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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.
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!
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 insurance coverage is odd (break ins aren't covered if you have valuables in the vehicle?)
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.
Last edited by diversteve; May 29th, 2011 at 09:23 PM.
Reason: fixed link
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.
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.
PADI IDC Staff Instructor, SDI & HSA OWSI, DAN Instructor A Diver's Toast
Here's to Lying, Cheating and Stealing
If you have to lie - Lie to save a Friend
If you have to cheat - Cheat only Death
If you must steal - Steal more time off work to DIVE !
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.