2 helpful votes 2 helpful votes
“Two weeks was too long”
3 of 5 stars Reviewed April 10, 2013

Maybe I am just getting jaded but after booking two weeks because of glowing TripAdvisor reviews I was disappointed with the diving. It was great to be the only divers around but the reef was a dull brown colour and there were relatively few reef fish. In 13 dives I saw lots of lobsters out and about, one moray, one turtle, a few barracudas and one close up shark. This was a small nurse shark who swam among us for a few minutes, attracted I think by the blood of the lionfish massacre. For beginners this is a nice place to learn because they can get so many dives in and the shore divers from the island saw the resident octopus, an eagle ray and dolphins up close twice. My night shore dive sadly revealed nothing but sea grass. While spearing lionfish livened up the dives it didn't feel terribly useful in terms of conservation. Clearly the potential local predators need to learn to eat them and we should have left the fish in the water once we exited I think.

The island is about 500 metres across so at times felt a bit crowded especially when sail boat people arrived. The accommodation is basic although I was lucky to have an en-suite shower and a room with a cooling breeze for the hottest nights of the year. The few mosquitoes managed to find me. We were rationed for water which was running low and in the second week were not permitted to wash our hands, for which we were provided with sanitiser gel. The food was plentiful though a bit bland. The boat trip from the mainland can be a bit wet so a waterproof jacket will help you avoid getting soaked. Wi-fi worked reliably.

The team were individually friendly helpful people who did their best to make guests comfortable.

Overall my trip to Belize was an interesting adventure and at the weekend on the mainland I did a wet cave trip and attended a Maya Day celebration at a local technical college which was informative. In my weekend "jungle" guest house the doctor flies were quite annoying
( bloodsucking large flies which cause you to itch with some swelling ). Belize is an interesting country with a diverse population and with a reasonable commitment to conservation.

Visited March 2013
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London, United Kingdom
1 review
1 helpful vote 1 helpful vote
“A whale of a time!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 4, 2013

It is difficult to put into words just how wonderful my experience with ReefCI was. The fact that I miss it terribly, should really sum it up!

My trip was for two weeks, but really it was not enough. Like many who guests when I was there, you end up longing for more. It is a natural phenomenon! One guest had flown down from SF for a week, as she loved her first experience so much. Another is now working there, having completed her studies a few months later.

A lot of diving experiences I have had you end up "bumping" into many other underwater tourists like jumping on a crowded Tube train.

Here there is just the ReefCI boat, so you have the ocean to a small group of divers, and the sea life.

Polly, the owner of Reef CI, runs the diving on a small Caye, a 90 minute boat ride from Punta Gorda. The island is small, but you can still lose yourself if you want to. For five days you live on the Island. Eat great food - the Lion Fish ceviche is divine. Enjoy a relaxing beer. And dive 3 times a day (if you want to), 4 on night dive Thursday!

The relaxing atmosphere means you can learn as much about conservation as you want, but even if you pick up a little, you will learn a lot!

From dealing with the menace of the Lion fish plaguing the Gulf region; seeing their impact on the indigenous species, and teaching those local fish to be their natural predators; to the destruction of coral by climate change.

I am an advanced diver, with a fair amount of dives under my belt. Even so, my diving improved enormously throughout the week, purely from a few tips and the relaxed atmosphere under water, and that helped improve my photography too.

And if you are a beginner...I dived with a couple of people who Polly had been teaching during the trip. And if they are anything to go by, she is an excellent instructor. So it is a great place to take your first steps.

So what can you see? While there may not be the plethora of species you can in other parts of the world, you are not short changed.

Aside from the very different topography that you'd see in, say the Red Sea, it is still inspiring.

I saw many familiar faces - groupers, trigger fish, turtles. But there were sights I'd never seen or photographed before: a lawn of Brown Garden Eels. The painfully shy Goldface Toby. Dwarf Feather Dusters. Loads of very tasty lobsters, a coral banded Shrimp, an octopus on the night dive. And not forgetting a 25ft Whale Shark!

Being a single diver, I have had a few disappointing experiences prior to this, where you did your diving, and then were Billy No Mates. Here you eat together, and then can relax either with or without your dive companions, depending on your mood.

But if you are into your diving, and have an interest in conservation, you'll probably connect with a fair few of you diving compadres, if not all. I am Facebook friends with virtually all of my fellow guests, and if they lived on my doorstep, I'd meet them for a beer any time.

Will I go back? Without a shadow of a doubt. And I would recommend a trip with ReefCI to anybody interested in diving, and especially if you are also interested in protecting the fragile ecosystems we enjoy as divers.

Jo will co-ordinate your trip with tremendous efficiency, lots of humour, and is a great host when you arrive in Punta Gorda!

On the island, Polly and Captain Roland look after your diving needs, and some. While Adrianne will feed you like royalty.

If Carlsberg made diving holidays...so don't miss out.

Visited June 2012
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Lander, Wyoming
Contributor
16 reviews 16 reviews
Reviews in 12 cities Reviews in 12 cities
4 helpful votes 4 helpful votes
“Island adventure”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 20, 2013

These folks know their stuff. We had great time and truly got to experience some unique sightings, whale sharks and eagle rays just examples. Isolated but quite civilized, rustic, comfortable and great cooks! Diving experience par excel-lance with a great conservation goal as well.

Visited January 2013
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Overland Park, Kansas
Senior Reviewer
7 reviews 7 reviews
3 attraction reviews
Reviews in 5 cities Reviews in 5 cities
“Island Retreat”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed March 12, 2013

I booked this trip because I was in Belize in 2009 and knew it would be a great place to log some more dives and I was very excited about the reef conservation. I can't believe how much I learned about reef conservation and local marine life in just a few days. I was anxious about getting back into my dives after two years but Polly and Traci were very patient and before I knew it I was under water 78 feet. I was even comfortable enough for first night dive at the end of the week with Simone and Traci. Thank you to everyone at ReefCI for the comfortable, relaxing stay on the Island, feeding us delicious food (especially the birthday carrot cake), the reef education, and the dives. What can I say....my only complaint is that I was only able to stay the one week. I hope to be back soon (for a longer stay the next time).

Visited February 2013
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