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“Club Cantamar Is Terrible”

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Club Hotel Cantamar
Ranked #11 of 39 Hotels in La Paz
1 review
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 9 helpful votes
“Club Cantamar Is Terrible”
Reviewed 4 November 2007

Sea Of Cortez
October 16-23, 2007
Trip Report

This was my/our first trip to the Sea Of Cortez. The trip was a scouting trip for the local dive store to see about taking trips down there in place of Cozumel. We decided to use Club Cantamar Sports Lodge & and their on site vendor Baja Diving & Services. The only way I can describe the week is comment on each category.

Sports Lodge

Facilities: The facilities at Club Cantamar are nice. It is an older resort but has had adequate maintenance. The rooms are adequate size with some quite nice penthouses. Ours did not happen to be one of the adequate sized rooms. There were 2 of us in a single room with linen service usually left for 1. We had large camera systems and no tables nor even a chair to sit on, just 1 small bed. About three or four days into the stay, we might have been able to move but they were would not guarantee that so we just stayed put. There is no place to hang anything wet to drip dry. There are some nice murals painted on the exterior walls with some interesting ornamental gardens containing cactus, palm trees and local artifacts.

There are problems with the hot water, some rooms have none. Our room had hot water but suffered from a lack of water pressure. Don’t brush your teeth with it though, it is nasty tasting. We had to go across the street to another restaurant to get bottled water since the resort offered none in our building. Room cleaning was spotty. There is a metal box nailed to the floor or the closet to store cash/credit cards/jewelry. There is no lock, but they will sell you one -- a luggage size tiny lock with keys for $10.00 each.

Food: The breakfast was buffet as was all their meals and included in the cost of the trip. The restaurant is supposed to open at 0700 but rarely did. It was normally 0715-0730 before anyone was allowed in. The staff would not unlock the door so the long line of divers could get a cup of coffee. Some rooms had a coffee pot so you could purchase packages of coffee and make your own, but ours was not one of those. Once inside the serving line was one line for everything. There was fruit, potatoes, sometimes bacon, 3 different colors of mystery meat, French toast, pancakes, and eggs cooked to order. Since the eggs were cooked to order, and only 1 order at a time, the line was sometimes very long. Waits of 30 minutes was not uncommon and remember the place did not open on time to start with. This lead to divers having a hard time making a 0830 dive boat.

Dinner: We ate dinner twice at Club Cantamar. Both times it was very disappointing. The food is OK, but sometimes you are not sure what it is and there was limited wait staff that spoke English to help with service. If you asked for ice tea to drink, they looked at you as if you had asked for something really rare. They brought out a pitcher of tea for the 2 of us and 1 glass. No ice. By no means was the evening meal worth the $12.00/pp they charged. We decided after the second meal to eat somewhere else the rest of the week.

Bar: Club Cantamar has a nice outside bar with pool table and swim up seating from the pool. There is plenty of covered seating with a view of the marina. Our last night there it appeared closed but the front desk assured us it was not. The bar and seating area was dark and no one manned the bar so we went back across the street to the restaurant for our own beer. About 30-45 min. later the lights came on and the bar tender showed up.

Beach: Club Cantamar does have a nice beach with areas for swimming. Hammocks are for rent and there are chairs on the beach. If you want a beach towel, they tell you to come to the office and get it but they never have enough so usually there are none.

Transportation to La Paz: Free Shuttle service to La Paz was supposedly available for guests. We only had this once all week. The best we did was having them call a cab for us at $25 each way. The only other time we actually got a shuttle the seats were very wet from picking up the previous guests at the beach, therefore we took a cab. Excuses ranged from not being able to find a driver, needing to go to town and service the cruise ships, to just blank stares. We were given excuses each time, even though drivers were standing around and vans were sitting unused. At least two times we thought we had arranged for a shuttle at a certain time, only to be told when we showed up that it wasn’t available. In fact, after we showed up for one such scheduled shuttle ride and it wasn’t available, the clerk reluctantly agreed that the resort would pay for the taxi fare. As soon as the taxi arrived, this was promptly recanted and we had to pay the fare anyway.

