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Bonaire Diving Review

Bonaire is a small island located about 120 miles off the coast of Venezuela in the southern Caribbean. It is famous for its great diving. Everyone from beginners to advanced divers will find something to their liking here. Although it has weathered the occasional hurricane in its history, it is generally considered to be outside the hurricane belt, allowing for excellent diving year-round.

Bonaire is considered by many, myself included, as one of the best diving destinations in the world. In fact, I visited three times in an eighteen month period because I enjoy it so much. There is something to be said for returning to places you are familiar with and comfortable with. The people are warm. The system to access your tanks for shore diving is very easy to use. Nitrox was not an additional charge, as dive shops felt it was important to encourage its use to protect their divers. It is also a very easy island to get around. Rent a truck at the airport and off you go.

To date I have gone diving with ‘Buddy Dive’ and ‘Toucan Diving’ dive shops. Both dive shops were very accommodating when it came to staff. However, Toucan Diving had an advantage as their dive boats are stored in a protected area. You can load up your things and organize your equipment before leaving the dock in calm waters. The Buddy Dive boats were at a dock adjacent to the open sea, which was a nice sight, but the boats were constantly pounding the dock as divers tried to board with heavy equipment. You have to prepare your equipment on the way to the dive site or at the dive site, because you just need to sit and hold while the boat hits while everyone else is loading. Another reason why I prefer Toucan Diving is a particular dive master. His name is Jackson. He’s always enthusiastic about the sport despite years of doing it, and always makes an effort to show divers the cool stuff, like the frogfish and the air pocket on the Hilma Hooker wreck at 99 feet. Of the two dive shops, toucan diving has always been my preference.

Bonaire’s sea creatures are plentiful. I started my first dive with a beautiful floating spotted eagle ray and saw several more as the week progressed. There were also turtles on several dives. These will always be some of my favorites. Bonaire also has several dive sites where seahorses tend to congregate. These are definitely creatures you don’t see often, but I have seen them on every trip to Bonaire. There were also several opportunities to see frogfish, as well as many smaller creatures which made for some great macro photography. There were many more marine animals that deserve an honorable mention, but too many to list them all here! Let’s just say the diving here gets a definite thumbs up!

Bonaire is well known for its shore diving, and I have tried it many times. Although the freedom of shore diving is wonderful, the entrances at many sites are still quite challenging, often rocky and slippery. Be sure to watch your fingers because eels are everywhere (and no gloves as Bonaire is considered a marine sanctuary)! There are several shore dive sites I prefer, like “Oil Slick” because you can enter via a platform ladder. We also like “Angel City” because that place has never let me down. The old coral is a bit of a tricky entrance, but it’s definitely worth it when you jump in and see all the squid that like to hang out here. I’ll always like boat diving better because I like to jump right into the water without the dangers of spraining an ankle along the way (which happened to a friend of mine before she even got in the water)! Also if you are diving from shore make sure you don’t leave anything of value in the car as I have heard of theft issues but never experienced it.

So whether boat diving or shore diving suits you, you’ll find it on Bonaire. This quaint little island allows for a relaxed and rewarding diving experience. Call your travel agent and pack your gear. Great diving in a tropical paradise awaits you. There is no better formula for an excellent diving vacation.

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