Why Bonaire Is A Diver’s Paradise

Bonaire is a divers paradise

Scuba is a main driver of Bonaire’s tourism for a good reason. The reef is everywhere, the fish are plentiful, and access is easy. During our three months in Bonaire, we dove a few times a week for pleasure, and about once a week for reef renewal. After a lot of trips to some great dive destinations, I can see why Bonaire is a diver’s paradise.

Diving Bonaire
Let’s Go Diving!

If you’re not a diver, there are plenty of great snorkeling opportunities in Bonaire! Enjoy the marine life in that beautiful water.

Ease of Diving in Bonaire

The dives sites are well marked, with a yellow stone alongside the road for shore dives and a yellow in-water buoy for boat dives, many with both, so it is easy to find the site you want.

Karpata Dive Site
Karpata Dive site marking
Dive site parking Bonaire
Parking at one of Bonaire’s southern dive sites

Some, like the 1000 Steps, involve careful climbing, but others are an easy wade-in from land, or slide out of your dinghy. Easy to use maps of the sites are posted in all the dive shops and online.

Bonaire dive map
Looking at the dive map at Buddy Dive

Since most of the dive sites have moorings, we could move Sava for a day and go diving. We didn’t do that often, but when we did, it was worth it. One of my favorite days on Bonaire was when Brian and I drove our sailboat north to the national park just to go diving! It was a 90 minute trip each way, but it felt like a day trip escape from our regular life in the mooring field. Funny how a move on the boat can make such an impact. If you are on your boat in Bonaire, definitely take advantage of these moorings.

National Park dive site Bonaire
We had the bay to ourselves in the National Park

Excellent Support and Services

Bonaire beats every other island we’ve visited in the Caribbean for scuba shops and services. We have our own tanks, but even if you don’t, you can rent tanks easily and cheaply, for less than $10 per tank, and you can rent any gear you need for diving just as affordably.

Not only is the stuff cheap, it’s so convenient. One of the dive shops has a drive-through where you pick up your tanks and drop them off and huge tubs where you can rinse off all your salty equipment! Other places have delivery services and many of them have dinghy docks so we could drop off without leaving the water. Are you starting to see why Bonaire is a diver’s paradise?

You can buy anything scuba related and get it serviced at better prices than we’ve found elsewhere, except maybe for U.S. websites. We bought gopro accessories very affordably in Bonaire.

Need To Know

Diving in Bonaire may be cheap and easy, but it isn’t free. Since all the waters of the island are protected and part of a marine park, there is a fee to use them. STINAPA is the guardian of the park, and the Bonaire nature fee is $45 for a calendar year for diving, and $25 for other marine activities. We bought ours when we arrived in July and that is valid for the whole year. These fees help pay for the staff, the moorings, and cleanup, conservation and more. You can purchase the tag at a dive shop or online. We preferred the online method because it doesn’t involve printing or any waste, just an electronic image file. Once you’ve purchased, the parks staff can look it up online anytime. If you visit the National Park, just show your ID and they will find your name and that you have already paid. Easy peasy!

If you will be diving in Bonaire for more than a couple of weeks, consider getting a guide book. We loved the Reef Smart Guide, available at many dive shops on the island. The book details many of the dive sites, with information on how to enter and what routes to take.

Favorite Sites

We dove close to 50 times in our three months in Bonaire. One of my favorite dive sites was the Salt Pier. It’s not a reef dive, but there are so many large and small creatures feeding and swimming under the dock that you barely need to move to enjoy. It’s an incredible place to dive, and even snorkel with the turtles and squid in the shallows.

The Salt Pier Bonaire dive site
The Salt Pier is one of my favorite dive sites in Bonaire
Salt Pier Bonaire
Under the Salt Pier, one of my favorite dive sites in Bonaire
Squid are so cool! Taken at Salt Pier

Another favorite dive site in Bonaire is the 1000 Steps. The entry/exit wasn’t easy, but it’s only 50 or so steps as opposed to the titular 1000, and was much better than advertised. I was expecting worse and happily surprised. Down under the water the site is beautiful, with varied corals and lots of eels and schools of fish.