Basically there is no shuttle service, just excuses on why there is not one available. You are about 20-30 min. by car from town so too far and too dangerous on the very narrow winding road to walk. You are pretty much captive at the resort unless you pay for a cab to go to town.

Gift shop: They said there was a gift shop on site but it was never open. If you wanted something, they said they would open it but I never saw that happen and you wouldn’t even know it was there unless you asked because there are no signs.

Courtesy: There is some superficial courtesy from the staff. 99% of the staff does not care one way or another what you want or what problem you have. This is the most apathetic resort staff I have ever seen on any trip, diving related or not. They simply do not care about you. You feel like you are talking to a blank wall. The sooner they can get away from you the happier they are. The front desk staff speak broken English but the rest of the staff speak only Spanish, including the drivers of the shuttles.

Problem Solving: This is easy. There is none. Not one problem we had was addressed, (no hot water in rooms, overcrowded boats, restaurant not opening on time or shuttle service). No one ever gets back to you on anything. There is always someone new when you go back to check on a previous request/problem. All they care about is who you talked to first and how they could avoid helping you or who they can blame it on. The staff will flat out lie to you, which happened more than once. As we caught them in their lies and confronted them, they just looked at us and smiled. There is no problem solving, they do not care. Finally on the last day a female employee approached us and asked if she could help as she was the ‘problem solver’. We advised her of our problems and she did not offer any help or assistance, just stared at us. She said we should have told her earlier in the day when we saw her passing on the sidewalk but we thought she was just another guest. We asked why she did not have any ID on so we would know who she was and she only stated she was in Reservations. This was the only time we saw her all week but we did tell her it was way too late in the week to make things better as we were leaving in the morning. We saw her a few more times that day and she would not make eye contact.

Diving At Club Cantamar is provide by Baja Diving & Services, the on location dive vendor, which is owned by Club Cantamar.

C-Cards: No one ever asked this diver for a c-card or anyone in our group. Nitrox was available and on the boat. I did see divers analyze their mix, but never saw any logs for divers to sign off on the blend.

Dockside: The dock area is one of the nicest features of the experience with large lockers made from chain link fence. There are not enough for all the divers they service so we had 5 of us in one locker until another came open. Of course you do have to have your own lock which is not on the webpage, but they do sell tiny luggage locks when you get there for $10.00. There are two large gear rinse tanks with hoses and a gear rental section. No one gives new guests any orientation on what is going on. It was up to the other divers to orient each other as new guests arrived. Plus, there are baskets to store your gear in to carry it back and forth to the boat. The baskets are a good idea since the boats have very limited storage areas, but often not even enough space for all of the baskets.

The crew started loading the boats with supplies about the time the divers were to show up. About 30 minutes was wasted each morning watching the crew load the boats. There was a lot of standing around time in the mornings.

Boats: The boats used by Baja Diving & Services that I was on are the Uno Mas(largest), Siempre Si, Realidad and Liberacion. We were never on the same boat twice and there was a lot of crew turn over in the week we were there. They are older boats really in need of maintenance. Fiberglass is cracked and peeling off the decks, none of the fresh water showers work. One day we had to wait for our original boat to be replaced due to a fuel leak and another day we were late leaving as they were welding and re-attaching a broken ladder. It was still being welded when we were on board engines running waiting to go. We stood around the stern after putting our gear together and watched the crew bolt on a hot dive ladder. If you look at the dive boat pictures on Club Cantamar web page look closely at the dive deck for how close the tanks are. Management wants as many divers on board as possible, with all space used. I did not see any oxygen or first aid supplies available or any areas marked as containing these supplies. The boats all have bathrooms.

With a different crew each day, very little rapport is gained between the guests and the crew, which is not conducive for them to know and respond to the divers’ experience and needs, nor conducive to allowing the crew to earn tips. Very frequently, divers on a package will tip the crew at the end of the week.

Cameras: There are no facilities for cameras. There are no camera tables on any of the boats. There were 1 and sometimes 2 large water barrels for everyone to put their cameras in. A hard task since our group had a Light & Motion HD video camera with lamp heads, 2 Ikelite video camera housings with lamp heads another video camera and 3 Ikelite Digital Camera housings with large strobes. None of the crew has the slightest idea of how to pick up a camera which led to the flooding of one housing and the destruction of a Canon Digital Rebel XTi on the first dive day. The flooding of the camera occurred after the crew took the camera from the diver following the dive and placed it in the rinse tank.

