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Ropes4u
May 2, 2009



Ramrod Hotshot posted:

wow, Bonaire sounds awesome.

I guess I said "resort" because my local dive shop offered a trip there (later cancelled, lol) at a pretty expensive place. Doubles price for rooms with one bed. So I figured it was a similar situation around the island. Any cheaper (like $50 - $100 a night) places to sleep?

How does the coral reef cover/fish life compare to other Caribbean dive spots?

I cant really compare it to anything but Florida though others can speak up. We love the diving but I assume you will hear the old "It used to be so much better" which is true about everything. You can definitely find nice places to stay on VRBO or AirBNB for for $100 a night.

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sharkytm
Oct 9, 2003

Ba

By

Sharkytm doot doo do doot do doo



Fallen Rib

Ramrod Hotshot posted:

wow, Bonaire sounds awesome.

I guess I said "resort" because my local dive shop offered a trip there (later cancelled, lol) at a pretty expensive place. Doubles price for rooms with one bed. So I figured it was a similar situation around the island. Any cheaper (like $50 - $100 a night) places to sleep?

How does the coral reef cover/fish life compare to other Caribbean dive spots?

https://sunwisebonaire.com/location/seaside-apartments/

This is where we stayed. They're nice apartments, although street noise was a bit of a problem for my wife. The locals run 2-stroke bikes and quads on the road behind the apartments, which is the side the bedrooms are on. That said, Yellow Submarine (DFB location) was literally across the side street and was a max 3-minute walk door to door. I'd stay there again in a heartbeat. We stayed 9 nights, at $129/night including taxes and whatnot.

Your dive shop was probably going to "Captain Don's" or "Buddy Dive", maybe Delfins. They're as close to resorts as Bonaire gets.

We rented a truck with full insurance for $582 including taxes, left the windows down, keys in it, and it unlocked whenever we parked, and had zero issues whatsoever. It was a stick-shift Chinese pickup, which I actually liked driving. Automatics were more money and even slower.

Diving with Dive Friends was great. $200 each for 6 days of unlimited tanks of Nitrox. If you check back in this thread, Suitcase Pimp is the goon who worked there (but not since COVID). He would be a good person to contact about the situation on the ground there now, assuming he's checking his messages.

Ramrod Hotshot
May 30, 2003



Ropes4u posted:

I cant really compare it to anything but Florida though others can speak up. We love the diving but I assume you will hear the old "It used to be so much better" which is true about everything. You can definitely find nice places to stay on VRBO or AirBNB for for $100 a night.

How would it compare to the Keys, then? Hopefully in better shape...

SuitcasePimp
Feb 26, 2005



Ramrod Hotshot posted:

How would it compare to the Keys, then? Hopefully in better shape...

Having lived in the Keys for 3.5 years (pre and post Irma) and in Bonaire for 2 (after ~8 trips) I can tell you that it is as different as night and day. If all your previous dive experience was in the Keys then prepare to be blown away by any of the places you listed. What makes Bonaire so special though is the shore diving which means you can set your own schedule and agenda each day and dive at your own pace (although boat dives are available as well).

There has been some good advice posted in the thread! I would say that Bonaire isn't so much of a backpacker vibe just by its nature and geography, for that I would say Utila > Belize > Cozumel > Bonaire. You may meet other solo divers here but IMO the buddy boards at the dive shops are mostly aspirational and this is from working with the largest shop on the island for a year. Its not so much that people are rude just that most people come here on vacation with a group or SO just to dive so you don't get the "spouse lounges by pool and reads book while other spouse goes diving" type of divers as much as other vacation places. Not trying to discourage you from coming but its good to be realistic :-) You can post on ScubaBoard to see if anyone else is coming around your time that may want to buddy up. You can also book some guided shore dives but you lose some of the scheduling and freedom similar to boat diving. There are also a few small one person operations that will take you diving on a more personalized schedule but it would be a little more expensive.
If you have enough dives under your belt I would spend the first couple of days getting your Self Reliant cert and rent a pony bottle or borrow mine, because there is no sweeter freedom than solo diving!

Seriously AMA either through PM or here, I have been out of touch from this thread for too long and I miss it.

SuitcasePimp
Feb 26, 2005



sharkytm posted:

https://sunwisebonaire.com/location/seaside-apartments/
Diving with Dive Friends was great. $200 each for 6 days of unlimited tanks of Nitrox. If you check back in this thread, Suitcase Pimp is the goon who worked there (but not since COVID). He would be a good person to contact about the situation on the ground there now, assuming he's checking his messages.

