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Diving with… Pro Dive International at Allegro Cozumel, Mexico

Caribbean DTA Team

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In this ongoing series, we speak with 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?

Ignacio Muñoz Avalos

What is the name of your business?

Pro Dive International – Mexico & Dominican Republic

What is your role within the business?

Base Leader at Pro Dive International at Allegro Cozumel

How long has the business operated for?

Since 2003.

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

10 years as a dive professional, but it’s been almost 30 years since the first time I dove. I’m a MSDT.

What is your favorite type of diving?

I like drift diving, but also photography.

Photo: David Jones

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

We are located in the middle of the Cozumel National Park. This premium location allows us to enjoy the best sites that Cozumel has to offer with very short boat rides. All our guides are MSDT’s so they are prepared to help both, beginner as well as very experienced divers. We group our divers depending on experience, and we maximize bottom times so that everyone that has enough air can do a long nice dive. Also we provide NITROX for free.

What is your favorite dive in your location and why?

That’s a very hard question. There are so many nice dives here. To see life and experience fast drifts I love diving in Cedral Wall. To see spectacular coral formations Palancar Caves or Bricks are a must. And of course if I want to go for a deep dive Punta Sur is amazing, especially during Eagle Ray season when lots of the congregate on that spot.

Photo: Stefan Heer

What types of diving are available in your location?

All the dives in Cozumel are drift dives. Some slow, some fast. Amount and diversity of marine life is one of the best in the Caribbean, both for small and big life. And the big coral formations of the Palancar are unique and breath-taking. We also have one nice wreck in the Park, a minesweeper from WWII.

What do you find most rewarding about your current role?

The chance of meeting divers from all around the world and introduce them to one of the best diving destinations that the Caribbean has to offer. But what I really love is teaching new divers. Being able to see their smiles after their first dives is priceless.

What is your favorite underwater creature?

Octopus

Photo: Larry Cohen

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

I wouldn’t say change, but I see there are more and more initiatives from the National park and other NGOs with research studies and other campaigns that aim to make everybody realize that we need to be more careful with how we deal and treat our oceans. Especially divers.

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

Having to compete with other operations that offer lower prices but whose standards are really lacking in safety for the divers. Several times we have to help divers from other dive shops that are left adrift on their own and have no clue of even the name of the boat they are diving with. Not to mention occasions in which we have to jump in with our emergency oxygen kits to help divers from other operations because their shops don’t carry O2 to save themselves a couple of extra bucks.

Is your center involved in any environmental work?

We are pushing for a plastic free dive center so we are trying to get rid of as many as possible plastic products.

Photo: Stefan Heer

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

I think there’s a need for more companies that put safety on top of everything else. In far too many places there aren’t enough regulations to ensure everybody follows good practices.

It’s a growing industry for sure, but more efforts are needed as an industry to protect and preserve the oceans and its ecosystems.

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

Cozumel is one of the best diving destinations. That’s not a discovery. But we at Pro Dive International aim to help you discover the best places, the best sites that our island has to offer. I’ve dived all over the world and there aren’t many places where you can see so much life in one dive. My record is 16 turtles between Green see, Hawksbill and Loggerhead in just one dive! And the night dives here in Cozumel are just so cool with lots of octopus, eels, snakes, huge lobsters and king crabs.

At Allegro Cozumel, we also feature the “Ultimate Dive Experience” – a VIP-Stay & Dive concept unique in the Caribbean, adopted to the specific needs of our divers.

Where can our visitors find out more about your business? 

Just visit www.prodiveinternational.com or email us at info@prodiveinternational.com.

Facebook:

@prodiveinternational 

@prodivemexico

@prodivedominicanrepublic

@prodivemexicoacademy

Twitter:

twitter.com/prodiveinter

Blogs

Lovin’ Saint Lucia: Two wreck dives and a wedding (part 3)

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

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Whilst we have been lucky enough to dive in much of the Caribbean, Saint Lucia was still on our wish list. Until November when we got a chance to visit this beautiful island on a 6-night diving trip that would see us enjoy with incredible scenery both above and below the waves. We were able to sample three different hotels, dined at a host of local eateries, spoke to local school kids about the ocean and even took a tour into the rainforest canopy. Find out all about this trip over this series of three blogs on Caribbean Dive Adventures.


