There are very little places offering superb diving and snorkeling opportunities and even less spots that are as well maintained as Bonaire. For those who are beginners there are diving sites with easy entrance from a beach, for more adventurous and experienced divers there are plenty of difficult entries, boat dive spots and even a wreck to discover. In total 86 diving locations for all the tastes. Depending on luck you can spot various species of fish, turtles, cuttlefish, seahorses, moray eels and soooo much more.
Some think diving is superior to snorkeling but to be honest I think it’s just as good, just completely different. It offers more color, more light more visibility. But… it doesn’t make you a part of the marine environment like diving does. As a snorkeler you are always the observer, never the participant, never just another “big fish”. Still… you have a chance to spot pretty much the same variety snorkeling as diving. All depends on luck and chosen location purely… so…
Where are our favorite spots for diving and snorkeling?
Suitable both for snorkeling and diving…. if the weather is good. With a strong current, entrance to the water can be challenging as you have to slide from a rock and fire coral starts immediately.
Karpata offers the biggest variety of sea fans that come in all the sizes and colors out there. Except for those there is an incredible selection of all types of coral and a superb variety of residents from cuttlefish and pufferfish to eels.
It’s one of the easiest and most rewarding sites on the island. Entrance is just a simple walk through sand with a great possibility of spotting turtles already at the very beginning. Later on it just gets better. Salt Pier is famous for its pillars encrusted with sponges and corals, surrounded by schools of fish. All that creates an extraordinary scenery. It’s suitable both for snorkel and diving. Make sure there is no boat picking up salt, otherwise it’s not allowed to enter the water there.
A heavenly spot great for snorkeling and diving. Easy entrance, beautiful reef and a great chance of spotting turtles since its where their nesting locations are.
Jandirk’s favourite diving site. It’s certainly not worth a swim for a snorkel session since the reef starts far offshore and a bit deep. We discovered life when we practically lost hope and wanted to turn around and go diving somewhere else. Pink Beach was destroyed a couple of years ago in the tsunami and the reef is just recovering which offers an incredible sight that can’t be found anywhere else on the island. It’s a quite wild part of the underwater world with lots of fish and varieties of crustaceans.
Very easy entrance from a beach and 100% chance of spotting massive tarpons makes this our favorite relaxing dive.
Alice in Wonderland
Diving only spot offering a true underwater garden experience with a variety of reef and even a double reef formation.
It’s only possible to snorkel here with a Mangrove Center organized canoe tour but’s well worth the additional hassle and cost. After all that’s where so much of the marine life is born so you see plenty of small and big fish in great numbers as much as colorful coral attached to the roots of the trees.
Spots we haven’t visited but we wish we could
Some spots on Bonaire are possible to visit only with ideal weather conditions. Those are hard to achieve since it’s pretty windy very often there. So although we wanted to try to visit the White Hole of the other side of the island, we couldn’t. Currents there make it difficult to reach it even by boat. Nevertheless we will keep trying to get there when we are again on Bonaire. Proximity to the mangroves guarantees a lot of bigger marine life, sharks, eagle rays and every greater variety of turtles.
Another location with a great fame are diving spots around the Washington Slaagbai National Park in the North. They are really remote and so less popular among divers with great variety of marine life. We simply didn’t have enough time to visit those as well…. But if you do, don’t forget to let us know how it was!
Where to rent the equipment?
There are plenty of schools and resorts offering equipment rentals and organized dives but we always stick with only one. WannaDive is cheap, reliable and very leaned back. They rent all the gear or just parts, as you wish. They also organize boat dives to Little Bonaire and great night dives.
Water surrounding the island is a marine park up to 60 meters deep and so there is a fee involved for all the water activities. For diver it’s 25 USD for a year pass (nope, there is no such thing as a two week pass). On the bright side if you pay the fee, the entrance to the Washington Slaagbai National Park is free.
It’s possible to pay the fee in all dive shops, the tourist office in Kralendijk or at the STINAPA office.