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Bonaire Diving Review

Bonaire Diving Review

Bonaire is a small island located about 120 miles off the coast of Venezuela in the southern Caribbean.   It is renowned for great diving.  Everyone from novice to advanced divers will find something to their liking here.  Although it has endured an occasional hurricane in its history, it is generally considered to be out of the hurricane belt, which allows for great diving year round.

Bonaire is considered by many, including myself, to be one of the best diving destinations in the world.  I actually visited three times within a period of eighteen months because I enjoy it so much. There’s something to be said for returning to places you are familiar and comfortable with. The people are warm. The system for accessing your tanks for shore diving is very user friendly. Nitrox was not an additional charge, as the dive shops felt it was important to encourage its use to protect its divers.   It’s also an island that’s very easy to get around. Rent a truck at the airport, and off you go.

To date, I’ve gone diving with ‘Buddy Dive’ and ‘Toucan Diving’ dive shops. Both dive shops were very accommodating as far as staff goes. Toucan Diving had a ‘one-up’, however, as their dive boats are stored in a protected area. You’re able to load your things and get your gear organized prior to leaving the dock in calm waters. The Buddy Dive boats were on a dock adjacent to open ocean, which was a nice view, but the boats were constantly slamming into the dock as divers were trying to board with heavy equipment. You have to get your gear ready on the way to, or at the dive site, because you just need to sit down and hang on as the boat bangs away while everyone else is loading.  Another reason I favor Toucan Diving is one dive master in particular. His name is Jackson. He is ever enthusiastic about the sport despite doing it for years, and is always making a point to show divers the cool things, like frog fish, and the air pocket at the 99′ deep Hilma Hooker wreck. Of the two dive shops, Toucan diving has always been my preference.

Bonaire’s marine creatures are plentiful. I started my first dive with a beautiful floating spotted eagle ray, and saw several more as the week progressed. There were also turtles on several dives. These will always be some of my favorites. Bonaire also has several dive sites where the seahorses tend to gather. These are definitely a creature you don’t see often, but I’ve seen them on every trip to Bonaire. There were also several chances to see the frog fish, as well as many smaller creatures allowing for great macro photography.  There were many more marine animals which deserve honorable mention, but too many to include them all here! Let’s just say the diving here gets a definite thumbs up!!

Bonaire is well known for its shore diving, and I have tried that many times. Although the freedom of the shore diving is wonderful, the entries at many sites are still quite challenging as they are often rocky and slippery. Be sure to watch your fingers because there are little eels everywhere (and no gloves allowed as Bonaire is considered a marine sanctuary)!   There are several shore diving sites I do favor such as “Oil Slick” because you can enter via platform ladder. We also like “Angel City” because that site has never disappointed me. The old coral is a bit of a tricky entrance, but it’s definitely worth it when you jump in and see all the squid that like to hang out here. I will always like the boat diving best because I like jumping right in to the water without the hazards of spraining an ankle on the way in (which happened to a friend of mine even before she made it into the water)!  Also, if shore diving, make sure not to leave anything valuable in the car as I’ve heard of theft issues, but have never experienced them.

So, whether it’s boat diving or shore diving that suits you, you’ll find it in Bonaire.  This quaint little island allows for both a relaxed and rewarding dive experience.  Call your travel agent, and pack your gear.  Great diving in a tropical paradise awaits you. There’s no better formula for a great dive vacation.