Plus, the near destruction of another similar camera happened when the deck hand grabbed it from the diver in the water by the port attachment. At one point the DM suggested we put our cameras down below to keep them out of the way because there was no room on deck to avoid them being stepped on, tanks dropped on them, or just plain kicked off the sides since there was no side protection under the benches. Best guess we had $30K worth of cameras on board and no facilities for them or a staff that had any idea how to handle them. When we told management about the camera handling issues, they just shrugged and said, “oh well” and then walked off.

Site Choices: For the most part there are limited dive site choices. We dove on 2 wrecks, Fang Ming and Salvatierra. The Fang Ming was a PADI project and is diver friendly. The Salvatierra was originally sunk at another location and rolled to its current location by a storm, and is now mostly unrecognizable junk, but does have a great deal of sea life. The trip to Los Islotes for the sea lions is terrific and makes a good two tank boat dive. We dove it 3 times, the 3rd dive on request to see more sea lions.

Divers on a 5 day trip will dive some of the same sites more than once – not by choice. Although this area of La Paz boasts a large number of sites, we were exposed to a very limited few, with no explanation. We also visited El Corralito twice, El Bajo for the Great Hammerheads, Swanee Reef and La Partida.

I saw as much dead coral as live coral but with most sites having large schools of fish, eels and starfish with sea lions popping up now and then. El Corralito was a very shallow dive with not much to look at.

Per the crew there are no Manta Rays, even though they still talk about them on the website. Only 1 stingray and 1 turtle were spotted during the 4 days of diving by our group.

The DM tried to control the profiles. There are no deep dives and they only want fifty minute dives. Most of us were coming back up from 40’ to 60’ dives with 1500 to 1800 psi.

None of the tanks I saw had a full 3000psi to start, most around 2800-2900psi. A vast majority of the ‘O’ rings were trailing bubbles, and we had one serious ‘O’ ring failure U/W. The DM just shrugged these problems off and found something else to do. One diver got geared up, turned on his air and found he had been set up with an empty tank.

Hammerheads: The hammerhead dive is off the pinnacles at El Bajo. The DM leads you through open water at about 80’ and you can see the outlines of the sharks below you in approximately 140’ of water. We saw about a dozen Great Hammerheads but from a long distance. It would have been nice to at least go to 100-110 feet which would still easily have been within recreational limits as this was the first dive of the day and that was all there was to see at that spot. Photography is difficult and you only get shadows, but hammerheads are elusive creatures. The pinnacle dive is much better. There is one large crevasse with numerous green eels, quite a sight.

Whale Sharks: Our group saw 2 or 3 different whale sharks I think. The visibility is so bad you cannot see the whole shark. These were about 20’ Whale Sharks and vis was only about 6’. There is a $20 charge per/person for Whale Shark experience. It is on their web page as, “if you request the use of the ultralight plane as a spotter, there is a charge.” but we were not asked about plane use, just told as we stepped onto the boat that we were being charged. When asked if we saw none did we get a refund, we were told no. For this dive you snorkel, not scuba dive. I was the only one who tried to photograph the sharks and had very little luck. There was a lot of swimming to get to the sharks and then a long swim back to the boat each time you jump in. We got in about 4 times.

Night Dives: We asked several times the first two days about night dives, but were never given an answer and no one would get back to us. They do advertise night dives on the web. We gave up!

Shore Diving: There is no shore diving.

Crew: The boat crew ranged from the apathetic to the quite helpful. Their best was one Japanese female DM that was quite enjoyable, but she was the definite exception. She did show us the only seahorse we saw.

One DM in particular did not even know the names of the fish he was describing. He was totally incompetent to be on the boat in charge of diving operations. Some DM’s did better briefings than others and they had some large maps of the sites they would show. The captains worked as crew helping the divers out of the water and off with their gear. Unfortunately they knew little about camera handling so we got so that we just helped each other to avoid further incidents. At other times, the crew were just not there to assist divers after the “pool was open”.

