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RoxieU

Bonaire SCUBA, VIP Diving, Site Recommendations?

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Hi Everyone!

 

Our ship will be stopping in Bonaire and we are planning to scuba dive at that port. Do any of you have experience with VIP Diving? Do any of you have dive site recommendations for Bonaire? I'll be diving with my husband and daughter (14 yrs old with Jr. Open Water cert). According to her, she would like to see "more than just fish" (turtles, rays, sharks!!!!, octopus, eels, etc.).

 

Thanks in advance for any tips and pointers!!! 

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Bonaire is not known for large animals, it is known for its diverse numbers of reef fish.  You might see a group of squid at some sites and possibly a turtle and some eels.  Sharks, probably not.  

 

As far as reef recommendations....  all the reefs in Bonaire are great, shallow ones and deeper ones.  You will love it.  

 

I have  some videos from our dive trips to Bonaire (land vacations, not cruises) if you are interested.  You'll see the same fish no matter which reef.

 

 

 

 

 

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I think you'll be very pleased with VIP.  They are my go to operator for Bonaire. 

 

You are doing the right thing to research sites in advance, as one advantage of VIP is they will go to the sites you select, assuming you have a preference.  of course a lot of divers just walk in with no idea what they want to do. 

 

With a junior OW diver, the Hilma Hooker wreck is out (too deep).  I would suggest the Salt Pier, if you haven't dove it before, and assuming there's not a ship there that day.  It's always got abundant life, and I've never failed to see turtles.  There are usually tarpon as well.  As Robin noted, I've not seen sharks or rays in Bonaire, although it's not unheard of.  Eels I can almost promise, and octopus are likely if you have a sharp eye. 

 

Otherwise, you might look at a site up north, like Karpata for your first dive, then Salt Pier for you second.  That would give you the most variety. 

 

Its worth everyone in your group getting their nitrox certification before the trip.  VIP's price includes nitrox, but you need to have the certification.  Also, While they'll automatically give you regular 80 cubic foot tanks, they'll give you 100 cubic foot tanks if you ask, so ask.  Why wouldn't you want 25% more bottom time. 

 

Harris

Denver, CO

 

 

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We dove with VIP diving about 5 years ago. They met 4 of us at the dock, took us around in a Jeep to do the dives. We were very pleased with the expertise and friendliness of the dive master. I’d dive with VIP again.

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On 1/17/2019 at 12:19 PM, RoxieU said:

Hi Everyone!

 

Our ship will be stopping in Bonaire and we are planning to scuba dive at that port. Do any of you have experience with VIP Diving? Do any of you have dive site recommendations for Bonaire? I'll be diving with my husband and daughter (14 yrs old with Jr. Open Water cert). According to her, she would like to see "more than just fish" (turtles, rays, sharks!!!!, octopus, eels, etc.).

 

Thanks in advance for any tips and pointers!!! 

 

VIP Diving is a very good operator in Bonaire.  We went with them in Jan 2015 and loved it.  The salt pier was awesome.

 

We didn't go with them this past January because their cancellation policy changed.  Back in 2015 after you pay in full to secure your booking, you lost 50% of the amount if you cancelled inside of 15 days.  Now the entire amount is non-refundable if you cancel at any time after making your booking.

Edited by mahdnc

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21 hours ago, mahdnc said:

 

VIP Diving is a very good operator in Bonaire.  We went with them in Jan 2015 and loved it.  The salt pier was awesome.

 

We didn't go with them this past January because their cancellation policy changed.  Back in 2015 after you pay in full to secure your booking, you lost 50% of the amount if you cancelled inside of 15 days.  Now the entire amount is non-refundable if you cancel at any time after making your booking.

Do you have a recent operator that you would recommend now?

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14 minutes ago, NemoCrownie said:

Do you have a recent operator that you would recommend now?

 

We used Dive Friends Bonaire on Jan 15 and they were very good and very professional.  They have several dive shops on the island including one located right by the cruise ship pier.  So we conveniently met there in the morning and our first dive was near the cruise ship, in front of their shop.  The 2nd dive was at the "Cliffs" which was located by one of their other dive shops that we were driven to. 

 

They do not require payment until after the dive.  Their service was very good and equal to VIP Diving.  However I liked the dive locations that VIP Diving picked out back in 2015 (the Salt Pier was awesome, oh, I already posted that).  

