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

Bonaire Dive & Adventure/Sand Dollar Resort, Nov, 2007,

by Rick Bates, ON, Canada (Reviewer Reviewer 6 reports). Report 4401.

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
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
UW Photo 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
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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