Trip Report – Curaçao June 2017

By | Trip Reports | No Comments

“Autumn, you are always going to Bonaire. Why don’t you come dive Curacao with us,” asked Ed and Jeramiah of Ocean Encounters Curacao. “You can easily jump over here for a few days after your Bonaire trip and see what we are all about!”  Why not?  I hadn’t dove Curacao before and was excited for the new experience. They had made arrangements for us to stay at 2 of the local hotels so I could see all of the options we have when bringing Scuba Girls to Curacao.

We arrived late Saturday morning and quickly cleared customs.  All of the Dutch Antilles or ABC islands are now individual countries.  We were met at the airport by a driver from Ocean Encounters that handled all of our bags and shuffled us through the maze of narrow, poorly marked streets to our first hotel.

Sunscape Curaçao Resort, Spa & Casino

The Sunscape Resort, Spa and Casino is up to date and all inclusive.  The staff is very friendly and helpful.  They whisked our bags quickly to our room so we could make the afternoon dive.  Ocean Encounters has an onsite dive shop here! The staff was professional, friendly and helpful. Of course, I was delighted to see Stream2Sea Reef Friendly products prominently displayed! We finished filling out the requisite liability releases just as the boat, a Newton 46, arrived to pick us up for the afternoon dive.

Ruth and Autumn

The afternoon was a lion fish hunt and specialty dive. We joined the rest of the group and received very professional training and orientation from Pol of Ocean Encounters at their primary location. Then we boarded the boat to hunt lion fish!  I teamed up with Ruth, a local Ocean Encounters dive master.  I speared 3 lionfish, my first time!  I missed a couple and saw many more of this invasive species.  The water was a warm 81f/27c and clear with over 100 ft visibility.   After the dive, Pol fileted some lion fish and we had sashimi on board! After a lovely afternoon, the boat dropped us off at the resort.  We had dinner at the resort’s Da Mario Italian restaurant, with a nice view overlooking the ocean.  This was carnival night so there was live Samba music and dancing until 3:00am. Ask for a room away from the beach bar if you’re a light sleeper…

 

Lions Dive & Beach Resort

The next morning the boat from Ocean Encounters picked us up and took us to our next hotel, the Lions Dive and Beach Resort. Check in again was easy and the staff friendly and helpful.  After check-in we all met at the dive shop for another great day of diving.

Ocean Encounters primary location is at Lion’s Dive Resort.  This morning’s dive was an open water dolphin encounter unlike any we have ever experienced.  We receive our briefing from George Kieffer of Curacao Sea Aquarium Dolphin Academy.  I’m skeptical, as I have serious issues with captivity.  These dolphins are coastal bottlenose species that were born at the Sea Aquarium dolphin lagoon.  They utilized at the Dolphin Therapy & Research Center as well as for the dolphin experience at the Sea Aquarium.  The center focuses on behavioral research for children with special needs like Autism, Aspergers and Downs Syndrome. We were told the dolphins have access and are taken to the open ocean, but choose to live in their lagoon. Two resident males were expected to join us on the dive.

We boarded the boat for a short ride to the dive site, Ship Wreck Point.  Once in the water, it didn’t take long for one dolphin and his trainer, George Kieffer, to show up.  It was very apparent that these two had a special bond.  They loved each other.  The encounter lasted for about 45 minutes, with the dolphin speeding around the divers, leaping in the air and circling back to his trainer for snuggles. Despite my hesitation, this was an experience I recommend and would repeat many times if I could!

Hemingway Restaurant and Bar

We returned to the resort for lunch at their Hemingway Restaurant and Bar.  The afternoon dive was the Coral Restoration Foundation Specialty Dive.  We had a very professional briefing from Pol, Ocean Encounters primary instructor.  Ocean Encounters sponsors a Coral Restoration Foundation site on Curacao. Pol and Jeramiah lead the work there.  On the dive, we were shown the different coral nurseries and helped in maintaining and growing more corals! Curacao is one of the last places in the Caribbean where coral still thrives but it is threated. Even in Curacao, you can see the coral is not as healthy as it once was. We applaud Ocean Encounters for investing in and educating about Coral Restoration.  This is a must dive when visiting Curacao!
Back to the resort, we enjoyed generous after dive cocktails and dinner at Hemingway’s.  The resort is quiet and restful, quite a difference from the lively Casino resort next door.  The rooms were comfortable and clean.  Bring a power adapter as electricity is 220v with European 2 pin outlets.

