The island of Bonaire is truly synonymous with diving in the Caribbean. Since the in-ception of the STINAPA (Stichting Nationale Parken Bonaire), the marine park in 1979 it has been a bench mark for other Caribbean nations to reach in terms of conservation. It is a perfect place for beginning divers to acclimate in calm, clear waters with little current. We’ve been scuba diving Bonaire for the past 15 years and never tire of it above or below. In 2002 we rented a condo and spent two months diving in the 130-170ft range which added an entire other dimension to the fish life we encountered. We would gear up in the kitchen and walk out the door. Here, shore diving is almost as easy as boat diving and the precise yellow rock marking system the island devised makes getting to any of the over 80 dive sites a piece of cake.
If you want cool things to do on Bonaire, check out the next section. If you are looking for facts and figures, check out http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bonaire
The adventure life comes in many styles in Bonaire. Some of our favorite things to do include:
- Dive Dive Dive. scuba diving in Bonaire is our favorite thing to do.
- Wind or Kite Surf the Windward Side. Almost as famous as the diving on Bonaire is the wind and kite surfing on the windward side of the island. If you’re not adventurous enough to give it a go, then at least go and watch.
- Try Iguana Soup and Cabrito Stew! Local cuisine from Bonaire is killer. Iguana, also called bamba chicken is a must try as is the goat stew. We’ve had many favorite local restaurants over the years but they come and go. As of this writing, go north to Rincon to Rose Inn.
- Visit Washington Slagbaai Park-Expect bumpy dirt roads and flat tires at the north end of the island. It’s a great day trip for bird watching, especially the flamingos!
- Dive the Windward side by kayak.The windward side of Bonaire is a different world and most of the time (except on occasion in the summer) it is too rough for the dive boat. So grab your gear and a kayak, paddle out and dive in!
- Stay Awhile-Rent a place and stay a month or two, get to know the locals, shore dive from your rental truck and groove with the laid back lifestyle.
- Learn Technical diving like Rec Tek or Trimix diving.Bonaire is a great place to expand your diving skills. You can take a tech diving course and dive to 200ft on the WindJammer. This wreck is a shore dive at the far north end of the island near the Bonaire Petroleum company. You’ll need to be sure no ships are coming in!
- See Coral Sex!!! (coral spawning)- During the fall months near the full moon, corals release their gonadal secretions in amazing displays! Take a few night dives and check this out!
- Land Sailing-This activity is new to the island and we have yet to try it but you can be SURE we will on our next trip. If you’re not familiar, land sailing is done with a sail on wheels across the beach. What a thrill!
- Cave Diving-The secret is out about the cave diving on Bonaire. If you are a certified cave diver, you can now find them….
Bonaire generally lies outside the hurricane zone but they have weathered a couple of large tropical storms in the late fall over the years. Rainy season is generally in the early fall and of course, the summer months are calm and hot. With that said, you can dive Bonaire all year around. With little total rainfall and low elevation there is virtually no run off to muddy the waters.
Some of our favorite Bonaire scuba diving sites include:
- White Hole- This dive site is on the east or windward side and is done as a kayak dive. If you were dropped into this spot you would never know it’s Bonaire. The bottom is awash with soft flowing beige corals and large animals such as turtles and rays can be seen.
- Windjammer- This site is done normally as a tech dive though we have done it non-technical to shallower depths. The top of the wreck can be touched in 140’. It is the last dive site north on BOPEC property.
- Punt Vierkant- When we lived on the island this was our morning and evening dive site and daily we watched the creole wrasse mating ritual. The sandy shallows are teeming with juvies!
- Salt Pier- On days when there is no ship loading at the Salt Pier this is a fun dive. In the shallow sea grass you often find turtles. On the pilings you can find all the colors of the rainbow plus things like frog fish in their best camouflage. Just off the pier is a junk pile of metal which makes great hiding places for all kinds of critters!
- Front Porch/Something Special- We love this combo dive. Jump in at the dock at Harbour Village Resort (or just north of the wall if you don’t have access). In the 40-60ft range it is filled with very interesting rubble in which you’ll find LOADS of stuff including eels, frog fish near clumps of sponges, sea horses, jacknife fish etc..Eventually you come to the new wreck, Confidence. She makes for a great lighting subject and often you find schools of fish or eagle rays nearby. Come shallow to Harbor Village’s restaurant where schools of fish enthrall you in 10 feet near the rocks. Cross the channel to Something Special for a large colony of garden eels, slipper lobster at night and the occasional frog fish. A great and varied dive.
- Town Pier- The town pier used to be one of THE premier night dives in the Caribbean. Recent activity has pretty much stripped the pier from it’s life and it was actually closed last time we were there.
- A final note on diving in Bonaire- Many people dive off dive boats and miss the sandy shallows of the site. Or people tend to shore dive, swim out to the buoy on the surface so they don’t get lost before descending. It’s pretty much impossible to get lost on Bo-naire and you miss half the cool stuff by swimming over the sand. Squid, Sailfish blenny, Jawfish and a host of other extremely cool critters live here. Don’t underestimate the sand, people!!!! Plus, the sand makes for a PERFECT safety stop!
Sharkman and Mantagirl give Bonaire 2 Fins Up
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