View Full Version : Where to stay in Bonaire

08-03-2013, 08:09 PM
Greetings to all,

My brother and I are going to Bonaire for the first time in September. We've been looking at several different places including Belmar, Buddy Dive, Divi Flamingo, Beach Combver Villas and Sand Dollar. If anyone has stayed at these places, especially if you can compare the differences between them, I would greatly appreciate it. I've been doing some research through TripAdvisor and the reports can vary widely. We aren't looking for deluxe accommodations but clean and nice. Anyone know about the Casino at Divi Resort and Casino? I'm not expecting Vegas but...

We are looking to dive as much as possible and so we're thinking of doing some boat dives and the unlimited shore dive as well. These places all have packages but I'm not sure if that makes it cheaper or if they are adding more money to the package?

Any advice would be greatly appreciated!!


08-03-2013, 11:19 PM
My advice would be stay at the Divi for your first time. You can do boat and shore diving there . Also you can walk to many fine restaurants from there and try the casino. Casino is very small . There is also another casino located at the plaza also small. Buddy Dive would be my second choice - if you are renting a truck then Buddy would be my first choice Buddy Dive's house reef is excellent . Staying anywhere in Bonaire will be outstanding. Good Luck !!!

08-04-2013, 03:49 AM
I think you will find that the packages are generally good value for money wherever you stay and it is a good way of getting to know folks. Buddy dive was the first place we stayed on Bonaire and they have plenty of activities other than diving.

Bob T
08-04-2013, 09:37 AM
We have a timeshare at the Divi and it's a slower pace resort. The dive shop is top notch and Serge is a great person to know and can help in your diving needs. AND... some has said that the manta's are out in front out the resort again. Also if you need any groceries there's a store a block away too. Have Fun On Bonaire. It's the old style Caribbean island!!!

08-05-2013, 07:49 AM
I would go with the Divi. We just returned from 2 weeks there and our 21st. year going to the Divi. It is the best kept secret. The Dive shop, Serge and all the dive masters are top notch. The Divi has a great breakfast buffet. It is within walking distance to town and there are several very good restaurants on the way. Capriccios is our favorite. You can't go wrong with choosing the Divi Flamingo for your first stay.

08-05-2013, 09:31 AM
Getting ready for my 26th trip to Bonaire. We've always stayed at Buddy Dive, usually with a group. Never found a reason to stay anywhere else.

If the OP could be more specific about what he/they like, it might make for better recommendations. "Not deluxe, but clean and nice. Boat and shore diving." This pretty much fits everywhere! The OP mentions a casino -- that REALLY narrows it down -- and hints that cheap is good. Well, yes. But it is not really the boat diving that adds to the price; at BD a boat trip is about $26 as an add-on, but our package has 9 of them, so one doesn't really want to add any more. BD includes a truck...which is nice and convenient -- you DO need a truck -- but with some fuss and some uncertainty (read all the posts on this forum) you can go rent one on your own.

There, I've said enough opinionated things that folks ought to chime in now!

08-05-2013, 01:39 PM
All the properties you mention are reputable properties with a history of happy guests. We've stayed at Buddy Dive several times and Belmar once. We looked at Sand Dollar and almost booked there a couple of times. Be aware that the Sand Dollar apartments are privately owned and aren't appointed with the identical amenities. Some are "cleaner and nicer" than others.

There's nothing wrong with boat diving on Bonaire, but it's not our thing anymore. We prefer the freedom and flexibility of shore diving and leverage the savings to stay longer on the island. We've also migrated away from the larger resorts to more private and intimate accommodations. To that end you can't beat Beachcomber Villas. We stumbled across BCV a couple of years ago and have enjoyed six wonderful weeks there since. We've got our next 2 trips to Bonaire booked and will continue to stay at BCV for as long as they'll have us. I won't waste a lot of time here rehashing what's already been said. The reviews and description on their website and VRBO listing accurately reflect the BCV property and experience. With only 2 apartments it doesn't qualify for TripAdvisor listing, so you probably won't find much about them there. You can also search for them here and on ScubaBoard for reviews. The only thing the big resorts have that BCV doesn't is on-site boat diving and restaurant. Both are located nearby. Feel free to PM me with questions etc.

We've never had a "bad" Bonaire trip, but some have been better than others. We quit going to Buddy Dive because the apartments were becoming dated and they didn't have screened windows and doors to keep the skeeters out. Another challenge with Buddy Dive is that they assign your apartment when you check in based on availability at the moment, so you have no idea if you'll have a view of the ocean, swimming pool, or landscaping. Belmar offered a better oceanfront experience than Buddy Dive due to the property layout. I've heard the Belmar apartments have been renovated since we've been there, but I haven't seen them and I don't know if they're now screened. The screens are a big deal on Bonaire because mosquitoes happen and air conditioning is usually only found in bedrooms. Thus it's important to leverage natural ventilation and the trade winds whenever possible.

