Sunday, March 9, 2008

Diving...Another Surprise in the Land of the Surprising!

When we picked Puerto Rico as our relocation destination it wasn't because of the diving. It was because it is a large island with a great lifestyle, lovely people, and a variety of sportsy things to do and it is more affordable than most other places that have great weather! We picked the west part of the island because it is close to conveniences (potential work, Home Depot, Sears) and close to kayaking and beaches and is still really rural. We had heard that THE diving was the La Paguera Wall which is a $70 boat trip for 2 short dives. We don't do "short" well (normal people dive for 30 minutes) and I hate boats.Well of course we have once again been surprised in a good way! We have been diving a couple times a week from shore and have had delightful dives!

It really helps that we have met David. Not only is he a superb diver, but he has skilled friends as well that he has introduced us to. He knows the sites and knows excellent divers that also know different sites and has excellent air consumption (I am no longer the airmaster - he and Raul are).

Now to the dives. The best of the best is Jobos or "Shacks." These underwater caverns are really cool! There is no way we can go there yet on our own - it is a network of caverns with some dead ends. You have to know the two that go through to the outside reef so you can dive the reef and then return finding the caverns that go back through. We can't judge the conditions on our own since the caverns get water forced into them and it can suck you in and out or simply trap you in there if conditions are wrong. You can't always get back to shore if you go up top either. We have gone during the day which was awesome with light coming through the holes and turtles and giant eagle rays cruising the reef. But it was definitely the most wonderful at night. Unfortunately conditions didn't let us stay on the outside for very long - lots of surge and waves above (it is on the Atlantic side). What we did see was magical though - sleeping beauties (fish of every color) dozing on the bottom, and I mean really just sleeping on their sides on the coral! Seattle didn't have fish the way PR has fish! Blue, green, pink, red, yellow, white, purple, lavender, name a color and there are multiple fish in multiple shades of it. At night they just lay down. My favorite thing though is the turtles! You dive around and see turtle "butts" sticking out of the reef - their heads and front flippers are wedged in the reef. We have seen at least two different kinds of turtles. We also have seen a Eagle Rays in groups of 2 or 3 and solo. Going back into the caverns was a bit tricky and some of the holes we entered were small - you could not wear doubles and get into them. With the whooshing of the surge it was matter of timing to see a hole, go in and scramble so you didn't get sucked out or wedged in the entrance. This dive was the first time in all my diving I think where I really did not know where I was at all and was totally reliant on David and Raul. They absolutely know what they are doing which is why we went and now we know for sure they know what they are doing. We spent 84 minutes going through the network of caverns (which at night seemed like caves) - up and down and squeezing through little holes seeing tubastrea coral and other stuff. It was kind of like being an ant in an ant farm only we were underwater!

We had a wonderful dive at The Natural during the day with visibility around 70 feet, water around 80 and Eagle Rays and puffers, and trunk fish and just all kinds of stuff (plus sunshine beaming down and illuminating things). Then we did this spot with David at night and WOW - We were picking up huge puffers, cowfish, filefish. We saw a nurse shark about 5 or more feet long and only one pectoral fin...I was able to stroke its back before if took off. Again, sleeping fish etc. and excellent visibility.

Today we went to the Rincon Wall - a 20 minutes swim and then a drop onto a reef at around 40 that goes down deeper than you can go. The fish were calling and I went to 110 with Jeff and Raul going for a dip to 130. Even then, our dive was still 71 minutes with most of the sensible time spent around 50 in the sunshine. Raul saw an Eagle Ray and we saw many many fish. This spot though is very bushy with soft corals and fans and sea whips and stuff on the steep drop off. We saw a large lobster but didn't get it. There was a dive boat out there (didn't see any divers) and we were quite happy to be getting the same dive for the price of a small swim! This dive is like the Paguera wall. We had a lot of fun (great dive buddies as divers and personalities).

So what is diving in Puerto Rico like? It is not Fiji. If you have vacation money to burn get on a live aboard in the South Pacific. For day to day diving where you live? It is easy (I wear snorkle fins, 4 pounds, a 4/3 wetsuit (no hood, gloves and I don't bother with a light in the day) is comparatively warm (80)...not much current (except the caverns)...full of colorful fish that are out where you can see them...totally delightful with great visibility and warm air when you get in and out! It is so fricking enjoyable I go to go and haven't even wanted to bring the camera. I am enjoying diving for the diving. There is a nice variety of spots to go. Most are 45min-1 hour from our house and we picnic and float around on the beach afterwards and just enjoy life. At the Natural we went to sit on the beach afterwards and ended up having a nice lunch brought to us by other beach goers we didn't know. A nice pork chop, good bread and some soda topped off what was already a great day. Puerto Rico is agreeing with us! Even with the language thing (I need to speak better Spanish) we still can have fun, get our ideas across and make friends!


Anthony said...

Great dive report. Glad to hear there are awesome dives around the area... can't wait to visit!

mkt3000 said...

I love the wall.. LOVE IT. I also love La Parguera in general ;) Out of curiosity, which dive operator did you use?

Jeff and Katrina Kruse said...

Hi mkt3000 - We are only doing long swims and shore dives...all our dives are 84 minutes so short diving and big bucks don't match our style!

jmmermaid said...

Sounds wonderful! I just gor back from Roatan and loved it there...I posted pictures on Face Book as my site is still not up. Where to settle in retirement? I will be ready in a few short mos. I am first going to Seattle ot see pasquale, then on a Puget sound liveaboard for 5 days, and will be thinking of my dives with you.