Bonaire or Roatan ?

Discussion in 'Bonaire' started by Shawnda, Oct 29, 2009.

  1. Shawnda

    Shawnda Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Montreal/Roatan
    I am trying to decide between going back to Roatan (which I love) or to go to Bonaire which I have heard many great things.
    We like to stay in small inns or condos that have a kitchen, and don't really care of it is on the beach or not. We are active people that when we are not diving, we are hiking, windsurfing, etc. We do not sit on the beach.
    How is the diving comparable to Roatan ? From the photos I have seen the reef looks to be quite healthy but I noticed a lack of #'s of fish, and of the larger species (grouper,etc.) as well.
    The shore entry with just me and hubby is very appealing. I don't have much patience for dive operators that mix cruise ship day trippers (which we avoid like the plague) wtih other divers, and it drives me bonkers when I see people destroy the reef.
    I need to book things soon, and I'm really sitting on the wall as to where to go.
  2. RICHinNC

    RICHinNC Great White

    If you dont mind another suggestion, look into Barbados. There are a couple of shore dives there, mostly boat diving, but usually not crowded at all this time of year. Plus, it isnt in the "bad weather" district.

    You indicate you like to do things other than diving. I have found Barbados more superior to Bonaire for above water activities. The hiking is unbelievable. The night life is quite varied based on your desires. I have been to Bonaire twice...just got back....and there is almost zip to do there at night.

    If you are interested in somewhere new (assuming you havent been there) give Barbados a consideration.

    Just a thought. PM me if you want more info.
  3. billmosel

    billmosel Barracuda

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Rockaway NJ
    I've been to both and loved Roatan. Stayed at CoCo view and was nice diving with them or being able to do the front porch anytime you wanted. However after going to Bonaire this past March for the 1st time, it will be hard for me to go anywhere else. The diving in Bonaire is up to you of when and how many dives you want to do. The dive freedom in Bonaire is second to none. Get in your truck, pick out the spot you want to dive and just do it.

    There are many resorts and condos around the Island to choose from that have full kitchens. We had our breakfast and lunch in the condo and went out for dinner. I found the most difficult decision to make was where to stay. I stayed at Den Laman in March and I'm going back this Saturday and staying next door at Sand Dollar. They share the best reef on the Island, IMHO.

    In Roatan I was disappointed in the amount of fish life that there was although the coral life was amazing. Bonaire has a little more macro and the normal Caribbean reef fish but you aren't going to see much of the bigger stuff (sharks, dolphins etc.) although the groupers and tarpons are hanging around. The corals are also very healthy. Last year Omar came through and hurt the coral above 30' but it is staging a come back. Below 30' is fantastic.

    I'm not a wind surfer but I was talking to one on my last trip and he told me that Lac Bay on Bonaire has the best windsurfing in the world. They host international competitions.

    I might sound a little bias toward Bonaire but after 1 trip there I'm sure you will find the same thing that I did.
  4. scuba.baratta

    scuba.baratta Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: NY,NY
    I'm going to go with Bonaire as well. You can dive... dive... dive.

    You and anyone traveling with you needs to enjoy diving, mountain biking, or maybe windsurfing (other side of the island), because there is not much else to do there.

    My wife and I tired Curacao a few years back, and that was great as well.

    Bonaire, we stayed at Buddy Dive (great people)
    Curacao, Royal Resorts (The Sea Aquarium Resort)
  5. DCBC

    DCBC NAUI Instructor

    # of Dives:
    Location: Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada
    Since you have been to Roatan, I'd definitely recommend Bonaire. You've got great windsurfing on the east coast, so you can work that into your diving schedule. You've got the Flamingos in the south and wild parrots in the north. Coupled with this you have some of the world's best shore diving. It's secure, with a lot of friendly people. Have fun!
  6. SailNaked

    SailNaked SUDS Supporter!

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: between 30° and 10°
    never been to Roatan, but Bonaire is awesome, fall out of bed on to the reef any time of day, for big fish just take a light on a night dive:D the tarpon were as big as I am swimming inches away. We did 4-5 dives a day, only complaint might be the night life, but after 4-5 dives mostly we slept.
  7. Sully3

    Sully3 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: New Jersey

    nuff said
  8. DeputyDan

    DeputyDan Surface Interval Member

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: North Carolina
    How will you ever know for sure if you don't do both yourself?

    I have been to both more than once and will return to both. They are different types of vacations - not good versus bad - just different.
  9. Andreas Curacao

    Andreas Curacao Barracuda

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: Westpunt, Curaçao
    Hi Shawnda,

    I travelled to both Roatán and Bonaire in the late 90ies till 2001, but afterwards got hooked up with Curacao, which is close to Bonaire and offers diving of at least the same quality (shore and/or boat), but much more to do while not under water. Very good hiking and mountain biking, for example.

    Nowadays I live on Curacao working for ..:: All West Curacao ::.. and ..:: Ocean Encounters West Curacao ::... You find a lot of comments on us on SB, Tripadvisor, and Facebook (we have profiles there: "Curacao - go WEST to ALL WEST", "Ocean Encounters West"). We also have a YouTube Channel: YouTube - OceanEncountersWest's Channel.

    Maybe you find some information there that makes you reconsider your trip destination completely :)

    Whatever you do, have fun and don't let anybody catch your bubbles.

