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Clernix
01-12-2013, 17:51
We have made it back safe and sound from our Curacao and Bonaire trip. We had a really good time and I wanted to post a trip report. There have been so many about Bonaire I’m going to keep it short. If anyone has any specific questions post them.

Curacao

In Curacao we stayed at Marazul Dive Resort. It’s a nice place to stay but I think resort is the wrong classification. It does have a pool and is pretty new. It’s a group of single standing condos that are privately owned so everyone’s experience may vary.

The one we stayed in was a very nice two bedroom. It said it was a two bedroom with a loft that slept 6. The futon in the loft did not look very inviting but we were only 4 people so it didn’t really matter. Kitchen was in good shape.

The house reef was right next to Alice in Wonderland and Ocean Encounters shop and was pretty much as good.

We dove Playa Lagun and ate there. The food and the diving were both pretty good. We also dove Casa Abou; the beach was really nice not as nice as Porta Maria but the diving was better.

I didn’t take any pictures since I was struggling with my new gear set up and didn’t want to add more stress but I have Curacao pics from last year on my Flicker account.

Bonaire

I love Bonaire and can’t say enough about it. We got there 12/31 and went to Capt. Don’s for dinner. It’s a pretty nice place and good food. All of sudden a manta shows up right off the bar wall and kept coming back all night. I wanted to see him while I was in the water but no luck.

We stayed at Sand Dollar and were very satisfied. The condos are a little older but in pretty good shape. They are very spacious and well maintained. We did have a few issues when we first got there. We contacted the owner and management and both flew into action and it was resolved in less than 24 hours.

We used Bonaire Adventures Dive shop which is right by the condos. This in one top notch shop, you pretty much have the run of the place. Tanks anytime day or night and a free nitrox upgrade. They also own the pier so if you use Dive Friends which is also right next to the condos you have to enter from the beach. We were advised on day one to use BA and it seemed to be a pretty good choice. I don’t want to put a negative light on Dive Friends because I know absolutely nothing about them.

We dove Angel City, Oil Slick, Tolo, Karpata, Weber’s Joy,Tailor made, Candy land and Bari (house reef). We did multiple dives on Oil Slick since it’s before the road turns one way and you don’t have to around the whole island to get home. We also saw seahorses with a full memory card so I went back in the hopes to find them again but no luck

Of all the dives we did ; the north end impressed me most. Tailo rMade, Candy Land and Karpata are the cream of the crop IMO. Of course I’m sure someone will disagree because opinions are like….

I also did some solo diving for the first time and loved it!I did a solo night dive and it was a little different at first but was pretty awesome. I plan to do a lot more solo diving the next time we go back.

Here is the part where I compare the two Curacao andBonaire. If you want to compare diving Bonaire wins hands down. It is a diver’s paradise. You hear is again and again divers saying they are free on Bonaire.The reefs are in better shape, bigger fish, rays and so much more. The beaches suck the food is hit or miss and pretty pricey. You are best off shopping and cooking yourself if you can.

If diving is not the most important part of the trip and you are traveling with non-divers then Curacao. Downtown is amazing ; beaches amazing but the diving is second rate IMO.
All sizes | P1011671 | Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/64904129@N02/8373761429/sizes/m/in/photostream/)
All sizes | P1051775 | Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/64904129@N02/8373759681/sizes/m/)
All sizes | P1051778 | Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/64904129@N02/8373759543/sizes/m/in/photostream/)

snagel
01-12-2013, 20:04
Great report and I agree with everything you outlined. I really miss Bonaire. After about 4 years away, my dive buddies assure me we are going back to Bonaire in 2013. Karpata is awesome! We liked Curacao, but found getting to the diving was a lot more of a challenge than in Bonaire. We spent a couple days at Casa Abou simply because it was easy and the beach was beautiful.

So, how was the island hopping? If I remember you flew into one island spent a week and then took the hopper to the other. How was that experience?

Snagel

Zenagirl
01-13-2013, 06:58
Thank you for posting a trip report! We love Bonaire as well (never been to Curacao) and adore the far south sites like Margate Bay and Atlantis. It doesn't sound like you went that far south. It's been 3 years since we've been to Bonaire and 2013 will be our return as well!! Can't wait.

Clernix
01-13-2013, 07:52
The only dive we did in the far south was Angel City. I was traveling with two divers that did not like the iron coral on the entries. Maybe I should actually pull back on the statement about the best dives being in the north till I dive more in the south. The corals were pretty amazing though. Getting to Candy Land and Tailor Made was half the fun with my g/f saying the whole way " I think this is wrong".

They are remote but well worth the trip!

