The service and friendliness of Neal Watson, Jr.’s Cape Eleuthera Divers were the best we’ve experienced. Each day’s dives were decided upon after consulting with the divers according to our desired profiles, what we wanted to see, and what sites were available during a clear, sunny, but windy week. The protected harbor around Cape Eleuthera meant calm waters and easy access off and on the boat even when the windward side of the Cape was very windy. Neal or his partner Emily guided those of us who wanted a guided dive and showed us the swim-throughs and interesting critters, while those who preferred to dive separately in buddy pairs were told to take as long as they wanted underwater and allowed to dive their own profiles.
After we checked into the resort, Neal found us at the restaurant at dinnertime and came by our townhouse to pick up our gear. Each morning it was set up and ready on the boat and rinsed and hung for us after each day’s diving. Nitrox was available and a separate rinse tank for cameras was on board. Pickup was at 9 or 9:30 each morning, either at the dock about 80 yards from our townhouse, or during high tide, at the seawall dock outside our back door. Boat rides to the sites were 10-15 minutes with relaxed surface intervals on the boat.
The reefs had good relief, interesting swim-throughs, tunnels and chutes, and the walls start at 60’, plunging straight down to almost 2000’. The reefs are under stress due to a cover of lettuce algae, but there’s good color and coral at the tops in shallower waters. The amount of fish was wasn’t great, but the variety was. The there weren’t a lot of fish at depth, but in the shallower parts of the reef there was a respectable amount and several of the swim-throughs protected schools of silversides. In addition to all of the usual Caribbean reef fish and rays, during our 6 days of diving we saw two hammerheads, a bull shark, some large Nassau and black groupers and a couple Goliaths, some large crabs, the biggest lobster we’d seen in years (lobster season had just ended a couple months earlier so there weren’t many others), a nudibranch, and some tiny shrimp found by Neal or Emily.
The highlight of each dive was keeping tally of Neal’s lionfish hunt. Most dives he’d spear 3-8 of the invaders. He filleted the larger ones and one night we enjoyed them for dinner, cooked to order at the resort’s restaurant.
The Cape Eleuthera Resort is modern, clean, and the townhouses are luxurious. We had a 2 bedroom, 2.5 bath, waterfront townhouse all to ourselves, with a modern kitchen and hundreds of cable channels. The washer and dryer in the unit gave us the opportunity to just strip off our dive swimsuits, rash guards and t-shirts, throw them in the washer, and have a clean set for the next day. The guests at the resort are an interesting mix of divers, families, and boaters, many of whom sleep on their yachts in the marina. The resort’s staff was friendly and eager to be helpful. We were on the all-inclusive plan, which included all meals, from a menu that had limited variety. The dining staff and cooks were most cordial, and willing to cook things in different and interesting ways even though they weren’t on the menu (such as granting our requests for chicken Bahamian style, cracked conch, curried conch, and conch chowder and making Neal’s fresh-caught lionfish one of the tastiest and sweetest fresh fish we’ve had.) There were 2 uncrowded beaches, well equipped with lounge chairs, shade, and hammocks, each about a 10 minute walk or 5 minute bike ride from our townhouse, one on the leeward and one on the windward side of the Cape.
Neal is welcoming and gracious host and a great storyteller. He knows the local area, reefs and waters, and how to really make you feel that you’re on vacation. Our week’s stay was relaxing, fun, and safe with good company and good diving – everything that a dive vacation should be.
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