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BONAIRE III: There and gone
MouthBreather - 11/09/2008 3:55 PM
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Category: Travel
Comments: 1
I flew from Bogotá to Curacao aboard a Dutch Antilles Express (DAE) Fokker 100. The aircraft was less than a third full. The flight was only an hour and 30 minutes, arriving at 4:15pm. Entering the Curacao airport building we were held up until we paid a $2 airport transport fee, which was a surprise, and then we had to wait for our boarding passes for the connecting flight to Bonaire before we could even enter the waiting area, which was another surprise. Immediately after arriving, I found out that I would have to wait until 1am for the last flight to Bonaire. The explanation for the cancelled flight was that there was “problems” with the aircraft. More likely, the aircraft was not going to be full enough, so they combined the flights. What should have, then, been a two to three hour trip from Bogotá to Bonaire turned into an 11-hour ordeal. I flew a full Fokker 100 from Curacao to Bonaire and arrived in Bonaire at 1:45am. Of course, there were no taxis standing by at that time, but another passenger who called a taxi and then did not need it kindly let me and another two passengers share that cab. I finally got to the Eden Beach resort at 2:30 am. For future reference, I will not be using DAE for air travel. Our accommodations: Eden Beach Resort has a pretty nifty location near the center of the leeward side of the island. They have one of the few resort beaches on the island and a Wannadive Shop is co-located on the property. Wannadive also has their air and nitrox compressors (membrane type) as well as their dive boat based here. Wannadive has two other locations; one downtown and another a short distance south of the airport. This south location is on the water and they have excellent access to the ocean and the reef as well as a bar, wash down, and a very nice, peaceful set up with lounge chairs and ocean view and breezes. +++ +++ The three of us shared a two-story, two bedroom, two and a half bath apartment with small kitchen, dining and living areas which was quite comfortable. Air conditioning units were located in each bedroom and the first floor living area. Our unit’s patio and access was just 50 feet from water’s edge and even closer to the Wannadive shop which is right on the water. Mosquitos were a constant presence. I have a lot of bites, but I wasn’t using bug spray much…not a big deal to me. +++ +++ Wannadive has a great crew. There were at least two staff on hand at each of the three locations. Now that I think about it in hindsight, the staff really was very good. They were always willing to help and were very attentive. I forgot my mask twice in the wash down area, and each time the staff put it aside for me and happily gave it back to me with much ribbing and chiding. I also went on a boat dive and a guided shore dive with their staff so I was able to experience how good they were in other capacities. As I said, I am very impressed. They took there jobs and responsibilities towards us very seriously. +++ +++ Dive buddies: Mark (Hydrosports dive shop owner in Salem,OR and trip organizer) and Cindy were both very pleasant company above and below water. Sidenote: Make sure you carry a current medical release for any condition that may require a “yes” on a dive liability/medical release. I’m still very healthy so this wasn’t an issue for me, but our weekend arrival cost one of us a day and a half of diving because a doctor was not available on short notice to sign a release for a reasonable cost. +++ +++ The eatin’: We ate dinner at each of the following restaurants and we were not disappointed; Casablanca, Pasa Bon Pizza, Carpaccios, Mona Lisa, Cactus Blue. The seafood at Casablanca, Mona Lisa, and Cactus Blue was reeeal good! Most places take reservations and they are quite small, so if you plan to eat during dinner rush hour, say between 6:30 and 8:30 pm, you may want to make a reservation. We ate at two other, waterside locations that were not as satisfying, one of which was on a dock in the water. Of course I can’t remember their names, but the trend there was that we were paying more for the location than the quality of food and service. We took advantage of the included breakfast at the Eden Beach on-site restaurant. The food and service were fair, but I’m not a big breakfast eater so it wasn’t an issue for me. For lunch we either picked up some food in town between dives or brought some sandwich food with us and ate at the Wannadive south location. +++ +++ The diving: Overall the diving was good. Overall I’d rate the dive experience a 6.0 with a 10 being the best. I’m being very objective about my experience because of past experience in other Caribbean locations and the fact that the majority of tourists come to Bonaire for the diving, so I don’t feel like I need to give the island any slack. Visibility suffered in most locations ( I thought 60 feet at best, but Mark thought it was up to 100’ in the best locations) and sediment and sand has choked a lot of coral on most north island dive sites. Also a problem at these sediment covered areas was quite a bit of coral toppling and damage. Omar didn’t hit the island, but the storm obviously had a serious effect on the shallow water sites and there is still a lot of sediment floating in the water. Current was nill or 1 to 2 knots in all the sites we dove. I recorded a minimum of 83 F water temperature. I was diving in a Henderson Tri-Lam skin and booties which kept me plenty warm. No gloves our allowed. You must also purchase a $25 park tag which is good for a whole calendar year. +++ +++ I was pissed after I got out of the water at the south island location at Margate Bay. I had never in my 100 plus dives, seen so much garbage on the reef or on the beach. NO ONE lives on the south end of the island. There are NO businesses here either. This is where the salt distilling ponds are located. All this garbage must have blown down the island from somewhere, but it really disturbed me to see so much crap at an isolated dive site on an island that depends on eco tourism for their livelihood. I wasn’t allowed to where gloves because wearing gloves means I may be tempted to touch the reef, yet there didn’t seem to be any problem with the local population letting dozens of liter Coke bottles, tires, and old shoes float around! We carried as much garbage out of there as we could, but they seriously need to do a clean up on the southwest end of the island. Holy cow! Speaking of garbage, obviously it’s OK for Cargill to dump everything off the end of their salt pier! Jeesh. Cable, ladders, tires, broken beams, etc. The Salt Pier is still a great dive, but why the island government doesn’t at least get Cargill to clean up their act is beyond me. And it is so obvious to all who dive there. This is a guided dive because we might “do something” to the pier. You have to actually give your passport number before you dive there. One of the best night dives is supposed to be at the town pier, but it was still off limits because of storm damage. +++ +++ Dive sites: Eden’s Rubble (house reef and checkout dive location) Jeff Davis Nice reef Hands Off (Boat) Nice reef on nearby Klein Bonaire Oil Slick Poor visibility and sediment was choking the coral. Disappointing. Edens Rubble at night. Tarpon on patrol Hilma Hooker a very nice wreck in 100 feet of water South of Margate Bay see above! North of Red Slave very nice reef Salt Pier (Guided) great schools, sponge and coral. Fun amongst the pilings. Karpata This was our best north end dive experience, nice reef Andrea II Silted out, coral damage. Wannadive South House Reef nice reef, great fish life. +++[script


Greg - 12/08/2008 1:28 PM
Thanks for the pre and post blog about your trip. Your first hand account of the beaches and reefs in Bonaire were very interesting to read. I can’t stand the places that have big cruises ships coming in and out. Later, Greg.