Full Disclosure: My wife and I dove with sharkytm and his wife on our days off and almost killed them in insane current at White Slave. We seriously drifted back to the exit in 1/8th the time once we turned it. Fortunately they are great divers so we just got out, regrouped, and went somewhere else!

Dive Friends is a great choice for tanks because they have a lot of locations around the island where you can pick up and drop off empties, both north and south . Price wise they're all pretty much the same but the convenience is definitely worth it if you're shore diving w/ a truck (Which you should be if at all possible).

Goddamn I need to change my username now that I know people IRL.

sharkytm
Oct 9, 2003

Ba

By

Sharkytm doot doo do doot do doo



Fallen Rib

SuitcasePimp posted:

Full Disclosure: My wife and I dove with sharkytm and his wife on our days off and almost killed them in insane current at White Slave. We seriously drifted back to the exit in 1/8th the time once we turned it. Fortunately they are great divers so we just got out, regrouped, and went somewhere else!

Dive Friends is a great choice for tanks because they have a lot of locations around the island where you can pick up and drop off empties, both north and south . Price wise they're all pretty much the same but the convenience is definitely worth it if you're shore diving w/ a truck (Which you should be if at all possible).

Goddamn I need to change my username now that I know people IRL.

LOL. What up.

That dive at White Slave was hilarious. The struggle to get anywhere, then just cannonball back to the beach.

How's things? My wife looks like she's smuggling a beach ball. 2 more months until we're officially parents...

Ramrod Hotshot
May 30, 2003



SuitcasePimp posted:

Having lived in the Keys for 3.5 years (pre and post Irma) and in Bonaire for 2 (after ~8 trips) I can tell you that it is as different as night and day. If all your previous dive experience was in the Keys then prepare to be blown away by any of the places you listed. What makes Bonaire so special though is the shore diving which means you can set your own schedule and agenda each day and dive at your own pace (although boat dives are available as well).

There has been some good advice posted in the thread! I would say that Bonaire isn't so much of a backpacker vibe just by its nature and geography, for that I would say Utila > Belize > Cozumel > Bonaire. You may meet other solo divers here but IMO the buddy boards at the dive shops are mostly aspirational and this is from working with the largest shop on the island for a year. Its not so much that people are rude just that most people come here on vacation with a group or SO just to dive so you don't get the "spouse lounges by pool and reads book while other spouse goes diving" type of divers as much as other vacation places. Not trying to discourage you from coming but its good to be realistic :-) You can post on ScubaBoard to see if anyone else is coming around your time that may want to buddy up. You can also book some guided shore dives but you lose some of the scheduling and freedom similar to boat diving. There are also a few small one person operations that will take you diving on a more personalized schedule but it would be a little more expensive.
If you have enough dives under your belt I would spend the first couple of days getting your Self Reliant cert and rent a pony bottle or borrow mine, because there is no sweeter freedom than solo diving!

Seriously AMA either through PM or here, I have been out of touch from this thread for too long and I miss it.

Great info, thanks! This pretty much fits with my preconceived notion of the island. I can wait for Bonaire until I go with a buddy or a group.

I've heard elsewhere as well that Utila has a kind of loose, easy, backpacker or even party vibe. But then also that its badly overfished and the coral condition isn't great. Any idea about that?

SuitcasePimp
Feb 26, 2005



Ramrod Hotshot posted:

Great info, thanks! This pretty much fits with my preconceived notion of the island. I can wait for Bonaire until I go with a buddy or a group.

I've heard elsewhere as well that Utila has a kind of loose, easy, backpacker or even party vibe. But then also that its badly overfished and the coral condition isn't great. Any idea about that?

No problem, I can hook you up with any Bonaire info if you do decide on here (even some freediving hookups!). I've been to Utila once 5 or so years ago and it was exactly as you heard on all fronts. I would say that there is a STRONG party vibe among the younger crowd that you'll likely encounter there. We went there to do our Rescue cert so we didn't get into any of that, but you'll see it. A lot of people backpacking through CA come over there to get certified fairly cheaply. Overall it was fun but we have never managed to go back.

I would recommend Roatan over Utila all day long unless you really want that younger party atmosphere. It still has some of that vibe in West End but slightly more infrastructure and the diving is better due to the marine park. Its also a lot easier to get to so you spend less of your vacation time in transit. One thing Utila has in certain times of the year is whale sharks though so if that is on your bucket list it could be worth checking out.

A couple of places to add to your research list are USVI, specifically St. Croix, and the Caymans (Little or Brac). Little Cayman is a magical place if you are a good diver and don't get bored easily.