Lunch: Lunch was served on the boat after the second dive. It was usually a cold sandwich or burritos, chips and a side. I have no complaints about the food except they did cut it short on having enough at times with the number of divers on board. Between the first and second dive, fruit and cookies were offered. There was 1 cooler on board with soft drinks. Water was from a cooler with paper cups. They told you however to not drink too much water per person because that was all they had for everyone. Not quite dehydration preventive thinking since you were on the boats from about 9AM to 5PM.

Gear Handling: The crew did little in the mornings to be helpful but with the overcrowding there was no way they could do much. We always set up our own gear in the mornings and I would change my own tanks to make sure it was done right. I would trust no crew member.

Cattle Car: Make no mistake about it, Baja Diving & Services is a cattle car operation of the worst kind. They will keep putting divers on the boat as long as they have the money to get on. There is no such thing to them as a crowed boat. Our last dive day our group of 5 got off the boat due to overcrowding and no room for gear or cameras. Even the DM had no where to put his gear. When we spoke up, we were told that they could get 5-10 more divers on that boat easily (which we translated to “get over it”). When the boat returned in the afternoon we were informed that dive sites were repeated, and that even with the five of us gone the diving had to be done in shifts and they ran out of food.

When we confronted the manager of the diving operations that we got off the boat due to unsafe and crowded conditions, his only concern was that we should immediately clean out our lockers so other divers could move in. His response was “I’m sorry you feel that way.” (Interpretation: “I don’t think there is a problem.”) He offered no apologies, and could not get away from us fast enough.

Problem Solving: Again, this is easy. There is no problem solving. All you get is blank stares or whoever you are talking to trying to blame it on someone else. No one takes responsibility for anything. It is family owned and run with everyone in charge and no one in charge.

Web Site: After I returned from this trip, I checked Club Cantamars’ website. There is no information on the site that specifies anything. The only hard error I can find is the Uno Mas is listed for 30 divers maximum. I saw it leave one day with 35 divers from Portugal plus crew.

Summary: Baja Diving & Services is a classic cattle boat operation. They will put as many divers on the boat as they possibly can. The staff is apathetic, not interested and will flat out lie to you. Club Cantamar is a nice place to visit as far as facilities only. The management and staff do not give a damn about their guests. You are just a money supply and a bother. It just goes to show you cannot believe what is on a resort’s website.

Like one of our group said. “Running a cattle car operation is fine, as long as you have room for the cattle.”

Randy W. Saffell

  • Liked — Nice Beach
  • Disliked — Everyone On The Staff
  • Stayed October 2007
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
9 Thank scubaokla
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Anaheim Hills, Ca
Level 5 Contributor
69 reviews
23 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 70 helpful votes
Reviewed 26 October 2007

Went for 5 nights and 4 days of diving with a group of 15. October is high season so hotel and boats were full. Up to 35 divers on boat with 2 divemasters, though 20 to 25 divers was more typical. They have 3 fast boats and one very slow boat. Boats left the dock between 8:30 and 9:00 am depending on whether the boat you were assigned to had space to dock for the earlier departure. Divers who had cameras complained that the crew was rough with the cameras and just threw them into the trash cans of fresh water along with masks (a no no).

No elevators in any of the buildings and some rooms are on the 4th floor! Got help with baggage, but still a long walk up to the 3rd or 4th floor units. Upper story rooms have nice balcony with 2 chairs and a table - nice to sit out on to catch the daily cool breeze. In the main office building we were also able to get a wifi signal on the balcony. Very small double room had decent wood mexican furniture, fan and a quiet newer air conditioner. Only about 6 hangers in the tiny closet for 2 people and 3 small drawers made storage an issue. TV reception was nonexistent in our room and the rooms next to us. I stayed in the main office bulding backing up to the road about 15 feet away where you could hear trucks coming and going all day and night to the commercial ferry and shipping terminal. Free van service into town in the evening leaving at 6 pm and returning at 9:30 if you could get one of the limited number of seats. Many people were turned away who wanted to go into town. Round trip taxi into town was $60 and takes about 20-30 minutes each way depending on traffic. So I recommend renting a car if you stay here. No shops and only one coffee shop within walking distance of the hotel

The coffee shop across the street had decent simple mexican food at cheap prices across the street and the second floor. About $6-$10 for typical lunch or dinner including a soda or bottled water. They don't speak much english and the menu is in spanish only. Confusion over orders was common and there was a surprise at almost every meal in regard to what our group ordered versus what we got. Also although we ordered at the same time they frequently would forget one of our member's meal order and so some would be served up to 20 minutes after others were served.

