The diving at CSA has always been good, although not as good as some other areas of the Carribbean. The dive staff is top notch, so no worries there. They use Sherwood equipment and it is very well maintained. I did use their equipment the first year there, but since then I have always brought my own as I am more comfortable with my familiar gear that I KNOW the maintenance schedule of. I would not have a problem using their equipment though, but I would recommend that you bring your own mask and snorklel. When you get there, say hi to the dive staff from Jay as we are going to CTI in August 2013. Already booked and going back to CSA August 2014 though.
I always bring my gear, because I pretty much dive only on vacation. I also snorkel every day, as does my wife, so having your own stuff is handy. From talking with other divers, there has been no complaints about the gear at Swept Away. I know my stuff fits, and with my BCD, I don't use a weight belt. The dive boat is new and a real beauty. There are a number of different dive locations and with the new boat, getting there is a breeze. Depending on your Cert. level, the dives can go to around 100+'. The Vis. is great, the water is warm and a lot of guys don't use a wet suit. If you have your own stuff, and you have the room and the weight, bring it. Using your own Reg., mask, etc. is comfortable. Get wet and get to know the dive guys, they are the best!
I have been diving at CSA each of the past 5 years. The only comparisons I have are to Florida and Nassau Bahamas. The first 2 years I was a little dissapointed with the quality of the reefs in Jamaica. Not the bright colors I had seen in the Florida Keys and most of the fish were very small. Also saw several abandoned fish/crab traps on reefs. Not sure if things have improved, or we just went to different sites, but the past 3 years have been much better. I have seen larger, more colorful fish and definitely better coral formations. Two years ago we saw a couple of rays. This past year we had a guy spear fishing on the trip, looking for lionfish. We saw several of them, some lobster and even a sea turtle.
I always bring my own mask and snorkle, then use the resort equipment for the rest. They do have masks/snorkles, but I don't want to take a chance of getting one that doesn't fit well and bringing my own doesn't really take up that much room in my luggage. All equipment I have used from the resort (fins, BC, regulator, weight belts, etc. ) has been in good shape - no problems.
The staff at the dive shop are great. Fun guys, joke around a lot, but definitely take their responsibilities seriously. I usually only dive once a year - while at Couples. The staff make you comfortable and feel safe, all while having a fun time.
We got certified at CSA several years ago and you will love the divemasters. We generally bring our own mask and fins but use the dive shops regulators, BC etc. Their equipment is well maintained and in good shape. You can dive twice a day, space available, and can sign up early for as many times as you want to go. If enough are interested a night dive can be had for a small fee. Water is clear, about 100 foot visibility, and depths range from 30 feet down to near 100 feet. Lots of coral and never know what wildlife you may see. We have seen sea turtles, many different varieities of fish, a sleeping nurse shark and occassionally dolphins. Jamaica has not always protected the reefs as well as some other islands but are making headway in their preservation efforts.
Thank you all for the feedback. Much appreciated! I've been to many places, mostly on live aboards. Wanted to add Jamaica to my list of places I've been diving. I think each destination holds it's own beauty. Can't wait!
Going diving at CSA in 40 days! This will be our 4th trip. Dive crew is Awesome and we usually dive every day. This is the first time we will be bringing our own equipment. As a woman, their bc's just don't fit as well. We did bring our own mask and fins. Snorkel didn't make it thru the winter, snapped right in half and I don't usually have it attached when I dive anyway. Night dives were scary but cool! I can't wait to see the new dive boat. Last year we had to dive off of the glass bottom boat.