MrYenko
Jun 17, 2012

#2 isn't ALWAYS bad...


I feel obligated to plug the Roatan Agressor here. Holy gently caress that was an amazing week. Wrong time of the year for whale sharks sadly, but just an epic week of diving.

DeadlyMuffin
Jul 3, 2007




Has anyone else dove Saba? I was really impressed with both the reefs and the amount of large sharks and other fish.

Amazing underwater structure too

Compared to other places I've been in the Caribbean (Bonaire, Cozumel, and Turks and Caicos) it really stood out.

SuitcasePimp
Feb 26, 2005



DeadlyMuffin posted:

Has anyone else dove Saba? I was really impressed with both the reefs and the amount of large sharks and other fish.

Amazing underwater structure too

Compared to other places I've been in the Caribbean (Bonaire, Cozumel, and Turks and Caicos) it really stood out.

Oh man I LOVED Saba. I would recommend people to save that for when they are really good divers though due to the depths. Not that its outside of recreational range, but because you pretty much have to stick to a square profile on most sites (they are moorings attached to undersea pinnacles where the reefs are). We had a dude on our boat that week that just hoovered up his tank so some of our dives were like 30 minutes WITH safety stop.

Did you dive with Sea Saba?

DeadlyMuffin
Jul 3, 2007




Yeah, Sea Saba. I'd go back in a heartbeat. Cool little island too.

Ropes4u
May 2, 2009



DeadlyMuffin posted:

Yeah, Sea Saba. I'd go back in a heartbeat. Cool little island too.

Is that the island with the super short runway? Itís definitely on my list to dive and visit.

DeadlyMuffin
Jul 3, 2007




Ropes4u posted:

Is that the island with the super short runway? Itís definitely on my list to dive and visit.

That's the one! It's pretty cool

MrNemo
Aug 26, 2010

"I just love beeting off"



No particular content but just to post that I'm going on my first RIB diving trip in over a year starting tomorrow hoping the kit testing that I've done is sufficient and my dry suit hasn't developed a massive hole over lockdown.

Collateral Damage
Jun 13, 2009



I start pretty much every diving trip with having to patch a new pinhole in my drysuit.

Ramrod Hotshot
May 30, 2003



SuitcasePimp posted:

No problem, I can hook you up with any Bonaire info if you do decide on here (even some freediving hookups!).

Sweet, I was a freediver before I finally started scuba. What's up with freediving on Bonaire?

Ramrod Hotshot
May 30, 2003



Found my first megs off of Venice. All on one dive, too. Psyched

SuitcasePimp
Feb 26, 2005



sharkytm posted:


How's things? My wife looks like she's smuggling a beach ball. 2 more months until we're officially parents...

We're doing well, life looks a lot different for us than it did when you were here but I imagine that the pandemic had that effect on a lot of people! Relevant to the dive thread, you may remember our absolute trash Chinese pickup that was rusting away but managed to drive almost every time, the one with the scrap sheet metal welded into the shape of a bed by a blind drunken child. We got rid of that and now have not one but 2 Hiluxen... one of them being a mint green carbureted 98 that is totally insurgency ready. You can't kill this thing, I love it.

One more month to go then! I remember sitting at Doner Station with you guys talking about the decision to have or not have kids. It seems like a million years ago after the weirdness of 2020... we are an evolutionary dead end but I'm glad you guys are contributing to the pool of future divers

SuitcasePimp
Feb 26, 2005



Ramrod Hotshot posted:

Sweet, I was a freediver before I finally started scuba. What's up with freediving on Bonaire?

There is a small but active community with a few operations that offer courses and trips. The one I'm most familiar with is DeepSea (https://deepseabonaire.com), which seems to be good shop of very dedicated people run by this guy Carlos Coste (who is apparently a pretty hardcore freediver).

My Bonaire freedive tale: I was doing the last dive of a wreck specialty on the Hilma Hooker with a student wanting to do the penetration, which is an old hallway around 75'' deep. We're sitting there right outside one end and I'm watching them tie in the line when out pops some dude's head with a mask, snorkel, and NO loving REGULATOR. I about crapped my wetsuit, and as I'm reaching for my octo to try to save this poor guy who rejected his gear after panicking in the wreck he calmly exits and starts gracefully kicking up to the surface, followed by another freediver out of the wreck!

It turns out there was some European freediving group there to train with DeepSea and they were out on a trip to the wreck to dive and shoot some video. It was the first time I've seen really good freedivers in action and it was drat impressive, but it took my brain a few beats to realize wtf was happening.

