As inveterate and somewhat picky world travelers, my wife and I found a brief window of opportunity to escape the rat race and heated political environment and were determined to enjoy our second favorite pastime—open water scuba diving before the winter set in officially. Moreover, while we normally enjoy this karmic experience off the back of our own or privately chartered sailboat, for this trip, we chose to remain on shore, and we were so glad we did.
We sought a destination that married Top #10 scuba diving sites with good accommodation, great local cuisine and a compelling location. We narrowed our choices to Roatan in Honduras and the Cayman Islands, and due to extenuating work obligations and our ability to minimize our actual travel time with easy flights, we chose Grand Cayman Island. With several world-class branded hotels from Ritz to Westin, and other resorts and dive locations to choose from, we choose to focus on resorts that catered primarily to divers where we could comingle with other blue water fanatics.
Based on consistently positive reviews and its proximity to exceptional deep-water and shore dive sites, we finally chose Cobalt Coast Dive Resort and Suites. Little did we know that our selection would not only meet our most basic requirements of a well-equipped suite with a clean (king size) bed, quality linens, and for my wife, plenty of good quality pillows, it exceeded our expectations at every level. While most dive resorts tend to be somewhat “rough at the edges,” given the fact that we divers are a hearty lot that spend the majority of our days and nights on, or under the water. When we are actually on terra firma, we are happy just sharing tales and drinking the local grog usually oblivious to our accommodation as long as the beer is cold and the fare filling. In fact, Cobalt Coast Resort is so much more than the typical dive resort.
The founder and wonderfully engaging owner, Arie Barendrecht, designed the beautiful colonial-styled building and its 20 ocean front suites and rooms with a mixture of European panache and Caribbean flair that underlies his personal and detail oriented “hands-on” approach. We chose a corner suite (#1 is perfect) with its oversized “sea view” windows; comfortable lounge area with great seating; a large separate bedroom and adjoining bathroom with plenty of soft towels; exceptional air conditioning system and overhead fans; a bar with sink and refrigerator, writing desk, breakfast table, oversized TVs with Cable in both rooms and beautiful (and colorful) original art on the walls. We lacked for nothing…
The Resort’s All Inclusive or Breakfast-only a la carte restaurant has a wide choice of wonderfully prepared local foods with fresh fish, meats, vegetable and salads, with a competent wine list, and the coffee is superb. And where else can you dine al fresco every day, rain or shine, while looking at the Caribbean Sea. While we chose the Breakfast-only option, we ended up eating at the Resort more often than not because the food was so wonderful with an ambience to match. Be sure to try the Conch Fritters, Angus Beef Bacon Cheeseburger and the Veal dishes, and as Arie is a former Chef, ask for one of his signature Omelet’s and how he came to be such an expert at their preparation. The staff are well trained, attentive and at the end of the day, they will pretty much organize whatever you want to eat, whether you are a ‘steak and potatoes’ person or a serious vegetarian. By the end of the week, they knew what we liked and we never regretted any of our dining choices.
Cobalt Coast is a unique destination that is excellent for “dive-aholics” or even those who do not have any interest in exploring what is underneath the water. So when we weren’t diving or enjoying our new found friends sitting at the ocean view bar, carefully attended to by Kym or Sharon, we were comfortably lounging by the swimming pool or sitting on the private west-facing beach watching the sun set staring at the most beautiful “cobalt blue” waters one can imagine.
But the icing on the cake for my wife and I was the on site, fully equipped 5 Star (and ‘Green’) PADI dive shop, Divetech. There are few dive companies that we have enjoyed over the last 15 years more than our experience with Divetech. At the end of the day, any good organized dive safari is about the quality of the dive staff. They can make or break even the best-organized dive experience, but this fun and energetic crew hailing from all over the world exceeded our every expectation.
The staff at Divetech fully understood their roles and responsibilities at every level and their sense of purpose in marrying challenging and exciting dive sites with their consummate professionalism and wonderful senses of humor made every dive better than the last. They gave us free reign to dive to our skill sets, both on their daily boat excursions or the incredible shore dives with the mini and main walls just yards from our front door step.
They allowed us to dive as and when we liked, including at night, or to accompany the daily small dive groups when we chose. They were never overbearing or over protective, except when it came to preserving the integrity of the reefs, and like any good dive professionals, were invisible when you wanted them to be and by your side when you needed guidance. You could see they truly enjoyed what they did and their own camaraderie, good nature and genuine friendliness was infectious. We couldn’t have asked for any more from a dive company than that -- Thank You, Steve, Emma, Helen, Joe, Nick, Jo, Sam, Andre, et al. for your thoughtful guidance, and a special thanks to Jeni for teaching an old dog a few new dive tricks-- you were a ‘game changer’ and improved my dive knowledge for all my future dive experiences.
All in all, the five nights and six days we spent at Cobalt Coast Resort and Divetech were outstanding, memorable for all the right reasons and certainly will be on our list for a return visit sooner rather than later.
Many thanks, Arie, and hopefully we will see you again soon, my friend.
Bruce and Pat Holsten,
Own or manage this property? Claim your listing for free to respond to reviews, update your profile and much more.