We did do an island hop and it pretty much went off without a hitch. It was a very small plane; a 15 seat plane. Our two bags had to catch the next flight because of weight issues but we had them in two hours. They actually gave divers an extra 20lbs for gear! Remember those days?

One thing I didn't mention was the trade winds. OMFG this amazing breeze blowing all day; not to hot and not to cold.

How clean the island was impressed me too. Also you can walk through town with no "come into my shop" every two seconds. Of course you are the main source of income for a lot of people but you don't get that feeling. In fact the service was almost like in Europe no ass kissing!

snagel
01-13-2013, 09:04
For me, what is really interesting is that Bonaire and Curacao are fairly close, but it is two different worlds. Bonaire is much more laid back, less busy, a lot more "Robinson Caruso". Curacao seems a lot more modern, many more people, and a little more hectic (at least around the city). I enjoyed them both, but if my focus is diving, Bonaire is where I'm going simply because I like the laid back and the ease of getting to the diving. I would love to do what you did and experience both in one trip...maybe that is something for down the road.

We've stayed at both the Sand Dollar and Den Lamar and used the Adventure Dive Shop. I don't believe Dive Friends was there the last time we were there and had heard they were associated with Sand Dollar. That all seems a little strange to me and wonder if Sand Dollar had an issue with the Adventure Dive Shop. Is there another dock now that Dive Friends uses? I think you said that they enter the water from the beach.

Clernix
01-13-2013, 09:18
There is only one dock. Right next to the dock is a small piece of sand not really a beach but that is where they enter. We only saw one couple use it. They did have a really cool wagon for their gear and tanks. BA has the tanks on the dock and the locker pretty close.

Possible I guess, hard to speculate. Who knows maybe not enough kick backs not sure. They couple that runs BA seems really nice but Andrea also seems no nonsense. If you look at the two shops there really is no comparason BA has everything double on the docks and at the loading area for the cars. Dive friends is $20 cheaper per week.

Zenagirl
01-13-2013, 13:59
I heard that there was a beef between Sand Dollar owners and Bonaire Dive and Adventure, so Sand Dollar turned to Dive Friends. We stay at Den Laman so will use BDA again this year.

snagel
01-13-2013, 17:26
BDA has treated us fantastic in the past and since they have tanks and a dock, I'm sure that is where we are going again.

Zenagirl
01-13-2013, 18:02
We've always had a good experience with BDA, and now that there is 24 hour access to tanks and the gear room, it'll be even better! Though I'd venture to guess we'll follow our old routine of keeping 6 full tanks in our truck and taking our gear up to our balcony after dinner each night. Gear dries better on the balcony than in the gear room with everyone else's wet gear (go figure!), and its nice to have dry gear each morning....not that it stays dry for long!

snagel
01-13-2013, 19:20
Did they stop locking the gear room or do people have access codes?

Zenagirl
01-14-2013, 06:22
I've read that they give out access codes. Like I said, we'll likely keep our stuff on our balcony to dry at night any and keep our truck loaded with tanks anyway, but it sure will be nice to have the option, and particularly to be able to get nitrox tanks on the pier for night dives instead of only air.

Clernix
01-14-2013, 06:54
All the locks have keys in access code boxes. The kind that realtors use. Zena is Den Laman those apartments that sit right next to the dive shop?

The equipment room is locked after 4:30. The availablity of tanks is nothing short of amazing and as much nitrox as you can handle. It was interesting even when I did 4 dives in one day I never even got close to deco. Of course most dives there are very shallow. I rarely went deeper than 65ft there really was no reason too.

Charon
01-14-2013, 10:54
The only dive we did in the far south was Angel City. I was traveling with two divers that did not like the iron coral on the entries.

I did most of my diving to the south. Torri's reef has an excellent sand channel for entry. Unbelievably easy. Going both north and south on Torrie's is wonderful. I think that there is mostly hard coral north island and soft coral south island. Also, south seemed to have much more animal life. I almost always saw turtles down south and the number of fish seemed much higher. I loved the double reef at Angel City.

Zenagirl
01-14-2013, 14:12
All the locks have keys in access code boxes. The kind that realtors use. Zena is Den Laman those apartments that sit right next to the dive shop?

The equipment room is locked after 4:30. The availablity of tanks is nothing short of amazing and as much nitrox as you can handle. It was interesting even when I did 4 dives in one day I never even got close to deco. Of course most dives there are very shallow. I rarely went deeper than 65ft there really was no reason too.

Yes, the condos right above Fish Eye Photo and BDA offices is Den Laman. We've always stayed there and love the convenience it offers. Plus there are only 16 units, so it's quiet and uncrowned.

Agreed, we've never been close to deco diving Bonaire either, and typically only had to do 40 min SIs between dives.

Clernix
01-14-2013, 17:21
What are you paying there for a one bedroom?

snagel
01-14-2013, 19:06
I'm thinking we paid around $600 each (2 bedroom/ 4 people), but I believe this included the diving for each and maybe the truck as well. It's been awhile, I better go back so I know these things.

Snagel

snagel
01-14-2013, 19:09
I really should not be giving out all my secrets, but I have to say one of the most enjoyable moments in my life has been sitting on the balcony at Den Leman watching the sunset over Klien Bonaire. It simply does not get any better than that in life......then jumping in Bari Reef and taking a night dive.

Snagel

Zenagirl
01-15-2013, 06:56
We're paying just over $900/week each for 2 people in a 1-bedroom, Ocean-front unit in July. That's for the condo, unlimited nitrox tanks, and a truck. The first year we went, we stayed in a "studio" that was actually a small 1-bedroom with an ocean view. It's unit 2F and sits directly above Fish Eye Photo. It's a really nice little unit, but there simply wasn't enough space for everything PLUS my husband's camera gear since there's no dining table.

The studios are 450 square feet while the 1-bedroom units are 1,000 square feet, which for us made the extra expense for the upgrade worth every penny. We also go to Bonaire for 2 weeks, making for a far more comfortable stay. Then like Snagel said, sitting on the balcony overlooking the dive pier and Klein is hard to beat. We love watching the night divers' lights in the water at night.

We always choose a 3rd floor unit, so although it's a pain to carry bags up and down on arrival and for departure, we've always felt the climb to be worth it for the quiet and lack of mosquitos.

Clernix
01-21-2013, 18:30
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8323/8373759681_40f518debe.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/64904129@N02/8374832740/in/photostream)
P1051775 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/64904129@N02/8373759681/) by clernix (http://www.flickr.com/people/64904129@N02/), on Flickr

Clernix
01-21-2013, 18:37
http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8091/8373760541_c0c1481e46.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/64904129@N02/8373760541/)
P1041738 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/64904129@N02/8373760541/) by clernix (http://www.flickr.com/people/64904129@N02/), on Flickr

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8463/8373761145_dd1e9c9478.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/64904129@N02/8373761145/)
P1011681 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/64904129@N02/8373761145/) by clernix (http://www.flickr.com/people/64904129@N02/), on Flickr

http://farm9.staticflickr.com/8211/8373761429_a1a4238dec.jpg (http://www.flickr.com/photos/64904129@N02/8373761429/)

Yay I did it I got the photos to post
P1011671 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/64904129@N02/8373761429/) by clernix (http://www.flickr.com/people/64904129@N02/), on Flickr

parkrow
01-21-2013, 19:51
I've never been to Bonaire, but Curacao sounds about right. There are some places that I'd rather not drive to or thru near the Ring and Punda. Also, petty and serious crimes are on the rise here - many reports of tourist muggings, vehicle break-ins and home/business robberies. I heard the owner of Sol Food (near Alice in Wonderland) was robbed while biking near his house recently. It's sad since he does so much for the local kids thru Westpunt Riders. The gov't is STILL forming, even though the election was held back in Oct, and it doesn't feel like cops are doing much around here. It doesn't help that poverty rate is around 80%, and cruise ships are dumping wealthy tourists for easy pickings. I hope this doesn't keep you away from Curacao - just beware, and take proper precautions while you're visiting.

Clernix
01-21-2013, 20:35
This happened to one of our local judges he was robbed in his hotel room this month
Judge Robert Ruehlman Recalls Robbery That Left Him Stranded - :: Cincinnati news story :: LOCAL 12 WKRC-TV in Cincinnati (http://www.local12.com/mostpopular/story/Judge-Robert-Ruehlman-Recalls-Robbery-That-Left/S_6ZcnenSEu071D0sKUKEA.cspx)

This is the second time I have heard of robbery at that hotel.

ranchonodinero
07-07-2013, 09:53
We have made it back safe and sound from our Curacao and Bonaire trip. We had a really good time and I wanted to post a trip report. There have been so many about Bonaire Iím going to keep it short. If anyone has any specific questions post them.

Curacao

In Curacao we stayed at Marazul Dive Resort. Itís a nice place to stay but I think resort is the wrong classification. It does have a pool and is pretty new. Itís a group of single standing condos that are privately owned so everyoneís experience may vary.

The one we stayed in was a very nice two bedroom. It said it was a two bedroom with a loft that slept 6. The futon in the loft did not look very inviting but we were only 4 people so it didnít really matter. Kitchen was in good shape.

The house reef was right next to Alice in Wonderland and Ocean Encounters shop and was pretty much as good.

We dove Playa Lagun and ate there. The food and the diving were both pretty good. We also dove Casa Abou; the beach was really nice not as nice as Porta Maria but the diving was better.

