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Diving with… Diane Martino, Lumbadive PADI 5 Star Resort, Carriacou, Grenada

Caribbean DTA Team

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In this ongoing series, we speak to the people who run dive centres, resorts and liveaboards from around the world about their businesses and the diving they have to offer…


What is your name?

Diane Martino

What is the name of your business?

Lumbadive PADI 5 Star Resort

What is your role within the business?

Owner, Public relation, Accountant, Instructor, Tour operator.

How long has the business operated for?

Lumbadive has existed since 2000, we purchased it in 2009. We extended it from a 8X10ft office to over 25 x 45ft and added showers, equipment rinsing area and a balcony facing the bay.

How long have you dived for, and what qualification are you?

PADI MSDT Instructor, diving since 1986 with more than 6000 dives.

What is your favorite type of diving?

All of them as long as I can take pictures!

If you could tell people one thing about your business (or maybe more!) to make them want to visit you what would it be?

Lumbadive is a very friendly dive operation.  We like to go beyond expectations by offering more than dive services. We take care of everything from the moment your plane lands in Grenada.  Lumbadive staff will take care of you equipment, set up your gear before you arrive in the morning, bring it to the boat, help you to gear up when the dive site is reached and sit on the edge for your roll back or pass it on to you in the water.

On your return, you will be served fresh water or hot chicken broth (night dive) and homemade cookies or cake between the dives. When the boat reaches the dock, we will carry your equipment back to the dive center, rinse it and hang it to dry till your next dive. The water is clear, reefs healthy and there is an array of fish where ever you jump in the water.  Very often we organise pot luck beach BBQs, picnics on a virgin island or mud baths for our guests.

What is your favorite dive in your location and why?

Sister Rocks is beautiful and brings a lot of pelagics. You will found large gorgonians, sea fans, azur sponge vases, to name a few. Look below, look above your head, check the in blue, you will always see something to amaze you. I also like Tropical Hill, a pinnacle that provides the possibility of doing a lot of marvellous pictures day and night.  The coral offers lots of bioluminescence.  Decorative crabs,  Spanish sleeper lobsters, giant basket stars: these are some of my favourite to shoot out during night dive.

What types of diving are available in your location?

Reef, Wreck, Wall, Drift, Deep, Shallow, macro photo sites.

What do you find most rewarding about your current role?

Introducing someone to the underwater world is an incredible reward. Even a snorkeler doesn’t have the same feeling of this world. I love to see the sparkles in the eyes of people after a dive.

What is your favorite underwater creature?

I’m excited when I found a frogfish as they are so difficult to find. I like to search for small creatures like nudibranch or shrimps, but always amazed by the majestic swim of eagle rays.

Are there any exciting changes / developments coming up in the near future?

Every year we invest in our dive resort. Soon we will open another terrace with a bar so divers can sit and talk about their dives at the end of the day.  Another project is an association with a hotel in construction where we can have a second office to serve their clientele. We have developed many PADI distinctive specialties such as: Introduction to Marine Biology, Aquanaut diver, Sealab Technician and Reef Restoration diver as we believe that many divers are interested to understand how it works down there and do action to keep reefs alive.

As a center what is the biggest problem you face at the moment?

Carriacou is a 13 square mile island, part of the three state islands of Grenada. Reaching Carriacou is not always easy. How to get divers to Carriacou is one of the biggest problems. Many of our divers mentioned that reefs surrounding Carriacou are the most healthy of the Caribbean.  Promoting Carriacou as a special diving destination where reefs are still in excellent condition is difficult as most travel agents think about Grenada without mentioning Carriacou or refer it as a ‘hopping island’ during a trip. Carriacou has is own niche; travel agents need to sell it as is.

Is your center involved in any environmental work?

Beach and shore clean ups are done a minimum twice a year.  Dive site cleanup on every dive. We encourage divers to use the mesh bag we insert in the BCD we rent.  We created coral grow trees in order to transplant coral on reefs who need it. On every dive we bring a pole spear with us in order to control the Lionfish population; we offer our divers the chance to earn their PADI Lionfish tracker c-card. We displace sea urchins in order to keep the coral reef clean and get necessary light to grow again. We sank seven  artificial reef wrecks within the last 3 years.

How do you see the SCUBA / Freediving / snorkeling industry overall? What changes would you make?

