Bonaire shore diving is very good. Most shore dive sites are pretty easy access, some are a little tricky. Unless you have to get a boat dive package in advance, I'd wait and see just how much boat diving you want to do. You'll need a boat to do Klein Bonaire, but we didn't do all 6 of the boat dives that were included in our package because the shore diving was so good. Our dive operator was at Sunset Beach Hotel and they only do 1-tank boat dives. All boat trips to the dive sites were less than 20 min; most about 5 min. to Klein Bonaire.
The Sunset Beach Hotel is quite run down. We changed rooms once; others in the group changed 2-3 times and then just gave up. Plumbing problems (our first room sink faucet wouldn't shut off so they turned off the water.) Second room the bathroom floor flooded every time the room above used water and they put towels down to "fix" that problem. Others had no hot water, broken refrigerators, no A/C, one person got locked in room for 45 minutes because door jammed shut and remember this was off season (Oct.) when they had extra rooms to move people into. Don't know if they've improved since then. Pool was green and closed, 3 whirlpools were breeding mosquitos and closed. One couple paid extra for a lagoon room and they're still looking for a lagoon. Does have a nice beach, one of the few on the island but unless that's important, I don't think its a big selling point. Also use insect repellent for sand fleas if you're susceptible. I got bit but not everyone had the problem. On the plus side the rooms at the Sunset were clean. The cost of the room was about $100.00 per night.
We talked to people staying at the Carib Inn. They were very happy and when we go back to Bonaire we will try to stay there.
Town is very small and closes from 12-2 every day so plan your shopping accordingly.
Green Parrot Restaurant tried to overcharge us. Recommend you check addition. Most places add 10-15% service charge to the bill. Expect to pay about $20-25 per person for dinner about every place.
Rental cars are pretty expensive but there is a place between airport and town that has pretty reasonable rates. Can't remember the name (it's one word) but you have to pass it coming from the airport to town. We rented a car at the hotel, but when we went to Washington Slagbaai Park they wouldn't let us drive through with a car; said we needed a "jeep type". So if you want to see the park or dive the sites in the park you need to rent a van or jeep type vehicle.
Back to diving. Our first dive was from the Sunset Beach called "The Front Porch". This is an easy dive and the reef is good here with lots of reef fish. This location is also good for a night dive with very easy access. There is also a small tug boat at 70' to the left of the pier, to the right is the better reef.
Our next dive was a boat dive to Kline Bonaire. The site is called "The Annex". This site had loads of fish, although in the shallow area's they were very small. The reef here is in excellient condition and with a noticable lack of broken coral.
Pink Beach is excellent, easy access, nice flat area. Soft corals, shallow but drops off and can go deep if you want. Every site we dove had excellent reefs, lots of fish, very healthy.
The sites I liked best were ones where I saw turtles (Pink Beach and 1000 Steps). Red Slave is supposed to have sea horses but we couldn't do a dive there because it was too rough the day we went. Ol Blu was also very good. We did 1000 Steps by boat, the shore access is pretty tough. They don't call it 1000 Steps for nothing. We were only there a week and there were lots of sites we just didn't have time to do. Visibility was a little disappointing (between 60-80 feet). To dive you have to buy a $10 marine park tag. They are available from all dive operators.
Avoid ALM airlines if at all possible. We had been forewarned but unfortunately did not heed the warning. An alternative might be American to Curacao and a commuter to/from Bonaire. Our departure flight on ALM was supposed to leave Bonaire at 2:15 pm. At 5 pm they flew us to Curacao and at 8 pm we left for Miami. Needless to say we missed all of our connections, wasted an entire day sitting in airports and had to spend the night in Miami.
Despite the lousy luck with ALM and problems with Sunset Beach Hotel, we did enjoy the trip and the diving is very good and we will probably go back. Won't stay at the Sunset Beach Hotel, but there are lots of other choices.
Don's Underwater Photo Album
Don's Underwater Photo Album