On Saturday morning November 2nd, twenty brave souls left cold Nashville for the warm, sunny Dutch island of Bonaire. The flight down was interesting since right after we got over the Gulf of Mexico, the plane turned around and returned to Houston due to a navigation system problem. After about five hours we re-boarded the same plane to try again. This time we made it to the island, after 10pm. Representatives from Buddy Dive Resort met us at the airport and took us on a 10 minute ride through mostly deserted (at that hour) town to the resort.
The next morning everyone met at one (of the two) restaurants on the resort for the first of our daily buffet breakfasts, complete with pancakes, bacon, sausage, potatoes, fruits, juices, breads, made to order omelets/eggs, and more. Since we were so late getting in the night before, we were then given a special 30 minute orientation to the island (that is required for all visitors since the water around the entire island is a protected marine park) and to the resort. After that we received our vehicles, either seven passenger vans or five passenger extended cab trucks (each of our five apartments included a vehicle) for carrying dive gear and tanks. Next, all the divers went to the dive shop/pier and got wet, checking out our gear and ensuring we had the proper weights to submerge and stay off the coral. The diving at Buddy’s was some of the best on the island, with two ladders for entering the water and a very short swim to the reef wall.
Our dive package included unlimited tanks (air or Nitrox) for shore diving and most of us made 2-4 dives a day. The great thing about shore diving was that we did our dives on our schedule. Another plus was we weren’t bumping into people on a dive boat when getting geared up or when submerged. In addition to Buddy’s reef, some of our favorite locations were the Salt Pier, Karpata, and Hilma Hooker (a sunken ship/artificial reef). Some also did some boat dives to locations that aren’t accessible from the beach.
Those of our group that didn’t dive enjoyed the snorkeling, usually at the same sites where others in our group were diving. Due to the protection of the marine park, there is an abundance of coral and fish. Some of the things seen included barracudas, stingrays, eagle rays, tarpons, groupers, turtles, lionfish, scorpionfish, and spotted and green moray eels.
On Monday and again on Tuesday, some of our group went on a three hour horseback ride with Horse Ranch Bonaire. The group was led by Simone through the countryside, including deserts and mangroves to Loc Bay. Once at the bay they swam with the horses in the bay, then returned to the ranch.
Monday night everyone went on a Sunset Snorkel Dinner Cruise with Captain Miguel from Epic Tours. We sailed along the coast of Bonaire and Klein Bonaire where we had two guided snorkel sessions. After snorkeling, the crew prepared a luxury BBQ diner on board our catamaran while we watched the sunset and then the stars come out.
Wednesday night we had a surprise birthday party for Bobbie Witt. I’ll leave her age up to your imagination. During the evening we had pizza and played various games.
Overall, everyone had a great time and we are looking forward to a return trip.