Bonaire, December 2019

Tell us your tale of coming nose-to-nose with a 6 gill [--this big--], or about your vacation to turquoise warm waters. Share your adventures here!
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Sharkb8
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Bonaire, December 2019

Post by Sharkb8 » Thu Jan 02, 2020 6:12 pm

My wife and I were able to head back to Bonaire the second week of December for another visit to the shore diving capital of the world. We stayed at the Sand Dollar Resort, which has a Dive Friends shop on-site and Bari Reef as the house dive. The resort had it's own dive pier stocked with tanks, benches and rinse tanks, along with a small sandy beach and swimming area. The dive shop and gear storage were about a 30 second walk up from the pier. The main draw to Bonaire is the 24/7 shore diving on your own schedule. Most of the resorts have a drive and dive package that comes with lodging, rental truck and unlimited tank rentals 24 hrs a day. If you've never been and are an avid shore diver here in the sound, then this is a must do trip at some point! Dive days are as easy as sleeping in, leisurely having coffee and breakfast, and then driving over to the shop to grab your gear and tanks. You can also just stick around the house reef to make it even easier. Bari Reef is one of my favorite sites on the island, so we took advantage often. The hardest part of the day is deciding where to dive (or picking between sunset beers and a night dive)! There are boat diving packages available for those divers who may not be able to handle the physicality of shore diving, but if you can handle it then the do-it-yourself route is the way to go. We did 18 dives on this trip, usually averaging 3 splashes a day. It is very easy to dive your face off here, but we like to take it easy while on vacation so this was a good pace.

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Bonaire took steps years ago to protect the reefs, and the island now features some of the lushest corals and highest animal diversity in the Caribbean. Most diving is done on the west leeward side, and sites typically feature sandy shallows out to a depth of 20 ft, where the reef drops off fairly steeply to 100+ feet. The best parts of the reef are near the top where soft corals and gorgonians thrive. As you go deeper it switches to harder plate corals with some nice sponges to mix things up. While there aren't usually any sharks, large fish or pelagics to see, the fairly healthy corals, sponges and amazing fish life more than make up for that. We did see a fair number of turtles on this trip and one stingray, but struck out on anything else big and flappy. There are macro sights to be seen everywhere, although I found it hard to stop looking at the teeming schools of fish that were constantly around. I was able to find some lettuce leaf nudis, lots of shrimp hiding in anemones, bearded fire worms, arrow crabs and amazing small juvenile fish occasionally, but my macro attention span was about zero this trip! Next time we are going for 2 weeks, and I am going to dedicate more dives to the small stuff.

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Last edited by Sharkb8 on Thu Jan 02, 2020 10:33 pm, edited 2 times in total.
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fmerkel
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Re: Bonaire, December 2019

Post by fmerkel » Thu Jan 02, 2020 6:29 pm

Nice summary with pix to match. Looks like you did at least some east side diving? At least it's a site I don't recognize. If so, how did that go?
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Sharkb8
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Re: Bonaire, December 2019

Post by Sharkb8 » Thu Jan 02, 2020 6:50 pm

fmerkel wrote:
Thu Jan 02, 2020 6:29 pm
Nice summary with pix to match. Looks like you did at least some east side diving? At least it's a site I don't recognize. If so, how did that go?
No east side diving for us. The winds were up and my wife doesn’t do well with sea sickness. Which photo are you referring to?
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Gdog
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Re: Bonaire, December 2019

Post by Gdog » Fri Jan 03, 2020 9:29 am

Great report, great shots! You captured the essence of Bonaire diving. Hope to get back there soon!

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ScubaJess
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Re: Bonaire, December 2019

Post by ScubaJess » Fri Jan 03, 2020 12:24 pm

Man!!! This looks amazing!!! Now I really want to go! So cool about the turtles and all the fish & Shrimp!
Also crazy cool about the flamingos!!!
Beautiful snaps!!! :)
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stphnmartin
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Re: Bonaire, December 2019

Post by stphnmartin » Fri Jan 03, 2020 1:46 pm

Great report and pics! I want to go back and dive my face off!
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Tom Nic
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Re: Bonaire, December 2019

Post by Tom Nic » Fri Jan 03, 2020 6:44 pm

Nice report and pictures! Thank you so much for posting!

Bonaire is my happy place, and I'll be leaving for my 14th trip in just 30 days, but hey, who's counting?!

I love that little island its world class diving so much, and in spite of growth it's still one of the best places to dive in the world. There are places with better (fill in the blanks), but the combination of weather, visibility, protected fish life, and the absolute freedom to dive when and where you want has it #1 in my list of diving destinations.

Maybe I'll post a report this time....
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Nwbrewer
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Re: Bonaire, December 2019

Post by Nwbrewer » Mon Jan 06, 2020 6:34 am

Fantastic Pics!
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Vjw
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Re: Bonaire, December 2019

Post by Vjw » Mon Jan 06, 2020 10:07 pm

Thanks for the descriptive trip report and beautiful pics!! :joshsmith:

The 24/7 access to gear/tanks looks awesome! Glad Bonaire took steps years ago to keep the reef protected so corals healthy and sea life still abundant! Haven’t been there yet but it’s on the list - sounds like a shore-divers dream!!

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fmerkel
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Re: Bonaire, December 2019

Post by fmerkel » Wed Jan 08, 2020 7:44 am

I was referring to the flamingo pix. You see similar pix on the way to Lac Cai. But you can also see them way down south and some places way up north. Those look like south now that I look at them again.
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Sharkb8
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Re: Bonaire, December 2019

Post by Sharkb8 » Thu Jan 09, 2020 10:03 pm

fmerkel wrote:
Wed Jan 08, 2020 7:44 am
I was referring to the flamingo pix. You see similar pix on the way to Lac Cai. But you can also see them way down south and some places way up north. Those look like south now that I look at them again.
That picture was past Red Slave just north of the lighthouse. There were a lot down there. The Saliña by the roundabout north of town also had quite a few this time also.
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