HOW MANY DIVE SITES ARE THERE?Recently recognized by Rodales Scuba Diver as one of the top three dive sites in the Caribbean, Puerto Rico's southern coast offers numerous diving experiences. THE WALL, an extraordinary dive site, features a 22-mile long, over 2,000-feet deep unique Caribbean formation. Closer to shore, a ring of deep water encircling barrier reefs has created several mini-walls. Some of the most popular dive sites inside of THE WALL include THE AQUARIUM, FALLEN ROCK WALL AND TRENCH, THE GARDENS, CANYONS, LABRYNTH AND THE POZAS.
THE WALL -is scored with valleys and deep trenches. It is cloaked in immense gardens of staghorn and elkhorn coral, deep-water gorgonians and other coral formations. Here you will find canyons, carpeted with sandy bottoms and lined with technicolor reefs. Black coral, scarcely seen in the Caribbean today, is alive and well.
THE AQUARIUM -Features three distinct ecosystems, first a sandy bottom. Second, a large head system (one head is estimated to be over 1,000 years old) The third system is a coral system comprised of species of soft and hard coral, as well as sponges. The most striking attraction of this dive is a 10-foot tall, 12-foot in diameter coral head, located near several other large formations.
WHY IS THE SOUTHERN COAST OF PUERTO RICO, ONE OF THE BEST DIVE SITES?Exclusive, no other dive operator uses this stretch of water on a regular basis, so the area is unspoiled and virtually undiscovered, offering opportunity to explore waters once dominated by the Spanish Conquistadors and Pirate Vessels. Recent finds have included muskets, cannon and gold coins.
THE WALL -just two miles off-shore, is where the continental shelf drops off, creating a spectacular and dramatic marine Wall 22-miles long, the Caribbean's newest world-class dive destination. This spectacular dive Wall has a series of slopes and sheer drop-offs that start at 30 feet to 120 feet before disappearing into a 2,000-foot drop, well beyond diver depths.
THE AQUARIUM -features three distinct ecosystems, a sandy bottom followed by a large head system (one head is estimated to be over 1,000 years old). The third system is a coral system comprised of species of soft and hard coral, as well as sponges.
FALLEN ROCK WALL AND TRENCH -is a series of spur and grove formations that go as deep as 110 feet. This beautiful dive site comprises a vertical wall, a trench, and the rim overlooking THE WALL. Divers can explore the vertical portion or proceed single file into the trench. The rim overlooking the main wall has an impressive array of corals, sponges, and many different varieties of tropical fish.
THE POZAS -a popular dive site for student training and night dives, is an island reef in a sandy area with a depth of 40 to 55 feet. Formed from a limestone base, this site features rock formations covered in red encrusting sponges and gardens of gorgonians, sea fans, and barrel sponges. The white sand base and volcanic lava provide the background for protruding ledges up to 15 feet high.
WHAT TYPES OF MARINE LIFE WILL WE SEE?Diving off of the coast of COPAMARINA BEACH RESORT offers divers a variety of locations and dive experiences. While it is not uncommon to view easily more than 60 species of fish while diving, there is some variation on what will be seen at each site.
THE WALL -Black Durgon, Triggerfish, Large Dog Snappers, Queen Angels, Spanish Hogfish, Atlantic Spade Fish, rays, turtles, Moray Eels, Iridescent Grunts, Squirrelfish, large crabs, and Garden Eels.
THE AQUARIUM -Sergeant Majors, Blue Chromis, Goatfish, eels, Brown Garden Eels, Coral Crabs, Hermit Crabs, Cleaner Shrimp, and Arrow Crabs. Butterfly fish include Four-Eyed, Banded and Long Snout. Anemones of the Giant, Knobby and Corkscrew varieties.
FALLEN ROCK WALL AND TRENCH -Atlantic SpadeFish and morays. You may encounter the resident six-foot Moray or the mysterious Manta Ray.
