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“Everything occurred nicely, as expected”

Big Fish Dive Center
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Attraction details
Owner description: Big Fish Dive Center, fully equipped to meet your most demanding diving needs is centrally located and just across from the Health Center. We have worked hard together making sure our customers are met with first hand services and ultimate safety. Our dive tours are conducted by trained and knowledgeable dive masters taking you to only the best dive sites amidst richness and splendor of exotic marine life and coral formations.
Reviewed 27 February 2012

I did the Blue Hole dive with an Open Water credential, but I have around 30 dives... I recommend people to go there if they feel safe (more experienced) to do it, as it is a deep dive (40 mts).

My wife, for example, did not want to go that deep, and Big Fish didn't make pressure for her to do the deep dive. They made a lower price for her, as she was about to do 2 dives, instead of 3.

Our dive master was Miguel. He has an acid sense of humor. You will need to know this, to avoid being offended. :)

About the dives, the last two are wonderful, the reefs are very rich, so full of marine life. And Half Moon Caye, the place where we settled down to have lunch, is one of the most beautiful places I've ever been to. The Blue Hole dive, specifically, is technical one, and has just few marine life. When you go deep, the visibility is not as good as the one you can get on the shallower dives. But I've seen some sharks and stalagmites over there, and it was worth the dive!

1  Thank IvsonSouza
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
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Reviewed 26 February 2012

Big Fish not only completely spoiled my time in Caye Caulker but also neglected my safety and health! I got decompression sickness from diving with them. Please do yourself a favor and avoid them. Also tell anyone you talk to to choose a different dive shop!

Dive masters: irresponsible, unprofessional, neglect international diving standards such as the buddy system and safety stops
Staff: profit-driven; attracting customers by offering irrelevant tiny discounts on dives and courses, while lying about their insurance coverage etc.
Equipment: Not even the dive masters get dive computers or flashlights, even on difficult dives such as the Blue Hole!
Price level: an irrelevant tiny bit cheaper than their colleagues from Belize Diving Services, certainly not a difference worth your safety and health!
The only dive shop on the island that is not affiliated with the local decompression chamber (the only one in Belize)


I spent more than two weeks in Caye Caulker: One for getting my open water diving license and diving to the Blue Hole. And more than one in the decompression chamber of San Pedro! But step by step:

I enrolled on an open water diving license course with Big Fish who had the "best" offer (by not very much at all, only around $15 less than the second cheapest shop) and happened to be closest to my hotel.

The dive master who ran our course seemed quite experienced and dedicated. He did, however, mention during the course that Big Fish was affiliated with the local Decompression Chamber and that costs connected to treatment would be covered by the shop. This turned out to be a (maybe unintentional) lie. Another dive student and I passed our theoretical part by taking the test unattended and being able to talk to each other.

Then we went for the first "closed water" dive practices... in open water... with quite a few waves. We never practiced emergency ascents. And other practices the dive master only ran through once.

Then it was time for dives number 3 and 4, our last two dives before we got our certificate. We were taken out by only one (completely uninterested and possible drugged) dive master to attend both us students and some experienced divers who had presumably paid around US$100 each (to be insufficiently attended by an incompetent dive master). We stopped in the middle of pretty rough sea with waves of about 2m height, they tied the boat to a buoy... and the rope snapped! While the dive master and the assistant were apparently looking for another buoy, one of the experienced divers voiced concern, saying that the sea was too rough and she didn't feel safe. Only then did the crew decide to turn back, evidently annoyed and not saying a word where we were going!

We then finished our dive certificate the next day with yet another dive master who seemed somewhat more professional. But although he only had two students to take care of he didn't really manage to sort out the buoyancy problems of one of his students. Of course, we still both got the certificate. And no comments about any problems whatsoever in our log books... apart from the fish we saw.

Then came the big day: The Blue Hole dive. I thought that it would be wise to go with them, since surely they were in the best position to assess my skill level and my specific needs. Moreover, they motivated me to sign up for the dive by assuring me that I was ready for it, that it wasn't a difficult dive, etc. Also - as a beginner - I didn't quite grasp at that point how terrible of a job they were doing, so I went with them.

The leading dive master on that day (although I'm not sure if he actually is a dive master since he did not write down his dive master certification number in my log book, claiming not to know it by heart) did make a bit of an effort to entertain his customers, but was also fairly rude to some of us, including me (calling me a "little white guy" later that night, after being diagnosed with decompression sickness). More importantly, though, he DID NOT form teams of buddies, DID NOT explain the dive profiles in detail, DID NOT dive a smooth dive profile going down to maximum depth, staying there and slowly moving up, DID NOT have a dive computer or a flashlight for a difficult dive such as the Blue Hole, DID NOT ensure safety stops at proper depths, etc. etc. For example: I ran low on air at around 130 ft depth in the Blue Hole. Because I managed to stick to the dive master (which I did out of concern, since I did not have a buddy), I was able to get his regulator and dive up with him. At around 30 ft depth I then took the regulator of a tank which they had dropped off the boat, stayed there – following the dive masters' instructions – and then went up from there without a safety stop – again following the dive masters' instructions. On my second and third dives similar things happened: running low on air, informing the dive master, swimming a safety stop at a depth of 25 ft, rather than stopping properly at 15 ft for 3 min, etc.