Dive masters were very nice, but do not set up equipment or clean it. They would switch tanks for us between dives but often left the hookup to you. They would switch dive masters on us almost every day. Makes it hard for both the divers and the divemasters who don't know who needs help and who doesn't. I was pleased they had nitrox at $6/tank.

Operator limited our dives to 50 minutes rather than than letting us dive according to our dive computer profile. Loved the dives to Los Islotes, Salvatiera wreck, and La Reina. Salvatiera had a strong current the day we were there and one diver was swept away from the boat and had to be rescued. The prior year, we had the same problem at Los Islotes. C59 and Fang Ming were boring wrecks. Not many fish and no coral. Missed out on the Whale Shark snorkel and El Bajo, but others there raved about these trips. October is supposed to be the best month for visibility. Visibility averaged about 50 ft, but some locations were more like 10 ft of visibility (La Reynita). Our group had some weak divers so the divemasters were reluctant to take us to El Bajo. If you dive for 5 days, you would normally get the chance to make both of these special trips. They are unique in having a spotter plane which greatly increases the chances to encounters with whale sharks. Lunches on the boat were poor mystery meat sandwiches with velveeta to ok tuna sandwhiches. Usually some chips, cookies, and fruit. Sometimes only fruit. Usually plenty of cold sodas.

Breakfast at the hotel was OK. Usually a nice variety of fresh fruti, juice, yogurt, cake, cold cereal, scrambled eggs, fried potatoes, a mexican hot dish which varied each day, and omeletes made to order. Wait in the buffet line at breakfast was up to 15 minutes long because they could only make 1 omlette at a time and a large percentage of people wanted an omlette.
Coffee was aweful tasting most of the time. Bring your own instant coffee or your own coffee maker. There was no coffeemaker in the room. Though some hotel web sites say they have them I suspect they only exists in the Jr. Suites and Condos. I would recommend upgrading to a Jr Suite or condo if it is in your budget.

Although there was plenty to complain about, I would consider going back because the price is reasonable for rooms ($85/night) and diving ($102 for 3 tanks per day), the location is convenient to dive sites, the hotel and dive staff was friendly and made an effort to be helpful, bar tab is reasonable, and it is a normal part of their program to take people to El Bajo and to see the Whale Sharks (not normal for other dive operators). I do not recommend this hotel for anyone except divers. They do a lot of business with dive groups and make an extra effort to accommodate their needs. Individuals may feel lost in the shuffle.

Next time I would bring my own coffee maker, upgrade to a Jr. Suite or double room away from the road noise, rent a car, and consider scheduling the trip in late September or Early November instead of October (the most crowded month).

  • Liked — Close to dive sites, clean, balcony with chairs, free wifi access, friendly staff.
  • Disliked — Small rooms, no elevator, long wait at breakfast, bad coffee, crowded boats, far from town.
  • Stayed October 2007
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
2 Thank ski_dive_fiend
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 3 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 October 2007

No problems with the infrastructure of the resort. The food was ok, no complaints. The Cantamar dive boats broke down literally every day. Newly arrived divers are placed on a boat that broke down yesterday, the day before yesterday and the day before that... The boats are cattle calls and very slow, if they run at all. Dive boats from LaPaz consistently arrive at dive sites before Cantamar boats even though Cantamar is closer. Baja Diving and Service did not check C cards. They appear to use an ad-hoc selection of dive masters that do not exhibit good judgement. Novice divers were placed in unsafe situations such as extreme current which blew them off the dive site. The resort is ok, but the boats and dive service are terrible which negates any reason for staying there.

