Bonaire December 2013
The MWMD Crew made their annual pilgrimage to blue water this time to one of our favorite places in the world – Bonaire. This marked our 3rd trip to island. I have to say it felt so good leaving the cold and snow behind and finally landing on the island that we spend so much time dreaming about. It truly felt like we returned home and once again the world was right.
I have to talk about this. Most of you know that getting to Bonaire can be a challenge. Frankly, the challenge is that there are not too many flights that go there. Our flights originated in Kansas City and St. Louis, to Atlanta, and then to Bonaire via Delta. We woke up on our departure dates to the Midwest ice and snow of December and getting to the airports was stressful. Half our crew made it out of KC without much of an issue; however, the other half coming out of St. Louis got delayed due to deicing operations – about an hour delay. The issue was that we had a 45-minute window in Atlanta to make our connection. I was fortunate to be on the KC flight and made it to our Atlanta flight fairly easily. However, I expected to meet up with the other half of our crew on the plane in Atlanta and they were not there. We hit our departure time and still we were missing half our crew. I started thinking how can I delay this flight without getting arrested. Finally, the captain announced that they were delaying the take-off time because several connection flights had not made it into Atlanta due to ice delays and “this was the only game in town to get to Bonaire”. I have to give huge props to Delta Airline for this. They understood the issue and although the flight was delayed nobody on the plane was upset. Ultimately, the rest of our crew came running into the plane out of breath and simply ecstatic that the plane was still there.
Okay, back to the trip. We landed in Bonaire to the island breezes and the tropical heat. Made it through “customs” rather easily, picked up our rental truck and headed to our home base for the week – Sand Dollar. This was our 2nd time staying at Sand Dollar and it was nice to not have the stress of something unfamiliar. We chose Sand Dollar simply because they offered us the best deal we could find on lodging and had treated us right the last time we stayed. The condo was nice with 2 bedrooms, a kitchen, living room area, and a nice screened in balcony. Really our only issue was that our ocean view was blocked by trees.
In past trips we had used Bonaire Dive and Adventure for our diving. They are still located right next door to Sand Dollar, but now Dive Friends has a shop right on the Sand Dollar property. We booked the dive packages through Dive Friends because that is what was offered with the package deal at Sand Dollar. I have to say Dive Friends treated us remarkably and truly live up to their name of Dive Friends. We felt that we had known them our whole lives and they provided any and every necessity we needed. One thing that had changed for us was that we could not use the pier right there at Bari Reef. The pier was only for those who had booked their dive packages through Bonaire Dive and Adventure. Literally, the pier was fenced and gated off. We had use of the very small sand beach located next to the pier to enter/exit the water. This was somewhat of a pain having to transport our gear from the front parking lot of Sand Dollar down to the benches next to the beach and negotiate the surge and sand to get in and out of the water. Not that big of an issue, but really it did at times give me the “2nd class citizen” feeling watching those on the pier literally looking down on use as we went out for our dives. I don’t want to get into it, but I think in the upcoming months this is going to change.
So, on with the diving. We go to Bonaire simply for one reason – the freedom of diving. There is nothing better in the world than loading up a truck full of tanks and driving around the island diving when and wherever we want. We are not tied to a dive schedule and can chose where we want to dive. This trip we hit all the usual dive locations, but then again tried to dive many that we had not in past trips. We even took a trip up North beyond the oil storage tanks thinking that maybe the reefs up there where that much better because people normally do not go up there. It was an adventure literally driving through paths in the jungle to get there. Once there the diving was not much different that other places and really not worth the time and effort of getting there. This trip we also spent a day in the National Park and brought our dive gear along because others had told us that the diving in the Park was fabulous. Unfortunately, not now. Maybe in the past it was, but what we found was a dead reef. After words, the locals told us that the diving use to be great up there, but since the hurricanes hit several years back it killed the reefs.
In general, the diving was typical Bonaire Diving -nice and easy. We didn’t see really anything unusual to the normal Caribbean fish. I did notice that pretty much on every dive we saw Barracuda. Really we didn’t see many Lion Fish. I think the whole trip I saw maybe 5 Lion Fish. Looks like they are doing a good job keeping them under control….maybe the Lion Fish Burgers has something to do with that. We were told that they have a crew of locals that dive daily looking for Lion Fish and several also hunt Lion Fish for fresh Lion Fish Burgers. Unfortunately, we didn’t get to try any of these because they were always sold out.
The only bad thing about Bonaire is somehow time is in some sort of time warp. It is amazing how fast the week goes by. It seems like we are just arriving and then making plans for our trip back home to reality. We are seriously thinking that when we return it will be for 2 weeks. Hey the cost of the flight is the same and a few more dollars for the room and food and we double paradise.