  10. laurelgsc

    laurelgsc Barracuda

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Atlanta, GA
    Bonaire Rocks! Who wants to do anything but dive anyway. The "night life" underwater is awesome!
  11. skynscuba

    skynscuba Surface Interval Member

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: San Jose, CA
    We went to Roatan (CCV), then Bonaire. Chose to do a 2nd Bonaire trip rather than Roatan, and would probably go a 3rd time to Bonaire before going back to Roatan.

    Went to Barbados on a 10 day family trip. Much more to see/do above water, but the diving was not as good.
  12. scubadobadoo

    scubadobadoo Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: SoCal
    I have done both recently.

    Diving: Roatan has more variety interms of wrecks, and reef structure. Both are very healthy systems. Both have very similar fish/species life. The only way you can get more diving in in Roatan is to stay at a place with a good shore dive like coco View Etc...

    Food: Neither place is world class but again Bonaire wins this battle as all of the good places to eat are withing a few miles drive and some are quite good. Typically you get more freedom in Bonaire to explore than in Roatan as most stay at resorts. Food is good in Roatan but again you get more variety in Bonaire.

    Topside: Well Roatan has more to do but Bonaire is ALL about the topside and your truck rental and unless you don't stay in a resort on Roatan it becomes a hassle at times to explore the island. I consider easily 75% of a Bonaire vacation to be the discovery of the island and the shore dives from your car to the water as well as below during the dive. In some cases, the shore part is more fun than the water part (1000 Steps is a lovely place for a picnic.)

    You get a lot of freedom to dive in Roatan at say Coco View etc... but you get even more in Bonaire without being tied down to one location for everything. Just imagine setting out for 4 dives in a single day without a boat, without a DM, without other divers kicking you in the head, without someone telling you where to dive and how long to dive, the list goes on....HEAVEN! This is why I continue to go back to Bonaire. Freedom from crowds of people! I live in NYC and deal with crowds of people for a living. Structure is the LAST thing I want during vacation.

    If you haven't done Bonaire yet then I think the decision has already been made and this is coming from a person who loved Roatan. ;)
  13. DiveMaven

    DiveMaven Great White

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Kihei, Maui & Vancouver, WA
    We're heading to CCV for the first time in March after 2 consecutive trips to Bonaire. I would have to say that as far as relaxing diving and pure diver's freedom, it would be very hard to beat Bonaire. For our last trip, we kept 6 tanks in the back of our truck and headed out early every morning (by 7am) and always had dive sites to ourselves, for at least the first dive, usually doing 3 dives before going back to our condo for lunch and to switch out our tanks. Because nitrox is free at most places on Bonaire, we could have slightly shorter surface intervals than we normally have on air (though they were usually 60 minutes anyway), and dives were usually 55-65 minutes, surfacing mostly to be able to dive 3-4 different sites in a day, rather than because we were low on air.

    There are plenty of inexpensive places to eat on Bonaire, and with a condo you can easily do breakfast and lunch on your own and only have dinner out, saving quite a bit of money (which is what we do).

    If you want to avoid the cruise ships on Bonaire, you'll need to go between mid-May and October. No ships on island, low season rates, and far fewer crowds.

    We are very much looking forward to CCV and the "liveaboard on land" or "diver's summer camp" feel of the place and the ease of the diving and trip as a whole. We'll know in April if Roatan is a place we want to return. :)
  14. scubadobadoo

    scubadobadoo Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: SoCal
    You will enjoy it!:D Coco View has IMHO one of the best house reefs, if not the best, in the Caribbean. Walls to he left and right, a nice wreck in the middle, and an amazing shallow area before the wreck that is just heaven on a night dive/snorkel. Make sure to spend more time than you think you should doing night dives on the house reef. Skip more boat dives than you plan to and just do the shore dive is my advice. Honestly, it was the best diving I did in Roatan. AND, I LOVED the over the water rooms! Rustic but huge and a true delight at night with the sound and smell of water all around.

    My only complaint about Coco View was the food. Don't get me wrong, it was very tasty and always plentiful and served with a smile. We just like to get out and explore more and that's a hard thing to even want to do let alone do when Coco View does such a nice job of meeting your needs. Have fun! I know you will!!
  15. Shawnda

    Shawnda Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Montreal/Roatan
    Thanks everyone for your excellent advice. In Roatan we stay near the West End each time as I am no fan of AI. The restaurants in West End are very good, and we got a bit spoiled that way. Also the easy access to the reefs (2 - 15 minute boat ride) was nice.
    For Bonaire, I am leaning towards the Den Laman condos or something similar. I also find the shore access to be the best thing of all. Dive all you want and on your schedule ! It will be interesting to compare the restaurants of the two islands for price and quality. We like to have breakfast and lunch in the condo, and then every 2nd or 3rd nite out to a restaurant.
    I can't wait to go !!! Thanks again everyone !
  16. mksmith713

    mksmith713 Manta Ray

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Jupiter,Fl
    Look up Liz at Golden Reef Inn in Bonaire.
    Check out the Drive n Dive package.
  17. lmorin

    lmorin Loggerhead Turtle

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: New Hampshire
    In some sense, "Roatan or Bonaire" is a silly comparison. The diving opportunities are distinctly different. If diving is the reason you are going to either of these places, go for a reason related to diving--such as a wide variety of shore diving on Bonaire or CoCo View's front porch. To say that one is better than the other, then to decide that one place is out not under consideration because it means staying in an all inclusive (despite the fact that it is a dive camp) seems to miss the point of making destination decisions based on the diving available. IMHO, anyway.

    Roatan is great, based on two excellent experiences at Coco View.
    Bonaire is great, based on excellent experiences at Plaza (1) and Sand Dollar (2).

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