Bonaire

This isn’t Muck Diving!  True, but that doesn’t mean those in the Midwest cannot treat themselves to some of the more exotic diving experiences.  Because the traditional Muck Diver doesn’t dive in paradise everyday information on dive ops, hotels, what should I do and not do become essential when planning a trip to paradise.  Because of all these questions, we thought we would give everybody a one-stop place to go to learn about these places and hopefully help with planning your next trip.  Once again, the success of this relies upon those that have taken the journey.  So, please help out and tell us about your trips and what worked and what did not work.

7 Responses to “Bonaire”

  1. Snagel says:

    Bonaire-1st trip April 7-14 2012
    Original Post by Mergenser on ScubaToys

    My wife, my brother and I went to Bonaire for the very first time. We went there for the shore diving because my wife gets sea sick on boat dives. We will definitely return to Bonaire and had a fantastic time. We paid $136 per person for a week of unlimited shore diving. Dive Friends of Bonaire was the scuba shop we used. They were totally awesome and laid back. Back your vehicle up and load tanks. Stayed at Happy Holiday Homes for $910 for 3 people. Apartment was 2 bedroom, air condition, kitchen, tubs to rinse gear and outdoor secure closet to dry gear. It is located south of the airport. Very quiet location. Rented truck through budget and flew with Delta. Favorite dive was Salt Pier and the Hooker. It was our first scuba vacation. We will go back again real soon! Awesome trip!

  2. snagel says:

    Bonaire Trip Report 10 – 17 Mar 2012
    Original Post by Chilly on ScubaToys

    Our quick and dirty Bonaire trip report – overall a wonderful dive vacation with the added bonus of incredible food! Who knew?

    Flights – the Saturday direct flights between BON and ATL were definitely diver-friendly. 1500L BON arrival and 1530L departure – great for maximizing dive opportunities the day prior to departure. Did not have to pay an “exit tax” as expected.

    Hotel/Dive Op– Stayed at Harbour Village Beach Resort and dove with “Great Adventures”, the on-site DO. Both the resort and DO had courteous, helpful, and hard-working staff. Very conservative guided dive profiles, shore/boat dive packages, and comfortable Newton dive boats. Would definitely stay and dive with them again.

    Diving –75 min temp at night, but most days 77 @ 60 fsw. Favorite shore dive “Something Special” right off the resort. Favorite dive of the trip was a drift dive offo f Klein Bonaire – lots of turtles, tarpon, seahorses, huge puffer fish! Went on our first fluorescent dive – very interesting to observe the reef from a different perspective.

    Food – What apleasant surprise! Went to Bonaire for the diving and had a Foodie adventure as well. The island has a plethora of fine restaurants combining Continental and Caribbean flair. If you have the opportunity, do not miss the five-course tasting menu at Capriccio (best tiramisu I have ever had) or the Dorado with Cajun Remoulade at Mona Lisa (marvelous, old-world Dutchvibe). Superb!

  3. ozarkdiver says:

    My family went to Bonaire in 2006. The diving was good, but the vis could have been better. The best thing for me wasn’t necessarily the diving, but the other things to do (I’m not the diver who tries to make a record number of dives on vacation). We went to Lac Bay and tried windsurfing, and also did landsailing (3-wheeled sail-powered carts on an oval course)…..it was a blast! The Argentinian restaurants have great steaks/hamburgers.

  4. snagel says:

    Trip Report – Bonaire 09/2010
    Original Post by Ruu on ScubaToys

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    I managed to make it there (good) and make it back (not so good) without much of an incident, so here is my not particularly anticipated trip report. I’ll break it down into a bunch of random categories to ensure that everyone gets the minimum information possible.

    Flights:

    Came in on Saturday PHL->MIA->BON. Aside from having to leave the house at 3am, and discovering that US airways/Orbitz had managed to book my wife and myself into the same seat (on a fully booked flight no less, but they did figure it out) the first two flights were mostly uneventful. Next time, I suspect that I will be going for the PHL->ATL->BON since it gives me an extra 4.5 hours on Bonaire, rather than the Club America lounge (which does have free booze, so I guess its a trade-off). Whoever invented the checked baggage charge can go and fornicate themselves. With vigor.

