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Trip Report: Bonaire- January 2020

Discussion in 'Bonaire' started by Trailboss123, Feb 2, 2020.

  1. Trailboss123

    Trailboss123 Divemaster ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Pacific Northwest, USA
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    My wife and I spent 2 weeks in Bonaire from January 17th to February 2nd. In route home now and posting this from the Denver airport.

    The first week was with a group of "next level" friends from Portland, Oregon with whom we travel and dive several times a year in the Pacific NW, Canada and warm water destinations. We were a group of 6 couples and we stayed together in a 6 bedroom/6 bath waterfront villa in the Hamlet Oasis complex. We had direct access from our villa right onto the Cliff dive site. We had an outdoor shower, rinse tanks and secure locker storage.

    We did our diving through Dive Friends with the 6-day unlimited nitrox package which costs $180 for repeat customers and $200 for first timers. We had 4 trucks that were rented through AB Car Rental. We did one morning of 2 tank boat dives with East Coast Diving and one morning of 2 tank dives to Klein Bonaire with Dive Friends. All other diving was shore based.

    The east coast dives were spectacular on Funchi Reef and Turtle City, where we saw dozens of turtles, a pair of spotted eagle rays, a few green morays, lobsters, beautiful sea fans, schooling horse eyed jacks and needle fish and outstanding visibility in 78-degree water. Our dives to Klein Bonaire were both to dive sites on the south end at Hands Off and Rock Pile. Both were excellent dives.

    Overall, the visibility was probably the worst I have experienced on Bonaire in my 214 dives there. It was improving the last couple of days, but generally, the water was on the cloudier side with a fair amount of particulate. That being said, it was still a solid 50 feet of viz.
    The further north you went, the better it was, particularly at Candyland and Nukove. We had about 3 days were the winds went completely flat across the island, which made dive sites like Red Slave and Willemstoren Lighthouse very dive accessible.

    Total dive count for the two weeks came out to 44. Water temps were a consistent 78-79. I did see 80 degrees on a couple of my last dives. Highlights for me on this trip were hitting some new dive sites (the east coast dives, Hands Off and another southern Klein Bonaire site I did on another 2-tank trip my second week). That site I can highly recommend and is called Monty’s Divi. Beautiful, steeper wall dive with excellent shallows at the end of the dive. It is near the SE corner of Klein.

    My wife took a 2-day coral reef renewal certification class that she really enjoyed. She is now allowed to work in any of the coral nurseries on the island whenever we return to Bonaire. This was a nice break for her from the daily fun diving regimen. There are coral nursery beds and trees at the Front Porch dive site managed by Wannadive and also another large area managed by Buddy Dive in front of their resort.

    On the food front, there is a new food truck in town that is an outstanding addition. It is called STOKED and it is actually a British double decker bus that was brought over from London and is stationed just a stone’s throw away from the Kite City food truck across from the airport runway. It is open from 1-8pm daily (except Wednesday’s). Below is a photo and a photo of the menu. The wedge cut fries are excellent, as is the falafel pita. A nice thing about the double decker is that you can sit up top and get great views, shade and breezes while eating. I loved it. We had a few dinners out at our favorite spots (Mezze, Salatiga, La Cantina, Posada Para Mira in Rincon) and some lunches between dives (Between 2 Buns, Doner Station, Kite City, STOKED, and Foodies at Lac Bay on our off-gas day).

    upload_2020-2-2_14-48-25.png

    upload_2020-2-2_14-48-44.png

    After our Portland crew flew back home, my wife and I transferred across the street to stay at Bamboo Bali for week 2.

    We can’t speak any more glowingly about our stay there. We had our own individual villa with full kitchen, covered patio, a private sitting area + hammock. There is a community salt-water pool and 2 jacuzzi's. 2 rinse tanks and outdoor showers on either side of the complex and plenty of storage for gear. There are several outdoor BBQ’s and tables and benches and chairs scattered about. WIFI was excellent. Once inside the complex, you definitely feel transported into peaceful, tropical place. It is very well landscaped and so serene. There is an onsite restaurant called CHEF where you can add breakfast to your package at $17.50 per person. We didn’t add this ourselves. They also do dinner and it is probably one of the best restaurants on the island. I won’t say much about it, as you can look up reviews online. We did splurge and eat there one evening and whereas it is pricey, we felt the price matched the value and would highly recommend it for a special night out. It is a price fixe 5 course meal eaten together with a total group of 16 people around a U-shaped bar. The chefs prepare everything in front of you and explain all of the ingredients and dishes. You can have the meal with or without a wine pairing. Cost is $70 per person without the wine and $125 with wine.

