Diving Bonaire

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Bonaire

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JohnWall2SteveAndo7StephenHaines1MikeBrazil1

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Country: Bonaire  Area: Bonaire

Water Temp: 24 - 30°C (75 - 86°F)

Visibility: 12 - 30m (39 - 98 ft)

Coral Spawning - Late Aug to Mid Oct
Sea Turtle Nesting - Apr through Dec

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Healthy Reefs, excellent macro marine life, world renowned shore diving and remarkably calm sea all contribute to make Bonaire a fantastic divine location.

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With as many as 60 listed dive sites on the main island of Bonaire and 20 on the nearby Klein Bonaire, it really is easy to find a dive site to suit everyone. There are easy shore dives for beginners as well as trickier dives for the advanced or tech divers.

 

Climate & Sea Conditions

Bonaire has a tropical marine climate with year round great diving conditions. Early in the year it can be a bit windy but this dies down towards the month of June, picking up again late October. The “rainy” season officially runs from the last week of October through to the end of January, although it is still pretty dry and most rains are late at night or early in the mornings.

Bonaire is located on a position away from the Hurricane belt, which bringing safety to the Island and great weather conditions. Trade winds, sunny days and warm waters are the main characteristics and attractions of Bonaire.

Doctorfish, Credit

Marine Conservation

Bonaire is located in Bonaire Marine Park which extends from the high tide point to 60m of depth. The mission of the marine park is to protect and manage the island’s natural, cultural and historical resources, while allowing ecologically sustainable use, for the benefit of future generations.

Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire is a non-governmental research and conservation organisation that has been protecting Bonaire’s turtles for over 20 years. They monitor the nests during the nesting season of April to January, tag the turtles in the area and monitor their growth and check them for illness, and also educate people as to why turtle conservation is so important.

Eagle Ray, Credit

Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire has developed offshore coral nurseries where they grow the endangered corals and then restore them to the reefs.

Pretty Angelfish, Credit

Content, Dive & Marine Life Information and some photos kindly supplied by Buddy Dive Resort.

 
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Shore Diving

The fringing reef rings the island and begins very close to shore on the Western and Southern sides, with usually a 10 meter swim or less which has helped to make Bonaire famous for its shore diving.

Most of the sites around the island are accessible from shore, simple to find and to dive, with easy navigation. There is a shallow terrace followed by a gentle drop off where you can find a lot of macro life as well as a big variety of reef fish, eagle rays and turtles which are common on Bonaire.

There are a few popular ship wrecks that can go from easy and shallow for beginners to advanced to Tech Diving level.

Angelfish, Bonaire, Credit

Boat Diving

Although most of the dive sites around the main island of Bonaire are accessible from shore, there are a few that are not due to location, also half a mile away is the Island of Klein Bonaire.

This island is a short 10 minute boat ride form the main island and has around 20 dive sites in its waters.

All the sites visited are wonderful for photographers with an abundance of strange, interesting macro life, easy conditions and great vis.

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How to Get there

Flamingo Airport is Bonaire’s international airport and accepts direct flights from Amsterdam but for most other European cities you will have to fly via Curacao. There are also many flights in from the major US cities throughout the week and also on smaller airlines from the nearby and surrounding islands.

There is a $33.40 USD departure fee for all international destinations per person and this can be paid in cash or by debit or credit card at the airport before check in. All credit cards are accepted but American Express.

Salt Pier Bonaire, Credit

There are no passenger ferries to the nearby island of Curacao or Venezuela. Some cruise ships do visit Bonaire in Season.

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Where to Eat & Drink

Bonaire has a selection of restaurants with a quite varied cuisine considering the size of the island and the overall population. You can find traditional foods on some menus including conch, cacti, wahoo and rock lobster. Iguana is also traditionally eaten although this does not tend to be served in restaurants.

 

Fish Market, Bonaire, Credit

Other cuisines available are Argentine, Italian, Indonesian, Suriname and Chinese as well as many BBQ places. Check with the restaurant before turning up as they all have limited opening hours and are not all open every day, with many just working on the weekends.

Another popular food worth trying is the island made ice-cream.

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Other Activities

Although diving is one of the popular activities on Bonaire there is a lot more to take part in across the island. A few suggestions are snorkelling in the mangroves which is the nursery of the ocean. Here you can see baby barracuda and jellyfish along with lots of other marine life.

Another very popular water based activity is kayaking and there are many tours available through the mangroves or around the nearby island of Klein Bonaire. This activity can be teamed with exploring the island of Klein Bonaire with some guided walks or with some snorkelling where you can potentially spot turtles.

Diver in Bonaire, Credit

For those that want a break from the water or those with friends or family who are less keen on the water there are many guided walks on both islands and also mountain biking, cave exploration or just a bit of relaxation enjoying the sun.

Butterfly fish with sponge, Credit

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Tips

There is a $33.40 departure tax which can be paid at the airport. This can be made in cash or by credit card, although American Express is not accepted.

