Best Scuba Diving in Bonaire: Everything You Need To Know

Bonaire is a beautiful island located in the North of Venezuela. This Caribbean island has been home to a wonderful, stunning marine life for almost 40 years. Bonaire’s water is full of thriving marine life that people travel thousands of miles to see. With over 470 fish species, the island is one of the best places to immerse oneself in nature.

Overview of the best dive spots in Bonaire Island

This is one of the reasons why Bonaire is such a popular tourist destination. With the best scuba diving in Bonaire, people flock to the island to dive deep into the aquamarine ocean. Here is everything you need to know about the scuba diving scene on the island.

Why Dive In Bonaire?

Bonaire is known as the Caribbean’s best dive destinations. It is host to stunning shipwrecks and thriving coral reefs that surround the Bonaire coast. If you’re new to diving, the island is protected from currents, making it the perfect location for beginners.

You will have plenty of choices when it comes to the dives that you want to do; divers can dive from the shore or from a boat. Bonaire has the best resorts that give visitors access to gorgeous reefs right along the shore. If you want to go deeper into Bonaire National Marine Park, you can take a few dives right from the boats provided by the region.

Bonaire is also known for its unspoiled ecosystem and clear waters. This presents unique opportunities for underwater photography that has attracted thousands of professionals to its coast. The best scuba diving spots in Bonaire offer visitors a chance to explore the underwater world without any issues.

Bonaire Coastline

Is It Good For Beginners To Dive In Bonaire?

Bonaire has scored high as the best place for beginner divers. The water is known for its calm currents and warm temperatures. The leeward side of the island has almost no currents, which makes it easy for beginners to dive. The clear water offers high visibility of an impressive 60 feet or better on most days of the year.

The island also has plenty of easy dive sites that are designed especially for beginners. Just like bunny slopes that are built on most ski resorts, the resorts of Bonaire have a house reef. The house reef is designed to help visitors get used to their surroundings and focus on their skills.

This is the perfect way to boost confidence in your diving skills until you can explore the coast freely. The house reefs have set exit and entry points that leave any guesswork out of the equation. Diving staff is also available for beginners, with plenty of divers nearby in case you need help; this ensures safety for the beginners.

Diving in Bonaire

Is It Easy To Get There?

Bonaire Island is accessible from Latin America, Europe, and North America via a huge number of local and international carriers. It is extremely easy to get to Bonaire since you can fly directly to the BON, Flamingo International Airport, near Kralendijk. There are also plenty of countries that have access to a visa on arrival, which makes it easier for a lot of visitors. You can check if you can get a visa on arrival here.

Are There Good Dive Sites For Families?

Bonaire is known for its shore diving too, which can be a great program for kids. This is a year-round activity that beginners and children can take advantage of. There are also plenty of resorts on the island that offer different activities for the entire family. Kids can rent out dive lights for nighttime snorkeling or dive right from the shore.

The half-day junior dive experiences are designed for children that are ten years or older. They will be able to get a scuba certification for junior open watercourses. Resorts like the Divi Flamingo Beach Resort even offer free stay for kids from April to mid-December.

There are also other programs such as the Buddy Rangers program by Buddy Dive Resort that are designed for kids from the ages of 5 to 10 years. It teaches kids how to use scuba equipment and how to snorkel. Kids from ages 8 to 10 years can join the PADI Seal Team and complete ‘aqua missions.’ This includes fun activities like practicing a search and rescue operation underwater or diving through a pretend wreck.

The resorts also offer amazing opportunities for seniors to relax and recharge with. With state of the art facilities for spa and rejuvenation, you will leave the island thoroughly refreshed.

You can also indulge in other family-friendly activities, such as exploring caves, kiteboarding, and kayaking through the mangroves.

Coral reef slooping wall underwater off the coast of Bonaire

What Aquatic Life Can You Find?

Divers will be able to see a horde of sea fans and colorful sponges. You can encounter different marine life, such as groupers, barracudas, Angelfish, seahorses, turtles, crabs, and shrimps. The island has over 470 species of fish that have made Bonaire their home. The best scuba diving in Bonaire will ensure that you can see the best marine life in the world.

