Four of the Donkey Divers made another trip to Bonaire April 14 to 21, 2012
Travel: In December we took Continental through Houston but now that United has "upgraded" all the Continental planes to United standards with 4 inches less leg room in each row, we decided that Delta would be a better choice and I was glad we did. Flights down and back were uneventful. Arrived on time with all our luggage. Picking up luggage in Bonaire and Atlanta (on the way back) prior to going through customs took longer than normal. Seems that people loading the luggage belts took a break about half way through. In Bonaire we could see out luggage outside but half way through they stopped loading for about 10 minutes. In Atlanta it stopped for about 20 minutes. Some had luggage and some did not. When someone finally asked about it they paged workers to Carousel 6 to unload luggage that had been sitting there for a while. But it all got there and back so it was all good.
Land package: We usually stay at Buddy Dive. This trip we saw that Belmar Apartments (managed by Buddy Dive and serviced by their dive shop) had a special so we decided to try them. Great accommodations. It is a much smaller facility than Buddy Dive and the service was more personalized and responsive. Newly renovated apartment with a nice big patio to dry equipment and relax on. Only disadvantage was that only air tanks were available at the docks for shore diving the house reef unless we wanted to carry nitrox tanks from the tank locker near the road. That might not have been such a big deal if we had noticed the tank cart before we were packing our gear to leave . The rental truck was waiting for us when we arrived. Check in was fast and painless. Check out was even faster. Since we were on the unlimited dive plan we could get our tanks at Belmar if we were diving south of town or we also had the advantage of using Buddy's drive through when we went north.
Diving: Got in 28 dives and spent 27.5 hours under water. Had to cut a couple of night dives short in order to Skype back home at pre-arranged time.
Highlights included the manta ray that swam right over us at Something Specials at 8:45AM one morning, a frog fish and three sea horses on Klein and the return of green moray eels. I made it up to the Washington National Park for the first time since the surge from Lenny hit the island back in 1999. I dove Playa Funchi and Boca Slagbaai in both 1997 and 1998. They were some of the best large coral formations I have ever seen. I was told that the reef up there was coming back and that it was worth drive but I was disappointed with what we saw at Boca Slagbaai so we only did one dive there.
For pictures and more details on the diving go to my web site:
Bonaire trip 2012
Food: Belmar does not have a restaurant so we had to drive to get dinner and we made breakfast and lunch in the apartment. That worked out great for us. We usually like to hit our favorite restaurants at dinner time and we managed to get to most of them this time. We enjoyed our first and last dinner on the island at Bobbejan's. Best BBQ in the Caribbean. We also dined at Cactus Blue, It Rains Fishses, Mona Lisa, Richards and Zeezicht. Would have liked to hit a few others but you can only eat so much if you want to get in 28 dives in a week.
Other highlights: Both Wally and I made our 900th dive on Thursday (April 19). I have now made 379 dives on Bonaire. Wally and I were also honored as ambassadors to Bonaire by the Tourism Corporation.
The week went by much too fast. It was another great time in Divers' Paradise.