Packing and Travel, Resort Info, and Diving Tips for the ScubaBoard Invasion 2024 to Bonaire

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ROXANNE

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Location
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# of dives
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Packing and Travel, Resort Info, and Diving Tips
for the ScubaBoard Invasion 2024 to Bonaire


Well, we are getting closer to the SB Invasion 2024 to Bonaire!!!!!
I thought I'd share some ideas and info
on preparing for this adventure.
If you have great tips to share with the Crew, just add them to the thread below.


Any newly updated info will be added in GREEN to these 1st initial posts.
So you won't need to search for changing information!

I’ll get things started… Here are some of my tips and info.

General Information

Anytime you are traveling outside of your normal area, it's good to check
CDC Destinations/Travelers Health Info

STEP Program for US Citizens - Smart Traveler Enrollment Program
I recommend consulting with your doctor anytime before leaving the country.

Bonaire Fees Not included in our package
(please complete 2 weeks before travel, not earlier)
Bonaire Visitor Entry Tax (this can be done in Bonaire or ahead of time)

Please watch the how-to video before filling out the Visitor Entry Tax form.
Fill out the Visitor Entry Tax Form and pay the fee.

Stinapa Marine Park Fee
The waters around Bonaire
are part of a protected Marina Park, managed by STINAPA. All users of the Marine Park will need to pay the required fee and the costs are $40 for all water activities, i.e. swimming, snorkeling, diving, boating, etc.
You can easily pay the fee before arrival via this link. After the registration, you will receive a confirmation email with a QR code (watch your junk mail) and this is your proof of payment. If you are checked by a ranger, he/ she can find you in their back-office system with your last name and date of birth. That is why you do not have to carry the QR code with you unless you would like to visit the Washington Slagbaai National Park. It is better to bring the QR code with you together along with your ID.

Make a Travel Checklist I keep on file a master packing checklist and print it out for each trip. This helps save time so you don't need to remember what's needed each time. The master list includes everything that might be needed for a trip. Anything that doesn't apply to this trip, I cross it off. I also include things to do like stopping the mail, contacting your cell provider if you want service there, and calling the credit card companies to inform them that you will be out of the country so they don't cut you off in mid-trip.
It's also good to start planning early, in case anything needs to be serviced or repaired before you go.

DON'T FORGET These Items when Packing!
Airline tickets/info
for going and returning flights

Bay Adventures Travel Vouchers for the Resort and Diving Reservations. (These will be sent out in June)

Passports (I also make a copy of it and put it in my carry-on)

Driver’s License or if you don’t have one, another form of picture ID.

Diving Certification Cards and E-Cards (I also make a copy of it and put it in my carry-on)

DAN, Diving, and Health Insurance Cards

ScubaBoard Waiver
(Cardzard or I will email the waiver to everyone a few weeks before travel. Please print, fill out, and bring it to the welcome party on the 1st night.)

Credit Cards or ATM Cards Bonaire’s currency is the US Dollar. US dollars, American Express, VISA, and Master cards are accepted at the resort. You can charge your gift shop and any excursion through the resort to your room. (Be sure to call your credit card company, and let them know when and where you’ll be traveling.) (FYI Some CC companies charge an extra fee for transactions when out of the country) ATMs are available in Bonaire. Visit www.xe.com for current rates for those traveling other than from the US.


Cash Small Bills (1s, 5s, 10s, and 20s go a long way) (Some local restaurants or shops may not accept credit cards or $100 bills if you plan on venturing out on the island.)

Prescription Medication (always travel with medication in the prescription bottle it came in along with your name on it) It's also good to bring a few days extra in case you have travel delays along the way.

Over-the-counter medications and first aid items that you may need.
Please keep in mind, that we are on an island and many items are not readily available.
Especially allergy medication if you have ever had an allergic reaction. I have a med pack for traveling with items such as band aides, sports wraps, Benadryl, Imodium, decongestants, Advil, bug bite cream, etc.

N-95 masks and hand sanitizer

Refillable Water Bottles for each person in your party.

Sunscreen
(Try to use products if possible for the coral reefs' health)
I found this wonderful line of reef-safe products Stream2Sea | EcoConscious & Biodegradable Sunscreen.

Sunglasses and an extra cheap pair for the boat and truck (polarized are better for gazing into the water)

Hats

Bug spray
(Insect repellent is recommended and is also sold at the resort.) Near sunset and sunrise are the worst times for mosquitoes and other biting insects. Here are a few products.
Always remember not to leave your room door open or you may invite them into your room.
FYI Gardeners Tip, Did you know that if you put soap on a bite right away, leave it on, and don't rub or scratch it, it will alleviate the itch and swelling? I use soap all the time and it works great! I pack a small bottle to take on trips, too!