Overall, in retrospect, the dive masters at Big Fish are irresponsible, ill-equipped, don't adhere to standard international procedures of recreational diving (such as the buddy system), and don't seem to be taking international safety measures (such as safety stops) too seriously.

That same day I first showed symptoms of decompression sickness and reacted quickly. After calling the diving emergency hotline in San Pedro (an island close-by) and seeing a doctor in Caye Caulker, the lead dive master of the day took me to see the dive doctor in San Pedro. I was diagnosed with decompression sickness, but instead of showing concern he seemed to be looking down upon me for not being as tough as his folks in Nicaragua who dive without any schooling and only become sick after years of misconduct.

Through the people in the Decompression Chamber we learned that Big Fish was the only dive shop in Caye Caulker that was not affiliated with the local chamber! The consequence of that is that the costs of the treatment to the unfortunate patient double! And they are enormous: One hour in the chamber costs around US$1000! And average patient needs tens of hours in the chamber! Fortunately my travel insurance covered the costs...

In the following days of my treatment Big Fish made no effort whatsoever to make up for things. At that point I still didn't realize many of the things they had done wrong, since I hadn't talked to more experienced divers yet. So it cannot have been our disrupted relation that caused this. Rather it was pure greed on the side of the owner of the shop. After telling us for hours to call them back again and again and never calling us back themselves, they finally said that they wanted to charge us US$200 to take me to San Pedro for my treatment and back! Note that this is after they told me during my certification course that ANY costs of a possible treatment would be covered by the dive shop!

All in all, I only now realize that I've become a victim of the biggest diving tourist trap on Caye Caulker! But while most tourist traps only cost you some extra dollars, a sleepless night, etc. THIS ONE COULD COST YOU YOUR HEALTH OR EVEN YOUR LIFE! So avoid diving with Big Fish and tell anyone you talk to our see on the streets of Caye Caulker to do so as well!

11  Thank DerForscher
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 18 February 2012

Great Dive shop, very accommodating, very flexible group of divemasters and instructors. Always great when a shop takes the weather into it's planning of dives, as in, "well, let's see how tomorrow looks, and then see where we'll go diving." Oscar couldn't have been more helpful, and the DMs, Armando, Miguel, Eli, Kurt, Francois, and Alex, each provided great individual dives, sharing their favourite sites with us. And when we came down with head colds, it was no problem to cancel dives and wait until we felt better to go again.

Thank Kateprops
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 14 February 2012

Went for a two tank local reef dive that left in the afternoon. The equipment was very new looking and worked fine. Got there early and the dive master didn't show up. The shop manager (who was helpful and apologetic) left to find another dive master, and meanwhile another man started loading our stuff on the boat, and told us to get in. It didn't feel safe as he did not really tell us where we were going or where the dive master was. Turns out we set out to search the ocean for his nephew who was supposedly a dive master and would take us. We went way out in the ocean checking boats until he found his nephew, who joined us, but wasn't happy about having to go diving on his day off. The dive was fine and the dive master seemed competent, but the dives were short as he obviously didn't want to be there. On the way back he and his uncle got into an argument in front of us. I wouldn't go again with this company.

Thank penguinnet
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC
Reviewed 6 February 2012

Ok, let me start by saying this was the worst dive company I have ever dived with! Firstly, the tour operators (2 dive masters and 1 snorkel guide) were extremely unprofessional, unorganized and rude! The second dive after the Blue Hole resulted in me literally running out of air at 10m depth. The instructor never once asked for anyone's readings, but keeping track of my own air consumption I told the instructor when I was at 50bar. I was literally greeted with a shrug of the shoulders and told to shoo! It may seem like I am exaggerating but unfortunately I am not. I kept track of my own safety stop time (by myself, away from the group which is extremely dangerous) and raised to the surface only as the needle was about to hit zero bar. If I hadn't done this, I would have ran out of air more than 10m under water.

Secondly, on our last dive of the day a fellow dive buddy had problems descending. The instructor managed to leave the rest of the group at the drop-off without any instruction as to what to do (stop, follow etc.). He went to help the diver having problems, but instead of helping the diver, he managed to surface with the diver (after a 30min dive with no decompression stop). The result was a severe pooling of blood to the eye, ear problems and bruising under the eye. Now I am not saying this is the instructors fault, but he did little to 'help' the diver. Makes me wander what would have happened in a real emergency. To make matters worse, we were left by ourselves at the drop-off. Swimming towards where the surface current had taken them, we were greeted with a boat motor in accelerate, with spinning propellers, while we were only 9 or so meters below it....the boat belonged to the diving company.

Thirdly, we on several occasions were received with incredibly rude and unprofessional remarks by the lead dive master. Number 1: When we were taking pictures of a shark in the shallows from a jetty, we were told to "hurry up and get in the boat, I want to get drunk, and happy hour is starting soon"
Number 2: when about to enter the water "Why am I a diver, I don't even like diving."
I don't know if this is just a warped sense of humor, but its not exactly something to say to customers who are paying US$180 for the trip.

Besides a few more minor issues, the day turned out to be great because of the great weather, water conditions and friends. Wish I could say that about the company. One good thing about the company however, is the equipment was very new.

3  Thank Anon a
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC

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