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Dive Review of Captain Don's Habitat in
Bonaire

October, 2011, an Instant Reader Report by Mark Kimmey, NY, US
Sr. Reviewer   (9 reports)
Report Number 6295
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
New York, Hawaii, California, Kwajalein, Florida, Grenada, Bonaire, Grand
Cayman, Belize, Mexico
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
sunny  
Seas
calm  
Water Temp
81   to 85    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
3
Water Visibility
30   to 70    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
[Unspecified]  
Liveaboard?
no 
Nitrox Available?
yes 
What I saw
Sharks
None 
Mantas
1 or 2 
Dolphins
None 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
1 or 2 
Whales
None 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  4 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  5 stars
Large Fish
2 stars  
Large Pelagics
  N/A
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
N/A  
Boat Facilities
N/A
Overall rating for UWP's  
N/A  
Shore Facilities  
N/A  
Comments
[None]
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
4 stars
Food
4 stars
Service and Attitude
4 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
4 stars
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
4 stars  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
4 stars    
Beginners
4 stars   
Advanced
4 stars    
Comments  
The good news is that the North American reservation agent for Captain
Dons Habitat  Maduro Travel  has gotten its stuff together since our
last trip in 2005.  This time everything went more than smooth with them,
and I can now recommend them to others.
  
We were also pleased that Captain Dons is still a well-run operation. 
Rooms were comfortable and clean, and hot water was plentiful. 
Unfortunately, our unit lacked an overhead fan on its porch, which would
have helped a lot: October is apparently mosquito season and without a fan
to keep the little buggers at bay we did not enjoy the porch as much as we
would have liked.  The restaurant (Rum Runners) served good food at
reasonable prices.  The entire staff was pleasant and helpful, especially
the dive staff.  Most important, the latter were very accommodating, to the
point where on one boat excursion where we were the only two divers that
showed up, they took us out anyway.

We had fewer problems with maintenance this trip, though we had learned to
travel with our own tank checker and spare o-rings.  Several tanks leaked
air, but not nearly as bad as in 2005.  There is a tank checker tied to a
post at the fill station, but its been dropped so many times that it
consistently read 500 pounds over what was actually in the tank.

Diving conditions were good: visibility was usually within expectations and
currents were mild.  The reefs are in relatively good condition with only a
little algae here and there, and minimal bleaching.  Lionfish are taking
over, however: during one dive on the north side of Karpata we counted 10. 
Divemasters are trying to spear them, but its an upstream fight.

Town Pier is still closed to diving.  The situation at the Salt Pier is a
little less clear.  According to Cargills office, the Harbor Master calls
the shots on diving there.  They also told us they were recommending the
Harbor Master not permit diving because they were preparing to repair
damage to the Pier, but Captain Dons divemasters told us theyve been
saying that for months.  Supposedly the Harbor Master issues permits that
allow guided dives, and thats how we made a night trip this time. 
However, we also saw people making what appeared to be unguided day dives
there, so were not sure if this is just a scam, or what.  In any case, if
there are prohibitions, they do not appear to be enforced.

The bad news is that Bonaire has a crime problem.  When picking up one of
the ubiquitous compact pickups, the rental car companies will warn you not
to leave valuables in your car and to not lock your doors.  They will also
push you to take the extra CDW insurance, but you should be aware that it
doesnt cover glass.  Apparently they know that thieves will break vehicle
glass to take whatevers inside.  We got hit while diving The Invisibles
south of Salt Pier, as did the truck parked next to us.  We did not have
valuables in the cab, but that didnt stop the thieves from taking our
(resort) beach towels, shirts, hats and prescription glasses (seriously, my
prescription glasses?).  We tried to laugh it off, but were a little
unhappy when Captain Dons charged us $20 for each of the towels because we
didnt file a police report.  The police station is marked on the map from
the rental company, but who is going to drive into town in their wetsuit to
report a couple of stolen towels?  Our guess is that since most thefts are
low value they are frequently unreported, which means that the police are
not involved in solving the problem.  Im pretty sure the resorts
understand the problem, but until they put pressure on the police nothing
is going to happen.  Talking with the divemasters led us to understand that
theft is a problem across the island, and its not limited to tourists. 
Well go back to Bonaire eventually, but Im going to want reassurances
that theyve got the crime under control before I start making
reservations.

One other thing to be aware of, and a reason to take the CDW option from
the rental company: your credit card may not cover TRUCKS under any sort of
rental car insurance they offer.  Our truck was hit in the parking lot the
night before we were to fly home, but we had declined the CDW believing
that our credit card would cover any damage.  We were charged $365 for a
small ding in the rear fender when we returned the vehicle, and when we got
home MasterCard told us they wouldnt cover it because it was a TRUCK.
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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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