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Dive Review of Buddy Dive/Bel-Mar Apartmments in

July, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by April Anderson, CA, USA
Reviewer   (3 reports)
Report Number 4236
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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

Water Temp
82   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
60   to 100    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
100 foot limit, but never saw it enforced.  Most people in Bonaire are
diving between 60-100 feet.  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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  
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):
4 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
5 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
5 stars   
4 stars    
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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