Questions on Upcoming Bonaire Trip

Discussion in 'Bonaire' started by MojoPete, May 28, 2011.

  1. MojoPete

    MojoPete Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Central Ohio
    22
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    My family is going to Bonaire in two weeks and I'm looking for advice on a few things. We're staying in a house around Buddy Dive and Sand Dollar, and I'm trying to get info on a couple things:

    1) Which dive operator to go with. I've been looking at either Buddy Dive or Yellow Submarine, as their priced about the same, but just looking for advice.

    2) Advice on vehicle rental. When we booked our accommodations, the owner said you could get a truck for about $150 a week. I've been looking at some posts on rentals and now I'm kinda concerned, as the prices I've seen are all over the place, the insurance coverage is odd (break ins aren't covered if you have valuables in the vehicle?), and assorted oddness.

    3) Boat Dives or Just Shore Dives? My son and I are both competent divers, and I've read some review that basically say the only reason to do boat diving is for the North shore dives. Any truth to that?

    4) Crime/Locals. When we told our doctor we were going to Bonaire, he recommend Curacao, but we had already booked Bonaire and honestly that's where I wanted to go. He said he had been there and said the locals don't seem to like the Dutch, so they don't like tourists. He also said someone in their party had their rental home broken into one night while they were sleeping. Is this just reality or an anomoly? I was looking forward to Bonaire because I've always heard it's really safe and laid back, and we loved Roatan when we were there a few years back as we got the same good feeling there. Is there anything I need to be worried about concerning security, etc? I hate sounding like a nervous nelly, but I don't like to take chances when it comes to my family, as is the norm with most people.

    Thanks!
     
  2. BDSC

    BDSC Great White

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Wake Forest, NC
    3,847
    1,174
    113
    1. I don't think you can go wrong with either as far as using tanks but if you are staying close to Buddys, I'd probably go with them. They have a nice drive-thru with rinse tanks right there and even a place to hang your gear right there at the drive thru if you want to leave it there overnight. They also have a second location kind of south of town but I forget which apartments it's at but I would imagine you could use either.

    2. Can't help you there as every place we have stayed included the vehicle (truck) but there are many places to choose from. I would probably pay the extra and get the full coverage just in case.

    3. The only boat dives I have done in probably 9 trips there were over to Klein. If I were you I'd just buy individual boat dives as needed or desired. I have read good things about the new boat at Buddy's that will take you up around the park area for three dives if you don't want to drive into the park. I like the drive myself and there are several interesting places to see in the park. But the vast majority of dive sites can be done from shore. Also, I've found over the past few trips that the sites to the north of town have had better visibility than the southern sites.

    One site you should really think about doing early in the morning is "Red Slave". It's about at the end of the sites to the south but a great dive. My last dive there we saw three turtles and three eagle rays. Just do it early because the current can sometimes kick up in the afternoon.

    4. I have found the folks in Bonaire to be nothing but friendly to us each time we have been. Sure, there is some crime there like anywhere but that is far from the norm from my experience. When we shore dive we leave the windows on the truck down and nothing of value in it. In my nine trips there I've never had anything stolen from my vehicle or room. We typically will leave towels and maybe t-shirts and water in the truck. Again we have never had a problem. Honestly, just use some common sense.

    As far as breaking in to a place while folks were sleeping, I have read about that happening twice. While I suppose it is "possible", I think it would be extremely rare for this to happen. It's not something I would worry about. Just lock your doors as you would at home.

    I think you will have a great time in Bonaire and I'll bet dollars to doughnuts that you won't have any crime problems. Enjoy your trip and take your family to Casablanca one night and order the "Mixed Grill for Two". It's enough food to feed a small army!
     
  3. BDSC

    BDSC Great White

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Wake Forest, NC
    3,847
    1,174
    113
    You may want to ask a mod to move this to the "ABC Island" section as you'll likely get more replies.
     
  4. diversteve

    diversteve Administrator Staff Member

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Phoenix
    19,723
    2,569
    113
    I agree with what's posted above. Disagree with your doctor. Obviously both places have problems occasionally but evidently there's more crime on Curacao - Curacao has a deepwater port, a refinery near downtown and 10X the population, I don't think it helps. Both places we stayed on Curacao were gated/guarded.

    We had a night watchman on Bonaire. We also left our front/back doors open several nights - for the flow-thru breeze - many resorts only have A/C in the bedrooms. I'm pretty sure the people next to us left their back door (street side) open all day all week - even when they were off diving.

