Month stay next year- Bonaire or where else?

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folivier

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So a couple years ago I had severe vertigo. My ENT at the time told me not to dive anymore. So I sold my UW photo gear figuring my diving days were over (I'm 61) and luckily hadn't gotten around to selling my dive gear. Recently changed ENTs to one who is a diver and after a thorough evaluation said I could go diving! YEEHAWW!
So my wife and I are thinking of taking a 1 week trip to Grand Cayman this October, probably staying at Cobalt Coast. If that trip goes well then we're thinking of a month trip sometime next year. Over the past 40 years here's a list of where we've been, some places multiple times and a few live aboard trips aboard the Nekton: Cozumel, Belize, Roatan, St. John, BVIs, Grand Turk, Bahamas, Bimini, and Bonaire. We don't like fighting the sand fleas in Roatan and Belize so that's out. We'd like nice shore diving and occasional boat diving. So far Bonaire is at the top of the list.
What other islands would have nice, easy shore diving and would be interesting enough for a month stay? We don't like crowds but do like restaurant variety.
Thanks!
 

KathyV

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Well, if you like shore diving then Bonaire leads the list. But we are also in our 60s and have found Bonaire's shore diving to be a bit more challenging nowadays than it was in our younger days. Curacao offers a nice mix of boat and shore dives with a nice restaurant variety. Grand Cayman offers both shore and boat diving and lots of restaurants and topside activities.

You might also look at St. Croix. Plenty of boat and shore dive options including the Fredricksted Pier which ranks among my favorite Caribbean dives. It is a shore dive that I could do it over and over and never get bored. There are a number of restaurant opportunities in St. Croix, although I am not sure they would last you for a whole month.

I am back to recommending Grand Cayman for boat and shore dives and restaurants. There's lots of great snorkeling sites on GC too, which is cheaper than diving and easier on the ears.

You could also split your time and visit the Cayman Sister Islands of Cayman Brac and/or Little Cayman; excellent diving (better than GC IMO) and some nice all-inclusive options, but not much in the way of restaurants. Little Cayman has the best diving IMO.

What time of year do you plan to go? The southern waters of Bonaire and Curacao are warmer in the winter and spring months. Lucky you to have such decisions and options!
 

Kharon

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Unless the only thing you are wanting to do is dive and sailboard I think I would find Bonaire a bit tedious for a whole month. I usually go for two weeks and find that good. I could easily stay a month doing nothing but diving & snorkeling - but that's me.

I would easily go to Dominica for a month or two or three. Your problem there is that the food (resturants) is lacking. I rented a bungalo right on the beach and cooked for myself.

I was terribly disappointed in Grand Cayman because the "leaders" of our group only dove sites in the vicinity of Devil's Grotto and Eden Rock. If I ever went back it would be to Little Cayman or Cayman Brac.

I also like KathyV's idea of multiple destinations. For me it would probably be Dominica for a couple weeks then St. Croix for a couple more (never been there - only been to St. John in USVI).

What about Puerto Rico? Anyone been there that can give some insight?
 
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folivier

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A bit more info. We won't be diving every day, probably 3-4 days/week. We do enjoy cooking so good grocery stores are a must. Had an experience on Grand Turk a few years ago. The locals know when the supply boats come in and are waiting in line for fresh groceries. Tourists get the leftovers, Ha! Put that one down to experience.
I'll probably have another UW camera by then, probably a compact system. Ideally we'd like a condo or rental on a beach with either shore diving or snorkeling. But don't mind renting a car and having to drive around like Bonaire. We do want to do some boat diving but want the flexibility and less expense of shore diving.
When we rent for a month somewhere we like to just enjoy being there. We're in Colorado for 2 months this summer enjoying the great climate. Once we retired we gave up the rush of trying to fit in as much as we can. For us a trip is more a change of scenery and opportunity to do things we can't do at home. We usually rent a 2-3 bedroom place so family can come visit.
Never been to PR. Are there less crowded areas with rentals and shore diving?
Great ideas keep 'em coming.
 

diversteve

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You won't be able to cook at Cobalt Coast unless you rent one of the cottages so consider a condo at their sister property - Lighthouse Point instead. It's the other Divetech shore dive as well and they shuttle you as needed between the facilities for boat dives. Also marginally closer to the Foster's IGA market in West Bay. Grand Cayman Scuba Diving Divetech.com - Lighthouse Point Condos

Between the two locations, the other really good shore dive is at Turtle Reef. Add a couple of boat dives with Divetech and drive down to Sunset House one afternoon for their shore dives/lunch at My Bar. Being a photographer you may enjoy the Cathy Church Photo Gallery/retail camera shop also. Cathy's often there - ask her to sign a print. And plan on an hour talking photography with her afterwards - nice lady.

A shallow dive further south just past Sunset House is Smith's Cove - rent tanks at Eden Rock or Diver's Supply in town - Divetech likely won't let you remove theirs from the property. Also there can be 4-5 cruise ships in Georgetown Harbor so if any of those sites are of interest consult the cruise schedule and plan to go later in the afternoon - the cruise port is about 500' from Eden Rock. A couple of these no longer exist (Seaview is condos now) but here's most of the options: Scuba Shore Diving Site Listing for: Cayman Islands, Caribbean

Since you mentioned Grand Turk - the quirk on Grand Cayman is no food store is open on Sunday. There is a Foster's market as you leave the airport though that's open pretty late on Sat. night.

