Sep 19

Bonaire, Post One: Buddy dive and the first pictures

Category: Bonaire,scuba,Travel

I’m staying at “Buddy Dive” in Bonaire.  Hearing that they were renovating, I asked for one of the new rooms.  It’s very nice – a little suite with a kitchenette, not luxurious but more than adequate, modern, and attractive.  There are small markets north and south of here where you can get basic supplies for meals, and there is a restaurant at Buddy Dive, and many more only minutes away.

Speaking of food and basic supplies, here are a few notes:

  • The Chinese market just north of buddy dive is better than the “Hato” market to the south; you can get basic supplies to make your own meals, if you wish, and save a little on the expensive island food prices.
  • Island prices are significantly higher than in the US.  I noticed that batteries in the Chinese market were pretty reasonable compared to prices in the resort dive shop.
  • For convenience, I ate the breakfast provided in the buddy dive package deal, which also included the rental truck and unlimited nitrox.  I usually made my own lunch with supermarket supplies, and ate dinner out.
  • Restaurants: I had three superb experiences: Mona Lisa, La Barca (Italian), It Rains Fishes.  In all three places, the service and food were truly memorable.  La Barca was inexpensive to boot, and the quality was no less than the others.
  • There was one stand-out terrible experience, at a place called Zee Zicht (Sea View in Dutch).  Zee Zicht is in a building upon the street in Kralendijk, and across the street there is a dock bar named Karel’s that is simply an extension of Zee Zicht; you can order the same food there and sit right on the water watching the sun set.  However, your good times will end there, because the food was absolutely the worst thing I have ever been served in a restaurant.  I have only refused food a handful of times in my life, and this was one of them.  We ordered a seafood soup that tasted precisely like boiled seawater – the juice left over at the bottom of the pot after you steam clams.  It was inedible, but the restaurant would not refund our money, saying that it was simply our taste, and not the soup, that was to blame.  I couldn’t believe my ears.  The other food we had there, conch fritters, had no identifiable conch meat, and the remaining food was grade B at best, using what seemed like frozen fish.  On top of all this, the prices were as high as anything else I’d experienced.  Check trip advisor – it’s not just me.

Here is buddy dive.  The property ends at the large house on the right.  It’s wonderful to get off the airplane and be here within a few minutes, and set eyes upon the azure crystal water teeming with fish.  the resort has a small but reasonably stocked dive shop, with minimal supplies only.  They can only perform basic repairs; they send other things out to Kralendijk where there are specialized dealers.  There is a reasonable-quality restaurant with a pool bar.  It’s OK, but it would be a shame to not expand your horizons if you stay here.  But you get to sit right next to the water, so the view is great.  The same can be said of Captain Don’s habitat – the resort next door – which has slightly better food.

In the evening, we sit in the restaurant and eat dinner while watching the sun set and planning a night dive.  Last night we had a special treat – Ned and Anna DeLoach, of DeLoach fish & creature ID reference book fame, gave a colloquium  In fact, this week at Buddy Dive, they’re leading dives, snorkels, and signing books – something they have done for the last several years, and worth planning a trip around.  They are the nicest, most genuine people you’d care to meet, and utterly without ego.

Some of my friends stayed at “Deep Blue View,” a B&B run by Ester and Menno, a Dutch couple.  DBV is not next to the water, but it’s only 10 minutes away(and has a pool too).  It’s high in the hills, with a spectacular view.  Shaded hammocks provide a nice place to rest while napping after a dive.  There are only five rooms, and it is very private and secluded.  The opportunity to hang out with Ester & Menno cannot be overvalued, as they are a wealth of local information, dive training, good cooking, and general good company to boot.  Plus, they have a great dive boat, should you need to use this service.  Next time, I will seriously consider staying there.

Now all of that tropical stuff topside is great, but this is why divers come here:

These guys look dour and tearful, like the velvet paintings of children with big eyes:

A parrotfish has just zoomed by, shitting sand (they do that because they are eating coral; it’s how most of the sand is formed in the caribbean):

2 comments

2 Comments so far

  1. Talkingtostones September 20th, 2011 12:00 AM

    Really lovely photos, Dan! And even some new info on sand formation. I’ll never think of sand in my toes in the same way again!

    What do you use to take such great underwater shots? Steve and I saw some beautiful fish underwater in Hawaii, but no photos since we didn’t have anything for taking underwater shots.

    Looking forward to the rest of the Bonaire posts!

  2. Dan Greenspan September 20th, 2011 7:00 AM

    Thanks Kimberly! I’m using a canon G12 in an underwater housing, along with an external flash. BTW, here’s a link to another post with more pictures and info about parrotfish and their role in creating sand: http://spleen-me.com/blog/?p=283

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