All in all, my fiancé and I went with Calypso dive for 4 trips out to Eddy Reef and one jetski tour. There is a reason we kept coming back - phenomenal diving, snorkeling and crew!
Diving - Advanced Open Water course
We took our Advanced Open Water course with Calypso, and didn't regret it! Our instructor, Andy, kept us smiling with a great sense of humour on the boat and in the water. Our first two specialty dives (AWARE Fish ID and Boat Dive) allowed us to explore the reef, get to know the underwater world and discover all sorts of neat sea creatures. Good thing we did the AWARE Fish Identification, since we figured in any other programme we would have been quite distracted by reef sharks, lionfish, sea turtles, manta rays and all the colourful fish.
Our second day entailed three more courses (Navigation, Peak Performance Buoyancy, and Deep Diving). The first two were very practical, and Andy gave us clear instructions to follow. We were, admittedly, nervous about our first deep dive. However, we successfully descended to 20 meters, finding we were surprisingly more astute in our underwater tests that we had been above water - probably a result of the adrenaline!! All the dives went well, and we completed each safely to achieve the Advanced Open Water Diver certificates. We really did feel taken care of through the whole course, with very personalised and professional service.
Diving - Tours
After our brilliant experience on the Advanced Open Water course, we decided to do more diving with Calypso. This time, we were with Nicole. Again, we felt the service was outstanding, professional and very safe. Nicole has a wonderful range of hand signals she uses to point out sea turtles, lion fish, maori wrasse and more. She kept track of our group of divers (6 in all) while we explored the reef, being sure to keep track of our oxygen as we went. We felt very safe, and unbelievably happy!
This tour involves some stops along interesting parts of Dunk Island and its surrounds. Our tour guide told us interesting (and true!) pirate stories and local history, while pointing out sea turtles and manta rays in secluded lagoons, hugged by pristine beaches lined with palms. Still, we most enjoyed our 5 minutes of 'play time', where we got to really test the speed and maneuverability of these new jetskis! In short, they turn on a dime and can be pushed up to 93kms/hr.
Don't forget your sunscreen if you have any exposed skin! We wore 3mm wetsuits (our own, full length suits that we bought from their dive shop before heading our on our first dive with them). The wetsuits provided full coverage from the sun, so we didn't have the embarrassing burnt calves than many snorkelers in shorts experience. The sun lights up the shallow waters to reveal the brightly coloured soft and hard corals, and many different fish. We brought an underwater camera and took photographs and video underwater - a great keepsake! This was just too pleasant for words.
We went in December (over Christmas) and experienced beautiful humid, hot temperatures between 29-31 degrees Celsius. The water was around 29 degrees, and our 3mm wetsuits were perfectly suited for diving. A stinger suit would also be more than warm enough, and still provide the protection against jellyfish. We did go during jellyfish season, and all together we saw 3 out at the reef and 4 in the stinger net. I got stung in the stinger net, but by a little harmless jelly. It stung about as much as a quick burn from the edge of a frying pan and the feeling went away about as quickly, with just a little residual stinging for about 10 minutes. Not bad. However, you do want to take precautions because of the box jellies and arichangy jellies. I should say, the jellyfish out on the reef looked like one of the little, harmless varieties.
Boat & Facilities
The boat is large, with toilets (hot showers in the toilets), running water and lots of amenities on board available for purchase. My fiancé appreciated being able to buy coke and chocolate bars on board. Just recently, back in NZ, when I asked him what he wanted for lunch, he said "A Calypso buffet"; half-joking because we want to be back on the boat, it's also an indication of the nice meals and fruit we were provided with everyday.
I cannot say enough about how wonderful the crew is!!!!!
Keith, the skipper, had a great sense of humour and was always quick to give us a hand getting on and off the boat after a dive. He gave a great briefing before the snorkel trips on how to avoid using the snorkel as a straw, and other pitfalls. We loved chatting with him on the bow!
Andy, our dive instructor, as I mentioned earlier, was professional, hilarious, and took great care of us during our dives. If you have the pleasure of meeting him, give him a hard time because he enjoys that.
Peter is also a dive instructor, but we didn't dive or snorkel with him. Mostly, we spend time with him in the van (pick-ups and drop-offs) and on the boat. Again, he's funny, is quick to lend a hand and has the best laugh of anyone I've met.
Nicole was also there to pick us up in the van, and went out of her way to make sure we didn't have to walk too far with our heavy dive bag. As I mentioned earlier, we did go diving with her, and she was very friendly, professional and knows the reef shockingly well. She even knows the best hiding spots for lionfish.
Darryl picked us up in 'sealegs' (the boat transfer vessel) from time to time. That boat is something else! It drives right up onto shore. I knew I wasn't the only one who found it neat, because lots of beachgoers would stop to take photos as we drove up on shore! Darryl was friendly, professional, and timely with pick-ups. I liked it best when he drove the boat a bit fast with the music on - very fun!
Kiki helped us with anything we wanted on board, from snacks to drinks to a pen to borrow to fill in log books. Like the rest of the crew, she was friendly, efficient and clearly worked very hard (yet happily) to get all the snorkel and diving gear sorted after our delightful trips.
Richard was our liaison when it came to organising our trips. He was very accommodating to us, and helped us to book our dream diving, snorkeling and jetski vacation. When we finally met him, we saw immediately that smiles come easily to him, and he clearly loves his work.
I can highly highly recommend Calypso Dive!
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