We'd like nice shore diving and occasional boat diving. So far Bonaire is at the top of the list...Ideally we'd like a condo or rental on a beach.

Curacao should be instead. Unlike Bonaire they actually have beaches. Most are also shore dives with on-site dive facilities. The condos though typically aren't beach front as much as surrounding it on low cliffs so you get the breeeze and the view. Once you leave town things get real quiet real fast also.

There's quite a few condo complexes on named dive sites with their own dive operators also. If there's a downside to Curacao it's that the driving distances between sites are a little farther than Bonaire. One advantage is that just about every beach is a dive site. There's even escorted shore dive options, Bas Harts, the Dive Bus, Atlantis Diving - the latter two pick up anywhere in town. Their version of Buddy Dive's drive-thru is Relaxed Guided Dives - on the road west from town so pretty convenient for that area.

The upside for spending a month there is the non-dive activities - I agree with Kharon, unless you're easily amused Bonaire woould be boring by then. Since Curacao actually has a downtown (world famous shops) nightlife, casinos, some excellent restaurants - many beachfront, old historical sites, excellent beaches, Crhistoffel Park, etc. a month there would be about right to see it all.

Two miles north of downtown is the Piscadera Bay area - rented a condo there once - it's pretty quiet at night. As you move farther west (or east) outside of town, crowds aren't going to be a problem at all. Lack of amenities more likely - the restaurant count goes way down as you move west. And food stores are non-existent much west of the airport area. What a lot of people do is stop at Centrum or CostULess - both just south of the airport - before driving out. Centrum sells $1 styro boxes and ice for perishables. The airport to Westpunt is about a 45min. drive - to the east end about 30.

Some places to look at in the west - by distance from town. Blue Bay, Coral Estates, Lagoon Blou, Marazul, or villas you can find on vrbo.com in the Westpunt area. All are either on house reefs or close to one. I know most of these sites west of town - if you have any questions about what's nearby - I'm not so good with east except for the Tugboat - there's nothing much near it. Caracasbaai seemed like a nicer, quieter area also as we drove thru. http://shorediving.com/Earth/ABC/Curacao/index.htm

www.curacao.com list options for just about everything. It seems like a much better option for your month. If you miss Bonaire - split your time - Insel Air offers $60 (one way) flights mid-week on off days occasionally - or did b4 DAE went bankrupt.
 

RJP

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I love Bonaire... but I would shoot myself after about 10 days there. Love Curacao... would take me 14 days before I wanted to shoot myself. (Frankly, I'd shoot myself after 14 days almost anywhere.) But if you're only diving 3-4 days a week that means you're NOT diving 3-4 days a week. To go to Bonaire for a month and NOT DIVE 12-16 days strikes me as ridiculous.

Depending on budget... I'd go to Hawaii for a month. Probably the only place with enough to do above the water for a month of diving and non-diving activities. Our longest trip there was 23 days on four islands. I could have managed another week if forced to do so :D
 

Scubacao

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I have spent hours on Bonaire, these hours became days and those days became weeks. But that's the way it goes. Except for diving there is not much to do.
A one week visit to Bonaire is usually enough to see most of it. There are direct propeller flights from Bonaire to Curaçao for around $100, by itself an amazing experience!

Hato International Airport has some great connections to the US, direct flights from Charlotte, New York, Miami, Toronto,.......

Curaçao has more of a local cultural thing going, there is a huge amount of wildlife experience, bars, attractions that have nothing to do with diving. I've been living here for 5 years and I'm still not tired of it :wink: The shores of Curaçao are super diverse, small secluded beaches, high cliffs, caverns and the regular long white sandy beaches boasting a thousand beach chairs...it's all here!

For more information about the island shoot me a PM and i'll help you on your way to make your stay a blast!
 

cbm32

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I love Bonaire... but I would shoot myself after about 10 days there. Love Curacao... would take me 14 days before I wanted to shoot myself. (Frankly, I'd shoot myself after 14 days almost anywhere.) But if you're only diving 3-4 days a week that means you're NOT diving 3-4 days a week. To go to Bonaire for a month and NOT DIVE 12-16 days strikes me as ridiculous.

Depending on budget... I'd go to Hawaii for a month. Probably the only place with enough to do above the water for a month of diving and non-diving activities. Our longest trip there was 23 days on four islands. I could have managed another week if forced to do so :D

You may want to speak to a professional about your suicidal tendencies. Either that, or make sure you amend your will to leave all of your dive gear to ME :D
 

Trucha

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You may want to speak to a professional about your suicidal tendencies. Either that, or make sure you amend your will to leave all of your dive gear to ME :D

And your profile says you live in nj. You must shoot your self everyday in that hellhole.

I've spent several months in curaçao for a couple of times. And it is definitely my favorite for the above reasons. Bonaire is only diving. Curaçao has much more to offer top side. That being said it is a pretty small and chill place and you've seen most of it In a week. There is a big supermarket with a great selection of food at prices similar to US prices.
 

JohnN

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+1 for Curacao. Beautiful white sand beaches, no surf so entry is very easy. We stayed in Boca Sami (about 1/2 way up the island) and found the drives to dive sites very easy. Because this was a Dutch colony until recently, there is also lots of odd and funky cheese. A big plus for me, you can drink the water from the tap :D
 
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