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Dive Review of Toucan Diving/Plaza Resort in
Bonaire

August, 2005, an Instant Reader Report by William & Frances Ungerman, CA, United States
Report Number 1897
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Reporter and Travel
Dive Experience
501-1000 dives
Where else diving
Pacific and Caribbean
Closest Airport
Getting There

		

Dive Conditions

Weather
sunny, windy, dry  
Seas
calm, choppy, surge, noCurrents  
Water Temp
81   to 84    Fahrenheit  
Wetsuit Thickness
2
Water Visibility
50   to 100    Feet  
 
Dive Policy
Dive own profile
yes  
 
Enforced diving restrictions  
Recommended to dive no deeper than 100 feet, return in one hour.  Not
enforced.  
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
  3 stars
Tropical Fish
3 stars  
Small Critters
  3 stars
Large Fish
1 stars  
Large Pelagics
  1 stars
 
 
Underwater Photography  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Subject Matter
2 stars  
Boat Facilities
4 stars
Overall rating for UWP's  
2 stars  
Shore Facilities  
4 stars  
Comments
No particular accomodations other than a large container for a rinse tank
aboard.
Ratings and Overall Comments  1 (worst)- 5 (best):
Accommodations
5 stars
Food
4 stars
Service and Attitude
5 stars
Environmental Sensitivity  
N/A
Dive Operation
4 stars  
Shore Diving  
5 stars  
Snorkeling
N/A  
 
 

Overall Rating

Value for $$
N/A    
Beginners
5 stars   
Advanced
3 stars    
Comments  
The Plaza resort is probably the most upscale resort on Bonaire, yet the
prices were reasonable and they offered a tremendous amount of incentives,
e.g., free nitrox, second diver dives for free, kids stay and dive free,
breakfast included.  They also upgraded us to a Grand Suite, unsolicited. 
For our four-diver family, picking the Plaza was a no-brainer.  We were not
disappointed.  We booked the six boat-dive (12 dives) package.  Boats left
promptly at 0830 and returned around 1230.  Afternoon boats went out at
1430.  Fruit (watermelon, peaches)was offered between dives.  The skipper
and D.M were fairly accompdating on site selection and didn't mind going
south or north or to Klein Boneire (where diving and viz was a bit
better).

Air temperatures in August were 88-100 degrees F in the daytime with
overnight lows of 75-80.  Tradewinds made it bearable.  No bugs
encountered.  There is a $25.00 U/W park fee good for the calendar year.  A
mandatory briefing occurs the first day with an unsupervised
"checkout" dive afterwards.  Consequently, you miss the first
morning boat dives but are allowed to make it up with a night dive (Monday
and Thursday) or an afternoon dive.  You can't dive the Salt Pier anymore
without both Harbor Master permission AND a D/M.  They cite the threat of
terrorism as the reason.  However, when terrorists start blowing up
Bonaire's Salt Pier, we're in big trouble.  "Action" Jackson (a
Toucan D/M) had a major side business charging $25.00 a head to take you
there (and he doesn't mention the fee until you're loading tanks in the
back of your pickup truck!).

My youngest (ten year old) daughter completed her O/W referral
certification here with Instructor "Danny," a Dutch female. 
Danny was very competent and able to work effectively with little ones. 
Thirteen dives later Sierra saw Sea Horses, Morays, and Frog Fish.  The
Plaza's beach is "topless" and a lot of Euporesan females bare
themselves shamelessy.  Thank goodness us married guys had dark sunglasses.
 Whereas nearly 100% of the Americans on Bonaire are divers it doesn't
appear that more than a third of the Dutch and other Europeans indulge in
SCUBA.  The Europeans outnumbered the Americans two to one at the Plaza, a
Dutch-owned resort.  Not diving would be understandable on Aruba and
Curacao, but Bonaire??!!

The staff at the Plaza was exceptional:  Polite, courteous, helpful and
cheerful.  All except some of the bartenders at the Coconut Crush Beach Bar
who were a mite surly.  The Caribbean Point restaurant on- site was
excellent with a great staff.  The Tipsy Seagull, also on site, was a bit
pricey and the food only fair.  if you night dive, there is no restaurant
on-site open except the Seagull and you need reservations and a spare
hundred dollars.  In town we ate at The Casablanca (Argentinian flair and
expensive), The Rib Factory, near the town pier, (very good), the KFC (What
can I say?).  The most memorable was Giorgio's and Donna's, a Pizza and
Pasta place.  Outstanding food and fairly reasonable.  

The diving was very good to excellent on the Caribbean scale but the reefs
and sites all look pretty much the same after a few dives.  We're not
complaining, just be advised.  Shore diving may be as easy as it gets, but
it still involves getting sand all over everything and loading and
unloading gear.  Plus, thefts from vehicles has reached epidemic
proportions we were advised.  (We never saw a police officer in the week we
were there).  Visibility on the signature Hilma Hooker dive was a
disappointing 50 feet, the worst of any site.

Getting there.  Air Jamaica tries real hard, but it's a classic Caribbean
operation: Time is never of the essence.  Curiously, before every landing
the flight attendants went over the crash procedures in ernest.  We have
never experienced that on any other airline.  There is a $20.00 per person
departure tax (U.S. dollars).  Both US money or N.A. guilders are accepted
everywhere.  Rate of exchange $1.00 US to $1.75 NA Guilder.

Toucan Diving had no lockers for us until the last days.  They were so busy
they were even turning down training requests.  The aluminum tanks were
typically filled between 2700 and 2900 PSI and were available in 80, 63,
and 50 CF configuartions.  Rentals are extensive and well maintained. 
Nitrox fills were invariable in the 33% range.

Unless you are going to shore dive, skip the vehicle rental (mandatory if
you are going to shore dive.  Tanks are always available 24/7.  A superb
destination for divers, especialy if you're not too jaded.  For new divers
it doesn't get much better.  For experienced divers, there is always
something to see.  This was our second trip, the first staying at Captain
Don's Habitat.  There's a lot to be said for both facilities and Bonaire
too.
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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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