Personal flashlight, You may want to bring a small personal flashlight to assist in walking back to your room at night.

Woolite or those all-in-one washer sheets if you plan on washing the funk off your clothes or dive wear in the sink/tub. Don't forget some clothes pins, clips, and lightweight rope too. They help when hanging items up for drying and to keep them from blowing off the porches.

A light jacket, it goes on the plane with me as well. (Many airports and sometimes the planes can be very cold.)

Tennis or Hard-soled Shoes if you're planning on exploring or going on Island excursions. Bonaire has sharp rocks, cactus, and many plants with large thorns.
 
Airline Travel Tips
Please keep in mind, these are recommendations. The Airline you're using has the final say. So always check with your airline.

Due to current delays and security measures, you'll need to allow more time for check-in, security screening, and boarding flights. Please check with your airline before departure for the latest recommended arrival times and security guidelines.

U.S. citizens are required to have a valid U.S. passport.

I also recommended you have a government-issued picture ID along with your passport available at all times, as well as a printed itinerary if you're using an electronic ticket.

Recommendations for items to pack in your CARRY-ON
Prescription Mask
Any Cameras/Phones/Electronics/Housings
Your Regulators
Dive Computers
Rechargeable batteries in individual cases or bags (batteries should not be loose)
Dive lights (take batteries out and place rechargeable lights in locked mode.)
All Airline Regulations say that all batteries and items with batteries must be in your carry-on or personal item, not in checked luggage.

Recommendations for items to pack in your PERSONAL ITEM
IDs, Credit Cards, Cash, etc.
Prescription Medication
Prescription Glasses/Contacts
N95 Masks & Hand Sanitizer
Jewelry/Watches

CARE WITH ITEMS THAT YOU CAN’T AFFORD TO LOSE
Important items you couldn't do without such as prescriptions, contacts/glasses, IDs, Credit Cards, Cash, N95 Masks, etc., pack in your personal item or on your person. Do Not pack these items in your carry-on. Sometimes a carry-on will be moved to checked luggage if they run out of room and you don't want to be without those important items.

Check with your Airline for specific rules as to what's accepted, size and weight limits for luggage, and procedure for checking in, as these seem to be changing constantly. For anything in question or liquid form, check with your airline.

Making the most of the luggage weight restrictions and packing
(Don't forget, Men and Women are usually allowed to have a personal item
such as a purse/backpack/briefcase/man purse in addition to their carry-on, make the most of it!)

I have a large purse that I use just for flying. The personal item is usually not weighed, so it's great for a few heavier items. Just make sure the items you put in your personal item can be carried on the plane and are not required to be placed in checked luggage. (Again always check with your airline.)
Think about lightweight items when packing. Inexpensive t-shirts (like Hanes or Fruit of the Loom) are very lightweight, come in multiple colors, are great, and can be left behind if you shop too much in town. Lightweight dresses, shorts, and tops are great for ladies. Think khakis or other lightweight fabrics over jeans. Also, lighter colors help to deter biting insects.

Shoes can weigh a lot too. I love slip-on tennis shoes for at the airport. They also help to protect your feet from travel damage and you'll need a good pair of shoes if exploring the island. Bonaire has sharp rocks, cactus, and many plants with large thorns.

A light jacket goes on the plane with me as well. (Many airports and sometimes the planes can be very cold.)

A personal travel hand scale is an invaluable tool. You don't want to have surprises when getting to the airport on your flights.

Put your name, address, and phone number inside all your bags including your carry-on and personal items in case they become lost or separated from you.

Put some of each person's items in each checked bag. If one of the bags gets lost or delayed, you still have some of your things.

If you're a solo traveler, try to fit in at least 1 extra pair of undergarments in your carry-on. Outerwear is easier to purchase if needed, but finding undergarments to purchase can be more difficult.

Travel between the Airport and the Hotel is included. The details will be included in your trip vouchers from Bay Adventures at the beginning of June.

Bonaire is on Atlantic Standard Time (AST), one hour ahead of Eastern Standard Time, and four hours behind Greenwich Mean Time.
 
