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Thread: Bonaire tips? Things to avoid?

  1. #1
    Grouper Founding Member
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    Bonaire tips? Things to avoid?

    So, I'm going to Bonaire in July 2015. Staying at Divi Flamingo. Going with a local dive shop organized trip.

    I am attempting to read any and all posts about Bonaire and Divi Flamingo in an attempt to best prepare myself and get the most out of the trip.

    I'm signed up for two morning and one afternoon boat dives. I plan to dive the house reef in the evening.

    What specific things about Divi Flamingo should I know ahead of time..lout won't know about until I get there? The website isn't the greatest for trying to figure out answers to some of these questions.

    Should I get the food plan? Breakfast is included in my tour price. Not lunch or dinner.
    US currency? Or convert to local currency for eating at local places? Tipping?
    What about electrical power? Is there US power, 115vac 60hz in the rooms?
    I think I sign up for boats that I want to take each morning?
    I don't really want t hassle with renting a truck and driving. Can I rent a bike to tour local areas? What should I try to see topside?
    Does Divi Flamingo have free wifi?
    I've read that I should plan to get to the airport way, way early? Things are very slow there? I'm flying using my frequent flier miles instead of flying with the group.
    Tipping the DMs on the boats?
    What's the feel and vibe of the dive boats? The shore diving? Easy and loose? Rushed and strict?
    What is the hotel like? Plenty of chairs in the shade to sit and relax?
    Tell me things I'm not asking about....
    To those in the miltary who serve, past and present, to protect my freedom, I thank you. I've had a good life so far.

  2. #2
    The Divi is one of few places that you can walk to the heart of downtown easily enough from. Within about 2-3 blocks I can think of probably 4-5 restaurants you'll pass on the same street it's on - the main street thru downtown along the waterfront. If there is any cruise ships - usually more in the winter - they'll dock at Town Pier just north of the Divi. Underwater you'll hear/almost feel the props. If there is one, you can't dive north towards it. I've spent a sum total of about 4 hours there so can't help with your resort/dive op questions.

    There's a surprising number of very good restaurants considering the size of the island. I'd put It Rains Fishes or At Sea up against anything in the U.S. - except they'll be a little pricier. Everything is a little pricier since it's all imported. BobbeJan's is great and reasonable but only has weekend hours IIRC. There's a whole small complex around Karel's Bar also, it's over water, Zee Zicht, Ribs Factory upstairs and Wattaburger a little farther north. There's also a Subway and KFC on Bonaire but IIRC both are too far to walk from the Divi.

    Local currency is U.S. Currency - the U.S. Dollar is the official currency on Bonaire. Shows they know where their revenue is coming from. Get some guilders if you want but I don't really see the need. If you pick something up in a store with a tag on it - ask which currency before you pay.

    They are/should have just finished expanding/refurbishing the Divi when you get there. Although being Bonaire they're probably going to be still working on it. Not sure what changes they've made.

    The reason to have a truck is to dive any of the other 70 dive sites along the coast. You're going to the shorediving capital of the world and not planning to do any? http://www.shorediving.com/Earth/ABC/index.htm

    The Divi being just south of town has their house reef but the only other one you could reasonably walk to (and it's a long walk) is 18Palms at the Plaza Resort south of there. Since you're going with a group, someone's going to have a truck. They're 4 door small pickups so I'm sure you can tag along with them. If you do rent a truck, take only what you need to dive with and leave it open with the windows down. Pretty much plan on someone going thru it at the more remote sites so leave nothing you won't miss in it. Tanks being the only exception, no one takes those. And the kids are better at finding whatever you try to hide than you are. I leave flip-flops, dollar sunglasses and a bottle of water in the truck. You also need to figure a way to take the keys - some sort of small dry box is best since some keys on Bonaire are now electronic. I used a Witz case all week - mine is very similar to this one: http://www.scubatoys.com/store/detai...ct_id=SurfSafe

    Bonaire power is 127V/50HZ. But not at the Divi - listed under Amenities:
    110 volt & 50 cycle power supply & US Standard outlets
    I wouldn't make any special effort to get to the airport early. It's a pretty small place and it's pretty boring. We did the typical 2 hrs. before with no problems. It's only a few minutes SE from the Divi - I doubt it's a mile away.

