Scuba Diving Bonaire
Bonaire’s appeal is its amazing reef-lined coast. Entirely designated a national park, the beautiful waters lure divers from across the globe.
Bonaire is an underwater paradise that awaits you, with more than 350 fish species and 57 species of soft and stony coral. Bonaire offers a pristine underwater environment with access to many locations for shore diving.
Bonaire lies 30 miles from Curacao, 50 miles north of Venezuela, 86 miles east of Aruba, and is located outside of the Caribbean hurricane belt. It is 23 miles (38,6 km) long by 5 miles (4,8 – 8 km) wide.
The island is part of the Netherlands, and constitutes ‘the Caribbean part of the Netherlands’. Its position is that of a Dutch municipality, with adjustments for their small size, their distance from the Netherlands and their geographic situation in the Caribbean region. Technically, it is a “special municipality” fully integrated into the Netherlands.
In addition to being a diver’s paradise, Bonaire has a wide range of nature and outdoor activities to keep you busy. There is kite boarding and windsurfing in the majestic, blue ocean, kayaking in the mangroves or calm bay and mountain biking or bird watching on land.
Bonaire is also known for its love for nature. It has become a tradition for many generations to understand the importance of nature and the unique position Bonaire has to conserve it. Bonaire has developed a master plan to control the development of the island without harming its natural wonders. The Flamingo, protected on Bonaire, is the island’s signature bird. Bonaire is one of the only Flamingo breeding sites in the Southern Caribbean.
There is a wide variety of accommodations including dedicated dive resorts, hotels, apartments, condominiums and villas. A wide range of inviting restaurants offer Caribbean and international cuisine. You’re in for a treat when you try the freshly caught seafood. Fishermen bring in their catch daily. And, of course, there are bars; both in the resorts and in town that often feature live music by talented local and international artists.
This authentic island is your playground for a rich variety of (water) sports and leisure activities, all against an idyllic Caribbean backdrop.
SCUBA DIVING BONAIRE
Bonaire offers a pristine underwater environment with access to many locations for shore and boat diving. There are 63 official dive sites in Bonaire and 26 more in Klein Bonaire, of which 54 are shore dive sites. Yellow stones on the coastal road, along the leeward coast, mark Bonaire’s shore dive sites. All you have to do is find one, pull off the road and wade in.
Bonaire is an underwater paradise that awaits you, with more than 350 fish species and 57 species of soft and stony coral. There are nearly 30 dive operations.
Bonaire has a long history of nature preservation, and always seeks to find the delicate balance between environmental protection and growth, while maintaining nature and culture. Bonaire was one of the first Caribbean islands to collaborate with the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) to conserve reefs
In 2012 the Bonaire Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) began developing a coral nursery and reef restoration project in Bonaire for cultivating new corals, specifically stag horn and Elkhorn corals.
The main production nursery is situated on Klein Bonaire, where the coral is disturbed as little as possible and a second nursery is located in Buddy’s Reef and is used regularly for training and demonstrations. The total nursery coral capacity is almost 7000 corals.
HIGHLIGHT DIVE AREAS
Bonaire’s unique geography has created miles of leeward coastline with easy shore access and almost perfect dive conditions. There are nearly 60 shore dive sites for you to explore: steep walls, sloping drop-offs, exciting wrecks, and last, but not least, the double reef system will take your breath away.
Most dive operators feature one-tank boat dives in the morning, late morning, and early afternoons, as well a night boat dive once or twice a week. Bonaire’s boat diving is among the least expensive in the Caribbean. This is partly due to the fact that almost all the dive sites are less than 15-20 minutes away by boat.
Klein Bonaire (dutch for “Little Bonaire”) is the flat, small, uninhabited island off the central west coast of Bonaire that is a paradise for divers and snorkelers. Diving on Klein Bonaire offers a great opportunity to see turtles, since this island is now a reserve and a sea turtle hatchery. It is also part of the Bonaire National Marine Park.
