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Dive Review of Captain Don's Habitat/Same in
Bonaire

Captain Don's Habitat/Same, Jun, 2009,

by James A Heimer, Texas, USA (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports). Report 4871.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Hawaii, Tahiti, Indonesia, Malaysia, Australia, California, Mexico, Texas Gulf of Mexico, Bahamas, Honduras Bay Islands, Belize, US Virgin Islands, Cayman Islands, Aruba, Bonaire, Norway
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy Seas calm, choppy, no currents
Water Temp 78 to 82 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 50 to 70 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile ?
Enforced diving restrictions Divers dove their computers for depth and time; dives usually lasted in excess of one hour (one went to 80 minutes).
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins 1 or 2 Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 4 stars Tropical Fish 3 stars
Small Critters 3 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities 5 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 2 stars Shore Facilities 2 stars
UW Photo Comments We were on a trip with approximately 24 members of the Houston Underwater Photographic Society; most carried extensive DSLR camera rigs with multiple strobes.

Captain Dons boats had some camera storage, either on a shelf forward in the cabin (usually for dry gear), on a small camera table midships. Some cameras had to be stored on the deck, and one boat had no storage at all and all cameras had to be placed there. Each boat also had camera rinse tanks, which were shallow plastic washtubs. We were on a boat borrowed from the Divi Flamingo, which had a large, multi-level camera table and two rinse tanks, as were used in the previous week during the Bonaire Digital Shootout.

There were two washtubs adjacent to the gear rinse area on shore totally inadequate for our groups needs, since they appear to be provided primarily for casual photographers using simple cameras. Most of us rinsed our cameras under the showers near the gear storage area.

The only place to put cameras while gearing up or after rinsing was on the tables around the gear storage room, amidst gear bags, weight belts, and gear.

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

Accommodations 3 stars Food 4 stars
Service and Attitude 1 stars Environmental Sensitivity 3 stars
Dive Operation 4 stars Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 2 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments The rooms were spacious and pretty well lit (with compact fluorescent bulbs, for the most part) with tile floors throughout. The beds were unusual. They are wooden boxes with a mattress inside. Moving aobut on the bed was accompanied by load creaking noises. No blankets were provided, and we usually remove the bed covering, so we ended up using beach towels for additional warmth at night, as the AC needed to be run to keep the humidity down. The rooms had a number of electrical outlets, but none with three-prong capability. Desk space was very limited, so we ended up setting up camera gear on the desk and on top of one of our camera transport cases. The bathroom had a tub and conventional shower head with plenty of pressure and hot water. The tile vanity, sink and toilet were dated. There was a large covered patio (we were on the first floor) with an all-weather settee and glass topped coffee table. A close line was provided for drying gear. Of our three recent dive trips (Little Cayman Beach Resort and Divi Flamingo on Bonaire), Captain Dons rooms come in third in general appeal. My wife would not be so kind, were she writing this review.

Our 12-dive package included a buffet breakfast, which offered a variety of pastries, breads, eggs cooked to order, precooked French toast and pancakes kept warm on a steamer, a good variety of fruit and cereals, and cold-cuts and cheese. Very good lunch and dinner selections were available at Captain Dons restaurant; restaurants at Buddys Dive and the Sand Dollar were within walking distance. Anything else required a truck or car. All the resort restaurants are pretty pricey, and their food is generally somewhat below similarly priced alternatives in town.

Our group of 24 divers was divided among two boats. We were mostly on a boat borrowed from the Divi Flamingo (see comments under the photography section). In general Captain Don boats are not well set up for a large group of photographers. We could dive either or both of the two morning dives (the boats return to Captain Dons between dives) and / or the afternoon boat dive up to our 12 dive package limit. You signed up the day before for the dives you wanted. You loaded your gear on board in the morning and hooked up your own equipment, geared up in place and walked to the stern to do a giant stride entry. We had an excellent dive master in Luty, who did every dive with us and could show us the featured creature (seahorse, frogfish, juvenile drum or trunkfish, etc.) at each site.

Although large sea life was absent, the reefs were in excellent condition and there was a great variety of the usual tropicals, including turtles, one eagle ray, and reef squid. We had a rental truck, but only did a few shore dives to supplement our 12 boat dives some were at the same sites we dove from the boat.

Although Captain Dons is a Bonaire icon, it is less diver-friendly than other resorts. They provide only a cubby hole size locker at the foot of the dock to be shared by two divers. It was inadequate to store wet suits, which had to be carried back to the rooms to dry out. Other resorts provide full size lockers or rooms in which gear can be hung up to dry. Tanks for shore diving the house reef had to be carried down from the dive shop level to the pier (they are located on the pier at other resorts) or hauled out to the parking lot for dives outside the resort (other resorts have drive-up air stations). The concrete rinse tanks got murky and took on a bilious green hue about mid morning, and I would certainly follow the recent Undercurrent advice not to rinse regulators or masks in them. In fact, I used the shower to rinse all my gear. Some of the land based dive staff were very curt in dealing with divers, although I commend Roger, the head of diving operations, for his policy of offering while-you-wait repairs to dive gear for free or only the cost of parts, up to and including hose replacement and regulator adjustments.

Our most unpleasant experience was on arrival on the 5 am Continental flight. Many rooms were not ready until late afternoon, and the front desk staff was particularly uncooperative in keeping track of which rooms were ready, so they could be occupied as soon as possible. We eventually resorted to tracking down our maid, who then called the office to confirm that our room was indeed ready for occupancy about 4 pm. The check out process involves separate checkouts from the dive shop, restaurant, and front desk.

We will probably not return to Captain Dons, preferring the Divi or Sand Dollar among the resorts we have visited previously. We are also looking forward to trying the Plaza and Harbour Village resorts.
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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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