We spent the next two days exploring some of the island nation’s pristine dive sites, East Point, Newport, Blue Bay Gardens and Mushroom forest. The winds were high, but the captain was able to find quiet bays and lagoons to enjoy our lunch.  It was sad to leave Curacao and our vist with Ocean Encounters, but we will be back! Many thanks to Jeremiah, Ed, Pol, Ruth and the rest of the staff there that made our visit so enjoyable. We can now highly recommend Ocean Encounters and Curacao as Scuba Girl Approved for your next Scuba Girl adventure!

 

Autumn Blum is the found of Scuba Girls and the Owner and Chief Formulator at Stream2Sea.

 

Trip Report – Bonaire May 2017

By | Trip Reports | 2 Comments

Most international flights arrive and depart Bonaire on Saturday.   I planned to arrive in Bonaire early Saturday in order to greet everyone.  When cancelled all of its international flights, we arrived with almost everyone else and the adventure began!
We picked up our rental trucks from Avis Bonaire.  With a little patience, they made this almost effortless.  We took the full insurance (recommended).  Then we all got checked into the Sand Dollar Condominium, unpacked, set up dive gear and went to the grocery store to get essentials for the week!

Sunday started, as we would almost every day, with the included breakfast buffet.  It has a wonderful view and was a great way to plan the day’s dives.   After breakfast we signed in with Dive Friends Bonaire , got our required Bonaire orientation and purchased our STINAPA pass from the Bonaire Marine Park. With that completed, we all headed out to the house reef for our checkout dives. With some minor weight and gear adjustments, the buddy teams headed out to explore the island’s numerous dive sites. I began working with our youngest Scuba Girl Kayla on her Advanced Open Water Diver training!

Monday – Breakfast as usual and then off to explore Bari Reef with its sunken tugboat and the Hilma Hooker wreck.  Kayla completed her deep and wreck adventure dives like a rockstar.  We had lunch from the world famous food truck Kite City Catering at Kite City beach and dive site – if you find yourself eating with them every day, we will understand.  Afternoon nap, because we can set our own schedule, followed by light dinner at the condo.  Then it was time for a night dive at the house reef!  The tarpon are your constant companions on these spectacular dives. Thanks to Yoyo for spotting the octopus!

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tuesday we skipped our breakfast buffet to go diving on the “wild side” with East Coast Diving !  This is one of the few boat dives we recommend in Bonaire . We don’t include it in the package, because part of the appeal of Bonaire is NO SCHEDULE and NO BOATS, but this one really is spectacular! I’ve never seen so many sea turtles! They launch and load their custom Zodiac boat at Lac Bay then proceed out the channel to dive White Hole Reef (62 on the map) on the first dive. We returned to Lac Bay for our surface interval and to switch tanks. Then back out to dive Cai reef (62 on the map). The reef is healthy and the crew is as professional as you will meet anywhere in the world.

 

White Hole Reef

Wednesday and Thursday we breakfasted in the morning and compared notes in the evening. The rest of the day was spent diving and exploring the island with the different buddy teams going all different directions.

I left the divers Wednesday afternoon and visited all the local dive centers carrying my biodegradable and reef friendly Stream2Sea products. My distributor arranged a training at Captain Don’s with Coral Restoration Foundation, the Bonaire Tourism Board and several of the local leaders in dive training. While I was teaching locals about the hazards of sunscreen pollution, our divers were off enjoying more of the beautiful Bonaire reefs.

