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Dive Review of Larry's Wildside , Wannadive/Golden Reef Inn in
Bonaire

August, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by James Reilly and Fran Klass, PA, USA
Report Number 2620
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
251-500 dives
Where else diving
General Caribbean area, New Jersey, and when were are desperate, Dutch
Springs
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
sunny, windy, dry  
Seas
calm, choppy  
Water Temp
82   to 83    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
0
Water Visibility
30   to 50    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
Larry's Wildside is a lead dive only.  
Liveaboard?
no 
Nitrox Available?
N/A 
What I saw
Sharks
None 
Mantas
None 
Dolphins
None 
Whale Sharks
None 
Turtles
> 2 
Whales
None 
Ratings 1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Corals
  5 stars
Tropical Fish
4 stars  
Small Critters
  4 stars
Large Fish
4 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
 
 
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
3 stars
Food
5 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
N/A
Dive Operation
5 stars  
Shore Diving  
5 stars  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
N/A    
Beginners
5 stars   
Advanced
5 stars    
Comments  
Getting to Bonaire is a day-long trip each way but worth it. We flew
through Aruba, got to meet some other interesting divers at the bar next to
the DAE ticket counter and then had to endure a landing in Curacao, as the
direct flights to Bonaire have been canceled. Wed left for the airport at
7:15 AM and now 11 hours later finally landed in Bonaire.

DAE has a severe luggage restriction - one bag per person only and a
maximum weight of 20 kilos. Our bags weighed in just above this on the US
Airways scales, but seemed to have gained 15 pounds when weighed by DAE -
still no charge. Another couple each had two pieces of check-in luggage and
they were charged $10 after some haggling. Another diver's three pieces of
luggage were an incredible 90 pounds overweight, but he was charming and
paid nothing. Leaving Bonaire is bad enough, but subjecting oneself to the
nightmare of long lines, and double inspections clearing American customs
and TSA silliness in Aruba is torture - and this before all the new no
liquids regulations. We did it last year and forgot how terrible it was.
After this years reminder we determined that we will NEVER fly through
Aruba again.

We stayed at Golden Reef Inn. It is a flat of one bedroom apartments, which
are clean, comfortable and well equipped - but Spartan and plain. Our
initial impression was very negative. We were met at the airport and
painlessly got our truck. We were lead to the GRI  but as we were the only
guests that night, the lights were out, were dim when turned on and overall
the place looked abandoned. Fran told me it felt creepy - what had we done?
But later, after dinner, we discovered the bed was very comfortable, the
towels thick, the sheets irons and fresh, and everything was spotless and
worked. Next morning in the light of day, the Inn looked much better. Plus
the owners were on-site every day and determined to make your visit a
success. Fran wanted fresh towels everyday  no problem, just ask. Fran
wanted extra pillows  here you go, do you need more. We are having a
problem with the water heater  Ed fixed it immediately. Our dive
certificate for Wannadive stated 6 days of diving and should have stated 9
 Whoops, sorry for the mistake we will correct it immediate.  By the end
of the day our spirits were restored. If you are looking for a luxury
apartment, this is not the right place. If you are looking for a decent,
comfortable place to stay with great service and a terrific deal - then
welcome to the GRI. A week at the GRI, which included food to make your own
breakfast, a truck from AB Carrental with insurance, and tanks from
Wannadive  cost less than $600 per person. We also learned that we loved
having a one bedroom apartment, where we ate both breakfast and lunch. On
the negative side, GRI is not on the water, so every time you want to dive
you have to load everything up and DRIVE to the ocean. As divers close to
retirement age, we discovered that the lack of an oceanfront dock reduced
the amount of diving we did on our vacation. Other guests who were the
typical loaded-the-truck-with-tanks-'till-it-groans, race off early and
return late at night, divers were not affected by the inland location.

Diving with Larry is fun! Riding his Zodiac is an adventure, and the diving
itself  well, on our first dive we saw eagle rays, several turtles, large
green morays, sleeping Southern Stingrays etc. Larrys dive sites deliver
the larger creature goods, and are the perfect balance to the sights
delivered on the lee side the island. And Larry is a character. Fran was
balancing on the bladder of his boat, ready to backroll on Larrys command
GO!. He looked at her, pointed and growled Go Girl!. Fran laughed all
the way in. We dove two mornings with Larry, then did shore diving for the
rest of our vacation. 

While we were there, the winds were blowing from the south  unusual for
Bonaire. It produced waves where there should have been none and dropped
visibility to 30 to 50 feet  way below the normal of 70 to 100+ feet.  We
could have gotten our tanks at GRI, as Wannadive delivers them daily, but
preferred to talk to Wannadives supervisor for both amusement (funny, dry
wit) and dive advise. When we checked in, he asked about our diving
experience and waved the orientation dive requirement. He looked at Fran
and asked if shes prefer 63s (in fact her personal tanks are 63s), and
made sure she had all she wanted. Best of all, he offered EXPERT daily
advise of which sites we should try, given our shore diving preference of a
non-challenging entry. With his assistance we dove several excellent new
sites. We were so pleased with Wannadives service, we tipped the
supervisor, who might have been an owner  but we did not care, he earned
the tip.

Finally, we enjoyed some very good, reasonably priced meals and some superb
dinners, which were not that expensive. Our favorites remain Casablanca and
Capricios, especially the latter. We tried several new places  Cactus
Blue and Salsa and left mildly disappointed  but thought the take out at
BobbyJans delicious, especially the chicken. We also discovered that
Captain Dons serves OK pizza and a good hamburger with fries at a very
reasonable price.

This was our fourth trip to Bonaire in as many years. Wed been thinking we
needed to let it rest for a bit  return to Curacao for example. But our
vacation reminded us how much we love this island. Its unhurried, not
crowded ways and the freedom to dive when you want. On the plane home, we
decided to return again next year.
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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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