4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on 1 February 2002
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...
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.
3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 10 November 2001
We recently spent a week diving in Bonaire and used this book as our bible, together with a locally-produced (yellow soft cover) book available at all diveshops in Bonaire.
We dived a dozen or so of the sites and found the Jackson book very useful in planning the dives. It gives details of how to access the sites, together with details of depths, essential in planning repetitive dives.
It is accurate, practical and as up to date as possible (most other books on the ABC islands were written in the early 1990s, well before Hurricane Lenny).
In conclusion, having dived many of the world's top dive environments, we really enjoyed Bonaire and found this book an excellent practical tool. We look forward to checking it out for Aruba and Curacao!