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

Larry's Wildside , Wannadive/Golden Reef Inn, Aug, 2005,

by James Reilly and Fran Klass, PA, USA . Report 2620.

No photos available at this time

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
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. We’d 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 year’s 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. Larry’s 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 Larry’s 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 Wannadive’s 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 she’s prefer 63’s (in fact her personal tanks are 63’s), 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 Wannadive’s 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 Capricio’s, especially the latter. We tried several new places – Cactus Blue and Salsa and left mildly disappointed – but thought the take out at BobbyJan’s delicious, especially the chicken. We also discovered that Captain Don’s 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. We’d 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. It’s unhurried, not crowded ways and the freedom to dive when you want. On the plane home, we decided to return again next year.

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 82-83°F / 28-28°C Wetsuit Thickness 0
Water Visibility 30-50 Ft/ 9-15 M

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
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
UW Photo Comments [None]
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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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