Beet Wagon
Oct 19, 2015







SuitcasePimp posted:

There is a small but active community with a few operations that offer courses and trips. The one I'm most familiar with is DeepSea (https://deepseabonaire.com), which seems to be good shop of very dedicated people run by this guy Carlos Coste (who is apparently a pretty hardcore freediver).

My Bonaire freedive tale: I was doing the last dive of a wreck specialty on the Hilma Hooker with a student wanting to do the penetration, which is an old hallway around 75'' deep. We're sitting there right outside one end and I'm watching them tie in the line when out pops some dude's head with a mask, snorkel, and NO loving REGULATOR. I about crapped my wetsuit, and as I'm reaching for my octo to try to save this poor guy who rejected his gear after panicking in the wreck he calmly exits and starts gracefully kicking up to the surface, followed by another freediver out of the wreck!

It turns out there was some European freediving group there to train with DeepSea and they were out on a trip to the wreck to dive and shoot some video. It was the first time I've seen really good freedivers in action and it was drat impressive, but it took my brain a few beats to realize wtf was happening.

I always feel bad about the guys who I freak out like that. We do some freediving up and down the side chutes of a local spring and more than a few times I've popped out of a hole into the main shaft at 60 feet and scared the bejeezus out of some poor guy

Ropes4u
May 2, 2009



My wife suggested a quick trip to Cozumel with the local dive shop. Is the diving worth the effort?

sharkytm
Oct 9, 2003

Ba

By

Sharkytm doot doo do doot do doo



Fallen Rib

SuitcasePimp posted:

We're doing well, life looks a lot different for us than it did when you were here but I imagine that the pandemic had that effect on a lot of people! Relevant to the dive thread, you may remember our absolute trash Chinese pickup that was rusting away but managed to drive almost every time, the one with the scrap sheet metal welded into the shape of a bed by a blind drunken child. We got rid of that and now have not one but 2 Hiluxen... one of them being a mint green carbureted 98 that is totally insurgency ready. You can't kill this thing, I love it.

One more month to go then! I remember sitting at Doner Station with you guys talking about the decision to have or not have kids. It seems like a million years ago after the weirdness of 2020... we are an evolutionary dead end but I'm glad you guys are contributing to the pool of future divers
Five weeks as of yesterday! Yeah, we weren't sure then, but we made up our minds and got busy.

I'm glad things are going ok, congrats on the technical. Just need a surplus Russian AA gun to mount in the bed.

Ropes4u posted:

My wife suggested a quick trip to Cozumel with the local dive shop. Is the diving worth the effort?
Absolutely, if the operation you're diving with is good. Cozumel had great diving when my wife went about 8 years ago. So good that she was disappointed in several other locations because that was her first tropical dive site. Bonaire then spoiled us, but for other reasons.

SuitcasePimp
Feb 26, 2005



Ropes4u posted:

My wife suggested a quick trip to Cozumel with the local dive shop. Is the diving worth the effort?

The diving is good, BUT it is almost all drift diving so if that isn't your thing then maybe not worth it. Personally I came to love it although it sucks for photography. Operators vary wildly and can make a big difference on your dives. Definitely BYOSausage because poo poo can get pretty real with currents!

I haven't been there since SCTLD appeared a few years ago but both times I've been it was awesome.

Trivia
Feb 8, 2006

I'm an obtuse man,
so I'll try to be oblique.


First time out in a month or so and I gotta say it was a great day.

This is from Samran Pinnacle, near Koh Tao in Thailand. Barely anyone dives at this site as there's no mooring line. We had a hell of a time finding it but did so just before giving up.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CBiQqP4MXA

Ropes4u
May 2, 2009



SuitcasePimp posted:

The diving is good, BUT it is almost all drift diving so if that isn't your thing then maybe not worth it. Personally I came to love it although it sucks for photography. Operators vary wildly and can make a big difference on your dives. Definitely BYOSausage because poo poo can get pretty real with currents!

I haven't been there since SCTLD appeared a few years ago but both times I've been it was awesome.

We learned to dive in drift diving water and while not our favorite itís something we can manage if there are things to see.

Hashtag Banterzone
Dec 8, 2005


Lifetime Winner of the willkill4food Honorary Bad Posting Award in PWM

When I was diving in Cozumel the current was real nice and slow, it was pretty much the perfect pace to look at stuff and not have to expend any energy

SuitcasePimp
Feb 26, 2005



Trivia posted:

First time out in a month or so and I gotta say it was a great day.

