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Dive Review of Bonaire Dive Adventure/Sand Dollar Condominiums in

February, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by Dean Knudson, MN, USA
Contributor   (15 reports)
Report Number 1709
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
Austrialia, Cozumel, Bahamas, South Florida
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

Water Temp
80   to 85    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
75   to 125    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
limited to 60 minutes, surface with 600 psi, diving on the Hilma Hooker was
done by a strict dive table limit,despite the use of computers by most of
the divers  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
1 or 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  2 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
4 stars  
Boat Facilities
2 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
3 stars  
Shore Facilities  
1 stars  
The dive boats are small and crowded.  There was a small bucket for
cameras.  There was very little room to make any adjustments with camera
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
2 stars  
Shore Diving  
5 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars   
2 stars    
The Sand Dollar complex is getting old, but is still comfortable.  It is
noticeably more run down then Captain Don's complex immediately to the
north. The exterior paint is peeling, and the interior of the condominiums
date from the seventies or early eighties.

  The restaurants and the bar at Captain Don's,next door, are nicer and
livelier, and the rooms there appear to be much more up to date.

  The Sand Dollar complex is quiet, and all of the rooms have a nice ocean
view.  The main restaurant and bar, Mango's, was being renovated while we
were staying there.  A small temporary,tin-roofed restaurant and bar had
been placed right on the ocean , mid-complex, and actually was quite
pleasant.  It was a very beautiful spot to have breakfast, and had a
gorgeous happy hour sunset.  The restaurant staff were attentive and
agreeable, particularly the couple who ran the breakfast buffet. The ocean
level varies little, due to a relative lack of tides, allowing  restaurant
placement at the water's edge. 

The bedroom air conditioning was adequate for our stay.  Simply opening the
Windows on both sides of the condominium allowed a very brisk breeze to
cool off the living area.  The balconies are spacious and have plenty of
room to dry out equipment.

  We had read a number of reports regarding crime and theft on the island,
and solved that problem during our stay by using a wire mesh Pac-Safe
( around a duffel bag, which we padlocked to a large electrical
cable in the closet of the condo.  We placed all of the computers and other
valuables that did not fit into the small room safe into this bag. We also
used a portable movement alarm ( on the bag to
discourage anyone from touching it.

There is an Internet Cafe adjacent to the property, with wireless access. I
did not get a chance to test out my skpye internet telephone service there.
Telephone cards can be purchased at the front desk for about five dollars,
and they work in the office telephone and also in the telephone booths, for
overseas calls.

Shore diving sounds like a free spirited fun adventure, however, in actual
practice, it involves hauling 50 to 100 pounds of equipment 50 to 200 yards
at a time, to and from the water, in 95 degree heat, while walking over
sharp stones, several times per day. It is risky to leave any object inside
a rental car, making the process even more inconvenient, since simple
comfort items can't be left in the rental truck. Overall, our group was not
impressed with this "freedom",and preferred the boat dives.

 Moreover, the rental trucks receive a good deal of abuse, due to heavy
use, and are prone to problems. We had three flat tires during our visit. 
The maintenance staff of the resort thankfully agreed to take care of our
tire repairs for a modest cash tip.  Apparently the cactus needles covering
the island eventually work their way into many tires, and it is necessary
to use the rental trucks on dirt roads to access many of the dive sites.
Make sure you asked the rental car company to specifically demonstrate how
to lower the spare from the bottom of the truck using the long crank handle
before you leave the rental shop.  Understand that you may be stranded in a
very rural area,in a very hot climate, for hours, waiting for help, and
always bring adequate water and something to set up some shade.

Bonaire dive adventures has two dive boats, both of which are very crowded.
It is best to arrive early for a trip, and claim a seat near the front of
the boat.  The seats in the rear of the boat have no shade, and receive a
good deal of spray. There is no reserve capacity at this operation. The
boats typically are always full, and if you do not reserve a spot by 2 P.M.
the previous day, you may not have a spot, which a miscommunication caused
our last day. We gently asked if the staff would telephone another dive
shop to assist us, they politely refused, and we politely declined to tip
for the week.

Unfortunately, the diving  is nothing special.   There is an abundance of
small fish life, but most of the reefs look alike. The coral is very
healthy, but it is difficult to distinguish one site from another, even on
Klein Bonaire, or at the sites on the far north side of the island.
Experienced divers will be disappointed, somewhat, by the quality of the
diving anywhere on the island. We did the Hilma Hooker dive, which was
structured according to a strict dive table 10 minute bottom time limit,
despite the fact that many of us wore computers, and could have stayed at
depth much longer.

The capital city is quite pretty, and is as yet unspoiled by cruise ships. 
The Dutch have been very good stewards of the island. It is fun to drive
around the island, and the wind surfing facility on the far side of the
island is worth an entire afternoon visit.  Wind surfers can be rented
there, and the beer is cheap. There is not much to see at Rincon. The
nightlife is hit and miss. Some nights there were fairly lively parties,
and other nights it seemed as though the entire island was quiet. 

 Groceries are astonishingly expensive. It may actually be cheaper to eat
at local restaurants then to attempt to prepare food inside the condo, with
the exception of spaghetti or raman noodles. The Argentinian restaurant
downtown serves a gigantic $15 platter of beef, which is surprisingly
cheap, due to proximity to Venezuela. Don't miss it. 

  Overall, If Captain Don's matches the price, stay there, instead of Sand
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