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View Full Version : Quick Bonaire trip report Oct 27-Nov.4, 2007



AlanWald
12-16-2007, 12:21 AM
Quick Bonaire trip report Oct 27-Nov.4, 2007

Weather was good, some mosquitoes (they seem to be the dusk biting type), a little bit of night time gentle drizzle some nights. Calm or gentle breeze most days. Always sunny, few clouds.

Water temp 84 F (28 C) even at depth, though in the south some reported a slight temperature drop deep down.

Water temps will drop later in the year according to the guy at the dive shop.

I wore only a full length polyolefin exposure suit (that has a hood attached to the back that you can use or not use, I used it on the night dive just in case I were to be jostled by a fellow diver and hit my head on the pilings that are covered with all kinds of growth) (polyolefin is a very tough woven synthetic fabric, with little insulating value but good for sun, stinger and scrape protection and extremely durable). It is quick drying and does not smell and you can suit up before a dive without getting hot the way you would in neoprene. I was never cold. In Southern California in the summer I dive with 7 mm neoprene full suit and am never cold.

Flew American Airlines from LAX to San Juan on a Boeing 757, 8 hour layover, enjoyed visit to old San Juan's El Morro fort.

Flew American Eagle to Bonaire in the evening after a two hour delay. It was a bumpy, cramped, noisy (propellers) flight (they couldn't even serve beverages because of turbulence) on an ATR-70 (68 ? passenger airplane, prop jet). A Boeing 737 would have been a lot more comfortable.

The overhead compartments are very small and any carry on that won't fit they will take from you as you board, give you a claim check and stow in the body of the plane. All I had was a regulator bag with my mask and reg/gauges/computer in it so that fit easily.

Early morning return departure on Sunday 7:15 AM, got to San Juan on time but after immigration (which was slow even in the US citizen lines, I don't know why), clearing customs (easy and fast, just hand in the customs declaration form, if you have any food, check yes, then explain what it is and you will be OK in most cases, there may be a blank customs form in your ticket folder so you can fill it out on the plane)and rechecking luggage for the connecting flight I had only enough time to eat a sub sandwich before boarding the connecting flight to LAX (there is a Subway Sandwich shop at San Juan Airport). Screening was slow. Long lines, not enough lines.

Flight to LA left on time and arrived on time. A first for me. I think the Capt. had a hot date in LA. There were only blankets on the return flight, sometimes the pillows don't make it to San Juan on all flights according to the flight attendant. So if you want a pillow for sure, bring one.

Would recommend instead (starting in Feb 2007) for those in Los Angeles Go from LAX on Delta to Atlanta (red eye)three hour layover (perfect length of time) in Atlanta and then Delta to Bonaire arriving in early afternoon on a Boeing 737. Or Continental thru Houston for those in the western US.

Our group's favorite dive site was the wall at Karpatha (it is on the one way route up to the North so plan your driving/diving that day as you can only return the long way thru Rincon village). We liked the diving in the north of the city better than the south.

Good hard soled booties are a must fore shore diving unless you are doing all pier (like the Buddy Dive night dive we did) and boat diving

Buddy Dive will let you use their pier for no charge so it is a good place for a convenient night dive. Notable on that dive was a basket star. Capt. Don's charges US$5 for to use their pier (and it is right next door)

Airport departure tax in Bonaire as of November 2007 was US$32 (payable in US dollars cash only at booth just outside the terminal)

There is at least one bank (Maduro & Curiel's Bank N.V., look for the sign that says MCB) that lets you take out Dollars or local money from their ATM. I don't know if they double charge you on the exchange fee (by converting dollars to Netherlands Antilles guilders and then back to dollars or not, as I did not do it, I will ask my friend who did as soon as he gets his bank statement). Some places may charge a 5% surcharge on credit cards. Some places have signs saying they don't accept US$100 bills.

Dollars are easily used most anywhere in the Island, places that have lots of dollars cash in the register (like restaurants or tourist shops) will give dollars change if you ask otherwise change comes back in local money often. Many bills and sales receipts come with the dollar amount indicated as well as local currency.

This is my first diving experience outside of the Pacific Ocean and related seas so I won't comment on the quality of the diving except to say it was OK and fun but nothing remotely close to the highly spectacular and diverse diving in Indonesia.

The Freewind (??) (smallish cruise ship) and two identical looking giant Princess Cruise line ships were in port the week I was there. You can NOT dive the Town pier on a night dive when they are present and you book those dives thru your dive shop and they will need your name and passport number to get a permit. So if that is your plan book the dive as soon as possible as there is a limit on the number of divers per dive (it does get rather crowed under the pier) and dives are one hour.

Dive gear (especially lights) can be double the US price same for suntan lotion etc. Most everything is imported to Bonaire, even Salt . So bring spares etc. They prefer that people do NOT use cyalume sticks. I used a little 4 AAA battery LED light I got for US$20 that was good as a tank light but usable as a backup light in a pinch, adequate for getting to the surface. Plus I can use it at home.

The Publisher
12-28-2007, 06:57 AM
Nice report Allen.

You've been to some amazing dive destinations I see.

Any photos?