More and more divers have all their gear, many sailors own compressors on their sail boat and could dive anywhere without the need for a dive resort. Divers revenue increase and they could afford more remote locations with smaller groups.  Of the 40 dive sites we have, many of them are suitable for snorkeling. Plenty of our non-diver guests opt for two snorkel sites (half day). Sister rocks offers a lovely wall where Free Diving can be practiced. Our on call Free Diving instructor can introduce you to this sport during your holiday. Let us know and we will organise it for you. Our doors are open to anyone who is interested in activity in water, from free Saturday swim classes to local kids and adults to more technical dive courses. LUMBADIVE will be please to meet your satisfaction and go beyond.

What would you say to our visitors to promote the diving you have to offer?

Carriacou is a destination that is still off the beaten path.  Although you can find all services it is not yet known as touristic island. No huge all inclusive hotels but lovely laidback cottages, apartments, villas and small hotels (25 rooms and less) in our paradise that can fill your requirements. Many of them are a few steps away from our office. Enjoy pure diving in Carriacou! Reefs, wrecks, drift, wall, macro photo, pelagic, we have it all. Only three dive centers on the Island, so you will see more fish than divers. Although LUMBADIVE PADI 5 STAR can deal with large groups we prefer small groups to which we can provide more personal attention. Carriacou has a very welcoming population. Lime & Dive, Carriacou is the place to be!

Where can our visitors find out more about your business?

www.lumbadive.com

FacebookTwitter, Instagram

Skype: lumbadive

Email: dive@lumbadive.com

WhatsApp: 473-457-4539

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News

Jeff chats to… Dr Katey Lesneski from Coral Vita, winners of the Earthshot Prize (Watch Video)

Jeff Goodman

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In this exclusive Zoom interview, Jeff Goodman, Scubaverse Editor-at-Large, chats to Dr. Katey Lesneski, Director of Restoration Science at Coral Vita, about the future of coral reefs.

Coral Vita are the winners of the £1million Revive Our Oceans Earthshot Prize. You can read our story on this HERE.

While often mistaken as being from lower latitudes, Katey is a true New England native at heart. Escaping the winter at opportune times, Katey has volunteered, studied, and worked in Trinidad and Tobago, Turks and Caicos, Belize, and the Florida Keys. Her time in these communities before college, studying abroad while at Brown, and during her PhD at Boston University led her to appreciate the importance of community involvement, which she gained a deeper understanding of as a 2018 Switzer Environmental Fellow. Katey has enjoyed weaving her knowledge of coral reef conservation and management into lesson plans for when she was a middle school science teacher, a graduate Teaching Fellow, and a divemaster and assistant scuba instructor.

Katey currently works as the Director of Restoration Science at Coral Vita, where she applies her background of marine ecology and genetics to reef restoration projects. Now that she is done with her PhD she is rediscovering “free” time, and enjoys freshwater fish husbandry, plant cultivation, reading sci-fi novels, and just about any watersport. She lives with her adopted potcake pup Dogtor Pepí in Freeport, Grand Bahama.

Find out more about the work of Coral Vita at www.coralvita.co


Rather listen to a podcast? Listen to the audio HERE on the new Scubaverse podcast channel at Anchor FM.

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Blogs

The Scuba Genies head to Bonaire! Part 2 of 2

The Scuba Genies

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In the second of this two-part blog, The Scuba Genies share their trip report from the Come Dive with Us hosted trip to Bonaire in September 2021. Missed Part One? Read it here!

There is another dive we just must share with you and one that we can confidently call a ‘Dive of a Lifetime’. There were 12 of us in our group, and collectively we have logged in excess of 8000 dives in some very special places around the world. And every one of us was totally blown away by this dive! A fellow diver, by way of the Girls that Scuba FB group mentioned that if the timing was right, an ostracod dive was one not to miss. A link to an online article noted that 2 to 5 days after a full moon and 45 minutes after sunset, was the best time to observe the mating ritual of these tiny creatures. And only if they have not been exposed to light of any kind. That meant no streetlights and no torches. NO TORCHES!

We lucked out and were in Bonaire during a full moon and planned our Ostracod dive carefully. One the fifth night after the full moon we headed south to Red Beryl, a site we had previously been to and knew the terrain. We were in awe of the soft coral forest at the site, and this was the perfect environment for the ostracods. As the ‘show’ only lasts about 20 minutes, we entered the water while it was still light and left a beacon on the shore to help guide us after the dive. We gently finned out over the sand and hovered above the soft coral at around 8 metres as the dark crept in. Little sparks of light started to appear in ones and twos, and then just as we had hoped, chains of these tiny creature were all around us, in hundreds and then thousands! Everywhere you looked, the ostracods were rising to the surface, like underwater fireflies linked together flashing their bioluminescence one after the other, giving us nature’s most amazing firework show! The only way I can explain it is seeing thousands of Tinkerbells all at once! 20 minutes later, it was all over so we turned on our torches and headed slowly back to the shallows, happy to find a sleeping turtle, scorpion fish, more octopus and lots of little creatures.

