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Dive Review of Dive Friends Bonaire & Toucan@Plaza/rented LBR#2 thru Bonaire Partners in
Bonaire

Dive Friends Bonaire & Toucan@Plaza/rented LBR#2 thru Bonaire Partners, Jul, 2008,

by Barbara Soucy, VA, USA ( 1 report). Report 4444.

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving Turks, Caicos Islands, Roatan, Honduras, Jamicia, Domincan Republic, Cozumel, Cancun, Yucatan, Bahamas, Florida, Maryland
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, rainy, cloudy Seas calm
Water Temp 82 to 84 Fahrenheit Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 40 to 85 Feet

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions no restrictions with shore diving. Dove a conservative algorithim. No probelm getting 90-120 minute dives due to variety in shallower depths.
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 5 stars Tropical Fish 5 stars
Small Critters 5 stars Large Fish 4 stars
Large Pelagics N/A

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

Subject Matter 5 stars Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's 5 stars Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments Due to unusually rainy weather conditions there were more cloudy days than expected. With lower light there were times I wish I had brought more lighting!

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

Accommodations 2 stars Food N/A
Service and Attitude N/A Environmental Sensitivity 5 stars
Dive Operation 5 stars Shore Diving 5 stars
Snorkeling 5 stars
Value for $$ 5 stars
Beginners 5 stars
Advanced 5 stars
Comments Can there be a best and worst of Bonaire? YES. Dive Friends of Bonaire is a definite best. Osco and his staff are class-acts in keeping unlimited shore diving costs low. Arrangements for our divers were in motion when one guy fell ill to an ear infection rendering him unfit to dive. Our bill was pleasantly adjusted for full credit without a fuss or issue. At $114/pp/pw/+tax, the FREE nitrox upgrade (for those with certification) just added to the positive experience. Isolated rinse buckets kept wetsuits from mingling with masks and regulators how hygienic. Dive Friends has four convenient places to pick up tanks so we were never crimped for air what ever our diving direction. In either 21% or 32% nitrox, 65 cu ft tanks and 80s were plentiful. Our youngest diver became an AOW diver on her 12th birthday. Carolyn Caporusso, PADI-DI educated skills for the next level as well as testing that previously taught skills were mastered. Folks may chuckle at the acronym of Put Another Dollar In, but this instructor made sure our childs certification was earned not purchased. Our only negative for the dive operation is that the southern tank depot (across from the airport) needs slightly longer hours.

Best dive site depends on your must see list. For turtles, Andrea II north to Oil Slick. It just isnt a dive there without seeing a Hawksbill or a Green. For spotted eagle rays and squid, head to the southern most reefs from Bries Way south to Red Beryl. We enjoyed four separate eagle ray sightings at Bries Way including a youth scavenging in the sand shallows, a matched pair gliding over the soft coral gardens in 30, a pelagic swimming in open water at 65 and a colossal eagle ray cruising the wall at about 100 (Yes, we have video!). In short warm water you will have squid sightings here, too. There were not only large squadron formations but also intimate mating behaviors. (Yes, more video opportunities!) For fish feeding and behavior education our best sightings were definitely the unmarked area between Angel City and Alice in Wonderland in the early morning and late afternoon hours. This is a double reef area where the outer reef reaches a high of 26 in one area making it an excellent place to teach younger divers about double reef structure, feeding techniques including shadowing, baitball and schooling behaviors. This area is also home to a 6-7 green moray which seems to enjoy open swimming along the outer wall. For midnight parrot fish and porcupine fish we suggest the shallows just north of Andrea II, extremely close to the shore near the new condos and private homes. A very mature porcupine fish resides in a condo unit inside a pristine Elkhorn coral formation. The sea life must have known that 2008 is designated International Year of the Reef.

The best boat dive and dive master of our twenty-eight days went to Sherman, DM at Toucan Dive/Plaza Bonaire, who found five frog fish including a courting pair on a single dive. Challenge him with critters he will not disappoint!

Bruce Bowker, owner of the Carib Inn, receives kudos for best in equipment repair and replacement. Four years in a row, he has come to our rescue. You can not find a more honest guy, eager to get you, and your equipment, back in the water without heavy repair bills. He charged me a whopping $10.00 to clean out my second stage valve and adjust my regulator due to a mid-trip free flow issue! Hell never get rich with his fiscally conservative fees but then again that doesnt seem to be a priority for this dive-pioneer and steward of Bonaire.

The slide show sponsored by Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire gets a best score. The conservation group welcomes diver assistance in its efforts benefitting the endangered sea turtle population. These folks are making a tangible difference; please support their efforts by attending a show. This years trip had the highest turtle encounter rate in our total diving experience. (www.bonaireturtles.org)

The best idea in transportation is a dependable truck. Poppys trucks at Telerin Rental are not the newest/fanciest/shiniest but very reliable, with cold AC and a wallet pleasing price. Including unlimited mileage and all taxes, we finished at under $899 for a month! Telerin will accommodate AMEX Card holders who have Premium Rental Insurance ($24.95 per rental charge can be a huge savings over purchasing additional daily on-island insurance coverage). Vehicles are delivered at airport even at 4:30 am and are ready for several days of diving before needing to see a gas station. (telerin@bonairelive.com)

Our accommodation experience this year a worst. The Lighthouse Beach Resort community pool needed better professional maintenance. Several guests experienced ear infections and skin irritations due to improper chemical treatment of the pool water. Our first week at LBR#2 was highlighted by the visitation of a foraging rat inside our condo. By evidence of holes in the screens, this guy was a regular! (I assure you, he is now in cheese heaven!) We also suffered with a total loss of water due to a rust clogged filter (The filter was removed by Bonaire Partners, but never replaced.), in-unit local phones listed for renter use which did not work, a washing machine that took over 12 hours to complete one wash load, retched odors from bathroom drains, missing keys to the safebox and poolgate, plus a hodgepodge of cookware that wasnt fit to donate to a garage sale. In order to get the refrigerator to stay cold, we had to repair the door gaskets with surgical gloves and duct tape. Bonaire Partners did their best to remedy most of the unsatisfactory items however we note their statement We can only maintain items to the level allowed by individual unit owners consent. This unit has great potential but needs better owner upkeep. Fortunately our persevering attitude, the sea-side view and Bonaire-euphoria prevailed.
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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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