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Accommodations: Help choosing Bonaire accommodations for upcoming trip..
Bonaire Talk: Accommodations: Help choosing Bonaire accommodations for upcoming trip..
Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chris D. (New BonaireTalk Poster - Post #1) on Friday, April 15, 2011 - 3:15 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Hello Everyone..

I am seeking comments on a couple choices I have to make for an upcoming trip to Bonaire. To help I will post a bit of information about me.

I travel mostly on my own as a single diver. Even in groups I like my own accommodations.

I am an avid diver (Master Scuba Diver) with around 400 logged dives, diving in many parts of the world. I go to dive and for UW photography. I'm not a party guy but am very sociable.

I don't like large groups of divers on the dive boats. By large I'm talking about anything over 6-8 divers. I do a lot of shore diving so I can have my space. I am 63 years old but in excellent physical condition (avid mountain biker too).

Here is a link to some of my recent photos from last month in Cozumel..

Click Here for Photo Gallery

I took over 10 years off diving but started again a couple years ago and have been going to Cozumel 3 or more times a year. I have found myself getting tired of the drift diving in Cozumel, mostly because it is hard to photograph in drift dives and the large groups on the dive boats.

I first visited Bonaire around 1990 doing my first open water dive trip after getting certified in Maui. I was aboard (at that time) the Antilles Aggressor which left out of Curacao and made the trip across to Bonaire. At that time Bonaire was just in its infancy and a ghost town compared to what it looks like today. From the little I toured the island on that trip all I saw was a couple condo's. We docked at, and dove under the pier and also on Klein Bonaire. I haven't been back to Bonaire since that first trip.

The reason for this post is for information and suggestions for my first trip back to Bonaire in almost 21 years.

I plan on going for 14 nights because I travel on Continental from Phoenix it has to be 7 days or 14 days to meet their flight schedule. I will travel mid June to mid July.

I have read most of the trip reports here and on ScubaBoard. I have narrowed my choice of accommodations down to the following (other suggestions are welcome). Keep in mind that I want ease of access to shore diving from the resort. I don't like having to lug gear all over to get in an early dive.

1. Paradise Apartments / Black Durgon
2. Coral Paradise Apartments
3. BelMar Apartments
4. Buddy Dive Apartment
5. Buddy Dive Hotel

I am finding it difficult to make a choice for a couple reasons, one being cost. In comparing Cozumel accommodations to Bonaire I am finding the cost almost twice to three times as much and that doesn't include any meals. I always stay at an AI in Cozumel that has some of the best food on the island.

BelMar is the most expensive at almost three times what I spend for an AI in Cozumel. The least expensive, Buddy Dive Hotel, doesn't include food or kitchen to fix meals.

I would go to Buddy Dive hotel room just to get my feet on the ground and look around at others for future trips, but from all the reviews I've read Buddy Dive hotel rooms don't seem to get very good reviews. Buddy will not guarantee an ocean view apartment (I'm sure everyone asks for one).

BelMar gets excellent reviews but I can take three 14 day trips to Cozumel (including airfare) for what one 14 day trip would cost at BelMar.. not counting food.

Paradise Apartments are very reasonable to start but after all the add on's (car, food, air, Nitrox, ocean view room, etc) it adds up really fast.

Just to add again, I am traveling by myself so the room costs are for one person in a room.. but I do the same in Cozumel.

Please understand, I'm not complaining about any of the above prices because I haven't been to them, I'm just trying to come up with the best experience for my first trip back to Bonaire.

By experience I'm talking about overall resort experience, location to the water, best resort shore dive and most helpful resort staff (which also seems to get mixed reviews on any trip report I've read).

If I've left anything out please feel free to add it to your comment.

Sorry for the long post but thank you for taking the time to read it. Any help would be greatly appreciated.