  • Stayed October 2007, travelled as a couple
    • Value
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3 Thank 3WT
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 3 Contributor
15 reviews
5 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 6 helpful votes
Reviewed 24 October 2007

As an expierenced traveling diver/group leader of dive trips since the mid 1970's I have visited many dive resorts in all parts of the world. If you remember what Club Cantamar is( a dive resort ) it ranks as one of the best I have seen. It is not intended to be a 5 star resort with unlimited food and activity choices. It is for divers and it does an excellent job at that task. The staff in every case tried to please everyone in our group of 14, which is always impossible to do. They were never rude but in some cases there was a communication problem. You are in Mexico and they speak better English than I speak Spanish. The dive operation is professional and they allow all divers to dive at their own skill level. The boats were very comfortable and more than satisfactory for a full day's trip trip. You must remember that because of the distances involved in reaching sites you will be on the boat 7-8 hours. Club Cantamar is the closet operation to all but the whale shark dives so this is the best option. The food was not gormet but again it was very good for a "dive" resort. I never went hungry and when some of our group caught fish they did an excellent job of preparing it for us. The rooms were clean and cared for every day. While bottle water is provided at no cost no one in our group had problems with water/ice from the system at Cantamar.Overall a great place to see great stuff.

  • Liked — clean
  • Disliked — water pressure
  • Stayed October 2007
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
3 Thank GulfportOlddiver
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 3 Contributor
17 reviews
14 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 31 helpful votes
Reviewed 3 October 2007

Why Baja? Well, the original brief was to find a diving location that was convenient for pre- and post-holiday work commitments in North America and likely to be unaffected by the hurricanes that usually hit the Caribbean in the autumn. This requirement recurs each year so we wanted to see if this would be a place to which we would enjoy returning. Although we very much enjoyed seeing so much marine activity at close proximity, and thought that the diving for most of our holiday was good, we would be unlikely to return because of the limited number of dive sites, over-crowded boats, proximity to ferry terminal and lack of any form of entertainment and alternative dining close by.

We flew from LAX to St Jose del Cabo on American Air. The transfer to Club Cantamar was about 4 hours as the driver had to pick up supplies and, as a result, use the longer route. There was a refreshment stop at the beginning but we could have done with a comfort stop later as well! The return transfer was via the alternative route with stunning scenery and a refreshment/comfort stop, so we had no complaint about that.

Club Cantamar
Although located close to the commercial port, we were not much disturbed by lorry noise.

We were very pleased that we had a condo and were able to do a lot of cooking for ourselves; otherwise, we would have had to rely on an (only just OK) restaurant at the resort or shuttle bus/taxi into town each day. The breakfast that was included in the price each day was reasonable and lunches on the boat on diving days were fine as long as one likes spicy food (this is not a complaint – after all, if one goes to Mexico one must expect Mexican food!)

Club Cantamar could perhaps benefit from additional bar sales by providing evening entertainment eg a slide show and description of the fish and other marine life (see also comment about dive leaders’ knowledge below).

The hotel staff were very helpful; one example occurred on the first evening when we got the shuttle bus into town to stock up at the supermarket but were mulling over whether we could sit in a restaurant afterwards with all the bags around our feet; despite his limited English, our driver actually suggested that he would wait while we shopped and then take it all back to the condo for us; when we got back later we found it all neatly stacked appropriately in the fridge or cupboards! It would be helpful if staff wore badges or embroidered shirts with their names.

The rental gear was relatively new Sherwood stuff (some in metric) and Pedro impressed us by asking when we returned it if everything had been fine or if any modifications were needed. However, they should have carried a larger stock of rental equipment eg dive-computers. A diver in another party had her computer fail and had to dive on tables for a whole week.

A small point: they were short of lead and it would also have been helpful if the weights had been in individually marked boxes rather than all mixed in together. Also, there should have been spare weights carried on the boats.

Their system for judging the amount of nitrox required, especially when a new party arrives, should be reviewed as we were either short of nitrox, or delayed waiting for it, on several days.

This was peak season at Cantamar and there were up to four large dive boats (holding up to 30 divers each) going out on many days. The boats were, as a result, much more crowded than we would have liked although the facilities on board were pretty good.

Dive Leaders
Some of the processes could be improved. For example, divers should have been briefed on arrival to take their log books and C cards on the first day – or, alternatively, the reception staff should check them at the same time as handling the insurance documentation on check-in.

