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

June, 2009, an Instant Reader Report by James A Heimer, Texas, USA
Sr. Reviewer   (10 reports)
Report Number 4871
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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 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
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  
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  
 
 

Overall Rating

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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