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Selected Dive Sites  •  Facts & Links  •  Still Life Gallery


Selected Dive Sites

Bonaire’s west coast is practically one long fringing reef. We found a huge difference between north, south and the middle part of the island. The American organisation Reef.org has conducted several fish counts in the Caribbean, and it is worth mentioning that six of the top 10 list’s dive sites are found on Bonaire.

The middle part
The dive site Bari Reef is situated in the middle of the coast and tops Reef.org’s list with 317 different species. This is very strange as there are dive sites a couple of hundred metres both north and south of this but with fewer species. It is quite evident, though, once you’ve been there.

The tiny island of Klein Bonaire is situated just opposite Bari Reef and this could, of course, affect the currents to the benefit of Bari Reef. Anyway, Bari Reef is excellent for diving around the clock. There’s a sandy patch at first, then a steep coral slope down to some 30 metres and lots of life.

Choose your yellow marker
Apart from Bari Reef any yellow marker stone will do. There’s not much difference from one site to the other – except for Windsock and North Belnem, two consecutive sites at the airport. We found these to be excellent for night diving, and it was here we had the pleasure of the octopus a couple of times.

Be aware of mosquitoes, though. Suit up before you go so that you can quickly get out of the car, put your tank and mask on and get in the water with no further ado. I got nine bites on my neck and even brought a mosquito with me in my mask below the surface. As I was simultaneously fiddling with the uw video and adjusting my gear I just hoped it wouldn’t do anything drastic before I could rinse my mask. But it did.

Usually these miniature vampires hit on Lene and don’t bother me much. But considering Lene’s “body count” later on we learned that they had indeed hit on her: Some 20 bites in a matter of minutes.

In the South
We usually had our early morning dives on the southern part of the island, particularly Angel City and The Lake, which is where Bonaire’s unique double reef system is most evident. As previously mentioned the west coast is one long fringing reef followed by gently sloping flat sandy bottom.

In the south the sandy bottom is, however, followed by a second reef ridge lying a bit deeper – remember your compass heading before you go out. On the second reef we found lots of action in the morning, particularly with the Jacks and the bait ball and large schools of Striped snappers. Another favourite was Red Slave with its resident female eagle ray.

Up North
There are only a few marked dive sites on the north-west coast of Bonaire as most of this area belongs to the Washington-Slagbaai National Park. Be prepared for rugged dirt driving trails but don’t cheat yourself of this experience.

Juvenile Angel fish. Photo by Bernie Eccleston

The shortest route takes about two hours to complete and will lead you through rough but very scenic terrain.

Visibility under water was the best here on our trip. Compared to the dive sites just north and south of Kralendijk hardly anybody comes here. Very pristine coral slopes and lots of life.

The sites Playa Funchi and Boka Slagbaai were our favourites with gigantic green morays, turtles, squids, lobsters, jacks and barracudas.

Time well spent
All in all we had 26 dives at an average length of almost 69 minutes, and despite our initial reservations we did believe that it had been time well spent.
  Nice beaches and palm trees
Nice beaches and palm trees? Not on Bonaire. Most places along the west coast are rocky, full of swells and holes that fit an ankle perfectly. Note our Daewoo dive bus on the right ;-)

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