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Bonaire - the "diver's paradise"


Veteran Member
May 11, 2005
New York
Basic Beliefs
Bonaire is a tiny island off the coast of Venezuela. It is the "B" in the "ABC Islands" (Aruba and Curacao are the others). Located in the Lower Antilles, it has the best scuba diving opportunities of anywhere on Earth. The entire island is basically an ancient coral reef head. It is Dutch owned and the government declared the entire island and the surrounding ocean a National Preserve. You need to purchase an inexpensive permit to dive their waters, which technically requires more than no experience diving and a brief checkout dive to ensure you have positive buoyancy control. They don't want total newbs smashing into the reef. They are so protective of their amazing ecology it is actually illegal to dive with gloves on. The thought is, don't fucking touch it. Only exception is you may take 1 glove with you and keep it stowed until you make a safety stop on ascent. You may put 1 glove on to be able to safely hold onto a dive line in mid-water only. Removing any object from the sea that you didn't bring in with you is a crime. They ask divers to not wear suntan lotion, as they don't even want those chemicals leaching into their waters. (maybe there is a specific kind they approve, don't remember).

.. and the ecology is pristine as a result.

The island has a main road that travels the entire leeward side. The windward side is famous for professional Windsurfing... so there is that too. The leeward road is where all the resorts and dive shops are. along that road are about 100 smallish, yellow stones, marking the location of a dive site. You rent a truck, load it up with as many tanks as you want, and find a yellow stone. You park, don your gear, and walk right into the water where the site is less than a 10 yard paddle.
Lots of boat diving opportunities through your resort and dive shop.. 9 out of 10 of their daily destinations end up mooring spitting distance to the shore. so you can drive to most of the sites they offer boat trips to, lol. The advantage of a boat trip is they can take you to some of the more challenging to get to sites (due to cliff-like entry at the shore, or the rare excursion to Kline Bonaire, an even tinier island right off Bonaire's coast.

The natives of the island speak a very strange, and unpronounceable language. The names of roads and towns on the island likewise are named in the native tongue which is 99% the letter K. The official language is Dutch, and most of the people you meet will be Dutch. Everyone, native and Dutch, are awesome people. So kind and peaceful.

It is basically a desert island. There is little reason to travel there if you do not intend on diving. Everything to see is underwater... and you can spend a lifetime there and never dive the same exact spot twice.

My last trip there I made a friend. A Tarpon. A huge Tarpon. Ridiculously huge. I thought it was a shark, it was so big. It was on a night dive. It was circling me and following me around... getting me pretty nervous. At night, you can only see what the circle of light from your dive light illuminates... everything else is black, blacker than anything. Like being in a closet with a blindfold on. So EVERYTHING is a bump-scare when your light hits it. So, I am trying not to be too freaked out by this thing and was enjoying looking at the sleeping fish (google parrot fish sleeping - it's pretty cool what they do). All of a sudden, a sonic boom hit me in the chest, as this Tarpon swooped in and ate the fish I was looking at. Asshole. I continue my dive, find another fish, and SWOOP-BANG! The Tarpon gets him. This guy was following me around and watching my dive light. He was using me to find dinner. That won me over and we became friends.

On another trip I attempted to penetrate a wreck. However, I got no farther than head-deep into the hull when I spotted a crab... a fucking 10 foot wide crab. a Monster. That wreck belonged to him, so I moved on. Seriously, his antenna must have been 20 feet long... pinchers the size of a tire. He crawled into that wreck at least a decade prior, and got so fat on the reef fish the ship basically became his shell.

I actually have a ton of stories from my trips to Bonaire.... but go make your own if you are looking for a dive vacation... :)
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