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Packing, Travel, Resort and Diving Tips for SB SURGE 2018 Bonaire

Discussion in 'ScubaBoard Surge 2018: Bonaire!' started by ROXANNE, Oct 24, 2017.


    ROXANNE Artist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Tampa Bay area, Florida, USA
    Packing and Travel, Resort Info and Diving Tips
    for the ScubaBoard SURGE 2018 to Bonaire

    Well, we are getting closer SB SURGE 2018 to Bonaire!!!!!
    I thought we could touch base on some of the great ideas and info
    that everyone has on preparing, packing, travel, the Resort and dive related tips.
    For some this is old hat, so share your knowledge.

    I’ll get things started… Here are some of my tips and info.
    Any new info that I update to these 5 initial posts along the way will be in GREEN
    so you won't need to search for changing information!

    General Travel Info
    Anytime you are traveling outside of your normal area, it's good to check
    CDC Destinations/Travelers Health Info

    While we have no issues that necessitate recommended vaccinations you should always consult with your doctor prior to leaving the country.

    Bonaire Travel Tips
    Map of Bonaire

    (Includes street signs and dive sites)
    History and Culture of Bonaire

    Travel Checklist
    I have a travel checklist that I keep on file and printout for each trip. We'll send it out in the next email and you may use it if you like or make your own list. The list includes everything that might be needed. If there's something on the list that doesn't apply to this trip, I just cross it off. I also include things to do like stopping the mail, newspaper, contacting your cell provider if you want service there, and calling the credit card companies to inform them that I will be going out of the country so they don't cut you off in mid-trip.

    It's also a Good thing to start packing early, in case anything needs to be serviced or repaired before you go.

    DON'T FORGET These Items when Packing!

    Airline tickets/info
    for going and return flights
    Bay Adventures Travel Vouchers for the Resort and Diving Reservations.
    (Bay Adventures will email them out to everyone a few weeks before travel.)
    Passports (I also make a copy of it and put it in my carry on)
    Driver’s License or if you don’t have one, some other form of picture ID.
    Certification Cards or E-Cards (I also make a copy of them and put it in my carry on.)
    Toucan Diving Waiver - It will be sent along with your resort vouchers from Bay Adventures.
    DAN and Health Insurance Cards
    ScubaBoard Waiver
    (Cardzard will email it out to everyone a few weeks before travel. Please print, fill out and bring with you to the welcome party on the 2nd night.)
    Credit cards are widely accepted, but it's always good to have cash. Small Bills (1’s, 5’s, 10’s and 20’s go a long way) (Some of the restaurants or shops don't accept credit cards or $100 bills if you plan on venturing out on the island.) Visit www.oanda.com or www.xe.com for current rates for those traveling other than from the US.
    Prescription Medication (Keep it in the prescription bottle with your name on it) And always bring a few days extra in case you have travel delays along the way.
    Over the counter medications and first aid items that you may need.
    Please keep in mind, we are on a very small island and many items are not readily available.
    Especially allergy medication if you have ever had an allergic reaction.I have a med pack for traveling with items such as band-aids, sports wraps, Benadryl, Imodium, Advil, bug bite cream etc.
    Sunscreen (Try to use products if possible for the coral reefs health)
    Sunscreen (my favorite Stream2Sea | EcoConscious & Biodegradable Sunscreen.​
    Bug spray
    (Insect repellent is recommended and is also sold at the resort.) Near sunset and sunrise are the worst time for mosquitoes and no-see-ums.) Here are a few products Cactus Juice, www.reefsafesuncare.com. Here's a comparison of the Best Insect Repellents with Deet. and for Noseeums
    Also, don't leave your door open or you may invite them into your room.
    FYI Did you know that if you put hand soap on a bite right away, leave it on and don't scratch it, many times it will alleviate the itch and swelling.
    Woolite or those all-in-one washer sheets if you plan on washing the funk off your clothes or dive wear in the sink/tub. Especially great when you're staying longer than a week.
    Clothespins and lightweight rope. They help when hanging items up for drying and to keep them from blowing off the porches.
    A light jacket, it goes on the plane with me as well. (Many of the airports and sometimes the planes can be very cold.)
    Tennis Shoes if your planning on going on Island excursions. Much of the island is very rugged with cactus and spiny plants.

    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
    Insta-Gator and Moonie like this.

