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August 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Vol. 33, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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Dive Friends, Courtyard Marriott, Bonaire

finally, a way to use hotel points on your overseas dive trip

from the August, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

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Dear Fellow Diver:

My most magical moment underwater on this trip to Bonaire I owe to the ostracod, a millimeter-long crustacean that ejects a blue bioluminescent substance. The species, known as "blue tears" in the Caribbean, goes through a monthly mating ritual, four to five days after the full moon. They move into shallow water to mate just after the sun sets and before the moon rises. To attract mates, the males rise up in a spiraling motion, releasing a glowing chemical in bursts. If a female likes his light display, she uses the pattern to intercept him. I entered the water at Windsock, just as the sun was setting. I kept my light off so I wouldn't disturb the ostracods and ruin their show. After 40 minutes, finning at 30 feet, I saw tiny flashes of blue light in the coral. When I turned to get my buddy's attention, I saw brighter globs of blue goo spewing about. Everywhere I looked, there were strands of blue dots rising up around me. For 20 minutes, I was immersed in a galaxy of twinkling stars.

Due to its unlimited shore diving and location below the hurricane belt, the Dutch island of Bonaire is a diver's paradise. Were all my dives here magical? I tried to find them, reader, but it gets harder every time. However, I tried a new tactic for making this Bonaire trip different from past ones -- avoiding crowds by staying in a different type of lodging.

Courtyard by Marriott Bonaire Dive ResortBonaire welcomes 80,000 tourists every year, many of whom stay at dedicated dive resorts along the west coast. I used to be one of them. I would stay at Buddy Dive, but it has become too big for my liking -- crowded boats, cluttered dive decks, dirty rinse tanks and no place to hang a wetsuit on the rack to dry. When Marriott opened a Courtyard hotel in Bonaire, my interest soared, because being a member of the Marriott Rewards program would now pay off on a dive trip. Most overseas dive destinations I want to visit are too small or too far off the beaten path for major hotel groups to consider setting up outposts there. So here was my opportunity to use hotel points for diving, and hopefully find a more relaxed, less crowded dive trip.

Built in 2016, the Courtyard by Marriott Bonaire Dive Resort is two minutes from the airport. After I exited baggage claim, I hopped in their free airport shuttle, and having used Marriott's check in app, the front desk had my key waiting. And surprise! I got upgraded to one of their four suites, just for being a Marriott member. I had a small kitchen and dining area, living room, bedroom with king-sized bed -- just like sleeping on a cloud -- two bathrooms with plenty of hot water, ample closet space, WiFi, Netflix on the large flat-screen TV, and good AC....

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