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Curacao vs Bonaire

Discussion in 'Lesser Antilles' started by ronski101, Dec 30, 2013.

  1. Johnmpcny

    Johnmpcny Contributor

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Oswego NY
    81
    7
    Just back from 10 days in Bonaire and 30 dives. Spent Christmas morning doing a night to sunrise dive, very special. I missed out on a Curacao trip trip two years ago due to a injury. The people we dive with did that and this one with us. Hands down they said for max diving time Bonaire but Curacao had more to do topside. We stayed at the Caribbean club run by Buddy Dive did our check out and 3 boat dives to them. Very happy with the place and Buddy Dive.

    The thing I think I did grasp before going is there really is no one dive site on Bonaire. The whole island from north to south has one long reef, (maybe a few gaps, but you get what I mean) the dive sites are really just markers where you can get in and out. Some places are private or commercial activities and cannot be dove. Other than that if you can get in and out you can dive it take a boat to it. I cannot think of a simpler way to do 4-5 dives a day. They loved the free Nitrox upgrade on Bonaire.

    Our friends said they did 3 dives max on Curacao but the beaches were nicer and the on shore activities more. They liked Bonaire better but would do both again.
     
  2. lmorin

    lmorin Contributor

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: New Hampshire
    1,505
    213
    We spent a week at the defunct Sunset Waters resort in Curacao where we did mostly boat dives to the west, plus others off the house reef. I would say that over half the boat dives were to sites (some fantastic) that were inaccessible from shore. The inaccessibility resulted from two factors. One was that numerous sites were in front of a high cliff shoreline. The other was that the sites were off shore of private property and had no access road. For the most part, the diving was really nice and was, in general, similar to Bonaire. But, Bonaire has a much lower percentage of dive sites inaccessible from shore. The flexibility and ease of Bonaire shore diving made Bonaire the winner of the Curacao/Bonaire comparison in our minds.
     
  3. grey487

    grey487 Guest

    1
    0
    Regarding theft. We went to Curacao in 2011and loved it there. The diving was amazing and once you get west of Willamstead and away from the cruise ship passenger invasion, the island had a nice relaxed vibe. The only drawback about Curacao is theft. We dove Playa Largu and had our car went thru there. We had heard the warnings to leave the car unlocked and did so. When we pulled up to the beach there were 4 men in the water and around a truck. We should have known to leave when we saw one of them spear a blue tang. (Not a good indication of someone who is actually fishing) When we went under we had agreed to surface after 2 minutes to see if they were in the car. Of course they were. They left when they saw us come up and we didn't worry too much about it because we didn't have anything in the car (or so we thought). A couple days later we realized they had stolen the spare tire. Also we were staying by playa jeremi and a trail that led from jeremi's parking lot to the town ran by our rental. On more than 1 occasion we heard a car alarm go off and a couple minutes later teenagers would come running on the trail.
    Have any of you who have been to both Curacao and Bonaire noticed if that type of theft is as common on Bonaire as it is on Curacao? We're thinking about a Bonaire trip this spring.

    ---------- Post added January 21st, 2014 at 09:23 AM ----------

    Regarding theft. We went to Curacao in 2011and loved it there. The diving was amazing and once you get west of Willamstead and away from the cruise ship passenger invasion, the island had a nice relaxed vibe. The only drawback about Curacao is theft. We dove Playa Largu and had our car went thru there. We had heard the warnings to leave the car unlocked and did so. When we pulled up to the beach there were 4 men in the water and around a truck. We should have known to leave when we saw one of them spear a blue tang. (Not a good indication of someone who is actually fishing) When we went under we had agreed to surface after 2 minutes to see if they were in the car. Of course they were. They left when they saw us come up and we didn't worry too much about it because we didn't have anything in the car (or so we thought). A couple days later we realized they had stolen the spare tire. Also we were staying by playa jeremi and a trail that led from jeremi's parking lot to the town ran by our rental. On more than 1 occasion we heard a car alarm go off and a couple minutes later teenagers would come running on the trail.
    Have any of you who have been to both Curacao and Bonaire noticed if that type of theft is as common on Bonaire as it is on Curacao? We're thinking about a Bonaire trip this spring.
     
  4. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    9,703
    6,374
    Since I see this thread still has legs, may I ask if you've reached a decision?

    I've been to both Curacao and Bonaire, and I think it is unlikely I will return to Curacao unless there is some compelling non-diving reason.

    Some friends of ours whom we dive with on Bonaire trips were in the same position as you a few years ago: they had been to Bonaire a number of times but were curious about Curacao. They gave Curacao a try and said it is unlikely they will return to Curacao. Hands down, Bonaire is where it's at as far as dive vacationing in the ABCs.
     
  5. lsorenson

    lsorenson Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina
    797
    107
    I just love people who love to talk about a place in question but yet they have never been there... I will keep this short...!

    Bonaire, Super easy diving, park anywhere and dive, great place for your first true international dive experience... easy, easy, easy... Yes, there are a few challenging sites down past the huts and lighthouse but for the most part, any competent OW diver will enjoy Bonaire... Oh, and expensive to eat...

    Curacao, from what I have witnessed (up on the Northwest side) dive wise, was just as easy as Bonaire... Yes, longer swim outs on some locations but if your finding Frog fish 15' off shore in 10' of water or Seahorses in 15' you end up saying to your friends "no reason to swim all the way out when so much is so close" and yes, with no cover around... Driving from one site to another can be a challenge but only if your doing it by yourself. Having a navigator who knows how to use a map is very advantageous but I know there are many who can not use a map so there could be a problem; besides, look at it more as an adventure. Cheap to stay, cheap to get there, and cheap to eat... You can rent unlimited tanks at certain locations and there are pro's and con's to both; me, I prefer unlimited tanks and diving anywhere I chose...!

