We flew DAE from Curacao to Bonaire - it was about$100 dollars a person round trip. Be careful- we had to pay about 30 bucks each way for extra luggage. They only allow 1 piece of checked luggage per person - which accounted for our dive gear, but we did need to take some clothing ( we did consider packing our toothbrush and going in our bathing suits but decided against it)
We arrive in Bonaire and a driver picked us up and took us to ABC car rental - located on the plaza's premises. We got a pick up truck, with full insurance after all of the stories we read. The insurance cost us almost as much as the whole rental did for the week, but better to be safe than sorry. The truck was a pretty ragged ride - manual transmission, thank god it had A/C, but the transmission was pretty beat up. Luckily, the island is smaller than the boro of queens so we didn't ahve to drive far.
We stayed at Divi Flamingo in Bonaire. We arrived and luckily, our room was ready for immediate check in. The room was right along the water. Though, to our dismay, we were told they no longer have the rooms where you can see the fish swimming below you - something with construction/renovations eventhough that's what our room was booked to be - minor detail, no big deal. The A/C worked, and these rooms were way more like hotel rooms than at Habitat Curacao. King size bed, table and 2 chairs, night stands, tile floors, an area rugh, a refrigerator and coffee maker, large bathroom, patio with 2 chairs and a table - it was a little smaller, but I loved the room. The safe cost extra I think it was about 6 bucks a day. And, we lucked out - and wound up having some wifi access here and there.
Divi is larger than we thought - but there are 2 pools (both of which we thoroughly enjoyed)l there are also rooms with full kitchens from what we understand some are newly renovated and a lot of people we heard talking really liked them. The dive shop was on the other end of the property. Not a far walk at all - just the first time, with all the gear. But, that was ok, There is also a casino on premises if you like that sort of thing - we don't gamble so, we didn't even step foot into the casino to see what it looked like. The front desk staff is also very nice and was very helpful.
Restaurants - there were 2 main restaurants at Divi - one was mainly for breakfast and larger settings and the other was chibi chibi. Breakfast we found to be find -omelettes to order, fruit, juice, breads, coffee, your standard stuff not a problem. Lunch was ok - usually it was slower than island time because the kitchen is dispraportionately smaller in size to the amount of divers that dive there and want lunch all at the same time. Servers were always friendly and always told us things were going to take a while. Standard sandwiches etc...salads were not that great - we stuck to the sandwiches. Not as many options as we had hoped.
Dinner was a whole different story - we found it to be extremely disappointing....we tried dinner at the restaurant 2 times and vowed never to eat dinner there again. The chicken curry dish had no flavor, the salad was wilted, they wouldn't cook meat any different than rare, it was just blah, bland, an unappetizing. The mosquitos made it almost impossible to sit out there for more than 5 minutes. Even with bug spray, I was convinced I was going to have malaria when I came home. I get it - it's the rainy season, but this was just ridiculous...we physically could not sit and finish our meals - we didn't want to any how as they were gross in our opinion. The bar was fine, drinks and beer fairly priced.
We definitely recommend taking a ride to Sunshine Market ( literally 4 blocks away) or Cultimara the larger supermarket in town (about a 5 minute drive) we bought drinks, some paper plates, napkins, snacks, fresh fruit, bread, lunch meat , etc....and it was wayyyyy worth it.
The capital of Bonaire is Kralendijk - pretty small, the equivalent of about 12 city blocks (crooked blocks though) there was the annual sailing regatta going on while we were there 2 weeks ago - so that was a lot of fun to watch. There is a very small section of town on the water - where the cruise ship pier is where there is some decent shopping, and a bunch of restaurants/cafe's etc... We had fun walking around there but you could definitely get it all done in 1 afternoon.
Pasa Bon Pizza did have amazing pizza. I would say it almost is able to rival some of our NYC pizza shops. We ate there 2 times and thoroughly enjoyed it, the staff, their cat, the chocolate cake, but not the mosquitos.
The city/town really does need some infrastructure work -which it seemed to us is being done so that was good news. i can not imagine what it must be like when there is a cruise ship in port - where do all those people go? Either way we had fun walking around a bit - it is easy to get a little lost as all the streets are one way and don't run straight. It was loads of fun driving.
The dive operation here is quite large. They had 4 dive boats doing 2 tank morning dives and 1 tank afternoon dives while we were there. our orientation was at 2 pm and Alvin was great in getting us oriented to everything. We found the dive shop to be far less personal than we had hoped - I think part of this is due to the sheer size of their operation....there were a lot of people there diving while we were in Bonaire. 2 of the boats were reserved exclusively for 2 groups that were down there. So we chose from the other 2 boats. When they became full later in the week, we had to dive with some of the groups - which was fine, it turned out one of the groups was from NYC as well - small world. They have a great locker set up on the dock - everything there was very user friendly. The only difficulty was that they seemed to run out of nitrox tanks pretty quickly, so if you didn't tag, analyze, and claim yours quickly it could be a little annoying. The rinse tanks, shore entries, lockers, dock, all of that was really well planned and thought out- lockers had pegs and bars in them so hanging things up and organizing our gear was really simple and great.
We dove klein bonaire and regular Bonaire ..
And of course, the house reef. We did get to see a small grey colored frogfish on one of the dives which was a lot of fun. Oh, and the barrel sponges were spawning - so it looked like they were sending smoke signals under water - very cool to watch. The house reef had some great highlights as well. We saw:
Scorpion fish, seahorses,porcupine fish, angelfish, tons of critters including arrow crabs, shrimp galore, urchins, star fish, and sea cumbers.
We had a lot of fun on the boat dives, but again, didn't really feel like the service was very personalized. It seemed like this was more of a place for groups to go boat diving.
Shore diving, however was still lots of fun. And, although we didn't do much of it, renting a car and doing shore diving is really easy as well - but only if you do it on air - nitrox tanks had to be carried up from the dive shop - air tanks were available in the parking lot. No biggie.
We couldn't dive to the right side of the house reef because of the cruise ship port there - not sure if this is a permanent thing or if it changes with the seasons...seemed a little awkward. The little piers that jut out into the water with loungechairs on them were great as well - but most were claimed first thing in the morning and then you were out of luck. The divemasters certainly tried to show you the good stuff underwater but it seemed a lot more like cattle herding to us.
There were a lot of reef killers on the boats as well. By this I mean
all of those divers who had no regard for the reefs,coral, and life around them. We saw on more than one occasion ( I understand this can always happen by accident from time to time)
People grabbing onto live coral to steady their cameras
fins kicking coral and sponges when buoyancy couldn't be controlled near the bottom
divers carelessly swimming into/ on top of other people with out a care for equipment or safety
general rudeness underwater - this happens everywhere, I know, but it seemed to be a bit more prevalent here.
All in all though, the diving was great. One thing I will say is that because of the shape of the island, regardless of the weather, there was never any strong current or choppy water. On curacao, sometimes the water can get a good chop to it and you start to bounce around on the surface a bit - in Bonaire there was not even a little bit of that - which is great because I get easily sea sick.
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.