- Getting to know Isla Mujeres
- Hotels and rental properties
- Downtown attractions
- Downtown restaurants
- Restaurants around the island
- Attractions around the island
- and a "Golf8 Cart Tour"
I was quite surprised at the size and details of the statues but the amount of sea life on the shallow reefs was the most impressive part of the dives. With relatively shallow dives in the 30 feet range it was easy for me to do 50+ minute dives and even finish with a sizable amount of gas left in my cylinders. These dives weren't particularly difficult however as I'll talk about a little later, I would have preferred a little more structure and organization around the dives.
I planned this dive trip a little differently as we had other plans on the mainland and since our entire trip wasn't going to revolve around diving, I felt that this would be a great opportunity to take as little equipment as possible, see what rental equipment would be provided/offered, and have a perspective on the experiences that many of my students would have when off to their dive destinations as "referral divers."
We took our own regulators, dive computers, dive masks/snorkels, weight belts, dive lights, octo/console keepers, wetsuits, an SMB, a finger spool with line, and an underwater video camera. We rented BCD's, tanks, weights, and fins. While I expected that the equipment would be exceptionally older, they weren't as old as I thought they would be.
So, let's talk about my experience, what I expected to happen, and what I really wish would have happened.
Paperwork. We started our trip with a very limited amount of paperwork. We were not asked to show our cert cards or logbooks. The trip before this in July of 2017 to the Channel Islands was similar. The dive boat told us that it was our responsibility to have the appropriate training for the dives we were going to do. While this would have made sense if the introductions to the dives sites were a little more detailed, since the dive sites of the day were often decided at the last minute, divers wouldn't have had the opportunity to choose different days, dive sites, or opt out if conditions were not within their comfort zone. As a note, the paperwork was not certification agency paperwork.
Ironically, while I am pretty comfortable and capable of extraordinary diving conditions, as I get older I prefer to go a little slower and expect the quality of the dives (and conditions) to supersede the number of dives. When students tell me where they are going to complete cert dives (referrals), I feel that a more thorough plan is going to be part of their educational process. While I wasn't caught off guard, so much of the day on the water went faster than I wanted it to and have to admit that I took way too much for granted that I never do when I organize dive trips, excursions, and certification dives!
Rental equipment. While tanks and weights aren't traditionally taken when traveling, some of the things I teach my students (and that I will be modifying for my lessons) were off or incomplete. The tanks did not have current hydrostatic inspections (hydros) after the manufacture dates and there was no visual inspection stickers. I don't know what Mexico's laws on hydros are of what the shop's position on visual inspections are... While I was able to see the compressor that was used for air fills, I didn't inspect it or make it obvious that I was giving it a once over. While I didn't think about asking to see a certificate of inspection testing the air for contaminants from an outside agency, it will be on my list.
The BCD's were somewhat modern, non weight-integrated, jacket styles with standard inflators. I didn't do the BCD inspection I teach my students as they assembled our gear for us. I did move the BCD's lower as they were too high for my liking but that did get their attention. In one instance, the tank strap was not fed through the last slot on the plastic buckle. The octos hoses were bent over and fed through one of the d-rings on shoulder straps.
The weights weren't standard uncoated lead weights but I think they were originally in kilograms but were not legible. They assembled the weights on our weight belts. The reason I brought our own belts was to make sure of an appropriate length I insist on. Belts that are too long present the risk of being tucked in and belts that are too short are difficult to ditch in a hurry.
While my girlfriend got full-foot fins on all three days, I got heel-strap fins but they did not have boots for me. They gave me neoprene socks. As expected, the fins did not fit well and rubbed off skin on my heels and the top of my toes. Suffice it to say I will never travel without my own boots and fins ever again! I never did in the past and perhaps I thought things would be different. I had the same experience in the past so to expect that anything was different was short-sighted. The last day and last dive my girlfriend thinks that the full-foot fins she got were the wrong size.