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Dive Review of Captain Don's Habitat in
Bonaire

Captain Don's Habitat, Oct, 2011,

by Mark Kimmey, NY, US (Sr. Reviewer Sr. Reviewer 10 reports with 2 Helpful votes). Report 6295.

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
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
UW Photo 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
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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