THE POZAS -home to an abundance of fish. The Grunt family is well represented with Blue Stripped Grunts, Stripped Grunts, French Grunts, Smallmouth Grunts, and Spanish Grunts. Divers will commonly see Doctorfish, Ocean SurgeonFish, Blackbar, GoatFish, and Black Durgeons. Soldier Fish, and Queen Angel Fish. The undercut ledges offer hiding spots for Moray Eels and Nurse Sharks.
WHAT TYPE OF CORAL FORMATIONS ARE THERE?There are 3 main types of coral formations that are found directly off-shore of the COPAMARINA BEACH RESORT:
- Wall dives with a coral encrustation along the top and side of the wall. Heavy growths typically down to 100 feet (30m) and towards land for at least 150 feet (45m). Many of the wall sites have coral tunnels passing through the reef and opening out on the wall.
- Patch reef, usually on the south side with large coral heads 10 to 15 feet in diameter. Predominantly small star coral as the major species with plenty of soft corals in the hard bottom area between the coral heads. Spur and groove coral reef with long formations extending from 10 to 50 feet. The coral fingers lay perpendicular to shore and have numerous coral caves. The lettuce and small star corals are the major builders.
- FALLEN ROCK WALL AND TRENCH - The vertical portion displays numerous species of sponges, black sea fans and many species of coral. Proceeding single file into the trench, one is surrounded by brightly colored encrusting sponges on both walls. The rim overlooking the main wall has an impressive array of corals, sponges, spotted morays, and many different varieties of tropical fish, including a one time sighting of a Manta Ray.
- THE POZAS - Formed from a limestone base, this site features rock formations covered in red encrusting sponges and gardens of gorgonians, sea fans, and barrel sponges.
IS THERE WRECK DIVING?Wreck diving currently is not available on the south coast of Puerto Rico.
IS THERE CAVE DIVING?FALLEN ROCK WALL AND TRENCH is a series of spur and grove formations that go as deep as 110 feet. This beautiful dive site comprises a vertical wall, a trench, and the rim overlooking THE WALL. Divers can explore the vertical portion or proceed single file into the trench. The corals, sponges, and many different varieties of tropical fish.
IS THERE SHORE DIVING?Boat diving is the best way to see the numerous dive sites off of the south coast of Puerto Rico.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE VISIBILITY?Visibility is 60 to 130 feet on an average day.
WHAT ARE THE AVERAGE DEPTHS OF THE DIVES?Wall dives begin anywhere from 60 feet and descend to thousands of feet. However, the depth limit here is 110 feet on all dives. Reef dives are along a sloping bottom ranging from 15 to 50 feet.
- THE WALL - offers a series of slopes and sheer drop-offs that start at 60 feet to 120 feet before disappearing into a 2,000-foot drop, well beyond diver depths.
- THE AQUARIUM - offers shallow dives of 50 feet or less.
- FALLEN ROCK WALL AND TRENCH - is a series of spur and grove formations that go as deep as 110 feet.
- THE POZAS - is a popular dive site for student training and night dives, is an island reef in a sandy area with a depth of 40 to 55 feet.
WHAT IS THE AVERAGE WATER TEMPURATURE?Water temperature ranges from 78 to 86 degrees year-round, with the most common pattern:
- January to April: 78 degrees
- May to June: 82 degrees
- July to October: 86 degrees
- November to December: 82 degrees
WHAT KIND OF EXPOSURE PROTECTION IS NEEDED?
- From June till November, most divers wear a dive skin or just a bathing suit; maybe a "shorty" for those who always get cold.
- From December to May, a "shorty" is all most people wear; a 3mm full suit for those who always get cold.
- In the winter months a wind breaker or sweatshirt may be appropriate after coming out of the water.
IS THERE CURRENT?Very seldom. There are a number of dive sites to explore off the south coast of Puerto Rico. If conditions warrant, dive site selections may be altered for the day's activity. The experienced dive staff selects dives sites daily with consideration for weather and water conditions.
IS THE SEA ROUGH?With numerous dive sites to select from within four miles of the resort, rough sea conditions are very seldom a problem. Experience has also shown that rough seas are least likely to occur on morning dives.
