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Dive Review of Captain Don's Habitat in
Bonaire

Captain Don's Habitat, Jun, 2008,

by Marcio Cardoso, TX, USA ( 1 report). Report 4168.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Bahamas, Cuba, Fiji, Tonga, Sea of Cortez, Brazil, California, Cocos (Cost Rica), Hawaii, Florida Keys
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, dry Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 76 to 80 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50 to 100 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions Shore diving in Bonaire at the Habitat is truly diving freedom. No restrictions (or supervision) whatsoever for shore diving. I did not try the boat diving.
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 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 3 stars
UW Photo Comments Habitat does not have much space dedicated for UWP but there are plenty of table space in the locker room to work on your rig, if necessary. They do have a large water bucket for "cameras only". There is a underwater photo shop on the resort so UWP might ask them for support and resources.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 3 stars Environmental Sensitivity N/A
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ N/A
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments We rented a pick-up for the week with Budget at the airport. Everything went OK, but I was uneasy with their CDW insurance policy that still puts the renter on the hook for the first $300 in damages. Pay a lot of attention to the initial inspection and make sure that they add every dent on the report (there will be many). Keep the yellow paper with you. Insurance does not cover incidents at the Washington park. Not sure if other rental firms offer better terms. On the positive side with Budget, we had a "stuck on the sand" episode close to Margate Bay, called 911 and the Budget pick-up arrived in less than 30 minutes. By then the car was already free, but Budget did not charge anything extra for their visit.

We stayed on ocean-front suite, I looked at the online resort map and requested the room in advance while booking. Room is OK but is simple and a bit aged. Looks like a typical beach house of the 1980s. No frills but functional, I appreciated the plentiful hot water in the shower and the spacious safe on the room. Small TV with USA cable channels. Cleanliness looked good, but we suspect there were bedbugs. View of the oceanfront Habitat is sensational. Spectacular sunsets and the gentle breeze is a delight. Good swimming pool. We felt good on the resort and chose to have most of our meals at the local restaurant.

Diving freedom is still alive and well at the Habitat. Only requirements are attending 30-minute orientation and paying the $25 marine park fee prior to the first diving. They also ask for no dive within 18 hours of departure. Other than that, it is pretty much "here are the tanks, the reef is over there... have a nice dive!" which is exactly what I was looking for. I did not try the boat dives, I would expect them to set bottom-time limits since the boats run on a tight schedule. Divers have to pay for Nitrox extra - I went for the unlimited weekly and it was a decent deal.

Staff at the dive shop and front-desk will not smile and ask how you are doing, but if you ask for rentals and how the operation works, you will get what you need to go and explore the island. The dive in front of the Habitat is very good. After a 3-minute swim from the dock you are on top of a nice wall, thick in coral, that goes all the way to 130 ft.

Shore-Diving in Bonaire is exhilarating due to the freedom and pretty reefs. I loved the experience but there is a learning curve. I found the sites south of the Salt Pier (Margate Bay, Red Beryl) to offer a winning combination of ease of entry and good reefs. Coral and sponges are still healthy but it all can change in the near future, as rampant development in the island will bring extra sewage to the shores. Diversity of marine life is impressive but, as it has been said often, not much on large fish. Other than Tarpons, a solitary Eagle Ray and a school of Rainbow Parrotfish, I did not see anything over 2 1/2 feet... even the barracuda and the 3 hawksbill turtle were small. One would expect that, after 30 years of no-fishing at the marine park, the groupers and hogfish would find its way into the wonderful reefs. Any ideas on why is the case?

All in all, I loved the shore diving in Bonaire and I plan to return to the island and stay at Habitat. Feel free to write me at bonaire@diveflick.com.
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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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