Fish dancing, Credit

Dive Reports

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Rating 7/10

Buddy Dive, Bonaire

Bonaire3 Apr 2004 - 15 Apr 2004

Seems way back in the mists of time, however.

Great shore diving in gin clear water. House reef was lovely. Highlight was the wreck of the Hilma Hooker.

Nudibranchs, Frogfish & Seahorses.

Accommodation was great, clean & well maintained.

Well recommended.

Rating 7/10

Shore Dives in Kralendijk

Bonaire30 Jan 2015 - 30 Jan 2015

Been to Bonaire a couple of times now and only done shore dives (due to time limits with work) but they have all been very worth while. It seems like it doesn't matter where you dive here, you'll find an ambundance of life. One of the sites was at a dive resort called Buddy Dive, another from a hotel called Plaza and the third a quiet beach down the road.

All sites were similar due to being withing 1 - 2 miles of each other but was not disappointed at all. Managed to see many, many different fish, Tarpon, Squid and lots of different coral. Can't wait to get back with time to do some boat dives!

Scarlett Noble

I always think that when shore dives are in good condition it bodes well for the off-shore ones!

Rating 9/10

Dive Friends, Bonaire

Bonaire5 Jul 2014 - 12 Jul 2014

Really good dive operation which has all the expertise you need but is happy for you to do your own thing also. We based ourselves at Yellow Sub but they've a number of other stores around where you can tank exchange also and they all seemed great. From beginners to advanced, all were catered for very well.

Hana Nováková

Heart Bonaire :)

Rating 10/10

Bonaire Sea Creatures

Bonaire20 Nov 2011 - 13 May 2012 with Black Durgon Inn

Bonaire is known as a diver's paradise. For those of you who have non-diving family/friends, do not hesitate to take them to Bonaire. From this snorkeler's perspective, I can say with certainty that staying at the surface will not disappoint.

Other than possibly frog fish, sea horses and flamingo tongues, I have seen the same marine life as my diving friends. The variety of fish, both juvenile and adult, is the best in the eastern Caribbean. Trunkfish, parrotfish, grouper, black durgon, file fish, blennies, porcupines, rays, lobster, and so very many more. Add in a turtle, octopus, and some christmas tree worms and you have heaven under water.

The condition of the reef varies by dive site. Both hard and soft corals thrive in the waters of Bonaire. Some areas have little to no healthy reef while others are alive and full. In my experience, those spots that are not doing as well with reef still often have an abundance of fish activity.

Whether you are a diver or snorkeler, young or old, Bonaire is a great place for a vacation at any time of year.

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Marie Harper

Hi Susan, wonderful report! Im a diver and my partner isnt, so great to know the snorkelling options for him whilst i am diving :)

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Susan Witzel

Thanks, Marie. Your partner would definitely enjoy the snorkeling in Bonaire. I go to sites with my diving friends - they dive, I snorkel, and everyone is happy. It seems every time I go out, I find something new.

Rating 10/10

Island of Bonaire

Bonaire14 Jan 2012 - 24 Jan 2012 with Black Durgon Inn

Been to Bonaire over 30 times. Great variety of dive sites. Some resorts run boat dives, but most of the diving is shore-based. Most groups rent a pickup truck: just decide where and when you want to dive, load up, drive to the site (max.20mins, kit up on the beach and in you go.

40+ dive sites on west (leeward) coast - wrecks, walls, coral buttresses, coral gardens - the lot.

No big pelagics but great fringing coral reef and abundant marine life. Sometimes dolphins, often turtles, eagle rays, only evre one manta in 30 visits.

Favourite sites - Something Special, Salt Pier, Hilma Hooker (wreck), Tolo, Karpata. Currents gentle, except way south. East coast is unsuitable for shore entries - East Coast Divers run trip to the wild side.

Restaurants varied and great - try At Sea, Mona Lisa, Bistro de Paris, Plazita Limeña...

Other activities - snorkelling, island touring, Slagbaai Park, donkey sanctuary, butterfly farm, great photo-opportinities.

I am hooked - guarantee you will be too.

See my report on Black Durgon Inn

Be safe...take only photos, leave only footprints - - 8)

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Cowfish 2

Susan Witzel

Hello, Chris. Great report. All of these Bonaire posts are making me homesick for the island. Looking forward to seeing you and the gang in October!

Rating 10/10

Black Durgon Inn

Bonaire21 Apr 2012 - 4 May 2012 with Black Durgon Inn

This was my thirtieth stay at the Black Durgon Inn, Bonaire. Basic, but very comfortable, small inn. Bed and breakfast and fabulous house reef diving. Run by Al Catalfumo who delivers air twice a day. Great guy and wonderful island character

All Bonaire shore diving is within 20 minutes driving. This place is a great spot for the chilled diver and relaxed visitor. Don't expect glitz, but enjoy clean air-conditioned rooms with en suite showers etc., good breakfasts (Mon-Sat) and a fun clientele. Most guests are regular visitors - once you stay at the BDI, you'll keep going back - if not, poor you!

See you there...

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