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What a wonderful trip!!! Kenny, Margaret, and Naomi at Coral Paradise are the best! We are definitely looking forward to staying with them again. My wife and I are both beginner divers. We were blown away and now feel very spoiled! Saw lots of firsts...frog fish, scorpion fish, octopus, reef squid, and garden eels to name a few!
We did our tank rentals thru Captain Dons. We were both less than impressed with the service there. When we go back, we will give Buddy Dive a try. Did two boad dives w/ Capt Dons, 1000 Steps and Knife at Klein. Both were good dives and it was great avoiding the steps! Next time I will push for more boat dives at Klein.
I don't know if I could decide on a favorite shore dive. They were all good. We seemed to like the double reef dives in the south. Jeff Davis Memorial was my favorite in the North. We did the La Machaca the most since it was easy and close. I guess because we dove this one more, this was also where we saw the most. Windsock was my least favorite, but not a bad dive by any stretch.
Mona Lisa and Bistro de Paris were our favorite restraunts. Capriccio, Unbelievable were so-so. Wil's was good. I would also go back to El Mundo for the goat stew. We found the service to be fair to below average at most places. Maybe we are just spoiled Americans? The exception was Mona Lisa and Bistro. Good service and food at both.
In addition to diving, we went to the park, did the mangrove kayaking and snorkeling, and the cave snorkeling. The mangrove kayaking was thru the Mangrove Center. "Lucky" Luke was our guide. He was great. It was a good time. The cave snorkeling was thru BonPhoto. Leo was our guide and was awesome as well. Both the mangrove and cave excursions were great experiences. Would highly recommend both trips and both companies. BonPhoto is right next to Dons and Coral Paradise. It's worth stoppin by, they are great folks there!
We didn't bring our dive gear when we went to the park. We aren't really disappointed, but next time I won't go to the park without my gear. We caught some kinda bug that upset our bellies the day before. We were hesitant to dive the next morning so we used that opportunity to visit the park.
My only other words of advice...bug spray!!! Bring some and use it when you go outside at all in the evening. We went to dinner the first two nights without. Our legs were covered with mosquito bites!
Naomi, Kenny & Margaret thanks again for the hospitality!
Thanks for the report. We are heading down to CPR and diving with Capt Ds soon. What were the service issues you encountered? Send me a pm if you wish to discuss off the board. We dove with Capt Ds twice before and we found most of the dive staff friendly. Was it with the dive staff, hotel or restaurant staff? On the boat dives, we usually wait until the afternoon boat dive which we found usually empty or only a few divers and would go to Klein sites. We have let them know when we arrive what sites we would like to hit and they were pretty good at accommodating us. We are going to try to dive in the park this trip.
We found the service to be fair to below average at most places. Maybe we are just spoiled Americans?
Well, perhaps judging from an American standard. Service in Bonaire tends to be casual, leisurely and they often wait until you ask for a check; I'm told them bringing it could be construed as rude, like they're pushing you to pay up & move out. Cultural practices involving dining vary by region, and be mindful that theirs is different from ours. I, too, find it annoying, but realize it's not appropriate to judging them by American standards.
We did our tank rentals thru Captain Dons. We were both less than impressed with the service there.
I think in another thread you claimed you felt like 'just a number' rather than a 'customer' at Captain Don's. Care to elaborate as to what they did that didn't measure up? I ask because many of us basically expect lots of readily accessible air &/or nitrox tanks and rinse tanks with decent water quality, and not a whole lot else. I'm trying to figure out whether you folks are the sort who expect the 'warm friendly smile, firm hand shake & to be recognized & greeted by some staff' and instead got adequate impersonal service (which wouldn't bother me much), or whether something else was lacking.
I'm not judging; I'd just like to know how much of this was their practice, and how much was your expectation level (which might be higher than some ours).
Adequate, impersonal service would describe Captain Don's. Yes, I do expect to be greeted with a warm smile and firm hand shake. That is what we received from Patrice at Bistro de Paris or Leo at BonPhoto.. Not so much from Don's.
If all you are looking for is pile of tanks to load up in your truck, Dons may be your place. There was never a shortage of tanks ready to go. The facilities were clean.
The staff wasn't friendly or outgoing. When we did have inquiries, they always seemed like we were interrupting whatever it was that was preoccupying them on their cell phones.
Had to check the tanks to make sure they were adequately filled, but I would do that anywhere. We did find a few that didn't measure up. O-rings were pretty beat up on some, but that doesn't surprise me either.
Neither of the two boat dives were crowded. The DM's were ok. Not the best, not the worst.
Aside from Don's, I understand differences in culture. We had been made aware of the necessity to request the check. No worries, that's fine. But otherwise poor, slow, inattentive service is just that.
JMHO. Am going to be curious to see if there is a noticeable difference between Don's and Buddy Dive next trip. Unfortunately it won't be as soon as we would like!