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Dive Review of Captain Don's Habitat in

April, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Samuel B. Johnson, NC, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (8 reports)
Report Number 4039
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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

choppy, no currents  
Water Temp
77   to 79    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility
40   to 75    Feet  
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
Enforced diving restrictions  
Nitrox Available?
What I saw
Whale Sharks
> 2 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
  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
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
Shore Facilities  
2 stars  
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
3 stars
3 stars
Service and Attitude
3 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
Dive Operation
3 stars  
Shore Diving  
5 stars  

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars   
4 stars    
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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