Maria La Gorda: Mass-Diving Service in Nature Reserve Area
Maria La Gorda has nice dive sites but they were not so special. After amazing dives in Jardines de la Reina and Bay of Pigs, I felt the overall diving experience in Maria La Gorda was disappointing, unlike the diving reviews I have read. We did 10 dives in Maria La Gorda with one night dive. The night dive was quite interesting though. We saw a very huge crab – it was so big and impressive, maybe around one meter long; and also an orang-utan looked alike crab but bigger. Maybe it is a King Kong crab.
Perhaps it was not the dive sites that made my diving experience in Maria La Gorda was disappointing; but more into the dive center management, Centro Internacional de Buceo Maria La Gorda. The dive center in Maria La Gorda, the only one that available in the area, ignored the comfort of the scuba divers as customers and more over, they did not care about safety and marine preservation by conducting mass-diving (one dive site could be entered by 30 scuba divers with two dive guides/masters!).
The sea in Maria La Gorda was very easy to dive: no current, no waves, with fine visibility. It was perfect for beginner scuba divers and the dive center knew it. It ran three dive times per-day plus night dive at 8pm. The first two dives aimed for deep diving (until 30 meter or so) and the third dive aimed for shallow dive. The bottom time was 45 minutes regardless how much air the scuba diver still have in his/her tank. I have been diving in several countries and usually the dive centers would let scuba divers to dive for one hour if our air was still enough (not less than 50 bar). In several dives, my tank was still around 100 bar (and more) after 45 minutes diving, but yeah, since it was a mass-diving with only two dive guides, I had to surface with the rest of the group. Arrghh, this dive center stole my diving time!
Mostly we dove with more than 10 scuba divers and one dive guide in the morning dives – which aimed for advanced and experienced scuba divers. The third dive was the worst, as beginner scuba divers also joined and plenty of them. In our experience it was more than 25 scuba divers and our last dive was even worst, more than 30 scuba divers in one boat and all dive in one dive site…gossshh..it was horrible!
Did the dive center ever consider how much stress these 25+ scuba divers caused to the corals and fishes in the respective dive sites?! I was so pissed that I wrote a long letter to the dive center about how lousy the way they practicing the scuba diving in a preserved area. They should limit the number of scuba divers in each dive sites. And regardless how easy the ocean condition was for diving; it was not safe to have just two dive guides/masters with such big group!
Maria La Gorda was certainly not a place for a long-term scuba diving holiday and certainly not an International class diving services as they claimed. There was no interaction between the scuba divers and their dive guides either like having good pleasant communication. In sort, the dive center was lacking of safety, ignore the marine preservation and no friendly services.
It was sad to see lousy tourism management in the area that has so much potential. Anyway, it was a holiday and overall I did enjoy the beauty of Maria La Gorda secluded beach, the warmth of the sea and the nature of Guanahacabibes. But for sure I do not recommend this dive center and I would never return to Maria La Gorda.