Prescott, Arizona


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bonnie C (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #144) on Friday, April 15, 2011 - 3:48 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Chris, I can't comment on any of the places you have listed, but I would suggest that you choose one with kitchen facilities. Being able to eat at least some of your meals from the grocery store instead of a restaurant is both more economical and more convenient. I know that whatever you choose you will enjoy Bonaire.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By David Ingram (BonaireTalker - Post #65) on Friday, April 15, 2011 - 5:03 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

You are making a mistake comparing anything to Cozumel based on price. You won't find anyplace that will touch Cozumel for price points

Each location has its unique features.

Bonaire has slow go at your own pace shore diving with excellent macro opportunities.

Cozumel is more fly-by photography based on the currents.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Sean Hansen (New BonaireTalk Poster - Post #3) on Friday, April 15, 2011 - 5:13 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Chris,

Hello from Cave Creek!!!

We are going on our fourth trip to Bonaire next Friday and will be staying at Coral Paradise for two weeks. This will be our 3rd time staying there and would highly recommend it.

Brenda, Kenny & Margaret are great and the rooms are clean and large. They have a small kitchen area in each unit and also have a BBQ out by the pool. We cook many of our meals there and love being able to hang out at the pool and just relax after a day of diving.

With only 6 units, you feel like you are at your own private house most of the time and never feel crowded. It is also right behind Capt Don's and a very short walk to Buddy Dive. You can get your air from either as part of your package and your car will be at CPR waiting for you so you don't have to deal with going to the car rental center. There is also a small market very close where you can either walk or drive to get food and also isn't very far from town if you would rather go to the larger markets.

Let us know if you have any specific questions.

Thanks, Sean


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By *Tink* (Supreme BonaireTalker - Post #2640) on Friday, April 15, 2011 - 5:36 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Chris,

Welcome to Bonaire Talk:) The only place I haven't stayed at on your list is Coral Paradise, but it has gotten very good reviews on the board. I don't believe you can "dive off your front door" there, but it's close, and again, it's gotten VERY good reviews on BT.

Here is my opinion on the one's I have stayed at:

Divers Paradise - if you get an ocean view room, it's going to be a teeny ocean view room. It's across the street a tad from Black Durgon. Accommodations are nice, kitchen, etc. You get breakfast at Black Durgon and can use the Black Durgon dock.

Black Durgon - sparce accommodations (clean, no blankets on the beds, cable tv, towels, ac), but the dock and the place is a throw back from the early years on Bonaire (much earlier than when you first went). Al is VERY particular about making sure that non-guests do not come on the property. Doris does a great breakfast every morning. You can join in and chat with folks, but if you are like me, I get my coffee and breakfast and go sit on the dock and eat, watch the fish under the dock, have my coffee, and wake up. The reef at BD is great. Even snorkeling is great. You can easily hook up with other divers if you like. They have an outdoor kitchen and a couple of refrigerators that everyone shares. You can use the kitchen to cook, just make sure you clean up. Usually each unit takes a 'shelf' on one of the refrigerators. Rooms 10, 8, and 6 are the best IMHO. Ocean view and VERY quiet and laid back.

Buddy Dive- Large resort. Too large for my preferences.

Belmar - one of my favorites. It's small and the staff is great, accommodations are good for the price, and you have a great reef off the front porch. Units have kitchens so you can easily cook your meals. Some folks hang by the pool during happy hour peak season, but overall, it's pretty quiet. Definitely more upscale than BD, but totally different feel.

There aren't really any "all inclusives" on Bonaire like Coz, so you really can't compare the two places.

I hope this helps. Let us know what you decide on, and make sure to write a trip report on how you liked the island.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By ***Ron Gould*** (Extraordinary BonaireTalker - Post #2371) on Friday, April 15, 2011 - 6:27 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Chris, Welcome to Bonaire Talk. There are many places to choose from, and you will get many different opinions of where to stay so I might as well give you mine.

