Bonaire | A Diver's Paradise
Updated: Oct 13
Where to go?
Like everybody else we as a team of scuba divers, were also impacted by the global Pandemic. Before the Corona Pandemic, we were always planning dive trips months in advance. Trips within the Europe continent as well as tropical destinations. But with Corona what could we do? So, we waited, waited and waited some more. And then little by little we saw opportunities and we slowly but surely started thinking of places to go: Medes Islands, Maddalena Archipelago, Tavolara Marine Park, Sharm el Sheik, Marsa Alam, Bonaire and much more. But what to do?
In the end we settled on two options: the Tavolara region on the northeast coast of Sardinia and the Dutch Caribbean Island of Bonaire particularly know as a Diver’s Paradise due to its shore dive options. And after considering we had not been able to dive for so long, we chose the latter: Bonaire it was going to be!
Travelling during Pandemic
It is now September 2021 and we are back in our beloved Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam. The check in procedure in Corona time looked kind of the same. But different off course due to all the necessary procedures in place to make flying as safe as possible. But to be honest most of the flying experience is still there. Expect for having to wear the protecting mask all the time. That would be the only annoying change. But it is what it is. Nobody could change our happy mood as we were going diving in the Caribbean for a week!
There we go!
After a 9 hour flight we picked up our car and arrived at our home for the week: Hamlet Oasis Bonaire apartment Nr 20 https://www.hamletbonaire.com/en/
The perfect place for us: 2 bedrooms, 2 bathrooms, a big and a small terrace, a Flatscreen TV, 2 couches for 4 persons total, a brand new kitchen and a big living room. All with 2 airco’s and enough place outside to hang all dive gear to dry. What more could we ask for? Maybe the Dive Centre to be really close? Well: taken care of. The Hamlet base of Dive Friends Bonaire Dive Centre is literally 2 minutes away:
And so our week of scuba diving this Caribbean gem of an island began! And as we arrived at the end of the day, we ended our day with a beer and pizza at the nearby restaurant of Rum Runners https://www.rumrunnersbonaire.com
And crashed in our beds to sleep of the jetlag as soon as possible.
A Diver’s Paradise
Our first morning was pretty much like every other morning for the next week:
Breakfast on the big terrace with eggs, toast, coffee and fruit juice.
And after getting the GoPro and camera ready as well as all our dive gear, we packed up the car and got to the dive center to pick up our tanks. The procedure for this on Bonaire is really all you could wish for: you sign your name, take a Nitrox tank, check the Nitrox %, mark the Nitrox % and put the tank in the car. Only limitation is 2 tanks per person at a time. But with 5 pickup places on the island, that is absolutely no problem. And so, every day had kind of that routine. And it was great.
The check dive
The first dive was off course the ‘check dive’. This was to be done on the house reef of Dive Friends Hamlet Oasis called “Cliff”.
And as boring a check dive on a house reef can sound, we can tell you that this was not the case for this place. Cliff's main feature is mostly this vertical wall on the left side of the spot and is covered with whip coral. It is labelled as one of the best dive spots in Bonaire for macro photography. But also with the occasional large tarpon swimming around! And we even found a seahorse on the night dive we did later in the week.
What about the diving
So what sites did we dive during our stay? Well too much to mention but we can tell you about some of them that really stand out.
The first one to stand out would be “Red Slave”. Tucked away way in the southern part of Bonaire this place is fantastic. It is located adjacent to the second set of slave huts and is definitely recommended for experienced divers as currents can be serious here. The reef has a steep drop-off and mostly consists of soft corals. Divers often spot stingrays and eagle rays around the sandbar realy in the morning. But we had no current and therefore no stingrays. But the dive still is on top of our list regarding Bonaire.
The second one would be “Karpata” in the northern part of Bonaire. Karpata really is one of the finest dive sites on Bonaire and famous for its good visibility and beautiful panoramas. The pristine coral reef has beautiful shapes and forms and the water is teeming with fish. We found the entry going down one of the most impressive things of the dive. Once in the water the reef goes down really quickly and the wall you descend really is breathtaking.
The third one is “Alice in Wonderland”. Wow really hard to describe this place but it really is a wonderland where the underwater world takes your breath away. And the site also has a double reef. Alice in Wonderland starts with a sandy bottom as so many places around this area. And then little by little takes you in spell. Current was non existing during our dive and with a visibility reaching over 30 meters we found ourselves blown away by this place.
Diving the east coast of Bonaire
Most of the scuba diving on Bonaire is done on the west side of the island (the Leeward side). But it is also possible to dive the east side (the Windward side). This part promises to be less dived, have more current and therefore offering a bigger chance of encountering spotted eagle rays, stingrays, sharks, green moray eels and lots of turtles.
So on a wednesday we drove off to the Fisherman’s pier at Sorobon. And after paperwork and thorough briefing we were heading towards the first dive site. After the first dive we returned to the Fisherman’s pier for a surface interval and soon after we were heading back for the second dive.
Both dives were surely impressive (especially the second one) and we did indeed encounter a lot turtles, eagle rays cruising by and the amount of tarpons at tarpon city was very impressive not too mention the nurse shark at the end of the second dive.
Tips for this dive: try to contact your local dive centre on the island to book the dives for you instead of contacting the east coast dive operator directly. And a decent amount of experience can be very helpful as we found 10 divers for 1 guide in these conditions to be too big of a group regarding communication underwater.
In total we logged about 20 dives in 6 days. And thanks to the Nitrox we did not reach the recreational dive limits. To finish 6 days of diving we had our drinks in the pool. And the next morning even had time to visit the Washington Slagbaai National Park.
To be honest we did not expect the reefs of Bonaire to be this impressive when we booked our trip. So we were really impressed by how incredibly healthy the reefs where looking. We encountered so many fish and underwater species that we really did not even bother to mention them all in this blog. It is just too much.
So whatever Bonaire is doing for its reefs via Stinapa https://stinapabonaire.org/ seems to be working. We really had a wonderful week of diving and therefore we want to thank Linda & Carol with Hamlet Oasis Bonaire for the fantastic apartment, the crew @ Divefriends Bonaire for the diving and www.bonairerentacar.com for providing the car that brought us everywhere on the island for the week.
Hope we get here next year again!