View Full Version : Woodwind or Rene?

01-18-2012, 10:37 PM
We're headed to Bonaire this summer and plan to spend most of our time snorkeling. I keep seeing "Woodwind" and "Rene" recommended on different threads and have looked at both of their websites. Can someone who has done both of them recommend one over the other? Do we need to go with one of these at all or will we be just fine snorkeling on our own?


01-19-2012, 08:31 AM
Personally, I would do both! Both of these snorkel operators offer excellent services. Woodwind will take you to Klein Bonaire, while Rene does shore snorkels around the main island. You will see different things on each of their programs. And, although you definitely do not need a guide, I can pretty much guarantee you will see so much more with an experienced guide showing you things you won't see on your own.

01-19-2012, 09:27 AM
agree with susan. admit i never done a woodwind trip but its an oversight on my part. Rene is great. i am a diver but Rene is great and you will see tons you might not see on your own. i usually do the last day as a snorkel day but may change that Rene is that good!

01-19-2012, 10:10 AM
Susan hit it, yes is the answer do both or either, you will not be disappointed.

01-19-2012, 11:56 AM
We always use both Woodwind and Rene on our trips as each offers such a unique different experience. On the Woodwind, Dee and her crew will take you out to Klein Bonaire, she'll help you if your equipment isn't great for you (I was hating my mask, and she let me borrow a different one, which she said would be better for my face shape). I loved it, and went into town the next day to buy the same brand. My wife had used her mask only once on the island, and Dee traded her a brand new mask for it that was more appropriate for her face. You always see turtles on the Woodwind trip, and Dee always points out something cool. Then on the way back you get lunch!

Rene will pick you up at your hotel/accommodations, and takes you around to various spots as a personal snorkel guide. If there is something in particular you want to see, let Rene know, and she'll know where to go to see that animal. We're planning on a two week trip this year, and will be booking probably two trips on Woodwind, and at least 2-3 with Rene. The rest of the trip we do our own thing, and all we do is snorkel.

01-19-2012, 07:30 PM
My husband and I, solely snorkelers, would agree with the conclusion that both Renee and Dee/Woodwind add a lot to a week on Bonaire. We have experienced both on our two trips. Going out on the Woodwind is the bargain of the island with beverages and quite tasty food on top of the three snorkel stops at Klein. Just being on that boat is a lot of fun. At the time of year we have gone, November, it is good to schedule the Woodwind via the internet and then confirm with a phone call when you reach Bonaire. This year we asked Renee to take us out in the evening when we would not have ventured into the water on our own. We saw one amazing thing after another. Again, we scheduled on the internet. The rest of our days we went to many shore sites on our own, but our investment in two local experts was well worth our time and money.

Have fun!

01-20-2012, 07:10 AM
My wife and I have done both. To us, Rene was a disapointment. We didn't get to see anything we hadn't seen before. Woodwind though takes you Klein Bonaire and Dee and ZSuzy wil show you everything there is to see. So, I would opt for Woodwind

01-20-2012, 11:45 AM
Curious about snorkeling on woodwind--- are there ever too many snorkelers? not a big fan of snorkeling with lots of people, would be big reason to go with Rene.
Unlike Remco had a great snorkeling experience with Rene--not sure I saw anything I hadn't seen but spent a good 10 minutes with an eagle ray, as well as lots of time with a rather large turtle. I am also very fond of juvenile drum fish which Rene took me to a site with many of them. But the ocean is fickle so your experience could be different.
anyway how does the number of snorkelers effect the woodwind? any tips ?

01-20-2012, 02:02 PM
Don't hold me to this, but I'm pretty sure their maximum is 25. On a boat the size of Woodwind, that is not a lot. I've been on board at full capacity and never thought anything of it. But if you want to be sure, email Ulf or Dee at info@woodwindbonaire.com and double check their maximum.

01-20-2012, 03:44 PM
Thank you for all of your responses... based on the majority of them, I think we're going to book with them both! I'm getting SO excited, especially since it's snowing like crazy right now. Thoughts of the warm ocean water are fantastic!

01-20-2012, 04:35 PM
yeah wasn't asking about the maximum onboard. 25 seems like a lot of snorkelers at a time in the water. assuming dee is pointing something out in the water could be hard to follow. anyway that's what i am asking about snorkelers in the water at the same time looking at same stuff--an issue or no? trying to figure out a strategy. Maybe i am just not made out for the woodwind. i know i don't like boat dives and i am wondering if there might be similar issues on the woodwind. thanks for any insight.

01-20-2012, 04:56 PM
How many different people can offer the same sage advice -- do both, and revel in both. Really, it's only money, and if you don't spend it, the kids or Uncle Sam will get it...

01-21-2012, 10:26 AM
well if your talking to me the answer is a lot. :-)
still have issues with it and no i don't think its been addressed . Obviously their business is not dependent on my going. it sounds interesting but so did boat diving and I'd do that very reluctantly.