What Are The Best Scuba Diving Destinations in Bonaire?

Karpata

The Karpata is a Northern dive site that has consistently moderate to mild currents. It has an impressive array of soft and hard corals that grow along the sloping reef walls. In the shallow waters of the Karpata, you will be able to see rainbows and parrotfish swimming. The occasional school of blue tang and sea turtles are fun to see too. Due to the high visibility, it is easy to see the reef slope into the sandy seabed. This is where you will be able to see large schools of brown chromis and creole wrasse. Lobsters, lionfish, and green moray eels are also common in the area since they tend to hide in the coral ledges of the reef wall.

Rappel

Rappel is only accessible by boat due to the lava rock and vertical limestone cliff. The name Rappel comes from the time when divers scaled down the limestone cliffs to dive into the water. The best part about Rappel is that wave action through the years has formed some fascinating overhang environments. You will be able to see nurse sharks and large snappers in the area, resting among the rocks.

There are shallow overhangs in the area where the beautiful reef is thick. You will be able to see colorful sponges, sea fans, and corals with gorgeous macro life like frogfish, sea horses, lettuce slugs, and slender filefish.

Bonaire Island Sandy Beaches

The Cliff

The Cliff has exciting, steep landscapes that make this area one of the best sites for scuba diving in Bonaire. You will be able to swim alongside the coral wall, where you can see hordes of marine creatures. Divers can see different light and depth intensities that can give you a new respect for the underwater world. The best part is that diving at different depths gives you a whole new experience.

Bari Reef

Bari Reef is located next to a resort and fun beach bar and is a great choice for divers. The reef has one of the most bio-diverse marine lines on the island, with countless marine species swimming in the area. Divers will be glad to see the stunning sponge structures in the area that give the reef a gentle bluish, or purplish glow. This magical scene is a sight to behold!

If you take a small peek through the sponges, you will spot a fish or two swimming idly by. The Bari Reef is the perfect place to explore at leisure.

Bonaire Underwater World

Something Special

Something Special definitely lives up to its name. While it may not seem much to novice divers, experienced divers will truly treasure this sight. If you love underwater photography and macro life, this is the place to go.

Something Special is the best dive site to spot the elusive frogfish. You will also be able to see yellow-headed jawfish, seahorses, blennies, scorpionfish, and other juvenile species. Even interesting critters like the trunkfish and drumfish are wonderful to come across. Apart from the macro marine life, you will also come across beautiful green sea turtles, eagle rays, and hawksbill.

The Hilma Hooker

The Hilma Hooker was a long cargo ship that was sunk starboard side in 1984 on the southern coast of Bonaire. It lies at a 30-meter depth with a gorgeous sand channel and double reefs. The dark silhouette of the cargo ship in the deep blue water of the Caribbean Sea is a wonderful experience.

Exploring the wreck that is covered in sponges and algae, which is home to Sergeant Majors and wrasses, is a fun experience. The cargo hold often has eels, sand tilefish, and tarpons hanging out together. Experienced divers can go into the ship and explore it easily.

Salt Pier

The Salt Pier is a gorgeous dive site with a world-famous collection of coral reefs. The stunning diversity of the marine line growing in the pillars of the pier is truly fascinating. The green sea turtles in the shallow waters and the gorgeous queen angelfish have made the pier their home. The Salt Pier is also known for its night dives; descending into the clear water as the sun sets is a glorious experience that everyone needs to have at least once in their lives.

Margate Bay

Margate Bay is surrounded by gorgeous mangroves that tend to keep the dive site hidden; if you don’t keep your eyes open, you may miss it as you drive by. Upon entering the water, you will be able to see staghorn corals that stretch as far as you can see. Among the corals, you will be able to see a diverse range of shrimps, snails, and crabs. Beginners love this dive site because you don’t have to go too deep to enjoy the stunning marine life lounging in the shallow water.

