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Dive Review of Captain Don's Habitat in
Bonaire

Captain Don's Habitat, Sep, 2013,

by Samuel B Johnson, NC, US (Contributor Contributor 12 reports with 3 Helpful votes). Report 7141.

No photos available at this time

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

Accommodations 4 stars Food 3 stars
Service and Attitude 2 stars Environmental Sensitivity 1 stars
Dive Operation 2 stars Shore Diving 3 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 3 stars
Beginners 3 stars
Advanced 3 stars
Comments This was my third trip to Captain Don's and may have been my last.

Captain Don's continues to live up to its motto: "Home of Diving Freedom." Unfortunately, the other side of that coin is that the attitude of the dive operation tends to be, "You're on your own." Maybe it's Dutch style, but gruffness replaces smiling, and staff talking to each other are in no hurry to interrupt their conversation to talk to or help a guest. One of the staff at the reception desk was absolutely rude.

The bottom line service quality at the dive operation is actually good. Tanks are well filled; the boats get one to the dive sites; they even unstuck the deflator valve on my inflator hose and charged me nothing. But all the extra touches are missing, e.g., smiling, asking how was your dive, a dive briefing to give you some idea of the lay-out of the site or what one might see. Gio was particularly frustrating; he was continually handling and harassing reef life, and he was no help in finding anything special to see. Out of the water he was absolutely sullen. Unhappy home-life perhaps. Netto was not much better. Sherman was an exception, perhaps because he apparently is a long-time veteran there. His out-of-the-water sense of humor got on my nerves, but in the water he is extremely sharp-eyed and helpful, e.g., he found an incredibly camouflaged green frogfish, blending with green sponge.

The lockers are small. Bring your own lock. If the resort were full and one had to use a lower locker, with someone else's equipment dripping down from above, that would be less than ideal.

My perception is that the quality of the coral life is much deteriorated. Moonscape, sand-covered rubble areas seemed much more common. The coral did not seem generally healthy. Many sites were heavy with algae, especially red algae. Despite the fact that we were told to expect to see many turtles due to the season, I saw two. I saw no large pelagics and no large fish, e.g., I saw not one grouper of any variety. No rays. Even the common grunts and snappers were fewer than usual, as were the various blennies and gobies one usually sees. Morays were relatively few; I saw not one green moray. The various filefish were even rarer than usual. I saw three seahorses, thanks to Sherman's sharp eyes. Lionfish were not as common as other places I've been. Abundant, for some reason, were smooth trunkfish, greater soapfish, and sharp tailed eels. There was also a smaller variety of critters. I saw three lettuce leaf sea slugs, some spotted cleaning shrimp and a banded tube-dwelling anemone, but no other unusual macro life to report, e.g., the only urchin of any kind I saw was a single, long-spined urchin.

After a previous visit to Captain Don's I reported on this site that one could do an entire fish i.d. course, based on the Humann book, simply on the house reef. This visit I dove the house reef twice during the day and twice at night and was repeatedly disappointed. Granted, it is a rush to have huge tarpon repeatedly appearing at one's side at night, seeming to be only inches away, but they were the only excitement.

The on-site restaurant, Rum Runners, is okay. The usual prices and the usual quality. An exception is the breakfast buffet, which is unusually good. A great variety is available, including made to order eggs and omelets and squeeze-it-yourself fresh orange juice. The iguanas under foot are amusing or not, depending on your tastes.

The rooms are quite acceptable. One should have Caribbean expectations, e.g., a loose faucet or a tub that doesn't drain well, but by and large no complaints. Room service is spotty, e.g., used towels left on the floor of the bathroom aren't always picked up.

Town, incidentally, is a 45 minute, hot walk into town for the hardy. One might consider renting a bicycle for the week, if one wanted to get away from the resort at all. Others who want to dive the great variety of marked shore dives around the island will want to rent a car, but I have no experience with that, hence no advice.
Websites Captain Don's Habitat   

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 251-500 dives
Where else diving Mostly various Caribbean locations, a few dives in California, a few dives in North Carolina, once in the Mediterranean.
Closest Airport Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather dry Seas calm, no currents
Water Temp 80-81°F / 27-27°C Wetsuit Thickness
Water Visibility 30-50 Ft/ 9-15 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions None.
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? N/A

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins None Whale Sharks None
Turtles 1 or 2 Whales None
Corals 2 stars Tropical Fish 2 stars
Small Critters 2 stars Large Fish 1 stars
Large Pelagics 1 stars

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

Subject Matter 2 stars Boat Facilities 3 stars
Overall rating for UWP's 4 stars Shore Facilities 5 stars
UW Photo Comments I took a course with ZsuZsanna at the on-site photo shop, BonPhoto, and I have the highest praise for her. I was an absolute novice, and she carried me to the point where I was actually getting excellent photos. Even after the paid-for course and time were over, she continued to be helpful all week, and I saw her being equally helpful to others. She was a high point of the vacation!
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Subscriber's Comments

By Robert S Kuhnin IL, US at Sep 16, 2013 22:56 EST  
If you have been to Bonaire 3X and have 200+ dives, you really need to venture out on your own on Bonaire or Curacao on your own schedule with your own dive profile. You do not need a DM or dive boat on Curacao or Bonaire.
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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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