free plentiful pico de gallo on request, $5 guacamole well worth it. Service amiably chaotic but accommodating; they want you to have a good time. Open water diving (overall, inferior to Cozumel) from open high-gunwale 20' boat that leaves from shore 200 yards up the beach. Seats 6 easily, 8 tight. Entry simultaneous backrolls. Exit: hand up weights, shed BCD/tank, climb up aluminum ladder. Dives drift (fast current), boat chases bubbles, divers in a loose swarm (no strict Follow-The-Leader). Terrain long ridges and rills with sand chutes, few swim-throughs, could go hunting in chutes. Coral plentiful but often broken or sand-covered. Fish sparse. Fills 3200+, first dive typically 80-90' for 40, second 40-50' for 55. Water 79- 80° (3mm full-body OK, less invites cold), viz limited (40-80' depending on chop and sunshine). Seas often too rough for boat to go out. Cavern diving (within 200' of light/ air) from cenotes are the reason to come. Load into van, drive 10-15 min then off road into jungle, park, suit up and go. Groups of 4 escorted by a very safety conscious guide. No tight spaces. Diving through living underground caverns and rivers – stalactites/ stalagmites galore, marvelous glowing blue light at entrance. Viz pristine (150+’) as if the water were not there. Virtually no life (tiny fish). Water 77° (cold). Descending, you encounter the halocline, where lighter colder fresh water lies on top of warmer sea water: immiscible liquids, when kicked through, they swirl and smear, spectacular effect. Day-long excur- sions possible to Coba (large Mayan
city embedded in the jungle), Tulum (smatter site with a few well preserved ruins in a lovely seaside setting), with side jaunts to cenote Calaveras (10' jump-in snorkeling) and Playa Akumal (lagoon snorkeling, poor viz (silt, halocline) but fun nooks and crannies to explore and lots of fish (3 midnight blue parrot, 1 enormous rainbow parrot). Great place to find out if cavern/cave diving is your thing – don’t go for open-water except as a break from the caverns. (Aquatech/ Villas DeRosa: 52-987-59020, website www.cenotes.com)
Puerto Rico has always been a waypoint to other dive destinations in the Caribbean, but as dive tourism infrastructure develops, more divers are stopping to sample the reefs. While night life is abundant, crime is somewhat of a problem . . .
Aquatica Tour, Captain Elik “Finci” Hernandez, 2000, Luis Munoz, Chicago, IL. I saw in the July 2000 issue comments by Darryl and Trish Boyer (Lincoln, DE) about Mona and Monito Islands on the west coast of Puerto Rico. I bumped into them while diving with Parguera Divers run by Efra Figueroa. It just so happened that I and my dive buddy had dived Mona and Monito a week earlier. I went to Jose’ Rafols from Aquatica in Aguadilla (787-890-6071, whom I’ve been diving with since 1993, and he referred me to Tour Marine Captain Elik “Finci” Hernandez (787-851-
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