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Dirty-Dog

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Sue, Kim and I are looking into a trip to Bonaire, probably in Oct of 2014. We've been to Curacao once, but this will be our first trip to Bonaire, and I've some questions for those who've been there.
We're looking at the Plaza Resort because we like all inclusives and this seems to be the only one on the island. Yes, we know all the pros and cons of AI. We like the convenience. I'd like to know your opinion of the resort. Nice place? Good food? Is the menu big enough to not get repetitious? Is there WiFi available?

Diving from the plaza: is there 24 hour access to the tank room? What's the house reef like?

The Dive & Drive package includes 11 boat dives. On which sites would these be best used? Also, I notice that the package does not include insurance on the vehicle. Anybody know what the insurance runs?

Any recommendations for good books/site maps we should grab before we go?

Thanks.
 

diversteve

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The house reef is the 18 Palms dive site. Here's a video: Diving 18th Palm - Bonaire - underwater keepsakes - YouTube

The dive shop/boat dock is central/east end of the property on the lagoon and 18Palms near the northwest end so they stage tanks there. Since your gear is usually stored in the locker room near the shop/boat dock it's a 5-10 min carry to 18Palms. One option is to drive to the shop, get your gear then drive out of the main entrance left. Just before the road curves there's a small employee lot. Park there and walk thru the gate - 18 Palms is just to the right. Details: Shore diving · Plaza Resort Bonaire Here's an overview map I did in Google Earth for the Invasion - http://www.scubaboard.com/forums/attachment.php?attachmentid=139347&d=1351610465

To load tanks for off-site diving - it's best to drive to the very south end of the parking lot - and park as close as you can to the fill/locker room. It's Toucan Diving and afaik they no longer have other exchange points on the island. We dove with them all week. Nice smaller boats and never crowded - our group was usually 9-11 - twice just 4.

Boat dives - Rappel is one of the best - not shore accessible. I'd be very surprised if someone on the boat doesn't ask for it. Also the Klein sites. We liked Forest especially. We also drifted Hands Off but it wasn't one of the best. Some people boat dive 1000 Steps so you don't have to walk down all 64 of them. You can also boat dive the Hooker - saves the entry/swim out. Small Wall is another site you can't shore access since the entrance is private property.

Free Wi-Fi · Plaza Resort Bonaire

good books/maps
Bonaire Shore Diving Made Easy - Order the Book

A little dated but good pictures: Scuba Shore Diving Region: ABC Islands Entries are more difficult than Curacao - frequently over ironshore/coral rubble at the waterline. Bring good treaded boots. Also look for sand channels bisecting the ironshore - they often easily lead to deeper water. Here's an example of one at Vista Blue on the south end. http://www.shorediving.com/Earth/ABC/BonaireS/Vista_Blue/c004508.jpg - current was ripping in the afternoon there. There's a dramatic drop-off there not seen at many other sites. My buddy said it was one of the best we did all week.

You can almost do an Ai at other resorts also. Buddy's bundles breakfast and the Divi has multiple meal plan options. Both more compact than the Plaza. I've read that Divi's shallow reef was trashed in a recent storm but that was a few years ago. From the Divi you can walk to shops/restaurants downtown. From the north side of the Plaza that would be a hike.

The best beach is certainly the Plaza's - or Harbour Village. Nice pool also. There's a Beach BBQ at the Plaza on Tuesday? night - worth going even if you don't stay there.
 
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chauncy19

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Dirty Dog
don't think there is 24 tank access at plaza. We just put tanks in our truck for later use. Liked the Plaza, did boat dives there as well.
Have been going for over ten years and never stayed in a bad place. however I not a fan of Buddy's or windsock resort but would go back if that was best or only choice.
 

oly5050user

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Sorry, but prefer Buddys over Plaza..I have stayed at both..The house reef access at Buddys is so much nicer and easier to access. Just walk a few seconds from your room and there you are. All gear acccessible on the dock.The 10 minute walk becomes a 20 minute walk when you think about it as you have to walk back to your room after a house reef dive.Gets real old especially when you are carrying a camera system. Rental truck keys handed to you at check in, no need to get on a line at the airport tp get one. As to AI Buddy includes breakfast and I have a deal of 50% off at their restaurant. This way it does not tie you into the routine there if you want a change. I find the staff friendlier at Buddy and you get to know them as the resort is not as large as Plaza. I have a group going thru LDS I teach out of for the end of September, booked it at the DEMA show. Includes unlimited shore/nitrox/rental truck/breakfast/9 boat dives pm if interested..
 

chauncy19

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different strokes for different folks--heard a lot of good things prior to going to Buddy's. I've stayed at both so what? you like Buddy's better. I would very reluctantly go back to Buddy's--their caribbean club would be more interesting to me personally. Agree about better house reef at Buddy's though. I am not a big fan of either one just would go to Plaza before I'd go to Buddy's.
 

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I don't know Buddy's but your room key at Belmar - their other facility - gets you into the tank rental area 24/7 if that's of concern. Mostly we left full extra tanks overnight in the truck. (back seat not bed) Belmar has a watchman also.
 

morecowbells

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Any recommendations for good books/site maps we should grab before we go?

Thanks.

I cannot answer your question about AI options but I definitely recommend buying a copy of 'Bonaire Shore Diving Made Easy' by Susan Porter. It gives specific information on depth, topography, marine life, ideal depth and most importantly entry and exit points. I eschewed the advise about exiting the dive site White Slave due to what I believed appeared to be an easier area. Result: I got my butt kicked and pummeled! The book is right on the mark. You can order it online or purchase one from the dive op when you check in. Another valuable tool is :

Scuba Shore Diving Region: ABC Islands
 

jujubeess

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Hello,
Plaza is not what it use to be and the diving operation, is not one of the best. We have always stayed at the divi in a studio. The dive operation there is top notch and you have your own lockers, right on their dock. It is within walking distance to town and has a restaurant and bar on property. The breakfast buffet is awesome. The also have hertz on property if you want to rent a car. They just bought a new boat last year, so I believe they now have 5 boats and their house reef is amazing.....
 

Dirty-Dog

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I appreciate the info, and the guidebook suggestions.
Anybody have info on the cost of insurance for the rental vehicle, or is it not really something people bother with?
Also, what's the rule on shooting the damned lionfish?
 

wwguy

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I bother with rental truck insurance. CDW insurance is available for about $12/day and covers theft/damage, less a ~$500 deductible. Depending on who you rent from, the CDW coverage may be optional or mandatory. Without the CDW coverage or other insurance you'll be liable for any damage and/or theft of the vehicle. Both are a possibility on Bonaire.

You can't shoot the damned lionfish unless accompanied by a damned Dive Master trained to do so. The damned tourists aren't allowed to carry ELF spears unsupervised. But the damned locals can, after they go through a BNMP training/orientation program.
 
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