    Our total cost for 7-night stay and 7 days of full coverage AB truck rental was $1740 for the two of us. You can also include your tank package with them for the normal additional cost, but they partner with Wannadive and we are pretty devoted to Dive Friends. So, all in for the week for the two of us came to $1740 + $360 for the nitrox tank package for a total of $2100.

    Lastly, I will say that the reefs were overall much healthier than they were when I was there this past August. The red algae that was prevalent on a lot of the hard-coral sites to the north has disappeared for the most part and the southern sites were resplendent with healthy and abundant soft corals. I think the cooler water temps have helped considerably. The topside temps were very comfortable. Low 80’s with low humidity. Nice breezes, except for the 3 days when there was virtually no wind.

    Here is a link to my You Tube video of the trip:
     
  2. Protondecay123

    Protondecay123 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

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    So what did you think of the quality of your truck rental from AB Drive?
     
    Trailboss123 likes this.
  3. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
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    How does the construction site for Chogogo look like? See you soon.
     
    Trailboss123 likes this.
  4. morecowbells

    morecowbells Regular of the Pub

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: St. Louis burbs
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    Sounds like a great trip! You managed to capture some great macro shots.
     
    Trailboss123 likes this.
  5. darook

    darook Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Northwestern Wisconsin
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    Bamboo Bali already feels empty without you two! We are dining at Chefs tonight as some people that want to watch the Super Bowl cancelled. Three dives today, Invisibles, Weber's Joy and Front Porch.
     
    Trailboss123 likes this.
  6. Trailboss123

    Trailboss123 Divemaster ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Pacific Northwest, USA
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    Honest answer is that it was a very mixed bag. I have never rented from AB before. I always use Avis or Budget. Week one was a group package through AB. We had automatic transmission trucks and they were pretty much dogs. No get up and go and we had numerous issues among the 4 trucks that we rented. We had battery issues and almost got one truck stranded way out at Candyland. Fortunately it did start after many efforts and the truck made it back to town and was replaced. We had another truck that the tail bed wouldn't open. We had to take it back and get it remedied. All of that was during week one with the automatics. Week 2, my wife and I had an AB truck that was Bamboo Bali branded and a stick shift and it was excellent. No issues whatsoever. Super comfy, stable fun to drive. It only had about 1200 miles on it.
     

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  7. Trailboss123

    Trailboss123 Divemaster ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Pacific Northwest, USA
    2,362
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    Missing you guys as well. I was remiss to state in my original report that we had a wonderful second week overlapping with @darook and his lovely wife Dawn at Bamboo Bali. We met one another a few years back on Bonaire and have stayed in touch ever since. They are the ones that turned us on to Bamboo Bali and we are forever grateful. We got to spend a number of days diving together and I can't wait to see the photos that @darook posts. He is an excellent photographer.
     
    darook likes this.
  8. Trailboss123

    Trailboss123 Divemaster ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Pacific Northwest, USA
    2,362
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    Hey Craig-- Looking forward to seeing you this Friday in Jupiter and Boynton and I hope we get to see some Lemon Sharks!
    I learned that the new construction that is going up south and adjacent to the Den Laman Condos is going to be Bonaire's first all-inclusive resort. It is being built and will be owned and managed by TUI airlines. They intend to offer all-inclusive package deals from The Netherlands (Flight, Hotel, Food, excursions, etc.) I am not sure when it will be completed, but progress seems to be ongoing.
     
    scubadada likes this.
  9. scubadada

    scubadada Diver Staff Member ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Philadelphia and Boynton Beach
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    Hi Greg, hoping that the conditions cooperate
     
  10. drrich2

    drrich2 ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
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    Good to see new food truck info.! Historically the availability of 'facilities' such as concessions was held to be an advantage of some Curacao sites over Bonaire; nice to see this, and the Cactus Blue food truck, available.

    6 Couples - were all 12 people divers? Just wondered what topside activities people took an interest in on Bonaire.

    Richard.
     
    KathyV and Trailboss123 like this.

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