01-21-2012, 05:12 PM
Regarding the question about "crowding", I took the Woodwind snorkel to Klein Bonaire in 2009. I think there were around 20 snorkelers. The group was split into a couple of smaller groups, based primarily on level of experience/comfort with snorkeling. Each group had a tour guide to point out various fish, coral formations, etc. This was a drift snorkel and easy to do even though I am a very poor swimmer. Dee and company can provide you with needed equipment including a flotation belt. I never felt "crowded", however some people become quite excited at seeing a turtle, ray, or whatever, and not pay attention to where they are swimming. It is possible that you could get bumped by someone focused on getting over to see an eel or something. Also, if the current is strong that day, you could drift into someone holding stationary to snap a photo. There are two other cautions I'd like to offer. First - there was no shade on the Woodwind so consider what you need for sun protection. Second - you do have to swim from the boat to the edge of the drop-off. This was the first time I swam over "the deep", but it also cured some of my fear of deep water. This excursion was well worth it and I will do it again the next time I am in Bonaire. Have not taken a tour with Renee, but have a night snorkel with her on my "bucket list". ENJOY!!!:D

01-22-2012, 02:45 AM
As far as crowding is concerned, I just let the group get ahead of me and I am then on own to take photos and find my own stuff. I did this on the Woodwind and I do this on group dives.

01-28-2012, 06:07 AM
We were in Bonaire a couple of years ago and did two trips with Rene and one trip on the Woodwind. Loved the trips with Rene. We did both a day and night snorkel with her and both were great. Don't miss the night snorkel - I had never snorkeled at night before and I really enjoyed it! As for the Woodwind, yes you get to Klein Bonaire and yes the operators of the boat are really great people, but it is not a trip I would do again. Even though the group was divided in two, I still found it to crowded. I don't like getting flippers in my face and having to watch where I am all the time. Just did not find that enjoyable.

01-30-2012, 03:44 PM
Hi, I happened to be on Woodwind yesterday. I didn't exactly "count heads," but I'm pretty sure the boat was at or close to the maximum. It didn't feel crowded at all, the group was split into three groups for the snorkels, each had an experinced guide who was capable and "knew their stuff," and at no time did I have flippers in my face. It was a really pleasant day, and, besides the turtles which the Turtle Whisperer (Dee) always manages to call in for us to see, we had an octopus out for a stroll along the seafloor in about ten feet, who was stopping and posing for pictures. Actually, it was a glorious day and a great time!

george and judy
01-31-2012, 12:03 AM
A couple of points to consider. Renee was the original owner/operator of the Woodwind and, therefore, is very knowledgeable. She has a good grasp of great snorkel sites just off shore and can point out things you may miss on your own. Further, she is the person to take you on a snorkel at Lac Bay. Dee bought the Woodwind from Renee 9 years ago and has taken it on a different course. Dee was a teacher on Trinidad and makes education a part of all her trips. Also, her main assistant, Alicia, is a graduate in marine biology and has extensive knowledge of coral. Both Dee and Alicia point out many things you would never see on your own. In addition, they are usually accompanied by Zusanna, owner of BonPhoto, who is an amazing underwater photographer and also acts as a guide. My advice is to go with both you will not be disappointed.

02-04-2012, 05:32 PM
We'll be in Bonaire in less than a week (can't wait), and booked tours with both Renee and Woodwind. I will report back in a couple of weeks

02-05-2012, 12:37 PM
I am still a bit confused about the woodwind. it sounds like its too crowded for me. I don't want to follow along in the back and do my own thing. if i did why would i go on the woodwind?
anyway that there is a lot of people are on trip to point out things of interest might work if its broken up. following a leader with 25 other snorkelers is not my thing. Rene is great and this is not an issue with her in my experience. it is why i would gladly do another day with Rene. Woodwind not so sure for me.

george and judy
02-05-2012, 02:55 PM
I have been on the Woodwind over 50 times the past 18 years. At least 30 times since Dee bought the boat. I have never been in a group larger than 8-9 people. Dee has a full-time assistant, Alicia, and hires a part time one if it is very busy. She had about 25 people on one of our trips this year and had 2 assistants plus Zsuzanna. You will not be jammed in a large mass of people.

02-06-2012, 11:49 AM
If you don't want to go, just don't go, it's pretty simple. I don't think anyone is trying to talk anyone into anything here. At least I'm not.

That being said, I am a diver and have gone with Dee several times. I don't go so that she will spot things for me, I go just for the fun and different experience of snorkeling at Klein, and love just being out on the boat. I dislike groups, crowds, and just people in general if I'm being honest. lol. I don't stay with the group, I just get in the water and do my own thing til it's time to get back on. Take some pics, float a bit, just relax. There were people who hadn't snorkeled and wanted Dee close to them, that's fine. I just kind of did my own thing, but on a boat that happened to belong to someone else. Dee was charming! Loved the whole dang experience.