1000 Steps why Bonaire is a diver's paradise
Looking down the 1000 Steps

I already miss the ease of diving in Bonaire, the protected reefs and schools of huge tarpons swimming by us under the sea. After three months there, I understand why Bonaire is a diver’s paradise.

Surface Intervals

One of the important parts of diving is to give yourself a break, or surface interval, between dives, to off-gas your body. When we do a two-dive day, we need a lunch break and surface interval. Ocean Oasis Beach Club was our favorite stop and we ate there almost every time we drove to the south of the island for dives. The servers are excellent, the surroundings beautiful, and the food, especially the seafood and truffle fries, delicious!

Ocean Oasis Bonaire
Ocean Oasis Beach Club Bonaire

So Many Fish in This Sea

While we saw more rays and turtles in Martinique and Antigua, we did see a lot of interesting creatures diving in Bonaire.

Spotted eagle ray Bonaire
One of the few rays we “spotted” in Bonaire

We dove at least a couple times a week, and saw multiple eels, drumfish, puffers and giant groupers, a few turtles and eagle rays and one octopus. A diver’s paradise indeed!

Bonaire is a divers paradise
So many fish in the sea

Scorpion Fish

I have never seen so many scorpion fish as I saw in Bonaire. They seemed to be everywhere on some days, and boy are they ugly/beautiful!

They blend in, until they move!
  • scorpion fish Bonaire diving
  • scuba diving in Bonaire frog fish

Eels in Bonaire

We saw a lot of eels, probably more in our time in Bonaire than I have seen in all my previous dives combined, and I love to watch them move. I followed a few around during our dives, and stayed in the same spot just watching some too!

  • eel Bonaire
  • eel Bonaire
  • spotted eel Bonaire
  • spotted eel
  • spotted eel Bonaire

Eels grow extremely large in Bonaire, as do lobsters, tarpons and lion fish.

Octopus

We saw one octopus on all our dives, not for lack of looking. If you haven’t seen My Octopus’ Teacher, watch it! They are incredible. Here is the one octopus we saw in all our dives in Bonaire.

  • Octopus
  • Octopus

More Diving Photos

Drumfish and pufferfish are plentiful and many are not scared of divers.

Drum fish in Bonaire
Pretty drumfish in Bonaire
Bonaire diving
Lionfish scuba Bonaire
Lionfish Bonaire

More Diving Videos

We used our gopros a lot. Check out some more underwater videos from our time diving in Bonaire.

Lobster in Bonaire
Pretty drumfish
We saw some turtles in Bonaire

Hopefully now you understand why Bonaire is a diver’s paradise. I miss it already.

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Author: Mel

Living aboard a sailboat, scuba diver, cat parent, cyclist, blogger, love the water and exploring new places.

11 thoughts on “Why Bonaire Is A Diver’s Paradise”

  1. It’s so cool to see all of the different sea life! I’ve never been diving before, but I’d love to go one day – it sounds like an unforgettable experience!

  2. I can definitely see why you loved diving in Bonaire! Not only is it beautiful but so convenient. That makes any activity much more enjoyable. Beautiful photos and videos!

  3. This is soooo cool! I love your mini video clips so we can see what you saw – the swimming squid is such a cutie- and I love those eels. The octopus is sooo good at hiding. I wonder if you swam past others without seeing them!?

    The convenient drive through places for scuba gear sounds amazing too – it’s like you landed in scuba heaven for three months!

  4. I love snorkeling so it was wonderful seeing all the sea life–brought back good memories of my different snorkel trips. Eels are so funny the way they peak out and a little scary too.

    1. Some of the eels in Bonaire were very big and scary! Their mouths are huge and I didn’t want to get too close but I love watching them move. They look like ribbons!

  5. As someone who has never been diving, I find your posts so incredible and fun to read. So many animals that I’ve only read about or seen on TV! Bonaire sounds like a magical place for divers, or for anyone for that matter. I did watch My Octopus Teacher last week. They are such intriguing critters. Hard to believe that their lifespan is so short!

  6. Oh this is awesome, reading your post really made me miss diving sooo much. My last dives were over a year ago already and I can’t wait to get back in the water ????

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