    There is a "learning curve" to Curacao but nothing that can not be overcome...!

    If you really want to know what I think of Curacao, check out my Signature...!!! lee
     
  6. dive!

    dive! Registered

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Ft. Lauderdale, FL
    26
    2
    I used several of the maps from Scuba Shore Diving Region: ABC Islands on my trip to Curacao. Some of the beaches can be crowded on the weekends with locals. We stayed in Westpunt and enjoyed being away from any large tourist crowds.
     
  7. Sirto

    Sirto Contributor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Anderson, SC
    292
    4
    That brings up something I've been wondering about. I'd like to do the unlimited tanks approach but, as I understand it, many of the dive sites have onsite dive operators and you need to rent tanks from them. Do you just avoid those sites if you have your own tanks? Is my understanding correct or are these sites in the minority? Is there a list of locations that require you to rent from them?

    Also, apart from casinos, what are the top things to do other than diving and beaches?
     
  8. lsorenson

    lsorenson Divemaster

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: North Carolina
    797
    107
    From my experience and my experience only; some sites do have dive shops or such where you can rent tanks/gear or such from... but on the other hand many dive sites have nothing... We dove where ever we chose bringing our own tanks and paid nothing extra if a shop was there but saying that, if the shop had a "gear up" area, we kept our distance out of respect. The only time we paid to enter a site was when it was a park of some sort but then ever car paid to go and park but that was only one site (two dollars I think, maybe more). Please keep in mind that we mostly dove the west side from around the midpoint of the island up to the northern tip...

    Willemstad has a really nice downtown... and they have a drawbridge they swing open with a tug. If you time it right, you can go along for the ride on the bridge but you can also get stuck for a while after the fun has worn off... lol I did enjoy the town as well as just driving and exploring the island. Like I said in my first post, the 1st time is more of a learning curve so I would expect to have a better feel of where to go and what to do the next trip. Plenty of good places to eat... such as (name escapes me) heading North on the main road after leaving the airport. There is a huge Cabana on the left hand side we enjoyed.

    lee
     
  9. Lorenzoid

    Lorenzoid ScubaBoard Supporter Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location: Atlanta, USA
    9,703
    6,374
    Pretty much the ONLY thing that really caught our fancy about Curacao was the historic center of Willemstad. It's definitely an interesting place to explore for a day. If you take away that point of interest, then Curacao is just a big, built-up island with all the headaches that come with that, and with scattered dive sites that are no better than Bonaire's--just more of a pain in the neck to get to. As I think I remarked earlier in this thread, Bonaire has all the advantages over Curacao for me. Just a lot easier to navigate. More laid back. More dive-centric.
     
  10. jd950

    jd950 Solo Diver

    # of Dives: I just don't log dives
    Location:
    1,285
    276
    Having been to both Bonaire and Curacao maybe I can add a bit of information.

    On Curacao most shore entries are free, just like Bonaire. The places that charge a fee are generally beach "clubs" for lack of a better term where there are usually nice beaches, restrooms, showers, dive shop, restaurant, beach chairs and umbrellas/palapas available and often some sort of security in the parking areas. These places typically cost less than $5.00 for the day. You can often rent tanks and other gear at these places but are also welcome to bring your own at no charge beyond the admission charge. Most dive shops at these places have been very friendly and welcoming even though I show up with my own gear and air. They typically have no issue at all with using their rinse tanks, lockers, changing areas, etc., although I think a tip would be nice if you use their facilities.

    Some shops are reluctant to rent gear and/or air to you if they know you are diving solo. If you show up and announce you are a solo diver and want to rent their gear to take on a solo dive, they might refuse. On the other hand if you show up and tell them you want to rent two or four tanks and don't throw the solo diver thing in their faces, I don't think they are likely to trouble you about it. No one is going to go out and arrest you for diving solo and no divers you meet are likely to care one way or the other.

    Having been to both places, I think the crime issue is pretty much the same on Curacao and Bonaire except that if it worries you, there are a number of shore dive locations on Curacao where there is some level of security while there are very few such places on Bonaire. Both places have a lot of theft issues in my opinion.

    Getting to the dive sites on Bonaire is easier and quicker because it is a small island and one dive site pretty much blends into the next...Curacao is much larger and is much more of a "real" island country than a tourist dive location. The dive sites are more distant from each other and often divided by impenetrable terrain or private property but also tend to be more distinct from one another. When diving Curacao we frequently encounter no other divers on a dive while on Bonaire the dive sites sometimes seem more crowded.

    As far as I know, Curacao still does not have a chamber in operation while Bonaire does. I think that is pretty inexcusable for Curacao.

    Keep in mind that most of my diving on Curacao has occurred from around the middle of the island to the far west of the island. I don't spend much time around Willemstad or diving the sites that the cruise ship people typically go to. People who only visit the Willemstad area tend to have a different experience than those who spend time out west. When driving around the west end I see more iguanas and goats than cars and people. When divers talk about Curacao after visiting only the east end of the island it reminds me of the old joke about the blind men and the elephant.

    In the final analysis:

    If you have never been to either place then go the place where you can get the best deal on airfare, lodging, rental gear and vehicle rental or go for two weeks and split your time between the two islands. If you have previously only been to one, then go to the other. If you have been to both and have a preference then go with what makes you happiest.
     

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