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View Full Version : March 2014 - Bonaire! First time, woohoo!



rayaa3
11-24-2013, 16:51
well, scored some good air tickets ($705 round trip from OKC - 7:45pm departure, 5:30am arrival with 2 hour connect in Houston just enough time for some papadeaux). Saved a bundle by going on Thursday night, staying 7 nights and returning Friday rather than going Friday night, staying 7 nights and returning saturday. I would estimate that it saved us 400pp in flight. Usually the flight cost spooks me off of Bonaire vs Cozumel or Roatan.

Planning on staying here:
http://www.tripadvisor.com/Hotel_Review-g147268-d1890954-Reviews-Casa_Calexico-Kralendijk_Bonaire.html

The price looks right, plus I like the idea of this type of place.

Going with my wife. The teen daughter is staying home this time. Going to dive 6 days, and will likely end up with 12-18 dives (hard to get the wife to do >2 tanks a day).

Was wondering what your top 'must do' shore sites are considering:

1) easy entry, it's gotta be something pretty special to get the wife to do a particularly PIA entry.
2) sea life, sea life, sea life
3) since every dive is an out and back - no ridiculous current.

Plus any other first timer advice...I've read about the theft issues(leave car unlocked, and nothing of value inside). What are folks doing with their keys?

thanks,
Ray

scubajane
11-24-2013, 19:21
keys... last time we were there the keys to the truck were not electronic just clipped them to my bc.Cliff is awesome....north through the slaagbai park there are some remote sites that are not as well traveled plan to take MORE time to get there 45 min to go about 5 miles inside the park but the dives....oh the dives..... were awesome!!!!!hilma hooker is a sunken ship...very nice but at 100 ft be careful with your remain time....buddy reef is wonderful for an easy night dive because there is a line that goes to about 80 ft so you can go north or south and on your way back just watch for the line and make your way back to the resort. they also have a freshwater shower right on the dock we always showered wearing all of our gear and when we got back to our apt we just had to hang things upI could go on and on but I will leave room for others and their 2 cents....

Texas23
11-24-2013, 19:40
We stayed for our 1st time last year. The must do dives are north on the one way road. Karpata, Tolo any of the dives around there have the most beautiful, healthy reef. There really is no bad dive on the whole island. I remember Windsock being very easy entry. If you don't have a copy already, you should really get Bonaire Shore Diving Made Easy by Susan Porter. It gives you a break down of each dive. Talk to your dive shop when you get there. If they have a good staff they will circle dive sites on a map for you & explain any areas you may want to stay away from at the time based on your profile. GO SLOW!! That is the best dive advice I can give. You will miss the seahorses & frogfish if you are going too fast. Most sites have little to no current except those at the southern end of the island. There are some pretty cool Indian inscriptions on the "wild" side of the island & a distillery (called Cadushy, named after the cactus) that you should try when topside. Have fun! I cant wait to be back on the island!

diversteve
11-24-2013, 20:27
As mentioned, Windsock is easy. As you move further south, the ironshore starts to be more of a factor for easy entries. Salt Pier is another easy entry - there's a sandy beach just north of the pier. By the time you encounter the ironshore, you're floating. Also look for sand channels between the ironshore - some lead right out to deeper water. If it's still there, there's one at Vista Blue but to find it park and walk to the shoreline - there's a natural ironshore bench that you can sit on to gear up and the channel is directly in front of it. It looks like this: http://www.shorediving.com/Earth/ABC/BonaireS/Vista_Blue/c004508.jpg It can also have some ripping current at times - often in the afternoon.

You can also dive almost all the oceanfront resorts for free if you let them know when you drop in - they just want to keep track - or since Casa Calexico is not oceanfront, maybe book a package with Dive Friends, they have about 5 locations that you can dive from and/or exchange tanks at. At Habitat, there's a $5 usage fee but it gives you access to the showers, dive dock and lockers. (bring a lock) Cliff is accessible from there or you can drive past Habitat and the next left takes you to a public access area. Bari Reef is similar, pay at Bonaire Dive/Adventure to use their dive dock or the next road south leads to a more difficult entry point. And they are fussy about non-guests using the dock if you don't rent from them - we just rented tanks there for a dive. They have an on-site naturalist who will accompany you on a paid fishcount if wanted - two people in our group found 185 species in one dive there. It's known for that.