Resort Info
Our hosts The Plaza Beach & Dive Resort Bonaire Website

Plaza Resort Map (this is a little outdated as the Pool area and Restaurant are larger)
Screenshot 2024-03-30 134045.png

The Guest Rooms are equipped with

Free WiFi
Flatscreen Television
Coffee and Tea Facilities
Telephone
Safe
Toiletries
Hair Dryer
Balcony or Terrace
Small fridge
Separated toilet
Air Conditioning

The Main Restaurant is the Tipsy Seagull (located at the shore shore area of the property)
The resort package includes three meals daily. All meals are buffet style.
Breakfast Daily from 7:00 AM - 10:00 AM
Lunch Daily from 12:30 PM – 2:30 PM
Dinner Daily from 6:00 PM - 10:00 PM
For special dietary requests, please advise Bay Adventures before departure.
Please wear dry clothes in the restaurant.
Planning on Shore diving and you don't want to change for lunch? They will pack you a to-go lunch if requested ahead of time.

Our Premium all-inclusive package includes
Unlimited Bar, soft drinks, juice, coffee, tea,
house liquors & wine & local beer

The Palm Beach Bar
(located by the pool)
is open daily from 10:00 am to midnight.
Additional food items are available for ordering there and included your package.

The Coral Casino Bonaire (in the main building) is open daily from 08:00 pm – 03:00 pm. The minimum age is 21 years. Casino Amenities

Pool and Beach - Clean Towels are available daily.
Resort Activity Center is available to borrow snorkel sets, kayaks, and stand-up paddle boards.
Spa
Yoga free to guests.

Water - All the water at the resort is safe. You can bring flavor packets or liquids to flavor your water for variety. The resort will give each guest a personal water bottle for them to use throughout the week. This is given at check-in. You may also bring a refillable water bottle from home.
They do claim the water in Bonaire is safe all over. I suggest drinking only bottled or can drinks when outside the resort and wiping any moisture from the tops to avoid any health issues. I also like to avoid ice and frozen drinks when outside the resort. You should always be conscious of what you are eating and drinking when you are outside of your normal routine and country.

Electricity North American standard layout and voltage of 110 volts, so adapters or transformers are not required for U.S. and Canadian appliances. Every room is equipped with at least one 220-volt outlet if needed.

Laundry service is available.

The Plaza Tipping Guideline Tipping is personal, tip what you feel is appropriate for the service the staff provided for the week. Please take care of those who take care of you. There are tip jars in the restaurant and bar to tip as you go or at the end of the week. For housekeeping, you may leave your tip in the room on the last day.

Tours and Activities
There are many beautiful and scenic areas of the island to explore.

Shopping, The downtown shopping area is a 15-minute walk from the resort.

Taxis are readily available should you desire to leave the property.

Vehicle Rentals Onsite - Bicycles, scooters, golf carts, cars, jeeps, and truck rentals are available.
(resort rental info) Please note, trucks are the best to rent for shore diving. High-profile trucks and jeeps are required if planning on visiting Washington-Slagbaai National Park. (Other rental options)
A valid driving license is needed to drive on the island. People drive on the right-hand side, and on crossings and roundabouts, traffic coming from the right always has the right-of-way, unless road signs state otherwise. Bonaire has no traffic lights, so road signs must be followed.

There are Additional Vehicle Driving Tips near the bottom of post 5 below.
 
Dive Shop, Diving, and Snorkeling Tips
We'll be diving with our hosts Toucan Diving Bonaire (open from 8 am -5 pm)
Toucan Diving Online Sign-in Form (Please fill out 2-3 weeks before travel.)
Orientation Video Please watch before arrival.
If you're planning on doing a course while in Bonaire, please fill out the Toucan's Medical Statement
otherwise, it's not necessary.
Dive shop charges can be added to your room, however any questions or concerns need to be addressed at the dive shop before departure.

Here are a few links you might be interested in.
Bonaire Map
Additional Dive Map

Additional Dive Site Info

ScubaBoard Dive Teams and Boat Rotations will be posted at a later date.
If you have a preference of who you would like to dive with or an issue that we should be aware of beforehand, please let us know before we make the teams.

Boat Dive Times
Sunday - Friday (8:15 AM) Boats depart for a 2-tank dive.
Some boats will be boarded at the dive shop and some at the resort marina
. It's good to have a way to easily transport your gear to where you need it. We'll post more about the boat rotations and locations at a later date.

Night Boat Dives are available on Thursday evenings for $65.

Tanks, weights, and weight belts are included.

Bring your own container (a water bottle or cup)
for the boats, A water cooler and fruit will be available on the boats.

The resort has a wet gear room with open lockers, (there are no longer individual lockers.) It's open from 7 am - 5 pm and also accessible after hours. There is limited space, and we know that some divers prefer to have their equipment in their room and use the outdoor patio that all rooms have to dry gear. A rolling boat bag can come in handy to transport gear or slip your gear on and walk back and forth that way as well.
Remember the resort has 24/7 security.