Our final day of diving saw us heading south again to the wreck of the Lesleen M. The wreck was sunk as an artificial reef in 1986. It sits upright in the water just off Anse Cochon in about 20m of water at its deepest point. AS it has been in the water for over 3 decades, it is now covered in marine life. Yellow and purple sponges rise up from the deck and off railings. Gorgonian corals created huge curtains across the walkways and on the bow and stern. The prop is covered in orange sponges and cup corals. Barracuda and porcupinefish cruise the middle section of the boat. Schools of reef fish live in the covered section of the stern. There is life everywhere you look. To make the most of this dive, bring a light, as the colours are incredible.

We were lucky to have been able to dive the wreck as a buddy pair, without any other groups. But we loved the dive so much we asked if we could join the group for another dive on the wreck as our final dive of the trip. However, the group we were going to dive with were a little bit special! Two of the group had got married the day before. Nine of the family (mum, dad, the happy couple, sisters, brothers, and their partners) who had come to Saint Lucia for the wedding were on our boat. We offered to take an underwater photo of them. Getting the shot was not as easy as we had first thought though! Getting them all still, in the same place, not blowing bubbles at inappropriate times turned out to be a challenge! It was, however, a joyous way to finish off our diving on Saint Lucia.

Our final day saw us heading to new heights, via a cable car experience into the rainforest canopy. Not only does this trip offer stunning views over the island, but our guide was so knowledgeable we also learned plenty about the local fauna and flora of the island. This is the perfect activity for the non-diving day at the end of a trip. A final cocktail in the beautiful setting of the Harbor Club as the sun set saw us reflect on a super trip. We barely scratched the surface of what Saint Lucia has to offer. Alas we never got to experience the diving in the north of the island, so we will have to return to rectify that. Hopefully sometime soon!


Nick and Caroline were hosted by:

Eastern Caribbean Diving

Bay Gardens Marina Haven & Bay Gardens Beach Resort and Spa

The Harbor Club

Travel Saint Lucia

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Blogs

Lovin’ Saint Lucia: Kids and Critters (Part 2)

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

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Whilst we have been lucky enough to dive in much of the Caribbean, Saint Lucia was still on our wish list. Until November when we got a chance to visit this beautiful island on a 6-night diving trip that would see us enjoy with incredible scenery both above and below the waves. We were able to sample three different hotels, dined at a host of local eateries, spoke to local school kids about the ocean and even took a tour into the rainforest canopy. Find out all about this trip over this series of three blogs on Caribbean Dive Adventures.


After our first two days of diving in the south of the island, below the magnificent Piton mountains, it was time for a day off. Usually we would pack in a much diving as possible on a short trip like this, we had been invited to speak at a local school. Our hotel, Bay Gardens Beach Hotel and Spa, already support the school with a breakfast club to ensure the kids start the day with a good meal. They asked us if we might go and speak about the ocean, marine life, conservation and our work. As the school did not have a room big enough to hold all the kids, we setup in the local church. The kids filed in and sat in rows of pews and we chatted about the marine life that can be found both in the waters surrounding Saint Lucia and further afield. They knowledge of shark species was incredible! They even identified a Basking Shark correctly! We were stunned when they presented us with a huge box of local fruits they had picked from their gardens as a thank you. Our driver then took us for a drive around the north of the island to show us some of the plentiful beauty spots.

Back diving again, we still headed south, but to sample some different diving from our first two days. We were delighted to dive over a healthy seagrass bed that was home to a host of marine life. Snake eels skimmed along through the blades of grass, flounder lay camouflaged, and several species of crustacean could be found once you got your eye in. A huge Southern Stingray lay buried in the sand and our guide, Mervin, was delighted to find a seahorse (that did not want to be photographed). Dotted throughout the seagrass bed, coral bommies were a haven for small marine life critters. Eels and lobster hid in the crevices, while small juvenile fish darted through the coral and sponges.

Whilst we were on an all-inclusive basis at our hotels, we love to get out and about to try local establishments where we can. So each evening we would take a stroll to the waterfront to sample some excellent food and a local beer or cocktail, whilst watching the sun go down. The perfect way to finish off a great day of diving.


Nick and Caroline were hosted by:

Eastern Caribbean Diving

Bay Gardens Marina Haven & Bay Gardens Beach Resort and Spa

The Harbor Club

Travel Saint Lucia

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