Trip Report First Time to Bonaire & Buddy Dive

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SetheryJ

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My wife and I went to Bonaire for the first time in August this year. We stayed at Buddy Dive for the week and did the normal 'drive and dive' package with a handful of boat dives. While we were down there we also managed to get our check dives done for our deep and nav specialty courses. We got lucky and were taught by Buddy Dive's tech instructor, Mr. G. We learned a lot and had a great time exploring the island and as many dive sites as we could muster. We ended the week with 22 dives. I figured I'd throw up a few things we learned along the way from a first timer's perspective.

1. Bring digital and paper copies of all covid related items. Bonaire's government website, the Flamingo Airport, and the airline all say that they accept digital copies for every document. That was not the case. The health declaration form had to be in paper form and they wanted paper copies of testing results.

2. If you are returning to the US and need your covid test TRIPLE CHECK YOUR NAME, AND CONNECTING INFO!!!!!!!!! I watched a guy and his daughter almost miss their flight because the nurse who administered the test goofed his daughter's date of birth and put the year down as 2021. The airport would not accept him and he had to run out and get another test. If we hadn't held the plane at the gate he wouldn't have made his flight. Trust me, they are not messing around. TRIPLE CHECK YOUR STUFF.

3. This is just our opinion, but when it comes to the boat dives we felt like they just got in the way. The boat diving sites are fun and seeing Klein was cool. But, overall we really liked shore diving and felt we were able to fit in more diving when we could just create our own schedule and head out for the day.

4. GO NORTH!! Don't be swayed by having to drive back around through Rincon. The drive isn't near as bad as some guide books or online posts make it out to be. One of our favorite days was heading north and hitting Karpata, 1000 steps, and Tolo (Ole Blue). The drive is beautiful and Karpata was one of my favorite dives of the week.

5. Number 4 leads me into number 5....Make best friends with the awesome gentlemen working the drive through for tanks. If you are nice and ask ahead of time you can sometimes get three tanks per person for long trips up north or down south. Being able to set out for the day with three tanks is a major convenience. They really appreciate tips and he was thrilled when we handed off the beer we had leftover at the end of our trip. Just make sure you ask ahead!!

6. Just like number 4, GO SOUTH!! Don't get zoned into the dive sites that are immediately next to your resort. Explore down south. The scenery down south is equally as beautiful as up north, but it's different. If I had to pick one, I think the drive down south was my favorite for views of the ocean, the pink salt, flamingos, et al. Some say diving the Salt Pier is overrated, but I found it to be quite a blast. I enjoyed the structure for some of the same reasons I enjoy wreck diving.

I hope you guys find some of our opinions/tips useful. Bonaire was a great trip and we hope to be back sometime soon. I will say, of all the international trips we have taken during covid, the Flamingo Airport was the most organized and streamlined process we have seen. My wife and I made some videos of our trip while we were down there. Always looking for feedback on our diving and how to be better videographers!





Cheers,

Seth
 

drrich2

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Thanks for the specific feedback on the need make sure the COVID-19 testing details are in order, and the potential consequences if they are not. Easily taken for granted.

Been awhile, but I've stayed at and liked Buddy Dive Resort; liked their house reef, and the pier made entry and exit really easy.

Aside from the scenic drives, did anything topside appeal to you? Any restaurant you especially liked? Did you use any of the food trucks?

Where the boat trips all one-tank trips, or any two-tank trips? Where did they take you?
 

ReadyTo Dive

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Thank you for the TR! We are headed there ourselves in 9 weeks and REALLY want to get all of the COVID paperwork right... Glad to see how much fun you two had!
 

SetheryJ

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Thanks for the specific feedback on the need make sure the COVID-19 testing details are in order, and the potential consequences if they are not. Easily taken for granted.

Been awhile, but I've stayed at and liked Buddy Dive Resort; liked their house reef, and the pier made entry and exit really easy.

Aside from the scenic drives, did anything topside appeal to you? Any restaurant you especially liked? Did you use any of the food trucks?

Where the boat trips all one-tank trips, or any two-tank trips? Where did they take you?

We packed in so much diving that we didn't do anything topside aside from eating. We personally found Blennies at Buddy Dive to be rather lack luster and expensive so we tried to eat there as little as possible. King Kong's Burgers is a food truck that sits at Bachelor beach everyday. THEY ARE AMAZING and very reasonably priced. We also went to the Kite City food truck which sits at the Kite City dive site. I had the best fish sandwich at Kite City out of anything I've ever tried before. He was filleting the fish as we ordered our food. One plus to Kite City is they do have beer whereas King Kong's does not. Nice way to end the afternoon before heading back to the resort.