Easier entries tend to be south as there's less ironshore cliffs to deal with. Although a couple north sites like Weber's Joy aren't too bad either. 1000 Steps or Karpata are more difficult entries - actually the entry at 1000Steps is fairly easy - carrying the gear down 64 rock steps is the challenge.

My short list of must-do's

Rappel (boat dives)
Bari Reef
Cliff/La Machaca (from Habitat)
Invisibles
Salt Pier
Vista Blue (watch the current)
Forest or Hands Off at Klein (boat dives)

http://www.shorediving.com/Earth/ABC/index.htm - has site entry pictures and some detail on how to enter at the more difficult ones. Besides looking for sand channels, at some sites previous divers have piled up coral rubble at the best entry point. At some it's pretty obvious, others not so much. Or there's the Porter Book. You used to be able to buy it online from a place in NH.

Car Keys? I use one of these: http://www.leisurepro.com/Catalog.aspx?op=BrandDisplay&BrandName=Witz The small one takes a set of keys, a little cash and a credit card. No leaks in about 10 years of use but I don't know if I'd trust an electronic key in one.

Zeagle Eagle
11-24-2013, 20:37
keys... last time we were there the keys to the truck were not electronic just clipped them to my bc.Cliff is awesome....north through the slaagbai park there are some remote sites that are not as well traveled plan to take MORE time to get there 45 min to go about 5 miles inside the park but the dives....oh the dives..... were awesome!!!!!hilma hooker is a sunken ship...very nice but at 100 ft be careful with your remain time....buddy reef is wonderful for an easy night dive because there is a line that goes to about 80 ft so you can go north or south and on your way back just watch for the line and make your way back to the resort. they also have a freshwater shower right on the dock we always showered wearing all of our gear and when we got back to our apt we just had to hang things upI could go on and on but I will leave room for others and their 2 cents....

There is this hole on the side of my door and if I stick my key in it and turn it...guess what? My lock opens. What a great idea.

All kidding aside everyone should go to Home Depot, Walmart or Lowes and have a key made for $2. It won't start the car or open the windows; but, it will open the door and you can clip it to your BC. Leave your real keys inside somewhere. Be prepared for some static from the key maker. He can't figure out why you want a non electronic key or a key with no transponder in it. He may tell you he can't make that key; but, he can. You have to be persistent. My key is an american flag and it cost $3 bucks. I went with the high dollar model.

rayaa3
11-24-2013, 20:48
There is this hole on the side of my door and if I stick my key in it and turn it...guess what? My lock opens. What a great idea.

All kidding aside everyone should go to Home Depot, Walmart or Lowes and have a key made for $2. It won't start the car or open the windows; but, it will open the door and you can clip it to your BC. Leave your real keys inside somewhere. Be prepared for some static from the key maker. He can't figure out why you want a non electronic key or a key with no transponder in it. He may tell you he can't make that key; but, he can. You have to be persistent. My key is an american flag and it cost $3 bucks. I went with the high dollar model.

Are you seriously telling me there is a walmart, lowes, or home depot on bonaire?

Now this is interesting advice. All advice I have received thus far is - leave your door unlocked, don't leave anything in the car - if you lock the door sure as anything you will come back to a broken window. If you leave the door unlocked someone will undoubtedly open and go through your car - but no broken window.

You are saying you leave your door locked in bonaire?

rayaa3
11-24-2013, 20:49
BTW thanks all for advice on dive sites....4 months, and I'm already giddy.

Zeagle Eagle
11-24-2013, 20:58
Of course not. My remarks were intended for SJ (whom I quoted). It is also meant for the car you have at home. It's just a great idea to have a spare key (cheap) that can open the door.