We were critical of their practice of leaving only the non-diving captain (who was often below decks preparing lunch or other between-dive refreshments) on the boat during a dive. Towards the end of our stay, when numbers were at their peak, the number of dive leaders was totally inadequate.

The dive leaders had very little knowledge of, or interest in, the fish and other marine life and were quite intrusive eg picking up or teasing morays, conchs, making puffer fish puff-up etc.

The dive staff were all very pleasant and spoke better English than the hotel staff (and included a number who could speak other languages as well). Although we found that we had to handle more of our equipment than we are used to at first, the level of service increased.

The Diving
The fish were enormous and very tame, coming very close to the divers. They were quite differently marked from those we know from the Caribbean. There were lots of puffers/balloon/porcupine fish, including an enormous Pacific burrfish of nearly 2 ft length. Most notable were king angel fish, flag cabrilla, giant hawkfish, scorpion fish, yellow-tailed surgeon fish and guineafowl puffers. Morays of several types (including striped zebra morays) were ubiquitous and it was not unusual to see large green morays swimming freely. Although not so common, turtles were totally unconcerned by the divers, one lying on a wreck watching us and another swimming close up to eye us up and down. There was a large blue lobster that didn’t scuttle back into a crevice and lots of cushion stars and crowns of thorns starfish. Seeing a pile of stones moving, we realised that it was a pink flower urchin which covers itself with small stones for camouflage. There was so much to see that as one turned away from one thing there was another to study: a trigger fish moving stones with its mouth to make a nest, blue phase sergeant majors guarding purple eggs laid like a film in a shallow crevice, a pair of large jawfish popping up from their vertical holes in the sand, the male opening its mouth to aerate the eggs it was incubating there. At “la Reina” there was an enormous shoal of fish (snappers, jacks) in a bait ball like a dark cloud blocking out the light from above which opened up and then closed around us – dramatic for divers above to watch.

We tried unsuccessfully to see hammerhead sharks but snorkelling right up alongside enormous 12-22 foot long whale sharks was memorable. We also saw lots of sea lions although the accounts of their playing with divers are perhaps a bit overdone. Another day, we saw marlin leaping out of the water to avoid a predator, and were delighted by a circus act of 20+ dolphins leaping in the wake of our boat.

The problem that Cantamar has is the limited number of dive sites, and they are all ≥1.25 h boat ride. These are further reduced in adverse weather conditions. We dived a total of 9 different sites and had to re-visit quite a few, sometimes more than twice, during our 7 days of diving.

We are used to diving in areas of coral and it took us a while to realise that it is OK to grab hold of the rocks here; indeed, on a few occasions the current was so strong that it was essential to claw our way along the underwater terrain! There were some protected walls that were covered with yellow and orange soft corals.

The weather and conditions were very good for the most part of our holiday although the visibility was rarely brilliant (but the water temperature was 29-30 deg C). However, the full moon at the end brought overcast skies, wind and strong currents that made diving less enjoyable.

Stayed October 2006
3 Thank Thurza_Child
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Los Angeles, CA
Level 3 Contributor
8 reviews
6 hotel reviews
common_n_hotel_reviews_1bd8 17 helpful votes
Reviewed 12 August 2007

9 of us flew down from LAX on Delta/Express Jet, and the Club's Van's were waiting for us. Unfortunately, they wanted to wait for the Alaska Airlines Flight from LAX about 30 minutes behind us, and we waited in the sweltering heat (in the van with A/C, but still hot).

We rented the Jr. Suite, and the room was nice enough. It had a huge balcony, but seemed to have perpetual A/C problems and we moved to the other Jr Suite. Any problem we had were handled by Ivan at the front desk, who was as helpful as anyone could ever be. The other person (Ramon I think) was not helpful to anyone who I saw bring problems to him.

The food was alright. They did have made to order eggs in the morning, as well as a few other items (i.e. pancakes, french toast etc) on the hot side. They usually, had cereal, and yogurt on the cold side. Lunch was on the boats and was terrible. Dinner was alright as well, nothing fancy, but not too bad (mostly). You could order off the menu, but you have to pay for it so if you are on the meal plan this will be in addition to your rate.

