So you're thinking about buying the scuba diving book "Best Dives of the Caribbean" but aren't sure if it's worth your hard earned money? After all, there are lots of scuba books out there, how do you choose? Well, we'll tell you what we think.
It's a starting point anyway :).
Title: Best Dives of the Caribbean (Hunter Travel Guides) Author: Joyce and Jon Huber Edition: 3rd Edition, Copyright 2006
First, what is actually contained in this scuba diving book?
It covers pretty much any island you would want to go scuba diving or snorkeling from. The islands covered are:
Antigua and Barbuda
Cozumel and Akumal
Honduras - The Bay Islands
St. Kitts and Nevis
St. Maarten/St. Martin
St. Vincent and the Grenadines
Venezuela - Los Roques
As you can see, it is an extensive and complete list. If you are thinking about going scuba diving in the Caribbean, it'll be covered in this scuba diving book. Now the question is - what exactly do they cover on each destination?
The authors break it out into several general categories. Most dive destinations contain the following information:
When to go
Best dive and snorkeling sites
Where to stay
Some destinations may also contain additional categories - ie., discussing Bonaire Marine park, the Cayman Islands marine park regulations, etc.
Of course, since it is only 365 pages, it can't go into extensive detail on all the destinations. However, I do find it to be a useful starting point.
You get basic info about an island and can go online to fill in the gaps. For instance, I will look at the Sightseeing/Other Activities section to see what there is to do during our topside time. This is especially important if we are going with non-divers. It gives a good overview and you will have an idea of what the highlights are of a particular island.
The dive site section is what I find I use the most. It gives you a good idea of what type of diving is best on that particular island and if there are any particular outstanding dives.
It acquaints you with the dive sites so you have some idea of what sites you may want to dive. This comes in handy when you get on the dive boat and the divemaster asks "Where do you want to dive today?" This happens quite alot - Cozumel in particular comes to mind.
Each dive site is given a star rating - from 1 to 5 stars, with 5 stars being the best. The writeup will give you a general overview of the dive site and what you can expect to see there as far as corals, fish, etc.
I checked their rating against a couple of our dives.
One of our top dives we have done in the Caribbean is the Wreck of the Chikuzen. This scuba book gives it a 4 star rating.
Another of our all time top dives was Bloody Bay Wall in the Cayman Islands. It was rated 5 stars in the book. So pretty comparable opinions (based on a small sample anyway).
They also show an island map with dive sites for most of the destinations. This can give you an idea where you want to stay if the sites you are interested in are clustered in one area.
As far as places to stay and places to eat sections are concerned, I will give them a brief overview. In my opinion, these type of recommendations can go out of date pretty quickly so I usually do that type of research online. I use this book as a starting point and will see if anything interests me. Then I will look for more recent reviews of the places I may want to stay and/or eat.
I think this scuba diving book is worth the money. It serves as a handy guide when you are planning a Caribbean scuba dive vacation and a handy reference for dive sites once you go on that trip. I like the rating system they use for dive sites so you have some basis for comparison. It also makes it easy to see the dive highlights of a destination.
Personally, I would have liked to have more on diving and less on the restaurants and/or hotel section. Of course, that is just me since I like doing that type of research online.
Bottom line, would I buy it again and is it one of those books on scuba diving that is worth your money? I vote yes.