Shore diving at Plaza Resort Bonaire, Our house reef “Eighteen Palms” is one of the most beautiful places in the Bonaire Marine Park. You don’t even have to leave the resort to be able to enjoy it. The diving tanks (air) are available 24 hours a day, at 2 different locations: at the pool and the pier. Nitrox Tanks are also available at Toucan Diving between 7:00 am - 4:30 pm and can be delivered to either location if analyzed ahead of time or the day before. Make sure to watch the Toucan Orientation video for more info.

Shore Diving Tanks
Air tanks
will have black or orange caps.
Nitrox will have green or yellow caps. Please only use your analyzed tank, don't take someone else's.
Leave caps off tanks once used.

Lionfish hunting
is not permitted by guests.

Gloves and Pointing Sticks are not permitted.

Camera care A lightweight cooler bag is a great way to carry and protect those bigger underwater cameras and the smaller ones on the boats! They give the camera some protection and are easy to fold up for packing, lightweight, and rinse out easily. I have also found the little neoprene drawstring bags with clips are great for protecting your Go Pros on the poles or trays.

Hair care I use Scuba Do Rags to keep my hair under control. If I don't keep my hair braided and covered like that, it would be shredded after multiple dives. I also like to put some biodegradable conditioner in it while dry before covering it. I use Stream2Sea | EcoConscious & Biodegradable Sunscreen leave-in conditioner, it's the bomb! It's also great to use after diving as well. Some kind of covering is great for gals with shorter hair and guys to keep their heads from getting sunburned too. Unless you're bald, it's hard to apply sunscreen on your scalp.

Skin or Wetsuits? Warm tropical weather is the norm.
Water temperatures in June are

Max: 29.5°C / 83.8°F, Avg: 27.9°C / 82.2°F, Min: 26.3°C / 80.6°F

with an average visibility of 70-80 feet. For me, a skin works well, but if you're one of those divers who are on the cold side or planning on doing a lot of diving, you might want to bring a lava core or your 3- 5 ml. wetsuit.

TIPPING GUIDELINES - Tipping is personal, but please take care of those who take care of you.
Toucan Divers work as a team; therefore, all tips go into a box and are equally shared. Envelopes can be used to allow guests to give additional praise to individuals or crew. This can be done anytime during the week or left till the end of the week when they bring the box to the Dive Shop Scubar Drink Party on Friday.

Other Diving Tips
This is a good time to get your gear serviced! If it's new or has been serviced, you might want to get in a pool session/dive in and make sure it works. This also allows for plenty of time if gear needs to be repaired.

The entrance to shore diving at the resort house reef is fairly easy, but around the island it can be rough. Hard-soled dive boots are recommended if you're planning on shore diving other than at the resort. If you're purchasing new boots, make sure they fit in your fins as well.

A small waterproof bag for the boat and a pelican box or other waterproof case for shore diving come in handy for keeping things dry.

A gear bag (one with wheels would be great) to help you transport your gear back and forth from the dive shop area to the house shore diving area or to your room as I suggested before.

To protect your feet from getting blisters and take a beating while diving for multiple days, wear thin socks. They also help your feet slip into your skin or wetsuit!

To help keep areas that get easily chaffed or irritated protected. There are many body friction products available to help with any areas that take a beating after being water-logged for the day. Powder can be helpful as well.

Bring a thumb drive to share photos with friends.

We like to use baby shampoo for mask defog.

I found this article and thought it might have some helpful tips for your ears and diving. :D
Ear Clearing 101

Some asked about their Save a Dive Kit (Spare Parts). We have a full-service dive shop available from our hosts. You'll find that they'll go out of their way to be helpful. It's good to include a spare battery for your computer. You may not find your type of battery there so I prefer to have one handy. Other than that, I would only bring some basics for the boat, O rings, mask strap, tie wraps, elastic bungees, etc. if you feel you really need to. Please keep in mind, that we are on a small island and many specialty items are not readily available.

Dehydration can kick you in the butt and take you down.
I want to remind everyone of the importance of getting Hydrated before
and staying Hydrated during the Invasion.

