Bonaire’s Top 5 Scuba Dive Sites You Can’t Miss

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Bonaire Scuba Diving is one of our best dive sites in the world

Bonaire scuba diving is often considered by many to be the best shore diving in the world. With tons of sites, all accessible from the shore. The Caribbean paradise is home to over 85 dive sites populated by a rich and diverse marine ecosystem.

So far, over 350 species of fish have been documented in the island’s waters and an impressive 57 species of hard and soft corals. The diverse underwater life includes turtles, barracudas, seahorses, and angelfish, to name a few. If you’re wondering when to go for a scuba diving trip to Bonaire, you’re in luck. The diving is good year-round, and Bonaire is below the hurricane belt, so it escapes most storms. Although during the storm season from June to November, occasional storms can hit the island. Bonaire has something for every diver, so read on to find out about the 5 must-see places when scuba diving in Bonaire.

Location

thousand steps

One of the best known and most popular dive sites on Bonaire, a Bonaire scuba diving trip wouldn’t be complete without a dip in the ocean here. The site is reached by 67 steps, which look like 1,000 on the way back from the dive.

The site can be dived to a depth of 6-30m/20-100ft and is populated with a large number of star corals. These large structures provide a varied and expansive habitat for a wide range of sea creatures. Along with marine life and plenty of healthy corals and sponges, divers should keep an eye out for deeper waters as manta rays and whale sharks have been sighted passing by. In addition, there is a good chance of encountering hawksbill turtles on the site.

If you don’t fancy the 1,000 step hike from the beach, the 1,000 step site is also great for snorkeling. However, it’s hard not to dive here as, due to the difficult nature of the trek, it can be one of the quieter dive sites on the island.

Karpata

If you leave you are at the end of your Bonaire scuba diving trip without sampling the delights of Karpata, then you have missed out. This northern dive site has a depth of 7-35m/22-120ft and is home to rich marine life. The site has a light and constant nutrient rich current which has resulted in rich and healthy coral growth including fabulous gorgonians growing along the reef wall.

You can spot a wide variety of marine life at the site, including green moray eels, blue tangs, lobsters, and midnight and rainbow parrotfish. Unfortunately, you can also encounter the invasive lionfish, which has spread throughout the Caribbean.

The site offers excellent visibility at all depths, making it an ideal spot for snorkellers. Keep in mind that the waves can make entering and exiting this site a bit treacherous, so care, attention and good timing are required to get out of the site safely.

Bari Reef

Bari Reef is one of the legendary sites for diving in Bonaire. In fact, it’s one of the best in the Caribbean. Bari Reef holds the enviable title of being the number 1 site for fish diversity in the Caribbean, with over 300 species documented at the site. From octopuses to seahorses to colorful reef fish, the site teems with life. Besides fish, Bari Reef is home to a wide array of corals and sponges.

The dive site itself varies in depth from 10/30 meters/ 30-100 feet making it ideal for all levels of diver. A typical dive around the Bari Reef is done at a depth of around 15/18 meters/50-60 feet. Nearing the end of the dive, there is a rubble-strewn area that is home to a wide variety of shy creatures. This is the perfect opportunity for photographers and muck diving enthusiasts to take a look for great photo opportunities. A Bonaire scuba diving trip that misses Bari Reef is like visiting Paris and missing the Eiffel Tower.

Bonaire Wreck Queen Hilma Hooker

One of the most famous wrecks in the Caribbean, the Hilma Hooker should be high on the list of any Bonaire scuba diving trip. The ship was originally known as Midsland, and it sank off the south coast of the island in 1984. The 72-metre/236-foot vessel lies at a depth of 30 metres/100 feet on her starboard side, although the top of the wreckage was 18 meters/ 60 feet.

It will come as no surprise that after nearly 40 years underwater, the wreck is home to a rich and diverse marine life. The wreck is encrusted with sponges and algae and is home to eels, wrasse and a host of other fish. Peeking into the air shafts and the wheelhouse, you can often spot large numbers of barracuda and tarpon hanging out there.

The wreck itself can provide a fascinating tour, and if you have the appropriate wreck diving certification, it offers an excellent opportunity for exploration. Given the depth of the dive, with most of your time spent below 20m/66ft, diving is best undertaken with nitrox.

Bonaire Scuba Diving Special Offer: Something special

As the name suggests, this site is something special but can be very misleading. Descending in Something Special, he looks anything but special. Corals are rare and there are even trash in the water like tires and such. Before you’re tempted to just get out there and go somewhere different, take a closer look.

If you are a muck diving/macro fan, you will quickly realize that you are in heaven. The site is home to a wide variety of elusive creatures. Encounters with several frogfish are commonplace on this site. You can also see seahorses, trunks, drums, blennies and more. If you’re an avid photographer, you can spend hours underwater here photographing a huge range of creatures. It’s not just a site for little things, but you can also encounter turtles and eagle rays in the shallows.

If the site was excellent during the day, it is phenomenal at night and is among the best dives on the island. The place comes alive at sunset, with huge numbers of crabs, lobsters, moray eels and octopus. A Bonaire scuba diving trip wouldn’t be memorable without a dive or two at something special.

Click here for more of the world’s best dive sites

Presented by

Our Top Dive Sites of the World guide is brought to you by Suunto. We recommend using a Suunto dive computer scuba diving or snorkeling at one of these dive sites. Suunto is the world’s leading designer and manufacturer of dive computers providing dive instruments for recreational, technical and freediving. You can learn more about Suunto.com.

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