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Dive Review of Bonaire Dive and Adventure/Den Laman Condominiums in
Bonaire

Bonaire Dive and Adventure/Den Laman Condominiums, Oct, 2009,

by Chrisanda Button/Rickie Sterne, Arkansas, USA (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 24 reports with 7 Helpful votes). Report 5212.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Bahamas, Bay Islands, Belize, Caymans, Cozumel, Turks& Caicos, Sea of Cortez, Australia, Fiji, Truck, Yap, Palau, several areas of Indonesia
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy, cloudy Seas choppy, no currents
Water Temp 84 to Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 80 to Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions shore diving-none; boat diving-more or less 60 minutes and 60 feet
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 2 stars Large Fish N/A
Large Pelagics N/A

Underwater Photography 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 3 stars Shore Facilities 2 stars
UW Photo Comments The good visibility and absence of currents made for good wide-angle photography. There were no rinse tanks of the boat, but boat rides were brief, and there was a good secure shelf area for carrying cameras. Shore facilities consisted of a cameras-only rinse tank.

Ratings and Overall Comments 1 (worst) - 5 (best):

Accommodations 5 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 5 stars Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments We have never dove on Bonaire before, so we cannot address the Degradation of the Reefs after the Hurricane and Advent of Cruise Ships. We can only report what we saw. Bonaire's stony corals are battered, north to south and back again. The prettiest of the sloping reefs were, therefore, those with a good admixture of octocorals, gorgonians, and sponges. We especially enjoyed the reefs on a swim from Witch's Hut to One Thousand Steps and at a site on the western side of Klein Bonaire. Tori's Reef was also pretty with its large schools of small fish. We dove the week after a full moon, and the sponges were spawning on our late afternoon dives. We certainly saw more fish and a wider variety of fish species than we encountered when diving around Grand Cayman from the Cayman Aggressor a couple of years ago. We saw the largest variety of fish species on Bari Reef, right in front of our hotel. It was fun to see juvenile, intermediate, and adult French angels on a single dive. We also got to observe the full life cycle of the spotted drum. All five of the Caribbean Chaetodonidae were present, and we saw several species of trunkfish and filefish as well. On late afternoon dives we watched sharptail eels and goldentail, spotted, and chain morays out hunting. One evening we watched a hunting sharptail eel accompanied by a group of large opportunistic hunters; a bar jack, yellow jack, yellow goatfish, and greater soapfish followed the eel closely. The soapfish repeatedly rubbed its flanks against the sharptail eel, which continued to pursue its dinner, oblivious to its entourage. We watched dusky damselfish and two species of filefish spawning. Hawksbill turtles let us take many photos while they chomped on sponge. We saw four eaglerays, two sailing along the reef and two hunting in the sand. Arrow crabs we saw by the dozen, but we found only one large sculptured slipper crab and one batwing crab. Small cleaner shrimp worked on all the reefs. They were the only other crustacea we saw. We did see a number of reef squid. Of opistobranchia, we found only some half dozen Elysia crispata, all living on northern reefs.
Once in the water, we found the diving on Bonaire easy. But we felt that the logistics of getting into the water were difficult. We dive regularly at our local lake, so we are accustomed to carrying our gear some distance over rocky, uneven surfaces. We are not accustomed to being able to leave nothing but a bottle of water and an old tee shirt in the truck. We also felt very disorganized with our gear strung out from a gear room to our hotel room to the truck. And then there was the problem of navigation - on land! We did not know that after we dove Karpata we would have to drive all the way to Rincon to get back to the sea; the one-way stretch of road was not marked on our map. Nor did the map indicate the dogleg that must be taken to get through town. We were on the island during Regatta Week, and the traffic in Kralendijk was dense, making access to the southern reefs difficult after ten am.
Bonaire Dive and Adventure was well organized, and they were helpful when we had gear problems. The first person to sign up for a boat dive could choose the site. We did three boat dives. Even when the boat was full there was adequate space on the boat. Entry was by backroll, reentry up a good ladder. Nitrox was free to the certified, and the shop offered a nitrox course to the uncertified at a bargain price.
There were several good reasons to stay at Den Laman. The hotel is only three years old and very well maintained. Our well-appointed studio apartment had a parking lot view, but that let us nab good parking places near the tank loading area when other people went out to dinner. Management cheerfully provided beach towels and extra pillows. Daily maid service kept the room clean. Then there is Bari Reef, conveniently accessible from BDA's dock in front of the hotel. The Sunset Grill is located on the first floor of Den Laman. We enjoyed a good variety of meals there. Their lunch package was a budget saver, too.
Our four-door Toyota truck from Budget rentals was in good condition, but we noticed that divers renting trucks from Total were provided with simple tank racks.
We thought the diving on Bonaire was good for the Caribbean, especially the fish. We also decided that one's first trip to Bonaire is a practice run. If we visit the island again, we will know much better how to go about diving there.
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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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