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Dive Review of Bon Bini/Lions Dive in
Bonaire

Bon Bini/Lions Dive, Feb, 2003,

by Richard R. Sziede, VA, usa . Report 373.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving Bay Islands, Belize, Caymans, Cozumel, Florida Keys.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather windy, rainy Seas
Water Temp 78 to 80 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 60 to 75 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions A dive master guided each boat dive. You are not required to stick with the DM if you want to do your own profile.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles None Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 3 stars
Large Pelagics 3 stars

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities 4 stars
UW Photo Comments The camera tank on the dive boat is a picnic cooler of fresh water. My video housing didn’t always get a spot if there were other cameras on the dive.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 4 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments The Trip.
The park-and-fly arrangement with the Holiday Inn at BWI airport was more hassle than it was worth. You spend a night at the HI, park your car there for the week, and catch the hotel free shuttle to and from the airport. For $89 you save having to get up at oh-dark-thirty and sprint to the airport for an early flight.
HI tried to smack us with an additional parking fee at check-in. (They didn’t succeed, but it took an argument.) Long line for the shuttle to the airport. On the return trip, we never did get a shuttle. We gave up waiting in the cold and grabbed a taxi to the HI. I won’t use HI again.
Jamaica Air gate agent in Montego Bay acted as though he was going to close the gate in our faces if we didn’t hustle down the ramp. He was just being a wretch. Flight delayed another half-hour awaiting stragglers from other late flights.
Rented a 4-door, two-seat pickup. Bonairian anti-theft device: doors unlocked, windows down, no valuables left in car.

Lion’s Dive Resort.
The pool-view condo was pleasant. We would have preferred ocean view. We wished for more and better cooking pots.
Housekeeping usually showed during meals. (How did they know?) Cleaning was a lick-and-a-promise. Linens should have been changed twice a week. Sheets on our bed when we arrived were still there when we left, as was the tuft of hair in our shower floor drain.
There were two incidents of pilferage from guest rooms. Each involved an unlocked door and items left lying about.
We knew from a previous visit to bring our own cooking spices. Otherwise, markets are well-stocked.
A half-dozen semi-stray cats ingratiate themselves with guests. Lions Dive has a cat-feeding station away from the rooms for those guests that will feed them. Bonaire Animal Shelter provides rudimentary care, including spaying.
Bonaire’s water supply is desalinated sea water. It is completely safe. After travel in the third world, brushing teeth with tap water is royal luxury!

Bon Bini Divers.
The dive masters are skilled, enthusiastic and helpful. Most are instructors. A DM was always available for questions or to help us gauge nitrox tanks. They never forgot to load our tanks.
Bon Bini’s two boats are small, offering little protection from sun, wind or spray. All boat dives are one-tank. The return trip always included an upwind leg that made me grateful to huddle in my GoreTex windbreaker. Others kept wetsuits on for protection. No one worked on his tan during the boat rides!
The small boats and high chop made one grateful for scopolamine.
Only the smaller of Bon Bini’s two boats has a dive platform. The small boat busted, so we used the larger boat. Exit from the larger boat required a back-roll. The captain helps you up the dive ladder and removes your tank for you as you sit on the transom.
Bon Bini has a full-service dive shop right on the dock. There is a group dive locker for wet gear. You are advised not to leave expensive stuff in the locker. For shore diving they have a drive up tank station in the parking lot.
Nitrox tanks come from the dive shop however. Shlep them up the steps from the dock to the parking lot yourself. Staff didn’t offer to help me carry. Perhaps they didn’t want to hurt my feelings to suggest that I couldn’t carry two tanks up a flight of steps by myself? At 60 years, I wouldn’t have been hurt!

The Dives.
Getting the 11-boat dive package was overkill. We had to skip boat dives to make our shore dives.
Coral and reef growth seemed in good shape. Tarpon and jacks were the only big fishes. No sharks, no rays, few ‘cuda. We seldom saw a grouper that was big enough to eat. The blizzards of little fish I remember from Bonaire five years ago have abated. I remember schools of thousands of tangs, creole wrasses, and surgeonfish streaming by the wall. This trip the schools were more in the hundreds.
To compensate, there were many more topless sunbathers.
Almost every dive site had multiple Spotted Drums. There was a juvenile under Town Pier about an inch in length. I think we saw every flavor of eel in the Caribbean this trip: Gold Spotted, Chain, Green, Sharp-tailed, and Purple Mouthed. We saw a Many Toothed Conger right at the Bon Bini dock. Salt Pier and Pink Beach also abounded in eel sightings.
The Bonaire signature night dive is Town Pier. The pilings are encrusted with a bright orange tube coral that prospers only in the shade. The old tires and debris under the pier are home to eels, octopus, sea horses, a frog fish and very active decorator crabs. We entered at sunset, so I video’ed the last rays of the sun panned to a spotted drum under the pier in a continuous shot.
Salt Pier is a “critter central” shore dive. Done at midday, sunlight streaming down through the pilings gives a cathedral effect like sunlight through tall trees.

Resturants
After my third flaccid, watery Margarita in as many restaurants, I gave up and switched to the local brew: Amstel.
The catch of the day is always Wahoo. Den Layman was consistently the best restaurant we hit. Their grilled lobster was perfect. Lion’s Den was OK, but overcooked my Wahoo. The Beefeater, which we remembered fondly from our last trip to Bonaire was a disappointment. The Wahoo was dry and the shrimp grilled to the consistency of a pencil eraser.
For dessert, we drove to Rincon, for the best ice cream in the Caribbean at Prisca’s.



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Note: The information here was reported by the author above, but has NOT been reviewed nor edited by Undercurrent prior to posting on our website. Please report any major problems by writing to us and referencing the report number above.

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