Trip Report First Time to Bonaire & Buddy Dive

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SetheryJ

SetheryJ

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Did you see seahorses at Cliff?
The first time we dove The Cliff my wife and some others from the group spotted one about midway down the steep wall (cliff). Some footage made it into the boat diving video. I was more sad that I got skunked on seeing a Frog Fish. Something to look forward to for next time!

Seth
 

BigDaddyGlad

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I'm seriously considering a trip to Buddy Dive in February through my LDS. I did a two-tank dive in Bonaire with VIP Diving off a cruise ship in Dec 2019, and would love to get back there for an intensive week of diving.

I do note that the package at Buddy's included the 6 boat dives (which I assume are to get to Klein Bonaire, primarily) and unlimited shore diving. It is fair to assume these shore dives are "at your own leisure," which is to say you simply check out a tank or two and walk out into the surf? I'm a relatively new diver (only 19 dives in), and I've only ever been out with a guide, so I am leery of unguided dives still.

Should I reconsider this trip, or am I overthinking?
 

Bonaire11

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I'm seriously considering a trip to Buddy Dive in February through my LDS. I did a two-tank dive in Bonaire with VIP Diving off a cruise ship in Dec 2019, and would love to get back there for an intensive week of diving.

I do note that the package at Buddy's included the 6 boat dives (which I assume are to get to Klein Bonaire, primarily) and unlimited shore diving. It is fair to assume these shore dives are "at your own leisure," which is to say you simply check out a tank or two and walk out into the surf? I'm a relatively new diver (only 19 dives in), and I've only ever been out with a guide, so I am leery of unguided dives still.

Should I reconsider this trip, or am I overthinking?
I wouldn't worry - you'll be fine. As long as you have a buddy. Shore diving is very easy and you can start with really easy entry and exits (The Lake, Cliff, etc.). Shore diving is the best. My Wife and I have done around 300 dives on Bonaire.
 

drrich2

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I do note that the package at Buddy's included the 6 boat dives (which I assume are to get to Klein Bonaire, primarily) and unlimited shore diving. It is fair to assume these shore dives are "at your own leisure," which is to say you simply check out a tank or two and walk out into the surf?
If it's like it was when I was last there a few years back, it's like this. For shore diving at BDR, there are tanks available near the pier, and you can get one, gear up on a bench, walk out on the pier, down a ladder, then fin out to the reef. There was a rope running out to the reef, which is nice as a guide back in...including on night dives.

There was a separate place for tanks, IIRC, to be taken for offsite shore diving. I believe that closed at 5 p.m.? For air tanks, there was a drive through. For nitrox tanks, since you have to analyze them anyway, I just walked over, got a couple, analyzed them, and carried them to my rental truck.

What seems to be the customary directive is to take 2 tanks/diver at a time for offsite shore diving.

Bonaire is a good place to start doing some unguided (shore) diving, since the proximity to shore helps ease navigation demands and you don't have to be back at a boat at a set time. Since the reef wall slopes, you are usually diving over a 'hard bottom,' not alongside a vertical wall plunging into the abyss (which you may see in Little Cayman, for example...and is really cool).
 

BigDaddyGlad

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Thanks for the replies, guys. That's what I expected. When I was last in Bonaire with VIP (great experience, BTW), our first dive was a simple "out and back" but our second was at the awesome Red Slave, which was in hindsight probably a much more advanced dive than I should have done given the currents and my lack of experience with them. Without a guide, that dive would likely have ended up with me and my buddy out to sea.

Sounds like it's really a case of planning the dives and staying within one's experience and ability level.
 

tursiops

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Sounds like it's really a case of planning the dives and staying within one's experience and ability level.
As ALL dives should be. Bonaire doesn't change this policy.
 

Jersey

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Thanks for the replies, guys. That's what I expected. When I was last in Bonaire with VIP (great experience, BTW), our first dive was a simple "out and back" but our second was at the awesome Red Slave, which was in hindsight probably a much more advanced dive than I should have done given the currents and my lack of experience with them. Without a guide, that dive would likely have ended up with me and my buddy out to sea.

Sounds like it's really a case of planning the dives and staying within one's experience and ability level.
Yep, planning is a beautiful thing. Buddy boat may be Klein or a less accessible main site - think Rappel, Small Wall (no land side access), Thousand Steps (because I hate hauling gear), drift dives between sites, but usually Klein. The crew does ask for site suggestions. Understand the 'package' can be 'unpackaged' - you can drop the boat dive, breakfast, transfers, whatever and do ala cart. If you sign up for boats, you just pay per dive.
 

peeweediver

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Since these will be your first "solo" shore dives. practice your environmental navigation on a few dives from the pier. Go out to the reef, note a depth your wish to return at (35 ft or so) and look for some things that will catch your attention on return. When you see them on your return, head back to shore. Not to sound paternalistic, but make sure to dive into the current. The swim back will be faster so take that into account. On our last trip, my wife wanted to practice her navigation so she did all the depth setting and identification of "markers" for us to head back into shore. You're not navigating direction or degrees per se, but it's fun to practice and it builds confidence to explore more.
Have a blast.

Rob
 

Curious_George

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One option that make shore dives easy is follow a heading from shore entry point to the reef drop off. Tie an smb to some dead coral right there and note the depth. Swim up current of course and on the way back if you are anywhere close to the right depth you will see the marker and can follow the recripocal heading to exactly where you started. Makes it basically foolproof.
 

tursiops

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One option that make shore dives easy is follow a heading from shore entry point to the reef drop off. Tie an smb to some dead coral right there and note the depth. Swim up current of course and on the way back if you are anywhere close to the right depth you will see the marker and can follow the recripocal heading to exactly where you started. Makes it basically foolproof.
So long as STINAPA doesn't see you. Tying anything to the reef (dead or not) is a no-no. The problem is that too many divers have no idea what is coral and what isn't, and what is dead and what isn't.
 
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