Thursday, September 19, 2013

Glamping and Blue Hole Dives, Andros, Bahamas

Just back from one of the most fun weekends I can remember! This past weekend Small Hope Bay Lodge owner, Jeff Birch, took some staff to South Andros for the weekend to do some blue hole dives. It was a great opportunity for some of us to get a chance to see some of the amazing natural beauty of the area as well as dive some of the most amazing caves and caverns in the world.

We called our friends down at Tiamo, a resort on South Andros, who are closed for the season. They happily invited us to use their resort as our camp site while we were down there. Not your typical campsite - we had use of the pool, showers and more, not to mention our amazing welcome night with great wine and champagne.

Our first morning we took the boat to the small dock and headed south by car to Stargate, an incredibly beautiful and ornately decorated cave dive. This is, hands down, one of the coolest dive any of us have ever done - amazing stalactites and wall formations. We even saw a blind cave fish!

Next up was El Dorado, an awe-inspiring, jaw-dropping, cave dive. El Dorado starts as you head into the mouth of the cave, visible from above water as well, through a tunnel filled with great wall formations and stalactites (quite a few blind cave fish too!). But then, you start to see light at the far end of this tunnel and you end up beneath a different lake, looking up through the green light.

We turned around and returned to our entry point. As this dive was only at a depth of 90' we had plenty of time to play around outside the mouth of the cave, checking out the debris, wall formations, and sediment. There was a vere eerie mist too!

After a very full (and cool) day of diving we all headed back to our campsite (and the infinity pool) at Tiamo. We rounded out a great day with some tasty tacos and, all exhausted and looking forward to our final dive the next day, went to bed very early.

On Sunday, after camp fire coffee and breakfast, we hopped in the boat once more and headed to the road and the last dive of the trip, Mohrdohr. This place is a bit further into the bush and we had to trek all the gear in. It is a beautiful walk though - views of 3 blue holes, tons of different butterflies, and at least 2 Great Lizard Cuckoos that stopped to check us out. The surface of this blue hole is almost as impressive as beneath the water . There is a land bridge that connects this blue hole with another so you can swim between the two. This dive, Mohrdohr, is technically a cavern dive as outside light is visible at all times. We had a depth of 110' here, but the most impressive part of this dive is coming out. It is a giant room, like a big cathedral, and when you turn around there is a huge column of light coming from the entrance, illuminating the sides and floor of the entire entrance. Breathtaking! 

After this, we hiked back out to the cars, then took the boat back to the camp site to pack all our stuff. We said goodbye to our friends at Tiamo and some of the boys headed back to Small Hope with most of the dive and camping gear on the boat, and the rest of us flew with Jeff, doing a couple fly-bys of the boat on the way.

All in all, an amazing weekend! Can't wait till the next time. Thanks boss!
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Wednesday, September 11, 2013

It's a Small (Hope) World After All . . .

Last month we took our vacation. Living in a tropical paradise like Andros, Bahamas many people wondered where we could go that would be more beautiful. But vacation is always good and meeting new people and visiting new places are some of my very favorite things to do in the world. 


Boquete, Panama
We decided to visit a little of Central America. Flights directly to Panama from Nassau made it even easier. So we visited Panama and Costa Rica, each for one week. In Panama, since we are not really city people, we went to a beautiful little town called Boquete, near the volcano Baru, and in the lush green mountains. It was incredilble! Living on the beach, it was a refreshing change to get up in to the mountains.

Then we went to Costa Rica. Having used the site before, I looked for property rentals on Picking a region completely at random then scanning photos and rates we found a lovely little Indonesian-style casita in the Puntarenas area on the Pacific side. Looking
My reading spot
more closely at the property information I was very surprised when I read the owner information. It said the owners, Mac and Sharon, "met on the island of Andros, in the Bahamas and feel in love "underwater" in the blue seas". Living on Andros for two years now, I know there are very few dive centers on the island and the most probable place they could have met was right here at Small Hope Bay Lodge!!! I emailed them about renting their property and tolde them we were both divemasters at Small Hope. It turns out Mac was actually a former divemaster too! He worked here in 1979 for one season. Sharon came to Small Hope as a guest and that's how they met. 

What a small world!Well, as it seemed too big a coincidence to ignore and we booked our week in Costa Rica at their place. And I am so glad we did. 

My porch

 The grounds at Bali Rica, are the definition of tropical, lush beauty. We spent a most relaxing week simply enjoying our spot, Casa Rica, the grounds and the surprisingly stellar restaurants in the little town. And it was great talking to mac and Sharon about Small Hope, what's changed, what will never change, Margo and Alex, Moose, Brendal, Irene and all our mutual acquaintances.

All In all, an absolutely wonderful vacation! 

Mac and Sharon, Bali Rica, Costa Rica
 I highly recommend contacting them if you are interested in visiting Costa Rica! That is, when you are not visiting us at Small Hope Bay Lodge!!!

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