    ROXANNE Artist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Tampa Bay area, Florida, USA
    Airline Travel
    Due to current security measures, you'll need to allow more time for check-in, security screening, and boarding flights. Please check with your airline prior to departure for the latest recommended arrival times and security guidelines. It is also recommended you have a government-issued picture ID available at all times, as well as a printed itinerary if you're using an electronic ticket.

    U.S. citizens are required to have a valid U.S. passport.

    Any items that you couldn't do without such as prescriptions, contacts/glasses, ID’s, Credit Cards, Cash etc., carry in your personal item or on your person, not in your carry on. Sometimes a carry on can be moved to checked luggage if they run out of room and you don't want to be without those type of items.

    Please Check with your Airline for specific rules as to what's accepted, size and weight limits for luggage and procedure for checking in, as these seem to be changing constantly. For anything in question or in liquid form, check with your airline.

    I recommend carrying on -
    ID’s, Credit Cards, Cash etc.
    Prescription Medication
    Prescription Glasses/Contacts/Mask
    Any Cameras/Phones/Electronics/Housings
    Rechargeable batteries in individual cases or bags
    Your Regulators
    Dive Computers
    Dive lights (take batteries out or for rechargeable lights, put in locked mode.)

    Making the most of the luggage weight restrictions and packing
    (Don't forget, Men and Women are allowed to have a personal item purse/backpack/briefcase/man purse in addition to their carry on. Make the most of it!)
    I have a large purse that I use just for flying. The personal item is not weighed, so it's great for a few heavier items. Just make sure the items you put in your personal item can be carried on and not needed to be placed in checked luggage. ( Again always check with your airline.)
    Think about lightweight items when packing. Inexpensive t-shirts (like Hanes or fruit of the loom) are very lightweight, come in multiple colors, are great for shore diving cover-ups and can be left behind if you shop too much in town. Lightweight dresses, shorts, and tops are great for the ladies.Think khakis or other lightweight fabrics over jeans.
    Shoes can weigh a lot also. I wear my tennis shoes on the plane as they weigh the most.
    A light jacket, it goes on the plane with me as well. (Many of the airports and sometimes the planes can be very cold.)
    A personal travel hand scale is an invaluable tool so you don't have surprises when getting to the airport on your flights.

    Put your name, address, and phone number inside all your bags including your carry on and personal item in case they become lost or separated from you.
    If you're traveling with a partner, put some of each person's items in each checked bag. That way if one of the bags get lost, you still have some of your things.
    If a solo traveler, try to fit in at least 1 extra of your undergarments in your carry on. Outerwear is easier to purchase if your bags arrive late or are lost, but trying to find undergarments for purchase can be more difficult.

    Travel from Airport to Hotel
    Round trip airport transfers are included in your package to and from the airport to the Plaza Resort. You should find the details in your travel vouchers from Bay Adventures.

    Weather Forecast to help you decide what to pack (Average weather info)
    Average yearly temperature is 79 - 82°F (27.8°C), water 78 - 80°F (26.7°C), rainfall 22 inches, humidity 76%, sunny all year round. Just north of the equator, Bonaire always enjoys the advantage of daylight for 12 hours.

    I also want to remind everyone again of the importance of getting Hydrated before and staying hydrated while traveling. Winter is already a drying time for most of us.
    The typical air cabin is exceptionally dry and dehydrating. At around 12 percent humidity, it is drier than you will find in most deserts.
    You do not want to start your vacation off dehydrated.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
    Moonie likes this.

    ROXANNE Artist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Tampa Bay area, Florida, USA
    Plaza Resort Amenities
    Our hosts The Plaza Resort Website
    Plaza Resort Map (This is the new updated one.)


    The Guest Rooms are equipped with
    Free WiFi
    Flat screen television
    Coffee and tea facilities
    Safe (will fit an Ipad, but not a laptop)
    Hair dryer
    Balcony or terrace
    Small fridge or cooler
    Separated toilet
    Double sinks
    Full-length mirror

    Water - All the water at the resort is safe.You can bring flavor packets or liquids to flavor your water for variety. I like to bring flavor packs for my coffee too! They do claim the water in Bonaire is safe all over. I suggest drinking only bottled or can drinks when outside the resort and wiping any moisture from the tops to avoid having any health issues. I also like to avoid ice and frozen drinks when outside the resort.You should always be conscious of what you are eating and drinking when you are outside of your normal routine and country.
    Electricity North American standard layout and voltage of 110 volts(60 cycles), so adapters or transformers are not required for U.S. and Canadian appliances. Every room is equipped with at least one 220 volt outlet if needed.
    Laundry service is available - You need to fill out the laundry list and hand it in at the reception, together with your laundry bag. The clean clothes will be returned to the reception at 5:00 PM the next day. A bag of laundry is about $25. For express service, they charge an additional 50%.
    The Plaza Tipping Guideline Tips can NOT be charged to your room.(Tipping is personal, tip what you feel is appropriate for the service the staff provided for the week)

