It’s hard to narrow down the best dive sites in Bonaire, a diver’s paradise. Even with the island’s 89 confirmed dive sites, we’ve picked and chosen a few that showcase the variety that Bonaire has to offer.
See the Sights
If you’ve come for the sights, we’ve put together two dives that might interest you. One is more dramatic than the other, but they both include a dive where your main purpose is more the sights than a different kind of experience.
The Margate Bay dive is for cruising between 8 to 20 meters above the coral. You can see colorful parrot fish, some eagle rays, turtles, and surgeonfish mullet. It’s a relaxing dive, best for warming up, cooling off, or a dive break between more intensive dives.
At the Cliff dive site, you can cruise an entire vertical wall covered in coral from 9 to 22 meters deep. It’s safest when the wall is fully lit by the sun, in the afternoon. The covering of whip coral is home to French emperor fish, sponges, and large tarpon from top to bottom.
Bonaire also has attractions for the more experienced diver. Here are some of the popular diving sights that offer additional adventures.
The White Hole
The White Hole is named for the 120 x 74-meter hole in its reef. White sand covers the bottom of the hole, and you can swim among large tarpons who inhabit it. The reef itself houses turtles, moray eels, stingrays, and barracuda. The currents and winds can be rough across the shallow reef, making any kind of dive a challenge.
The Willemstoren Lighthouse is a challenging dive because of the strong current. You will need to start your dive against the current to make sure it’s manageable before you go for a full dive. However, this means it rarely sees divers and sports a healthy coral reef. You will see dolphins and fish in the current, and multiple pieces of wrecks on the ocean floor. Always take a guide or experienced buddy with you.
If you want to see a wide variety of coral and fish from one dive, these sites are for you.
Bari Reef is a shore dive (you enter the dive from the shore, not a boat) with a jetty on the edge and sand on the bottom. You can swim over the coral reefs to see the fish that call it home, cruise over the sand for the sea creatures that hide in it, and check out the jetty to meet the visitors that seek out the shelter.
Like Bari Reef, the platforms near the salt pier are home to multiple kinds of fish seeking shelter. You will also find large schools of barracuda and tarpons. Sponge-covered pillars rise up from the ocean floor, surrounded by parrot fish and snappers. It’s an easy, diverse dive with great possibilities for photography.
Of course there are places for night diving in Bonaire! Here are two of the best.
Night Diving in Something Special is never the same from point to point. It has hard coral and soft coral, overgrown rubble, sandy bottoms, and growth up a wall. You can take your time during night diving and see what is lit up as you cruise along. Watch out for currents and sailing boats!
Ostracod night dive
If your timing is right after a full moon, you can get the chance to experience this rare night dive. For only a few minutes at night, the male Ostracod begins to glow as a way of attracting females. This bioluminescence lights up the water the way stars light up the night. Forty-five minutes after sunset, you will see the small points light up throughout the water.
No full-length dive trip is complete without a wreck dive. Bonaire has only a few, but they are stunning displays of marine life.
A former drug-smuggling ship that settled to the bottom as legal challenges prolonged, the Hilma Hooker is a fully-furnished, really truly shipwreck. The top part is around 10 meters of water, so even beginning divers can visit. You can dive the reefs on either side, take time to photograph and explore, and go back to shore from there.
Underwater since 1972, this 100-foot water barge is completely covered in coral and sponge. Fish and invertebrates swim around the wreck, a colorful home to various sea creatures. While you can’t go into the wreck, it’s a beautiful site for photography because it’s easy to get the whole ship into a single shot.
Dive in Bonaire
When you go diving in Bonaire, you won’t want to do anything or be anywhere else. No matter what your mood is, there will be a dive for you!