    I felt a little uneasy in downtown Curacao late one night. Never on Bonaire. Or on the West End on Roatan. I'm an insomniac so I'm often roaming around late at night.

    Bonaire is a Dutch protectorate (or something like that) who adopted the U.S. Dollar as their official currency earlier this year. Shows their feelings for the U.S...

    Sometimes shyness is perceived as aloofness. The girls at Donna/Giorgio's were one example. They're at-risk (I've been told) high school kids who like to practice English on their customers - service is slow but they're very sincere. The menu is a big chalkboard, it will get to you eventually. A big tip probably makes their night.

    At most restaurants you're their guest. Which means a check likely will never show up until asked for repeatedly. Some people mistake that for poor service.

    Unlike Curacao (and Roatan?) on Bonaire the economy revolves around diving (and windsurfing) So no one is going to be happier to see divers.
    The truck restrictions are for thefts that have occurred at remote sites. Many of the trucks have the same warning sticker. Leave the doors unlocked, windows down and nothing of value in the truck. It saves from having the windows shattered when a local wants to look - I believe it's mostly bored kids - while you're diving. Don't leave the iPod on the dash and you'll be fine.

    When you pickup the truck, carefully note the damages. Often the rep will accompany you to do so. Most have tank racks in the back also. To dive remote sites we just threw our gear in loose in the back seat. Extra tanks can stay in back, no diveop fills another's so they have no value to potential thieves. Get a Witz Case for Keys, CC, etc. Some LDS's sell them also.

    Do a few boat dives, Forest off Klein Bonaire was one of the best. One day at Bari Reef, the Bonaire Dive/Adventure boat came back, they had been snorkeling with Dolphins in the channel. I've read that has happened more than once. Also Rappel is one of the best dives on Bonaire - it's a boat dive only. And I'd prefer 1000Steps via boat also. It's not the climb down that's bad...lol.

    thread moved...
     
    Last edited: May 29, 2011
  5. Kukuisa

    Kukuisa Barracuda

    # of Dives:
    Location: Curacao, Southern Caribbean
    334
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    Steve,
    Can you give us a valid link for that Witz case? We don't all have access to your C-disk.
     
  6. BDSC

    BDSC Great White

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Wake Forest, NC
    3,847
    1,174
    113
  7. freshorangina

    freshorangina Single Diver

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Toronto, Ontario
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    You will need a boat if you want to go to any of the dive sites on Klein Bonaire. Also, I would highly recommend the Wild Side dive out of Lac Bay, on the first dive we saw many turtles, rays and morays, but the second dive in the gorgonians I must have spotted at least 20 turtles. It was beautiful! Stayed at Buddy's and had a great experience diving with them. Also the night dive on the salt pier was spectacular, you have to go with a guide, but I also highly recommend that one. For a dive free day, the kayak tour of the mangroves at Lac was pretty cool. Crime was never an issue for us there.
     
  8. diversteve

    diversteve Administrator Staff Member

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Phoenix
    19,723
    2,569
    113
    Ooops...thanks. LeisurePro sells them.

    Witz from LeisurePro.com
     
  9. BonaireDan

    BonaireDan Scuba Instructor

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Ohio, retiring to Bonaire within 5 years
    242
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    Nothing much to add to the above but I will anyway.

    Bonaire is safer than Curacao but always take precautions.
    I would prefer Buddy Dive with their truck rental package. But last trip I did get a truck for a week with full insurance for around $300. ALWAYS get the full insurance.
    Buddy runs boat dives to the north - in the park area as well as Klein and some north shore sites not shore accessible. Some boat dives are worth it.
    East side or wildside diving is great fun.
     
  10. midas6t6

    midas6t6 Nassau Grouper

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Langhorne PA
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    1) You might also consider Wannadive. They have multiple locations for tanks.

    2) Get the full insurance package, it'll save a lot of headache and expense if you have a problem. Probably be @ $350 for the week.

    3) Klein Bonaire is the only reason for boat dives, although some of the shore dive sites are a little difficult to access - get a copy of "Bonaire Shore Diving Made Easy". The far northern sites are reachable by vehicle, just plan on spending the day getting to them, perhaps do 2 or 3 while you're there and call it a day. It's a long, circuitous drive back thru the park.

    4) Everyone we've encountered on Bonaire has been nothing but friendly and helpful. From what I understand, crime is mainly petty theft from vehicles. Don't leave anything of value in yours while you are diving and leave the doors unlocked. I didn't have any problems, even at remote sites.
     
  11. 94GTStang

    94GTStang Barracuda

    # of Dives: 50 - 99
    Location: Oklahoma City
    392
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    I just got back from spending a week on the island.

