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ixrayu
08-11-2007, 12:11
We are thinking abt a trip to Bonaire next year. Maybe to celebrate our oldest's graduation from high school. Who do ya'll recommend staying with? Or booking thru?

WV Diver
08-11-2007, 13:37
Buddy's or Captain Don' is probably your best bet. Others are good too but these are the two that will likely appeal to a first timer. Of the two I like Buddy's better I think.

Send me a PM if you want to know where not to stay.

Zenagirl
08-11-2007, 13:42
We're going to Bonaire next summer and we're probably going to stay at Sand Dollar Resort. We'll book directly through them, and our air through Continental's website.

WV Diver
08-11-2007, 13:51
We're going to Bonaire next summer and we're probably going to stay at Sand Dollar Resort. We'll book directly through them, and our air through Continental's website.
I'ver heard good things about them and Divi Flaming also, but don't have any first hand experience to share.

ixrayu
08-11-2007, 14:33
thanks. I looked at the Buddy, Capt Don's and the Sand Dolalr web sites. They all look like nice places.

chinacat46
08-11-2007, 18:06
I've stayed at Buddy's twice and would stay there again no questions asked. The food there wasn't that good but we only had breakfast included in our package and did our own thing for lunches and dinner. Sand Dollar is right next door to Buddy's and I think you dive with Buddy's if you stay there. Buddy's also includes a vehicle in their prices which you have to have if doing any shore dives other then the house reef.

Zenagirl
08-12-2007, 08:36
Sand Dollar dives with Bonaire Dive and Adventure, which is the same op at Den Laman Condos next door.

Darth Fishhead
08-12-2007, 10:10
Divi was great. I have heard good things about the Plaza Resort. (one of my LDS goes to the Plaza every year.) Through personal experience, I can say good luck with Continental. Carry on every thing possible!

tedtim
08-12-2007, 11:22
We stayed at Golden Reef Inn last year (Feb 2006) for two weeks. It was inexpensive, clean, the folks running it are terrific, but the location we were at was not near the water. They do offer a package with the truck and diving (through WannaDive).

We are going again in November and staying at Den Laman this time. While our studio does not overlook the water, the place itself is on the water. It was a good price for a package including the truck/diving. We did a few dives at Bari Reef, the "house reef" at Den Laman, and a couple of boat dive there too. My wife was happy from what she saw, so we booked our upcoming trip directly with the resort.

porsche060
08-12-2007, 13:02
Anyone ever try priceline at Bonnairre?

Zenagirl
08-12-2007, 17:15
Divi was great. I have heard good things about the Plaza Resort. (one of my LDS goes to the Plaza every year.) Through personal experience, I can say good luck with Continental. Carry on every thing possible!

Would you mind elaborating about Continental? Is this your general experience with them, or specifically a Bonaire problem? Thanks.

Zamfir
08-20-2007, 15:01
I've stayed at the Belmar, and enjoyed it immensely. It has a dive shop (satellite operation of BuddyDive) on site. Time from waking up to being in the water was ~10 minutes...tanks (air) kept on the dock.

I've scheduled a trip in October during Regatta week, and Belmar was booked, so I'll be staying at Den Laman for the first time.

--Z

Ted S
08-20-2007, 15:21
I've heard many good things about Plaza Resort and their reps are amazingly friendly. I'd recommend giving them a call.

Texas Girl
08-20-2007, 16:31
Would you mind elaborating about Continental? Is this your general experience with them, or specifically a Bonaire problem? Thanks.

I am not the original poster, but I will tell you of my experience this past March. We checked 5 bags for a family of 4 with 3 divers. One of our bags we picked up when we went back through Houston. Yes, that bag never made it to Bonaire. And the KLM people, who you have to deal with as Continental doesn't have an office in Bonaire, never could tell us where our bag was. We just decided to check with the baggage claim in the terminal when we arrived in Houston, then had to go over to another terminal to pick it up. On the bag was our original tags, ID, plus a print-out of the contacts made by the KLM people, all clearly stating exactly where the bag was supposed to have gone.