Friday was our last day of diving, with the afternoon saved for exploring the island. I finished Kayla’s advanced open water course diving at Something Special and Yellow Submarine reefs with her in the morning. Some of our divers had a blast meeting the donkeys! That evening, we celebrated a great week with new and old friends with dinner sea side catered by Kite City Catering!

Saturday we said our fare wells. It was a great time diving with new friends and old! John and I departed Bonaire for Curacao and our next adventure. We hope to see everyone again soon!

 

Autumn

Autumn Blum is the founder of Scuba Girls and the owner and chief formulator at Stream 2 Sea.

 

 

 

The Headache of Fish ID!

By | Go Ask Lizzie! | 2 Comments

When friends post pictures on Facebook with fish that they do not know the identification of, I can’t help but drop whatever I am doing and try to identify.

So was the story with the above picture.  My friend, Ori, was diving in Sinai and snapped the above picture of this black and white fish.  It has everything one needs to ID; colors, patterns, and visible mouth and fins.

Color and pattern are not very good things to start with because they can change with age, sexual maturity, time of day, gender, and mood; but I’m not going to lie, I started my search on Google with “red sea black and white fish,” which turned up…

NOTHING

So then I really looked at the shape of the fish, specifically the mouth and fins.  This is where you need to know a little about fish morphology and where things get confusing with this particular fish.  The caudal (fancy name for tail) fin is snapper/grunt-ish (slightly forked), while the mouth looks more like a drum (rounded nose with small mouth near bottom of face).  I started with drums because here in the Atlantic, we have the Spotted Drum which has similar patterns including stripes and spots.  Back to Google with “red sea drum fish”…

Even less helpful than before….

So I tried going for the caudal fin with “red sea black and white grunts” because grunts are more likely to be striped and the size of the fish in question; nothing.  Let’s try “red sea black and white snapper”…

At this point, I have just about given up.  As a scrolled down, I found this:

The face it right, but the tail is all wrong!  This fish has a paddle tail while our fish has a forked tail.  But hey, I have no other leads, so let’s check this out.  Delve a little into the black hole of the internet and I find that the above picture is a juvenile black and white snapper (Macolor niger).  So I then looked up what adult black and white snapper look like.

Dear God that is an ugly fish.  But it does answer my question, kinda.  It tells us that this fish changes drastically with age.  Many books only document juvenile and adult phases for fish; only fish that change gender will have a known intermediate stage.  Here goes nothing; “intermediate black and white snapper.”  Along with some diagrams of snowthrowers, I found a couple pictures of our fish!

When trying to identify fish, never forget that they can change color, pattern, size, and in some cases, even shape!

 

Scuba Girl Lizzie an Ocean Scientist and Safety Officer.  She is currently working as assistant Safety Officer on the crew of the Aquarius Reef Base underwater habitat.  She can be emailed at: “lizzie@scubagirls.com”

2016 Holiday Diver Gift Guide for your Scuba Girl or Guy!

By | Scuba Diving | One Comment

 Are you looking for the perfect gift for your Scuba Girl or Guy?
Here are a few of our favorite gift ideas for that Diver in your life!


The ultimate gift of Dive Travel!

What better gift than a dive vacation with your friends at Scuba Girls?  Join one of our adventures including a week of unlimited diving in Curacao or Bonaire! How about a photo expedition with Hammerheads or Great White Sharks?  Or a relaxing dive vacation in Fiji?  All on our books for 2017!  Any one of these trips would make a wonderful gift for any diver on your list.  Log into scubagirls.com/adventures for more details!

Bimini Hammerhead Adventure – January 27 2017

Dive Bonaire! – 27 May 2017

Fiji Getaway – 19 October 2017


Do you love a good mystery?

How about an underwater adventure? Scuba Girl Micki Browning’s debut novel merges her love of diving with her history in law enforcement to give us a dive adventure involving Key Largo’s Spiegel Grove. This is a great read for any diver or mystery lover. ADRIFT is available for download to your eReader or device of choice. Support a Scuba Girl, and love every word in the process!

 adrift

Adrift at Random House

 


Give the gift of Eco Consciousness this season!

