Bonaire trip - some where else comparable?

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lexvil

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It depends on what you like doing between dives, diving is great at both Bonaire and curaçao for drive and dive, Bonaire has an edge in ease of finding sites but it’s not hard on curaçao. Between dives Curacao has more variety in dining and other topside activities, it generally costs less to fly to curaçao and has more vrbo type of options being bigger, for drive and dive look at the dive bus, great operation and a fair deal on unlimited tanks (now including a nitrox option) cool people .
 

drrich2

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I’ve been to Bonaire but not to Curaçao so I always like to hear the comparisons of the two.
Been to Bonaire 9 times and Curacao one dive trip (all boat dives). In researching the issue, here are differentiators from what I've read or been told:

1.) Curacao is a good deal larger than Bonaire. Looks about half again as large, just eye-balling it on Google Maps.

2.) The capital, Willemstad, is much more developed looking than Kralendijk, with taller buildings with more stories (but still that pretty Caribbean color and architecture), things you just don't find on Bonaire (e.g.: Queen Emma pontoon bridge that swings, plus a suspension bridge elsewhere).

3.) The Willemstad area has more civilized entertainments - such as the Curacao Sea Aquarium (neat place; you can do paid dolphin encounters).

4.) Stronger reputation for more sandy beaches.

3.) and 4.) make Curacao a better bed for non-divers.

5.) I liked the diving to the east, but it's often said it's better in the Westpunt area. That said, I'm told Westpunt is about 45-minutes from Willemstad and quite rustic.

You know how in Bonaire, if you stayed at Caribbean Club Bonaire Resort out near Oil Slick Leap, you'd feel isolated but Kralendijk would still be a pretty modest drive 'to town?' Well, if you're in Westpunt, that's a much longer drive.

6.) Bonaire has a coast-hugging road that takes you right by dive sites. Curacao has an analogous road further inland, and you take take turnoff roads to reach shore dive sites. It's longer between sites, but some people do a couple of dives at a site so they don't try to rack up as high a 'site count' as Bonaire divers do.

7.) Curacao shore sites are described as often having easier sandy entries but longer swim outs.

8.) Some Curacao shore sites are like Bonaire (rustic, just you there), and some have 'facilities' (e.g.: a restaurant, dive shop, showers, etc...). There may be a fee. Some people at some shore sites rent tanks from an onsite provider rather than just haul tanks around from their 'base' dive op.

9.) People heading out of their home base in a rental pickup with a pile of tanks in the back doesn't seem quite as dominant an image in Curacao, from what I've read. Not sure why not, but judging from trip reports, more people do at least some boat dives rather than the all shore diving many Bonaire divers do.

10.) Sometimes Curacao airfare may be a bit cheaper.

Curacao Trip Research Notes
Curacao Trip Report with SB Surge Jan. 2019

On the face of it, Curacao seems to have a lot more to offer, but the full extent of it is more spread out. I keep ambivalently considering a solo trip to Westpunt to try All West Apartments or Nos Krusero and use Go West for diving...and then shifting into Bonaire trip planning because I already know the place fairly well and it's just so easy. The one shore site amenity I wanted was answered when some food trucks started operating in Bonaire.

But heads up for the future. I keep reading of how crowded some popular shore dive sites in Bonaire have been lately. If that keeps up, and given that Bonaire's government seems to have the attitude they've maxed out on socioeconomic benefit from divers and that's not enough so it's time to cater to other forms of tourism (and things are getting built up), Westpunt may be starting to look real good in the not to distance future.

Hope I got all that right. The Bonaire vs. Curacao debate has been a key interest on ScubaBoard for years.
 

Big Bubble

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My buddy and I liked the Sunset House at Grand Cayman. Boat dives every morning, diving off their shore/wall every afternoon. Plus some special dives thrown in like the Kittiwake, etc. Price was good and easy to get to. Also, Cozumel is nice and not very expensive. Easy to get to but it's all boat diving and all drift diving, a very different kind of experience.
 

drrich2

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Also, Cozumel is nice and not very expensive. Easy to get to but it's all boat diving and all drift diving, a very different kind of experience.
There's some shore diving in Cozumel, but from what I've read it's not a shore diving destination (I only did boat diving there), if that makes any sense. People looking to do much shore diving might consider Blue Angel Resort, or Hotel Cozumel or Scuba Club Cozumel.
 

divezonescuba

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Definitely agree with that. Better than nothing. But, anybody who has done shore diving in Bonaire or Cayman Brac will be disappointed in the shore diving from Hotel Cozumel / Scuba Club Cozumel / Blue Angel.
 
OP
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I have visited most, if not all, of the real dive destinations in the Caribbean with Bonaire and Curacao being the best. I have been to Curacao around 13 times and Bonaire 4 times. I prefer Curacao.
Why do you prefer Curaçao?
 
OP
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Do you mean anywhere else on Bonaire, or are you looking for destinations similar to Bonaire (in which case Curacao is the main contender)? When you say 'equivalent diving experience,' in what way? If it's shore diving, mainly Curacao, to some extent Grand Cayman and Cayman Brac, then maybe St. Croix and CocoView Resort in Roatan. If you mean quality reefs, Bonaire is good, but there are a number of places that compete nicely.

If you want a similar experience on Bonaire, then I've got to ask why you don't just go back to Divi Flamingo?
A destination other than Bonaire. A destination place that shared similar characteristics with Bonaire. When I listed what I thought was a “plus” for Bonaire, I meant is there an overall general dive destination other than Bonaire. But in reading all these responses I am getting the jist here. Many destinations but Bonaire, Curaçao, GCaymen seem to be high on list. In thinking more about it I shoul d narrow down the ‘pros’ and say the main attributes I liked at Bonaire: tons of access (shore/boat), efficient dive operation (at least at Divi), easy walk to restaurants, beautiful reefs. Those items seems to stand out for me. LIKELY me and buddy’s will end up back in Bonaire, no doubt, but I also wanted to pick the brains of all you folks with way more traveling under the belt than me.
 
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It depends on what you like doing between dives, diving is great at both Bonaire and curaçao for drive and dive, Bonaire has an edge in ease of finding sites but it’s not hard on curaçao. Between dives Curacao has more variety in dining and other topside activities, it generally costs less to fly to curaçao and has more vrbo type of options being bigger, for drive and dive look at the dive bus, great operation and a fair deal on unlimited tanks (now including a nitrox option) cool people .
Good info. Thanks Lexvil.
 

DiveProKoko

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I've been to both Bonaire and Curacao. I know it's very subjective, but I liked Curacao better. For what it's worth (also subjective, lol) I also thought the West Point area on Curacao was really nice at Watamula, etc., but nothing beats East Point diving in Curacao. Dive Kathy's Reef and you'll see why. :)

My wife and I just felt that the variety of the dive sites and the health/condition of the reefs makes Curacao the winner over Bonaire for us.
 
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