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“FAB U LOUS” 5 of 5 stars
Review of ReefCI

ReefCI
41 Front Street, Punta Gorda, Belize
00 501 629 4266
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Ranked #1 of 14 things to do in Punta Gorda
Certificate of Excellence
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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!!!
Bournemouth, United Kingdom
Level Contributor
5 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 4 helpful votes
“FAB U LOUS”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed May 9, 2013

Wow! what an experience. We were a mature couple - one advanced diver and one brand new one - scared and nervous!!!!! I needed to complete the open water section of the course. Polly picked us up and we arrived at the jetty with the rest of our gang for the week. We introduced ourselves and off we wooshed for an exhilarating one hour speedboat ride. The island loomed and it was so exciting, we were allocated rooms and had an enormous double room with en-suite and shower. Polly gave us a briefing about Reef CI and the conservation they are undertaking. We were blown away with the passion and belief in what this amazing lady was trying to achieve. Then it's diving - I'm scared witless but there is a lady at the exact same stage as me - my new bestest friend - Tina! The dive team are given their groups and we have this five foot, beautiful young girl - name of Tracy allocated to us. Poor Tracy - God help her! For our first dive wewent off the shore to get accustomed to the open water in the shallows. Tracy was amazing, like something from heaven our very own angel. She was gentle, supportive and so unbelievably professional, it made us feel safe and secure. Then it was lunch - lovely pasta and plenty of it. The dining area was two big tables and it was really nice to sit with different people each breakfast, lunch and dinner and chat. We were a group of 14 - full island capacity! There were seats to chill outside after dinner and enjoy a beer - an honesty bar, you just wrote down what one had! The island is small but magical. Everyone in the group jelled and we made some very special friendships. All the staff were fabulous. If diving is your thing - YOU MUST come and see Polly, Simon and Tracy - you will have the time of your life and an insight into how precious our oceans are. Polly your grit, tenacity and pure determination will see your dreams come true. Tracy you are in my heart and in my soul. We loved you and we miss you.

Anyway we made it through- we are both PADI Open Water Divers - a miracle from my perspective - it was so emotional and the most memorable experience in my life.

Keep up the amazing work guys.

Christine and Ian
Bournemouth

Visited April 2013
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101 reviews from our community

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Date | Rating
  • English first
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English first
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Level Contributor
52 reviews
18 attraction reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 44 helpful votes
“Lovely Island, Great Staff, Needs Improvement”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed April 20, 2013

I wish there was a 3 ½ star rating available, because that is how my husband and I would actually rate ReefCI. We had a good time, but ReefCI needs improvement.

The island itself is lovely, from the gorgeous sunrises and sunsets, balmy afternoons, and starry nights. The main building and cabanas are picturesque. Being on a remote island with a small group is a special experience.

The best part of our stay was the staff. The dive masters, Simon, Tracie, and Kaylee, were great. They gave individual attention to everyone, and catered to each guest’s needs. They basically retrained us, as we had not dived for a long time. They quickly made us feel confident. The staff worked hard from morning to night, organizing dives, lugging tanks and kits to the boat, helping guests with their gear. (ReefCI’s gear was good.) They worked into the evening, taking us on night dives twice, helping with the serving of meals, and planning the next day’s dives. Kaylee had the added job of marine biologist, teaching us interesting facts about the marine life in Belize.

Roland, the boat captain, did a wonderful job. He was always on the lookout for interesting sea life. One day he located dolphins to snorkel with-exhilarating! The crew did a great job maneuvering the guests and their cumbersome gear into and out of the water, and around the small craft.

The ever-cheerful housekeeping/ kitchen staff, was wonderful. The meals they made were plentiful, and well presented. Sometimes they even baked a cake for dessert. All in all, the staff as a whole did everything they could to make our stay memorable.

Unfortunately, there were negatives about our stay. We expected the reefs to be teeming with sea life. We did see many varieties of colorful fish here and there, but not in large numbers. The coral was not in the best shape. We were told that this part of the barrier reef is overfished. The only time we saw large schools of fish was when we snorkeled over a wreck. Snorkeling around the island was also decent.

Even though our room was nice to look at and offered a great view from the balcony, living in it was difficult. The mattress was very thin, and we could feel springs. A two inch mattress topper would have improved it greatly. The bottom sheet was all stretched out and kept popping off. The replacement was threadbare (as were our towels).Our sink did not have running water. We had to fill a container with water from the shower and pour it on our hands to wash. There were two chests of drawers in our room, but we could not use them because they were filled with the owner’s possessions. (ReefCI rents the island.)

Vacationing with ReefCI was a great way to get back into diving. Better yet, because we stayed with ReefCI, we got a great deal on an all-inclusive stay with Cotton Tree Lodge, which was fabulous. If you dive with ReefCI, we would recommend spending time at Cotton Tree, and also that you plan some diving or snorkeling off one of the northern cayes, where the marine life is supposed to be more protected and plentiful. We wish we had done that.

Visited January 2013
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portsmouth
1 review
“Friends at ReefCI”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 19, 2013

If you judge the success of a holiday by the feelings that you have at the start, middle and end of your experience then time spent at Tom Owen's Island with the ReefCI team will rate extremely highly and must be at the top of your "things to do" list.

