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Diving independantly vs. Diving Package

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Chicago, IL
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Diving independantly vs. Diving Package

My husband and I are going to Roatan to become PADI certified the last week in March. I am wondering which is our best bet- to book a diving/accommodations package through a hotel or to book our hotel and diving separately. Any recommendations?

California
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1. Re: Diving independantly vs. Diving Package

If you book independently, you can talk to all the operators and get a feel for who you like best. The Open Water class takes between three and four days and you spend a lot of time with your instructor so it helps if you like them. Also, what if for some crazy reason, you do not take to diving? It would be a shame to be locked into your hotel/diving arrangement.

As long as you are not going during Santa Semana, booking ahead should not be required, so book a hotel, and then shop around for a dive shop.

What part of the island are you looking to stay in? That might make a difference, as well. Diving is moderately more expensive in West Bay and you might do better booking a package - but you would lose your flexibility.

I would also urge you to check out www.scubaboard.com. They have a board just for the Bay Islands and you get many opinions there about the diving.

--Sioux

New York City, New...
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2. Re: Diving independantly vs. Diving Package

Las Rocas Resort. We've stayed there and dove with their operation. No problems, nice clean cabanas, great cheap food & beer and located in West Bay Beach. Hold out your thumb from the end of the dock and catch a water taxi into town (West End)for the bars & restaurants ($2 taxi fee each)

http://www.lasrocasresort.com/index.html

Canada
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3. Re: Diving independantly vs. Diving Package

I'm with sosouixme. Book separately, book your instruction once you get there, book your dives as you go.

Best bet would be to get your booklearning and pool work done before you even leave Chicago. Get a referral from your Chicago instructor and finish up your Open Water portion in Roatan. Then you can spend your vacation diving instead of studying.

Also, if one or both of you don't take to diving, there's no harm done and you might even already know before you leave home. What if the weather is particularly bad? This is rare at that time of year, but one can't bet the farm on that.

All that said, once you get there and decide who you are going to dive with, make sure that you will be getting a discount with each block of dives you do. You don't want to find yourself in the situation where you dive one day but not the next and so on, then when you go to pay, you find you've had to pay full price for each dive. General rule of thumb is that the dives decrease in price the more you do. Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate . . after all, you will be either taking the full course there, or at a minimum, taking your Open Water, so you should be eligible for some dive discounts, regardless of the number of dives you do by the end of the week.

Albany, NY
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4. Re: Diving independantly vs. Diving Package

Hi, I happen to be going during Santa Semana and already have booked accommodations. Would it be best to pre-book diving trips or should I wait until I get to Roatan? Thanks!

California
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5. Re: Diving independantly vs. Diving Package

If you are going during Santa Semana and want to dive at the some of the more popular dive ops, definitely e-mail the shop ahead of time and make reservations. I know my shop of choice, Coconut Tree Divers, fills up and has to turn people away, particularly during the more advanced 2 tank morning dive during busy times.

I'm jealous....you will have fun!

Albany, NY
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6. Re: Diving independantly vs. Diving Package

Thanks for the tip. Most definitely I'll have fun! I'm staying at Luna Beach and they have a shop, but we were thinking of going to others if they don't go to all the dive sites.

Flowers Bay...
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7. Re: Diving independantly vs. Diving Package

Unless your staying a long time and weather is perfect the whole time you will never see "all" the sites anyways. All or almost all dive ops on Roatan will try to give you the best they can and if that means a longer boat ride for better vis or calmer seas then so be it. Many ask about north or south, well in sumer its no big deal but in winter the southside is often the place to be due to sea conditions. If you want to visit all the sites i hope you are planning on a six month or so stay.

Menlo Park...
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8. Re: Diving independantly vs. Diving Package

If you are planning to do the entire certification process while you're in Roatan, you may encounter the problem that a certain dive shop may not be starting a class just when is most convenient for you. Of course you could just go somewhere else. Or you could take the classroom portion of the certification at home and get a referral to a shop in Roatan for the last 2 days of dives, which would take less of your vacation time and would be easier to arrange. As was pointed out, the shops in West End charge less for certification and for diving in general than the West Bay resorts. I think some shops also give you a discount on dives if you certified there. I'm not sure you can find this at the resorts. I truly believe that at any of the larger dive operations whether in West End or at a resort you are going to find pleasant well qualified instructors. Since you ask for suggestions, I'd mention Coconut Tree Divers in West End.

JENSEN BEACH
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9. Re: Diving independantly vs. Diving Package

I was certified to dive in the Grenadines and would never recommend taking the course at home rather than in a tropical paradise! When the classroom is under a palm tree and in the Caribbean Sea it beats the heck out of a swimming pool and blase classroom. The only thing I would do differently is to buy and read the handbook at home so that less time is spent doing that on vacation. I'm looking so forward to my first trip to Honduras. Still trying to decide who to dive with so I'm enjoying reading this thread. Also hoping to get some input on a dive operator in Utilla. Any suggestions? I prefer smaller groups if that narrows it down at all.

NJ
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10. Re: Diving independantly vs. Diving Package

Out of curiosity, what and when is Santa Semana? Hopefully not the second week of March.

Any recommendations on hotels to stay at? Did anyone get immunizations (typhoid, etc.)? Is it better to stay in West End or West Bay if we plan to do a lot of diving - do the dive operators pick you up? Thanks everyone.