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Dive Review of Bonaire Dive & Adventure/Sand Dollar condos in

July, 2006, an Instant Reader Report by Russ Battisto, MN, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (8 reports, with 1 Helpful vote)
Report Number 2934
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Mainly Caribbean and some South pacific.  We like warm water...
Closest Airport
Getting There


Dive Conditions

calm, noCurrents  
Water Temp
80   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
50   to 70    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
1 or 2 
1 or 2 
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
Boat Facilities
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
You are on your own on the shore dives.  The dive operation offers a
seperate fresh water rinse tank at the pier and by the tanks you pick up
and drop off.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
4 stars
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
2 stars   
4 stars    
Not having been to Bonaire since 1999 (just before Lenny tried to wipe
Bonaire off the map), we decided to join friends on Bonaire for a fun week
of diving and catching up on old times.  We caught a flight from MSP thru
Chicago to San Juan and then took a puddle jumper to Bonaire.  The
longest flight Ive been on in a smaller 2 prop plane over water.  No
matter, we made it just fine unlike our friends who got stuck in Miami. 
Some didnt make it till Tuesday
We picked up our rental truck at the airport and headed over to the Sand
Dollar Condos to unpack and get ready for a wonderful week of diving.  The
condo is clean and well run.  Plenty of room and the A/C worked when we
needed it although there was a nice breeze during the week we were there so
we tended to leave the patio doors and windows open.  Without our friends
we decided, what the heck, lets go for it, so off we went to enjoy a great
week of diving.
Bonaire Dive & Adventure is well run, friendly and very thorough. 
Their orientation covers a lot of ground and establishes a high level of
respect for environmentally friendly diving as well as safety.  Ive been
told that ALL dive operators on Bonaire give every diver a similar
orientation.  Even though there seems to be a lot of common sense stuff and
it tends to be a little time consuming, this is a good thing for many
reasons not the least of which is, this island is different from most weve
been to in the type of diving weve done.  Bonaire is a shore divers
paradise.  I wouldnt recommend Bonaire for new or inexperienced divers or
divers not sure of themselves and their navigational skills unless they are
with experienced diver(s) who are.  That being said, Bonaire shore diving
is safe if you are careful and use some common sense.
We did our checkout dive off the Sand Dollars pier.  Turns out Bari Reef
is one of the better shore dives you can do in front of a hotel or condo. 
We had fun and saw lots of life.  We saw great coral, tarpon, barracuda,
scorpion fish, eels, parrot fish, lots of arrow crabs and many schools of
colorful smaller varieties.  The shore dive gets serious right away as Bari
reef is actually a wall and gets deep fast.  We did a 75 dive without
trying.  It would be easy to hit 100 plus but the good coral and fish life
is in the 40-70 foot range.
We alternated days with boat dives, then shore dives.  Admittedly, we did
not push ourselves this trip limiting our diving to 2 or 3 dives per day. 
We relaxed much more than usual (Ive averaged 5 dives per day on some
trips) and enjoyed what the island offered as much as the diving.  Nitrox
was available and included in our package but again as in Utila, we ran
into equipment problems at the dive shop so we had to dive air for two days
out of the seven we scheduled.  We survived it
The diving is fun.  Lots to see.  Coral in OK shape.  The only thing we
experienced different from what we expected, the visibility was much lower
than normal.  We heard there was some sort of thermal inversion causing
the cooler water to intermix with the warmer water throwing lots of
particles around and reducing vis to about 50-60ft on most dives.
Many of the boat dives go over to Klein Bonaire, a smaller island off of
Bonaire.  Again, the diving was easy and fun.  We did experience a little
current at a couple of the sites on Klein Bonaire but nothing we couldnt
handle.  If youve been to Cozumel, this is comparatively easy.
The bottom line is, I would recommend this dive trip for anyone looking for
an adventure you are in control of.  Do the dive profile you want and dont
worry about when the boat leaves.  Make sure you bring your compass and a
good dive computer.  Just load your tanks into the truck load up the camera
and have fun.  Maps are easy to read and dive sights were well marked.  Our
favorites were Barkadera, Angel City (where we saw a huge Manta), 1000
Steps (where I saw a topless mermaid) and Oil Slick Leap.  
We didnt find any bad food on the island.  Just be prepared to slow down
to island time when you hit the restaurants.  Relax.  Take it easy and
enjoy.  Try Casa Blanca if you are hungry.  They offer the Mixed Grill
enough to eat till you are sick and take the rest home for snacks the rest
of the week.  All in all a great week of diving!
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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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