Bonaire is an island in the Caribbean Sea, just North of Venezuela. It is considered a special municipality within the country of the Netherlands. The small island is only 288 Sq KM (114 Sq Mi) with a population of approximately 17,000 inhabitants. Nestled within the crescent shape of Bonaire, you can find Klein Bonaire, a small, 6 KM2, uninhabited islet, accessible by a short boat ride from the main island. The official language of Bonaire is Dutch, but you can hear a lot of English, Spanish and Papiamentu which is the local dialect.
The Island of Bonaire is a diving paradise, listed among the 4 best places in the world for diving. One of the most important aspects of the island, which makes it so unique, is the fact that its coral reef and marine life have been protected for over 30 years by the Bonaire National Marine Park (BNMP) organization. Before commencing your first dive in Bonaire, one must receive an orientation from one of the BNMP ranger and go through a check dive. After the orientation all divers are obligated to hold on to their permit while staying on the island.
Since Bonaire’s main income is from tourism, they have long understood what some parts of the world hasn’t come to realize yet – Conservation of marine life is much better than exploiting our natural resources. Laws passed in the 70’s forbid fishing and removing objects from the underwater world. These rules are punishable by law.
Diving in Bonaire
The water in Bonaire is crystal clear, reaching 100ft (30m) and warm temperatures between 25-29c. The water is calm, with very few currents and little rain. These condition make Bonaire a true diving paradise all year long.
Around the island you can find about 85 dive sites, most of the accessible from shore. Bonaire is home to about 350 different types of fish and 57 type of corals, both soft and hard. The reef runs parallel to the beach about 25 meter out and reaches a depth of 70ft. Underwater shelves reaching from the shore to the reef create perfect aquarium-like conditions for exploring the reef peacefully and happily, especially for underwater photographers!
Long term conservation has resulted in a thriving marine environment. Among the many species living in Bonaire you can find:
Nurse Sharks, Rays, Dolphins, occasionally Whale Sharks, Hawksbill Turtles, Peacock Flounders, Seahorses, Blue Tang, Long Jaw Squirrelfish, Princess Parrotfish, and Sergeant Major Fish, Peppermint Goby, Tiger Grouper, Yellowtail Snappers, Red Faced Morays, Spiny Lobsters, Southern Stingrays, Barracuda, Jacks, Parrotfish, French Angelfish, Nudibranchs, Flamingo-tongue Shells, Frogfish, Octopus Flying Gunard, Hawksbill, Loggerhead, Green And Leatherback Turtles and more.
Lots of Coral, most typically: Fire Coral, Elkhorn, Massive Starlet, Symmetrical Brain Coral, Grooved Brain Coral, Mustard Hill Coral, Boulder Star Coral, Blade Fire Coral and Yellow Pencil Coral.
Many beautiful, colourful Sponges: Green Finger Sponges, Giant Orange Elephant Ear Sponges, Rope Sponges, Lavender Stove-Pipe Sponges and Mustard Yellow Tube Sponges.