Bonaire: Diver’s Paradise
The real allure of Bonaire isn’t on land. It’s under the sea. Bonaire has 86 official dive sites, 53 of which are accessible from shore.
There are several important things to keep in mind before entering the National Marine Park. All divers must attend an orientation with their dive operator. Spearfishing is a no-no, as is collecting seashells, sea fans, sand, or any type of coral. The waters are very warm, so gloves are not needed. Lastly, avoid touching the coral, as they are very fragile.
The waters off the east coast are too rough for swimming and diving, but they do offer the best conditions for windsurfing and kitesurfing. Beginners and experts alike will like Lac Bay on the southwest coast. The peaceful lagoon offers extraordinarily clear, waist-deep waters and constant trade winds, making it the ideal locale for both sports.
Bonaire’s official dive sites are marked by yellow stones on the side of the road. Klein Bonaire, the 1,500-acre uninhabited islet a half-mile west of Kralendijk, is worthy of exploration; shuttles and water taxis to Klein Bonaire are available in town.
Not dive-certified? Snorkeling is a delightful alternative, as coral formations grow within three feet of the surface. Swim around the coral reefs and keep an eye out for sea turtles, colorful parrot fish, eagle rays, and sea horses.
Because Bonaire is serious about protecting its waters, all divers, swimmers, and surfers are required to pay an annual nature fee ($10 for nondivers, $25 for divers)—a small price to pay to access some of the most pristine waters in the world.
Here are some of the top dive sites:
(1) La Dania’s Leap
One of Bonaire’s few wall dives, this spot is known for its canyons and sandy bottom.
Look for yellowtail snappers and giant sea turtles.
(2) Buddy’s Reef
This easy shore dive is great for all skill levels, including beginners.
Look for black crinoids perched on coral heads in the shallows.
(3) Bari Reef
It’s acclaimed for being the Caribbean’s No. 1 dive site.
Look for, well, everything. A record 323 different species of fish have been identified on this reef.
(4) Alice in Wonderland
Once you dive here, you’ll understand the name.
Look for colorful parrot fish, emperor fish, candy bass, and snappers.
Board a hand-carved Samur—a 56-foot Siamese junk sailboat—to the reefs. Snorkel the pristine waters or take a Zodiac to the outer edge of Ebo’s reef. Afterwards, enjoy rum punch cocktails and tropical fruit platters.
Discover Bonaire’s incredible scenery and culture on a relaxing drive that focuses on key historic and natural sights. See the salt flats once worked by slaves, and a Lake Goto Meer, flamingo flocking grounds. Delight in the expansive vistas of Kralendijk harbor and the little island of Klein Bonaire.
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