When you fly to Bonaire for a holiday getaway one of the very first things that you may notice is that the island itself is a diver’s paradise. In fact, that is so true of a statement that even the license plates boast the slogan, “Diver’s Paradise”. The island has long realized that the vast majority of the money that was being spent by tourists who flocked to the area was coming by way of the diver’s themselves. And since then, the people of Bonaire have gone above and beyond to ensure that they have consistently protected their reefs and were even some of the first to pioneer the installation of permanent moorings in the area. If you are planning on heading to Bonaire for a diving trip, yet are a bit overwhelmed to some of your options in terms of diving packages, we will be breaking it all down for you here in this article.
Let’s first begin with why opting to head to Bonaire proves to be such a remarkable diving experience. Not only are the beaches and the reefs some of the most stunning and intact in the world, but Bonaire offers diving freedoms of which are purely unmatched in other places of the Caribbean. The island is home to countless dive shops where you can gather up all the gear you need and then hop on a boat and enjoy various diving sites. While boat tours always prove to be awesome experiences, you certainly don’t have to venture off too far off the shore to be able to take in some remarkable underwater views, which is super convenient if you are seeking to take in as much diving as you possible can! Yet another great feature is the fact that due to the area being so diving friendly in terms of having so many various attractive diving sites, huge crowds in any given area are incredibly sporadic.
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Bonaire is most famous for shore diving, due to the fact that it is easy, predictable, free of too many currents, nicely marked dive sites and the water is never too deep meaning you won’t have any truly scary encounters with large marine wildlife. This in particular is why so many people opt to invest in a diving package that is land based. Here, are some of the top land based packages that you may want to consider checking out.
As a souvenir, I bought this reference card containing the common Bonaire marine life. We've seen many of the fishes listed in it, but we often wondered when we're going to see a palometa because it looked so distinct. Then we saw this large school of palometas, as if saying, "Here we are!" They were gorgeous! Photo by Via
The Buddy’s Dive and Drive Bonaire package starts at $1,255 (USD) and includes some really great incentives:
It should be noted that this package does not include a Marine Park Tag ($25 USD in Cash Only), other meals besides breakfast and your scuba gear rental.
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The Caribbean Club Bonaire package starts at $1,034 (USD) and includes the following incentives:
This package does not include that Marine Park Tag ($25.00 USD in Cash), lunch and other meals or your scuba gear rental.
If you are seeking the opportunity to not leave the boat, you may want to consider opting for a diving package that offers the liveaboard experience. While there are not nearly as many liveaboard opportunities available in Bonaire as there are for land-based dives and charters, there is still one that you may want to check into in terms of rates and availabilities. That would be Bruce Bowker’s Carib Inn, which is one of the most frequented and trusted places to dive with in Bonaire. They have a number of package deals for various land-based dives if you stay at their resort, however if you are interested in liveaboard opportunities, you will have to contact them directly for pricing options and availability.
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Dive Friend Bonaire Yellow Submarine. Photo by Pierre
When it comes down to planning your accommodation you will also want to seek out what experience (and skill level you are) you are looking to get out of your diving package. There are various diving sites throughout the island, so depending on your needs and desires you may want to keep in mind some of the following:
Northern Dive Sites: The northern diving sites are great for beginner’s as the dive sites are apart of a fringing reef that has a more gentle slope.
Southern Dive Sites: The southern diving sites have a bit more of a current, and tend to be a little deeper with a much steeper drop-off to the white sand.
Eastern Dive Sites: The eastern side of the island is full of currents and has been noted to be a “washing machine”.
Klein Bonaire: A small island, this dive site has a lack of runoff in the area which makes for significantly better visibility than the mainland itself.
Finally, it should most certainly be noted that all of the diving operators in Bonaire are noted to be incredibly protective of the areas reefs. For the most part you are not even permitted to wear gloves and if a divemaster finds destroying or even touching or destroying the reef, you will usually be warned the 1st time, and then simply removed from the water if you are needed to be asked again. You are also not permitted to take anything out of the water, and that includes shells, this is due to the fact that the whole island is a preserve.
If for any reason you find yourself a bit overwhelmed as to the number of diving packages that are available to take advantage of in Bonaire, be sure to simply put forth some research! The area is loaded with great diving opportunities, so it is pretty safe to say that regardless which package you choose, you can be sure that you will be getting a great experience overall!