Budget Trip Challenge - Bonaire

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!

DustyC

Contributor
Messages
527
Reaction score
252
Location
'Murica
# of dives
1000 - 2499
[/QUOTE]
Can't speak on the specific subject, but I can say that once you take a multiweek trip everything changes. Recently took a 1 week trip for the first time in awhile and it was brutal. 2+ weeks is the way to go for sure. You save on airfare, you aren't rushed so you aren't just getting settled in when you start to count down to when you have to return, you can dive so much that you don't mind a day off in the middle. You will thoroughly enjoy yourself
I just got back from 10 days on Bonaire. Even 3 extra days drastically changed my trip, for all the reasons you stated.
 

JaminBrown

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
56
Reaction score
51
Location
Southern Maine
# of dives
25 - 49
Thanks for posting. What kind of airfare price did you guys get on that 10-day stay?

I think around $1800 round trip total for the two of us. I booked back in April. Unfortunately, we’ll be overnighting in Miami on the way down, and Newark on the way back. So that adds hotel costs of a few hundred.


I'm glad to see some numbers for a Den Laman stay. On my last Bonaire trip, I stayed at Sand Dollar Condo.s, the adjacent property, so I got a look at the outside of the building. I knew Scubadada had stayed there, and I trust his judgement so I figured Den Laman is probably a worthy contender. So when reaching out to vendors for this trip, I checked into them and e-mailed Sunwise Bonaire.

I looked at Sand dollar as well. But they were more expensive, and a longer walk to the dock.

In Den Laman's favor, it's oceanfront (with a sandy beach, albeit a rocky one on that side of the big pier), Zhung Kong supermarket isn't all that far up the road, it's close to Kralendijk and has Bari Reef as a house reef.

Yeah. Part of the reason for choosing Den Laman is the fact that you can walk downstairs and across the alley to Dive Friends, then several paces down the dock to grab a tank and jump in at Bari reef. My wife has MS, and walking/balancing can be tough, so minimizing that was key.

There’s also Breeze n Bites restaurant on the first floor, so we can be lazy and get something without having to go far if we want.
 

drrich2

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
9,331
Reaction score
7,583
Location
Southwestern Kentucky
# of dives
200 - 499
I decided to try to nail down a couple of All-Inclusive (which to me means food; I don't drink) packages, since dining out on Bonaire is expensive and eating onsite convenient. It was more frustrating than anticipated.

Scuba Board used the Plaza Beach & Dive Resort Bonaire for Invasions, so they passed muster on some level. They're one of very few all-inclusive options (Dive Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino has an A.I. option). The Plaza is oceanfront, has a house reef for shore diving, onsite dive op., offers packages, etc...

Currently they offer a 7-day package for $947.30, where you get 7 each of breakfast buffet, lunch buffet and dinner, unlimited local drinks, transfers (I assume airport), and 6-days unlimited shore diving. It doesn't include tourist tax ($6.50/person/night) or the $45 marine park STINAPA tag. There's a 14-night special for $1,856.60.

When you consider how much eating out costs in Bonaire, that looks great, but per the old warnings 'Buyer Beware' and 'Read the Fine Print,' I kept pouring over it till I noticing something missing...what about the rental truck? Not a word! Kept digging...under Amenities, a page pops up with Facilities, a heading Golf cart & car rental, where it says "In case you would like to discover the Island by car, you can rent a pickup truck or jeep at the reception." I don't know their rates or whether they have automatic pickups available.

So, per person with 2 divers in the room for a week, sounds like $947.30 + $45.50 (tourist tax) + $45 (marine park pass) + truck rental + CDW insurance (?).

Some people like the convenience of all-in-one packages where the trip cost is known and mostly prepaid, so I also checked Dive Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino's website. Pretty and a bit flashy, content pops up and shifts around, seems over-engineered, a bit hard to track down specific info. from and annoying. Some of the content draws on 5 Caribbean islands they have locations on. Aggravatingly involved to track down a package, but scroll down this page and there it is. 7-Night Drive, Dive & Explore Package, includes daily breakfast, unlimited tank use for shore diving, 4-passenger rental truck, airport transfers, welcome cocktail, free wifi (note: most providers I see on Bonaire do), starting at $936/person.

But...does that include the tourist tax? CDW insurance on the truck? Are automatic trucks an option? Their nicely done brochure has some answers. It says the 7-Night Drive, Dive & Explore Package starts at $977/person, truck rental is included but at the airport, taxes and service charges are included but not $45 marine park fee (I see nothing about CDW insurance). Some of their specials mention free nitrox and some don't, so I went to the brochure Dive Rates section. A 6-day unlimited shore diving package is $200, but it says Air-Nitrox Upgrade - On 6-Day Prepaid Package $130 (and says Unlimited Nitrox Shore Package - 6 Days $295). So, do you pay an extra $95 or $130 to upgrade to nitrox use for your week?

So, maybe $977 + $45 (marine park pass) + $95 (nitrox upcharge?) + CDW insurance (I'm guessing)? And that includes daily breakfast, but it is NOT A.I. I don't know what going A.I. with this package would add.

I remember when Dive Friends Bonaire adding a $20 upcharge for nitrox on their 6-day air shore diving packages raised a fuss. Sheesh!

The Plaza and Divi Flamingo are to the south end of Kralendijk, and Divi is sometimes mentioned for people who want to be 'walking distance' to some places in town.

Ironically, I like the ease of booking all-in-one packages in theory, but I found determining what's included, what more's needed and what it'd all cost more hassle with these.
 

tursiops

Marine Scientist and Master Instructor
ScubaBoard Supporter
Scuba instructor
Messages
12,660
Reaction score
11,051
Location
U.S. East Coast
# of dives
2500 - 4999
I decided to try to nail down a couple of All-Inclusive (which to me means food; I don't drink) packages, since dining out on Bonaire is expensive and eating onsite convenient. It was more frustrating than anticipated.

Scuba Board used the Plaza Beach & Dive Resort Bonaire for Invasions, so they passed muster on some level. They're one of very few all-inclusive options (Dive Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino has an A.I. option). The Plaza is oceanfront, has a house reef for shore diving, onsite dive op., offers packages, etc...

Currently they offer a 7-day package for $947.30, where you get 7 each of breakfast buffet, lunch buffet and dinner, unlimited local drinks, transfers (I assume airport), and 6-days unlimited shore diving. It doesn't include tourist tax ($6.50/person/night) or the $45 marine park STINAPA tag. There's a 14-night special for $1,856.60.

When you consider how much eating out costs in Bonaire, that looks great, but per the old warnings 'Buyer Beware' and 'Read the Fine Print,' I kept pouring over it till I noticing something missing...what about the rental truck? Not a word! Kept digging...under Amenities, a page pops up with Facilities, a heading Golf cart & car rental, where it says "In case you would like to discover the Island by car, you can rent a pickup truck or jeep at the reception." I don't know their rates or whether they have automatic pickups available.

So, per person with 2 divers in the room for a week, sounds like $947.30 + $45.50 (tourist tax) + $45 (marine park pass) + truck rental + CDW insurance (?).

Some people like the convenience of all-in-one packages where the trip cost is known and mostly prepaid, so I also checked Dive Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino's website. Pretty and a bit flashy, content pops up and shifts around, seems over-engineered, a bit hard to track down specific info. from and annoying. Some of the content draws on 5 Caribbean islands they have locations on. Aggravatingly involved to track down a package, but scroll down this page and there it is. 7-Night Drive, Dive & Explore Package, includes daily breakfast, unlimited tank use for shore diving, 4-passenger rental truck, airport transfers, welcome cocktail, free wifi (note: most providers I see on Bonaire do), starting at $936/person.

But...does that include the tourist tax? CDW insurance on the truck? Are automatic trucks an option? Their nicely done brochure has some answers. It says the 7-Night Drive, Dive & Explore Package starts at $977/person, truck rental is included but at the airport, taxes and service charges are included but not $45 marine park fee (I see nothing about CDW insurance). Some of their specials mention free nitrox and some don't, so I went to the brochure Dive Rates section. A 6-day unlimited shore diving package is $200, but it says Air-Nitrox Upgrade - On 6-Day Prepaid Package $130 (and says Unlimited Nitrox Shore Package - 6 Days $295). So, do you pay an extra $95 or $130 to upgrade to nitrox use for your week?

So, maybe $977 + $45 (marine park pass) + $95 (nitrox upcharge?) + CDW insurance (I'm guessing)? And that includes daily breakfast, but it is NOT A.I. I don't know what going A.I. with this package would add.

I remember when Dive Friends Bonaire adding a $20 upcharge for nitrox on their 6-day air shore diving packages raised a fuss. Sheesh!

The Plaza and Divi Flamingo are to the south end of Kralendijk, and Divi is sometimes mentioned for people who want to be 'walking distance' to some places in town.

Ironically, I like the ease of booking all-in-one packages in theory, but I found determining what's included, what more's needed and what it'd all cost more hassle with these.
You may be rediscovering why people go to travel agents and tour operators rather than trying to DIY. There is the illusion that you are saving money, but the reality is that the professionals make their money on commissions from the resorts and operators, not on charging you directly.

Bonaire is not an AI island.
 

drrich2

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
9,331
Reaction score
7,583
Location
Southwestern Kentucky
# of dives
200 - 499
I used dive travel agents for a couple of trips elsewhere; I prefer it when heading further abroad than usual, where planning complexity is out of my league. When people are planning trips, offered specials from such vendors may be useful. 2 I've seen mentioned before are Maduro Dive Fanta-Seas and Caradonna Adventures. Worth a link here; might help somebody later.

Maduro Dive Fanta-Seas Bonaire Dive Packages Page. Some of their package deals include government hotel taxes, some don't. A look at the fine print - some of these deals require travel by mid. Dec. 2021, one Sand Dollar package includes rental truck but for another it's an add-on, they've got some single occupancy deals (e.g.: Caribbean Club Bonaire, Sand Dollar Condo.s, Captain Don's has a great price on a single occupancy ocean view room...but no mention of rental truck I see in that package though it's an add-on in a later one).

One Captain Don's 7-night package with single occupancy ocean view is $1,079, single cabin pickup from $224; I figure add CDW insurance, $45 marine park fee and upgrade to automatic for some of us, it already includes nitrox and government taxes. Date requirement just says book by Dec. 1, 2021. I've never stayed there, but I like their house reef and location.

Oh, good...a Divi Flamingo 7-night package! Includes airport transfers, daily breakfast, daily 2-tank boat dives (which I don't want to pay for), nitrox, all taxes and resort service charges, unlimited shore diving...for a single occupancy standard room rate $1,345, or double occupancy standard $947. Here we go...the All Inclusive Meal Plan is $660/person. Catch: You gotta travel between Dec. 1 and Dec. 25 this year.

Caradonna Adventures Diving Bonaire Page.

I'm not digging into their's, just linking the page.
 

TimAZ

Contributor
Messages
30,511
Reaction score
48,185
Location
Kentucky
# of dives
500 - 999
What's your best budget trip plan (e.g.: airfare, room, rental truck, shore diving) for Bonaire? I hope this thread will help budget-minded divers plan a Bonaire trip. Best doesn't mean cheapest, but let's strive for cheap.

A frequent lament in the rec. dive hobby is the cost of dive trips, a barrier to recruiting and maintaining divers. A separate issue is the need for solo options; not everyone travels with a dive buddy, and some places one can dive alone. Here are some figures from my past solo trips (with airfare, tips, pretty much everything):

7-Day May 2021 Cocoview Resort (Roatan) Trip: $3,600 (roughly).
8-Day Oct. 2019 Bonaire Trip: $3,000 + food & a few miscellaneous costs, figure $3,500 total to be on the safe side. 30 Dives.
8-Day Sept. 2018 Cozumel Trip: $3,250 with food. 26 Dives.
7-Day April 2018 Turks & Caicos Aggressor II Trip: $3,350 (would’ve been ~$4,255 without 34% off Aggressor Fleet sale). 27 Dives.

I researched Bonaire options with a new emphasis on budget with the option for a longer stay (both due to retirement), and started this thread to share my findings and gather other forum members' impressions and advice. If this goes well, maybe we could try it for Cozumel, Roatan, etc... One thing at a time.

I'll lead, and go in-depth on my reasoning and cost analysis. I aimed for a 2-week stay (like 2 dive trips for the price of 1 airfare), non-oceanfront (tends to be cheaper), automatic transmission truck (I don't drive stick), unlimited nitrox tank shore diving (no boat dives), solo traveler and diver (with SDI Solo Diver cert.) and prefer big (100-cf) tanks if possible. I used Feb. 2 – 16, 2022 where possible; I gave Aqua Viva Suites Feb. 16 – Mar. 2 due availability of their cheapest room category. I chose Wed. - Wed. rather than Sat. - Sat. (or Sun.) due to @tursiops post on another thread the former tend to be cheaper. He was right! On 9-21-21 I’d decided on Wed. - Wed. so on Orbitz I booked an AA round trip flight Feb. 16 - Mar. 2 for $566.36. Then I wondered what a similar Saturday - Sat. trip would’ve run, so I ran Feb. 12 - 26. The cheapest flight was on AA, yes, but for $1,388.86 - 6 a.m. departure, 1 hour 12 min. layover in Miami, arrival 2:24 p.m. in Bonaire, so practically the same flight…at well over double the cost. Delta, with 6 a.m. departure, 1 hour 37 min. layover in Atlanta, 2:45 arrival - $1,576.36! Wow!!!
Doing Bonaire in January.

RT on United, $650
2 BR Condo, $400 ea (4 divers)
Car Rental <$100 ea
Nitrox, $180 ea

All in, not including food, bev, and fuel: $1330
 

TimAZ

Contributor
Messages
30,511
Reaction score
48,185
Location
Kentucky
# of dives
500 - 999
Did you book VRBO, AirBnB or what? Who did you book diving services with?

Richard.
VRBO. Using Dive Friends for fills, with a discount through my VRBO host.

Edit: The condo is right across from Hamlet Oasis, so Dive Friends is really convenient
 

drrich2

ScubaBoard Supporter
ScubaBoard Supporter
Messages
9,331
Reaction score
7,583
Location
Southwestern Kentucky
# of dives
200 - 499
The condo is right across from Hamlet Oasis

Beachcomber Villas by chance? I used to read really good things about them posted by another forum member; I checked them out, but they didn't have many units and the prices weren't solo-friendly. Hamlet Oasis is pretty good on price, IIRC.
 

TimAZ

Contributor
Messages
30,511
Reaction score
48,185
Location
Kentucky
# of dives
500 - 999
Beachcomber Villas by chance? I used to read really good things about them posted by another forum member; I checked them out, but they didn't have many units and the prices weren't solo-friendly. Hamlet Oasis is pretty good on price, IIRC.
It’s a little 4 unit complex on Kaya Breda; don’t know the name. Yeah, though, it wouldn’t really work for a solo trip.
 
https://www.shearwater.com/products/perdix-ai/

Top Bottom