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Scuba diving Bonaire vs. Curacao

Declo, Idaho
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21 posts
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Scuba diving Bonaire vs. Curacao

We have been diving in Bonaire and loved it and we are thinking of trying Curacao. Has anybody diving to both and how did Curacao compare?

New England
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1. Re: Scuba diving Bonaire vs. Curacao

Have done both. Sites in Curacao were very nice but much farther apart than in Bonaire and therefore required more travel time.

Raleigh, NC
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859 posts
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2. Re: Scuba diving Bonaire vs. Curacao

We have dived Bonaire twice, then tried Curacao, then Aruba.

Bonaire is clearly the best, Curacao is next, Aruba isn't even close.

The sites in Curacao are pretty good, but the topside areas are not kept up. Pretty messy, often with some trash strewn about. Navigating is fairly easy, but not as easy as Bonaire. More people seem to boat dive in Curacao. We seemed to be unusual in that we wanted to shore dive and handle it ourselves.

On Curacao, they wanted us to dive with a float, which felt sort of cumbersome and annoying. I guess that's evidence that people don't shore dive quite as much. After a while, I think we stopped using it.

Does this help?

Declo, Idaho
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21 posts
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3. Re: Scuba diving Bonaire vs. Curacao

Thanks for the help, I have always thought that Bonaire was the best for diving but have wondered about Curacao for a change.

Raleigh, NC
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859 posts
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4. Re: Scuba diving Bonaire vs. Curacao

I think Curacao is nice for a change, and the beaches are better, too. I think if you're interested, you should go. Westpunt is nice and closer to most of the diving, but we stayed at Royal Sea Aquarium by Mambo Beach and it was nice there. Lots to do, restaurants and a decent beach to stroll on.

Compared to most islands, the shore diving on Curacao is excellent. It only suffers in comparison to Bonaire, if that makes sense.

New York City, New...
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5. Re: Scuba diving Bonaire vs. Curacao

I haven't been to Bonaire yet, however I am going the last week of June. I have been to Curacao many times. I find the shore diving there excellent. What I am always most surprised is how many people do boat diving. There is no need for boats (other than Mushroom Forest because there is no beach access as it is blocked buy a cliff), but I bet many people get talked into boat packages through their hotels.

Other then Westpundt and Port Marie, most beach dives are very empty. Even on a Sunday you can find yourself the only one on a beautiful cove. This is the easiest diving there is, a short swim out and then down left or right and back again. Yes the sites can be far apart because you have to drive a kilometer or 2 inland before you can go north/south to the next site. If you need to do 4 dives a day, this may be a hassle. I am fine with 2 dives and and odd night dive per day so this isn't a problem.

I am thinking this is better than Bonaire is going to be, but I will find out for shore in a couple short weeks!

New York City, New...
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124 posts
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6. Re: Scuba diving Bonaire vs. Curacao

I haven't been to Bonaire yet, however I am going the last week of June. I have been to Curacao many times. I find the shore diving there excellent. What I am always most surprised is how many people do boat diving. There is no need for boats (other than Mushroom Forest because there is no beach access as it is blocked buy a cliff), but I bet many people get talked into boat packages through their hotels.

Other then Westpundt and Port Marie, most beach dives are very empty. Even on a Sunday you can find yourself the only one on a beautiful cove. This is the easiest diving there is, a short swim out and then down left or right and back again. Yes the sites can be far apart because you have to drive a kilometer or 2 inland before you can go north/south to the next site. If you need to do 4 dives a day, this may be a hassle. I am fine with 2 dives and and odd night dive per day so this isn't a problem.

I am thinking this is better than Bonaire is going to be, but I will find out for shore in a couple short weeks!

Ontario, Canada
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312 posts
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7. Re: Scuba diving Bonaire vs. Curacao

i'd love to hear your trip report when you return

New York City, New...
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8. Re: Scuba diving Bonaire vs. Curacao

Stayed 6 nights at Eden beach and did 9 dives. My overall impression:

The island is as 'dumpy' as I expected. The construction going on all over town to replace the sewer pipes pretty much solidified my expectation. Even the Eden beach resort construction was still going on and looks like it will not end anytime soon. No matter, I liked the low key small town casualness of the island. After a week, you pretty much feel like you know where everything is.

For most of the dive sites, the dive is more defined by the entry/exit than by the reef or the sea life.

There are some really nice restaurants on the island, my favorite being Appetite. We also loved the fish and the beef carpaccio at Mono Lisa's. We also enjoyed hanging around Karol's pier for the 5 - 7 happy hour. Eden beach's 'Spice Club' bar was also nice.

When comparing Bonaire to Curacao here are the major differences IMHO:

Bonaire has more life on the reefs. The fish are larger and the schools of fish are denser. However, you only see the usual suspects on each island...not much difference in diversity.

Curacao dives are easier. Although both places have rocks and coral beachs at entry, Bonaire will be harder to enter because of larger and 'slippier' rocks and surf and current etc...

I will be back to Bonaire, i enjoyed it and have unfinished dive sites to still explore. However I have to say that as a dive destination, Curacao still beats Bonaire by quite a bit.

If anyone has any questions on Bonaire as I just got back, let me know.

Here are some of my pics:

http://johnberner.com/bonaire_2012.htm

Raleigh, NC
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859 posts
148 reviews
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9. Re: Scuba diving Bonaire vs. Curacao

I disagree completely.

I think the more you dive Bonaire, the easier it becomes. Navigating the ins and outs was pretty simple. I prefer the easier entry and lush fish and coral on the north, while my husband prefers the double reef in the south.

The sheer number of shore dive sites on Bonaire is staggering. I thought there was more life and the dive sites were well kept, in contrast to Curacao, where no one seems to care about shore dives or shore divers.

Another reason I prefer Bonaire is because they make it so easy to shore dive. On Curacao, we seemed to be a rarity, and no one was in a hurry to facilitate us shore diving. I believe their dive shops are far more focused on getting people into their boats.

As to your "dumpy" description: Bonaire is a less populated and less commercial (aside from diving) island. It's all a matter of perception. I find it to be more spare and natural, while Curacao seemed highly populated and sort of dirty.

I did like the nicer beaches on Curacao and I have enjoyed both islands. But while I've visited Curacao once, I don't think I'll be back. We'll be returning to Bonaire for the third time in January, and I don't think it will be our last.

Raleigh, NC
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859 posts
148 reviews
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10. Re: Scuba diving Bonaire vs. Curacao

Oh, and on the topside, Aruba is prettier than both of them. Better architecture, landscaping and beaches than either Curacao or Bonaire. Unfortunately, the diving isn't even close, and they actively discourage divers from shore diving.....

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