In the missing bag was all of my son's snorkling gear (mask, fins, booties, wetsuit) so the dive shop at the Plaza loaned that gear to him. The biggest problem was that they only had full-foot fins and no booties, so my son would wade into the water with his sandals on, take them off and throw them on shore. Then at the end of the dive, my husband or I would get out quickly so that we could throw the shoes back to him so that he could walk on the ironshore.

On our flight there were 4 other families who were missing bags, one family was missing all of theirs. I live near Houston and I have flown on Continental many times and have never had this problem. The most frustrating part was that it felt like no one cared that we were missing a bag. In my letter to Continental, I recommended that they improve communication with the KLM people and perhaps they should have their own staff there. The guy at the American Eagle desk at the Bonaire airport said that they frequently have to bring Continental luggage in from San Juan.

tedtim
08-20-2007, 16:49
I am not the original poster, but I will tell you of my experience this past March. We checked 5 bags for a family of 4 with 3 divers. One of our bags we picked up when we went back through Houston. Yes, that bag never made it to Bonaire. And the KLM people, who you have to deal with as Continental doesn't have an office in Bonaire, never could tell us where our bag was. Well, I hope it is not the same travelling through Newark!

On our first trip to Bonaire we flew Air Canada Ottawa-Toronto-Aruba, then DAE to Bonaire. None of our bags made it as far as Toronto. We had to use someone else as the representative in Aruba. They were kind enough to fill out the forms with us, but when we called Air Canada they had no record. BTW, the call centre is in India. Every time I called they confirmed that we were staying at a resort in Bonaire, Netherlands. NOT Netherlands Antilles. I had visions of our bags going off to Amsterdam.

They did manage to get our bags to Bonaire four days later, but they never did call us to let us know the arrival time. The best we could do was during one phone call when the call centre folks said "good news, we have located your luggage!" When I asked where the bags were they responded "I don't know, the file just says that we have located your luggage."

We used borrowed gear for a couple of days, but after the first two dives could not handle the full foot fins, so we went out an bought new ones.

The insurance through our credit card paid for clothes and some dive gear before we received the claim form from Air Canada.

Oops, off topic. [\rant]

Texas Girl
08-21-2007, 08:58
The insurance through our credit card paid for clothes and some dive gear before we received the claim form from Air Canada.

Oops, off topic. [\rant]

That, I believe, is the key. Before you go, know what everyone (airlines, credit card insurance, baggage insurance, home insurance) will pay for in this situation. For example, the airline will only pay for clothes and shoes, nothing else.

CaribbeanDiver
08-30-2007, 15:03
I have a question about shore diving in Bonaire. Apparently, shore diving is a big thing since almost all resorts offer only a 6 day 1 tank boat dive package or 6 day 2 tank boat dive package and ALL resorts offer unlimited shore diving.
Also the resorts suggest the rental truck allows for you to get to the many shore diving sites.
Now my question. What about current? Suppose I do a shore dive and the current is coming in when I start and going out when I try to return? I know firsthand that swimming and kicking against a current is a very very difficult task.
Did anyone who has done shore diving in Bonaire have any problem with currents, tides, etc?
Thank you, in advance, for all who are gracious in reply.

Texas Girl
08-30-2007, 15:14
Some of the sites, in the extreme south and north for example, are more prone to having currents than others. Avoid those sites until you are comfortable doing shore dives. I have done the southern sites many times without experiencing much of a current, but that doesn't mean that they don't occur. If you get in and the current is more than you want to deal with, get out and find another site. The currents run parallel to shore, so at most you have to hike to find your truck; you won't be swept out to sea.

