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

July, 2008, an Instant Reader Report by Barbara Soucy, VA, USA (1 report)
Report Number 4444
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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 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
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  
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  
 
 

Overall Rating

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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