from 8 reviews
PADI Dive Center
|12th May 2012||Bonaire Diving: Disappointing||No|
|16th June 2010||May 2010||No|
|20th February 2010||February 2010||No|
|10th February 2010||Buddy Dive December 2009||No|
|5th November 2009||Great trip! Great dives!||No|
12th May 2012 by Keetoe
Bonaire Diving: Disappointing
Visit Date: March 2012
Note: This review mostly applies to the Buddy Dive resort dive activity operation; not the hotel per se.
The once beautiful full-of-life reefs of Bonaire are now about 50% destroyed apparently for a variety of reasons. From “WBD” (White Band Disease) and abnormal hurricane activity since 2005 which have done significant damage.
I was last diving on Bonaire in 1984 and the reefs and animal life were stunning. Now there is evidence of severe problems at all of the 13 dive sites I visited (including some on Kline Bonaire). I’m a long time, globally experienced diver-photographer and was hard put to find decent subjects. (Oh yes, some macro critters if that’s of interest.) Not just the cancerous-looking coral heads and bone-white Elkhorn coral skeletal remains strewn over the ocean floor, but the lack of sea life also. No large animals were encountered at all. No sharks, no dolphins, no large turtles, no mantas, none of the big groupers I remembered. Really sad and unfortunately it may never recover. There are groups such as the Coral Restoration Foundation (the hotel adds a dollar donation to your bill) and other organizations trying to save the reefs but success so far is minimal.
On accommodations: I stayed the week at the Buddy Dive overflow associate resort, Caribbean Club Bonaire which is about five kilometers away in a remote area of the coast. Nice if you desire quiet and isolation but a pain because of the 10 minute drive to the Buddy Dive dock. You are provided a pickup truck with the package which is essential since there are no taxis (unless called ahead of time) and no busses or other transportation. So you drive yourself to dive and eat and shop and party. My Caribbean Club room was excellent, however. Large, spotless, and the A/C and other accoutrements worked fine. The pool which I never used is three feet deep and no other guests used it either.
At the Buddy Dive resort my friend had her regulator stolen from the condo balcony (and a ho-hum from resort staff). And signs on the rental car dashboards strongly admonish keeping the windows rolled down, doors unlocked and nothing at all left in the vehicle. (Applicable mainly for shore dive excursions.)
About the Buddy Dive diving operation: It is a major assembly-line-like facility, well equipped with several dive boats, hundreds of tanks, and a large, experienced staff. It is like a well-oiled machine. Clockwork. Divers swarming the docks awaiting their turn on a boat, plenty of gear-washing facilities, a large equipment locker room, and a reasonable dive-photography shop. But there are problems:
1. Our boat took us West along the coast to a site near “Thousand Steps”. Our group (about 10 divers) stuck together pretty much and the divemaster swam us up-current for 25 minutes, then completed the round trip nearer the shore in shallower water and led us back to the mooring-buoy anchor for a safety stop. HOWEVER, upon surfacing; no boat in sight! After a few minutes a boat appeared on the horizon and the captain circled to pick us up. She had left to pick up a snorkeler from another boat miles away who had strayed from the herd. Unfathomable lack of professionalism and responsibility.
2. Attitude issues. Not from the staff. For the most part they all were very considerate and helpful, with the exception of the photo shop “guru” who seemed disinterested unless you were toting a mega-bucks professional camera-strobe setup engaging in techno-speak. That a real turnoff for casual recreational underwater photo-buffs who simply want some interesting snaps to brag about back home.
3. My dive buddy on our boat got all geared up for our second tank and discovered that her tank was half full! The valve dust cover was on which is supposed to indicate that the tank is full. Fortunately she noticed this before entering.
But also annoying was the high-and-mighty attitude from “seasoned” Bonaire-recurring guest “arrogant-professional-recreationist” types, of which there were more than a few. (Flashing lots of expensive equipment, self-asserted expertise, and no smiles.) Amusing for me to feel that. I’ve logged over 850 dives all over the world in many dive situations and have never sensed such attempts at intimidation. Why such a concentration of these folks at Buddy Dive? By far the diving community is generally a great bunch of people.