This is from Samran Pinnacle, near Koh Tao in Thailand. Barely anyone dives at this site as there's no mooring line. We had a hell of a time finding it but did so just before giving up.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CBiQqP4MXA

Nice! What a cool fishnado... what are those?

Trivia
Feb 8, 2006

I'm an obtuse man,
so I'll try to be oblique.


A mix of fusilier and some other small yellow fish not common at other sites so I have no idea.

Ramrod Hotshot
May 30, 2003



SuitcasePimp posted:

There is a small but active community with a few operations that offer courses and trips. The one I'm most familiar with is DeepSea (https://deepseabonaire.com), which seems to be good shop of very dedicated people run by this guy Carlos Coste (who is apparently a pretty hardcore freediver).

My Bonaire freedive tale: I was doing the last dive of a wreck specialty on the Hilma Hooker with a student wanting to do the penetration, which is an old hallway around 75'' deep. We're sitting there right outside one end and I'm watching them tie in the line when out pops some dude's head with a mask, snorkel, and NO loving REGULATOR. I about crapped my wetsuit, and as I'm reaching for my octo to try to save this poor guy who rejected his gear after panicking in the wreck he calmly exits and starts gracefully kicking up to the surface, followed by another freediver out of the wreck!

It turns out there was some European freediving group there to train with DeepSea and they were out on a trip to the wreck to dive and shoot some video. It was the first time I've seen really good freedivers in action and it was drat impressive, but it took my brain a few beats to realize wtf was happening.

When I played underwater hockey (yes, it's a real sport) in college, we went on a freediving trip to the Keys to dive wrecks. The bridge of our deepest wreck was about the depth as yours. On my third dive I looked into and thought about a swim through, going through a door and coming out of a hole in the top. It's good I didn't because as it was I blacked out on my way up and was rescued by my two "spotters". Came to at the surface and threw up a bunch of saltwater. That was it for the day lol

Trivia posted:

First time out in a month or so and I gotta say it was a great day.

This is from Samran Pinnacle, near Koh Tao in Thailand. Barely anyone dives at this site as there's no mooring line. We had a hell of a time finding it but did so just before giving up.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8CBiQqP4MXA

Sweet! So what's the deal with Thailand right now. Is it open for diving? Or do you live there so traveling/quarantine not an issue?

Trivia
Feb 8, 2006

I'm an obtuse man,
so I'll try to be oblique.


Thailand is dragging rear end in regards to reopening. The govt constantly changes it's story so nobody knows what the hell is going to happen.

I live here on Koh Samui and the island is only about 50% vaxxed. Foreigners were scheduled to be given the vaccine at the beginning of June but the literal day of it was canceled due to outrage.

All in all, it's a pretty terrible situation.

GORDON
Jan 1, 2006

This avatar was paid for by the Silent Majority.

This is so loving stupid.... but the idea that the "ok" symbol is a racist aggression symbol is infiltrating the culture.

I dive often enough that it's a habit to use it whenever appropriate.... is the diving community going to change it, to avoid future problems?

DeadlyMuffin
Jul 3, 2007




It is so completely ingrained in diving that I can't imagine it changing.

Ropes4u
May 2, 2009



GORDON posted:

This is so loving stupid.... but the idea that the "ok" symbol is a racist aggression symbol is infiltrating the culture.

I dive often enough that it's a habit to use it whenever appropriate.... is the diving community going to change it, to avoid future problems?

We will continue to use it, itís simple and engrained in our routine.

What else would signal okay?

Ropes4u fucked around with this message at 03:31 on Jul 16, 2021

Trivia
Feb 8, 2006

I'm an obtuse man,
so I'll try to be oblique.


Thumbs up, duh.

Collateral Damage
Jun 13, 2009



I use thumbs up in my surface life all the time and I've lost count of how many times I've accidentally given someone the thumb up under water when I meant to signal ok.

mobby_6kl
Aug 9, 2009

"You are the best poster... do not let anyone say otherwise."


It's definitely the most natural gesture for me so I have to constantly remind myself to do the ok sign

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Kaal
May 22, 2002

JEREMY CORBYN BULLIED MY NAZI GRANDPA IN PRIMARY SCHOOL



I almost always dive with gloves (though sadly it's been a long time) so my Ok gesture doesn't have the splayed fingers - it's just a circle. That being said, I'd guess that much like red hats the ubiquity of the symbol will allow it to endure in contexts outside of the Confederacy movement.

Thumbs up has always meant "ascend" to me. I trained in Oregon but my instructors were out of Hawaii and always used a shaka anytime I might have used thumbs up in another context.

Kaal fucked around with this message at 16:28 on Jul 16, 2021

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