    Returned on a Thursday and went BON->CUR->MIA->PHL. Again, discovered that my wife and I were occupying the same seat, but they did figure it out. I would refer the software engineer who wrote the software that made it possible for 2 bookings to exist in the same seat to the comment I made some moments ago. With even more vigor. Very little excitement on any of the flights, although my suggestion that children under the age of five would be more than comfortable in pet carriers in the hold met with surprising resistance.

    Accommodation:

    We stayed at the Harbor Village. Airport transfers went smoothly, the room was very nice, the air conditioning worked (it was definitely warm while we were there, and the wind was virtually non existent, so AC was nice), good bed, good bathroom, good view, good cleaning service etc. As far as the hotel itself goes, yes it is on the expensive side for Bonaire, but if you like a quiet well maintained hotel with limited interaction with children (there were almost none while we were there, and frankly that’s a plus in my view) then it’s probably worth it. We did have a problem with the hair dryer, which was reported and resulted in us getting fresh ice twice a day (no – made no sense to us either – there may have been a slight language barrier on that one), but that was the worst of it. The razorwire topping the 10-foot fence designed to keep the rest of you oiks out of my view looked reassuringly sharp – a few menacing dogs would have been nice too, but I guess that they are hard to come by on the island. The free Internet was appalling for the first couple of days, but on the third day a nice man came with a new wireless access point (they were doing some upgrades evidently) for our building, and shortly thereafter I had the best hotel connection I have ever used for the remainder of the stay (I was downloading stuff from steam at a very solid 500kbytes/sec day and night) – whether it will stay that way during the busy season is anyone’s guess, but for a Caribbean island you are unlikely to see anything better.

    One good thing about HV is its proximity to Klein – it is one of the few places where you can easily Kayak over (takes about 10 minutes – try doing that from the Plaza) – we took snorkeling gear over several times, and the reef at the closest point is truly fantastic, and a hot spot for turtles a lot of the time (we had 7 sitings in an hour the last time we went over).

    Island Travel:

    We did end up renting a truck, but only for the last couple of days due to an ear infection I picked up which halted my diving 2 days early. If you are reasonably fit, you can walk from the hotel to the main town in 15 minutes or less, and there are enough shops and restaurants close to HV to get by if you need to grab food/booze/sundries/more booze. Next time, I’m planning on renting a truck for about half the time for greater access to remote sites, but the lack of a truck really wasn’t holding us back. If you do drive in Bonaire, and you happen to have a good technique for avoiding the many, many lizards that are either extremely fond of the sun or just too sad to go on, do let me know.

    Food:

    We actually ate at the hotel restaurant way too often, but it was just too convenient ah well. Thoughts on where we did eat:

    La Balandra (hotel restaurant – as far as we could tell closed to the general public) – consistently excellent. Big fan of the fish tacos for lunch, and the catch of the day Caribbean style never disappointed. The resident crew of Iguanas is entertaining, if a little pushy, and the resident tarpon turn up nightly to keep the population of little fish down to a manageable size. Cheap? Not so much.

    Patagonia – good selection of booze, and they serve a mean slice of cow. Not sure what the selection is like if you are a vegetarian. Pretty sure I don’t care.

    Eli Deli – Just down the road, does a nice omelette for breakfast/lunch. The resident lizards are rather partial to the boiled eggs.

    Bistro de Paris – phenomenal. Their lamb shank special was so good I got it twice. Their vegetable ratatouille was, according to my lovely wife, also very good, but that is unlikely to affect me at any point in the foreseeable future, at least until sheep go extinct. As a side note, not sure what their house wine is, but 2 glasses of it had me on my proverbial donkey. I blame the altitude.

    Honorable mentions to Sunset grill and Pasa Bon Pizza. Really we didnt have a bad meal while we were there.

