Just Get Onboard with HDC!
My wife and I and our two adult children spent a marvelous week in the Huatulco area in early March. A true highlight of the trip was spending the day boating, scuba diving, snorkeling and enjoying an all-around wonderful time with Huatulco Dive Center on an excursion they call "The Bays Tour".
I am a PADI dive professional who leads numerous group scuba diving trips throughout the year. I always look for a PADI certified dive shop or resort when I go to book trips. This trip was extremely important to our family as it will be quite some time before we can get together like again. My daughter, who loves to scuba dive, had not dived with me for nearly 10 years, so I really wanted to make sure that we went out with a professional, safety-conscious, and fun shop.
Huatulco Dive Center and their capable owners and staff really delivered! They are a great group of folks and you must simply book your trips with them, be it for: fishing, whale and dolphin watching, snorkeling, touring the bays, or just about anything that has to do with going out on a boat during your stay.
For those not familiar with the area, it is a stunningly beautiful land and seascape of bays in the Mexican State of Oaxaca along the Pacific Ocean. Each of the bays has its unique character. In my opinion, the all-day tour of these bays with HDC (for those who don't mind being on a boat) is an absolute must.
HDC's shop is located in the Chahue Marina which is just about 10 - 15 minutes from most of the hotels, resorts, and vacation rentals in the area. The owners are Ana, a Mexicana, and Luca, a Northern Italian. Ana is a Divemaster and Luca is an Instructor. David, from France, is also a PADI Professional. All three of them are terrific and great to work with. I always judge a shop by their willingness and ability to communicate prior to the trip and Ana was simply outstanding. Ana answered ALL of my many questions and was just a peach to work with by email and phone. Staff at the shop have most languages covered and they all spoke splendid English (Luca's Italian wasn't even too bad...for a Northern Italian ;-)). BTW - Luca picked us up in his jeep at our hotel the day of our tour - very nice.
I cannot remember the name of the captain of their boat, MAKO, but he was a highly competent skipper with great knowledge of the seas and the creatures within. We began our tour heading out into blue to look for whales and dolphins. While we did not see whales, we saw numerous pods of dolphins and many ocean-going hawksbill turtles - we were even able to make out the wing tips of a giant manta ray - just wonderful.
My daughter and I loved the diving...note that this is Pacific Coast diving in the spring and so you will not get the visibility or large sponges or soft corals that you would get in the Caribbean; however, what you will get are the creatures - in great numbers and in healthy sizes, which have mostly been fished out of Caribbean waters. Ana was the Divemaster for our day trip and she did a great job. While my daughter and I were diving, my wife and son snorkeled with David while the captain kept a keen eye on everyone.
One of the land highlights was stopping for lunch at one of the bays (I'll keep which one a secret because I want all of you to go with HDC and experience it yourself). This particular bay had a series of beachside restaurants on a gorgeous sand beach. We moored out in the bay and were picked up by a small water taxi that brought us to a wonderfully authentic restaurant for a great lunch. Ana knew the owners and they all took great care of us. And BTW - the shrimp in ajillo...OMG!!!
Note that the boat carries bottled water, juice, beer, fruit, chips, and other snacks. The MAKO is 30' long and is powered by twin outboard motors with plenty of horsepower. A big plus is that the MAKO has a marine head (toilet) on board - really handy for a long day at sea! Also, the MAKO has a fixed awning over the boat so it is easy to find either shade or sun.
For divers, deep water entries are made via back roll and exits are performed by handing weights and then scuba units up to the boat and then proceeding to one of the two stern ladders. The ladders do not have handrails; however, without your scuba unit on and with the outboard motor housing next to you, it is a very easy water exit back into the boat.
OK - suffice it to say - great people, shop, boat, and captain. While the shop accepts a variety of payment options, I suggest you arrange your pricing in advance with Ana and pay your deposit via Paypal and then pay the balance in cash (Pesos) when you get there - it will extend your vacation dollars and is better for the shop. Also, please make sure to tip! Just go out with these folks, they are professional, safe, and fun. We would have gone out with them many more times during the week but I came down with the flu midweek and were unable to go again...but we certainly will the next time we go!
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