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Thread: Everything Bonaire!

  1. #1
    Shark snagel's Avatar
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    Everything Bonaire!

    I have to say that one of my favorite places on this big green earth is Bonaire. I can feel the stress leave my body as I step off the plane at the Flamingo Airport as I get this overwhelming calming feeling. We just put the final touches on reservations for our 4th trip to Bonaire in December 2016 (that is about 5 months away and it is going to be a long one).

    As I'm already getting "geared up" for this trip and starting to do the "checking forums" and such I'm seeing so many questions about Bonaire. So, I thought why don't I try and start a thread that could have everything you need to know about Bonaire in one place. I'm not the worlds expert in Bonaire, but it certainly has a special place in my heart and I have a lot of passion for it. (Can you tell?) Besides, I need some sort of outlet over the next 5 months and what better than to talk about my special place.

    So, I'm challenging everybody and all to come back and list little tidbits that they have learned about Bonaire. What does somebody who has never been to Bonaire need to know? What have you learned that others may enjoy knowing about?

  2. #2
    Shark snagel's Avatar
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    Let's get this party started............

    Rent a Truck! For the seasoned Bonairion this may seem a little silly, but for those who have never been may not understand that the single best thing about Bonaire is the freedom of diving it provides. We or at least I go to Bonaire to get away from the schedules and the have to be somewhere's. This is what Bonaire is all about...no schedules...just fill up your truck with tanks and gear and drive around the island. When you find a place to dive (marked by the yellow rocks) pull over, gear up and dive. No boat schedule. Driving is easy, but you have to look out for the iguanas and donkeys.

    Now one thing that I guess I have to point out is Bonaire's strange way of handling theft. The policy is do not keep anything of value in your truck and don't lock it. Yes, as with most places there is a bad element that will seize the opportunity to steal from you if given the chance. Low lifes will check out your truck while you are diving and if they see something inside they will break the window and take it. There is evidence of this at many of the side road dive locations where broken glass is found on the ground. Best practice is don't leave anything in the truck and don't lock it....we typically just leave the windows down.

    While we are talking about trucks, when you pick up your rental make sure it has a spare tire and a jack. We have been lucky, but we have heard many stories of others that get out away from the "city" and have a flat tire only to find they don't have a spare or a jack. Tires are expensive so they get the most use they can out of them.

  3. #3
    Grouper
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    Buy a one or two liter bottle of something liquid in a sturdy plastic bottle. Drink it (or pour it into another container) then fill it 7/8ths full of water and put it in the freezer without the top. In the morning pack it with a sandwich or two in a plastic bag (or ratty towel). As it melts you will have fresh ice water between dives pretty much all day.
    Abandon all hope ...

  4. #4
    Grouper
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    A trick I learned on Bonaire (after flubbing around on severtal 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.

    Get Bonaire Shore Diving Made Easy (http://www.infobonaire.com/bsdme/) and look it over to decide what sites you most want to dive. I would recommend Yellow Submarine and Tori's Reef as having the easiest entry/exit and Angel City for the double reef. Invisibles was the site I most enjoyed to the south (BTW dive south early before the wind picks up - makes entries much easier). Mid island I loved Cliff (use the stone wall for entry and the pipe to navigate - the mini-wall is to the left). To the north Tolo was my favorite.
    Abandon all hope ...

  5. #5
    Shark snagel's Avatar
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    Let me repeat one thing Charon pointed out....the Southern dive sites...i.e. Red Slave, White Slave, etc. You need to dive them early As the day goes on, the wind picks up and so does the surf. These can be challenging sites with the increased waves.

    Here's a bonus: If you want to see Eagle Rays....Red Slave is the place. Go out and hang out in the Sandy Areas. Typically, early the Eagle Rays will be hunting and playing in the Sand.

  6. #6
    Shark snagel's Avatar
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    One other thing, you are required to attend an "orientation" to dive in Boniare. This is where you will learn about Bonaire Diving and currents. You may or may not have to do a "orientation dive". It depends on the operator, but a good idea to get your weights dialed in and such. Plan about an hour for the orientation.

    You have to pay a park entrance fee of $25 per diver. I believe this has to be cash money and they give you a plastic medallion to put on your BCD. The park rangers look for this; although, we have never had any issues. You pay this wherever you buy your dive package....it is extra. If you snorkel, this is also required...not sure on the cost but I think it is a little less.

    Keep your receipt because this will get you into the Slagbaai National Park. If you have never done this, it's fun to do, but it is basically 4 wheeling through the park. Depending on what path you take it will take about 1/2 a day to drive through. You will see Bonaire in it's natural state with plenty of donkeys and iguana's. The roads are very bad through the park. There are some dive sites in the park. Many have said they are better because they do not get dove as much. We dove a few and found pretty much dead coral and was told a weird hurricane came through several years ago and killed much of coral in this area. We haven't dove all the sites in the park; so, not sure how far spread this is.

  7. #7
    Shark snagel's Avatar
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    In the South somewhere around Tori's Reef the do Kite Surfing. We have never done this, but it looks like fun. We do stop here and eat lunch out of the Food Truck that is typically parked in this location. Very reasonable prices and great food.

  8. #8
    Shark snagel's Avatar
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    Speaking of food....There is a lot of debate about the food in Bonaire. I know everybody has their own taste, but we tend to find the food a little lacking in taste. I'm sure and I hope others will chime in on specific sites to eat and not eat. We've tried a lot and really haven't walked away with the "oh my god, I have to come back to eat at this place". I'll leave the food ranking to others, but I can tell you we typically budget about $25 per person per meal when we go out.

    We typically hit one of the groceries and pick up food for our room. There is a grocery downtown and a much bigger one by the airport. I would suggest picking up a few lunch items and snacks. We typically cook a couple nights in our room to cut down on food costs.

    Another tidbit is, as Americans we love our ice and our refills on our drinks.....this is an American concept. In Bonaire, as with many other places in the world you don't get Free Refills. Each refill will cost you.

    One last thing.....You are on Island Time. The service is slow - it's Island Time. Get use to it and enjoy it. Don't expect to walk in, be seated, get a drink order, get a food order, get your food, get your ticket and you are out. Any one of these steps can take more time than we are accustomed to. Deal with it...don't get upset, it's the way it is and the only person that it affects is you.

  9. #9
    Grouper
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    For the best sandwich ever try Between Two Buns. Other than that I can't recommend places to eat. I stay at Coco Palm Garden (apartment with full kitchen) and cook for myself. I'll be with them last week of Nov through the first week of Dec. Can't beat it. Two weeks with unlimited air, truck rental, and full apartment for just under $1900. That's for me traveling solo - no single suppliment.
    Abandon all hope ...

  10. #10
    Shark snagel's Avatar
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    Charon, we are just going to miss you. We are heading to Bonaire the 2nd week of December. I think we did this once before - you were leaving as we were arriving. I wanted to do 2 weeks this year, but others in my group couldn't swing it.

    We have stayed at the Sand Dollar several times and the Den Laman once. We are actually heading back to Den Laman on this trip. We always say we are going to look at renting a place off the beaten path, but never do. Both Sand Dollar and Den Laman have treated us good. The only reason we picked Den Laman this time is they have the rights to the pier at Bari Reef and we wanted to use the pier especially for our night dives. Sand Dollar cannot use the pier - kind of a pissing match between the two resorts and two Dive Shops (Dive Friends and Bonaire Dive and Adventure).

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