I decided to take a few minutes and reflect on my recent trip to Bonaire and share some accomplishments and observations. To begin with, the flight there is long. We had two options, 45 minute layover to catch an international flight with all our luggage, or 5 hour layover waiting in the airport. We chose the later since no on wanted to miss a flight that only happens once a day and only on Saturday and Sunday each week. This turned out to be a good thing, simply because it gave us time to be out of airplane seats for a while as well as plenty of time to eat and no stress about missing a flight. Other than the length of the flight it was pleasant and smooth. We arrived in Bonaire early evening and the weather was amazing, the sun was on it’s way down and there was a breeze that made the open air airport very comfortable. We waited a few minutes in a very short line to go through what was a very friendly customs check. I’m told that the daytime arrival that some of our party had previously experienced consisted of a very long wait in the hot midday sunshine. After we got our luggage and exited the arrival area we found the bus for our resort, handed over our luggage again and climbed in for a quick ride to the resort.
We stayed at Buddy Dive Resort, which may be the oldest resort on the island. The facilities were very nice. We had a 3 bedroom, townhouse style, apartment and the two upstairs bedrooms had very nice bathrooms and private balconies. The living area had plenty of room for the six of us to hangout during our surface intervals. There were a few hiccups with the stay, but nothing awful. You can read my review at TripAdvisor for more on the resort.
The Diving.. Wow. When you stay at Buddy Dive there are three options for diving: Resort diving, boat diving, and shore diving.
So the resort diving is technically shore diving, but Buddy Dive has a great setup. They have wooden lockers where you can hang your BCDs and other gear right by the water. And when I say by the water, I mean it. They have a wooden boardwalk that extends into two docks. When you want to dive you just walk down to the waterfront, grab a tank, grab your gear from the locker, get it all setup and take a Giant Stride off the end of the dock. The reef there is very healthy and we found the waters to be very clear. In fact, Buddy’s Reef was very enjoyable diving and we did about half our diving there and I could have happily done several more. When you are done diving you just swim over to the "ladder" (really a set of metal stairs extended into the water), take your fins off, and climb out. There are tanks right there where you can give your gear a quick rinse, with separate sinks for regs and camera gear. Once it is all rinse you just return the tank and hang your gear back in the locker (or grab another tank and hang out for a bit before jumping back in for another dive).
Buddy Dive also operates several boats and most of them go out daily to different sites around Kline Bonaire. We opted not to do any boat dives on this trip (I needed to make sure I could get lots of dives and didn’t want to break the day up with boat dives). Next time out I’ll do at least a few, there are some cool sites to see and the Kline sites are some of the best for seeing seahorses.
There are a plethora of shore dive sites along the leeward side of the island. When you stay at Buddy Dive they have vans or trucks that you can rent (we had it included in our package) and they have a drive-through self service tank station where you pull up in your van, drop off any used tanks, and load up the tanks you will need for your next set of diving. I dove at six sites (two we did twice) on this trip. They are all very accessible, although there are some private residence developments going up that are beginning to block (or privatize) some of the shore entrances. We dove at Oil Slick Leap, 1000 Steps, Hilma Hooker, Salt Pier, Alice in Wonderland, and The Lake. I did Oil Slick Leap and 1000 Steps twice, and the rest of the group did Salt Pier a second time and also dove Bachelor’s Beach (the group really liked this one too). My favorites shore dive sites were 1000 Steps and Salt Pier, both of these had lots of marine life and cool structures. I would have gone back to Salt Pier with the group for the second time, but it was the last day and I just did four dives that morning and needed a little break. Also, it was at the resort, but Buddy’s Reef was good diving and I really enjoyed it.
This was a big week. I started my divemaster training earlier this summer after finishing my Rescue Diver certification. One of the goals with this trip was to check off as much of the open water requirements as possible while enjoying the warm clear waters. I started with 40 dives one the books and needed to have a total 60 to complete divemaster, I blew past that with 22 dives this trip. I was able to complete pretty much everything I need to except the requirements that need an actual open water class. I planned, organized, and led a deep dive, and went the deepest I’ve been yet, at 128’! It was so strange too, the reef we descended felt like it went at a 45⁄50 degree slope, but when we turned around at the bottom we could see that it was an almost straight drop, only covering a handful of horizontal feet for all the vertical drop. I also led three other dives, including a Discover Local Diving dive where I explained what we would see and shared about possible dangers to watch out for and the importance of not damaging the reef or touching the marine life, then I had to take the lead and navigate us around the dive site (that gave me a new awareness of how much attention goes into where you are while diving). I also was able to do the teaching for Lisa’s Fish Identification Specialty course. Of course, not all the dives were just fun diving, I also had to show how to demonstrate the basic open water skills, which included my favorite, mask flooding. I felt like I did good and it all went very well. I was also able to wrap up my wreck diving specialty with a dive and penetration at the Hilma Hooker. I had an absolute blast and hope to return again to Bonaire in the future.
Photography and Video
Ok.. So the bad news from this trip is that my GoPro died at sea. On the very first dive! I don’t know what happened, the case seemed to be clean and everything closed up fine, but at about 10 feet down the enclosure was about half full of water. I noticed it right away and went back up to the surface to drain the enclosure, check the seal. Everything looked good and I went back down, only to see it start to take on water again. So back to the surface I went and stuck the GoPro in my locker so I could finish the dive. I put it in a bag with some silica packs and messed with it all week and it went from some lights blinking with power to nothing at all. The good news is I had my Canon 7D II and Ikelite enclosure and got a lot of experience using it to do both video and photography. This worked out pretty good and I’m much more confident with it in the water now.
I’m still getting started on the video and currently have a sample of the Salt Pier dive on YouTube. You can see the rest of my dive videos as they get edited in the Duane & Lisa’s Diving Adventures playlist.comments powered by Disqus