My son and I have been diving in California, Hawaii, the Red Sea, the Great Barrier Reef, Roatan, Belize, Boniare, St. Lucia, Cayman Islands and Mexico, among other places, so we have a fair amount of experience with different dive operators, which have been overwhelmingly positive. But we had some horrible experiences with Nautilus Dive Shop in Big Corn Island. I really never take the time to complain, and this is the first time I've written a review on TripAdvisor. And, although I am frustrated, I am not writing this in anger. But this shop is the most unprofessional business I have ever experienced anywhere, whether in the diving business or any other business. When I mentioned this to a dive shop on Little Corn Island, they asked what was wrong with them. I replied that there was nothing right with them. Let me explain.
June 22 we took our first dive with them. We were supposed to get started at 11AM and were supposed to be able to use our credit card. When we showed up, though, they didn't have gasoline and said we had to pay cash first so they could get gasoline first. That took almost one hour. Then we got delayed about one half hour more, because the captain and one of the helpers were arguing with one another about something. They didn't ask to see our certification cards, but we showed them, anyway. The dive shop itself is run down, dirty and the worst I have ever seen. We brought all of our own equipment except for weights and tanks, but the owner refused to give any discount. In emails before, the owner promised a price of $35 for one dive or $60 for two dives, but then changed the price to $40 for one dive and $65 for two and refused to honor the promised price. They have no access to the sea, and we had to walk a long way through apparent private property that smelled like human feces and was a workplace to reach the water, where we had to go down a steep incline to a small and old boat that had poor access in and out of the water. Incidentally, the guide was a very friendly and likable guy, so I don't want to cast aspersions on him. We decided not to dive again during our stay at Big Corn, unless they were going to the supposedly best spot, which is called Blowing Rock. In the email, the owner said they needed three people for Blowing Rock and would, I believe, charge $85. When we got to Big Corn, though, we were told it cost $95 and they needed at least four persons. A couple of days after the one dive, we were called and told they had two other people to make four, so we said we would go. When we and the two other people arrived as instructed for an 8Am start, there was again a delay while they filled tanks at the last minute. After about 50 minutes, they said two more people would join us, and we needed to wait until they came. All four of us wanted to go (moreoever, I knew 6 divers plus 2 or 3 staff would be a lot of people for their very small boat), but we all agreed to wait another 20 minutes. We never had personally seen the owner at any time on any day up to that point, since everything went through the guide, but we asked the guide to tell the owner our intentions, and we waited. One of the other divers, who himself had been a dive instructor for 35 years, mentioned that all of this was very unprofessional. After 20 minutes, we said we were leaving, and then we saw the owner for the first time. He tried to convince us to stay, but said we could go if we wanted and get a refund. I tried (calmly) to explain to him why we were dissatisfied, but he kept interrupting and would not let me talk. Then he started laughing hysterically for several minutes. Now, I know, when I say he laughed hysterically, that must sound like an exaggeration, but it really isn't. Apart from being a bad businessman to lose 4 customers and only get 2 in return, I think the man is mentally unstable, not a quality you want in the owner of a dive shop.
At any rate, I thought I would let other divers know about this shop, before someone gets hurt. I contacted PADI about this shop, and they said it is not a PADI certified shop, so they could do nothing. There are two PADI certified shops in Little Corn Island that seem professional and charge the same prices, including for Blowing Rock, so they might be worth trying. Overall, I would add, though, that the limited diving we saw in Big Corn was the least impressive I've seen anywhere in the Caribbean, so I don't think you will feel you've missed anything, if you don't dive here, anyway.
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