DIVING SEASON: The island’s location in the south Caribbean gives it an arid climate with little rainfall; consequently, the waters are exceptionally clear of silt, calm, and diveable year round.
VISIBILITY: visibility averages over 100 feet (30m), and frequently reaches up to 150 feet (50m).
WATER TEMPERATURE: Water temperatures average a warm 78-84°F (25.6-28.9°C). Water temperatures are normally at their lowest in late December and January. By March and April, the water begins to warm up, usually peaking at its warmest from late August through November.
WEATHER: The weather is Tropical Marine with little seasonal temperature variation. “Rainy” season lasts from the last week of October to the end of January, but it is still relatively dry. During rainy season, late night and early morning rains are common, usually clearing shortly after sunrise. Summer temperatures average highs of 88F and lows of 80 F (31.7 to 26.7 C). Winter average highs are 85 F with lows of 76F (29.4 to 24.4 C)
SKILL LEVELS: For the most part, the diving on Bonaire is quite gentle and suitable for all levels of diver skills.
WHAT TO EXPECT TO SEE: Large sponges and sea-fans dominate the reef scape. There are a few shipwrecks and large tarpon are quite common as well as turtles, barracudas and few good size groupers. For macro and midrange subjects you’ll have plenty to choose from. Angelfish, butterfly fish, seahorses, crabs and shrimp are just a few of the many subjects that you can find.
CLIMATE: Summer daytime highs are in the upper 80s while winter lows will be in the mid 70s. November and December are the rainiest time of year, but there is not much difference year round.
LANGUAGE: The official language is Dutch, but the traditional language is Papiamentu, which is a mixture of Spanish, Dutch, Portuguese, French, English, Caribbean Indian and various African languages
ELECTRICITY: Bonaire’s electricity (127 volts/50 cycles) is slightly different from North America’s (110 volts/60 cycles). Most North American appliances function without a transformer but older ones may run warm or burn out if left plugged in for a long time. Warning: Electrical current used to feed or recharge finely calibrated diving equipment should be stabilized with a specially engineered electrical stabilizer. Every diving operation on the island has one of these as part of its standard equipment for visiting divers
CURRENCY & CREDIT CARDS: The official currency is the U.S. dollar. Traveler’s checks and credit cards are widely accepted.
GRATUITIES: Tipping is much the same as in the U.S., with some restaurants adding a 10% to 15% service charge automatically. Tip taxi drivers 10% and dive masters a fair sum for the service that they provide to you.
PHONE & INTERNET SERVICE: Check with your cell phone carrier before you leave home to find out if your phone will work on the island and be sure to check the fees. Most hotels have Wi-Fi in the lobby and many have it in the guest rooms.
VISA & PASSPORT REQUIREMENTS: You must hold a valid passport to enter Bonaire. Your passport must be valid for a minimum period of six months from the date of entry into Bonaire. Tourist entry is generally only for 14 days, but 30 days may be given. Extensions are available at immigration. EU passport holders may stay for up to 120 days, but must get an extension first from immigration. Tourists who apply for an extension beyond the 30 days must have travel insurance (medical & liability) for the duration of their extended stay.
CUSTOMS: The following items may be brought into Bonaire without incurring customs duty: 200 cigarettes or 50 cigarillos or 25 cigars or 125g of tobacco.1L of spirits over 22% (but no additional wine or beer), or 1L of spirits less than 22% plus 2L of non-sparkling wine and 8L of beer. Gifts up to a value of US$500 (or US$150 for children under 15).
DEPARTURE TAX: The departure tax for all international destinations is USD $35.00 per person. It is usually included with the price of the airline ticket.
GETTING THERE: The airport code is “BON”
Direct flights from the USA are available with United Airlines from Newark and Houston. Delta Airlines has direct flights from Atlanta. It is also possible to fly via Aruba or Curaçao to Bonaire.
Direct flights from Europe come from Amsterdam with Arkefly or KLM they also serve as the gate way to other European Countries.
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