Hornby Island is a beautiful place. It is quiet, remote, easy paced and Hornby Diving has built a beautiful, functional dive boat. The food is plentiful and good although certainly not four- five star. The accomdations are clean, but very basic/small dorm-like. I am sure this revue will be seen as an outlyer but we are not warm and fuzzy about this one.
My wife and I and another couple stayed for four nights and three days of diving. We meet this other couple yearly to dive and play and had not been together for a year. The owners and their three year- old child joined us for dinner the first evening and it was lovely. However, the owners/child continued to join us for every single meal from then on. Now these folks are very nice people but we had not planned on spending our time with total strangers who seemed to somewhat dominate the conversations. The result was we started to feel greatly inhibited and I began to notice that I was not really relaxing at all. I have raised my own children and did not plan on spending my vacation time with a three- year old regardless of how cute this baby was. In short, I felt like I was dining in somebody's home and had to carefuly mind my manners. Our own dive stories were always one upped by the owner and I felt like I was eating with my mother. We came to play hard and dive hard. This is not a place to let your hair down.
Diving was Ok. Not much life except for the Sea Lions on one dive which was pretty cool. We were told the life was there but we lacked the experience to pick it out. I dive 2-3 days per week. We did dive a couple of deep shear walls that fit the bill nicely. However, although we had informed the owners well in advance, that we were coming with doubles, tri-mix, stage bottles, scooter and technical diving in mind we found that they had called off their deck hand because there were only four of us. The distance from boat to fill station and rinse facilities is not convenient for repeated technical operations. We broke our butts humping gear in and out of the boat and pushing cart- fulls of double steel tanks up to the house and back down a road to the pier ramp, etc. Even after offering repeatedly to pay generously to have a gear handler relieve us of the load no help was forthcoming. The help offered by the owner was spoartic and certainly not adequate. We felt that we were being unfavorably judged for not wishing to hump our own gear. This was our vacation and our gear is extremely heavy and we were more than willing to pay handsomely to avoid the exertion post deep dives. Self- reliance has its place but we can be plenty self- reliant on our dives at home, on a one- dive per day basis.
A fill station in closer proximity to the boat, as well as rinse facilities at the boat, would have made our vacation more of a vacation. Considering the unemployment situation on this tiny island it seems that one or two of the young men standing around the dock would have jumped at the chance to earn a couple of hundred bucks. We had not planned on spending every meal and evening with the "family". Perhpas this was just Canadian "friendliness and self-reliance" but it was too much "family", too much work, and not enough "our time".
In general we we greatly dissapointed by and frustrated with Hornby Diving. Perhaps this would work better for shop groups and recreational clubs but for our purposes it just did not work.
One more warning: with just four of us we felt pretty cozy. I would not want to be there with many more people, considering the shared bathroom facilites, tiny rooms, constantly stressed water shortage, small gear storage area/ rinse facilites and limited tank carts. Also, I did not enjoy the swarms of friut flies in the kitchen area. Ruined a bottle of great wine. There are many other truly great diving experiences out there for the money.
- Official Description (provided by the hotel):
- Hornby Island Diving is a family business that has been owner operated for over 30 years. Our knowledge and experience means you get safe, fun dives at the best sites. Our guest lodge, dive boat and tank fill station are among the best in BC, so you can enjoy our wonderful diving in comfort. Non-divers and families love Hornby Island and they are always welcome to join us. ... more less