Did you know that many of the chemicals in sunscreens and body care products have been shown to harm our reefs and fish?  Maintain your good karma by using Scuba Girl Autumn’s products.  The sunscreen is highly water resistant and won’t burn your eyes, the leave-in conditioner is a salty girl’s best friend after a dive, and the Sun & Sting Gel will soothe even the worst fire coral or jelly fish sting without leaving you smelling like vinegar.  Stream2Sea is available in many dive centers and health food stores, and also at www.stream2sea.com/products
Use coupon code ScubaGirls2016 for an extra 15% off!

 

ECO Conscious Kit from Stream 2 Sea

www.stream2sea.com/products


Custom Dive Clock

This dive flag wall clock is a fun timepiece for any diver!  Choose from designs that include a shark, a turtle or simply the dive flag.  At only $16.95 how could you go wrong?

Custom Dive Clock


Dry Robes

Diving in the winter can be exhilarating, and appropriate exposure protection keeps us comfortable in the water, but are you prepared for when you get out?  Whether you are back on the boat, on shore after a cold dive, or are just wet and cold, the Dry Robe is your answer.  It’s roomy enough to put on over your wetsuit and change out of your wet dive gear and into dry clothes.  This is a must for any diver who doesn’t want to be cold.

 Dry Robe

Also be sure to check out the short sleeve towel dry robe!

Short Sleave Dry Robe

 


Norman The Nurse Shark

Perfect for your young Divers-To-Be!  Our friends at Sharks4Kids wrote this great book teaching kids how to share their love of sharks!  All proceeds support shark education around the world!

Norman the Nurse Shark


Lunchboxes – not just for kids!

Let’s face it, diving takes energy, and while we are often having a great time during a dive, we are burning off a lot of calories.  This BPA free diver lunch box makes a  perfect gift for the diver in your life.  Pack some healthy snacks or lunch to munch on in between dives and refuel.  And you can’t beat the awesome artwork on the lunchboxes!

Scuba Lunch Box

 


 

Stay Hydrated & Go Plastic Free

Staying hydrated is incredibly important for divers.  Keep your cool all day with the spill-proof AUTOSEAL® Chill.  Just press to sip and release to seal automatically.  The spout cover helps to protect against dirt and germs when you’re finished hydrating.  Plus drinks stay cold up to 18 hrs. and the bottle is BPA free.   Bonus!  Using this bottle also helps minimize waste – no disposable water bottles or plastic cups.  That’s a win!

 

Contigo

 


Best Dive Hoods Ever!

Keeping our heads warm while diving is important in colder waters.  Terrapin makes some of the cutest hoods you will find anywhere!  Choose from batman horns, devil horns, nudibranchs, clown fish … there is sure to be a hood that the scuba diver in your life will adore.  Heck, get one for yourself, too, while you’re at it.  We promise, you will always know who your buddy is!

 

Terrapin Wetsuit Hoods

 


For the Tea Lover

For the scuba and tea lover, why not get them a deep TEA diver!  This dishwasher and food-safe diver tea infuser is adorable, and the stainless steel “tank” serves as a handy counter weight.

Deep Tea diver

 


 Make a Difference – Adopt a Shark!

Do you know someone who loves sharks (and really, who doesn’t love those gorgeous and adorable creatures)?  Then why not adopt a shark for them this holiday season.

Adopt A Shark


Don’t Lose Your Dough!

This handmade copper plated money clip is absolutely gorgeous.  Although traditionally a man’s gift, most women divers would love one too!  Imagine how stylish you will look tipping the crew!

Diver Clip


Leggings for Water  Lovers

These leggings aren’t just functional and cute, but each pair repurposes 10 recycled plastic bottles!  Add in a percentage of the proceeds supporting ocean conservation, and we are in love!

Waterlust Leggings


 

And remember, whatever holiday you celebrate, dive safe, dive responsibly, and have fun!

Scuba Girl Allison

Questions? We're happy to help! Contact us by email at dive@scubagirls.com