08-09-2013, 11:21 AM
We stayed at Caribbean Club on our recent visit. It is farther from town, but we weren't there to party. :) They provided us with a truck through Buddy Dive & gave us access to air at Buddy Dive & the house air station. This made it extremely convenient to dive north & south sites without much lag time. The staff was great and very helpful. We had a full kitchen so we were able to cook some of our own meals when we didn't feel like going out.

08-14-2013, 11:33 PM
It all depends on what you like. My brother and I stay at the Carib Inn as it works very well for us and what we need. We stumbled into it at least 15 years ago.

Starting at the top, you have a few questions to answer.
1) Waterfront hotel or not? You pay more for a waterfront place but I have always found it worth the price. Especially for night dives.
2) Large or small complex? (A large complex might offer more dining options but it can also be a long walk from the room to the dock or pool).
3) Are you renting a truck? (If no, you will want to withing walking distance of town)
4) What sort of room are you after? Full kitchen or just a fridge/micro? One bedroom or studio or...
5) Budget?
6) Bonus question: Location -- north, south or in town (playa)?

Everyone has their favorite place to stay -- and with good reasons. There are lots of choices and what works great for one person another might find lacking.

Here is why I like the Carib Inn. Very good value. In the fall (when I also tend to go), you can get something for $100/night (plus taxes). $120 will get you a one bedroom. My favorite "room" is $180 a night -- it has two bedrooms, living room, giant deck, full kitchen and dining area, 1.5 baths, front door to the beach, back door to the pool. Great staff -- I consider several to be friends. I have known many for more than a decade. Clean and well maintained. Well run with a great dive shop. Nice dive facilities and house reef. See http://www.caribinn.com/room_rates.html for links to room pictures. Located just south of the Divi and you can walk to town if you want. It is a two minute walk from any room to the pool. The same for the dive dock. And they run a first class dive op. Marine park orientation can happen pretty much anytime from 9am to 5pm (some only do it once a day). For me, perfect.

What are the things some might not like? The front desk is not open 24 hours (they do have a method for those arriving during off hours). There is no on-site bar or restaurant (although there are several a short walk away). The linens are not 400 thread count. Many (but not all) of the units have two twin beds rather than a queen. The length of boat dives -- many have bottom times of an hour plus (with 70 or 80 minutes not uncommon) so for those who like 40 minute dives... Last I knew, no nitrox offered on site (you can make other arrangements although it is way more convenient to use their air) There are no phones or alarm clocks in the rooms. Not much of a singles scene.

08-15-2013, 12:17 AM
Answers to two of your other questions.

Casino. There used to be a casino at the Plaza (it is long gone). The one at the Divi is pretty small and usually has a mix of locals and tourists (more locals than tourists). IIRC, it was also very smokey -- but it could just be that I like in place where smoking is pretty much banned everywhere so I have lost my tolerance. Still, a mix of table games and slots -- open in the evenings.

About dive packages. I prefer shore dives -- I like picking the spot and doing the dive on my schedule. Want to spend an extra 20 minutes in the shallows, have at it. Come back early because your fin strap broke? No need to wait for others. No messing with ladders.

Others love the boat dives. Easy in and out. Somebody else carries your tank to/from the boat. No tough shore entry. Boats are the only way to get to Kline and a few other sites.

The other things to check: a) how many people on the boats; b) how long are the typical dives; c) when do the boats typically depart; d) where do they tend to go; e) are the boats always full (i.e., is it hard to get a spot).

So getting a package in advance is always a bit of a crap shoot -- will you really use both halves? FWIW, the Carib Inn does everything a la carte and then, at the end of the trip, if a package would have been cheaper they charge you the package price. Not sure if anyone else does this.

But getting a package can save you money -- at Carib Inn I pay $109 for six days of air (incl. tank and weights). Shore based, as many dives as I want. At Buddy, that same thing is $150, but I think that is for either air or Nitrox.

My background: I have probably 15 to 20 trips to Bonaire -- typically one two to three week trip per year. Yes, I remember when the gas station was next to Telbo and I flew on ALM for several years. Also, I have no Bonaire related financial interests (direct or indirect)

08-15-2013, 09:23 AM
Plaza casino was open in March, they remodeled last year . I assume it is still open .They advertise in Bonaire reporter for free shuttles from other hotels.

08-15-2013, 11:36 AM
It's open now. Saw it yesterday...rather nice.

pat murphy
11-24-2013, 12:55 PM
yes, the casino at the divi is small. we haven't been inside the casino in a few years. the casino at the plaza was open last winter when we were on bonaire. it's slightly bigger than the one at the divi. they had a blackjack tournament one night. the plaza casino opened a number of years ago then closed down. not sure when it reopened...a couple of years ago i think

11-24-2013, 07:21 PM
I like my house!!! you can stay there, Villa Chikitu, quiet in the middle of the island. vrbo277834 is our online number:)

11-24-2013, 08:25 PM
I like my house!!! you can stay there, Villa Chikitu, quiet in the middle of the island. vrbo277834 is our online number:)

:hummm: Your enthusiasm is admirable, but methinks you and pat murphy might both be a little late in arriving at the party.

The original post and subsequent replies were made in August regarding travel in September. :eek: