Trip Report Bonaire, 18-25 Aug 2021

Please register or login

Welcome to ScubaBoard, the world's largest scuba diving community. Registration is not required to read the forums, but we encourage you to join. Joining has its benefits and enables you to participate in the discussions.

Benefits of registering include

  • Ability to post and comment on topics and discussions.
  • A Free photo gallery to share your dive photos with the world.
  • You can make this box go away

Joining is quick and easy. Log in or Register now!

Lorenzoid

ScubaBoard Supporter
Staff member
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
10,669
Reaction score
7,585
Location
USA
# of dives
I just don't log dives
We, a group of 10 friends, visited Bonaire for a week in late August, 2021. This was my seventh Bonaire trip. A report from my sixth trip, in 2018, is here: Bonaire our way: a trip report. The previous trip was just my wife and me, and we planned out our days to get in a lot of diving and do things that suit our idiosyncrasies. This trip was more relaxed, and the group generally decided on the fly when and where to dive, eat, or just chill by the pool. We stayed in a 6-bedroom oceanfront villa on Kaya Abraham. I averaged two dives per day, compared with the four that my wife and I aim for when we travel by ourselves. It’s hard to say which style of trip I like better; I enjoy both. Despite the laid-back schedule, I had a GREAT time as always.

A couple of days before departure from Atlanta to Bonaire (that is, within a 48-hour pre-departure window) I took the PCR test that Bonaire requires for entry. None of the outfits offering standard RT-PCR tests seemed to guarantee results within 48 hours, let alone within enough time (say, 24 hours) that if something went wrong I could still book another test somewhere else. So the day before departure I got a rapid molecular “ID-NOW” test as a backup. Delta did not ask to see any test results or anything else Covid-related when I checked in. Note that my trip was while Bonaire still categorized the US as “High Risk.” The procedure is different now that the US has been moved to “Very High Risk.” I hope someone someday is reading this trip report at a time when this is all history.

I printed my test results out, and on arrival I noted that many people had printed theirs out as well, as opposed to showing the authorities an image on their phone. There are tables set up just before the Immigration kiosks where someone checks your PCR test results and vaccination cards. They appeared to give these items a careful look before waving us through to the Immigration kiosks. I don’t know what happened at that point to the one member of our group who had apparently decided to gamble on receiving negative test results on their phone just in time. But about 20 minutes after the rest of us had gotten our bags and exited the airport, our gambler texted us that the authorities had administered a test (not sure what kind) on the spot (for $125) and all was good. We had booked 3 rental trucks from Telerin, and they were waiting for us in front of the airport.

Crime! I bet that got your attention. Another “Bonaire crime thread,” perhaps? What happened was that we apparently left a door to our house unlocked on our second night. The house is really two separate identical units, connected only by an outside stairway, but for efficiency’s sake we wanted to utilize one kitchen as the common kitchen for all 10 of us. This created a problem of who controls the keys and where do we keep them, as all 10 of us would have liked to be able to get into both the upper and lower levels at any time. As a result of the key confusion, on our second night we left a door unlocked. Sure enough, someone got in, took some dive gear and, apparently finding a key, also stole a truck. Later that day, the police told us they stopped a truck for driving oddly, determined it was our stolen truck, and arrested two people. The following day the police informed us they had recovered what may be our gear “at the place of the suspect.” We got almost everything back. According to my friends who went to the police station, the police said the suspect was 14 years old.

Well, I suppose that’s the big story, and the usual report of where we dived and ate would be anticlimactic, so I will spare you. I will note that Bonaire seemed crowded compared with previous trips—like everyone, especially from the Netherlands—is going there. There seemed to be more vehicles on the road, and restaurants were booked up. And why not? With all the Covid precautions, coupled with rarely having to be indoors in close proximity with strangers, it’s got to be safer on Bonaire than in the US or the Netherlands. (Crime-wise, maybe whether you are safer depends on where you live. I live in Atlanta, and crime is par for the course.) Some residents or part-time residents told us that during the lockdown they had everything they needed, including toilet paper, and were happy they were on island. I didn't do much shopping, so I don't know what is most common, but Van den Tweel didn't require masks, only suggested them, and I would estimate that fewer than half the customers I saw there wore masks. Based on that, I would say the masking practices on Bonaire are similar to most regions in the US.

A couple of days before leaving Bonaire we got antigen tests to satisfy the US’s requirement for returning. (That was the first time I donned a mask that wasn't for diving.) We used coronatestbonaire.com, which was a fast and easy drive-through near the airport and about three minutes from our house. They emailed our results in about an hour. When we checked in for our flights, our experiences differed by airline. Those of us on the Delta flight to Atlanta were asked to show our test results by the security person where the check-in line starts and then again by the agent at the counter. This time I had the results on my phone. Both the security check person and the counter agent appeared to look over the results carefully, enlarging the image on my phone and scrolling around—I suppose they check the name, date, result, etc. However, one person in my group was on the AA flight to Miami, and he said nobody asked him to show his test results. Weird.

I saw a lot of development—condos and such—that apparently sprung up in the last few years. Can the island’s infrastructure handle it? They need to stop building … just as soon as I buy a place for myself.
 

drrich2

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
9,359
Reaction score
7,607
Location
Southwestern Kentucky
# of dives
200 - 499
Thanks for the detailed, practical report with the kind of info. people traveling there now need. I love Bonaire. That said, I've got a question.

If you were with a group and only diving about twice per day, what swung the decision to Bonaire over Curacao? Seems like it'd have a greater variety of topside diversions for your group of 10.

Richard.
 

Lorenzoid

ScubaBoard Supporter
Staff member
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
10,669
Reaction score
7,585
Location
USA
# of dives
I just don't log dives
Thanks for the detailed, practical report with the kind of info. people traveling there now need. I love Bonaire. That said, I've got a question.

If you were with a group and only diving about twice per day, what swung the decision to Bonaire over Curacao? Seems like it'd have a greater variety of topside diversions for your group of 10.

Inertia maybe? This group is just stuck on Bonaire. Most of us have done a Curaçao trip, and I think we all liked it. But we keep returning to Bonaire like turtles to the beach they were hatched on. I agree Curaçao might be a more logical choice. We’re not logical.
 

AdivingBel

Diver
Messages
1,974
Reaction score
1,973
Location
Missouri
# of dives
1000 - 2499
I know where I go in Curaçao it’s actually more rural and laid back than Bonaire so I actually think of Bonaire as more “topside.” I know that’s all by choice, but it’s all in how you approach it. I do luv dive freedom and that includes both. :):bounce::bounce::bounce::clearmask:
 

drrich2

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
9,359
Reaction score
7,607
Location
Southwestern Kentucky
# of dives
200 - 499
With all the chaos these days, inertia doesn't sound bad at all. I'd love to return to Bonaire, but there's too much uncertainty, unpredictability and testing drama right now. Of course, if it were raining money here I might reconsider...

I take it you were in the rough general region as Eden Beach Resort. Did you like the location? Which dive shop did you use for tanks, etc...?

I know where I go in Curaçao it’s actually more rural and laid back than Bonaire so I actually think of Bonaire as more “topside.”

Yes, I was thinking of the Willemstad area; do you stay up around Westpunt?
 

AdivingBel

Diver
Messages
1,974
Reaction score
1,973
Location
Missouri
# of dives
1000 - 2499
Yes, I was thinking of the Willemstad area; do you stay up around Westpunt?

Yes I do. Lovely area…very idyllic, slow paced Caribbean. We’ll make a run to the store once a week and maybe catch dinner in Willemstad while we’re there, but otherwise we enjoy the local establishments and lots of “rural” diving including the house reef. That’s of course how we choose to do it. There’s lots of ways to enjoy both islands. :)
 

Joneill

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
2,053
Reaction score
2,039
Location
New Jersey, USA
# of dives
100 - 199
With all the chaos these days, inertia doesn't sound bad at all. I'd love to return to Bonaire, but there's too much uncertainty, unpredictability and testing drama right now. Of course, if it were raining money here I might reconsider...

I take it you were in the rough general region as Eden Beach Resort. Did you like the location? Which dive shop did you use for tanks, etc...?



Yes, I was thinking of the Willemstad area; do you stay up around Westpunt?
I’d love to return as well - but the airfares are entirely unreasonable at this point. Most of our group have cancelled a planned late October trip as a result.
 

drrich2

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
9,359
Reaction score
7,607
Location
Southwestern Kentucky
# of dives
200 - 499
I’d love to return as well - but the airfares are entirely unreasonable at this point.

Did you try the advice of another member in another thread, and check Wednesday to Wednesday instead of Saturday to Saturday? I just did a quick price check for the first half of February next year, and it was much cheaper that way.
 

Joneill

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
2,053
Reaction score
2,039
Location
New Jersey, USA
# of dives
100 - 199
Did you try the advice of another member in another thread, and check Wednesday to Wednesday instead of Saturday to Saturday? I just did a quick price check for the first half of February next year, and it was much cheaper that way.
That was not possible for us due to other commitments and wasn’t really much cheaper.

When I originally booked, airfares were under $800 - still a bit expensive vs other Caribbean destinations but not unreasonable.

I actually booked using points on United and had round trip Sat-Sat tickets for 35K miles and $68. Then United cancelled the flight and would not allow that deal to stick for a rebooking - they insisted that they had to refund the points and $ and I’d have to rebook at the going price.

When the final deposit was due for the trip, airfares were going for $1,600 and had a stop in Miami - I’m not playing that game so just cancelled the whole thing. Will look again when things are more reasonable and I can take the time off.
 

Lorenzoid

ScubaBoard Supporter
Staff member
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
10,669
Reaction score
7,585
Location
USA
# of dives
I just don't log dives
Did you try the advice of another member in another thread, and check Wednesday to Wednesday instead of Saturday to Saturday? I just did a quick price check for the first half of February next year, and it was much cheaper that way.

This was the reason our group pulled the trigger on a Bonaire trip. We all got sub-$600 Weds.-Weds. Delta fares from Atlanta. Sat.-Sat. was the usual $900+ on Delta, if I recall.
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/peregrine/

Top Bottom