    Divi has the only casino also. It's not a big one and is pretty casual - I think you can even go in barefoot.

    People really go to Bonaire to do a lot of diving. The other big draw is Kitesurfing - it's world class. Mostly done in Lac Bay on the SE side. That would actually be something you could bike to - it's about 2 miles SE of the Divi. Kaya Industria is the road bisecting the Divi - take it east to Kaya Nikiboko, take it right, just about the time you see the east end of the runway is Kaminda Sorobon to the right - stay on it past the Mangroves and most of Lac Bay - Jibe City and Sorobon resort are on the SE end. If you feel like hauling a mask/snorkel - Lac Bay is only about 6' deep all over.

    Some people go south - both to dive and also the Salt Pier/Salt mountains and the Slave Huts just past it. About 5miles. Just take the road south from Divi, around the lagoon, past the airport and stay on it.

    Another 5 miles down to the southern tip - the Flamingo Preserve is there plus the old Lighthouse on the the tip. I didn't think either was worth the drive personally after we did. Flamingos really stink. Get a pretty reliable bike or carry a phone - there's nothing down there for miles unless someone is shore diving in the afternoons. Everything pretty much dies out past Punt Vierkant due to the extensive salt pans.

    Some people like the Donkey Farm. I heard it moved recently so don't know where it is now.

    IDK if you're aware of this but Bonaire is a desert island. As in Cactus and thorny trees/bushes. So bring a lot of water. Also none of the dive sites outside of the other resorts have any facilities at all - some don't even have much if any shade. There is one food truck working the south sites typically - good food if you spot them.

  3. #3
    Shark snagel's Avatar
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    DS, pretty much answered all your questions. We never stayed at the Divi, but I've been there...we usually eat there one night when we go. I would stay there, we just have never booked it.

    You don't need a truck because you can walk to downtown from the Divi, but without a truck you are missing out on the #1 reason why people go to Bonaire. The driving is easy and the only way to get to the many shore diving locations is by truck. I hope somebody in your group will have a truck and will be able to show you around. Bonaire is freedom....load the truck up with tanks and head out out and dive where ever you want whenever you want. There is a road that goes around the island and you can pull off where ever there is a yellow rock and dive. Believe me you will be missing out if you just plan boat dives and house dives.

    Most questions about Bonaire is about the many dive sites that you can drive to.

    The airport is easy in/out. I wouldn't worry too much about that.

    Electricity is 110v, but 50hz as opposed to 60hz in USA. No big issue and we have never had any issues with electronics and such. Things like curling irons and charging may take a little longer.

    Lots of food places...there is a rib place and pizza place that is very good on the North Side of town as you start going out of town (can't remember their names right now). Also, out by the Kite Surfing place is a food truck.....awesome food and great host. (Again, need a truck to get there)

    We have never done any boat dives, but I've heard they are very good. We spend our time driving around enjoying the island and diving at our pace. Keep in mind, that you will be on "Island Time" and things are a lot slower. The restaurants will be slower than you are use to. The only thing that is fast is the week. You will be heading out before you know it.

    One last thing....get a truck and truly enjoy what Bonaire is all about. Split the cost with another couple they seat 4. You will be sorry if you don't have a way to get around to the shore diving.

    Snagel

  4. #4
    Shark snagel's Avatar
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    Forgot some things.....(tell me things I'm not asking about)

    I don't know anything about the eating plans they offer at the Divi, we typically pay to eat. We budget about $25 per person per meal. We do stop by the grocery and pick up food for breakfast and lunch and then go our for dinner.