For dinner the best restaurant we found was Capriccio. It's an Italian restaurant and the only other time I've had food that good I was in Italy. The owner, Lola, is one of the kindest and most wonderful people we've met in ages. Lola was born in Italy and then moved to Bonaire. She knows her stuff and the food is to die for. When we go back, we will do lunch at the food trucks and eat in town and completely skip the restaurants at the resort. The food/drinks are better, the service is better, and the prices are less.

As for the boat dives, you have some options. Each day there is a handful of boats that go out. There is a two tank morning boat, a single tank morning boat, and two different single tank afternoon boats. Depending on how full the resort is will impact how many boats are offered each day. On our boat dives they stuck pretty close to Buddy Dive. Two of our morning boat trips did the exact same itinerary. Our first dive was on Klein (Carrol's Hill/Carl's Hill) and then our second dive was on Bonaire proper at The Cliff.

Thanks,

Seth
 

drrich2

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then our second dive was on Bonaire proper at The Cliff
The Cliff would be an odd boat dive, since it's so close, and so readily shore accessible. The one boat dive I did on Bonaire was a 2-tank Buddy Dive Resort trip; we did Mi Dushi on Klein Bonaire, then Small Wall on Bonaire.

Small Wall to my eye looked a lot like the Cliff, except it was bigger (yeah, given the name that makes no sense).
 

SetheryJ

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Thank you for the TR! We are headed there ourselves in 9 weeks and REALLY want to get all of the COVID paperwork right... Glad to see how much fun you two had!
It's very straight forward. If you have any questions whatsoever feel free to PM me or ask here. We have been fortunate to travel around South America, Central America, and the Caribbean from early 2020 to present. We've developed a good system for how to navigate covid protocols.

In a nutshell we each travel with digital copies of every required document (vax card, neg test, passport copies, DL copies, dive insurance, trip insurance, and health declaration forms). That way you can print them off god forbid something happens to your physical copies. I make three copies of each document and Christie carries one copy of my paperwork and I carry one copy of her paperwork. I treat it like redundancy in diving....Some places like Belize will keep your test results, so if you only had one copy you would be SOL. Bonaire didn't take our copies, which was nice.

For your return trip home you will most likely get a paper test result on Bonaire. I back that up by using a scan to pdf app for my iphone. That way we can save a digital copy should something happen to our original. Expect what is outlined online to not necessarily be correct. Just be well prepared and be patient and it will most likely work out. Traveling during covid has been awesome because no one else is around. You guys will have a blast!!!

Seth
 

SetheryJ

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The Cliff would be an odd boat dive, since it's so close, and so readily shore accessible. The one boat dive I did on Bonaire was a 2-tank Buddy Dive Resort trip; we did Mi Dushi on Klein Bonaire, then Small Wall on Bonaire.

Small Wall to my eye looked a lot like the Cliff, except it was bigger (yeah, given the name that makes no sense).
I asked to go to small wall and really wanted to dive that site, but the DM wanted a closer site to the resort. Technically, The Cliff is no longer accessible from shore because of recent building developments.

Seth
 

SetheryJ

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Wow! This is news! I hadn't heard. Wonder just what all has changed?

From the looks of it, there is a lot of partially done and incomplete building developments that were started (presumably pre-covid) and just haven't been completed. It really seems like a lot of the coast line immediately north and south of downtown is getting completely built up and more and more dive sites are no longer accessible as shore dives. Though for some of these sites I believe you can pay for access? Someone might have to correct me on this as I'm just guessing.

Seth
 

ReadyTo Dive

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It's very straight forward. If you have any questions whatsoever feel free to PM me or ask here. We have been fortunate to travel around South America, Central America, and the Caribbean from early 2020 to present. We've developed a good system for how to navigate covid protocols.

In a nutshell we each travel with digital copies of every required document (vax card, neg test, passport copies, DL copies, dive insurance, trip insurance, and health declaration forms). That way you can print them off god forbid something happens to your physical copies. I make three copies of each document and Christie carries one copy of my paperwork and I carry one copy of her paperwork. I treat it like redundancy in diving....Some places like Belize will keep your test results, so if you only had one copy you would be SOL. Bonaire didn't take our copies, which was nice.

For your return trip home you will most likely get a paper test result on Bonaire. I back that up by using a scan to pdf app for my iphone. That way we can save a digital copy should something happen to our original. Expect what is outlined online to not necessarily be correct. Just be well prepared and be patient and it will most likely work out. Traveling during covid has been awesome because no one else is around. You guys will have a blast!!!

Seth
Great info Seth, thank you for that! We do a similar routine for our international travels as well and the extras have never been needed but have always provided quite a bit of “peace of mind”.

Really the only 2 questions we still have are:

1). Tests must be taken within 48 hours of our initial/first leg of our flights’ departure time, correct? And

2). Rapid PCR tests are not accepted?

Thanks again!
 
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