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- Published on Amazon.com
I ordered this book because I was planning a professional assignment to the ABC islands and had many questions to ask. Having previously reviewed other titles in this series with somewhat mixed results I had some idea of what to expect.
In addition to learning about the various Dive Sites, the information I require is; Something about the people - a potted history of the country and an insight into their language and customs etc, plus a few lines about shopping, how to get there, airlines, excess baggage, airport tax, tourist boards, hotels, time difference, local transport, currency, electricity, language, photography, diving facilities, safari boats, available equipment, what to bring, what to wear - and so forth. Thankfully, most of these questions (though not all) are answered with additional information on diving for the disabled and Nitrox. Furthermore, this is a destination with no direct flights from the UK - so the detailed variables of how I might get there were particularly valuable.
"The Dive Sites of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao" is paperback measuring 9½in x 6½in containing over 170 pages. Commencing with a two-page explanation of the legends and symbols used throughout the book, we then have chapters on; An overall Introduction to the country, Travel, Diving and Snorkelling in general, Aruba, Bonaire, Curaçao, the Marine Environment, Underwater Photography & Video and Health & Safety for Divers.
The first map is across pages 10 and 11 and shows the islands (there are actually 5 altogether), in relation to each other and the Caribbean. That and the first 3 chapters are a very good start. Now we get down to the diving found off each of the 3 main (and two smaller) islands and this is where the book could so easily be improved. Altogether, there are brief details on 180 dive sites but each chapter commences with "Site No 1" whereas it would be far more useful had they been numbered consecutively from beginning to end.
For each of the islands/island groups, only one map is required in order to demonstrate the approximate position of all the dive sites. Whilst this is used to good effect as far as Aruba is concerned, Bonaire and Curaçao are separated into 3 and 4 artificial divisions respectively. When studying the diving detail, it is always the little things which reveal the amount of research undertaken by any author. For many years Aruba has claimed that their shipwreck "Antilla" is "The largest shipwreck in the Caribbean." Whilst I can't fault any Tourist Board or local Diving Facility for making such a claim, the Author really should have done his homework. I know of at least 2 Cruise Liners found elsewhere in the Caribbean (Grenada and Mustique) that are easily 200 feet longer than this particular shipwreck and, for me, the diving detail in this book is, therefore, suspect.
My final criticism is reserved for the blatant advertising for "Captain Don's Habitat." This amounts to several photographic captions where no name even needed to be mentioned and a double-page eulogy about this particular diver. I fully appreciate how the Author's diving had to be sponsored by somebody, but subsequent reference to that sponsor should be limited to the acknowledgements page and, perhaps, the occasional plug in one or two (and no more) photographs. If the Author wishes to write a testimonial to Captain Don Stewart (I am well aware of his contribution to the local Diving scene.) - fine by me, but its inclusion here gives the impression of this book being limited to the Diving provided by this particular facility - and nobody else. And that is the wrong impression to give.
Having said all that, almost all the information you are likely to want is here. That - coupled with a good cross-section of high-calibre photographs throughout, make this the best diving guide to the ABC Islands I have yet to see. With a few improvements here and a few deletions there, this book could so easily have obtained a 5 star rating.