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Thread: Questions on Upcoming Bonaire Trip

 


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    94GTStang's Avatar
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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.

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    ghesselb's Avatar
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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.

  3. #13
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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.)

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    Mossman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcroy66 View Post
    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.)
    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.

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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.

  6. #16
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    Quote Originally Posted by jcroy66 View Post
    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.)
    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.

  7. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by MojoPete View Post
    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.
    . I think the wife and I are hooked on Bonaire.
    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!
    "Life is good, And on Bonaire, It's even better!"


    VINIBU @ Bellevue Condominiums, Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean
    http://www.bellevuebeachbonaire.com

  8. #18
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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.
    See my photos
    http://photobucket.com/albums/p623/Herbdb

    THOMAS JEFFERSON, letter to Robert Skipwith, Aug. 3, 1771
    We must not let our rulers load us with perpetual debt.



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    PickUp Truck VS. SUV at AB Rental

    "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.

  10. #20
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    Mossman's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by diverdavef View Post
    "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.
    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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