(beer and cocktails don't count)
It will be very hot in Bonaire, especially for the northern folks.
Drinking small amounts continually during the day works well
to help your body retain the liquids better.
And remember, if you're planning on drinking after diving,
drink some water in between drinks
to help with the adverse effects of drinking and dehydration.
Have fun, but play it smart and safe.​
 
Bonaire Shore Diving and Snorkeling
Bonaire Map
(this is an older map and some things may have changed)

Toucan Diving can give you lots of tips and info on all the dive sites, just ask them.
They can help with planning the best shore diving around the island for your experience level.

We usually rent trucks for shore diving. Trucks seat 5 with room in the bed for tanks and gear.


Bonaire is known for vehicle content thefts.
Please keep in mind you will be required to keep all vehicles unlocked with possibly the windows down or cracked while shore diving.
You will only want to bring with you what can go in the water with you or if stolen, you won't mind losing. Cheap t-shirts, shorts, sunglasses, beach towels, and shoes for use while shore diving are recommended. You will also need a Dry Box to take in the water with you to hold keys, cash, and IDS, other valuables. I usually place items in a baggy and then into the dry box as sometimes, you can get a little leak under pressure.

If possible travel with a group of 2 trucks while shore diving to some of the outer areas. That way if you break down or get stuck, someone will be able to go for help. If traveling in 1 truck, let someone know which direction you're heading in case we need to come look for you if you're broken down.

Keep a map of Bonaire in your vehicle. They usually provide one with the rental.

I do recommend taking along a small first aid baggie with band-aids, a cheap bandana (for larger cuts, as a tunicate, or brace for sprains) a small bottle of vinegar or soap for coral stings, and a few 325 mg tablets of non-enteric-coated aspirin in case of heart issues.
Carry water in disposable plastic bottles that you can refill at the resort. You will want to have water with you in case you break down and are stuck somewhere for a while.

I would not recommend bringing your phone or save a dive kit with you for shore diving.

Do not bring towels from the resort with you shore diving. If stolen, you will be responsible for them.
The entrance to shore diving around the island can be rough. Hard-soled dive boots are recommended, just make sure they fit in your fins.

Fin Clips to secure your fins to your body during entries and exits can come in handy.

Walking poles are accepted for all the divers to enter and exit the dive sites, however, they are not to be used during the dive and must be secured.

Sharp Rocks, loose rocks, holes, surges, fire coral, and sea urchins are abundant in the shallows of many of the shore entries. So use caution.

Some shore diving sites are now located on private properties. They may not be accessible or they may charge a fee to dive.

Additional Vehicle Driving Tips
Be cautious when driving off the road to go to a dive site. Bonaire has very rough and rocky terrain in some areas and you can easily get stuck or damage your vehicle.

Try to avoid the foliage along the roadside. There are cacti and shrubs with large thorns in many locations. It can easily scratch the vehicle and your arm if you're hanging it out the window.

As a general rule, the further North and the further South the dive sites, the more difficult the entries with surge and currents and the more remote they get. Some sites can only be reached by boat. Do not attempt to shore dive on the wild, East side of the island.

Be cautious of Bonaire’s wild animals, such as donkeys, goats, and large iguanas on the roadway.

Watch your gas gauge, you don't want to run out of gas in a remote area. There are also limited places to get gas. I saw 2 in town in Kralendajkin and 1 in Rincon. Some long roads are one-way, so there's no turning around.

Please update yourselves on the map along with traffic signs and rules.
Driving and Traffic on Bonaire

Vehicle Rentals Onsite - Bicycles, scooters, golf carts, cars, jeeps, and truck rentals are available.
(resort rental info) Please note, trucks are the best to rent for shore diving. High-profile trucks and jeeps are required if planning on visiting Washington-Slagbaai National Park. (Other rental options)
A valid driver's license is needed to drive on the island. People drive on the right-hand side, and use crossings and roundabouts, traffic coming from the right always has the right-of-way, unless road signs state otherwise. Bonaire has no traffic lights, so road signs must be followed.

It might be a good idea to print out these traffic signs to have with you along with the map.

1711832212037.png
 
ScubaBoard Invasion Crew Events for the week!

SB Welcome Party (Time and Date TBA)
SB Group Photo (Time and Date TBA)

Dive Shop Happy Hour drink and snacks before you all go to the new restaurant for your farewell dinner.
SB Farwell Party (Time and Date TBA)
 
The thread is now open.
Post here if you have any questions or tips to share.


Any newly updated info will be added in GREEN to these 1st initial posts.
So you won't need to search for changing information!
 
THANK YOU for all that information! You've included a lot of information I had no idea to ask!
 
Wow great info, thank you! The note about the open lockers caught my eye. Do most people end up bringing gear back to their room everyday or is the resort safe enough to leave the basics in the open lockers?
 

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