    I second the option of using Wannadive. Fantastic crew and very helpful. Three locations on the island for fills.

    We used Bonaire Car Rental - Bonaire Rent a Car for our rental car. We had a brand new truck with low miles that ran perfectly.

    The only boat diving we did was on the east side. Bonaire is about shore diving which is so amazingly easy to do!

    Never had any problems with crime. We didn't take anything valuable and we also rolled our windows down and left the truck unlocked. Follow those rules and you won't have any problems. The locals never paid us much mind and many actually smiled and waved when we drove through Rincon. You'd be surprised how far a smile can go with the locals.
     
  12. ghesselb

    ghesselb Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Melbourne Beach, FL
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    We have been going to Bonaire for 8 years now, staying in a Timeshare we own at Buddy Dive. In all that time, we have done exactly 3 boat dives out of hundreds of dives (we usually stay for 2-3 weeks). We like shore diving best - do not have to get up for early boat, and you are mostly by yourself when diving (no mobs!). If you plan to do shore diving, be sure to get a good guide. I recommend "Bonaire Shore Diving Made Easy" by Susan Porter, which helps you find and navigate both marked and unmarked sites around the island. You can get it in most dive shops, including at Buddy Dive. Buddy Dives' dive operation is great, and probably most convenient for your location (pickup tanks and go north or south as the spirit moves you). It has a drive through tank pickup with rinse tanks, and free Nitrox upgrade. They also run daily 1 tank boat dives at 8, 10:30, and afternoon and a night dive on Tuesdays. They organize Salt Pier and Town Pier night dives which must be accompanied by a guide and permitted. There are two 3 tank "dive safaris" per week on their new boat to the north side of the island (not usually dived) and they can arrange east side (wild side) dives as well.

    As for car rental, we always use AB Carrental (AB Car Rental Bonaire - 100% Best Price Guarantee!), a local company with the lowest rates and very nice people running the operation. Their category 1 (beat up pickup with no A/C) is $144 per week which we usually book. Not located in the airport but will pick you up via pre-paid taxi if you pre-book. Their office is in the Plaza Resort, which is close to the airport. Not luxury but adequate. As for insurance, the full coverage recommendation is probably good, but expensive. If you have an American Express card, they have a coverage option for $25 per rental that includes pickups that we use, but you have to pre-register for the coverage and use the card for the rental. Other cards (Visa, MC) specifically exclude trucks. Saves a lot of $.

    As for Bonaire vs. Curacao, we have done both and love Bonaire (much better and more convenient shore diving) and did not like Curacao that much. The night life and eating options are better on Curacao, with 140,000 permanent population, but the shore diving sites are VERY spread out, especially if you stay south and dive north (where the best shore dive sites are located). Most shore diving sites on Curacao have dive ops at the site, so you don't rent tanks at your resort or a single dive op unless you are booking a boat dive package that includes shore diving. On Bonaire, you book a package with a dive operator (which can be only shore diving, if you prefer), and get your tanks when heading out. The sites on Curacao were much more beat up (anchor drags on the coral, sparse fish populations from over fishing, etc.) than on Bonaire, where they take their Marine Park protection more seriously. Crime appeared to be much worse on Curacao, but does exist on Bonaire, as some posts have said. For instance, dive ops on Curacao have to lock up their tanks when not in use because Curacao has a recycling plant and tank theft if common.

    Hope this helps. Enjoy your trip to Bonaire.
     
  13. jcroy66

    jcroy66 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Cleveland, OH
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    I second the recommendation for AB Car Rental. We used them last trip (included with our Plaza package) and found them to be awesome. Great service, great hours, very friendly. I recommend the pickup instead of the SUV though.

    If you have your choice of dive ops (i.e. not a package), WannaDive seems like an excellent option (unfortunately, all our trips so far have been package deals at non-WannaDive resorts so we haven't gotten to actually try them out yet). IIRC, WannaDive offers 24/7 access to tanks at 4 locations around town. That doesn't seem like a big deal until you're gearing up on the south side, find out one of your tanks has a leak, and it's a 30-minute drive back to your dive op. Boo. Or you wake up early and want to go for a dive at sunup, but you used your tanks for night dives the previous night and have to wait until the Nitrox room opens to get another tank. Double boo. (Been there, done that, in both cases.)
     
  14. Mossman

    Mossman Great White

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: SoCal
    3,375
    1,253
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    I love my nitrox as much as the next guy, but it really isn't mandatory. Next time you're in that situation, just grab an air tank instead and tell yourself it's 21% nitrox.
     