    Diving:

    The visibility was pretty mediocre when we arrived (down to 30 feet or so at its worst) – no-one seemed to be sure why and I’m hoping it improves before we head back there. Things were improving towards the end of our stay (up to maybe 60 feet or so in my estimation). Not great, but maybe the extra nutrients will be good for the coral, and at least we can look forward to better visibility next time we come. The water temperature was somewhere between 82 and 86 degrees (depending upon whose computer you looked at) at all depths and at all times – I was in a 3mil and anything more would have been overkill.

    I spent a disproportionate amount of my time diving on the HV house reef/something special (which really are extremely close together – not much of a swim at all). As has been noted, the “reef” outside HV is a mix of sand and coral rubble with a wreck at about 55 feet. Not spectacular at first glance, but it seemed to get more interesting the more I dived it – I personally saw seahorses, octopus, several squid, turtles, an eagle ray, several large resident tarpon, jawfish, garden eels, mantis shrimp etc, as well as the usual collection of fish, and when I was tired of looking for macro subjects I wandered over to something special for a more complete reef experience and was rarely disappointed. I did a whole lot of (pretty shallow) solo dives with my camera and found myself ignoring opportunities to go to several sites further afield because I seemed to have a better chance of seeing something interesting right where I was (and also because its fun to have a whole reef to yourself). I did do boat dives to Klein, as well a couple of sites towards the southern end of the island, but more often than not I was gravitating towards more dives on the familiar reef – I guess I’m just boring like that.

    Mark and Muriel, who run great adventures (the resident dive op) deserve special mention for being genuinely nice people (unlike me), and Mark managed to take my “I’m never going to try to learn to dive again, not after the Egypt experience” wife from “maybe I’ll try discover scuba” to “well scuba diver doesn’t sound too bad” to “how many skills from open water?” to full certification in less than a week without pressuring her at all. Just as well really – not sure how plan B (hold her and the scuba equipment under the water until something good happened) would have gone down.

    The inevitable bad thing that happens wherever I go:

    I believe I mentioned the Fiji coup, the war that started while I was in the middle east etc. I’m not saying that this particular curse had anything to do with the 200,000 gallon naptha candle that we enjoyed while we were there, but bad things seem to happen whenever I go diving.

    Photogramaphy:

    I did do one of the planned 2 days of photography course with Fish-Eye photo (the other one was sadly lost to my ear infection – there’s always next time though), and that was fantastic. To be honest as I did the first day of the course it became increasingly clear that my knowledge of my camera was more than a little limited, and the reason I sucked was primarily that I had little to no idea of how to use the tools at hand. After the first day, I had a better understanding of both photography in general, and my new camera (a Canon G11, which Tim had little trouble showing me how to use, despite it not being one of his). Now when I take pictures and they suck, I know that it has more to do with my lack of artistic ability, and less to do with the fact that I had set up my camera like an addled five year old.

  5. snagel says:

    Bonaire 11/6/-0-11/14/09

    Just returned from a fabulous trip to Bonaire. Sunny temps in the upper 80’s and water temps in the low 80’s. Visibility at the beginning of the week was around 100’, but every day seemed to get a little “milkier”. The winds seemed to pick up a little more every day causing more surge. Last year we seemed to have a little current running north to south on a constant basis. This year it changed frequently from north to south and then south to north. Not a huge thing, but odd that it shifted frequently this year. Don’t get me wrong, Bonaire does not have the currents of Coz.

    Den Laman: Located above Bonaire Dive and Adventure Diving on Bari Reef. We stayed on the 3rd floor with a balcony that overlooked the ocean. Great view and very nice room – 2 bedroom with separate bath facilities in each room. Worked out great for two couples. Nice kitchenette with everything we needed and very modern furnishings. The only drawback to the room was that it was on the 3rd floor and carrying luggage up 3 flights of stairs was a chore. We kept our dive gear in the locker room supplied by the dive shop – it is open 8:30 a.m. – 9:30 p.m. and kept locked during the night. A security guard is sitting outside the locker room during the night. The door going to the stairs was locked and your room keycard opened it as well as your room (actually, our room door wouldn’t open using the keycard so they gave us a key). Amita (manager or owner) was very pleasant and offered anything we needed and made a great host.