The diving was inconsistent for visibility, and temperature. We dove three dives a day on the "Uno Mas" which was a descent boat for speed and ride. The bathrooms were not easy to operate, and smelled terribly. We saw water temps vary between 82 degrees to 69 degrees within the same day. We never really had fantastic visibility, but did get as much as 50 feet on the shallow warm water dives. We also had as low as 5 feet on th wreck dive in addition to about 5 knots of current (VERY strong). Safety was not handled very well either. While each dive was briefed very well, and a Dive Master was in the water to dive with if you wanted.....there was usually never anyone on the boat watching (Dive Master) except the Captain. Also, Dive flags were never used and fishing/recreational boats would come VERY close. In one instance a boat came between the shore and our boat directly overhead as my wife and I were surfacing....this had potential for being a very dangerous situation. We also noticed a very informal head count before departing the area....no roll call with 25 divers on the boat.

I would say that overall this was a fun vacation, but I am glad we didn't stay longer than 5 days (3 dive days). Overall the staff was friendly, courteous, and accommodating, but they don't have much to work with on multiple levels. One last note...the hotel takes you to the airport early, and the airport concessions do not take credit cards, so keep a lot of $1.00 and $5.00 bills or you could end up taking home a lot of Pesos.

  • Liked — Rooms were clean
  • Disliked — Food
  • Stayed August 2007, travelled with friends
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
    • Business service (e.g., internet access)
2 Thank bluestraverler
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Level 2 Contributor
5 reviews
Reviewed 15 July 2007

This hotel is located about 10 miles from the city of La Paz. The hotel offers a shuttle service to town, leaving at around 6:00 pm, and will pick you up at 9:30 pm. The only problem with this is that, if you buy the all-inclusive package, you will not be back in time for dinner. Unfortunately, with the all-inclusive package, you only get one choice to pick from. If it is something you don't like, you are out of luck. There is a restaurant within walking distance from the hotel that has very decent prices.
The people working at Cantamar are very friendly, and do the best they can to help you with any problems you might have. Language issues can be a problem, but if you are patient, things will work out.
The diving this time of year is horrible! The water is cold and the visibility is very bad. The dive master and others on the boat did a good job. One thing you definitely need to know is that if you paid for several days of diving and decide to not dive on a specific day , thinking you can always dive the next day, you are wrong. I paid for five days of diving for a week. I wanted to dive the day before I flew out, but Pedro told me that because I canceled twice and dove three times, I could not dive that day because I used up my five days of diving. He said that I needed to tell the office a day before that I canceled for this not to be a problem. He said that this policy was stated in the paperwork, but when I told him it was not, he just said that he needed to change the paperwork so future visitors would not be confused about the policy. This company has been around for a long time. I don't think this was a mistake in the paperwork or their policy. Since I planned on taking my camcorder on this dive to take pictures, this was a big loss for me. The bottom line; don't book several days of diving with this hotel. Their dive operation is fine, but only a day at a time.

  • Liked — The people that work there were very friendly and helpful.
  • Disliked — limited time for dinner, lack of clarity with diving policy.
  • Stayed July 2007, travelled solo
    • Value
    • Location
    • Check-in / front desk
    • Rooms
    • Cleanliness
    • Service
Thank livetodiveOceanside
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Additional Information about Club Hotel Cantamar

Property: Club Hotel Cantamar
Address: Manzana F Lote 1 | Puerto Comercial de Pichilingue, La Paz 23208, Mexico
Region: Mexico > Baja California > Baja California Sur > La Paz
Bar / Lounge Beach Free Parking Kitchenette Restaurant Shuttle Bus service Suites Swimming Pool Wheelchair access
Hotel Style:
#2 Top resorts Hotel in La Paz
#4 On the Beach Hotel in La Paz
Price Range (Based on Average Rates): £
Hotel Class:3 star — Club Hotel Cantamar 3*
Number of rooms: 41
Official Description (provided by the hotel):
Located in Pichilingue bay, in La Paz, Baja California Sur, Cantamar Hotel provides a nice, quiet stay in a great family atmosphere, with full restaurant service at our VistaChula Café, a freshwater pool and a beautiful sunset beach. ... more   less 
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Also Known As:
Cantamar Hotel La Paz
Cantamar Resort La Paz

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