  15. MojoPete

    MojoPete Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Central Ohio
    22
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    Well, we got back last Sunday at 3AM, and I can tell you it was a great trip. I didn't get as much diving in as I would have liked as I was having some sinus issues, and it seemed like the sun really got to me, so we dove early and then in the late afternoon. My family and I all really enjoyed Bonaire, but this first trip was a learning experience. We went with Buddy Dive, but while they were sending me info on boat packages all the way up to when we got there, when I went to sign up at the dive shop they said they were all booked up and we'd have to do shore diving only. Not a big deal but it would have been nice if they would have mentioned we'd need reservations for the boat diving. We really like Buddy Dive and all agreed next time we'd just stay there. The little house we rented was nice, and while it's in a gated community, someone went through all the cars one night, even prying one couples door back at the window. I didn't leave anything in the truck so it wasn't an issue; we'd met some divers who'd had their grungy dive shorts (and underwear) stolen while diving, so I didn't want to give anyone the satisfaction.

    Loved Kralendijk, loved the people, loved Papaya/Paradise Moon Cantina (damn great ribs). Ate at Bobbyjan the first night there which was cool but I didn't really get the hype, but the staff were great. Shopping at the market in town and the warehouse was fun, and whatever else we needed came from the Chinese market up by Hato. All in all we were well stocked.

    The diving was great, and while it wasn't Roatan, it was better in many ways. There were so many fish it was insane; a few times we entered or exited in huge bait balls which was really cool. Ol' Blue and The Invisibles were our favorites.

    Thanks for all the info and helpful advice. I was surprised just how at home I felt down there, and I can see why so many folks go back over and over. I think the wife and I are hooked on Bonaire.
     
  16. MojoPete

    MojoPete Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Central Ohio
    22
    1
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    We went with AB Carrental (wife and son thought it was funny that I didn't immediately get "Car Rental" out of that, as Carrental sounds Dutch to me) but didn't have as great an experience. The SUV they rented us (they weren't renting trucks as apparently they were all booked with package deals) had a laundry list of issues, and picking it up was a PITA. Dropping it off was smooth though.

    One thing I did start doing with my son was putting all our gear together at the house and loading it in the back of the SUV pre-dive. That way if there was any issue with the tank we could run over to Buddy and change the tanks out.
     
  17. DiverVince

    DiverVince Manta Ray

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Overlooking Winnipesaukee in NH and la isla bonita
    612
    58
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    Personally I think Papaya Moon has the best ribs on the island. And I consider myself a rib connoisseur! Bonaire certainly has a way of growing on you! Join the club about returning!
     
  18. herbdb

    herbdb Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Allentown, PA
    1,241
    279
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    I just finished my Final dive for our week here on Bonaire. We did 25 dives total, five from a boat, we passed on the last two included boat dives because the shore diving is so easy and good. No jostling around on a boat with a bunch of other divers. Pull up at a dive site and in the water in just a couple of minutes.

    If you plan on doing a lot of diving, go for the nitrox, it will shorten your surface intervals to practically nothing. I personally think I feel better and have more energy when I use Nitrox, but reduced SI's is reason enough.
     
  19. diverdavef

    diverdavef Garibaldi

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Phoenix
    2
    0
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    "I second the recommendation for AB Car Rental. We used them last trip (included with our Plaza package) and found them to be awesome. Great service, great hours, very friendly. I recommend the pickup instead of the SUV though."

    Hi, can you expand a bit on your opinion on PickUp over SUV, please. We were considering renting the SUV thinking that it was enclosed
    for throwing gear in the back before and after a dive.

    We will be staying across the street from Capt Dons and were considering WannaDive as you suggested but were wondering about the
    benefit of being affiliated with either Capt Dons or BuddyDive for using the common facilities while diving their "house" reefs and such.
     
  20. Mossman

    Mossman Great White

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: SoCal
    3,375
    1,253
    0
    If you decide to do that, go with Buddy. Their drive-thru tank swap facility is much easier than getting new tanks from Capt. Don's and I think their house reef is a bit easier to access as well.

    As for SUV vs. truck, it's all about transparency. The trick in Bonaire is to not leave anything in the truck and if it's an open truck bed with windows rolled down in the cab, it's obvious to any thief that you're following the "rules" and they'll move onto the next truck, or SUV. The only benefit to an SUV would be to secure stuff inside the locked cargo area and that's a big no-no in Bonaire since you'd likely not only get your stuff stolen, but be responsible for the broken window as well.
     

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