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    • Doing some random adventure travel planning....Thinking about going to Long Bay, Antigua early December. I read that the flora and fauna are abundant after their Oct-Nov raining season. I have not traveled anywhere south of Bermuda/Bahamas and this looks affordable and with great water activity.

      Please post up some pics if you got 'em! I am mostly interested in weather dates, logistics preference for the island (St. Johns vs. Willikies vs. ?).

      Thanks in advance.

    • So... in St. Thomas now.

      I am struck by the shocking difference between the plant life that is cared for by gardeners and landscapers compared to the island ‘s native vegetation. The resorts are beautiful, as are the yards at many private residences. But the hillsides are gray and very tattered—I think the hurricane defoliated most of the plant life. A lot of the palm trees along the coastlines were decapitated and are now just stumps sticking up from the ground.

      Here is a picture that kind of shows the contrast. Resort in the foreground. Gray hills in the background.

    • wow...thanks for your post up....beautiful sounds very similar to the aftermath of wildfires...those stumps take forever to rejuvenate...are the locals working extra hard for your tourist $$'s or is it business as usual for a destination like this?

    • I’ve heard that the tourists are just now starting to return—locals seem to be pretty ambivalent, though. There is a lot of rebuilding going on, which really changes the whole vibe. Tempers are short, people seem exhausted—sort of burned out. The frustration level is palpable. Everyone’s tired of all the inconvenience. It doesn’t exactly feel like paradise these days.

    • Again, thanks for the realitistic sounds like I might need to reconsider my Antigua trip for a few more years....

      I hope you trip still ends up being fun!

    • We’re here for a wedding, so it’s a happy occasion. :)

      I kind of agree with you, though—postpone the trip for a while and watch to make sure there are no more big hurricanes!

    • Hey @lidja - with your input that then precipitated a bunch of research, my compass pointing towards Antigua and surrounding islands will be re-directed to Belize. I can get some Carribean flavor along with Mexico which I really like. So, thanks for your input and I am actually very excited about a December Belize trip. The big question I have now for myself is do I get committed to becoming a certified diver or just do the one-day tourist lesson and dive? :)

    • “ I get committed to becoming a certified diver or just do the one-day tourist lesson and dive?”

      There’s a hard-core diving group in Vegas, I think. Unfortunately, the sports shop (Sports Chalet?) that was really supportive actually went out of business a few years ago so things have probably changed a lot since I dove Lake Mead. You still may be able to make some connections on Facebook—they had an active fb group a few years ago. And maybe another dive shop has stepped up and become the leader in the SCUBA community around Las Vegas now, too.

      If you want my input, I would suggest you think seriously about whether you are inclined to enjoy dive travel because Lake Mead leaves a lot to be desired when it comes to SCUBA sights. If you get certified before your trip and then do some diving in Belize, you are going to want to follow that up with more diving at other SCUBA-cool places because the underwater sights in Belize are really wonderful. That will whisk you into a new kind of travel—and probably expand your photography interests as well. You will also be very tempted to invest a boatload (ha) of cash into a lot of new equipment - for SCUBA as well as for underwater photography.

      If you just want a one-time experience diving in Belize, then the vacation training will probably suffice for that purpose. You’ll have to fight with the beat-up equipment and the gear that doesn’t fit quite right—the fins that are too small and the face mask that gives you a sinus headache because it’s too tight, but it still leaks—all that fun stuff. (Gah!) But If you get past all that crap and get hooked, you’ll probably need/want to sign up for more serious training back at home after you return. Certifying on vacation in a resort pool isn’t really as rigorous as the weeks-long training experience you get at a local shop where you make connections and become one of the groupies. There are dive masters at the resort who are supposed to walk you through the science, but they know most vacationers are just wanting to see beautiful things underwater and aren’t really in a frame of mind to digest all the science while they are on vacation.

      One more thing to consider—SCUBA is a really interesting socialization hybrid. It is absolutely essential to always dive with another diver (a “dive buddy”)—NEVER dive alone. That can be challenging for us introverts. However, once you are under the water, there is very little communication other than safety checks, so diving itself is really a fantastic activity for introverts. In my experience, there’s nothing else quite like it.

      That’s my two cents... :)

    • Great input and confirmed most of what I think and thought. Mostly, I really don't want to dive here in Las Vegas and I really don't want to commute to SoCal. I also have no real aspiration to become versed in underwater photography perse. That requires a ton more equipment (mostly lighting) and I shoot mostly lifestyle stuff where snorkeling is more than adequate.

      In Cancun I did a one day class and it was fine....and, actually quite a steal. 3/4 of a day that included instruction, gear and a great on one for $125US.

      You have helped me confirm my intention for Belize...I am there for 5.5 day I will allocate for a tourist dive and the rest will be snorkeling or other water related activities.

    • Please post a trip report with lots of photos when you return! That will be a real treat to look forward to while it is snowing here in Utah. 😎