Bonaire Oceanfront Apartments is where we have been staying for the past few years, in fact twice a year for the last five.
BOA is truly a hidden jewel! Thirteen Apartments, all seaside, nice pool located in a scuptured garden with a nice divesite out the front gate. Buddy Bive has a onsite Diveshop with free nitrox, and air 24/7. Rinse tanks, and gear storage right there. BOA is located 6 blocks north of town. The Apartments are clean, with full kitchen, livingroom, bathroom, and one or two beedrooms. The website Has a toll free phone mumber on it in case you have any questions. The price is right!!! The location is perfect!!! The staff is great!!! Ron


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Lizard0924 (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #520) on Friday, April 15, 2011 - 9:32 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Hi Chris - although I don't stay there anymore (we rent a private villa on our trips now), I really enjoyed my first trip to Bonaire when we stayed at Buddy Dive in a one-bedroom apartment. Everything is very convenient at Buddy Dive, the staff is wonderful and IMHO, Buddy Dive has an excellent house reef. BD makes everything quite easy and there is a good chance you will meet fellow single divers around the resort who you can buddy up with for some shore diving elsewhere on the island.

I've stayed at Bonaire Oceanfront Apartments, as well. No complaints, but people keep to themselves much more there. There isn't a central point for socialization (except the pool), and your boat diving will be with Buddy Dive anyway (so you may as well stay at BD and have direct access to the boat dock). And the shore diving is across a well-traveled city street in downtown Kralendijk. So you have to lug your gear through the pool area and then across the street. But, you can walk everywhere from BOA, so that is a huge plus.

Might I suggest you also take a look at Carib Inn? We've stayed there as well, and it is one of our favorites. Nothing fancy, but Bruce runs a great place and the dive shop is wonderfully helpful with the best prices and selection on the island. The boat diving is uncrowded (small boat holds less than 10, I believe), and the shore diving is decent there, too. And, again, you can walk to downtown Kralendijk easily.

Good luck selecting a place and enjoy your trip. Bonaire is wonderful no matter where you stay!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Chris D. (New BonaireTalk Poster - Post #2) on Friday, April 15, 2011 - 9:43 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Thanks everyone for posting such helpful ideas. I appreciate the quick and great replies. I will be spending my weekend reviewing all of them.

Any and all suggestions are welcomed. Thanks again !!!


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By bob fraser (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #225) on Saturday, April 16, 2011 - 10:22 am:     Edit PostPrint Post

agree with Lizard0924 about Carib Inn boat diving. by far the best boating diving on bonaire. I am also a big fan of the black durgon but neither place does Nitrox as a rule. I think you can arrange that at black durgon but its special and costs more money.
wannadive i think may give you a free upgrade to it and Bart is great guy and one of owners. they are associated with several places so you could check that out. i am not sure about the social thing at the black durgon as that might be a quiet time.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Bill Thorpe, (Experienced BonaireTalker - Post #796) on Saturday, April 16, 2011 - 5:48 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Welcome to Bonaire Talk!
I don't think for the money you can beat the Black Durgon.
It's clean, simple and on the water, I've not found better value all things considered.
Please be advised that when your figuring cost add another 100$ for air at the Durgon.
Just want to remind you that while on Bonaire, and you need equipment repair the Carib Inn is the place to go.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Grunt (Extraordinary BonaireTalker - Post #1260) on Saturday, April 16, 2011 - 7:05 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

Re: Dive Paradise/Paradise Apartments
We spent a week there last year.
The kitchen, while functional, is tiny.
The air flow through place is really poor, in that you get very little cross ventilation.
Having access to the BD dock is a big plus.


Top of pagePrevious messageNext messageBottom of page Link to this message  By Kelly(*) (Supreme BonaireTalker - Post #6735) on Monday, April 18, 2011 - 1:35 pm:     Edit PostPrint Post

You might also contact Ann Phelan, she's a local travel agent who would be happy to help you narrow your choices and is a wealth of information of all things Bonaire!

PS. Belmar has my vote. I love that place!


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