FIRST TRIP TO BONAIRE in December 2015 --- Suggestions Please. Thanks.

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drrich2

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Don't forget to bring lunch, drinks, and three tanks each! (ie Dive the park!)

I hear it's popular, but be careful where you dive. For example, a buddy & I should not have tried Playa Chikitu (which is not a dive site, & warning signs are posted). But a little East Coast action with Bas Diving at BasDiving.com can be just the ticket for some 'wild side' shore dives - diving Cai with him was far & away better than when my regular buddy & I tried it alone. I think Bas can even take you to Playa Chikitu, but Cai 'done right' is a splendid site.

Richard.
 

choiahoy

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1. Do you have any suggestions on how I can prepare before going to Bonaire to plan my dives?
- Navigating dives in Bonaire is simple, but it would probably be helpful to practice your compass skills a little before going. A large number of the dives run along a straight 0 – 180 axis. There’s a double reef on some southern sites, so your route will be a box. Maybe head south after a few days when you’re a bit more comfortable navigating.
As already mentioned, “Dive Guide Bonaire” from Dive Friends is a very helpful resource.

2. Can I dive by myself if my wife doesn't want to dive as much? If not, will it be easy to find a buddy(s) to dive with once I arrive?
- An easy way to find a buddy if your wife doesn’t want to dive as much would be to sign up for some boat dives.

3. Should I plan to do more boat dives so that all the planning is taken care of?
- I’ve enjoyed my boat dives to Klein, but the beauty of diving Bonaire comes in the form of a white pickup truck parked a few meters from shore, all on your own schedule. You can always book lots of boat dives when you’re there if you decide that’s what you want.

4. Should I plan to dive with/at a particular resort?
- We’ve enjoyed diving with Wannadive, but there are a lot of great ops on the island. Most of the major ops—Wannadive, Buddy’s, Dive Friends, Bonaire Dive Adventure—have a shop near where you’re staying, as well as multiple pickup locations around the island.

5. Are there 5 or 10 dives that I definitely DO NOT WANT TO MISS on my first trip to Bonaire?
- It changes for trip to trip, but some reliably consistent highlight dives are Salt Pier, Karpata, Candyland, Tolo, and Vista Blue. A tip for Karpata – don’t shimmy off the large block there to enter the water; you’ll scrape your ass (like this idiot did his first time). Enter on the side of the block, holding it for balance.
If you’re there on a new moon, some ops offer a bioluminescent dive, which is pretty great (not to be confused with the UV dive, which we have not done but probably will next time around).

6. Can you recommend anything for my wife and I to do when we are not diving? I thought we might rent some bikes and tour some of the island that way.
- Honestly, we usually dive so much when we’re there that when we’re not, we’re usually sleeping or eating.

Some more tips in addition to the great ones given by the previous posters -
- save your two liter soda bottles and fill them with water to leave in the back of your truck while diving. By the time you’re done, the water will be warm and you will feel great when rinsing your face.
- don’t be afraid to eat away from the resort restaurants. There’s lots of good food on the island, but the places aren’t always the most obvious.
- a lot of credit cards don’t cover pickup trucks. Make sure yours does if you were counting on additional coverage.

Here’s a link to our trip report from this past November.
Enjoy your trip and happy diving.

Best,

Mike

http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/bo...report-video-november-2014-a.html#post7304772
 

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We have never stayed at Buddy Dive but like to dive with them. Their reef is great and very easy to dive from their dock. Pretty much the convenience of boat diving without the boat. Rinse facilities and snacks/drinks for in between dives. Head north for one dive and come back. Second dive head south then come back. Bonaire is really small. Any dive op will be close enough to work out. the ones with multiple locations are convenient. Try the other sites mentioned. Most are easy. We like the sites out at Klein done by boat also. Lots of good restaurants mostly in town.

Drive south one day to see the salt ponds, slave huts, lighthouse, flamingos, kite boarders etc. Kayak through the mangroves.

Gios in town for gelato.