I didnít take any pictures since I was struggling with my new gear set up and didnít want to add more stress but I have Curacao pics from last year on my Flicker account.

Bonaire

I love Bonaire and canít say enough about it. We got there 12/31 and went to Capt. Donís for dinner. Itís a pretty nice place and good food. All of sudden a manta shows up right off the bar wall and kept coming back all night. I wanted to see him while I was in the water but no luck.

We stayed at Sand Dollar and were very satisfied. The condos are a little older but in pretty good shape. They are very spacious and well maintained. We did have a few issues when we first got there. We contacted the owner and management and both flew into action and it was resolved in less than 24 hours.

We used Bonaire Adventures Dive shop which is right by the condos. This in one top notch shop, you pretty much have the run of the place. Tanks anytime day or night and a free nitrox upgrade. They also own the pier so if you use Dive Friends which is also right next to the condos you have to enter from the beach. We were advised on day one to use BA and it seemed to be a pretty good choice. I donít want to put a negative light on Dive Friends because I know absolutely nothing about them.

We dove Angel City, Oil Slick, Tolo, Karpata, Weberís Joy,Tailor made, Candy land and Bari (house reef). We did multiple dives on Oil Slick since itís before the road turns one way and you donít have to around the whole island to get home. We also saw seahorses with a full memory card so I went back in the hopes to find them again but no luck

Of all the dives we did ; the north end impressed me most. Tailo rMade, Candy Land and Karpata are the cream of the crop IMO. Of course Iím sure someone will disagree because opinions are likeÖ.

I also did some solo diving for the first time and loved it!I did a solo night dive and it was a little different at first but was pretty awesome. I plan to do a lot more solo diving the next time we go back.

Here is the part where I compare the two Curacao andBonaire. If you want to compare diving Bonaire wins hands down. It is a diverís paradise. You hear is again and again divers saying they are free on Bonaire.The reefs are in better shape, bigger fish, rays and so much more. The beaches suck the food is hit or miss and pretty pricey. You are best off shopping and cooking yourself if you can.

If diving is not the most important part of the trip and you are traveling with non-divers then Curacao. Downtown is amazing ; beaches amazing but the diving is second rate IMO.
All sizes | P1011671 | Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/64904129@N02/8373761429/sizes/m/in/photostream/)
All sizes | P1051775 | Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/64904129@N02/8373759681/sizes/m/)
All sizes | P1051778 | Flickr - Photo Sharing! (http://www.flickr.com/photos/64904129@N02/8373759543/sizes/m/in/photostream/)

Not to hijack your thread, but how did you like your camera? I've been eyeing it since they are priced very competitively.

Charon
07-08-2013, 09:03
Going to Bonaire again this November for another two weeks and will again be using Dive Friends. Had a wonderful experience with them last time and like the fact that they have 5 places to pick up and drop off tanks north to south. Just have to remember to get them before they close for the night. Not a problem because there is no tank limit as with some other operations (2 tanks per diver at a time). Their retail shop is downtown so there's not much in the remote dive shops to buy. I'm sure that most/all of the other dive operations are great as well. After all, diving is one of the two big draws to the island. Any operation that didn't offer good service and value wouldn't last long.

I liked diving south because there seemed to be a lot more soft coral and a higher density of fish. For ease of entry I don't think you can beat Tori's Reef (just a tiny bit south of Angel City). It's sand and you swim out through a calm channel.

A trick I learned on Bonaire (after flubbing around on several shore entries). Watch the waves and count. Usually there will be a pattern of increasing wave height with several much smaller waves following the largest. Once you figure out the pattern you wait for the largest and then enter as it's receeding. Quickly go out far enough to float (chest high) and put your fins on. Same coming out. Takes the sting out of the iron shore.

I was going to go to Curacao this November with my dive club till I found out how OC they are about absolutely forbidding diving solo. I dive almost exclusively solo and I don't need no nanny so changed my plans to Bonaire. Loved it last time and I'm sure I'll like it better this time, having "learned the ropes". I already have my dive plans for the first 6 days. LOL.

Clernix
07-08-2013, 12:44
I do like the camera. It takes really nice pics. One thing to consider if you already have a dslr is that you will be buying lenses for two cameras. That' why i am getting out of it. I don't want to buy each lens type twice. Other than that issue though its a great camera.

chauncy19
07-09-2013, 12:58
Charon other thing that bothered me about returning to Curacao is you are suppose to use a dive flag on all shore dives. didn't find out about this till I read it on scuba board. was also told they "always" inform you when you go to any dive shop. anyway much happier returning to Bonaire where its all about divers and diving.
will someday return to Curacao but I am in no hurry :-)