As the plane leveled out and the pilot turned off the seat-belt sign I closed my eyes and let my imagination run wild. My dreams of paradise getting closer by the minute, we were on our way to discover all the beauty and adventure of Bonaire, Netherlands Antilles.
Bonaire is a small island located in the Southern Caribbean. The average air temperature year round is 82º Fahrenheit with reasonable humidity. The constant trade wind makes the climate here delightful. The official language of Bonaire is Dutch, yet the native language is actually Papiamentu. This is a mixture of many languages including Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, French, English, Caribbean Indian and various African languages. With such a diverse linguistic background Bonaire is accommodating to many travelers. English and Papiamentu seemed to be the most popular. The US Dollar is the official currency, travelers checks and credit cards are widely accepted.
Diving in Bonaire was everything we had been dreaming of. Crystal clear water, abundant marine life, and colorful corals as far as the eye could see. The marine park surrounding Bonaire, the first of its kind, has been managed and protected for more than 30 years. Evidence of these great conservation efforts is everywhere you look when diving here.
When diving in Bonaire I used my 3mil Aqua Lung wetsuit for daytime dives and a 5mil with my hooded vest for night dives. Some days when we did multiple dives it was nice to throw my hooded vest on under my three mil, so I recommend having one if you chill easy. A plethora of boat diving is available to every type of diver here. Shore diving here is is also very popular, day or night. Instructor Irene with Buddy Dive Resort, took us on a night dive right out front of the resort. We were amazed at the activity on the reef at night. Eels hunting, Lobsters marching, Flounders hiding, and Charlie the Tarpon fish all came out to play. Charlie is the largest Tarpon in the area and frequents the house reefs on most of the waterfront resorts. Did I mention he has an entourage? Yes many smaller Tarpon in the area were cruising around with Charlie looking for some fun.
So I could go on forever about diving in Bonaire but now I would like to share with you what other adventures this amazing island has to offer.
We had the chance to learn how to windsurf at the colorful Jibe City on the east coast side of Bonaire. The friendly crew was very knowledgeable and fun. Never in a million years did I think I could windsurf! Well thanks to Jason and the great crew at Jibe City, I can cherish this accomplishment with a smile.
Another fun thing to do in Bonaire is drive up to the North for some historical sightseeing. We seen divers up and down the coastline gearing up to explore the dive sites just a short swim from shore. The topography of the island is breathtaking. Undercutting caused by bio erosion and wave action in the elevated seaward facing limestone cliffs can be seen along the drive. Large Cactus and other wide varieties of fauna blanket the area as well. Goats and Donkeys crossed the road frequently during our scenic journey. We drove all the way to Washington Slagbaai National Park. The first nature sanctuary of the Netherlands Antilles, this gem has great hiking for any novice. The museum at the park entrance was amazing!!! It had so much history about the island and all the wildlife of Bonaire.
My favorite adventure outside of diving in Bonaire was Kayaking through the Mangroves. We took a guided tour with naturalist Ineke De Boer at The Mangrove Information Center . Here you will find a beautiful Mangrove population with an abundance of wildlife. We paddle to a place where we could snorkel up and down the canal between the Mangroves. The Mangrove canals eventually lead out to the sea so they provide a nursery for many species of young fish. From upside down Jellyfish to baby Barracuda, we seen more interesting things here than a diver could ever see out on the reef. Ineke was very knowledgeable and passionate in what she does making it a wonderful experience.
From most of the Seaside resorts one can also take a historical walk into town. This cute little town offered some amazing shops with reasonable prices, and great restaurants. I felt very safe walking around, and everything was so clean and well kept. Efforts of conservation in Bonaire are evident above and below the water. I felt like I was on a perfect little planet where everyone really cared about their environment and what beautiful place they lived in.
Bistro Di Paris was a relaxing place to sit harbor side and have lunch. I had a delightful crepe like no other.
Bonaire was a dream come true! It was very easy to travel, safe, friendly, and loads of fun. I can’t wait until our next visit.
Scuba Diver Girls would like to thank the following for making this trip possible:
- Bonaire Tourism Board
- Buddy Dive Resort
- Captain Don’s Habitat
- Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino
- Plaza Resort Bonaire
A special thank you to the following companies for providing gear for this trip: