Budget Trip Challenge - Bonaire

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gbeasley

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Location
Charleston, SC
# of dives
500 - 999
Rich,
I dive on a budget.
I dive solo too. Just had a 2 week trip to Bonaire 9/1 -9/15/21
American RT w/2 bags $585 + $140 $725.
Airbnb 2 bedroom house Martha's Dream $804
Drive & Dive with AB free nitrox with CDW & zero deductible $1140
Marine park pass $45
2 week health insurance to cover Covid19 $68
Gas $97
Food $190 (I bought food and made breakfast and lunch) used 2 local Chinese restaurants $12 per order that made 2 -3 meals. Unbelievably good and way more than an average person could possibly eat at one sitting. Exito buffet for $12 - wonderful.

Total $3070.

Another diver would cut room and truck costs by $972.
I only dive with a DPV. I could dive any boat dive from the shore except Klein although I could reach it in 20 min from Bari Reef with the right tide timing. It did cost me a third baggage cost not included here but being able to see so much in one dive. I generally dove 2-3 sites at a time 1-1.5 miles on a single tank. I was the only one who could dive salt pier with a ship docked. I put in at Salt City and went to Jenny's Glory.
 
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drrich2

drrich2

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Airbnb 2 bedroom house Martha's Dream
I see 9-1 to 9-15 was Wed. to Wed., so the pattern holds vs. the much higher cost of Sat. to Sat., I take it.

Airbnb 2 bedroom house Martha's Dream $804
This intrigued me so I went Googling. AirBnB listing for Martha's Dream on Bonaire. It can hold 4 people. Kitchen, refrigerator, stove, microwave and coffee pot. Farther out from the west coast than I'm used to, but a pretty quick drive to get to central Kralendijk.

From the listing:

"Sorobon Windsurf Beach Nearby
Mangrove Village Kayaking Nearby
Supermarket across the street
2 Min from the city
5 Min from the beach
220v European sockets available"

Also from the listing:

"**IMPORTANT** when traveling/booking for 2 guests or less. You will have access to the whole house but one bedroom will be closed. If you are traveling as 2 guest but would like to have access to both bedrooms please book as 3 guest. There is no easy way to manage this on airbnb. And the reason we charge more when using 2 bedrooms instead of one is because you’ll have two air-conditioning (AC) running. Thank you for your understanding and we want to wish you a pleasant stay in advance at our apartment"

Air conditioning is expensive on Bonaire; in the past staying at Buddy Dive Resort, I recall the house keeper turning the A.C. off during the day if I'd left it running (and vendors prefer customers don't leave it running while they're out).
==================
Thanks for the itinerary and cost break down! I often see trip reports and wonder what the total bill was. It's important! Anything you'd change if you did this trip again?

In the tradition of the old adage 'Penny wise and pound foolish,' when aiming for the low price leader, people who can cook may be better served booking a mildly more expensive accommodation with full kitchen vs. a cheaper one with just a mini-fridge. You might save more than the cost difference in food expenses.
 

gbeasley

Registered
Messages
27
Reaction score
21
Location
Charleston, SC
# of dives
500 - 999
I see 9-1 to 9-15 was Wed. to Wed., so the pattern holds vs. the much higher cost of Sat. to Sat., I take it.


This intrigued me so I went Googling. AirBnB listing for Martha's Dream on Bonaire. It can hold 4 people. Kitchen, refrigerator, stove, microwave and coffee pot. Farther out from the west coast than I'm used to, but a pretty quick drive to get to central Kralendijk.

From the listing:

"Sorobon Windsurf Beach Nearby
Mangrove Village Kayaking Nearby
Supermarket across the street
2 Min from the city
5 Min from the beach
220v European sockets available"

Also from the listing:

"**IMPORTANT** when traveling/booking for 2 guests or less. You will have access to the whole house but one bedroom will be closed. If you are traveling as 2 guest but would like to have access to both bedrooms please book as 3 guest. There is no easy way to manage this on airbnb. And the reason we charge more when using 2 bedrooms instead of one is because you’ll have two air-conditioning (AC) running. Thank you for your understanding and we want to wish you a pleasant stay in advance at our apartment"

Air conditioning is expensive on Bonaire; in the past staying at Buddy Dive Resort, I recall the house keeper turning the A.C. off during the day if I'd left it running (and vendors prefer customers don't leave it running while they're out).
==================
Thanks for the itinerary and cost break down! I often see trip reports and wonder what the total bill was. It's important! Anything you'd change if you did this trip again?

In the tradition of the old adage 'Penny wise and pound foolish,' when aiming for the low price leader, people who can cook may be better served booking a mildly more expensive accommodation with full kitchen vs. a cheaper one with just a mini-fridge. You might save more than the cost difference in food expenses.
Nothing I'd change except try a few more different lunch buffets at Exito Restaurant or a few more of the approx. 25 different meals from the Chinese restaurants. I loved the sweet & sour chicken, chicken chop suey and chicken chow mien (I like chicken). Fresh cooked by someone who knows how to cook. Each had a full Styrofoam clamshell of the meat entrée and a second plate full of rice and/or fried potato wedges. Pork and shrimp meals I didn't try yet because those three meals lasted me 7 nights. My food costs averaged $14 a day. Breakfast was eggs, oatmeal, cereal, fresh fruit, juice, coffee and milk. Lunch was sandwich, fruit, milk and dessert. I had lots of bars of chocolate for snacking at night with popcorn. I gained weight on my stay. Another tip I did was freeze a liter of water and wrap it in a towel. I had ice water all day. Also I'd use empty bottles to bring water to rinse off my feet before getting in the truck. Oh and I'd try to get to see more Bola tournaments in the field across from Martha's Dream. I loved being in the middle of something so important to the locals. There are food trucks, babies in strollers, kids running around, teens, adults and grandparents all together playing and cheering. I felt a part of the real Bonaire.
AB Dive and the main grocery stores were about a 3-4 minute drive. I've stayed at Martha's Dream twice. It's perfect for me.
 

gbeasley

Registered
Messages
27
Reaction score
21
Location
Charleston, SC
# of dives
500 - 999
I see 9-1 to 9-15 was Wed. to Wed., so the pattern holds vs. the much higher cost of Sat. to Sat., I take it.


This intrigued me so I went Googling. AirBnB listing for Martha's Dream on Bonaire. It can hold 4 people. Kitchen, refrigerator, stove, microwave and coffee pot. Farther out from the west coast than I'm used to, but a pretty quick drive to get to central Kralendijk.

From the listing:

"Sorobon Windsurf Beach Nearby
Mangrove Village Kayaking Nearby
Supermarket across the street
2 Min from the city
5 Min from the beach
220v European sockets available"

Also from the listing:

"**IMPORTANT** when traveling/booking for 2 guests or less. You will have access to the whole house but one bedroom will be closed. If you are traveling as 2 guest but would like to have access to both bedrooms please book as 3 guest. There is no easy way to manage this on airbnb. And the reason we charge more when using 2 bedrooms instead of one is because you’ll have two air-conditioning (AC) running. Thank you for your understanding and we want to wish you a pleasant stay in advance at our apartment"

Air conditioning is expensive on Bonaire; in the past staying at Buddy Dive Resort, I recall the house keeper turning the A.C. off during the day if I'd left it running (and vendors prefer customers don't leave it running while they're out).
==================
Thanks for the itinerary and cost break down! I often see trip reports and wonder what the total bill was. It's important! Anything you'd change if you did this trip again?

In the tradition of the old adage 'Penny wise and pound foolish,' when aiming for the low price leader, people who can cook may be better served booking a mildly more expensive accommodation with full kitchen vs. a cheaper one with just a mini-fridge. You might save more than the cost difference in food expenses.
Nothing I'd change except try a few more different lunch buffets at Exito Restaurant or a few more of the approx. 25 different meals from the Chinese restaurants. I loved the sweet & sour chicken, chicken chop suey and chicken chow mien (I like chicken). Fresh cooked by someone who knows how to cook. Each had a full Styrofoam clamshell of the meat entrée and a second plate full of rice and/or fried potato wedges. Pork and shrimp meals I didn't try yet because those three meals lasted me 7 nights. My food costs averaged $14 a day. Breakfast was eggs, oatmeal, cereal, fresh fruit, juice, coffee and milk. Lunch was sandwich, fruit, milk and dessert. I had lots of bars of chocolate for snacking at night with popcorn. I gained weight on my stay. Another tip I did was freeze a liter of water and wrap it in a towel. I had ice water all day. Also I'd use empty bottles to bring water to rinse off my feet before getting in the truck. Oh and I'd try to get to see more Bola tournaments in the field across from Martha's Dream. I loved being in the middle of something so important to the locals. There are food trucks, babies in strollers, kids running around, teens, adults and grandparents all together playing and cheering. I felt a part of the real Bonaire.
AB Dive and the main grocery stores were about a 3-4 minute drive. I've stayed at Martha's Dream twice. It's perfect for me.
 

NootFish

Contributor
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83
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Location
USA
# of dives
200 - 499
Here’s what I estimate this 14-day trip will cost (I’ll round up to dollar costs):
  • Package Deal - $2,285.
  • Airfare - $567.
  • Round Trip Baggage - $120.
  • Marine Park Tag - $45.
  • Estimated grocery budget: $60/day x 14 days = $840 (Note: food on Bonaire tends to be expensive, eating out is common, I can’t cook much, and I drink a lot of cans of Coke Zero. A big burger, chips or fries and a soda can handily clear $20). This is likely an underestimate! Don’t forget airport food going and coming.
  • Gas – 2 tanks (really expensive in Bonaire) - $140.
  • Airport Parking at Nashville Airport (economy or long-term): $180 (unless wife takes me to/from).
  • Estimated Total: $4,177. By the time I eat airport food, an easy $4,200.
Disclaimer: If I were back home, I’d eat and burn gas, but at much lower cost. On the other hand, I’ll blow money on souvenirs for our kid.

P.S.: For comparison, I e-mailed Sand Dollar for a 14-day package deal; their cheapest room is a studio. I was told for a studio they could do 2-weeks starting Feb. 23, it’s $20/person/6-day package to upgrade to nitrox, I was told the quote uses Avis which doesn’t offer any insurance to go to Washington-Slaagbaai Park, and that my quote was for a manual 4-door Avis truck (but what was written in the description table was ‘Avis, Automatic.’ Package with 14-days studio, government tax, 12-days unlimited shore diving (Air, not Nitrox), Avis (let’s assume that is automatic); Studio $2,170, Gov. tax $91, shore-diving air package $360, truck rental $756.

-----Sand Dollar /Dive Friends Package: $3,377.00.

So, an oceanfront resort with a nice house reef would cost nearly $1,100 extra for the week?

So, what can the rest of you come up with? Whether solo or with a buddy, what do you suggest? (I know groups may be better off booking a villa, or 4 person occupancy room, etc...).
I've just planned and booked a 2 week trip for 3 to Bonaire for under $7000 for the three of us
-$1350 total for an Air BnB with a kitchen (I shall be serving as chef)
-$650 for manual transmission truck (2/3 of us can drive it, and I'm hoping to learn while I'm there)
-$1200 unlimited air from Buddy Dive (but I will price out some of the shops you mentioned because we are interested in big tanks for everyone but me)
-$500 for food (hopefully including a few trips to the Kite City Food truck, and to compensate, some spaghetti dinners)
-$950 for flights from Iowa on Delta, $750 for flights from Buffalo via Newark on United including 2 checked bags, $850ish for flight from Newark to Bonaire on United and from Bonaire to Iowa on Delta.
-$135 STINAPA for 3
-$195 for return to US COVID testing ($65 per test)

TOTAL: $ 6700

(And our AirBnB accomodates one more person, if the bed is wide enough to actually sleep myself and my partner.)
 

KathyV

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Midwestern US
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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!!!

@drrich2 congratulations on your retirement!
 
