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Thread: Back from Bonaire

  1. #1
    TadPole
    Join Date
    09/18/2007
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    United States
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    Back from Bonaire

    Howdy--just got back from a week in Bonaire. Before I went I read a lot of postings on the petty crime scene that seems to have developed. The owner of our digs (Black Durgon) mentioned that there had been a ring for about 17 guys that were breaking into hotels, cars, and being generally annoying, although not violent. According to him, the cops kept them under observation for a while and then busted the whole ring. I wanted to get that out there for what it's worth.
    While there, we avoided leaving valuables in the car. We did leave normal things like clothing, shoes, etc. We always left the windows down and doors unlocked. Never had a problem.
    Had a great time and already plotting my return (sinister laugh).
    Papawhisky

    ..still working on something cool to say...

  2. #2
    Barracuda
    Join Date
    08/28/2007
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    JEFFERSON TEXAS
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    1,052
    That is good to know. I have my first trip planned for Aug, and I sure do not want to have to worry about crime.

  3. #3
    Grouper
    Join Date
    08/31/2007
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    East TX
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    328
    Glad you had fun. For those of us stuck in our offices dreaming about vacations, tell us about your trip. What did you get to do? What was your fav's? What things should we avoid? ......Tips?

  4. #4
    Grouper
    Join Date
    09/17/2007
    Location
    Alabama
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    275

    Paranoia

    All the talk about petty crime in bonaire is silly.

    It's worse in the US than it is in Bonaire. If you leave something valuable in plain sight in your car at the mall or wal-mart or sometimes even your own driveway, you're likely to get a visit by the "smash-n-grab" crowd while you're gone.

    Use common sense in Bonaire just like you would at home and you'll be fine.

  5. #5
    Grouper Founding Member
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    07/10/2007
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    Quote Originally Posted by TX1Chica View Post
    For those of us stuck in our offices dreaming about vacations, tell us about your trip. What did you get to do? What was your fav's? What things should we avoid? ......Tips?

    Going in July - would also like to hear a trip report.

    Thanks in advance.


    Harb

  6. #6
    TadPole
    Join Date
    09/18/2007
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    I don't think crime is worse in Bonaire than here in the US by any means, but locals can exploit the vulnerabilities of travelers, so it is wise to be advised.

    A quick trip report for any that are planning a trip to Bonaire.
    Executive Summary: Great shore diving to very active reefs that are very close to the shore. Saw lots of coral, and lots of reef fish. Didn't see much in the way of crustaceans or large sealife, such as turtles, sharks, big groupers, etc. It is very easy to find your way around, food is good and reasonably priced. Had a great time and didn't want to come home.

    We took the over night flight on Continental from Houston. It is kind of brutal. Leaving late from Houston, we got to Flamingo Airport in Bonaire at about 7:00 AM. The airport is simple and relaxed. Gathered the luggage and went over to pick up the rental car, a Mazda pickup with crew cab. This is the rental car of choice--you see hundreds of them there.

    Car insurance. We rented with AB. $24 per day. That does not include insurance. The insurance was $19 per day. I rolled the dice and charged the truck on my bank/insurance company credit card, which supposedly covers me. While there, I saw two accidents. In one, a local tried to pass a fellow diver when he (diver) was making a left hand turn. Resulted in a t-bone. Would have been the local's fault under any state law I know of. It was deemed to be the diver's fault. I hear that is not uncommon. I also heard that the expensive rental car insurance isn't all that good. So check with your insurance company before you go. Driving on the island is slow and generally pretty safe.

    Stayed at Black Durgon. It is a quaint place. The rooms are small and basic. But it has a charm and seems to attract or retain interesting customers. The shared outdoor kitchen and dining area were conducive to socializing with the international guests. It also has its own pier which drops off at the end of Small Wall, a great little dive. I would stay there again. And the price was good.

    Black Durgon arranged the tanks for us. Unlimited shore diving. You simply pick a dive site out, load up the tanks and gear and drive to the dive site. Maps of all the dive sites are plentiful on the island, and reviews of the sites are plentiful on the internet. I definitely had my favorites, but it is all degrees of good. There are no bad ones.

    Depending on the winds, the surf can make entry/exit a little tricky. I grew up in CA and am used to that kind of entry, but my girlfriend struggled a bit. Some sites are easier to access than others, so scope that out if ease of entry/exit is an issue.

    Dive sites are marked with yellow rocks by the road, with the dive site name painted on the rock. That shows you where to park. When you look out at the reef, you'll see a yellow buoy that marks the dive site. You dive where you want, but the buoy is helpful. Here is how. We would typically snorkle out to buoy and then descend, check for current (they were mild) and then roll off the top of the reef (typically 25 ft) to the ocean side and go down to about 60-70 feet. It is a little like wall diving. At about 1500 psi we would turn around and hit the top of the reef, which was typically at 20-25 foot. Once we hit the buoy anchor, we knew it was time to do a 90 degree turn back toward the beach and waiting Mazda pick up.

    The south of the island is very flat, with an interesting salt mining operation. The entries are mostly like beach. The north part of the island is more interesting and the entries tend to require scuppering up and down lava walls to get to the water.

    One day we drove way up north to a remote dive site. It took an hour to get there, mostly on dirt roads. The terrain looks like something from Tuscon--lots of cactus. The dive there was no better than the dives in town. We met a group of Germans that had been diving the sites further north and they advised against it, saying that all the driving did not pay off in better sites. For what it is worth, it didn't appear that the sites in the park were worth the drive.

    What I saw that surprised me: The reefs are smothered in fish. I saw schools of fish that I had never seen school before, like sergerant majors, and trunk fish. On one site (Oil Slick Leap) at about 5:00 PM every day, the blue juvenille parrot fish would pass through like it was a freeway, thousands of them following the same route. Actually was in bait ball when the jacks came up to feed--that was cool.

    Water temp was consistently 80 degrees. I am fairly warm blooded, but dove in a 3 mil full suit and it was perfect. By the time I got to the third dive of the day, I was just a little cool. My girlfriend who wears a sweatshirt at Cozumel was also fine in 3 mil.

    My very clever girlfriend found a site that gave cruise ship schedules. During the week we were there, there were 3 days cruise ships were docked. A 3000 passenger ship has a big impact on a little place like Bonaire. The cruise ship divers tend to boat dive, and the boats don't go far north or far south. We picked those days for going far north and far south. It's just me, but I would rather avoid a crowded reef.

    Gas was expensive. We burned 3/4 of a tank and it was $53. Otherwise not much is expensive. Food at the grocery store (there are several) was a little more than here. Restaurants were about the same as here. There isn't much night life. But if you do 3 or 4 dive a day, who needs it?

    We didn't see a mosquito for the first 5 days. Then then wind calmed down, and we saw plenty of them.
    The sun is intense there. I am outside a lot and don't burn easily, but got a good shot the first day. Use sunscreen often.

    Well, that is most of what occurs to me. For sure, it was just my experience, but I tried to relay what I wish I had known.

    Cheers!
    Papawhisky

    ..still working on something cool to say...

  7. #7
    Grouper
    Join Date
    07/11/2007
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    Texas
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    443
    "The cruise ship divers tend to boat dive, and the boats don't go far north or far south. We picked those days for going far north and far south. It's just me, but I would rather avoid a crowded reef."

    -- Good tip!
    What was the viz?
    _________________

  8. #8
    Great report. We were there a few weeks ago and these tips really work. We're already planning to return next spring. As for crime, we felt safe everywhere we went. We used reasonable precautions and nothing ended up missing.

    Regarding the north side (Nat'l Park). Not worth the drive for diving, but still worth the drive. We visited twice, as we thought the area quite beautiful in it's own way.

    Regarding insurance: Most US credit card companies WILL NOT cover a truck, jeep or luxury rental outside of the US. However, most will provide supplemental or premium insurance at very low cost, if you plan ahead. I use AMEX for my auto rentals and was able to add their "premium" plan to my account by simply calling the 1-800 number on the card. Now, whenever I rent a vehicle, I can add the insurance for 24.95 (one time charge for entire rental). It covers trucks, vans, sports cars, etc. up to (I think $150K US). So, in Bonaire we were able to rent the truck sans insurance with little worry.

    Another suggestion: Take photos of your truck from all sides. We had no problems with AB Rentals where we got the truck, but we were warned by a couple of frequent visitors that we needed to document every ding. They were once charged a few $$$ for a dent they claimed was already on the truck.

    Also: Antenna balls. Bring a few. When you have a dozen white Mazda pickups in a lot, it's nice to spot yours from a distance. My wife liked the idea of personalizing our truck. Bring extras, because they'll get stolen, er, given away (antenna balls don't count as "theft", IMO).
    Last edited by Rockhound76; 04-17-2008 at 07:09.

  9. #9
    Guppy
    Join Date
    07/24/2007
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    Texas, of course!
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    98
    Quote Originally Posted by jo8243 View Post
    All the talk about petty crime in bonaire is silly.

    It's worse in the US than it is in Bonaire. If you leave something valuable in plain sight in your car at the mall or wal-mart or sometimes even your own driveway, you're likely to get a visit by the "smash-n-grab" crowd while you're gone.

    Use common sense in Bonaire just like you would at home and you'll be fine.
    Is it silly that our room was broken into WHILE WE WERE SLEEPING? At least in the US I know that the police would listen to a crime report. In Bonaire, it is pointless as you are just a tourist and will be going home within a week.

  10. #10
    Grouper
    Join Date
    08/31/2007
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    East TX
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    328
    I'm a little disapointed to hear that you don't see turtles and I wouldn't mind maybe seeing a little shark or 2.

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