    Crime. You will hear/read about some crime issues on the island. Be smart. We have never had any issues, but you need to be smart. We walk in groups while in town and stay out of the dark alleys. Not trying to say you will be ambushed, but just be smart. We did have an odd thing that happened to us on one trip. We parked downtown and the girls went into the grocery to pick up some food after we left the airport. We got out of the truck to sit in some shade and all our bags were very visible in the back of the truck. Several groups of people drive by several times scoping it out. If you do get a truck, they will tell you don't lock it and keep valuables out of it. There have been several "smash the window and grab" cases especially at the secluded shore diving sites. We've never had an issue, but just don't leave valuable in the truck. I've heard 1 or 2 cases of people being "mugged"....with the many people that go this is very small. Again, be smart and you will be good.

    You will have to pay I think $25 per person to dive (one-time annual fee). This is a tax that goes to maintaining the reef and diving in Bonaire. They will give you a tag that you will have to attach to your BC. The rangers look for this, but we have never been questioned.

    Plan on some night diving....awesome!!!!!

    Downtown is interesting especially when a cruise ship comes in. There will be street vendors out and all the shops open. Once the ship leaves back to laid back island time. It's interesting to see this happen how busy they can be one minute and then nothing.

    As I said earlier, much of the questions typically is about the many shore diving sites. If you do happen to get a truck and decide to do this, let us know and we can clue you in on the many shore diving sites.

    There is a Refuge Park up North. It is a drive through park that is kind of fun, but very long to drive through and very bumpy. Lots of hills and donkeys. There are some dive sites inside the park. We took our dive gear up there last trip and was very disappointed in the diving. Much of the reef was dead due to a hurricane that came through several years back. If you do go, you will need the stub they give you when you pay your tax to dive.

  5. #5
    Shark snagel's Avatar
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    Even More..........Don't get me talking about Bonaire. It's my favorite place and I can talk for days.

    Like I said earlier to dive in Bonaire, you have to pay a park tax. This is paid at whatever diver operator you are using. I think this has to be cash. Also, to dive in Bonaire, you are required to attend an orientation. This will be performed by whatever dive operator you are using and will cover diving in Bonaire, Where to dive, Currents, what to do what not to do. There is supposed to be an orientation dive to check your weight. Some operators this is very detailed and others it is just a simple formality.

    How the diving works is you buy a package deal with a dive operator. Here they give you unlimited tanks and weights. A lot of times when you book your room you can negotiate this and sometimes a truck is included in the package. You simple pick up tanks as you need them and return empty tanks. Always take at least one extra tank because "o" rings do fail and sometimes the valves leak.

    If you do rent a truck check the spare and the tires. Make sure you have a jack. These trucks do get rode hard and in recent trips many had tire issues. Some didn't have jacks.

    There are a lot of donkeys and goats that roam free on the island. Don't hit one...actually they are good at dodging. As I said there is a road that goes pretty much around the island along the shore. Once you get to Karpata (Nice Dive Site) the road turns into a one-way. So, once you commit you cannot go back and have to travel around the island to get back to town. Nice trip through a village called Rencon and you want to do this once, but it does take time out of the day so you don't want to do this too much.

    I keep telling you about a truck because you need one or at least share one. You will be missing so much about Bonaire.

    (Shameful Pitch) Go to my website www.midwestmuckdiving.com and along the left side you will see paradise diving and Bonaire will be listed. Click on it for a lot more information.

    Snagel

  6. #6
    Grouper Founding Member
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    Snagle and diver Steve,
    Wow! Thanks for the info. I will most definitely try to hook up with some other folks who have a truck. Since I'm doing this trip solo, my normal dive buddy can't go, I'll be with a dive shop group, I was hesitant to do the truck thing. But, I like the idea of trying to jump into a truck with others.

    I'm really bummed out my normal buddy can't go, as I know we would be doing shore dives almost exclusively. Thats why I signed up for three boat dives a day.... I figured it's easier since I'm solo.

    Honestly, I'm happy as long as I'm wet in salt water. I could dive the same site three or four times in a row and still be happy. As long as I'm wet, and the dives are relaxing, I'm in heaven.

