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
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.
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
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.
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.
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