Lots of good tips in the the Bonaire forum. Keep reading. It's all been answered before.
 

drrich2

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Even if you don't dive with Dive Friends Bonaire or stay at Sand Dollar Condominiums, you can still access Bari Reef. Just south of Sand Dollar, there's a round-about. As you enter the circle, the exit that'd head straight to sea has a yellow rock. You can drive down there & park (some areas have signs saying Verboten, but you can find a place) and walk in, then head north. Took us a few trips to nice, since once in the round-about we were usually thinking about exiting elsewhere.

Richard.
 

Lorenzoid

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wwguy

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Welcome to ScubaBoard Scott. You've received lots of great advice already and I'll try not to duplicate too much of it. Your condo is in a great location to mix underwater and topside fun. You're within easy walking distance of shore diving, boat diving, dining, and shopping. That said, you should definitely rent a truck to take full advantage of shore diving opportunities and explore the rest of the island. You'll also need it to get to the grocery stores if you plan to prepare any of your own meals.

Here's my shot at answering your questions:

Preparation for self-sufficient shore diving: You're already off to a good start by purchasing Susan Porter's BSDME book. I echo the previous recommendations for hard-soled booties paired with open-heel fins. Underwater navigation is fairly simple, especially if you swim on the surface out to the reef drop-off. But there's some great stuff to see in the shallows over the sand flats and sometimes the drop-off is a ways out. You can enjoy diving directly from shore (and back) with a little help from a compass and the basic reciprocal navigation skills you learned in your OW class. There are some easy primers on the internet if you need to refresh your memory on underwater navigation. It's also fun!

Solo diving: If shore diving nobody will stop you from entering the water alone, but that doesn't mean it's smart or safe. I do it, but I've prepared for it and understand the associated risks. Rather than discuss it in depth here I''ll point you to this fairly comprehensive Wikipedia overview of solo diving.

Finding a dive buddy: As other have mentioned there are several internet boards where you can inquire about possible buddies beforehand. If diving from a boat you can usually pair up with the dive master or another lone diver if there's one available. Some of the dive shops, like Dive Friends Bonaire, have chalk boards where divers on-island can post their interest in finding a dive buddy. Some folks have also reported success at simply asking another group of divers entering the water at shore dive sites if they can dive with them. (Personally I won't accept a stranger as an impromptu dive buddy, but that's my choice for my own reasons.)

Planning boat dive vs. shore dives: That's a tough one and a matter of personal preference. Boat dives offer a dive guide, easy entry/exit, and access to some sites not accessible via shore. But you're slave to the dive operator's schedule and usually don't get to choose who else is on the boat with you. (Just like all the other places you been to previously.) The magic of shore diving is that you pick your own sites on your own time and dive your own profile with your own people. And then you do it again and again as many times as you want. This is why we've returned to Bonaire year after year. We haven't been on a dive boat in Bonaire for 12 years. To each his own though... the great thing about Bonaire is that you have so many options!

Picking a dive operator: Again, plenty of options here. In general you want to pick an established operator that offers both boat and shore services. Ideally you also want one that has several locations to facilitate easy tank swap while shore diving. In your case I think the choice is pretty easy. Dive Friends Bonaire's main Yellow Sub location is just north of your condo. They offer boat and shore dives from this location, and they have several other locations on the island where you can also get tanks etc. We've been using DFB for the past 5 years and have been really happy with them.

Picking the "don't miss" or "best" dive sites: Good luck with that. I've enjoyed almost 250 dives on Bonaire and still struggle with this. I compile a list of my personal "top 5" at the end of every trip and that list is always changing. My suggestion is to sample some of the sites in different areas, talk to other divers, inquire around the dive shop, and hone in on some of these sites on your own. What was an awesome site last week can sometimes be just okay the next. Also don't be afraid to dive the same site more than once if you find it extra special for you. For example I expect you'll enjoy several great dives near your condo. (I discovered seahorses, a frogfish, and a curious octopus there on my last trip.)