    Bonaire Dive and Adventure Dive Shop: Located right on Bari Reef. Great shop and everybody that worked their was very nice and helped anyway they could. Registering and paying the $25 Park Fee was a breeze, but they want cash only for the fee. You must show a c-card (of course) and provide a credit card at registration. All divers are required to attend an “orientation”. This consists of a review of the diving around the island and information on how to get air tanks, weights, and locker room usage. Orientation is about an hour and scheduled around 9:00 a.m. If you have dove there before, you can take the shorter version that takes about 20 minutes. They do offer a free Nitrox upgrade provided you have certification. Tanks are easy to get – many right on the dock or up at the shop. If you are driving pull up and load tanks at the shop. We did notice many tanks had leaking o-rings or valves. Always take an extra tank if you are driving to other dive areas. Several times we needed it. We did a class with Jerry the Naturalist on Fish Identification. This took several hours with a video presentation and a lot of information on how to identify the various fish and ended with a dive on Bari Reef with Jerry pointing out things. Great class and Jerry was a great instructor – cost was $50 and well worth it.

    Airport: Arriving took about an hour to get through customs. They are on “island time” and the line didn’t go very fast. Once through I recommend purchasing your departure tax ($35). This will save time when you leave and avoid long lines. Departure they want you their 3 hours prior to take-off. They say they go through all luggage by hand and need the extra time.

    Diving: We dove Bari Reef many times since it was our “home reef”. Other locations included Oil Slick, 1000 Steps (actually only 72), Karpata, Red Slave, Torries Reef, Hilma Hooker and Windsock. I was able to get in 20 dives in 6 days. The reefs are very nice with all the typical fish. We saw several turtles, octopus, squid, shrimp, and it was nice to see many, many eels, many of them a lot bigger than the year before. I was disappointed to not see any Eagle Rays at Red Slave, but have in the past in the sandy areas. They have been hit with Lion Fish and ask that if you see one to let them know so they can send a crew out to find it. They have spotted 6 of them around the island. Most entries were a little tough – rough surge and rocks. Not a lot of sandy beaches to walk right it. The easiest was Bari Reef since we had the dock. Red Slave was the worse due to the huge waves coming in. 1000 steps was good, but there are 72 steps to go down and then come back up. Windsock is the beach area with several people lying out and some snorkeling. We did hit their once with a cruise ship tour snorkeling for the afternoon. The Hilma Hooker is a wreck dive with a huge boat sunk at about 90 feet. There is another wreck dive not published. It is a tug boat at about 90 feet. This wreck is located south of the Bari Reef dock almost to the next dock – look for a support pole sticking out of the water (use to be a dock) and find a cable attached to it. Go down the cable to the sunken tugboat. All in all great diving and easy – you dive as much as you want or can.

    Dining: Eating out will cost about $25 per person. We stopped by the local grocery and picked up snacks and lunch items for the room and this worked out very good, but did go out for dinner most nights. I have to say that I was somewhat disappointed in the food. There really was no place that gave me that “awwww – great food feeling”. All was pretty much bland and very basic. The best in my opinion was Rum Runners located at Capt. Dons. Great pier view and in my opinion the best food we had dining out. Other places we ate were Kon Tiki (located on the South End by the Wind Surfing areas) – expensive and really not that great of food, Chibi Chibi (located at the Divi Flamingo Resort) – nice but very average. We ate here because we spend an evening at the Casino (Waste of time and pretty much the slots are very tight and you are not going to go away a winner), Sunset Grill (located at Bari Reef) – okay and easy for us, but not the greatest food. Casablanca (located in town) – love this place, but this year the food was just okay. We had the mixed grill; which, provided several lunches later, but the steak was the toughest I’ve seen – actually could not hardly cut it let alone chew it – ended up throwing it away. I think the last place was called maybe Pirates Cove. It’s located upstairs on the downtown pier. I’m really not sure of the name – shows how impressed I was with it. Okay food, but nothing to write home about. We had to forgo the Pizza this year because the wife cannot eat cheese and didn’t want to be tempted. As stated the food in my opinion wasn’t the greatest, but we came here to dive. My wife (first time and non-diver) was not impressed – the food was bland, often under or over cooked. The interesting think she noticed was they do not offer drink refills anywhere unless you pay for another drink.

