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SAND DOLLAR DOCK
NIGHT SHORE DIVE
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Sand Dollar Resort
We're in the water by 8:40PM and enjoy a very comfortable night dive. We see another goldspotted eel snake in the sand flats, and several peppermint shrimp - very cool. Our familiar night friends, the tarpon and soapfish make their presence known as well. This relaxing dive caps off a great day of diving on Bonaire, our last of 1998. By 10:15 PM, we are enjoying a seemingly scrumptious casserole for dinner, accompanied by a white Chilean wine that is truly bad.
Djadumingu Sunday, July 12, 1998
It's another late and luxurious start to our final day in paradise. We begin by closing out our diving bill at the Sand Dollar dive shop, settle up our condo bill, and then begin packing clothes. At 10PM, we all meet Sylvane at the art shop, but we wait around for a while since Sylvane is not quite ready to go. We finally take off in the minivan following Sylvane in his beat up truck. He stops several times on the way to pick up more students, and we continue east past Sorobon, finally to the southern shores of Lac Bay.
Lac Bay is world renowned as a windsurfing haven. Located on the windward side, the steady breezes cross over the gorgeous shallow bay that is brilliantly turquoise. On the horizon, nearer to the ocean, dozens of windsurfers are seen jetting along at incredible speeds. Myron and I are slated for an 11AM to 4PM windsurfing lesson with Sylvane. Linda and Mercedes plan to watch us for a while, then take off around the beach to see what snorkeling can be done.
Sylvane describes a number of steps to take, and then deftly demonstrates the process of pulling up onto the board, gaining balance, and different steering techniques. As beginners, Myron and I are outfitted with large heavy boards and small sails (around 2.5 m2). Myron's board is wrapped with a flotation device that adds stability as well.
It's alot harder than it looks. After repeated attempts, both Myron and I are able to stand up and balance on the boards, but quite unsteadily. Even then, it's almost impossible to get anything more than 1-2 MPH speed going. We sluggishly careen across the bay, then back, frequently capsizing. Sylvane tells us to just keep practicing at it - he seems more interested in working with his other more experienced students. Myron and I switch boards and I enjoy the greater stability of the floatation device, but with even less speed potential. During separate capsize events, I find a baseball cap, and then a rusty guilder in the waters of Lac Bay. Myron and I gamely fall from the board several hundred times, only to get up and repeat the sequence. Sylvane is happy to let us flounder, probably because we are so awful. However, on a few occasions, both of us make it across the entire bay upright.
The sun is fierce and my hands get reddened considerably, but my Lycra protects the rest of me. Myron fares about the same, though wearing just a tee shirt. The steady act of upending and remounting becomes exhausting, and I think we are both a bit contented when 4PM rolls around.
Mercedes and Linda have tried the snorkeling, but found the Lac Bay waters too shallow around the mangroves there. We jump into the van and drive clockwise around the bay, onto the dirt road where Linda and I biked, and eventually emerge into the clearing at the Weekend Bay Bar by Lac Cai. A party is in progress! Several dozen tourists and locals alike are lounging to samba rhythms, sipping on Amstels underneath the large palapa roof.
We join them and are soon laughing and sipping on beer, discussing our many varied adventures on the island. After a while, Mercedes asks a Norwegian child to accompany her on the dance floor and has plenty of fun with the child as we watch. Soon, Myron, Linda, and Rich join them in hypnotic steps. Later, Linda and Rich decide to try some snorkeling around the bay beach. There is not too much to see, except for a big school of bait fish, four tarpon, and a peacock flounder. Myron doesn't make it into the water but wishes he had.
As we prepare to leave Lac Cai, we watch as a family of very tanned Scandinavians loads a pristine conch and starfish specimen into their rental car. We wonder where they have found (or purchased) it, for it is quite forbidden to take such items off the island.
Back at the Sand Dollar, we lounge around in front of the TV. Myron and Mercedes get interested in a Jack Lemmon & Walter Mattheau movie, something aboard a cruise liner, while Linda and Rich goof around in the kitchen. Dinner is served, one of filet mignons wrapped in bacon and sauteed in garlic, salad, broccoli, onion-cheese bread, and that delicious Chilean jug wine. While we enjoy dinner, we are pleased that we have used up nearly 100% of our supplies, a perfect use of our provisions.
Djaluna Monday, July 13, 1998
Up too early again, today around 5:15AM. We notice again a few mosquitoes buzzing around the condo. We down coffee and the remaining cereal, do some last minute packing, and head off to the airport. At the airport, the check-in is miserably slow. A short line is formed in the open air terminal in front of the ALM desk, where we all wait for the appointed gate opening time. The air is very humid this morning, and the mosquitoes have emerged in force. Our time in line is spent constantly brushing our arms and legs in defense. After finally checking in, we pay the $10 departure tax, then sit out on the curb in the insect-free breezes.
Our flight ALM 801 finally departs, a Dash-8 prop back to Curacao. We are afforded a nice view of the Town Pier area and we spy Monte's Divi divi-divi tree from the air, too. From Curacao, we take ALM 973, a DC-9, back to Miami through Port-au-Prince. We get a great view of Hispanola, and I am again amazed at the aerial views of the overpopulated and denuded country of Haiti.
Epilogue from Bonaire
Bonaire is not for everyone. It is known as a diver's paradise, and so if you aren't a diver (or maybe a windsurfer), I wouldn't necessarily recommend an extended stay. This is in spite of the beautiful scenery above water, birdwatching, and fabulous tropical climate.
Having enjoyed both Captain Don's Habitat and the Sand Dollar Resort, I can objectively choose Captain Don's as a superior diving resort experience. Although the Sand Dollar living quarters are nicer, the Habitat diving arrangements are significantly friendlier and more supportive of round-the-clock diving.
The Bonairean reefs are simply an outstanding scuba diving adventure, and especially suited for novice-intermediate divers. The ability to shore dive at such pristine coral reef sites on your own schedule is a continual source of joy. Myron, an advanced diver by all accounts, expressed a little boredom due to lack of challenge to his diving skills. For Linda and Rich, however, the chance to do deep dives, wreck dives, twilight dives, shore dives, pier dives, and night dives all in one vacation was a thrilling experience.
Mares Avanti Quattro
U S Divers Matrix
80 ft3 Al
SeaQuest Spectrum 4
Body of Water:
U S Divers