Went for 5 nights and 4 days of diving with a group of 15. October is high season so hotel and boats were full. Up to 35 divers on boat with 2 divemasters, though 20 to 25 divers was more typical. They have 3 fast boats and one very slow boat. Boats left the dock between 8:30 and 9:00 am depending on whether the boat you were assigned to had space to dock for the earlier departure. Divers who had cameras complained that the crew was rough with the cameras and just threw them into the trash cans of fresh water along with masks (a no no).
No elevators in any of the buildings and some rooms are on the 4th floor! Got help with baggage, but still a long walk up to the 3rd or 4th floor units. Upper story rooms have nice balcony with 2 chairs and a table - nice to sit out on to catch the daily cool breeze. In the main office building we were also able to get a wifi signal on the balcony. Very small double room had decent wood mexican furniture, fan and a quiet newer air conditioner. Only about 6 hangers in the tiny closet for 2 people and 3 small drawers made storage an issue. TV reception was nonexistent in our room and the rooms next to us. I stayed in the main office bulding backing up to the road about 15 feet away where you could hear trucks coming and going all day and night to the commercial ferry and shipping terminal. Free van service into town in the evening leaving at 6 pm and returning at 9:30 if you could get one of the limited number of seats. Many people were turned away who wanted to go into town. Round trip taxi into town was $60 and takes about 20-30 minutes each way depending on traffic. So I recommend renting a car if you stay here. No shops and only one coffee shop within walking distance of the hotel
The coffee shop across the street had decent simple mexican food at cheap prices across the street and the second floor. About $6-$10 for typical lunch or dinner including a soda or bottled water. They don't speak much english and the menu is in spanish only. Confusion over orders was common and there was a surprise at almost every meal in regard to what our group ordered versus what we got. Also although we ordered at the same time they frequently would forget one of our member's meal order and so some would be served up to 20 minutes after others were served.
Dive masters were very nice, but do not set up equipment or clean it. They would switch tanks for us between dives but often left the hookup to you. They would switch dive masters on us almost every day. Makes it hard for both the divers and the divemasters who don't know who needs help and who doesn't. I was pleased they had nitrox at $6/tank.
Operator limited our dives to 50 minutes rather than than letting us dive according to our dive computer profile. Loved the dives to Los Islotes, Salvatiera wreck, and La Reina. Salvatiera had a strong current the day we were there and one diver was swept away from the boat and had to be rescued. The prior year, we had the same problem at Los Islotes. C59 and Fang Ming were boring wrecks. Not many fish and no coral. Missed out on the Whale Shark snorkel and El Bajo, but others there raved about these trips. October is supposed to be the best month for visibility. Visibility averaged about 50 ft, but some locations were more like 10 ft of visibility (La Reynita). Our group had some weak divers so the divemasters were reluctant to take us to El Bajo. If you dive for 5 days, you would normally get the chance to make both of these special trips. They are unique in having a spotter plane which greatly increases the chances to encounters with whale sharks. Lunches on the boat were poor mystery meat sandwiches with velveeta to ok tuna sandwhiches. Usually some chips, cookies, and fruit. Sometimes only fruit. Usually plenty of cold sodas.
Breakfast at the hotel was OK. Usually a nice variety of fresh fruti, juice, yogurt, cake, cold cereal, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, a mexican hot dish which varied each day, and omeletes made to order. Wait in the buffet line at breakfast was up to 15 minutes long because they could only make 1 omlette at a time and a large percentage of people wanted an omlette.
Coffee was aweful tasting most of the time. Bring your own instant coffee or your own coffee maker. There was no coffeemaker in the room. Though some hotel web sites say they have them I suspect they only exists in the Jr. Suites and Condos. I would recommend upgrading to a Jr Suite or condo if it is in your budget.
Although there was plenty to complain about, I would consider going back because the price is reasonable for rooms ($85/night) and diving ($102 for 3 tanks per day), the location is convenient to dive sites, the hotel and dive staff was friendly and made an effort to be helpful, bar tab is reasonable, and it is a normal part of their program to take people to El Bajo and to see the Whale Sharks (not normal for other dive operators). I do not recommend this hotel for anyone except divers. They do a lot of business with dive groups and make an extra effort to accommodate their needs. Individuals may feel lost in the shuffle.
Next time I would bring my own coffee maker, upgrade to a Jr. Suite or double room away from the road noise, rent a car, and consider scheduling the trip in late September or Early November instead of October (the most crowded month).
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Located in Pichilingue bay, in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Cantamar Hotel provides a nice, quiet stay in a great family atmosphere, with full restaurant service at our VistaChula Café, a freshwater pool and a beautiful sunset beach. ... more less
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- Also Known As:
- Cantamar Hotel La Paz
- Cantamar Resort La Paz