    What can I say, just spent a week in paradise diving and loved it. Bonaire offers great diving and easy affordable diving. You dive at your own pace as opposed to having to meet a schedule for boat dives. This is what draws us to the island. I would recommend every diver visit at least once (this was our 2nd trip). Next year, probably going to hit somewhere else, just to see the world of diving.

  6. snagel says:

    Bonaire trip report (long)

    Original Post by ZenaGirl On ScubaToys

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    We spent two glorious weeks on Bonaire this summer (June 27-July 11), so thought I’d share my trip report. Once photos are edited, I’ll post the link to our Shutterfly website so anyone interested can take a look.

    We traveled on Continental Airlines on the redeye through Houston. Because it was a redeye we flew first class, which made for a very comfortable trip, including being able to access the President’s Club in Houston during our layovers.

    We purchased a dive/drive/stay package through Den Laman Condos on Bonaire, which included a rental truck from Total and diving with Bonaire Dive and Adventure. We didn’t prepurchase any boat dives this year as we found them to be too time consuming and we preferred shore diving on our own.

    Bonaire Dive and Adventure has very strange hours (in my opinion), opening at 8:30 and locking up the nitrox tanks at 4:30 and everything else at 9:00pm. We got around this by keeping our gear in our condo (took BCs and wetsuits up after dinner) and keeping 6 nitrox tanks in our truck. We typically left our condo for our first dives by 7:30am, which gave us plenty of time to do 3 tanks before having a late lunch.

    Our condo:
    We stayed in a 1-bedroom ocean front condo and it was well worth the upgrade from a studio. The condo is very large, with tons more room to spread out, including having a full dining room table. The kitchen includes an oven, which our studio didn’t have, which will be very nice for reheating pizza. The lanai is large, with another table and chairs setup, and the view is spectacular. The entire outside wall of the condo is windows so the view is constantly in your sight. The only time the lanai is in the sun is in the very late afternoon and evening, but otherwise it is shaded and very useable.

    The Dive Sites:

    Bari Reef (our house reef)
    We dove this as our last dive every day. We didn’t really notice any big changes on from Hurricane Omar, the amount of marine life is still there, and we even found two very large Devil Scorpion fish on our first dive. Other critters include: A huge sunfish (need to ID it), both Green and Hawksbill turtles on about 6 dives, Tarpon hunting the small silversides near the dock, many tiny juvenile Spotted Drums, Mantis Shrimp multiple times, Squid mating and laying eggs, many Moray Eels, a tiny “marble” (juvenile box fish), as well as Squat Anemone Shrimp, and just about every juvenile and adult fish in the book.

    Oil Slick Leap
    Great dive. Starting with the giant leap into the water, then coming upon a large octopus almost immediately. There’s no question that Omar did a number on the shallows at Oil Slick Leap, but once you get away from the shore, things improved dramatically. We saw many lettuce slugs and Lars got lots of pictures of those, and he even found a tiny octopus about mid-way through the dive. There wasn’t much room for improvement on this dive.

    1000 Steps
    1000 steps was a relaxing dive with nothing spectacular to see, just the usual schools of fish and lots of cleaning stations. We did see one large tarpon on the dive, but that was the only unique thing, otherwise it was the normal proliferation of marine critters. The northern sites definitely have a lot of Lettuce Slugs and they’re always interesting and unique to look at.

