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Diving in Bonaire

The “Shore Diving Capital of the World”, Bonaire’s accessible coral reefs create one of the most famous dive destinations in the Caribbean.

Highlights

Bonaire National Marine Park

Established as a marine park in 1979, Bonaire National Marine Park is now a hotspot for Caribbean biodiversity and a great destination for divers.

Diving the Hilma Hooker

With immensely famous and easily accessible wrecks such as the Hilma Hooker, wreck diving doesn’t get much better than beneath the surface of Bonaire.

Colorful Fish at 1000 Steps

Bonaire contains perhaps the most colorful Caribbean dive sites. With about 470 species of fish, you’ll see all the colors of the rainbow here.

Diving in Bonaire

Quick facts

Bonaire is located just north of Venezuela in the southern Caribbean. This Dutch Caribbean island has protected its marine resources for more than 35 years. Because of this, marine life abounds with more than 470 fish species found in Bonaire’s waters. Famed as one of the best Caribbean dive destinations, Bonaire hosts amazing coral reefs and long forgotten shipwrecks. Because the island’s dive sites are protected from any currents, this is one of the best places in the world to gain a new certification. Visitors to Bonaire can choose between boat and shore diving. Most resorts have gorgeous reefs just offshore, but those visiting the further reaches of Bonaire National Marine Park will want to book a few dives from the region’s dive boats. Furthermore, underwater photography is a favorite activity due to Bonaire’s incredibly clear water and unspoiled ecosystem.

Recommended training

The PADI Peak Performance Buoyancy course improves your skills for diving in Bonaire. The PADI Deep Diver, AWARE – Fish Identification and Digital Underwater Photographer courses will also help you enjoy the southern Caribbean diving.

When to go

Bonaire enjoys great temperatures and sunshine year-round. It is not affected by hurricanes, meaning there is no bad time to dive here. Air temperatures average a pleasant 28°C/84°F in winter and 31°C/89°F in summer. Rain is infrequent in Bonaire, and warm water surrounds Bonaire with average temperatures of 25°C/78°F in winter and 29°C/84°F in summer.

April to November

Bonaire’s dry season lasts from about April to November. During these months, the island will be extremely dry and sunny, experiencing practically no rain at all. Sea conditions remain steady and calm throughout the season with sea temperatures at 84°F (29°C) and air temperatures approximately 89°F (31°C). The dry season is recommended for those who value both beach time and dive time.

Finally, remember that while other Caribbean islands are suffering through hurricane season during these months, Bonaire is actually located outside of the hurricane zone and is therefore not at risk of these massive storms.

December to March

will bring the approximately 22 inches (59 cm) of annual rainfall and merely a brief daily downpour to the island. You can expect only slightly cooler temperatures both in and out of the water. The only disadvantage to visiting at this time of year is the increased activity of mosquitos. If you don’t mind the mosquitos, travel to Bonaire during the rainy season. This is the low season, so you’ll find better deals on both diving and accommodation.

When it comes down to it, any time is the best time to dive in Bonaire. The marine life is unchanged between seasons. You can feel comfortable in the knowledge that you’ll experience great diving during any month of the year.

Rain and temperature

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Water temperature

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Where to dive

Most of the diving around Bonaire takes place on its western shores. Advanced divers may wish to explore the dive sites off the north and south points.
    USD 869Per person for 7 nights for 2 divers
    USD 1,177Per person for 7 nights for 2 divers
    USD 1,485Per person for 7 nights for 2 divers

    Snorkeling in Bonaire

    In addition to great diving, the western side of Bonaire yields amazing snorkeling opportunities. Because of the visibility, which often tops 80 feet (25m), and plentiful fish species, snorkeling is a popular activity. Most resorts and dive shops can arrange tours to Bonaire National Marine Park.
    * 1000 Steps – This site is well worth taking the numerous steps down to the beach (not anywhere near 1000). Fantastic coral formations, barracudas, turtles and various, colorful, reef fish greet you on this pristine reef. * Hilma Hooker – This encrusted 72-metre/240-foot freighter lies at 18-30 metres/60-100 feet and rests on the sand between two reefs. The ship is home to lots of marine life and offers many photo opportunities. * Salt Pier – This site’s easy shore entry an accessibility makes it a popular destination for both new divers and underwater photographers. Underwater, the pier’s pillars transform in to majestic living works of art encrusted with colorful sponges and corals. The big attraction is the sheer volume of fish that take refuge in the shadows created by the pier overhead. Take time to explore the nearby reef and you may be rewarded with an eel, juvenile drumfish or even a seahorse sighting. * Bari Reef – Boasting a large number of fish species, Bari Reef is an easy shore dive that is usually very calm with no current. You may see tarpon swim by, and can find seahorses and octopi, on the colorful reef. * Karpata – This is a popular boat dive to a reef that starts at 6 metres/20 feet and drops down to 30 metres/100 feet. Swim along interesting coral formations and ridges, and stop for a photo with one of the many huge ship anchors embedded in the coral. * Klein Bonaire – This small offshore island is home to hundreds of boat diving sites.Outstanding coral formations and amazing aquatic life make diving here a must on any trip to Bonaire.

    What to see

    Some of the most memorable creatures you can find on Bonaire are hawksbill, loggerhead and green turtles. Getting a closer look, you may be fortunate enough to spot a seahorse camouflaged in the reefs. Angelfish, tangs, sergeant majors, creole wrasse and butterfly fish also make the reef home. The fire corals, tube sponges and giant sea anemones that cling to the rocks are a surprising sight. Remember to look and not touch! Although Bonaire is not known for bigger fish, you might see some near the wrecks. Large tarpon, barracuda and several, good-sized groupers make their homes in the sunken structures.

    Calendar

    For better readability of the table, pass into the landscape mode.

    Most likely sightingsPossible sightings

    Country

    Gorgeous Bonaire is north of Venezuela and is a municipality of the Netherlands. Here, local customs blend with imported ideals, making for a unique mix of cultures. The island is drier than its Caribbean neighbors, and cacti make up a great deal of the landscape. In addition, trade winds blow across Bonaire, and the terrain is generally flat. The tallest peak reaches just 787 ft (240m). Most of the island’s residents make their living off of the bountiful ocean, and much of day to day life is tied to the sea.

    Other attractions

    Because Bonaire is an arid island, you can also explore its desert landscape and visit protected wildlife areas to see iguanas and pink flamingos. Mountain bike, hike or join a nature tour for bird watching through Washington Slagbaai Park. Or check out the Flamingo Sanctuary – one of the largest flamingo breeding grounds – visited by huge flocks of pink each year. After a day viewing the pretty pink flamingos wading in the shallows offshore of Bonaire, spend some time perusing the gorgeous interior of the island. The kayak and snorkeling tours of the local mangroves are especially riveting. In addition, there is a seemingly unending supply of powdery beaches to saunter down. Don’t miss the immense salt flats and surprisingly large salt piles, which look like tremendous piles of snow, far from home.

    Getting there

    Bonaire’s Flamingo International Airport receives flights from cities around the world every day. Furthermore, there is no ferry service that runs between the islands of the Dutch Caribbean, although some private shipping companies may make exceptions. Other than a private yacht or boat, the only way to get onto Bonaire is by plane.

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    127 V

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    Main airport
    Note - Travel to any destination may be adversely affected by conditions including (but not limited) to security, entry and exit requirements, health conditions, local laws and culture, natural disasters and climate. Regardless of your destination, check your local travel advisory board or department for travel advice about that location when planning your trip and again shortly before you leave.