Now we have my favorite dives of the past almost 30 years out of the way, lets have a look at the next on my top ten Bucket List of places I will dive. As a side issue when I started diving I had a top ten list way back then and only one still remains elusive, not bad and just goes to show wild lists are achievable. In descending order my top 10 list is:

#10 – Bonaire

1Bonaire is a tiny island municipality of the Netherlands and lies off the coast of Venezuela in the southern Caribbean. Beyond its rich marine life, the island shelters lizards, donkeys and hundreds of birds within the beaches, lagoons, caverns and desert like hills that comprise its immense Washington Slagbaai National Park. It has a total population of 16,500 people and is only 294 km2 in size.

Getting there is not too difficult and from Australia the best path is probably via the USA (Newark or Huston). There are no direct flights from South America but if coming in from Europe, there are direct flights from Amsterdam

So why is this on my top ten list, simple really stunning diving, plenty of other things to do and a beautiful Island getaway that is in 2pristine condition. In ways similar to Palau, Bonaire are world leaders in reef conservation. Bonaire has a long history of nature preservation, and always seeks to find the delicate balance between environmental protection and growth, while maintaining nature and culture. Bonaire was one of the first Caribbean islands to collaborate with the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) to conserve our reefs. By commencing a program for cultivating new corals, specifically the stag horn and Elkhorn corals, Bonaire will be able to preserve the reef’s genetic diversity. In this way residents, visitors and future generations will be able to enjoy an enriched marine environment. In order to preserve reef habitat Bonaire has banned the use of items such as gloves and chemical light sticks – just yet another example of steps that can be taken to assist conservation. So I guess the best of the Caribbean diving with a perfect island setting makes this one of my top 10.

Bonaire offers over 80 easily accessible dive sites it offers a massive diversity of both coral and marine species. One spot in particular, Bari Reef, boasts over 300 fish species (there are over 470 species known in Bonaire waters).

Some of the must see dive sites include:

  • 1000 Steps – This is a shore dive and named after the steps down to the beach (apparently not really 1000 but lots of them). Barracuda, Turtles and massive schools of reef fish on pristine reef is the highlight.
  • Hilma Hooker – A 72 meter freighter that rests on the sand between two reefs is presents something for the rust addicts.
  • Salt Pier – Another easy shore entry where the main attraction s the abundance of fish in the shadows of the pier along with the seahorses that live here.
  • Bari Reef – Another amazing reef with frequent tarpon sightings
  • And so many more

With any luck you may even stumble on an old Spanish Galleon, many of which went missing in these waters hundreds of years ago.

Blog post provided by John Anderson (5,000+ dives, NAUI Instructor Trainer, Diving since 1984)

Information and pictures courtesy of Bonaire Tourism.