In August of 2017 several club members went to Bonaire for a week of diving.
Every day we would have two morning dives and in the afternoon we would do shore diving. Some of the group would always do a twilight/night dive to end the day. We were staying right off Bari Reef which was spectacular and the fish were abundant. It never failed to impress no matter how many times we went out on it. Many of the waters around Bonaire are protected as part of the Bonaire National Marine Park. All divers purchase a dive tag which helps support the preservation of the marine park. They have an active coral nursery project in Bonaire and are working hard to rebuild and maintain the coral reef around the island. There is also a sea turtle conservation project. If you are interested in helping maintain ocean and reef health Bonaire is a good place to check out.
On Bari Reef there was an elusive frog fish that many people had seen. He was traveling about in a small area in an attempt to seduce a young comely froggette fish. He had turned a neon green/yellow and once you found him you couldn’t miss him. Bert got a good picture of the little guy and we were all quite proud of ourselves that we had spotted the “highly camouflaged” fish. Usually frog fish are very difficult to see but due to his need for a mate we easily won the game of hide and go seek.
Some of the dive sites we did were:
Bari Reef, Captain Don’s Reef, Mi Dushi, Jefferson Davis Memorial, Small Wall, Keepsake, Bachelor’s Beach, 1000 Steps, Knife
Bonaire is a great place to go diving. There is diving on the main island and more remote diving on Klein Bonaire, a small island off the west coast of Bonaire. The main island is more than sufficient as there are so many dive sites that you can drive to. Shore diving is abundant for those that don’t want to spend money on a boat operation. We rented pickup trucks so we could haul tanks to shore sites if we wanted to. It is not uncommon to see pickups full of tanks and divers around the island. The car rental companies have learned to have trucks with tank holders available on a regular basis.
We stayed in condos by the ocean and right next to Dive Friends of Bonaire, the dive operation we were using. Super convenient as we could walk to and from the dive lockers and the boat. The condos were comfortable and clean and we joined together to cook and eat each evening. Many of our non-diving activities seemed to center around food. Diving makes us hungry! We managed to find the grocery store and stocked up for the week. Food, snacks, beer and soda. We ate well and we ate often. Sometimes we felt as sluggish as the many iguanas that lounged about on the sea wall.
Bonaire is a beautiful island but very simple compared to many other islands in the Caribbean. It is part of the Netherlands, the Leeward Antilles. It is the “B” in the A.B.C. islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao). Bonaire lies just north of Venezuela. Not a heavily populated island it depends upon it’s reputation as a diver’s paradise and tourism. Cruise ships have begun going in to Bonaire so the tourism is growing. Unfortunately we found that the waters are a bit more cloudy if a ship has come in to dock.
There is much to do on Bonaire in addition to diving which makes that lastday when you can’t dive due to the pre-flight surface interval more interesting. Of course much of that last day is taken up with drying and packing gear.
Driving around the island is interesting as you see the variety in the island’s landscape. From beach to hills and what they consider a “mountain”. There are forested areas and some interesting historical sites to visit.
Cargill has a huge salt production plant on Bonaire and from quite a distance you can see the towering piles of white sand waiting to be loaded on the ships in the first step to your kitchen. The salt pans, or evaporation ponds are pink but the salt is white. Sea salt is a major export of Bonaire. It makes for a pretty picture too.
At the end of the day you were guaranteed a spectacular sunset and if you were lucky you saw the green flash.