From the editor: While traveling around our planet has been paralyzed by the coronavirus, we know that we will travel again. We hope that the travel stories we publish inspire you to add destinations to your bucket list for your future travels!
Mandy and I have traveled and dove all around the world always in search of that next amazing adventure and view, and Bonaire lived up to the hype we had heard and read about. Bonaire is part of the Dutch Caribbean islands and is located only 50 miles north of Venezuela and has a very mild and warm climate all year round, and is only a 2½ hour flight from Miami. Average temperatures range from 90℉ (32℃) with lows down to 77℉ (25℃). Water temperatures are very stable all year round with average water temperatures between 84℉(29℃) to 79℉(26℃). With water temperatures so mild, a 3mm is all that divers require, with many opting to use only shorts and a rash guard. If you get cold, numerous dive centers located all along the coast are more than willing to rent or sell you a wet suit.
Bonaire has possibly some of the best shore dives and snorkeling in the world with over 105 dive sites located around the island, many all just a short wade and swim off the shore. Its fringing coral reefs are home to over 350 documented species of fish and marine life, and so the diversity of marine life has a little of something for everybody. What makes Bonaire even more remarkable is the care, compassion, and seriousness the island government and residents take to manage and protect its reef systems and biodiversity. In our time there, the coral all looked healthy, full of life with very little bleaching to be seen. The conservation efforts undertaken by the government and its residents have been so successful that the United Nations Environment Program has designated it as the model for the future and similar programs around the world.
We stayed on Bonaire for two weeks over the Christmas break with friends and family in a house rental. There are plenty of accommodation choices available on the island for divers, from resorts with full dining packages and guided dives, to house or apartment rentals available at varying price point options, and you choose your dive schedule. Plenty of good restaurants, as well as well-stocked grocery stores for those who don’t mind cooking on holiday, will ensure no one goes hungry. Car or, in the case of Bonaire, pickup trucks, are essential to the diver who wants to explore on their own and see the island and are available at most of the car rentals and hotels. Tanks are equally easy with all dive operators offering air as well as nitrox to get the most out of your bottom time, diving, and holiday.
Our trip to Bonaire was a bit of a different style trip for us; typically, we will do boat dives from an all-inclusive resort. For this trip, we wanted to self cater and have a relaxed, easy family holiday. Neither of us has done many shore dives, but after two weeks of shore diving can highly recommend it to any recreational diver and well worth trying. What made it so enjoyable was the relaxed feel to the day. Everybody gets up at their own pace, sips on a hot coffee, or whatever the morning beverage of choice may be. Then once everyone is up, gear can be loaded and then off to the dive site, a look through the dive guide to give an idea of where to go, and then adventure awaits.
There is more to do than just diving on Bonaire; the island has plenty of other and activities if you are in need of a rest day. To the northern end of the island is the Washington Slagbaai national park, which you offers unique landscapes that look out of this world. Driving this national park is an adventure in itself. In the center of the island is the village of Rincon with its own rum distillery open to the public. At the southern tip of the island is the large bay of Lacbai, which is popular with the wind surfers and has relaxing beach bars. Then there is the city of Kralendijk which with the arrival of cruise ships offers lots of small boutique shops to meander and visit, and no trip to town can miss the ice cream shop “Gio’s Gelateria” in the center of town.
No matter your level of diving experience, a diving trip to Bonaire if you have not been, is well worth it, trust us, we will be heading back soon. The water is warm, visibility amazing, and the pace relaxed. So when you are ready for a new destination consider Bonaire, I can promise you won’t regret it.
PUBLISHER’S NOTE: Mandy was my dive buddy in Vanuatu and she is a world class adventurer and travel planner! Click here to see some of our expeditions in Vanautu.