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loosygoose
10-04-2011, 10:42 AM
We just returned after 2 weeks in Bonaire. It was our first time, and it lived up to our expectations and more. We were also relatively new divers, although after 31 dives in 13 days we are certainly feeling more confident than when we started! I thought it might be helpful to note a few things for others that are newbies like we were.

We stayed at Den Laman condos and dove with Bonaire Dive and Adventure. I have reviewed both elsewhere, so I won't go into all that here. However, I would highly recommend staying somewhere with an onsite dive shop for your first time. It is really nice to have the equipment so handy and it makes it easy and much less anxiety-provoking to do things like your first night dive. It really helped us to get our sea legs with the shop and dock so accessible before we ventured out for shore diving on our own.

Our diving experience before had been boat diving with a divemaster, so it was a new experience to shore dive by ourselves. My partner learned to navigate with a compass before we went which was a big help in getting back to exactly the place we started. Plus, we both had been working out a lot before going which made things much easier. Falling out of a boat is a lot less work than lugging equipment on your back in and out of the water!

We had read a lot about things being stolen out of tourist vehicles, and the first day we saw a bunch of kids pillaging a truck along the south side of the island which made us pretty paranoid. However, we had no problems at all - just heed the advice to leave everything open and don't leave anything you can't afford to lose.

Although we were there is low season and some stores and restaurants were closed, we found a great variety of both - more than we expected. The service from people in stores and restaurants is very hit and miss. In fact, it was seldom great and generally quite indifferent. Be prepared to wait (it's island time) and to eat what you get rather than what you ordered. The food was generally good and I LOVE the dutch bread. My new favourite bread is waldkorn which you can get in several places. Our favourite restaurants included Cactus Blue (don't miss the key lime pie) and Pasa Bon Pizza (I think I got that right). Cafe de Paris has an excellent vegetarian terrine. For a spectacular and romantic meal, don't miss At Sea - we went twice.

Take an afternoon and visit the beach bar on Lac Bay on the east side. The food was great (also the sangria), the staff are fun, and it is a nice place to watch windsurfers of all abilities. It's a very different feel from the other side.

We kayaked over to Klein and snorkelled in the shallows. It was fun getting there and back in the waves, and there are a lot of juvenile fish over there.

We also visited the donkey sanctuary. Being mobbed by 400 donkeys was a new experience! However, we are big animal fans, both under the sea and on land, and it was nice to meet the woman who started the sanctuary for no other reason than the well being of the donkeys on the island. Donations go a long way as she gets no help from the government.

Then there is the diving! There were a lot of highlights, and so many things we had never seen before. However, not to be missed:

1. find a frog fish - they are fascinating

2. dive the salt pier - really interesting around the pilings, and right now the home to a huge fish 'bait ball' that we went back twice to see

3. naturalist course/dive with Jerry at Bonaire Dive and Adventure - this helped make our trip. We learned a lot about fish behaviour that added so much to what we saw during our dives

That's it for now - now we have to go back to living through the adventures of other people lucky enough to be in Bonaire...

Linda
10-04-2011, 12:11 PM
Great Report, LoosyGoose!
Getting into shape for shore diving is a good suggestion for shore diving. The magazines make it look so easy. LOL!
Glad you had a good time.
:GAC:

Bill K
10-04-2011, 12:36 PM
Nice report. We head to Sand Dollar/BDA in December for our fourth family trip. Sounds like you hit many of the high points on Bonaire. I would add a kayak tour of the mangroves at the Lac to your list -- we had a wonderful time at it last year.

DiverVince
10-04-2011, 01:04 PM
And just think Looseygoose..You've only scratched the surface of the Bonaire experience! :)

jkehnle
10-04-2011, 02:41 PM
Hey, Loosey

Very good report -- thanks! Sounds like you're hooked. If so, I'm sure we'll hear a lot more from you on BT.

Now you know why so many of us are repeat visitors -- #15 coming up in February for my wife and me, and neither of us dives.

schoude
10-05-2011, 07:05 AM
Great report LoosyGoose - we are headed to Den Laman in February for our first time in Bonaire! Great tips about diving which my husband will appreciate - I snorkel. Hope you enjoyed Den Laman as well - we can't wait to stay there - it looks fabulous!:snorkle:

JimMc
10-05-2011, 01:55 PM
That was just an outstanding report. In my 22 times on Bonaire, I still felt the newness and thrills of doing some things like shore diving on your own for the first time. Thanks.:):):)

OneTScot
10-08-2011, 05:30 PM
Great Trip Report! I leave in 5 days for our week at Den Lamen!