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

November, 2007, an Instant Reader Report by Rick Bates, ON, Canada
Reviewer   (6 reports)
Report Number 4401
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
Over 1000 dives
Where else diving
Great Lakes Canada, British Columbia, Nova Scotia, Bahamas, Turks &
Caicos, Bonaire, Curacao, Cozumel, Papua New Guinea, Australia, Fiji
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
sunny, dry  
Seas
calm, choppy  
Water Temp
78   to 82    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
3
Water Visibility
50   to 75    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
None  
Liveaboard?
no 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
None 
Mantas
None 
Dolphins
None 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
> 2 
Whales
None 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
N/A  
Large Pelagics
  N/A
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
3 stars  
Boat Facilities
3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
4 stars  
Shore Facilities  
3 stars  
Comments
On site photo shop with sometimes helpful photo pro, but mostly seemed
motivated to get your money with various "courses" and
accompanied photo/video dives.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
4 stars
Food
3 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  
Snorkeling
1 stars  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
3 stars    
Beginners
3 stars   
Advanced
4 stars    
Comments  
We flew from Toronto to Newark in the afternoon, and then the Continental
overnight to Bonaire.  Customs and baggage pick up all smooth, picked up
the included rental truck in the parking lot which also went smoothly. 
Accommodations at the Sand Dollar was a two bedroom, ground floor condo
style unit.  Probably a time share, the owners left out many fish ID books,
and other reading materials with several hand written notes from them
including hints on how to enjoy our stay.  The security guard was waiting
for us at 6am with our room keys so we were able to immediately check in,
have a rest and clean up before the morning dive briefing & orientation
session (mandatory by Park rules).  After a "check out" dive on
their house reef, we spent the week driving to, and diving at the many
shore dives, all easily located and well described in pamphlets.  Many of
the shore dives offered a challenging entry over rocks/corral, but it was
all worth it.  Most dive sites had a similar profile, but each one had
something different from the last to keep things interesting.  No big
animals except for a few turtles, but the little critters, reef fish, and
schooling fish more than made up for it.  We pre-booked 5 boat dives, which
were a waste of time and money.  Only one or two of them were different
enough to be worth it.  I would only pay to go over to Kline Bonaire once
to experience those dives, and perhaps one more boat dive to one of the
better off shore dives at the north end of the island.  Otherwise, stick to
the shore dives!  DMs and boat crews were friendly enough, but we were out
with several different crews over the week and there was little consistency
with their briefings, their emphasis on safety, and helpfulness.  Some DMs
were very strict with in and out procedures, some could care less what you
did and sat back and watched.
The shore dives did not disappoint at all, and were well worth the trip. 
Drive through tank pick up with your four door truck (with tank rack in
the back) was easy and convenient.  However, they lock up early, so if you
were planning a late night dive or an early morning dive, you had to get
your tanks and equipment out and store them in unsecured lockers near the
dock.  The shore dive facilities, rinse tanks and showers on the dock were
superb and very well set up though.  Plenty of rinse tanks for gear and
cameras, plus banks of warm showers for everyone that was exiting from the
house reef or getting off the boats.  The house reef was one of the best
dives on the island, and we repeated it many times, always seeing something
new.  Nitrox is included in your package rates, mixes varied 31-34%.  Your
personal gear is hung up in a large locker room near the dock that is
locked up and guarded at night.  We had no problem with theft from our
vehicles, although we followed the recommendation of always leaving our
truck unlocked and empty while unattended.  There were fresh piles of
broken glass in every parking lot we used, so clearly this problem is still
a significant one.

There is no restaurant on site (it was lost in a hurricane a few years ago)
but breakfast was included in our room, and this was available at the
adjacent Den Lamen Resort, which is also where the actual dive shop is. 
All a convenient walk along pathways each morning.  With full kitchen
facilities in our unit, we stalked up on groceries and ate in for lunch and
some dinners, but were happy to go into town most nights and try the many
restaurants.  Eating out was reasonably priced, and food was always great.
We are returning to the same resort and dive operator next year, following
pretty much the same drill, however, well pass on the boat dives this
time.
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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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