The main attraction of Bonaire is the breathtaking underwater world of the Bonaire National Marine Park. About half of all people who visit the coral island come especially for diving. We do not know a better destination for diving than Bonaire. The island is called 'Diver's Paradise' for a good reason.
The facilities are excellent, with 86 official diving spots. Besides these diving spots there are 17 official snorkeling spots. The snorkeling and diving spots are indicated with yellow stones. You do need to purchase a so called “nature tag” to be allowed to go snorkeling and diving.
The freedom that divers have on Bonaire is unique. On Bonaire you decide for yourself where, how long and when you go diving or snorkeling. The most famous dive sites are Karpata and Andrea. On these sites there is also a good chance you’ll encounter some turtles.
The coral reefs of Bonaire are the habitat of an enormous diversity of beautiful tropical fishes and other colorful sea dwellers. Because Bonaire is located outside the hurricane zone, the coral is of very high quality and almost intact. On most Caribbean islands, the devastating storms have caused irreparable damage to the fragile coral reefs. It is perhaps hardly imaginable, but the visibility underwater on Bonaire is in some places more than 90 meters!
The fact that globaly the oceans are getting warmer is a threat to the coral. This creates so-called 'bleaching': the fading of the coral. Bleaching eventually leads to the death of the coral. Miraculously, the Bonairean coral is barely affected by bleaching.
Bonaire has breathtaking coral reefs. The reefs form the natural habitat for hundreds of beautifully colored fish and other sea dwellers. Try to respect the vulnerable coral reefs as much as possible and keep them intact. On Bonaire it is strictly forbidden to take pieces of coral or shells home as a souvenir.
Diving on Bonaire is very accessible. At any time of the day you can drive to a random place at the coast for a shore dive, you're almost immediately in the middle of the coral reef (drive & dive).
This is what appeals to many dive tourists and why Bonaire distinguishes itself from most other global diving destinations.
On Bonaire you also have so-called 'drive thru fill stations'. These are a kind of filling stations for sports divers. You drive in, you exchange your empty bottle for a full and you go back to the next dive spot.
The island is not overwhelmed by mass tourism, so there's a serene silence and peace. It is no coincidence that all car number plates have the slogan: 'Diver's Paradise'.
To prevent sports divers from touching the coral with their hands, wearing diving gloves on Bonaire is prohibited.
Bonaire has been declared the best dive destination of the Caribbean archipelago by the leading American diving magazine 'Scuba Diving Magazine' in recent decades. Bonaire is especially praised for its many shore diving possibilities and unaffected maritime nature.
Bonaire has a number of wrecks that are accessible to divers. Some wrecks have been deliberately submerged to stimulate coral formation.
Bonaire has 86 official diving locations, including 51 shore diving spots. On the quiet west coast of Bonaire there are 60 of these dive sites. The official diving destinations are indicated by special yellow stones from the side and yellow buoys in the water.
All diving locations on Bonaire have a unique name. Most names were given to the dive sites by Captain Don Stewart, the godfather of the Bonairian diving industry.
It is strictly forbidden to throw out an anchor in the Caribbean Sea. The coral is extremely vulnerable and must not be destroyed by the anchors of the many ships around the waters of Bonaire.
The easiest way to dive is enter the water directly from the shore with your diving equipment and swim to your dive site: shore diving. The number of shore diving spots on Bonaire is huge. That's why Bonaire is such an immensely popular diving destination.
There are also a number of dive sites on Bonaire that can only be reached by boat: boat diving. Some coral reefs and wrecks are a bit off the coast, swimming to them with diving equipment from the beach is often too far and too exhausting. To get to the reef that is the furthest away from the coast, a boat trip of one hour is necessary, but the average sailing time to the coral reefs is fifteen minutes.
Regularly new dive books and dive guides are introduced with beautiful underwater maps and recently described dive sites of Bonaire.
A potential danger of diving is the decompression or decompression sickness. This disease can reveal itself when divers rise to the surface too quickly. Itching, severe pain, vomiting, dizziness and loss of consciousness are the symptoms that can occur. The diver must then be treated immediately in a decompression chamber (pressure tank).
There is a decompression chamber on Bonaire next to the hospital in Kralendijk. Divers with decompression or caisson disease are brought to this location where they are received by experienced nurses and doctors.
The pressure tank on Bonaire is owned by a private foundation. A lot of diving instructors on the coral island can operate the pressure tank.
If you take a hot shower after diving or if you start exercising intensively, you increase the chance of developing decompression or decompression sickness. It is also important that there are at least 24 hours between your last dive and your flight back home.
If you do not touch anything with your hands, there are hardly any dangers on the coral reef of Bonaire. Swimmers, snorkelers and divers who touch plants and animals do run risks.
Moreys, scorpion fish, snappers, stingrays, sea urchins, fire coral, sponges, jellyfish, ore fireworms can be dangerous in case of undesirable contact by people.
Because you can hardly explain to the people who stay at home how beautiful the underwater world of Bonaire is, it is of course possible to take pictures
On Bonaire there are several organizations where you can learn the tricks of underwater photography and where you can also buy or rent an underwater camera.
There are a few celebrities within the underwater photography. One of those top photographers is Stephen Frink. Regularly this American visits to the diving island to give workshops in this special type of photography.
Several times a year a 'Clean Up Dive' is organized by diving school 'Dive Friends Bonaire' on Bonaire. During this day, as much waste as possible will be collected from the Caribbean Sea.
Often a particular dive site is chosen. Usually dozens of people participate in Clean Up Dives. The day ends with a delicious bbq.
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