    Meals and beverages

    Breakfast Daily from 7:00 AM - 10:00 AM
    Lunch Daily from 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM
    Dinner Daily from 6:30 PM - 10:00 PM
    All resort packages include three meals daily.
    For special dietary requests, please advise Bay Adventures prior to departure.

    Theme night, Mexican
    ~ SB Welcome Party 8:00 pm
    in the Conference Room
    Theme night, Local

    Theme night, American
    Theme night, Spanish
    Theme night, BBQ
    Theme night, Italian
    Friday Theme night, Fish Market
    ~ SB Underwater Scavenger Hunt Entries 5:00 - 6:00 pm, at the ScubaBar
    ~ Toucan Diving Party and SB Group Picture 5:30 - 6:30 pm,
    at the ScubaBar.
    ~ Please wear your event T-Shirts

    ~ SB Farewell Party 8:00 pm in the conference room.

    The Coconut Crash Beach Bar is the cozy and popular bar where you can enjoy, every day from 10:00 AM til 11:00 PM, freshly made coffee, juices or sodas during your all-inclusive* vacation in Bonaire. Of course, they also serve ice-cold beers and delicious cocktails. Snacks are available daily at the Coconut Crash Bar around 1:00, 3:00 and 5:00 pm, during happy hour.
    * The all-inclusive package does not include room service whole bottles. In addition, there is a small charge for foreign spirits, Corona, Amstel Bright and Heineken. If you would like to enjoy the drinks unlimited too, you can purchase the premium all-inclusive drink package on site for $ 15 per day (order for 7 days and pay only 5).
    The Scubar, next to the Toucan diving school is open from 07:00 – 7:00 pm for refreshing drinks and delicious food as another option. If they're slow, they'll close early.

    Resort Activity Center is where you can go to borrow e.g. snorkel sets, kayaks and stand-up paddle boards.
    There's also a spa, gym, fully equipped tennis courts and free yoga classes daily.
    Pool and beach - Clean Towels are available daily
    And there's also the Plaza Resort Casino (You can NOT charge to your room.)
    Excursions are available at the activities desk, but can NOT be charged to your room.
    Shopping, The downtown shopping area is a 15 min. walk from the resort.

    Taxis are readily available should you desire to leave the property.
    Vehicles If you didn't rent a vehicle beforehand, they are still available through the resort, just not at the discounted price from Bay Adventures.
    Weekly and daily rentals available.
    Tropical Travel is onsite next to the reception in the lobby.
    For renting a scooter or moped in Bonaire, you must also have a valid drivers license. The deposit for renting a scooter, moped or bicycle is USD $ 300.00. We make a print of your credit card(Visa/MasterCard). The prices (subject to change) to rent a scooter, moped or bicycle are as follows:

    Per day in USD
    · Scooter 2-Seater - USD 27.50*
    · Moped 1- seater - USD 21.50*
    · Mountainbike 21-speed - USD 13.50
    · Tourist bike 7-speed - USD 11.00

    Per week in USD
    · Mountainbike 21-speed -USD 55.00
    · Tourist bike 7-speed - USD 55.00

    3-day special in USD
    · Scooter 2-Seater - USD 75.00*
    · Moped 1- seater - USD 55.00*

    Prices are including tax and excluding fuel.
    *Prices include a third-party liability insurance. There is the possibility of a theft insurance when renting a scooter or moped.

    Gift shop or dive shop fees can be charged to your room.

    Attached Files:

    Last edited: Nov 15, 2017
    Moonie likes this.

    ROXANNE Artist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Tampa Bay area, Florida, USA
    Diving Tips
    New SURGE Dive Teams and Boat Rotations
    There is a NASE Advanced Open Water Class available with The Chairman
    There is a Free Nitrox Certification Class available with the Chairman
    Please follow the links for details.

    Water Temps and Visibility
    Water temperature are around 78 - 80° F, with average visibility 70-80 feet. Water Visibility varies based on the site, but is generally very good and can range from 80 to 120 feet or more.