    Margate Bay
    The water was almost flat with a small breeze, conditions perfect for shore diving that far south. Entry was easy and we quickly were able to see why it’s such a recommended sight by so many people. The amount of soft corals, hard corals, sea fans, and sponges was immense, with juvenile fish everywhere in the shallows. Excellent dive and one of my favorites. During our second dive here, Lars almost ran right into a small Hawksbill turtle, which we watched for about 5 minutes as it ate a small coral head. We hadn’t realized that turtles eat coral, but this one certainly did.

    Atlantis
    Similar to Margate Bay, though not as many soft corals and sea fans. Great site though and one we’d definitely do again.

    East Coast Charters
    Met the boat and other divers, quickly loaded up and headed out 10 minutes away to the first site, Funchi. Wasn’t much to see on the dive, the waves were huge and there was quite a bit of surge and wave action, even under water. We did see a lobster, a crab, and a bunch of turtles. Second dive was White Hole and saw at least 10 huge tarpon.

    Jefferson Davis
    Nothing special at all about this site, very boring and bland. Lots of devastation from Omar here.

    Tori’s Reef
    WOW is the best word to describe this site!! There were an amazing amount of juveniles and eels, something to look at no matter where you were facing. We were treated to a Spotted Eagle Ray swimming by, and enjoyed watching him for a few minutes.

    O’l Blue (Tolo)
    Headed up past 1000 steps knowing we’d have to go through Rincon to get back to our condo (long drive). We were completely blown away at the damage and devastation to the reef from Omar at O’l Blue, and actually cut our dive a bit short since there wasn’t much to really enjoy.

    Rather than driving all the way to Rincon we decided to be illegal and drive the wrong way on the one-way road since there was such little traffic on the island. We managed to only encounter 1 truck on our way back and were able to pass easily.

    White Slave…..or an attempt
    We got down to White Slave early since we weren’t able to dive it yesterday because of the bad tank. The wind and waves were definitely up, but we decided to try to navigate through the surf and dive. After being tossed a bit (falling once) on the way out through the surf and big waves, we decided to abort the dive and come back in, anticipating that it was only going to be worse an hour later at the end of our dive.

    Salt City
    Nice double reef, with the second reef very close to the first and relatively shallow. We enjoyed poking around the shallow part, then going to the second reef where we saw a huge school of small yellow striped fish. In the sand flat between the reefs, there were Garden Eels to play with and a huge Hermit crab living in a Conch shell. Nice dive. The wind was picking up and the surface chop was getting worse by the time we exited, so we headed north to Windsock. On our second dive on I found a large spotted flat worm (need to ID him). That was very unique as we’ve rarely found any nudibranchs or flatworms, other than Lettuce Slugs on .

    Windsock
    Always a nice, easy dive….typical Bonairian reef and a lot of marine life to watch. Highlight was at the end when we saw 4-5 HUGE Rainbow parrotfish in the shallows.

    Jeannie’s Glory
    A little way up from Salt City and a similar reef, but with a bigger sand flat between the reef and shore. We didn’t anything particularly special, but enjoyed the reef and the usual creatures. Lars played with his camera and managed to take 2 short videos, so I think he’ll be enjoying doing a few videos interspersed with his photos. It’ll be especially nice when we go to and do the shark dives with the Tiger Sharks!

    Weber’s Joy (aka Witches Hut)
    Weber’s Joy was a nice site, with highlights being watching a fish and eel interact and our first squid sighting. Lots of devistation from Omar. After the dive, we headed to Andrea II for our surface interval and as we sat and talked, we noticed the clouds darkening and the wind picking up. We decided to abort the dive and head back to the condo to dive Bari Reef if the weather improved. Literally within minutes of leaving Andrea II, the clouds opened up and the rain began. It was so cold and stormy that we had to wear our wetsuits to unload our gear back at Den Laman!

    Red Beryl
    I’d call this a typical southern site in that it was full of sponges, sea fans, gorgonian corals, and hard corals, as well as every Bonairian fish. We saw lots of juveniles in the shallows, and huge schools of fish everywhere. I don’t believe we saw anything unique here, but it was a really good dive and a really good site.

