Jump to content


Photo
- - - - -

Bonaire Trip Report [Photos + HD Video]


  • Please log in to reply
10 replies to this topic

#1 Rainer

Rainer

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 101 posts

Posted 14 June 2017 - 09:37 AM

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).
 
18519474_10101226597076428_8395216897161
 
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.
 
18485292_10101226597974628_7953883878674
 
18425555_10101226598513548_7471475492321
 
18425359_10101226597540498_6259003065951
 
18485265_10101226598064448_9209146538796
 
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).
 
18425108_10101226597849878_5017272643114
 
18486188_10101226596826928_2376383379422
 
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.
 
18447082_10101226600649268_8697564383756
 
18424094_10101226600769028_1476303351911
 
18485920_10101226596831918_3393340830670

Edited by Rainer, 14 June 2017 - 09:38 AM.


#2 Rainer

Rainer

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 101 posts

Posted 14 June 2017 - 09:45 AM

The plan for the fourth day was to start with a dive on the Hilma Hooker, with the goal of getting some nice wide angle photos.  We'd come up with a shot list over breakfast and dropped onto the wreck with our plan already worked out.  We started with some shots around the bow, then over to the fallen mast, before a short penetration along the length of the ship, before popping out near the stern, where we grabbed some final shots with the props.  Great dive.
 
18425372_10101226597615348_5979441780251
 
18485978_10101226598079418_9180702149300
 
18425109_10101226596931718_8278178370999
 
18485663_10101226598343888_5465826103036
 
18519535_10101226597081418_6558492337086
 
18446918_10101226597660258_4038803138579
 
After that, we grabbed lionfish burgers at the Cactus Blue food truck.  Then it was back to the apartment to swap over to the macro setup, before heading north of town for the first time, to dive 1000 Steps.  Stairs really weren't that bad and we had a great dive, with turtle sightings at both the start and end of our 75 minute excursion.  Finished up the day with a twilight dive at Andrea I, where we found eight eels.  Dinner was at home, where Ari cooked a lovely tomato pasta.
 
18527744_10101226598308958_2213268479545
 
Day 5 had us planning to head to the very north of the island to explore and dive Slagbaai National Park.  We set off early (for Ari) with enough cylinders so we could do up to three dives in the park if conditions proved decent enough.  We decided to take the longer windward route since we had plenty of time (we were only the third vehicle to enter the park that day).  We made short stops to walk around at the various scenic settings: Playa Chikitu, Boca Cacalishi, the norther lighthouse (Seru Bentana), and Pos Mangel.  We made our first dive at Playa Funchi, which was a great site (relatively easy entry and exit, especially for being on the more exposed north side).  We ate our picnic lunch there afterward, watching the flamingoes, iguanas, and whiptail blue lizards.  Afterward, we took looks at most of the other Slagbaai dive sites, but with high winds and sketchy entries, we decided not to risk it (especially with the big camera) and just enjoyed the beautiful drive and desert scenery.  After leaving the park and heading back to town, we hit up Wattaburger (surprisingly good veggie burgers), before doing a dive at Something Special.  Decided to not do a night dive, but instead headed into town for dinner at Patagonia (we tried to get in at La Cantina, but they were full, so we made reservations to come back that Saturday).
 
18425397_10101226599571428_8096944462182
 
18424063_10101226599561448_4811579177032
 
18485476_10101226598224128_6071466300890


#3 Rainer

Rainer

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 101 posts

Posted 14 June 2017 - 09:55 AM

Our sixth day was our first with planned morning boat dives.  We would be heading out to nearby and uninhabited Klein Bonaire with DFB.  Our first dive was at Joanne's Sunchi, the second at Knife.  For both, we decided to head out on our own, just to get some cleaner water away from other divers for wide angle shots.  The DMs were totally accommodating and we had two very pleasant dives, but saw nothing so special that I'd probably bother with Klein if coming back to Bonaire.  The shore diving on the west side is totally comparable to what we found on our Klein dives.  Had a great vegetarian lunch at Go Green (we'd have come again if they simply were open more often).
 
18447663_10101226597141298_1980538925562
 
18447349_10101226599002568_2621155989198
 
18425387_10101226598658258_7483146923007
 
18446877_10101226597829918_5535962817268
 
That afternoon we followed up on a recommendation we'd gotten on the morning's boat and headed north to Ol' Blue (Tolo).  Another phenomenal dive, so thank you stranger for the recommendation!  Sun was getting low, so we drove just a little further north for a dive at Karpata.  Twilight dives are always fascinating as you get to see the reef ecosystem in clear transition as nocturnal predators become active and smaller fish begin to hide among the rocks.  With its steeper drop-offs and plunging reef, there was a lot of real estate to explore.  We exited just as the sun set, making for a lovely photograph.  A quick rush back home, shower, and out the door to It Rains Fishes for dinner.  It was Restaurant Week on the island and every restaurant seemed to be participating with a special, reasonably-priced tasting menu, so we enjoyed yet another great meal.
 