I have not been to Bonaire yet. The island of Guam sounds the same though. I had my Jeep Wrangler broken into with my windows down, my doors unlocked and there is no lock on the glove box at all. They still sprung the door with a pry bar and jimmied the glove box. Cost me a couple of hundred to fix the door and glove box. There was nothing in the car except the registration.

rayaa3
11-24-2013, 21:16
Of course not. My remarks were intended for SJ (whom I quoted). It is also meant for the car you have at home. It's just a great idea to have a spare key (cheap) that can open the door.

I have not been to Bonaire yet. The island of Guam sounds the same though. I had my Jeep Wrangler broken into with my windows down, my doors unlocked and there is no lock on the glove box at all. They still sprung the door with a pry bar and jimmied the glove box. Cost me a couple of hundred to fix the door and glove box. There was nothing in the car except the registration.

Well - I wouldn't put it past Walmart. The internet doesn't always express sarcasm clearly.

That happen to me the last time I was in Austin for work. Grumble Grumble $300 in damage, $0 in stolen items.

I have to hand it to the thieves - you see divers go in the water, you know you've got a little time to work. Certainly more than the 120 seconds it takes to break a window grab and go.

scubajane
11-24-2013, 21:40
well.... the question was..'what are folks doing with their keys?' well YES I heartily recommend sticking them in that little hole in the door of the truck. but if you want the truck to still be there when you get out of the water do NOT leave your key in that same little hole... take the key with you. electronic keys become a problem because they don't work so well after being in salt water for a while... when we are in the states we have managed to have car dealerships make car keys for us for a rental car most places like walmart do not like to make duplicate keys for rentals and rental keys are pretty detectable because they have that goofy hermetically sealed key ring with BOTH keys on it. which really does not help if you lose your keys.
any way.... hopefully they wont have electronic keys in Bonaire that would solve lots of trouble. and you can keep your car safe by taking the keys in the water with you.
thank you Zeagle. I had forgotten about that little hole in the door..... 8 )

snagel
11-25-2013, 07:49
I'm actually heading to Bonaire in 3 weeks for my 3rd trip. This time we are staying at the Sand Dollar. We stayed there for our 1st trip and the Den Lamon for our 2nd trip. Both times we used Bonaire Dive and Adventure for our tank rental. We really liked them, but this time we are using Dive Friends since they have a shop on the Sand Dollar site. I understand that there is a little conflict now with the Sand Dollar and the others and those using Sand Dollar / Dive Friends cannot use the pier. We'll see how all that works out. But, Dive Friends has 5 shops around the island where we can get tanks from.

The dive sites in the South have a little better sandy beaches to enter, but the swells get bigger as the day goes on. Best to try and dive them earlier in the day. The sites North tend to have more cliffs to deal with. Entry can be a little difficult at any of the sites due to the swells, but if you time your entry and count the swells as you enter not too bad. The sites with the piers like Bari Reef are easy...jump off the pier and you're ready to go. Our Diva Divers (wives) don't like to hassle with the swells; so, well see how all that goes. Some do boat dives, but we have never because we like the flexibility of the shore diving. If entry is an issue, might consider doing the boat dives that can take you to Klien and pretty much any site.

Best sites? Really I like them all. Oil Slick and Karpata seem to be my favorite, but difficult entry's. Oil Slick is actually a cliff you can jump in or climb down the ladder. Red Slave I like only because this is where we see the Eagle Rays. My favorite of all time is Bari Reef, but only because it has been our house reef and easy entry. Windsock is the beach area and real easy entry. I actually really like this one also. 1000 steps is another beach entry, but you have them steps to deal with. If you can muster up the energy to do the steps the beach area and dive is awesome.

Keys? We clip the key to the inside of our BCD pocket and leave the truck unlocked with nothing inside. Never have had any issues, but I know many who have. It's a shame that their way of dealing with crime is to tell you to leave the truck unlocked and windows down.

Take some time to explore the island and drive around. It's one of the most relaxing things I've ever done. We stop on the wild side of the island (no diving) and just watch the huge waves as they come crashing into the cliffs. Almost scary to get too close, but you can feel the raw energy of the waves.

