Jun 032013
 

It’s a place where donkeys, goats and flamingos roam free.

Flamingo at Salt City Dive Site

Flamingo at Salt City Dive Site

A place where multilingual people are friendly and relaxed.  It’s a Dutch island close to Venezuela that is home to more fish species than any other island in the Caribbean Sea.

Scorpion fish on Klein Bonaire- by Mr. Reeftraveler

Scorpion fish on Klein Bonaire- by Mr. Reeftraveler

It’s here that bright blue skies compete with aquamarine shores and the deep blue of open water.

Buddy Dive House Reef

Buddy Dive House Reef

I’m referring to the diver’s & snorkeler’s dream island of Bonaire.

Bonaire Dive Boat

I don’t know why it took me so long to get to Bonaire.  I’ve long heard divers rave of its abundant shore diving sites and stunning underwater scenery.  Many say its the best diving & snorkeling in the Caribbean.  And while I haven’t been to *every* island in the Caribbean, I’ve traveled to many.  In my experience, Bonaire is unbeatable for Caribbean diving.

Bonaire is an UW Photographer's Dream - by Mr. Reeftraveler

Bonaire is an UW Photographer’s Dream – by Mr. Reeftraveler

So why do I like it so much?

Attitude towards diving freedom – We dove with Bonaire Dive & Adventure.  They offer unlimited shore diving packages (common on the island), 24/7 access to tanks, boat dives to Klein Bonaire, free Nitrox, easy access dive lockers, and convenient access to Bari Reef for divers and snorkelers.  If you don’t want to get up at 7:00 am to meet the dive boat, you don’t have to.  If you want to do a night dive when there is no boat going out, no worries.  Just grab a tank and a buddy. Note to snorkelers: this operation respects snorkelers who don’t dive and caters to them well.  They typically allow snorkelers on the boat dives with divers going to Klein Bonaire.  They also have special snorkeling programs.

Bountiful sea life and variety of species – According to REEF, Bari Reef on Bonaire is home to the most diverse fish population in the Carribean.  And in general, Bonaire is home to several species rarely seen in the Caribbean such as frogfish, scorpionfish, seahorses and manta rays (we had two manta sightings during our stay).

We had just finished a dive at Salt Pier.  My tank was off, but I spotted the manta in the water.  I hastily jumped in with fins askew and snapped this shot.

We had just finished a dive at Salt Pier. My BCD was off, but I spotted the manta in the shallow water. I hastily jumped in with fins askew and snapped this shot as manta “proof”.

Conservation- Bonaire’s history of marine conservation efforts is renowned.  The Bonaire Marine Park was founded in 1979 with the goal of maintaining the ecosystem and protecting the island’s underwater resources.  Also, the island is very serious about lionfish control.  After completing a course, divers are allowed to hunt lionfish using an ELF (Eliminate Lion Fish) device.  Several restaurants on the island serve lionfish on their menus.

Lionfish on Klein Bonaire - by Mr. Reeftraveler

Lionfish on Klein Bonaire – by Mr. Reeftraveler

Buddy Dive Dinner Offering

Buddy Dive Dinner Offering

Lionfish_poster

Check back soon for much more from Bonaire.

Have you experienced the Bonaire magic for yourself?  What did you like most about the island?

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