    Andrea II
    While gearing up, STINAPA rangers stopped by and asked to see our marine park tags. They also asked questions about when we arrived, when we’re leaving, etc. Wow, Andrea II was hit hard by Omar! Entry was pretty easy but the highlight was finding 2 octopus in a den in about 10 feet of water! They were both very good sized octopi and really pretty. The rest of the dive showed us a typical northern site hit hard by Omar….looked like a bomb had gone off in some areas.

    Aquarius
    Another long dive, but we were shocked to continuously run into Devil Scorpionfish! We saw 4 here, with 2 together.

    Invisibles
    Just when we thought it would be a regular southern dive, we were treated to two small Green Sea Turtles swimming along.

    Larry’s Lair

    This is my new favorite dive site. At first I thought it was going to be a normal southern site, and other than there being about 2,000 Brown Chromis everywhere, there wouldn’t be anything special to see. Oh how wrong I was! Not only did we find an ENORMOUS (10’) Green Moray, but I FOUND A SEAHORSE!!!!!!! On the way back to our point of entry, I noticed an orange seahorse moving through the shallows looking for a place to grab onto. We took a bunch of pictures and Lars even shot a short video of him. This was the pinnacle of my entire trip to , and I’m very happy!! Then after we realized we were getting low on air, we saw a Spotted Eagle Ray hunting in the shallows and watched him for awhile. It was an excellent dive!

    We couldn’t resist the temptation to go back and try to find the seahorse again. Of course not only could we not find him, but nothing looked familiar and we couldn’t even find the area he might have been in. Such is how it goes when trying to find such an elusive creature. We were lucky enough to see a Southern Stingray swim by, but nothing else special.

    Angel City
    It seems to be a popular spot as there are always quite a few trucks here. We headed to the reef, noticed it wasn’t very healthy looking, so headed to the second reef, which was worse. It reminded both of us of the northern sites in its lack of marine life and schools of fish, which we normally see in the in south. The coral was covered in some kind of growth and there were huge patches that were dead and/or dying. We literally saw very little life and cut the dive very short (35 minutes).

    The Food

    Sunset Restaurant: We felt it was fairly expensive, particularly considering the portions. The only thing we found that was a good deal were the burgers, which are available for lunch and dinner ($25/2 people).

    Pasa Bon Pizza: Got a large pepperoni and mushroom pizza with a side salad and were not disappointed at all. We enjoyed pizza for dinner and lunch the next day twice.

    Rum Runners: Met Bill and Irene (from SB) for dinner the first night. It was excellent food at a reasonable price, with a view to match. We went back again later in the trip and enjoyed another great meal.

    Buenos Aries Café: Really good food, dinner was $25 and we’ll definitely go back sometime during this trip. We got take-away lunch twice here for less than $20 each time, enjoying really good food and good portions. They have great lunch specials, often for 10naf, which is an excellent price.

    Bobbejan’s: Never disappointing! Excellent food, very reasonably priced. We got ribs for dinner and a few orders of chicken for a couple of days of lunches.

    Paradise Moon: The food was excellent, and although a bit on the higher end of our price range, the drinks were outstanding and ½ price, so it was well worth it.

    Rib Factory: The portions weren’t huge, a full rack was medium sized, but the prices were very good and it was a decent value for the money.

    Chibi Chibi: Very good and reasonably priced. The view over the water was gorgeous and the service was excellent.

    Cactus Blue: Not only did they have an early bird special, but they had a “schooner” of beer for like $8 naf for Lars. Dinner wound up costing us less than $30! The portions were generous and the beer was American sized (1/2 liter), and you absolutely couldn’t beat the price.

    Coco’s: Supposed to be a Mexican type restaurant, ocean-front downtown with great views and just okay food. Not too expensive, but the food definitely doesn’t warrant a repeat visit.

    Eddy’s ( at Sand Dollar): Went one day at as we understood food was served until . All we got were $10 beers, two loud drunks at the bar, and horrible atmosphere and no food. Would not attempt to come here again.

