Scouting Report from Bonaire – Amy & Brian’s visit

Note: This blog entry is brought to you by Amy & Brian Dunn, members of the Indian Valley Scuba diving family!

Well after Brian spent the last 18 months recovering from Achilles Reattachment and Knee Surgeries – we were both itching for a vacation and had the urge to submerge!  We spent the last few months of 2010 trying to decide where to go….We have done a bunch of Caribbean diving to date in the Bahamas, Jamaica, Bermuda, Cozumel, St.Lucia, Caymans, Tulum and of course with IVS/Amoray in Key Largo……

But once we heard all the great comments and feedback from Dave, Bev, Brian, Roy and Butch regarding last summer’s IVS Trip to Bonaire – we had narrowed the list of destinations fairly quickly to between Belize and Bonaire….then the direct flight from Newark and more great feedback from Brian at the Shop convinced us to book a week in Bonaire staying at the Harbour Village Beach Club (http://www.harbourvillage.com/)  The holidays brought the Dunn family some much needed new dive gear and it was clear that Santa had stopped at the IVS Shop to gather regs, computers and other goodies to fill the stockings!

So now we had the reservations and new gear but since it had been a while since we had been in the water we took Bev and Dave’s invitation to share some pool time with them at the Harleysville YMCA one Thursday evening.  There we took the opportunity to practice some skills and familiarize ourselves with our new equipment (especially the Epic Dive Computers.)  Satisfied and wet we stepped out into the 11 degree weather confident we were prepared for our trip now just 3 weeks away to Bonaire.

Fast forward to our departure night of Friday February 25th……..we took a red-eye direct flight from Newark Airport to Bonaire.  With the one hour time difference we arrived in Bonaire at 5:30am Saturday morning.   Upon arrival we quickly got our checked baggage and headed out to be greeted by the agents booked for the airport transfers by the concierge at the Hotel.  15 minutes later we were pulling into the gates of the resort and being escorted to a temporary room they had set up for us to relax in until we could check into our Beachfront Suite at 11:30am.  Amy and I relaxed from the overnight flight for a few hours and then headed to breakfast.  By 11:30am we had checked into our suite and taken delivery of the pickup we had rented for the week.  Now we figured we should head to the on-site dive shop – Adventure Diving and introduce ourselves.  After getting all the paperwork out of the way, and a tour of the shop, we were given a mandatory educational overview of the Bonaire National Marine Park.  That completed, we were issued our Park Passes (Good for One Year and at a cost of $25).  We scheduled our mandatory check out dive with the shop for the next morning (Sunday).  We spent the rest of the afternoon playing on the famous private beach at Harbour Village before relaxing in the room and having wonderful Duck Dinners at La Balandra which is the main restaurant at the resort.  Below are 2 shots of the room and view from balcony.

Interior of Harbour Resort Hotel Room

Interior of Harbour Resort Hotel Room

Balcony View from our Harbour Village Room

Balcony View from our Harbour Village Room

Sunday breakfast was filled with good food and anticipation of the excitement the days’ activities would bring.  First, we headed to the Dive Shop and were shown both our “day” and “night” locker spaces  – then we were issued our weights and headed for our check out dive to the house reef which contains a small wreck “ Our Confidence”  shown below in just 50 feet of water…..

The Our Confidence Wreck off Harbour Village House Reef

The Our Confidence Wreck off Harbour Village House Reef

After that we headed out in our rented pickup to get the lay of the land and familiarize ourselves with the maps and some of the dive sites that had been recommended both by IVS crew and in a great book “Bonaire Shore Diving Made Easy”  (http://www.infobonaire.com/bsdme/)  Our first stop was at the dive site called 1,000 Steps (having just dove the house reef – we decided to head down to the site and snorkel.  Tons to see whether diving or snorkeling!  Reef is beautiful, current minimal and many turtles, barracuda, eels call this spot home!   From there we motored along doing a loop of the Northern Half of the Island.  That evening we ate a great Argentinean steakhouse called Patagonia.  The steaks were paired with a fine Malbec – delicious!

Our Rent A Pick Up Truck/Dive Tender

Our Rent A Pick Up Truck/Dive Tender

The next day (Monday) we headed to breakfast then the minimart to stock up on lunch fixings (Raisin Rolls, Peanut Butter & Jelly etc.)  Then we threw some tanks and our gear in the truck and headed to the dive site called Andrea One which we had scoped out on the previous day’s drive.  This dive was nice to be able to drive right up to the shore (see pix below) and has a pretty easy entry but we missed the sandy slot and had a more challenging exit.  This dive has a short swim to the buoy and great reef….we saw many blue faced trumpet fish, green moray as highlights.  After this dive we decided to drive around the entire South end of Bonaire and take note of more of the many Marked/Unmarked Dive Sites.  We dined that night at a wonderful little French place called Bistro de Paris.  Reservations are recommended as it is a quaint small place but the food was awesome..for example the Belgian Waffle Appetizer complete with shredded Duck Breast and Whip Crème topped with a Black Cherry dressing was so unusual  – had to be tried and was truly enjoyed! 

Gold Spotted Moray Eel

Gold Spotted Moray Eel

Tuesday morning found us headed to the South side of the island and to dive site called Margate…..lots to see there as far as reef and fish life!   Easy entry and exit and just a short drive to Windsock where we sat on the benches on the shore and enjoyed a picnic lunch….afterwards we headed for some snorkeling back at the Hotel’s House reef and prepped for the night dive we scheduled for that evening.  The night dive was great with us entering via the sandy beach at Harbour Village heading out to the Wreck and then off to the reef to see eels, tarpon, barracuda, parrot fish, lobsters, angel fish, nurse shark and unfortunately a large lionfish (which we reported to the Dive Shop the next morning). 

Orange-striped Triggerfish

Orange-striped Triggerfish

Wednesday we decided to take a sea kayak over to Klein Bonaire.  The trip took just a few minutes and once we beached the kayak we did some snorkeling the choral there is beautiful and we saw a green sea turtle just as we were leaving.  Once back at the resort we had lunch and Amy joined the afternoon boat dive from Adventure Diving.  There were 12 divers in the group and the dive site was a quick seven minute  boat ride to the far tip of Klein Bonaire.  The drift dive was beautiful, relaxing and included the highlights of seahorse, spotted eel and puffer fish.  Amy also got to witness first-hand the removal of a Lionfish that was spotted by one of the Dive Guides.  That evening we dined at a great seafood restaurant at the Marina called “It Rains Fishes” – al fresco, great food and pretty location at the Marina for sunsets!

Sunset from Harbour Village Marina

Sunset from Harbour Village Marina

Thursday brought us back to the South Shore of the island to the dive site “Invisibles” .  This is an easy entrance/exit with a brief swim to the buoy.  Then it is down to the reef….tons of fish including large schools, many Trunk Fish – saw a friendly green sea turtle there as well! 

Smooth Trunkfish

Smooth Trunkfish

Green Turtle at The Invisibles

Green Turtle at The Invisibles

That wrapped up our diving on this trip to Bonaire…..we spent the last day relaxing on the beach,  taking in the Spa and having a celebratory Chef’s dinner on the balcony of our suite!  We really want to thank Dave and everyone at IVS as we appreciate everyone’s comments, feedback, tips and recommendations that helped us pick this overdue vacation!   We really enjoyed it and will be back to Bonaire hopefully with the IVS crew in 2012!

 Thanks for letting us share our adventure!  Hope to see you all soon!

Brian & Amy Dunn

Becky DunnBrian Dunn

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