Summary: I’ll not be back to Bonaire but instead will seek those wonderful, colorful, teaming underwater scenarios which hopefully remain elsewhere. It seems the reef damage situation is world-wide, to varying degrees. Other venues I’ve dove in the last few years have exhibited some reef degradation, but nothing as severe as Bonaire, unfortunately. But if your main goal is a highly structured operation, Buddy Dive Bonaire will suit you. By the way, I normally write reviews which are sincerely positive, but in this instance that’s not the case.
16th June 2010 by jules557
Visit Date: May 2010
This was my first trip to Buddy Dive on Bonaire having been recommended by friends. We were very disappointed as in the room next to ours, it was being renovated and all day they were using jack hammers and tile saws to the extent that in our room, which was OK, we could not have a conversation. We were given no notice by Buddys informing us that we would would be staying next to any construction. Whilst we were there, we were joined by another couple who had a much better room than ours, but at the end of the day we were there for the diving and did not spend much time in our room. Regarding the food, apart from breakfast, the food was awful and I cannot recommend either restaurant.
I would only ever consider staying at Buddys again because of the diving which was awesome and the dive staff who were excellent.
20th February 2010 by muley1957
Visit Date: February 2010
Group of 20 or so divers including several that were finishing their certification were on this trip. My only complaint was that they changed it from 6 single dives on boat to 3 days of 2 boat dives. It was too many people on one boat of various levels and then we were all to go down "together'.I saw boats going out with 3-5 people. Our group leader said that was the way it was. We could go on other boats but it would cost extra.
The reef was very healthy. Lots of fish. Not much "big stuff" in the way of critters but expected that.The nite dive was off Klein Bonaire. We thought it would be the Town Pier, like we had done 13 years ago, but its not being dove. Did Salt Pier for extra $. 3 from the group did the Cave snorkel and said the guide was excellent and very fun. Not a "osha" approved event however. Just wish you didn't have to travel all nite to get here. Leaving houston at 2300 and arriving at 0630 messes with one's circadian rhythm for a while.
10th February 2010 by BradB
Buddy Dive December 2009
Visit Date: December 2009
What can I say I love these guys. I have been leading groups of 8 to 24 divers to Bonaire since 2002, and have always stayed at Buddy Dive.
Our latest adventure December 5 - 12, 2009. Except for a little rain, (it is their rainy season) it was a great trip. I did 18 dives some did 25 or more. We did the boat diving as well as the shore diving. I had three divers take John Walls digital photo course and they enjoyed it and learned a lot about using their cameras. All in all this is one of the best places to dive. We also did the Blow Carts on the east side of the island. Lots of FUN!
Thank You, Buddy Dive.
5th November 2009 by MarinaQuezado
Great trip! Great dives!
Visit Date: October 2009
I travelled to Bonaire with a group of 9 divers friends in October, 2009, and stayed at Buddy Dive. It was my first trip abroad to dive and my first time diving without a divemaster. Diving in Bonaire is shore diving and you can dive as much as you want and your computer allows. Buddy Dive Hotel is a really good place to stay if you are a diver and are travelling to dive. Everything is ready for diving. Dive Center is fantastic, staff is really helpful and friendly. Equipment is very good and they offer nitrox tanks (I think only one another dive center in Bonaire offers nitrox too). They request that your first dive there be at Buddy Dive Pier so you can check if the equipment is working fine and also if you really can drive (of course they check all your certification first, they are really serious about that, so don´t forget your nitrox ID otherwise you won´t use nitrox). We thought we would waste time diving at the hotel pier, but we were really surprised how beautiful the dive site is. Everytime we wanted to dive there again. When you are too tired of diving, you relax a little bit at the hotel and then you are ready for a night dive at the pier again. Really beautiful! We booked a boat dive too, to Klein Bonaire, and the divemasters were really good. Helped us to choose the sites we wanted to visit and they´ve really chosen right. Bonaire is the divers paradise, for sure! I hope I´ll come back one day! Best regards from Brazil... Marina