Bonaire scuba diving is often regarded by many as the best shore diving in the world. With tons of sites, all accessed from the shore. There Caribbean paradise is home to over 85 dive sites that are populated by a rich and diverse marine ecosystem.
So far, over 350 species of fish have been documented in the island’s waters and an impressive 57 species of stony and soft corals. The diverse underwater life includes turtles, barracuda, sea horses, and angelfish, to name a few. If you are wondering when to visit for a Bonaire scuba diving trip, you are in luck. The diving is good year-round, and Bonaire is below the hurricane belt, so it escapes most storms. Although during the storm season from June to November, the occasional storm may hit the island. Bonaire has something for every diver so read on to find out the 5 places not to miss out on when scuba diving Bonaire.
One Thousand Steps
One of the most well-known and popular dive sites on Bonaire, a Bonaire scuba diving trip would not be complete without a dip into the ocean here. The site is reached via 67 steps, which feel like 1,000 on the way back up after the dive.
The site is diveable for a depth of 6-30m/20-100ft and is populated by a large number of star corals. These large structures provide a varied and extensive habitat to a wide range of marine creatures. Aside from the marine life and a large number of healthy corals and sponges, divers should keep an eye out into deeper waters since manta rays and whale sharks have been spotted passing by. Also, there is a good chance of encountering hawksbill turtles at the site.
If you don’t fancy the 1,000-step trek back up from the beach, the 1,000-step site is also ideal for snorkeling. However, it is a hard choice not to go for a dive here since, due to the challenging nature of the trek, it can be one of the quieter dive sites around the island.
If you leave you’re at the end of your Bonaire Scuba Diving trip without sampling the delights of Karpata, then you have missed out. This northern dive site ranges in depth from 7-35m/22-120ft and is home to rich marine life. The site has a mild constant nutrient-rich current that has resulted in rich, healthy coral growth, including fabulous gorgonians growing along the reef wall.
You can catch a glimpse of a huge variety of marine life a the site, including green morays, blue tangs, lobsters, and midnight and rainbow parrotfish. Sadly you can also encounter the invasive lionfish, which has spread across the Caribbean.
The site offers excellent visibility at all depths, making it an ideal spot for snorkellers. Keep in mind that the waves can make the entry and exit of this site a little treacherous, so care, and attention and good timing are needed to exit the site safely.
Bari Reef is one of the legendry sites to dive in Bonaire. In fact, it is one of the best in the Caribbean. Bari Reef holds the enviable title of being the number 1 site for fish diversity in the Caribbean, with over 300 species documented at the site. From octopi to sea horses and colorful reef fishes, the site is absolutely teaming with life. Aside from fish Bari Reef is home to a large array of corals and sponges.
The dive site itself varies in depth from 10/30 meters/ 30-100 feet, making it ideal for every level of diver. A typical dive around Bari reef is conducted at a depth of around 15/18 meters/ 50-60 feet. As you come near the end of the dive, there is a rubble-strewn area that is home to a wide variety of shy critters. It is the perfect opportunity for photographers and muck diving fans to have a good look around for some great photo opportunities. A Bonaire scuba diving trip that misses out on Bari Reef is like visiting Paris and missing out on the Eiffel tower.
Bonaire Wreck Queen Hilma Hooker
One of the most famous wrecks in the Caribbean, the Hilma Hooker should be near the top of the list of every Bonaire scuba diving trip. The ship was originally known as the Midsland, and it sunk off the southern coast of the island in 1984. The 72meter/236ft vessel lies at a depth of 30m/100ft on its starboard side, although the top of the wreck is at 18meters/60feet.
It will come as no surprise that after nearly 40 years underwater, the wreck is home to a rich and diverse marine life. The wreck is encrusted with sponges and algae and is home to eels, wrasses, and a host of other fishes. Glancing into the airshafts and wheelhouse, you can often catch a glimpse of large numbers of barracuda and tarpon that hang out there.
The wreck itself can offer a fascinating tour, and if you have the appropriate wreck diving certification provides an excellent exploration opportunity. Considering the depth of the dive, with most of your time spent below 20m/66feet, the dive is best undertaken using nitrox.
Bonaire Scuba Diving special treat: Something Special
As the name suggests, this site is something special but can be very deceiving. Descending into Something Special, it looks anything but special. The corals are sparse, and there is even trash in the water like tires and such. Before you are tempted to just get out and go somewhere different, look closer.
If you are a muck diving/macro fan, you will soon find that you are in heaven. The site is home to a wide variety of elusive creatures. Encounters with multiple frogfish are commonplace at this site. You can also see seahorses, trunkfish, drumfish, blennies, and much more. If you are an avid photographer, you can spend hours underwater here, snapping away at a vast range of critters. This is not solely a site for small stuff, but you can also encounter turtles and eagle rays in the shallows.
If the site was excellent during the day, it is phenomenal at night and is one of the best dives on the island. The place comes to life with sunset, with an enormous number of crabs, lobsters, moray eels, and octopi. A Bonaire scuba diving trip would not be memorable without a dive or two at something special.
Brought To You By
Our Top Dive Sites of the World guide is brought to you by Suunto. We recommend that you use a Suunto Dive Computer when scuba diving or freediving at one of these dive sites. Suunto is the world’s leading dive computer designer and manufacturer providing diving instruments for recreational, technical, and freediving. You can find out more at Suunto.com.