 

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Edited by mahdnc

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As long as you have trip insurance, which you really should anyway, if somethign were to happen to cause you to lose your money paid to VIP, the insurance would cover (assuming it wasn't just simply a change of mind on your part). 

 

Harris

Denver, CO

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True although I think their cancellation  policy is very tough. And for us, a family of 4 adults, there's a lot of possibility of things happening where plans change that wouldn't be covered by insurance. 

 

My thought is that there are a lot of other dive shops in Bonaire to choose from. So it's an easy problem to avoid, with or without insurance. 

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10 hours ago, omeinv said:

As long as you have trip insurance, which you really should anyway, if somethign were to happen to cause you to lose your money paid to VIP, the insurance would cover (assuming it wasn't just simply a change of mind on your part). 

 

Harris

Denver, CO

We rarely get trip insurance for Caribbean cruises and when we have it hasn't looked like excursions are covered. Have you ever filed a claim for a missed excursion and what insurance company do you use? Note, I have worldwide health insurance, medevac, etc. and DAN and up to $3,000 pp trip cancellation through our credit card - we are willing to eat the cost of a cruise but not potential medical emergencies.

 

Any information is appreciated because we tend to book dives about 6 months out, and have had late itinerary changes, so I have always avoided non-refundable excursions.

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5 hours ago, NemoCrownie said:

We rarely get trip insurance for Caribbean cruises and when we have it hasn't looked like excursions are covered. Have you ever filed a claim for a missed excursion and what insurance company do you use? Note, I have worldwide health insurance, medevac, etc. and DAN and up to $3,000 pp trip cancellation through our credit card - we are willing to eat the cost of a cruise but not potential medical emergencies.

 

Any information is appreciated because we tend to book dives about 6 months out, and have had late itinerary changes, so I have always avoided non-refundable excursions.

 

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I have both the DAN dive insurance, and an annual travel policy through DAN, that - unlike most annual policies - provides complete coverage, not just medical and evacuation. 

 

That being said the one time I lost dive deposits due to a cruise itinerary change, the easiest way to recover was through my Chase credit card insurance. 

 

By the way, if anyone else reading this thread is considering relying on credit card trip insurance for cruises, it's imperative to read the details of the insurance provided.  Most specifically exclude cruise travel.  For example my Chase Freedom Unlimited excludes cruises, while my Chase Sapphire Reserve card covers them.  Prior to the introduction of the Sapphire Reserve, I had the Sapphire Preferred, which did not.  You can see that it would be easy to make a mistake in this area. 

 

Harris

Denver, CO

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Harris, as per usual, you are a wealth of good, solid information!  Thank you.  We book all cruises through Costco and pay for all travel with their Executive Member Citi Visa. I had to re-read the trip cancellation/interruption travel benefits with the card even though I had previously verified that cruise travel is covered.  Based on the wording, it does not appear that a missed port would be covered which makes me apprehensive about whether "Other unused, nonrefundable travel expenses, such as lodging, tour fees or activity fees" would cover a missed dive for an itinerary change.  Fortunately there have been very few dive ops that we have avoided and no other excursions that I can recall.  Again, thank you for the information and for making me review our credit card trip coverage.  FWIW, it was because of Cruise Critic that I called my health insurance company and realized that I had been buying medical and medevac trip insurance needlessly.

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Another vote for Dive Friends Bonaire.  We dove with them for a week last summer and the locations of their dive shops are great.  If you get a choice on dive sites, the Salt Pier was awesome!  We also enjoyed the Cliffs and Windsock (very easy entry and exit).  Cliffs was fairly easy.  Make sure to have hard soles on your booties because of the rocks for most of the shore dives. If you have the option of using a boat, it saves swimming to the buoy before dropping down but you also chance missing the small things that are close to the shore.  You don't see a lot of large things but the underwater life is outstanding!  Look for the little things.  One of my favorite were the baby angelfish darting in and out of the corals close to shore.  That's also where we saw the most turtles too.

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Does anyone know if you can rent tanks from VIP and shore dive on your own ?

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On 1/19/2019 at 8:21 PM, Murrhers said:

We dove with VIP diving about 5 years ago. They met 4 of us at the dock, took us around in a Jeep to do the dives. We were very pleased with the expertise and friendliness of the dive master. I’d dive with VIP again.

 

As would I.  need to book another cruise to Bonaire. 

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