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Bonaire - the questions not asked or thought about?

Discussion in 'Greater Caribbean and Bermuda' started by Ready4Launch, May 7, 2019.

  1. Soloist

    Soloist Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina
    857
    1,146
    93
    Swimming with a bait ball is truly mesmerizing and is one of my favorite sightings. Almost certain this is the same group of fish we ran into earlier in the week at Pink Beach. We have been very lucky to happen upon so many bait balls over the years in Bonaire. It’s surprising the number of divers we have spoken to that have not been as fortunate. Glad you saw them too.
     
  2. CapsFan22

    CapsFan22 Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 25 - 49
    Location: Arlington, VA
    55
    35
    18
    Last year being our first trip to Bonaire, we thought the dive would be supervised, as well. We stayed at Den Laman and used the Dive Friends Bonaire right next to the hotel. The orientation with them was super informal, but still informative. The "checkout" dive was a dive master standing on the Den Laman pier asking us if our weighting felt right.

    Dive Master: "How's your weighting?"

    Me: "Seems good."

    Dive Master: "Cool, have fun."
     
    Lorenzoid and Trailboss123 like this.
  3. Trailboss123

    Trailboss123 Divemaster ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Tacoma, WA & Channel Islands, CA- USA
    2,060
    2,160
    113
    This has also been my experience and why I would suggest for everyone to check with who you are staying with and/or diving with to know what they do. My first trip to Bonaire required an initial 2 hour orientation/presentation prior to getting in the water. It was so tedious, annoying and off-putting that I considered never going back. Fortunately, the diving and dive freedom outweighed that knee jerk reaction and I keep going back to Bonaire. That particular dive operator doesn't exist anymore.

    I concur with your assessment of the diving and checkout at Delfin's. It was the closest Dive Friends location on our last trip, so we did our check in there. The person working there that morning asked us how much lead we needed and gave it to us and then walked down to the water with us with some additional lead, just in case. We descended, blew some bubbles and came back up and gave him an OK sign and off we went to dive. He wasn't so much checking us out, as just checking that we were properly weighted and weren't over or under weighted. It is an absolutely beautiful spot on the island at Punt Veirakant, but not one of favorite dive sites for a number of reasons.

    We had one incredible bait ball experience in Bonaire. It was up in the national park at Boka Slagbaai. It was mesmerizing. First and only time, to date, anywhere in the world. I have friends that have had multiple experiences at dive sites in the national park, particularly Boka Bartol for whatever reason.
     
    Soloist likes this.
  4. drrich2

    drrich2 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Southwestern Kentucky
    7,993
    5,224
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    Apologies for however much of this is repeat from what others shared; I've been reading the thread off & on in bits and pieces. 8 Trips but last there around 2014 so things may've changed.

    1.) Restaurant service is more European style, from what I understand. They don't automatically bring the check when you appear to be finishing up. To an American sensibility, this can appear gallingly slow. Just expect to signal your waitperson and ask politely for the check. I'm not the 'chat and take 2-hours to eat a meal' sort. You learn to work around it.

    2.) Don't expect free refills on soda, and if you order a soda with a meal, it may come out so far in advance of the food your ice will melt, watering it down, or you'll drink it before the food comes. Order water with restaurant meals. Hit Zhung Kong or whatever supermarket you prefer and load up on soda (lots of cans of Coke Zero for me) and get your soda fix back at the room.

    3.) Take a moment to familiarize yourself with the sea wasp jelly fish issue - don't repeat my pain. Here's the thread.

    4.) I concur with advice to wear a medium or thicker soled boot. Very rough iron shore in some places (look'n at you, Oil Slick Leap!) can, when you're in gear, weights, etc..., do a number of a foot. I got away with thin-soled 'booties' till I didn't, and had foot pain issues for several weeks.

    5.) I think Kharon covered, this, but put your fins on and take then off in waist deep water; don't put fins on on land and try to 'duck walk' out into the water. There's rocky outcropping here and there, and it's an invitation to fall. In the shallows, choppy surge obscures visibility; you'll often find foot holds by feel.

    6.) Be aware tropical sun that close to the equator can roast a person fast, even when you might think you can get away with it. Sunscreen is your friend. But some in an aerosol bottle I used on my forehead ran into my eyes and one eye's color perception was way off for awhile, so be careful.

    7.) A dry bag/pack/whatever for truck keys, driver's license and a couple of $20 bills is a good idea. From what I understand some keys have circuitry or something and aren't meant to be in salt water?

    8.) Some one mentioned trucks are manual transmission unless you request otherwise. Request way in advance and expect to pay a substantial uncharge.