    Here are a few links you might be interested in.
    Toucan Diving
    Bonaire Map
    Additional Dive Map

    Sunday - Friday (8:00 AM) Boats depart for a 2-tank dive.

    The resort has a wet gear room with open lockers. The gear room is locked and can be opened with your room key card. 24/7 (there are no longer individual lockers.) You may also take your gear to your room and use the outdoor patio that all rooms have to dry gear.
    Remember the resort has 24/7 security.

    Tanks, weights, and weight belts are included.

    All scuba divers must attend an orientation.
    The orientation consists of a ‘dry’ part and a ‘wet’ part. The ‘dry’ part is a briefing on the Bonaire National Marine Park rules. The ‘wet’ part of the orientation is the check out dive. Repeating divers are also required to attend a dive orientation and perform a checkout dive every time they are back on the island. In addition, every scuba diver on Bonaire must purchase a Marine Park Tag (US$25) valid for one calendar year. At registration, all divers should bring with them their (1) Completed Toucan Diving liability Form, (2) a photocopy of your dive certification cards (3) diving vouchers, (4) a credit card for a security deposit, and (5) US$25 (cash only) for the required purchase of a Marine Park Tag. (6) Please bring your ScubaBoard waiver to hand in at that time also. After a brief introduction to diving at Toucan Diving Bonaire; you simply get your gear ready, enter the water, and do your buoyancy check. Our staff is ready to assist you if you need to make weight or equipment adjustments.
    Snorkeling To protect the Bonaire Marine Park, snorkelers also have to purchase a Nature Tag. For snorkelers, this tag costs only US$ 10.00 (cash only). The tag is valid all year long.
    Shore diving at Plaza Resort Bonaire, the diving tanks are available 24 hours a day, at 2 different locations: at the pool and at the pier. Tanks are also available at Toucan Diving between 7.30am-5.30pm. Our own house reef “Eighteen palms” is one of the most beautiful places in the Bonaire Marine Park. You don’t even have to leave the resort to be able to enjoy it. There are two easy entrances, near the two places where you can grab your tanks 24/7.

    TIPPING GUIDELINES - DM's and Toucan Crew Tipping will be done at the end of the week and shared with all of them. If you feel a staff member deserves a little extra, you can give that extra to them directly. They will still receive their portion of group tipping.
    We always feel tipping is a personal matter. A general guideline is a starting point of $5 per tank. Please tip what you feel appropriate for the service that Toucan Diving provided for the week.

    Pointer sticks are allowed only for pointing out critters and as tank bangers, please do not use them to touch coral or animals.

    Lionfish hunting is not permitted by guests. (They do have a lionfish hunter course available)
    Camera care A lightweight cooler bag is a great way to carry those bigger underwater cameras and the smaller ones too on the boats! They give the camera some protection and are easy to fold up for packing, lightweight and rinse out easily. I have also found the little neoprene drawstrings bags with clips are great for protecting your Go Pros on the poles or trays.

    Hair care I use Scuba Do Rags to keep my hair under control. If I don't keep my hair braided and covered like that, It would just be shredded. I also like to put some biodegradable condition in it while dry before covering it. I use Stream2Sea | EcoConscious & Biodegradable Sunscreen leave in conditioner. Some kind of covering is great for gals with shorter hair and guys to keep their heads from getting sunburned too. Unless you're bald, it very hard to put sunscreen on your scalp.

    Skin or Wetsuits? Warm tropical weather is the norm.
    Water temperatures are around 78 - 80° F, with average visibility 70-80 feet. So if you're one of those divers that are on the cold side or planning on doing a lot of diving, you might want to bring your 3- 5 ml. wetsuit.
    We have 2 of the SURGE Crew down there now (1/8/18) and they were nice enough to give us a water temp report.
    20C/78F for water temps

    Other tips
    Bring a thumb drive to share photos or to enter the Underwater Scavenger Hunt Contest.

    This is a good time to get your gear serviced! If it's new or has been serviced, you might want to get in a pool session/dive in and make sure it works.

    Get yourself hydrated before the trip and stay hydrated, but don't overdo it. Drinking smaller amounts of water throughout the day is better than just guzzling a glass or 2.

    We like to use baby shampoo for mask defog.

    The entrance to shore diving around the island can be rough. Hard soled dive boots are recommended, just make sure they fit in your fins.
    Fire coral is abundant in the shallows of many of the shore entries. So use caution.