    Again, thanks for taking the time to debrief me. I really appreciate it.

    Doug
    To those in the miltary who serve, past and present, to protect my freedom, I thank you. I've had a good life so far.

  7. #7
    I am reliably sure Bas will pick you up to go shore diving. https://www.vipdiving.com/ $55/guided dive.

    See what they've got scheduled, they need 2 divers mimimum. Do Invisibles/The Rock if no one has a better plan.

    I'm basically stand-offish, willing to talk but won't usually start a conversation with strangers. I was invited to go shore diving by 2 different groups at the rinse tank at our resort, once more at Habitat's, once at Salt Pier and twice by two different groups on our boat.

    During most of this my buddy was 10' away and at the pier it was obvious we had a truck. Look a little forlorn and you'll be turning down offers...

    Or "dive the resorts" - Bonaire has about a dozen cabs and it can't be the first time they've hauled gear. Hit up Buddys, Habitat, possibly Eden Beach - all have reasons (bars/beach) to have large numbers of divers in close proximity to where it's done. Someone is always coming/going on the docks also. I met the same woman/couple - also staying at our resort - 3x. At the rinse tank, at Angel City as we were leaving and at the BBQ at the Plaza (walk over for this...) mid-week. Each time we said we'd meet for a dive - never did...

    No one's going to make a fuss if you solo either. I do and I don't have a card. The reef parallels shore in most places, the sites are close enough that in most areas if you get blown past one exit point, just float to the next. On the south side it's pretty flat starting around the Hooker - you can see divers/trucks 4-5 dive sites down. Handy if you do need a ride back to yours.

    Unless you go north into the Park or south past Red Beryl there's no noticeable current anyway. Vista Blue in the afternoon though - that's an E-ticket Ride...

  8. #8
    Shark snagel's Avatar
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    I didn't realize you were doing the "single diver" thing. Yea, you are pretty much at the mercy of tagging along with others. Don't be shy. We've actually been approached by many divers at various dive sites in Bonaire asking if they could tag along with us. No issues. The scenario is typically they are with their non-diving wife or girlfriend and need a buddy.

    The first time I went to Bonaire was also with an organized Dive Shop thing. I had my regular dive buddies so we pretty much did our own thing. But, the Dive Shop had several leaders that got the trip for free with the dive shop. They were actually "working" making sure everybody in the group new what to do and helping out whoever needed help. They would organize dives and help make arrangement for those that didn't have transportation and such. We did some of this, but pretty much stayed to ourselves.

    Have fun, I sure wish I had a trip planned. We are headed to Europe this summer (wife has always wanted to go to Europe) so we are doing that. Next year I should be back in blue water (hopefully back to Bonaire).

    Let me know if you have any specific questions.

    Snagel

  9. #9
    Grouper Founding Member
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    Outstanding. Thanks guys. I wish I was going to Bonaire with either of you two....I have found it's always more fun to go somewhere (at least the first time) with someone who has been there before and knows the lowdown.

    I'm really looking forward to the trip.
    To those in the miltary who serve, past and present, to protect my freedom, I thank you. I've had a good life so far.

  10. #10
    Barracuda Founding Member
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    Looks like others have covered most things. I wouldn't buy a meal plan for anything besides breakfast. We always get a place with a kitchen and buy food when we get there for breakfast and sometimes lunch. Take sandwiches and snacks in the truck when we go out diving.

    Eat dinner in town. Many good places.

    Your going with a dive shop so you should be able to hook up with other divers. That's what shop trips are about. I would definitely try and find someone with a truck and get out and dive the other sites. As others have said Bonaire is about shore diving and freedom to dive where and when you want. No boat schedules to keep.

    If you get down to the southern dive sites have lunch between dives at the Cactus Blue food truck. Great hamburgers and fresh lionfish when he has them. Last time I was there he was hanging around the kite boarding beach so you had a great view while you eat and relaxed between dives. http://www.tripadvisor.com/Restauran...k_Bonaire.html

    No matter what your have fun. Bonaire is a great island for divers.

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