As our holiday inevitably came to an end, we chose a site within minutes of Buddy’s called The Invisibles. A highly recommended dive site, we parked up alongside the beach, kitted up and walked down the rock beach and into the water. 95 minutes later, we walked back up the beach with memories of green turtles feeding, free-swimming moray, immense sponges and a plethora of anemones with their tenant critters – shrimp, crabs, and all things fascinating. And back in the sandy shallows we didn’t know where to look! A golden spotted snake eel, juvenile angel fish and a box crab that scuttled across the seabed before vanishing into the sand in a finger-click.

In summary, the diving here was very special – it truly lives up to its reputation of being one of the best destinations to visit, and in fact, over-delivered when it came to our expectations from the Caribbean. To mix it up, in addition to shore diving we also scheduled 4 days of boat diving right from the dock at Buddy’s. We were able to explore all around Klein Bonaire and reach some of the more difficult shore-entry sites including Karpata and 1,000 Steps. We would recommend this highly if only to get away from a daily dose of sand in your boots!

Buddy’s is a full-service dive operation, offering quality accommodation, good food, and the dive centre is as slick an operation as we have ever seen or experienced. The drive-thru tank station is genius for shore diving, the house reef is easily accessed, and the boat diving from the dock on one of their 5 purpose-built dive boats is organised perfectly. Catering for newbies all the way through to technical and rebreather divers, Buddy’s delivers it all, and very well. The staff are fun, highly professional, and the whole set-up is geared to making a dive trip work without any fuss. Even the shop is very well stocked with kit, spares, forgotten stuff and replacements for broken things!

Importantly, Buddy’s is also a supporter and enforcer of the Marine Park protection rules – the whole of the island is surrounded by a protected marine reserve, so no touching, no gloves, no pointy-sticks. Turtle nesting and coral regeneration programmes are evident, and given the fantastic health of the reefs, the protection initiatives and regulations work.

Would we go back? Without any hesitation, and repeatedly!

Bonaire delivered the goods. Great diving, great accommodation and freedom to dive wherever and whenever you want – especially with the tanks on the house reef available 24/7. A perfect destination for dive clubs and groups as the 3–bedroom apartments really work.

Bonaire is exceptional value for money. There are very few places on this planet where you can dive so much for so little in a great marine environment.

Key Facts:

  • Getting there: Flights with KLM to Bonaire depart from any major UK airport via Amsterdam. From London Heathrow it was a 12-hour total flight time. An extra 23kg bag also costs less than £90 return if booked in advance.
  • Air temperature: Tropical – average daily temperature throughout the year is 31’, reasonable rainfall (passes quickly) and the sea breezes are most welcome!
  • Water temperature: 28-30°C. A 1-3mm full suit is recommended to protect from scratches and stings and to keep the sand out.
  • Visa requirement: No tourist visa was required, but under COVID there are protocols in place. See https://www.bonairecrisis.com/en/travel-to-bonaire/ for the current requirements.
  • Currency: US Dollar with ATMs easily found, and all major credit cards are accepted.
  • Electricity: 120V with American 3- and 2-pin plugs. Our US/UK converters worked without issue

Accommodation: You mention Bonaire and Buddy Dive Resort is the first place people mention. Only 10 minutes from the airport makes for a super simple transfer. Multiple room types, all with kitted out kitchens and air-conditioned bedrooms. Two pools, two restaurants, full-service dive shop and staff always around to answer questions or lend a hand.

Diving: With both world class shore and boat diving available, warm and clear water, abundant marine life, coral and sponges like you’ve never seen, what more could you ask for?

Price Guide: Expect from £1500 per person based on two sharing for 7 nights with bed and breakfast. Unlimited shore and house reef diving, Nitrox and car rental all included. Return flights and transfers also included.

Additional costs:

  • STINAPA Marine Park passes: $45 per calendar year. We purchased ours online prior to departure and carried a copy in the vehicle when shore diving.
  • Buddy Dive Vehicle Insurance: $19 per day of vehicle rental for one named driver for the duration of your stay. For an extra $5 you can name another driver for a day. This was added to the room bill, and we split the cost with the rest of our apartment.

Our Advice: Stay longer…. 10 days would be the perfect amount of time in our opinion to get the most out of the shore and boat diving. And with numerous flights during the week to choose from, any duration can easily be arranged.


Find out more about the worldwide dive itineraries that The Scuba Place offers at www.thescubaplace.co.uk.

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