    Off gas day
    We decided to head north on our last day to explore . We did the short route through the park, and honestly it was a bit long and painful. It took us about 2 hours to get through and we only stopped once for about 10 minutes to take pictures of Flamingos and see the ocean. We did get a couple of great pictures of Loras, as well as wild goats, many flamingos, a wild donkey, and a bunch of shots of hawks. It was worth driving through the park once, but it isn’t something we’ll do on return trips, and we certainly won’t bother diving in the park due to the road and the time it takes.

  7. snagel says:

    Bonaire – Dec 2008

    Took my first trip to Boniare traveling with a group of 53 divers out of Mermet Springs. I must say this was absolutely one of the best trips I’ve ever taken. We stayed at the Sand Dollar Resort. The cost was very reasonable. For those that booked with Mermet Springs the cost was around $650 + Flight per person. Included was a week stay in a condo (4 people to a condo), breakfast, one rental truck for each group of 4, and all the diving you could do. (Let me say right here – The Mermet Crew was absolutely fabulous and worked very hard making this trip such a success) There is a $25 park fee you have to pay to dive in Bonaire and you also have to sit through an “orientation” session. This takes a little over an hour where they tell you about the diving and facility. All the diving arrangements were made through Bonaire Dive and Adventure; which, is a dive shop located next door to the Sand Dollar Resort. Tanks including free nitrox upgrades were handled through Bonaire Dive & Adventure. With our package deal all the air was free. We just had to pick up tanks and go. They do lock the tanks up at night, but if you are early you can get an outside locker to store tanks in. You should plan on bringing a lock for this.

    The Sand Dollar was absolutely great – located just south of Kralendijk. First impressions when I drove in was oh my god, this place is a “pit”. But, once I got my comfort zone in tact and seen the rooms it was perfect – located right on the water at Bari Reef. All rooms or the ones I was in had a small kitchen, bed, TV, bathroom with shower, and a nice screened in porch area. Mine was perfect looking out over the water. All the rooms are privately owned; so, you get a home feel with every room. Water was good from the tap – they have this reverse osmosis system.

    Our routine was to eat breakfast (free with package deal), dive and come back to the rooms for lunch, dive some more and maybe get a night dive in. For dinner we would go out somewhere. One tip is to stop at a grocery and pick up lunch items and snacks for the rooms. We found many nice places to eat in town and very reasonable in price. Forgive me, but I cannot remember all their names, but do recommend the Pizza Place just north of the marina.

    Diving was absolutely great. We did several dives on Bari Reef because it was at our resort – grab a tank and jump in. You definitely will want to rent a truck. There are many dive sites located along the coast – simply drive down the coast and look for the yellow painted rocks. The rocks mark the dive locations. Some of my favorites were Oil Slick, Red Slave (Eagle Rays), Helma Hooker, and Karpata. Shore entry/exit could be a little challenging, but not a big deal. I wore a 2mm full suit all week. Several will tell you to bring something a little thicker because your core temp will lower later in the week. I was perfectly fine in my 2mm. Water temps were in the upper 70’s and viz was fabulous, but maybe a little “murky” due to previous storms they had. There are opportunities to schedule a boat dive (at an extra cost) to the small island of Klein. We did several night dives; typically, at Bari reef since this was where we were at, but the Dawn Dives were great. Entering the water in the dark and being there when the reef wakes up as the sun comes up – absolutely paradise and relaxing.

    A few last tips – pay your departure tax when you arrive at the Flamingo Airport. This costs around $30 and you cannot depart without paying it. Paying it when you arrive reduces having to stand in line when you depart later. One other tip is, do not attempt to take any coral or anything back with you. They do search the luggage for this and can issue a very heavy fine for this. One final tip, make sure your dive boots are good and thick – after a week of walking on the rough rocks will murder your feet.

    Check out pictures of my trip under the Photo Album Links – Snagel’s Pics.

    Snagel

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