Buc Chick
08-30-2007, 17:21
I got back from Bonaire about 3 weeks ago. It was hell getting there and back. My trip report(s) are on BonaireTalk and Scubaboard.
http://www.scubaboard.com/showthread.php?t=197402
But it was all worth it. Loved Den Laman. Did not care at all about The Plaza.
Biggest lessons learned. If you are going to connect in San Juan, make sure you have at least 2+ hours in between connections. And pay your departure tax as soon as you get to Bonaire and not wait until the day you leave--and get to the airport early!
Texas Girl is exactly correct about the extreme north and south sites. I ordered the book "Shore Diving Made Easy" online before going. Here is a map of the dive sites, similar to what you'd find in Bonaire:
http://www.bonairediveguide.com/

I am a fairly new diver and loved the shorediving that Bonaire offers. You dive at leisure. Can't wait to return.

Buc Chick
08-30-2007, 17:22
I got back from Bonaire about 3 weeks ago. It was hell getting there and back. My trip report(s) are on BonaireTalk and Scubaboard.
http://www.scubaboard.com/showthread.php?t=197402
But it was all worth it. Loved Den Laman. Did not care at all about The Plaza.
Biggest lessons learned. If you are going to connect in San Juan, make sure you have at least 2+ hours in between connections. And pay your departure tax as soon as you get to Bonaire and not wait until the day you leave--and get to the airport early!
Texas Girl is exactly correct about the extreme north and south sites. I ordered the book "Shore Diving Made Easy" online before going. Here is a map of the dive sites, similar to what you'd find in Bonaire:
http://www.bonairediveguide.com/

I am a fairly new diver and loved the shorediving that Bonaire offers. You dive at leisure. Can't wait to return.

Buc Chick
08-30-2007, 17:23
OOOPS, posted twice! I'm not trying to pad my post numbers, Larry, I swear!

CaribbeanDiver
08-31-2007, 10:49
I have spent the past week almost working full time trying to find a dive site for my son and I. We plan on a Jan, 2008 dive vacation. I looked at Costa Maya, destroyed by Hurricane Dean, too bad too because Marco Martin at Dreamtime Diving is a great guy with a great resort with some great diving for a very reasonable cost.
Then I looked at Utila, cant get the UtilaDiveCenter to respond to my emails and ruled them out for that reason. Besides, I am going to Roatan in the end of October and I kinda have a yen for something different.
Then I looked at Thailand, well, I looked at Thailand first but have concluded if I do a Thailand trip, I would have to eliminate 2 other trips because Thailand costs a bunch. I think I would rather do 3 or 4 dive trips a year to the Caribbean, Bahamas and such instead of one big deal trip sooooooo, Thailand is out.
Did Coz twice last year, think I will wait a while before going back. I have a 5 dive trip to Coz paid for because I was a "winner" with the DAN auction last year but still think I will pass on Coz and just forego the money as a donation to DAN
And, after a few brief searches at other locations I have now narrowed my choice to,,,,,drum rolll,,,, Bonaire.
Now, I have to ask, why would staying at a Resort like Sand Dollar, Divi Famingo or any other be a better idea than staying at one of the rental condos?
I priced the Resorts at about $1100 to 1500 per person for the week whereas I can get a 2 bedroom condo for around $1000 for the week - not per person, but a flat $1000. ok, I have to now add in a dive package and rental truck but big deal, those are really kinda cheap. I can save literally a $1000 or more by booking with the condo.
So, I am asking, what is the catch? What is it I am missing?
Can anyone tell me?

Zenagirl
08-31-2007, 13:08
The resorts aren't always cheaper, but they are convenient. If you can do it for cheaper ala carte, go for it.

dallasdivergirl
08-31-2007, 14:06
I will be staying at Belmar in early October. I hope to have a good report when I get back.

TexasFreddy
08-31-2007, 22:00
My wife & I have been twice stayed @ Happy Holiday Homes and dove w/ Dive Friends both times, if or when we go back I could not see us using any one else. HHH is close to the southern sites and close to Dive Friends shop @ Port of Bonaire. I would suggest booking through Bonairepros we have compared w/ others and bonairepro has always been the cheapest & easiest, you can look @ different packages book the whole thing through them.......PS check out prices for leaving from different cities, we live in Dallas but drove to & flew out of Atlanta Georgia, saved $650 on airfair per person.

