Three of us (my wife, Jennifer, myself, and a good friend of ours, Ari) traveled from Los Angeles to Bonaire (via Houston) last month for a week of diving, relaxing, and a bit of topside exploration. We used to often dive locally together here in Southern California, but the past several years we'd stuck to warm water and hadn't dived as a threesome in ages. We were all looking forward to catching up and spending some quality time together.
We met at LAX early in the morning of our departure (flight was at the ungodly hour of 6am). We'd decided to bring all our gear (BCs, regs, computers, can lights, wetsuits, and camera gear) so we weren't traveling particularly light (carry-ons plus one checked bag each). The flights over to Bonaire on United were uneventful (this was two weeks after their now infamous deplaning "incident" in Chicago). We landed in the early evening, and after a brief delay, got our trusty (and rusty) Nissan pickup truck from Telerin. She'd serve us well over the coming eight days.
That first night, we headed to our VRBO two-bedroom apartment near the ferry terminal in Kralendijk. We were just one block from the water, in a great spot within easy walking distance of many good restaurants. The apartment was clean, had a full kitchen, two nice rooms with AC and private bathrooms, plus a big outdoor patio where we could rinse gear (we would bring everything inside to dry just out of precaution). After dropping off our luggage, we headed out for a very pleasant late night dinner at Mezze, which was just a short walk away.
The next morning we woke early and drove around the block (literally) to check-in with our dive center, Dive Friends Bonaire. Their Dive Inn location was actually right behind our apartment. Couldn't ask for a more convenient spot. With four additional locations on the island, DFB would prove to be a great choice for us. We were doing their unlimited shore diving nitrox package and would also add a two cylinder charter to Klein Bonaire later in the week. The check-in process was quick and painless. Showed our c-cards, paid the $25 park fee, grabbed our weight belts, and got the tour of the facilities and procedures. Before doing our check-out dive, however, we made two quick stops: first to Illy Coffee (Ari can't live without his morning coffee fix) and then over to Van den Tweel, a glorious Dutch market, where we stocked up on provisions (mostly stuff for breakfasts and lunches, plus an odd dinner).
Next, it was back to DFB for our first dive. The checkout dive process is basically just an opportunity for the staff to educate you about the Bonaire National Marine Park rules and give you a forced chance to make sure your weighting is correct. We geared up and headed in for a dive on Calabas Reef. Apart from Ari's first stage making terrible honking noises (which thankfully cleared up quickly on their own and didn't return), everything seemed to be in good working order. Felt great to be back underwater and diving together.
After 70 minutes we headed in and grabbed new cylinders before driving over to Hamlet Oasis (another DFB location) for our second dive at Cliff. While we never did find the frogfish there, it was a really nice wall. We finished that first full day with a night dive at Buddy Reef at Buddy Dive Resort. We had a group of seven or eight large tarpon follow us around the entire time, which was really fun. Just before exiting, we came across a massive Southern Stingray in the shallows. Then it was off to dinner at Zeezicht (shares the local dock with Karel's Beach Bar), the only restaurant we could find open around 10pm. Sadly, it was a pretty bad (every other meal on the trip, however, was exceptional).
Third day was about visiting the southern double reefs. For the first dive, we splashed at Alice in Wonderland. Dropped in to be greeted immediately by a small green turtle. We stuck to around 30' to conserve gas as we swam out to the second reef, then dropped onto its backside. After exploring that deeper reef, which we had to ourselves, we spent the rest of the dive slowly working our way back to shore, crossing the sand channel and spending some good time on the shallower first reef. We headed to Invisibles for our second dive, which was even better: finding two spotted eagles rays and a bunch of reef squid in the shallows. Lunch was a super healthy mix of gelato, pie, and coffee at (the very good) Gio's Gelateria & Caffe. That evening we went over to Bari Reef for a very enjoyable night dive. Dinner that night was at La Guernica.
Edited by Rainer, 14 June 2017 - 09:38 AM.