The island’s coral reefs form the habitat and ecosystem of many different tropical fish species and other colorful seabirds. Bonaire falls outside the hurricane zone and the coral is therefore of good quality and remains almost completely intact. In some parts around the island, the visibility is so clear that it’s possible to see more than 90 meters deep, which is truly special.
There are no special rules for diving on Bonaire- it is accessible to all. You can drive to any shore at any time of the day to dive from the beach. Every diver is required to pay US $ 25.00 (snorkeling $ 10.00) for a so-called diving tag (Nature Tag). This is valid for one calendar year and is available at any diving school. The proceeds are used for the maintenance of the Marine Park. This money also entitles you to free access to the Washington Slag Bay Park. The island uses drive through gas-filling stations. These are gas stations, but especially for sports divers. At such a station, you can exchange your empty dive bottle for a full one and then continue on your way to the next exciting dive site.
There are 86 official dive locations in Bonaire, including 51 side-dive sites. You’ll recognize these official locations when you spot yellow-painted stones of the side, accompanied by yellow buoys in the water. Each dive site has a unique name and its’ own piece of unique history. On the island there are some dive sites that can be reached exclusively by boat, which we call ‘boat diving sites’. Some coral reefs and wrecks are quite far from the coast, and swimming from the beach with all the necessary diving gear would be practically impossible. The furthest away diving site is more or less an hours’ boat ride away, but to most of the coral reefs it’s a mere fifteen minute (fun) boat ride. There are also various shipwrecks strewn around the island’s coastline, which are accessible to divers and are great places to see a beautiful, historic nature between man and nature.
Respect the reef!
In the underwater world of Bonaire there is a vast amount of incredibly breathtaking coral reefs. These reefs constitute the natural habitat of more than hundreds of colored fish and other animals living in the sea. All divers are asked to respect these reefs in order for them to be preserved and remain intact for as long as possible. This means you can’t take pieces of coral or pretty shells to keep as souvenirs. This is unacceptable.
There are a lot of diving schools in Bonaire. Here, certified dive instructors work with good knowledge of the underwater world on the island. If you are an experienced diver, you can rent or buy a complete diving equipment set at one of the diving schools or dive shops. Don’t have a diving license yet? Bonaire is the perfect place to become qualified; under the guidance of an experienced and well-equipped dive instructor.
When diving, take note of the risks posed by decompression and Caisson disease, which is diving-induced. This comes about by reaching the surface too quickly, and thus failing to adequately acclimatise. Symptoms include itching, vomiting, severe pain, dizziness and loss of consciousness. If you suffer from this, it is critically important that you are treated directly in a “decompression chamber”, otherwise known as a pressure vessel. On Bonaire, there is such a room next to the main hospital in Kralendijk. After diving, taking a hot shower or exercising is also not wise, as this increases the risk of experiencing decompression. Finally, it’s crucial to remember that there is a minimum 24 hour window required between your last dive and flying from the island. Take note of this.
Are you not the biggest diving enthusiast? No problem! You can also snorkel on Bonaire and enjoy the beautiful underwater world in this way. At the diving schools and dive shops you can rent or buy snorkelling equipment. There are also several “snorkeling trips” organized by the various schools.