HOW DOES THE DIVING COMPARE TO OTHER CARIBBEAN DIVE SITES?Diving in Puerto Rico is like the rest of the Caribbean was over 25 years ago, before overcrowding occurred in many dive sites. Puerto Rico is virgin diving, undiscovered, and unspoiled, where you will see pristine walls, healthy reefs, and an abundance and variety of fish to view at all levels. A variety of dive sites is available within close proximity to the resort. Along with the outstanding diving conditions, visitors are in a foreign country without leaving the US. No customs, passports, or foreign currency. Puerto Rico offers a major airport hub with convenient access and more than 160 flights a day.
WHAT IS THE SCHEDULE FOR DIVING?All morning two tank dives depart at 8a.m. and return at noon. Divers are encouraged to arrive at the Dive Center by 7:45am. Afternoon dives are scheduled individually. Night Dives depart one half hour before sunset and return in two hours.
ARE THERE NIGHT DIVES?Night Dives are scheduled individually. They depart one-half hour before sunset and return two hours later.
WHAT ABOUT INSTRUCTION?DIVE COPAMARINA offers dive certification. Specialty courses are available in navigation, deep water, buoyancy, open water referral, night dives, multi-level diving, underwater naturalist, advanced open water, rescue, dive master, and dive assistant instructor.
WHAT ARE THE SCHEDULES?All courses should be scheduled with the Dive Center so that schedules can be determined to meet diver needs.
ARE BOAT DIVES GUIDED?All boat dives have a Divemaster in the water to act as a guide.
ARE ALL OF THE STAFF DIVEMASTERS OR INSTRUCTORS?All staff members working on the boat are instructors and assistants. All have been trained in medic first aid and receive update training on a regular basis.
ARE THER RULES ON DIVING?The standard diving guidelines apply here:
- Always dive with a buddy.
- All dives are no decompression.
- Return to the boat with 500psi minimum.
- Make a 3 minute safety stop on all dives.
- No coral damage.
IS COMPUTER DIVING PERMITTED?Absolutely! Responsible computer diving is encouraged. All we ask is that the dives remain no-decompression, and that computer divers have their own computer. Computers are available for rent at the Dive Center.
WHAT DIVE BOAT IS USED?A 42' Pro Jet dive boat accommodates eighteen divers and a crew of three. This Robert Shirley designed boat is a dedicated dive boat that accommodates 60 air tanks, with a platform in back that provides easy access for divers.
WHAT AMENITIES ARE ON THE BOATS?The boat is equipped with: ice water and cups, ice chest, easy entry/exit dive platform and ladder, and a shaded dry cabin.
WHAT SAFETY EQUIPMENT IS ABOARD?The boat is equipped with: VHF marine radio monitoring channel 16, EPIRB, DAN oxygen units with "jumbo D" cylinders, safety stop bar or lines, current line, descent line, hookah type hanging regulator, and first aid and trauma kits. All dive staff members are trained in CPR, first aid, and oxygen administration.
HOW MANY DIVERS ARE ON EACH BOAT?The boat accommodates eighteen divers and a crew of three, however the average is twelve divers.
WHAT IS THE RATIO OF DIVERS TO STAFF?There is a maximum of eight divers for every staff member.
HOW LONG OF A BOAT TRIP IS IT TO EACH SITE?
- THE CANYONS is 20 minutes off shore
- THE LABRYNTH is 15 minutes off shore
- THE WALL is two miles directly off-shore.
- THE AQUARIUM is just minutes from the beach by boat.
- THE TRENCH is located forty minutes from dockside.
HOW CLOSE ARE THE BOATS TO THE HOTEL ROOMS?The Dive Center, dock, and boat are located in the center of the resort. Guestrooms are located between 30 and 100 yards depending upon the room occupied.
HOW WILL EQUIPMENT BE HANDLED?The staff of DIVE COPAMARINA will load equipment on the boat, unload it, rinse it, and hang it up, for each trip. There is no charge for this service.
WHAT EQUIPMENT IS AVAILABLE?A complete line of equipment is available for rental. This includes:
- Regulators w/octopus and depth/pressure console
- Buoyancy Control Device (jacket type)
- Dive Computers
- Wetsuits (3mm shorty style)
- Masks, Fins, and Snorkels Various brands