Willemstoren Lighthouse

Willemstoren Lighthouse Bonaire

Only experienced scuba divers should visit the Willemstoren Lighthouse. Access to the sight is rare since you need unique, calm conditions to dive in the area; however, due to the limited access, the area is home to pristine coral growth that is unmatched by any other dive site in the area.

Divers will be able to swim among huge gorgonian soft corals, healthy sponges, and waves of sea fans along the sloping reef. The hundreds of years old coral heads and elkhorn coral are thriving in the area. Marine life in the area is simply stunning to behold; you will be able to see green morays, triggerfish, sea turtles, eagle rays, and even dolphin pods on rare occasions.

The White Hole/Turtle City

The Turtle City is the best-kept secret of the island and is definitely a site for the best scuba diving in Bonaire. It is only meant for experienced divers since the sea can be quite choppy due to the windward direction. The White Hole is a stadium-sized sandy pit that is surrounded by reef walls on every side. You will be able to see tarpon, nurse sharks, and large conch lounging in the area. The stunning meadow of colorful sea fans and beautiful sea turtles has made their home in the Turtle City. There is so much to see in the White Hole, making it one of the most memorable experiences for divers.

The Forest

The Forest is on the uninhabited Klein Bonaire Island. It is a 10-minute boat ride away from Bonaire, which is definitely worth a visit. The gorgeous reef surrounding has a beautiful field of soft corals. The black coral grows in abundance in the area, which is where the apt name comes from. The shallow sandy seabed is home to eagle rays and turtles. You will also be able to see friendly French angelfish as well as schools of black durgon and barracuda.

One Thousand Steps

The 1,000 Steps dive site is accessible directly from the coast or by boat. It is right under the boat mooring where gorgeous star coral formations have formed on the reef. The pagoda-like high rising structures are home to hollow cores where hundreds of reef creatures swim through. You will be able to spot beautiful bluish eggs that are guarded by sergeant majors. You can also spot manta rays and hawksbill turtles in the area, as well as a rare passing whale shark.

Alice in Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland offers the greatest experience for the best scuba diving in Bonaire. Divers can go up to 30-100 feet into the water, depending on their experience. Keeping an eye on the depth gauge is especially important as you go from one reef to another. The dive site has plenty of complex reef structures that are fascinating to explore at leisure. You will be able to see a nice variety of corals in the shallow water. The double reef is a beautiful place to dive into.

Andrea 1 and 2

Andrea 1 and 2 are great diving sites for snorkelers and novice divers. It is home to soft corals and anemones as well as cute sea horses. Divers will enjoy the languid rainbow, midnight, and blue parrotfish that have all sorts of beautiful colors.

Snorkeling in Bonaire

The Sampler

The Sampler is known as a truly fairytale site because it is definitely a stunning, surreal experience. Divers have commented on how diving into the area is similar to a misty morning in an Arizonian desert. The tube sponges resemble cactuses, the soft coral are similar to tumbleweed, and the coral heads look like the granite hillside. The Sampler has a bit of everything, staying true to its name –golden spotted eels, sea turtles, black durgon, and sea horses.

What Specific Gear Do You Need To Dive In Bonaire?

You don’t have to worry about bringing your gear from home when you go for the best scuba diving in Bonaire. There are plenty of gear rental and dive shops in Bonaire that you get the equipment from. The resorts in the area also provide visitors with updated equipment. If you are diving in Bonaire, experts recommend the Mk11/C370 Regulator and Hydros BCD.

Is It Dangerous To Dive In Bonaire?

The Bonaire Island experiences sunshine and great temperatures all year round. It is not affected by hurricanes or storms, which means that there is no bad time to go for a dive in Bonaire. You may experience light showers from November to January or wind from May to August, but that’s about as wild as the weather gets.

Final Thoughts 

Bonaire is a beautiful island with a lot of stunning experiences to offer. The best scuba diving in Bonaire ensures that visitors can see thriving marine life and swim through calm, warm waters. It is the best place to take the whole family and explore the magical underwater world of the Caribbean ocean.

Finding the best dive spots in Bonaire Island
Please use the above image to share the best diving destinations in Bonaire on social media!