    9.) Did someone already discuss that you need CDW insurance, and the coverage that comes with credit cards may not cover off-road type vehicles/trucks, etc..., so don't count on it unless you are rock solid sure you're covered. Someone went uninsured, got in a wreck on Bonaire, and posted on the forum mentioning the cop who did the report fist bumped & obviously knew the other driver (a local).

    10.) Keep your receipt from the marine park pass, since at least when I went it could get you into Washington-Slagbaai park without paying the entrance fee, and there is some nice topside scenery worth photographing. Not sure if anyone else mentioned this.

    My info.'s dated but maybe will help.

    Richard.
     
  5. Soloist

    Soloist Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina
    857
    1,146
    93
    Great! I’m sure you guys will never forget it. Hopefully you were able to get some pictures. On two separate trips we have seen a smaller bait balls at Something Special. However, the majority revealed themselves on our southern dives, but considering that’s where we do most of our diving it’s no surprise. We experienced our first bait ball in 2014 at Sweet Dreams. We were headed back to shore and saw a massive dark cloud in the water on a perfectly sunny day. Incredible. The largest and most dramatic was April 2017 at Kite City between 80 and 130 feet. It was stunning watching the formation changes from a distance.

    We were exiting a dive around Vista Blue one morning and passed by one of the professional dive companies with a couple of clients. We asked the guide if they saw the huge bait ball to the south. Apparently they didn’t make it too far from shore when his divers started having numerous “issues”, so they completely missed it. I could tell he was pissed, but he was unbelievably courteous and professional to his clients.
     
    AdivingBel and Trailboss123 like this.
  6. tkaelin

    tkaelin Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: CT
    1,763
    957
    113
    CUR Playa Piscado. We had a week in Jan '18 where we had bait balls multiple times a day, multiple days in the week.
     
    AdivingBel and Soloist like this.
  7. Soloist

    Soloist Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina
    857
    1,146
    93
    Great! Not to be misunderstood, finding a bait ball is not quite as momentous as having a cold beer with Bigfoot, but cool nonetheless. Like you, we have discovered there is a reasonable chance of finding them again throughout the week.
     
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  8. tkaelin

    tkaelin Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: CT
    1,763
    957
    113
    My first that I recall was on Bon on one of the special trips Capt Dons used to run op in the park. You would do two tanks with lunch on the boat in between. It was amazing. This is one I from CUR in '18
     
    Soloist likes this.
  9. AdivingBel

    AdivingBel Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Missouri
    1,671
    1,549
    113
    We've seen bait balls at Vista Blue as well. Our "biggest" was in CUR at Lagun. It seemed like it stretched across the entire mouth of the inlet. We refer to it as the "bait freight train." It went from the sand to the surface (about 35 ft.) and took several minutes for it to pass by. Flocks of birds were hitting it from the surface. Of course no camera, argh...so I guess it didn't really happen :(. We went back three more times during the trip with camera in hand, but no joy. We found several seahorses, octopus, and flying gurnards, but alas no "bait train." So it goes...:bounce::bounce::bounce:
     
    tkaelin and Soloist like this.
  10. Jersey

    Jersey Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: SE PA/ Southern NJ
    1,021
    191
    63
    GBF - please tell me you are an accountant/financial consultant with your spreadsheet & fixed costs :) (no disrespect - we cost average each dive and run down the ski slopes). Do Southern sites early in the morn, if the winds kick up these sites can get bouncy. Bug spray as the winds die down in the afternoon. Lots of insect born illnesses you do not want (Dengue, Chikengunya, etc). Please bring or buy reef safe sunscreens, mostly zinc oxide and probably safer for your skin as well. Don't hesitate to ask folks to join them diving if you are solo. We've had people on the plane ask if we would dive with them (I don't know, maybe we look like we can dive??) We like a mix of boat & shore diving. You can't get to all sites from shore. Easier to dive the Park from boat - several shops are running 2-3 tank park dives. Can't swim to Klein and my favorite sites are South Klein with the shallow shelf - great for burning air end of dive and always amazing what you find in the shallows. Enjoy the dive you are on. Picked up a new dive guide book this year - Reef Smart Guides (www.,reefsmartguides.com) very cool 3D mapping of sites underwater. Drink the water right from the tap. It's safe and tasty and reduces plastic waste. Oh yes - Buddy Breakfast is far more than stale donuts and coffee :) Wear a full suit there are usually some stingy things in the water plus should you fall on a shore dive it gives you a bit of protection. It's a desert island, not a tropical island.
     
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