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10 Reasons to Dive Bonaire

This sunny Caribbean isle is tailor-made for divers.
By Mary Frances Emmons | Authored On February 11, 2020
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10 Reasons to Dive Bonaire

Map of Bonaire for Scuba Divers

Bonaire

Stuart Hill

1. HOUSE REEFS

All up and down the island’s western seaboard, virtually every resort has its stretch of reef, one reason Bonaire has taken our Readers Choice Award for best shore diving for 27 years straight. Some stretches—from Bari Reef in the south to La Machaca off Captain Don’s Habitat— can almost be combined into a single dive.

2. BAITBALLS

With a little luck and planning you could be treated to a sight more common in Indo or the Solomon Islands, a baitball so vast it can take 10 minutes to pass. Don’t know where to look? Eavesdrop on your divemasters and fellow divers— when they’re running, folks will be talking.

3. RINCÓN

This village in the center of the island will give you a better picture of local life than tourist-driven Kralendijk. Make time to visit its Cadushy Distillery; the rum is a revelation—delicate, floral—and the whiskey might be the island’s best-kept secret.

4. WASHINGTON SLAGBAAI NATIONAL PARK

Occupying the northern tip of the island, this national treasure offers rugged, otherworldly landscapes, stunning beaches, starry nights and, sometimes, flamingos. Driving here is not for the faint of heart; get there by boat with Buddy Dive Resort’s five-hour dive safari expedition.

5. KRALENDIJK

An influx of cruise passengers has breathed life into the capital. Worth a visit: Saltshop Bonaire, to pick up one of the island’s most enduring products (it really does taste different here), and Elements Bonaire for its stunning dichroic glass jewelry. Gio’s Gelateria and Caffe is worth braving the ever-present lines.

Hilma Hooker Shipwreck Bonaire

The Hilma Hooker

Shutterstock

6 HILMA HOOKER

One of the Caribbean’s most-mentioned wrecks loses nothing by that, with its crazy backstory of drug smuggling and a sudden suspicious sinking. Add in its attendant tarpon and quick access from shore, and you’ve got a wreck dive that’s a must-do.

7.LACBAI

This large bay is popular for wind surfing, a mangrove snorkel or just push- ing your toes in the sand with a cold brew at funky, friendly Hangout Beachbar at Jibe City. (Try the bitterballen, a Dutch bar-treat take on croquettes.)

8. OPEN 24/7

Diving is a way of life on Bonaire, where you can dive any time, or all the time. Plot your own course south to sites like Red Slave or north to Karpata; for an in-town site that’s an out-of-this-world dive, don’t miss Something Special.

9. TRUCKIN’

At some resorts a truck comes with your room, the better to visit Bonaire’s more than 60 marked shore dives. The island’s rugged east side offers a scenic seaside drive—with wild donkeys!— and the Willemstoren Lighthouse at the southern end is made for photo ops.

10. REEF RENEWAL BONAIRE

Choose from one of Reef Renewal Bonaire’s four partners on island— Buddy Dive, Harbour Village, Tropical Divers and Wannadive—for a coral restoration dive, and help make sure these beautiful reefs are still here and looking good when your grandkids learn to dive.


BONAIRE DIVERS GUIDE

AVERAGE WATER TEMP 78 to 82 degrees Fahrenheit
WHAT TO WEAR A 3 mm suit typically will suffice, or even just a swimsuit and rash guard
AVERAGE VIZ 60 feet or greater
WHEN TO GO Year-round
MORE INFO scubadiv.in/bonaire