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Dive Review of Bon Bini/Lions Dive in

February, 2003, an Instant Reader Report by Richard R. Sziede, VA, usa
Report Number 373
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
101-250 dives
Where else diving
Bay Islands, Belize, Caymans, Cozumel, Florida Keys.
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

windy, rainy  
Water Temp
78   to 80    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
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.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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  
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):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
5 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars   
5 stars    
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
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.

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

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