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Dive Review of Captain Don's Habitat in
Bonaire

Captain Don's Habitat, Apr, 2008,

by Samuel B. Johnson, NC, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports). Report 4039.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Cozumel, Turks & Caicos, Roatan, Domenica, NC, California, Curacao
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather cloudy Seas choppy, no currents
Water Temp 77 to 79 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 5
Water Visibility 40 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 Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

Subject Matter N/A Boat Facilities 4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities 2 stars
UW Photo Comments [None]

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 3 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments I spent one week, April 5 through 12, at Captain Don's Habitat in Bonaire, "the home of diving freedom." For me, Captain Don's was a surprising combination of the superb and the frustratingly unsatisfactory. It certainly is the home of diving freedom. No one tracks your dive profile or whether you have a buddy or even whether you've taken a tank and gone into the water alone on a shore dive in front of the resort. For a relatively experienced, responsible and safety-conscious diver, this is delightful. The down side is that, despite their promises to the contrary, their dive masters do very little to add to your diving experience, even when asked, e.g., helping one find interesting critters. Also, their dive masters do nothing to police respect for the reefs, and I saw many divers, especially photographers, who needed some courteous policing. The flexibility of the entire dive operation is a great plus, marred by unexpected ridigities, e.g., if one wants to review the accuracy of one's bill from the dive center, one must do so from 3:00 to 5:00 p.m. the day before departure, at the dive shop, no exceptions, even though this is precisely the "no dive" day for many divers who want to go explore the town or the island.

The dive masters are a very mixed bag. Some are very friendly and helpful, e.g., Max, whom we hired to take us on a night dive at the town pier. (Plan this ahead. It's a famous option and must be scheduled in advance with a special fee to be paid.) Others are rude; one was so bad that our trip organizer finally had to request that he not be assigned to any of the boats our group was using. (An illustration of the problems of nepotism.)

The dive shop was limited and not very helpful. When one of my dive lights stopped functioning, despite new batteries, they shrugged their shoulders. (My shop at home tested the bulb, found it was bad, and replaced it.) They also thought that a broken off handle on a magnifying glass could be reattached with duct tape; that worked for about 10 seconds.

The set-up around the dive shop area was again excellent in ways and disappointing in ways. They have a separate pier, dedicated for shore diving, which was wonderful. A line along the bottom runs from the pier out to the wall and then down the wall, making even night dive navigation simplicity itself. Convenient steps built into the pier make the exit easy. The shore dive in front of the resort is a wonderful asset. I dove it four times and would happily dive there more. The wall is perhaps 50 yards from shore, and the variety of life is as great as on any Bonaire dive; one could do a decent fish i.d. course with the Humann book and the shore dive at Captian Don's. On the other hand, the locker area is small, crowded, poorly ventilated, and the lockers are quite small. (Bring your own lock.)

The dive boats are unremarkable and satisfactory. The rides to the dive sites are so short that the boat doesn't much matter. The pontoon boat is quite unstable. A separate bucket is maintained for camera equipment, and the crew regularly reminds people to use it only for cameras. The dive briefings are identical at every dive site. "We're in the shallows. The wall's over there. Swim against the current along the wall going out. Come back in the shallows so that you'll find the boat and not need a safety stop." End of dive briefing.

The food at the restaurant is certainly satisfactory. Breakfast is more varied than at many resorts, with a cook on duty to prepare eggs to order, French toast, or pancakes, with a steam table of other options plus fruit, yogurt, various breads. Unfortunately, the lunch and dinner menus are very limited, with the manager's position being to limit oneself to what one can do well. The serving staff are one more example of the very good and the disappointing. When they're at your table, they're friendly and helpful. Once they leave your table, you cease to exist.

The physical resort is also mixed. At first glance, it's quite fine. Beautiful small pool, excellent balcony views, nicely furnished rooms. Then one notices little things, like the bathroom door that doesn't shut completely, and the sliding door to the balcony that doesn't sit properly in its tracks and can't be fixed by the maintenance staff, so that all week long it takes two hands and a hard lift to move it back and forth.

Bonaire diving is quite fine. I saw less macro life than I usually see elsewhere, e.g., in Roatan, but the sessile life (coral, sponges, etc.) seemed in good shape, and the fish life was varied and generally abundant. I saw no rays or sharks, but we saw a number of seahorses and frogfish and several turtles. Trumpet fish were everywhere, as were various kinds of parrotfish. The golden zoanthids (correct i.d.?) under the town pier were abundant and gorgeous. The week we were there the skies were varied between overcast with occasional brief rain and fairly sunny. Water temperature was around 77. Seas were fairly calm. Visibility was moderate.
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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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