Suther2136
08-31-2007, 22:04
I look at it too until I saw how long the plane ride was....you can get to a lot cooler places in that kinda time.

debbieb
09-06-2007, 10:58
Hi all, check out my website at www.bonairevilla.com It is loaded with all kinds of info on Bonaire for all you first timers and please feel free to privately email me with any questions you might have about Bonaire. Been going to Bonaire since the late 80's and finally bought my own piece of paradise at LBR>

CaribbeanDiver
09-07-2007, 13:18
Hi all, check out my website at www.bonairevilla.com (http://www.bonairevilla.com) It is loaded with all kinds of info on Bonaire for all you first timers and please feel free to privately email me with any questions you might have about Bonaire. Been going to Bonaire since the late 80's and finally bought my own piece of paradise at LBR> Really? I just rented LBR # 7 through Bonairepartners.com. Maybe I rented your place,,what a small world.
Going Jan 4 through Jan 12. I cant wait.

bversteegh
09-15-2007, 11:29
I stayed once at the Plaza (2005), thought it was pretty nice. Can't remember who I booked through, but my daughter and I stayed there for 5 nights with a truck and unlimited shore diving for 650 a person.

We also stayed at a Condo just North of Buddy Dive we found through the internet (now out of business) - that trip was fun because the owner of the Condo lived downstairs, and his nephew (from Holland) was staying the summer. So we had a personal dive guide for the week (although my daughter was 19 at the time, and the nephew was 20; so Dad had to keep eyes open:smiley2:). One of the neat things we did that trip was snorkel some of the inland caves

BobArnold8265
09-15-2007, 22:17
Just a couple of things to add to this discussion. My Wife and I have stayed at both Buddy's and Captain Don's. Both are very nice and have great dive staffs. I would highly recommend both. We are heading to Bonaire the week after next and found a really good deal at the Port Bonaire Resort that we couldn't refuse. I'll give everyone a full report on that when I return.

As for the condos, I don't have any direct experience with any of them but be sure to include the cost of diving if you are comparing them to a resort. Sometimes a package deal at a resort is cheaper than you will find with a condo.

Most of the resorts do offer morning and afternoon boat dives but there standard package is generally for only 1 or 2 boat dives per day. If you want additional boat dives you can pay a little more and get up to 4 per day at many of the resorts. Most people don't though since most dive sites can be accessed from the shore. I do recommend going on a few boat dives though. It's easier to reach the Hilma Hooker via boat than from the shore and also excursions to Klein Bonaire are always excellent dives.

Finally, check the website for BonairePros ( www.bonairepros.com ). They are travel agents that specialize in trips to Bonaire. They often run specials and can also get some very good prices on airfare to Bonaire. I have used them three times now and think they do an excellent job.

jo8243
09-18-2007, 06:47
I stayed at Capt'n Don's last time but think I'll give Buddy Dive a try next time. No complaints about Don's other than all the tank valves having questionable o-rings....

jo8243
09-18-2007, 06:50
I have a question about shore diving in Bonaire. Apparently, shore diving is a big thing since almost all resorts offer only a 6 day 1 tank boat dive package or 6 day 2 tank boat dive package and ALL resorts offer unlimited shore diving.
Also the resorts suggest the rental truck allows for you to get to the many shore diving sites.
Now my question. What about current? Suppose I do a shore dive and the current is coming in when I start and going out when I try to return? I know firsthand that swimming and kicking against a current is a very very difficult task.
Did anyone who has done shore diving in Bonaire have any problem with currents, tides, etc?
Thank you, in advance, for all who are gracious in reply.

I've never been on a dive there where there was much current. I don't think it's very common to have much of one there. And the only times there has been one it was running parallel to shore. So that's not a problem.

jo8243
09-18-2007, 06:50
I look at it too until I saw how long the plane ride was....you can get to a lot cooler places in that kinda time.

How do you know other places are cooler if you've never been?