My daughter and I felt comfortable from the minute that we met Polly and her team. Excited from the moment that we stepped on to the boat for the ride to the island. Enthused and delighted with the island, accommodation, food and dive experience and finally so. so sorry that we had booked for one week instead of two.

Our special thanks go to the dive team who, without exception, were helpful, reassuring and above all, fun. So often you can come home from a holiday having spent time with "holiday reps". We felt that we spent time with friends. And that speaks volumes.

Maybe we were lucky in that our fellow guests were such good fun too but I suspect that even without the bonus of meeting Greg, Ben, Tania, Saul, Mali and Bob, we would have loved every minute of this experience.

Thank you ReefCI. I hope we can do it all again some day

Visited April 2013
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United States
Level Contributor
33 reviews
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 27 helpful votes
“big disappointment”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed April 19, 2013

We booked a dive trip with ReefCI based on the overwhelmingly positive reviews. The weather while we were there in March interfered with daily diving but other factors contributed to a rather mixed experience.
-Poor diving visibility (might have something to do with the weather)
-Corals generally brown
-Diversity of fish is low, and volume is quite small compared to other diving areas we’ve been to
-There were 11 guests on the island all of whom were diving which made for a very chaotic experience entering and exiting the water. It was nice that tanks/BCs were preassembled before departing for each dive but due to limited space the rigs were piled up in the middle of the boat and people accidentally stepped on the regulators.
-There was generally poor communication between Polly/dive leaders and the guests. eg, on one boat dive before entering the water there was confusion amongst dive leaders as to what the plan was.
-On at least two dives we witnessed one guest repeatedly missing lionfish and then attempting to stab the fish with the ejected spear. What he was actually doing was stabbing and breaking off pieces of coral. This same diver was stepping on and holding onto coral as he was spearfishing. Several of the guests commented on this afterwards and were genuinely concerned about personal safety and damage to the coral. What’s going on with the conservation!
-Following our arrival back in Punta Gorda there was much confusion on how guests would be transported to their hotels. Our bags were taken away in one truck not knowing if they would take them to our hotel. After some phone calls we tracked down our bags and made our way to the hotel.

On the positive side, the island is surrounded by beautiful waters, tasty meals were offered everyday and staff was friendly.
We’ll try diving in Belize again, but will try different locations and operators.

Visited March 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Kingston, Canada
1 review
common_n_attraction_reviews_1bd8 2 helpful votes
“A Charming Island with Remarkable Diving”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed April 16, 2013

My time with ReefCI in Belize was the greatest experience of my life! I’m so glad to have had the opportunity!

When I arrived at the island it was even better than I could have imagined. I stayed in a cabana which was perfect for one person. I did not mind at all not having a washroom or shower in my room. It all worked out well sharing these facilities in the building. My view was amazing, as were the hammocks. The size of the island was perfect, as were the common rooms and dining room.

I was so impressed with the meals! Every meal was something new, and as a vegetarian the staff made sure I did not go hungry. The cakes were really good as was the eggplant.

I realize that my time of just one week was pressing, so for the time I had I was pleased with the conservation training of coral checks. Kaylee explained everything very well and took me on a dive to ensure my abilities to identify different coral. Then the next dive I was doing the checks by myself which was very rewarding.

I completed my Open Water Referral course, which was just the final open water dives. I finished my training with both Steven and Kaylee which was a fantastic experience! They were both very knowledgeable and made sure that the dives were as enjoyable as possible while still completing the required skills. I felt 100% safe underwater the entire time with the dive staff – for every dive after my training as well. We managed to finish the training fairly quickly which meant deeper dives faster. I was very pleased with my training and have gained much needed confidence to dive safely!

The diving itself was phenomenal. I was referred to as “the happiest person underwater” because I loved every second of it. The whole experience, between rolling off the boat and climbing back on, was spectacular. The different dive sites all offered different experiences, and the things I saw were unparalleled to anything I’ve seen before such as turtles, rays and porpoises. It was amazing to experience these things with people I had become so close to within a matter of days. The dive masters were always optimizing the dives – from running on the bottom of the ocean with Kaylee, doing backflips with Steven, Tracey pointing out many new creatures, watching Polly spear lion fish and being prodded with a stick by Simon!

The team at ReefCI were amazing. They were so friendly I felt like I had known them for years. They were so helpful with any questions I had, and made sure my stay was as great as possible. They were all very fun people to be around and made great teammates and opponents for the island volleyball tournament! I also loved everyone’s accents. The staff – as well as the other guests – were all such amazing people I already miss them so much.

The best part of my time with ReefCI was the diving. Every dive I did was special and exciting. Every dive I did, I dove with more confidence and was able to take in new things every time. My experience at ReefCI has certainly enforced my wish to continue diving! It is also notable that the boat ride back to Punta Gorda was quite a time.

I’m trying very hard to think of something that could be improved, but in Retrospect my experience was perfect. Even the things that could have been considered flawed just bettered the experience. I don’t know how any other experience will be able to measure up to the one I had at ReefCI. Coming home was so hard and now I find myself missing the caye and the people I had met while living on it. My nervousness of traveling alone for the first time dissipated as soon as I met Steven and Kaylee in the guest house, and any remaining worry I had was gone before we reached the island.

Visited April 2013
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This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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