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Dive Review of Buddy Dive/Bel-Mar Apartmments in
Bonaire

Buddy Dive/Bel-Mar Apartmments, Jul, 2008,

by April Anderson, CA, USA (Reviewer Reviewer 3 reports). Report 4236.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 101-250 dives
Where else diving San Salvador, Bahamas, Jamaica, Grand and Little Cayman, Cozumel, Belize, Honduras - Bay Islands, Hawaii, Indoneasia, and Thailand - Similan Islands
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather rainy Seas calm
Water Temp 82 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 60 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions 100 foot limit, but never saw it enforced. Most people in Bonaire are diving between 60-100 feet.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Buddy Dive had two rinse buckets on-board (we booked boat dives this trip to be able to dive Klein Bonaire). Both tanks were used for cameras and other divers showed respect by not using them for their masks. There are dry tables on the larger boats. Buddy also has two rinse stations dockside which include seperate camera, regulator and dive gear tanks. These work well for shore diving and boat diving from there. When you dive somewhere other than the house reef upon you return it involves taking your gear to the dock to rinse, or rinsing your camera in your room.

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 4 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments Getting to Bonaire for us WestCoasties is as long as it is to travel to much of the South Pacific. My total travel was 28 hours, I live 2-3 hours from San Francisco our departure point. It involved a "red-eye" to Miami, a very long layover made longer by a weather delay for our flight into San Juan, Puerto Rico. The weather delay caused us to miss our flight by no more than 20 minutes to Bonaire stranding 11 passengers - 25% of their customers for that flight. It also resulted in a lost bag that was gone through by someone looking for valuables, no doubt in San Juan. There is only one flight a day 6:15pm so we made the best of the situation by exploring Old San Juan. The next day the flight was overbooked - no doubt because of the additional 11 passengers. We are definately going to make a return trip to Bonaire but the travel itenerary will be decidedly different. We learned of a variety of flights that will not take us through either Miami or San Juan.

The Bel-Mar Apartments are very nice and have an association with Buddy Dive. A boat comes to Bel-Mar a few times a week to go out to Klein Bonaire. We arrived around 8 pm were picked up and delivered to Bel-Mar. There is one resturant in a hotel across the street, but it was closed. With our bodies on Pacific time we were hungry, but had no access to our rental vehicle until the next day when we checked in with the office. Our security guard, Buchi hooked us up with delivered pizza and beer.

The diving in Bonaire was incredible everywhere we went. We booked a package that included 7 days (2-tank) boat dives for an 11 day trip in order to dive Klein Bonaire, plus unlimited shore diving. In hindsight we would have booked fewer boat dives in order to do more shore diving. Being our first trip we didn't know just how easy and wonderful the shore diving would be. When boat diving from Bel-Mar both tanks were done at Klein Bonaire. On the days we had to drive to Buddy they do (8:30) at Klein Bonaire and come back to the dock. Some of the dive site entries are difficult on Bonaire making them better to dive from a boat. The 10:30 boat was open to going to Klein Bonaire or sites on Bonaire, so we did some of the difficult Bonaire sites from the 10:30 boat.

We saw lots of frog fish and several sea horses. On one dive at Klein Bonaire, Eddy our divemaster found four frog fish!! There were also all the usual residents including big green and spotted morays, lots of golden tail and sharptail eels. Lots of file fish including scrawled, whitespotted, and slender. I have seen spotted drums many times before throughout the Carribean but have never seen full size adults ranging 8-10 inches. So many trumpetfish including ones with blue heads. Also saw rainbow and midnight parrotfish, all huge. Lots of trunkfish including a post-larval juvenile.

The night dives are fantastic and easy. We did the Town Pier (which has to be booked in advance with the HarborMaster on a week-day, Bel-Mar or Buddy will do all this for you, you pick the day). It is guided by a divemaster from Buddy. They limit the number of divers, so if you want to do this dive you may want to set it up before you arrive. It should not be missed! The piers are covered in coral and critters abound. There are also big tarpon on the hunt for the schooling silversides. Had a red snapper follow us on our night dive at Buddy Dive's house reef.

The people and the government of Bonaire and especially Capt. Don should be recognized for their early preservation of this marine environment. The number of fish and the health of the coral is outstanding. There is damage in the very shallow water from a storm that occured in 2000 (date is from what I was told).

The Bel-Mar has a nice dock with rinse tanks and filled tanks available with a sloping ladder into the water. We did several dives there just because it was so easy. Saw octopus, scorpion fish right near the dock. There is a rope to follow if you don't want to surface swim to the buoy marking the drop-off, and two squid hang around there. They have tanks up near the office (all supplied by Buddy Dive) and you can analyze your nitrox before putting the tanks in your pick-up. Buddy Dive/Bel-Mar make the truck rental really easy as Buddy owns the vehicle. It's at Bel-Mar when you arrive and you leave it at Bel-Mar when you depart.

Since Bel-Mar is a condo, we planned to eat in. Going to the grocery store was very interesting as almost everything is in Dutch. We ate out several times for dinner including It Rains Fishes - very nice place for a celebration or last night gala and the more casual City Cafe - great burgers, and BobbyJan's - great ribs and chicken satay with a peanut sauce. We almost missed all the resurants which are located on the waterfront, as we were walking the "main-street". We were also told that the Mona Lisa and Cactus Moon were good.

Our philosophy (four lady divers) is that we don't want to repeat dive locations until we have seen most of what the world has to offer. Bonaire we all agree will be the exception due to the health and abundance of it's marine life, the friendliness of it's people and the ease of shore 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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