There is a little current. Find out which way it is going and start your dives into the current so when you turn around you are going with the current. Not much current, but if you are trying to swim against it coming back you will know it. Make sure you take a mental note of your get out points because you can float right by it and then have to swim back. I know sometimes the reef all looks the same, but look for unique things.

Sea Life? In our past trips we have seen an awesome show of sea life and that is one of the reasons we love Bonaire. We even took the class with Jerry at Bonaire Dive and Adventures on Fish ID. He will give you all the information on identifying different fish. Highly recommend. One of our forum members just returned from the island and was reporting a dramatic decline in the sea life...possibly due to the lion fish invasion. We'll have to see what is going on when we are down there.

Best advice I can give....relax! My BOL and I go to dive and doing 4-5 dives a day is what we seek. However, our wives like to dive, but they are not the Rambo diving type. 1-2 dives a day with a day off here and there is what they want. "If the wife isn't happy, life isn't happy" Everybody needs to understand and the trip will be awesome. We have learned that if we push the wives into more diving than they want, it's not a good thing. They have learned to raise there hand and say they are sitting this one out and everybody is fine with it.

Snagel

rayaa3
11-25-2013, 15:36
Happy wife = Happy life, that's how I learned it.

Clernix
11-25-2013, 18:04
Anything north of Oil Slick (including oil slick) IMO. Best dives are Candyland and the one right next to it. They are not offical and are only marked by homemade markers. Very few people go there because guide books say they are advanced but they are no different than any other dive site. Current can be a little tough but Coz is tougher. You will see more marine life and the reef is in great shape.

Zeagle Eagle
11-25-2013, 18:40
Well - I wouldn't put it past Walmart. The internet doesn't always express sarcasm clearly.

That happen to me the last time I was in Austin for work. Grumble Grumble $300 in damage, $0 in stolen items.

I have to hand it to the thieves - you see divers go in the water, you know you've got a little time to work. Certainly more than the 120 seconds it takes to break a window grab and go.

I have gotten in trouble a few times because of my inept ability to translate my scintillating wit and exquisite prose into the same on the other end.

I know you think you understand what you thought I said but I'm not sure you realize that what you heard is not what I meant...or something like that???? :105-02_ani:

scubajane
11-25-2013, 22:05
my thoughts exactly....

be smart be safe and be careful

take your key with you...

leave nothing in the truck

and leave the window open.... it gets stinking hot in the truck if the windows are closed

scubajane
11-25-2013, 22:12
we took a small insulated soft side lunch box with us we froze water bottles and packed them in the lunch box with a few small snacks and put it behind the seat in the truck by the time we got out of the water the ice was melting and we had plenty to drink. i can't remember if we had to buy bottled water or not... hubby says yes and I think not.... I'm too tired to look in my journal....

snagel
11-26-2013, 07:51
We do the same thing with the soft-sided cooler. We collect our water bottles and refill them each night. The water is Bonaire is fine to drink. We also bring along some of those one-shot drink powders to add to the water. Throw a couple in the freezer and rest in the frig at night and pack a small drink cooler for the day. Never had an issue with anybody stealing this, but if they do not out too much.

rayaa3
11-26-2013, 09:51
We do the same thing with the soft-sided cooler. We collect our water bottles and refill them each night. The water is Bonaire is fine to drink. We also bring along some of those one-shot drink powders to add to the water. Throw a couple in the freezer and rest in the frig at night and pack a small drink cooler for the day. Never had an issue with anybody stealing this, but if they do not out too much.


all great stuff, thanks everyone!

rayaa3
12-12-2013, 23:50
Well, had to cancel Bonaire...the airline changed the flight times on me, and they were no longer compatible with the personal life. However, since they goofed the times, full refund.

On the plus side, I'm going to Roatan instead, and paid for that with miles...woohoo! That work trip to India this year paid off for me in airline miles :)

Looks like I'm going to FIBR...been twice, liked it both times...got a good deal, I'm headed back!

snagel
12-13-2013, 05:18
Roatan is also a great place.....have fun. Sounds like everything worked out. I wouldn't be disappointment going to either.