18425305_10101226599776018_3308938002424
 
18485709_10101226599681208_1251449987639
 
18447010_10101226597745088_8763924069970
 
Next day was another morning with scheduled boat dives, but this time we'd be heading to the "wild" exposed east side of the island to dive with Bonaire East Coast Diving.  This outfit has their act together, which given the very large swell and rough conditions outside of the Soroban harbor, made everything run smoothly.  We were a relatively large group (10 divers + two DMs), but spread out enough that the dives didn't feel overly bunched.  While visibility on the east side was not nearly as good as on the leeward side of the island, we still had a decent 30-40'.  First dive was at Funchi (eagle ray, half dozen turtles), second at Turtle City (40+ turtles, lots of triggerfish, gorgeous large sea fans).  The dives were unique and offered unprecedented turtle sightings (I remember one moment where I could distinctly see five large green turtles swimming directly in front of me).
 
18486303_10101226597480618_2635526735865
 
After another lunch at Wattaburger (your lunch options are pretty limited in the early afternoon), before heading back south.  We did our third dive at Vista Blue, and the fourth (and final) dive at nearby Chogogo.  That last twilight dive included a visit from a huge loggerhead sea turtle (seriously, he was a monster).   Later in the evening after dropping the gear back home and quick showers, we walked around the block (literally) to At Sea, where we had the best meal of the trip.  This place is truly excellent and holds its own even against the better restaurants in Los Angeles.  We were more than pleasantly surprised.
 
18446990_10101226599850868_8062605843890
 
18425552_10101226597854868_2925213946328


#4 Rainer

Rainer

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 101 posts

Posted 14 June 2017 - 09:58 AM

For our final full day, we considered doing some early morning dives (which would still leave us 18+ hours of off-gassing before our flights the following morning), but ultimately decided to just let the gear continue drying and enjoy a more relaxed day topside.  We had a nice breakfast at the apartment, did some light packing, then headed off in search of topside photo opportunities.  We drove to Gotomeer to see more flamingoes, then through Rincon again, headed to Boca Onima to see the ancient petroglyphs and rock paintings, stopped at Seru Largu for 360 degree panoramic views of the island (and Klein), then back to Soroban to The Beach Hut for lunch, with views of the mangroves and windsurfers on Lac Bay.  After that, we drove along the island's southern coast, stopping at the southern lighthouse, the slave huts at Red Slave, and the donkey sanctuary.  We eventually made it back to Kralendijk in time to do some souvenir shopping in downtown (mostly getting magnets and Bonaire salt), then a quick trip back to Gio's for more gelato, before catching a beautiful sunset across the harbor and over Klein.  Dinner that evening was another fabulous meal, this time at La Cantina.  Great way to celebrate the end of a very successful trip.
 
18519689_10101226601043478_9075346082067
 
18425304_10101226598533508_4392701274694
 
18425306_10101226600903758_8337921530551
 
The next morning was an early wakeup, quick 10 minute drive to the airport, and two relatively easy flights back to LA.  Had a fabulous time on Bonaire and we're already discussing where to head next.  Thanks for reading and looking!
 
HD Video:
 

Edited by Rainer, 14 June 2017 - 10:01 AM.


#5 SwiftFF5

SwiftFF5

    Manta Ray

  • Member
  • PipPipPip
  • 490 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Virginia, USA
  • Interests:Water Rescue (Public Safety Diving) - yeah, I'm a mud crawler.

Posted 19 June 2017 - 03:29 AM

Great trip report, thanks.


Canon Vixia HF-S30, L&M Bluefin Pro
Public Safety Diver

#6 Rainer

Rainer

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 101 posts

Posted 20 June 2017 - 08:06 AM

Great trip report, thanks.

 

Thanks for taking the time to look and comment!



#7 Skeptic14

Skeptic14

    Clownfish

  • Member
  • Pip
  • 28 posts

Posted 23 June 2017 - 09:13 AM

Nice report and excellent photos, thanks for sharing!



#8 Rainer

Rainer

    Wolf Eel

  • Member
  • PipPip
  • 101 posts

Posted 25 June 2017 - 11:48 AM

Nice report and excellent photos, thanks for sharing!

 

Thanks for reading and commenting!



#9 Gorji

Gorji

    Damselfish

  • Member
  • Pip
  • 15 posts

Posted 24 March 2018 - 04:12 AM

Very nice report;  thank you.

The pics in earlier post do not show up on my mac.



#10 Cerianthus

Cerianthus

    Great Hammerhead

  • Member
  • PipPipPipPip
  • 819 posts
  • Gender:Male
  • Location:Hasselt, Overijssel, Netherlands

Posted 24 March 2018 - 11:06 AM

His photos are probably not hosted in the same spot anymore.

Gerard

My photo's on flickr
Crop the world ! (Using Canon 70D, 60mm, 100mm, 10-17mm FE, Ikelite)


#11 nbdylan

nbdylan

    Starfish

  • Member
  • Pip
  • 8 posts
  • Gender:Male

Posted 25 April 2018 - 06:50 PM

After a 4 year hiatus, I am just back last Saturday from a week on Bonaire. Your trip report makes me as eager to return as my own experience. Caring for an elderly parent has seriously curtailed our travel so for now thank you for letting me have some additional vicarious enjoyment through your report