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Dive Review of Mulitple in

Mulitple: "Four Months on Bonaire", Mar, 2019,

by Mark Magers, CA, US (Sr. Contributor Sr. Contributor 20 reports with 25 Helpful votes). Report 10980 has 4 Helpful votes.

Photos Submitted with this Report

Click on an image to see an enlarged version and captions

Senor Tortuga Cleaning Coral Nursery Turtle heading up North Shore Slipper lobster
Sunset from Blennie's Carnaval Baitball! Dark patch it the baitball Inside our apt
Back porch, apt Bite me! Eel vs barjack

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

Accommodations N/A Food N/A
Service and Attitude N/A Environmental Sensitivity 3 stars
Dive Operation N/A Shore Diving 4 stars
Snorkeling N/A
Value for $$ 4 stars
Beginners 4 stars
Advanced 4 stars
Comments We spent several months on Bonaire, testing the hypothesis "if we can dive everyday, and economically, will we get bored?" After 4 months, the answer is no.

We tried many of the dive shops, both for shore and boat diving. Our favorite boat operation by far was Bruce Bowker's, which we used to get to dive sites that were not shore-accessible. The boats are smaller, so smaller groups. The divemasters have a lot of experience overall, there are many repeat, older, experienced divers, you have the option to follow the divemaster or do your own profile, only rule stay within recreational dive limits. Most dives averaged 75 minutes.

Bowker does NOT offer nitrox. The support staff is great -- friendly and efficient! Great prices, we did 2-tank dives at $33 per dive, that is really only about 2X what a single tank costs per shore dive. Their prices on gear are the best on the island, and better than US retail AND most internet pricing. This is amazing since a hamburger on Bonaire costs $14 - not a cheap destination! And last but not least, the turnaround on gear service is very fast, 10 minutes for simple fixes, maybe 1-2 hours for a full regulator service. We decided it was worth a trip to Bonaire next time we needed service. If you are considering this option, be sure to ask Bowker about parts, you may need to bring them (we did) since they don't carry all brands in the parts department. We did not stay on the property this time, but have in the past - clean, convenient, totally workable. Probably the best deal on Bonaire.

OK, that is Bowker, but what about the rest? We rented a truck ($800/month, plus $240/month insurance, this is a "good deal"...I told you it is not a cheap island!) from AB Dive, a good operation with friendly staff, and used their tanks probably 60% of the time. They have nitrox and air, din and yoke, and average about $15 per tank (no upcharge for nitrox). They do have packages that can reduce that per tank rate, but we were not in 3-4 dives per day mode, so mostly did ala carte. They also have rinse tanks and you can store gear there. And weights are included, and not "regulated" so you can swap out and carry a few extra in the truck if you want until you are comfortable. The fills were consistently 3200 psi minimum.

We tried out Buddy Dive, a bit of a mass production thing, but nice folks, and the restaurant, Blennies is the best deal in town for Happy Hour. Good bitterballen and wings. We took a PADI coral restoration class with them, and volunteered several time to mostly go clean coral trees. Free tanks for coral tree cleaning! The downtown shop for BD has 12 tanks for $100, good price but short to minimal fills.

Dive Friends: we read a recent report about bad experiences with the Courtyard Marriott operation (right by the airport), we did not go there. We did dive with the DF shop at Hamlet Oasis (good) and also took a turtle conservation class from the shop at DF Yellow Submarine. Both were friendly, what we did notice were some issues with short fills and leaky tanks. That said, Yellow Submarine lets you take different masks out to try them before you buy (mine gave up the ghost on this trip), that is a plus. And nice people.

We looked at a few other shops, like VIP (not our demographic) and Wanna Dive (hard to raise someone), and ended up sticking with a mix of the 4 main ones above.

As for dive sites, there is a ton of info out there so we won't presume to be experts by any means. That said, there is a book ($40) branded Reef Smart Guides, and if you plan to spend some time doing shore dives, it is a great resource. Graphics are killer. We also had some of our best dives very far south, Red Slave, Vista Blue, Sweet Dreams. Tons of soft coral, and less diver pressure. Also, do not dismiss closer to town sites like Bachelors Beach, lots of swimmers and crusier kayakers may show up, but once you are 40 feet, you never know what you might see. We consistently saw a 5+ foot blue-spotted coronet fish there - never saw that before, ever. We also saw a huge baitball - several times, in the vicinity of Pink Beach.. This is luck of the draw, but it was 100,000 6" mackerel scad, in 10 feet of water. A wall of fish you could see from the shore, like a big moving reef. Spectacular.

Watch out for the kitesurfers, they are supposed (we were told) to stick around the Atlantis site, and also to stay out of the "white" water (meaning stay at reef edge at dark blue and 40 or so feet depth) - mostly they did, but some did not, one day they were all the way up past Salt Pier and in shallow water. We also got buzzed a couple of times by a jetski. No bueno.

Lastly, Bonaire has some soul-searching to do about their commitment to the reef and the environment. The siren song of cruise ship fees (and alleged economic boost) has created a situation where people on island for just hours pay no fees for marine park use - the rate for divers just went up to $45 per year. No real diver cares about the fee, but it does not seem to be at least visibly doing anything more for the protection of the reef. No presence on the water by marine park staff, no checking for marine park tags (even Roatan manages to do that). And they still allow fishing in certain areas along shore. There does not appear to be any integrated, holistic strategy for managing the land (invasive goats and donkeys still roam free, eating the already sparse foliage and contributing to erosion) and sea environment.

Lovely place, we hope they figure it out!

Reporter and Travel

Dive Experience 501-1000 dives
Where else diving GBR, Saba, Montserrat, Dominica, Barbados, Cuba, USVI, Belize, Honduras, Mexico, Panama, Ecuador, HI, WA, CA, RI
Closest Airport BON Getting There

Dive Conditions

Weather sunny, windy, rainy, cloudy, dry Seas calm, surge, currents, no currents
Water Temp 78-80°F / 26-27°C Wetsuit Thickness 3
Water Visibility 30-80 Ft/ 9-24 M

Dive Policy

Dive own profile yes
Enforced diving restrictions [Unspecified]
Liveaboard? no Nitrox Available? yes

What I Saw

Sharks None Mantas None
Dolphins Schools Whale Sharks None
Turtles > 2 Whales None
Corals 3 stars Tropical Fish 4 stars
Small Critters 4 stars Large Fish 2 stars
Large Pelagics 2 stars

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

Subject Matter 4 stars Boat Facilities N/A
Overall rating for UWP's N/A Shore Facilities N/A
UW Photo Comments [None]
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Report currently has 4 Helpful votes

Subscriber's Comments

By peter bernstein in FL, US at Jul 08, 2019 07:35 EST  
Excellent report- thanks
By report author: Mark Magers in CA, US at Jul 08, 2019 09:06 EST  
Hope it is useful. The hardest part was finding an apartment that was affordable!
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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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