    My feet get blisters and take a beating while diving multiple days, so I wear the thin socks. They also help your feet slip into your wetsuit!

    A waterproof bag for the boat and a pelican box or other waterproof case for shore diving come in handy for keeping things dry. A gear bag (one with wheels would be great) to help you transport your gear back and forth from the dive shop area to the shore diving area or to your room.

    Found this article and thought it might have some helpful tips for your ears and diving. :D
    Ear Clearing 101

    Some asked about their Save a Dive Kit (Spare Parts) We have a full-service dive shops available from our hosts. You'll find they really go out of their way to be helpful there. I would just bring some basics for the boat, O rings, mask strap, tie wraps and elastic bungee etc. I would also include a spare battery for your computer. You may not find your type batteries there so I prefer to have one handy.

    Please keep in mind, we are on a very small island
    and many items are not readily available.

    I also want to remind everyone again of
    the importance of getting Hydrated before
    staying Hydrated during the SURGE.
    (beer and cocktails don't count)
    It will be very hot down in Bonaire, especially for the northern folks.
    Drinking small amounts continually during the day instead of downing 1-2 glasses a day will help your body retain the liquids better.
    And remember if your planning on drinking after diving,
    drink some water in between drinks
    to help with the adverse effects of drinking and dehydration.
    Have fun, but play it smart and safe.
    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
    Insta-Gator and Moonie like this.

    ROXANNE Artist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Tampa Bay area, Florida, USA
    Shore diving with Trucks
    Toucan Diving can give you lots of tips and info on all the dive sites, just ask them.
    This can help you with planning the best shore diving around the island for your experience level.

    Trucks seat 5 with room in the bed for tanks and gear.

    Please keep in mind you will be required to keep all vehicles unlocked with possibly the windows down while shore diving.
    Bonaire is known for vehicle content thefts. You will only want to bring with you what can go in the water with you or if stolen, you won't mind losing. Cheap t-shirts, shorts, sunglasses, beach towels and shoes for use while shore diving is recommended. You will also need a dry box to take in the water with you to hold keys and other valuables. D

    Do not bring towels from the resort with you shore diving.

    I would not recommend bringing your phone or save a dive kit with you for shore diving.

    Keep a map of Bonaire in your vehicle. They usually provide one with the rental.

    The entrance to shore diving around the island can be rough. Hard soled dive boots are recommended, just make sure they fit in your fins.
    Fire coral is abundant in the shallows of many of the shore entries. So use caution.

    Carry water in plastic bottles that you can refill at the resort in case you break down and are stuck somewhere for a while.

    I also like to take along a small first aide baggie with band-aids, small spray triple anti b, a bandana for larger cuts, a small bottle of vinegar for coral stings and a few 325 mg tablet of non-enteric-coated aspirin in case of heart issues.

    If possible travel with a group of 2 trucks while shore diving to some of the outer areas. That way if you break down or get stuck, someone will be able to go for help.

    Be cautious when driving off the road to go to a dive site. Bonaire has very rough and rocky terrain in some areas.

    Be cautious of Bonaire’s animals, such as donkeys, goats, and iguanas on the roadway.

    As a general rule, the further North and the further South the dive sites, the more difficult the entries and the more remote they get. Some sites can only be reached by boat.

    Please update yourselves on the traffic signs and rules.
    Driving and Traffic on Bonaire

    Bonaire Do's and Don'ts


    Last edited: Oct 28, 2017
    Moonie likes this.
  6. Moonie

    Moonie Manta Ray

    # of Dives: I'm a Fish!
    Location: Somewhere in ????
    Well, I'm all packed and ready to go!
    ROXANNE likes this.
  7. CBPaige

    CBPaige Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Chesapeake Virginia USA
  8. CBPaige

    CBPaige Angel Fish

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Chesapeake Virginia USA
    Thanks for the many travel and resort tips. If there are no individual lockers, how/where do we keep our wetsuits, bcd, and other personal gear when not diving?
    ROXANNE likes this.
  9. cardzard

    cardzard Orca

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: New Port Richey, FL
    The resort has a wet gear room with open lockers, the gear room is locked and can be opened with your room key card. You may also take your gear to your room and use the outdoor patio all rooms have to dry gear.
    Remember the resort has 24/7 security.

    ROXANNE Artist

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: Tampa Bay area, Florida, USA
    I have added quite a bit of new info to the posts above in the thread. All the new info is in Green.
    Dish likes this.

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