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drrich2

drrich2

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@drrich2 congratulations on your retirement!
Thanks. Recently our 3rd grader asked me "Can you go back to work?" I asked why. She said "'Cause we can do more stuff." I'm both proud of her insight into the ramifications of socioeconomic class, and mortified at her self-centered view of the world.

-$1200 unlimited air from Buddy Dive (but I will price out some of the shops you mentioned because we are interested in big tanks for everyone but me)
A few years back, in preparation for a guided Cai dive with Bas Tol, I asked one of the staff at Buddy Dive Resort for a bigger tank. His English was limited (and English is all I got), but eventually he understood and provided me a big tank. I'm guessing it was a 100-cf AL. BDR is also a technical diving supporter; I've seen manifolded doubles tanks there before.

My point is, BDR may have some big tanks, but when I stayed at BDR I didn't see them just out with the 'grab and go' tanks for shore diving. If you really want them, you might ask, but I doubt loading the truck routinely day-by-day with 100-cf tanks is going to happen.

If I understand correctly, they're readily available at VIP Diving.

Are you guys planning to stay Sat. to Sat., Wed. to Wed., or what? Lately the latter has been much cheaper, it seems, but I'm curious how many employed people can get time off spanning an extra week. Working people have more flexibility with money, retired people more flexibility with time.
 

NootFish

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Location
USA
# of dives
200 - 499
Thanks. Recently our 3rd grader asked me "Can you go back to work?" I asked why. She said "'Cause we can do more stuff." I'm both proud of her insight into the ramifications of socioeconomic class, and mortified at her self-centered view of the world.


A few years back, in preparation for a guided Cai dive with Bas Tol, I asked one of the staff at Buddy Dive Resort for a bigger tank. His English was limited (and English is all I got), but eventually he understood and provided me a big tank. I'm guessing it was a 100-cf AL. BDR is also a technical diving supporter; I've seen manifolded doubles tanks there before.

My point is, BDR may have some big tanks, but when I stayed at BDR I didn't see them just out with the 'grab and go' tanks for shore diving. If you really want them, you might ask, but I doubt loading the truck routinely day-by-day with 100-cf tanks is going to happen.

If I understand correctly, they're readily available at VIP Diving.

Are you guys planning to stay Sat. to Sat., Wed. to Wed., or what? Lately the latter has been much cheaper, it seems, but I'm curious how many employed people can get time off spanning an extra week. Working people have more flexibility with money, retired people more flexibility with time.
I'm doing Sat-Sat because that's how my dates worked out best... taking a total of 3 weeks off but have to visit my mom for a while first. I think I have the best of both worlds, I work 11+ days a month and can usually take off about 10 days in a row without issue, sometimes more. I put those days back to back and I've got a nice trip (and a really grueling month in between.) I didn't know I was going to Bonaire when I asked for the days off, just requested for generic travel.
 

NootFish

Contributor
Messages
83
Reaction score
49
Location
USA
# of dives
200 - 499
Rich,
I dive on a budget.
I dive solo too. Just had a 2 week trip to Bonaire 9/1 -9/15/21
American RT w/2 bags $585 + $140 $725.
Airbnb 2 bedroom house Martha's Dream $804
Drive & Dive with AB free nitrox with CDW & zero deductible $1140
Marine park pass $45
2 week health insurance to cover Covid19 $68
Gas $97
Food $190 (I bought food and made breakfast and lunch) used 2 local Chinese restaurants $12 per order that made 2 -3 meals. Unbelievably good and way more than an average person could possibly eat at one sitting. Exito buffet for $12 - wonderful.

Total $3070.

Another diver would cut room and truck costs by $972.
I only dive with a DPV. I could dive any boat dive from the shore except Klein although I could reach it in 20 min from Bari Reef with the right tide timing. It did cost me a third baggage cost not included here but being able to see so much in one dive. I generally dove 2-3 sites at a time 1-1.5 miles on a single tank. I was the only one who could dive salt pier with a ship docked. I put in at Salt City and went to Jenny's Glory.
What insurance did you get? It sounds like a good deal! Also curious about the names of the Chinese restaurants you enjoyed! My guilty pleasure is Kite City Food Truck.
 
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