Geri Murphy is one of the most published
underwater photo journalist's in the
world. She is best identified with Skin
Diver, which has showcased more than 150
cover photos from 1977 to 1999. During
that period, she generated more than
850 travel features and product reports
under the Skin Diver banner.
She has spent the past 25 years
traveling the world and covering such
unique activities as shark tagging
contests, congregating Manta Rays,
encounters with wild dolphins,
live-aboard cruises to exotic locations,
shipwreck search and discovery and shark
feeding advenures. Murphy is also
responsible for photographing and naming
Stingray City in Grand Cayman - now one
of the world's most famous diving
Day 2 - Don Juan Beach Resort
We got up early for a quick breakfast and then set out for our first dive resort--the Don Juan Beach Resort, just four miles east of the airport. This is an all-inclusive resort, which means for one package price guests receive room accommodations, all three meals, snacks, all drinks and most resort activities. The desk clerk gave us red-colored plastic bands for our wrists that signify we are all-inclusive guests of the resort.
One of Treasure Divers' dive boats.
The guestrooms are great--spacious and fully air-conditioned. We unpacked our dive gear and set up the underwater cameras. A short walk across the beach brought us to Treasure Divers--a very well-organized dive center, complete with a staff of five, a classroom, air compressor, rental equipment and four dive boats.
We introduced ourselves to owner/manager Walter Frischbutter. He showed us a large map of the dive sites, explained the procedures and assigned us to our divemaster, Andi. We loaded our gear on board a double-ender craft that had an awning for shade and comfortable seating.
The dive team: Geri, Carolyn and Vick.
While underway, Andi explained that we were headed to La Caleta Underwater National Park, located very close to the resort. Our first dive site would be the wreck of the El Limon, a 69-foot steel tugboat with triple screws. She lies on a sand bottom, surrounded on three sides by high profile coral reefs.
The visibility was excellent; I could see the entire wreck from bow to stern. It looked like a toy boat in the bottom of a bathtub. The wreck has become a refuge for small tropical reef fish--Bluestriped Grunts, Blue Tangs, Trumpetfish and juvenile Goatfish were everywhere. Our most memorable encounter was a large two-foot-long Porcupinefish that allowed us to swim with it for quite some time.
For the second dive, we moved a short distance to the wreck of the Hickory, a 144-foot treasure salvage vessel that was sunk in 1986. Now broken in half and ravaged by storms, the wreck is home for an incredible assortment of marine life. The thing that struck me was the amazing number of Yellow Tube Sponge clusters growing on the bow and over the decks and superstructure. There must have been hundreds of them!
Don Juan Beach Resort.
There are numerous places where divers can penetrate the hull and explore the ship's innards. Several compartments were filled with Blackbar Soldierfish, and deeper inside the wreck, we encountered a large school of Glassy Sweepers. While we explored the inside, Vicki and Andi encountered a pair of Porcupinefish. Is it mating season?
All-inclusive guests show off their wristbands.
Back at the dive center, Walter introduced us to Rolf, his cave diving expert. Treasure Divers has developed a very unique freshwater cavern dive close to the resort. With underwater visibility of 300 feet, visitors can explore a series of tunnels and chambers. They emerge in air pockets that are filled with awesome displays of stalactites. La Sirena is rated one of the D.R.'s top 10 dives.
A conga line forms in the pool.
The Don Juan has a very festive atmosphere with Latin music and activities all day long. The pool area is central to the social activity; this is where the staff teaches guests how to dance the meringue (invented in the D.R.), do a conga line in the swimming pool and other games and activities.
Watertoys at the Don Juan.
Equally appealing is the beach--a wide stretch of white sand with a private pier for all forms of watercraft. As part of the all-inclusive program, guests could simply pick out an ocean kayak, pedal boat, sailboard or sunfish and go out for a sail. What more could you ask for?
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