Other non-diving activities, in no particular order from a previous list I compiled:

  • Try your hand at kite surfing or sail boarding.
  • Explore the national park occupying the northern 3rd of the island. (I can't believe it took us 15 years to get around to that.)
  • Kayak and snorkel the mangroves.
  • Take a horseback ride through the kunuku or along Lac bay.
  • Visit the donkey sanctuary and/or butterfly farm.
  • Pack a picnic lunch and find a great spot to enjoy it. (Nukove is one of our favorites.)
  • Explore some of Bonaire's many caves (guided tours are available.)
  • Rent mountain bikes and ride on your own or take a guided bicycle tour.
  • Enjoy a sunset cruise and on-board BBQ with Captain Wim & crew on The Compass.
  • Tour the Cadushy distillery in Rincon.
  • Take in the panoramic view of the southern part of the island from Sera Largu.
  • View Arawak Indian inscriptions in the caves near Boca Onima.
  • Take a self-guided walking tour of Rincon or Kralendijk.
  • Rent a motorboat and enjoy a leisurely afternoon exploring and snorkeling the leeward coast and Klein Bonaire.
  • Bring binoculars to watch flamingos, parrots, and other interesting Bonairean birds.
  • Treat your wife to a massage at one of the many spas on Bonaire.
  • Enjoy some downtime with your favorite book without obsessing over "what's next?" on your vacation to-do list.
  • Watch the sun set over the sea with a cool drink in hand. It never gets old.
  • Take time to meet some of the warm and friendly Bonairean people. Maybe even learn few words and phrases in Papiamentu, the local language.

I'm sure there are probably more that I'm missing. I'm always amazed at how many people visit Bonaire just for the diving and miss some of these great opportunities!

Hope this was helpful. Enjoy your trip. We'll also be there for 3 weeks over Christmas and New Year holidays.
 

choiahoy

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Definitely take advantage of the easy and wonderful night diving--all the sites near you are very convenient with lights and ladders and lots to see. Many of our most memorable dives were at night.

Also, you'll find the Bonaire forum on Scubaboard to be very active. It's been an incredible resource for me before every one of our trips. As reliable as the sun rising in the east, you can count on solid advice coming from Richard, diversteve, and wwguy within a day of posting a question, as well as lots of other helpful divers.
 

AndyG_DM

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Lots of great info already given, here's a couple more. From a Dive Op perspective all previously mentioned will fit the bill, if you want another to add to your list you could consider Buddy Dives shop that runs at the front of Sun Rentals Apartments, easy to spot as it's the 1st( I think) Dive op on the left as you drive out of town North run by Rob Vershoor . Part of the Buddy dive group so tanks can be exchanged in a variety of place including at Belmar apartments on the South side of town (really useful if you're spending a day diving the double reef system. An eaterie not mentioned so far is Bobbie Jans BBQ. Only opens at the weekend but well worth a visit even if only for a take away same with Pasa Bon for an outstanding Pizza. I'm back on Bonaire in 29 days so I'll make sure to line up the fish for you! have a great trip!
 

RJP

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same with Pasa Bon for an outstanding Pizza.

Ugh... this myth cannot be allowed to continually go unopposed.

:crafty:

Yes, it's "the best pizza on Bonaire" for sure, in much the same way that the Bellafonte is "the tallest high-rise hotel" on the island or Mount Brandaris is "the highest mountain peak."

Per all the reviews you'll read, most people seem to think it's "outstanding." But let's be honest, shall we? Most people have no idea what outstanding pizza tastes like. (Witness the proliferation of places like Domino's, Papa John's, Little Caesar's, Pizza Hut, and Chuck E. Cheese's in the US, Prezzo & Pizza Express in the UK, Eagle Boys in Australia, etc)

The dough is over-worked, resulting in a crust that is thick and tough. (No, this is not "thick crust pizza" it's merely pizza that happens to be thick.) The cheese is tasteless. The sauce is unremarkable. The combination is the very essence of "average pizza."

Long story short: If you enjoy the pizza sold at Costco, or the airport, or a bowling alley (or places like Florida or Texas) you'll like Pasa Bon just fine.

If, however, you are from - or have ever been to - NJ, NY, CT, etc (and accordingly know what "good" pizza is) I suggest setting an appropriate level of expectations... or moving on to other options for dinner.


:eyebrow:
 
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wrybosome

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if however, you are from - or have ever been to - NJ, NY, CT, etc (and accordingly know what "good" pizza is)

Very true, that's my fallback for when my TX friends still make fun of our notion of barbeque.

Etc better include philly btw. :baseballbat:



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