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Stayed there twice, last time October 5-11, 2007. I've enjoyed both stays. They are condos with full kitchen, so after a trip to buy groceries its just like a home away from home! The downside is that their pool is not located near the water, but at the back of the complex. If you're not concerned about using pool, it wouldn't be an issue. Bonaire Dive and Adventure serves both Sand Dollar and Den Lamen (which is located next door). I've found them to be an excellent operation. They also offer free Nitrox upgrades, which is a bonus.
Was there in October 07. Not all of the condos are like the ones on the website. We had an older condo that wasn't up to my expectations. Old and tired. On their website they said (at the time, don't know if it is still there) that they had a community BBQ on I think Wednesday night. Well, they stopped that.
The dive shop: Not bad. Had no problems with the staff but the owner did come up to us one day to admonish us for wanting to take more than one tank at a time. We were planning on diving the Northern sites. He came over to tell us that the hotels were booked and we could only take one. His attitude wasn't really friendly. Also because the hotels were booked we couldn't fit our group (5 of us) onto the boats to finish up our dives. We could have if we split the group up but didn't want to.
There is a small strip hotel next to Sand Dollar which rented coolers. (Great to keep in the trucks!) The strip mall also has a small grocery store (where the coolers are), ice cream store, and a gift store where you can purchase incidentals and wireless.
The first time I went to Bonaire I stayed at 18 Palms (can't think of the hotel name right there). This last time, I wanted to stay at Buddies but they didn't have anything available in the size we wanted.
I'm not a Bonaire expert. I visted Bonaire last June for my first time(think it was the second week of June) and stayed at the Sand Dollar.
I had my son and his G/F with me; we stayed in a very nice two bedroom unit with a full kitchen. The unit was very up to date and had everything anyone could possibly have wanted. The best feature was being so close to Bari Reef and fresh tanks on the pier! I'd grab my gear, walk down to the pier, gear up, and dive! Bari reef (the house reef) turned out to be one heck of a surprise when it comes to quality diving!
I did many night dives right out in front of our condo...... it just doesn't get any better/easier than this!
Sand Dollar is okay and varies as stated above depending on the unit. I would describe the grounds and the condos as being similar to what my college room mate and I rented during college. Clean, comfy, and well used. The grounds aren't anything special. Fairly stark and basic actually IMHO. You could probably find a nicer and cheaper place on the water if you searched.
If you are looking for a budget style trip then I would suggest the Black Durgon or maybe Golden Reef Inn.
If you want a nicer room and want to be on the water Den Laman is an affordable option. Bump up in price a bit and you get another nice/popular option with Buddy Resort. The rooms at Buddy aren't as nice as some places but they are more than adequate and the grounds, facility, dive lockers, tank situation, truck rental, are all very convenient and reliable.
The reality of Bonaire is that even the nicest places are probably three star places if you use that rating system. Most places in Bonaire are one star type places but that's the charm of Bonaire. Build a true five star resort in Bonaire and it will look a bit out of place IMHO and probably wouldn't do very well as most go to Bonaire to get wet and have fun in the water, not to be pampered.
A PADI five star resort rating doesn't really mean that the accommodations will be five stars as well.
We stayed at Sand Dollar a long time ago, our unit was very nice, but it's my understanding also that since the units are all owned by individuals with no common standards it's somewhat luck of the draw. I didn't like that only the bedrooms had A/C though that is common in Bonaire. (Den Laman is one that is fully A/C.)
My least favorite part of Sand Dollar was the grounds, I agree they're kind of stark, and I don't know what they were thinking when they put the pool out by the road. Not expecting a lush tropical setting on a desert island, but lots of places do a more interesting job of landscaping.