The Deep Blue Sea: A Bonaire Diving Itinerary, was developed with the assistance of a tourism student of the University of the West Indies’ St. Augustine campus, as part of the Endless Caribbean internship programme.
It’s one of the top destinations for diving and adventure tourism. Yet, it’s one of the smallest islands in the world. Bonaire is a relaxing and peaceful island that has a long and fulfilling history in water sports adventures and underwater exploration. Bonaire’s origins as a top diving destination can be traced back to 1962 when Captain Don Stewart relocated to the island. His presence on the island was instrumental to the creation of the island’s Marine Park and its commitment to reef preservation.
Bonaire’s recorded history dates back to 1499, when the Spaniards arrived and claimed the island. But then in 1636, the Dutch took ownership and later brought slaves to the island in the late 1600s. The island had its share of excitement between 1799 and 1816 when it was claimed by several European countries. However, in 1816 it was returned to the Dutch and has been a Dutch Caribbean island ever since. No doubt, these experiences have resulted in a diverse culture that is seen in the island’s people, norms, and traditions.
For lovers of the ocean and marine creatures, a five-day Bonaire diving itinerary is a wonderful opportunity. Some of the benefits of diving in Bonaire are that you will see the island’s famed underwater world, dive a sunken vessel and natural reefs, and finally immerse yourself in the beauty of the crystal-clear waters. There are over 90 dive sites around the island, which cater to the needs of beginner, intermediate and expert divers. Dive sites that are within Bonaire’s National Marine Park attract an admission fee.
Day 1: Welcome to the Goood Resort
There are regular flights to Bonaire from cities and countries in Europe, Latin America, North America and the Caribbean. In addition, there are several options to visit the island by boat. Guests who arrive by air, will land at the Bonaire International Airport (also known as the Flamingo International Airport) which is located in the capital city of Kralendijk. The airport is a cool 20-minute drive from the Goood Resort, both of which are on the west coast of Bonaire. The Goood Resort is a beautiful boutique hotel in Bonaire with views of the ocean and Klein Bonaire, a tiny uninhabited island.
For this Bonaire diving itinerary, the recommended accommodation is the standard room. This room features an extra-large King bed, air conditioning and free Wi-Fi. There is also a safe with a keycode, daily room service and a fully equipped bathroom. This is a valuable option for the mid-range traveller, that allows guests to enjoy the priceless features of Bonaire’s beaches, clear waters, and perfect sunny weather.
On arrival at the Goood Resort, you will be checked into your room. If you did not arrange a vehicle rental before your trip, you can do so with the hotel. For the rest of the day you can spend some time relaxing by the swimming pool or soaking in the jacuzzi. Alternatively, you can take a walk around the neighbourhood and enjoy the architecture and tropical gardens in the area. Bonaire is a laid-back island that offers peace of mind and absolute relaxation. On your first night, order a meal from Julian’s Cafe & Restaurant via Dinner in a Box Bonaire or arrange for a chef to prepare a meal.
Day 2: Full Day Snorkel Tour
When you book your stay at Goood Resort, remember to book a full daily breakfast. This ensures that you will have breakfast every day for the duration of your stay. Guests can select what they want to eat, however, this must be arranged by 12:00 p.m. on the previous day. Breakfast comes with unlimited coffee and tea throughout the day and is served from 7:30 a.m. to 9:30 a.m.
After breakfast, prepare yourself for a day on the water with H20 Visions Bonaire. The excursion of choice is the full day (5 hour) guided snorkel tour. This tour is highly recommended because it reveals Bonaire’s best snorkelling locations. Guests will learn about the island from certified marine guides who are certified scuba and snorkel professionals. The tour includes snorkel gear, refreshments and transportation.
For dinner, you can dine in at Julian’s Cafe & Restaurant. It is a quaint waterfront dining spot overlooking the harbour on the main street in Kralendijk. Items on the menu include seafood such as fish and shrimp and favourites like chicken, steak and burgers.
Day 3: Sail and Dive Bonaire Catamaran Sail & Dive
If there is one thing that you must do on your dive trip to Bonaire, it is a sail and dive catamaran excursion. Epic Tours offers a guided tour that takes you to two diving spots. The tour fee includes 2 tanks, lunch and dinner and beverages. All you have to bring with you are a towel, sunscreen, diving gear and a diving computer. If you don’t have gear of your own, you can rent a full dive gear set. The meeting spot for this tour is 24 Kaya J.N.E. Craane, which is approximately 11 minutes’ drive from the hotel.
The vessel used for this tour is the Lagoon 440 Fly Away catamaran, which was built in 2008 and measures 44.8 feet long. There are outside seating areas and large nets for sunbathing. The tour visits the top diving spots in Bonaire, which are found just off Klein Bonaire and/ or along Bonaire’s north-west coasts. Dives are approximately 60-70 minutes long and are designed for certified divers. For more information on this requirement, contact the Epic Adventures team. However, if you’re just interested in snorkelling, swimming or stand-up paddle boarding, these activities can be incorporated into the itinerary.
In the evening you take a taxi or drive downtown and enjoy a delicious dinner at Umbrellas Restaurant, which is located next to the Bonaire Cruise Port. On the menu, there are appetizers, burgers, pastas, main courses, desserts, cocktails, and special treats for children.
Day 4: Explore Bonaire By Day and Take a Dive at Night
Spend your last full day sightseeing in Bonaire during the day and diving the ocean at night. You can choose to book an island tour with a reputable company or create your own tour. If you choose to explore the island on your own, there are a few attractions that you should consider. Considerations include history and culture sites and nature and conservation sites.
For history and culture, suggestions include a self-guided tour of Kralendijk, which is Bonaire’s capital city; a visit to the Rincon Exhibition to learn about the oldest settlement on the island; or a visit to the Heritage Park; or the Terramar Museum. For nature and conservation interests, visit the Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire, Echo’s Conservation Centre or Pekelemeer Flamingo Sanctuary.
To end this Bonaire diving itinerary on a high, take a night dive with Dive Friends Bonaire. Night dives are guided shore dives which take place at either non-house or on house reefs. On these dives, the underwater world transforms into a colourful display and guests can see interesting marine life that is not visible during the day. And, if you choose a guided night dive with UV lights, there are special surprises in store.
Day 5: Is it Time to Leave Already?
Check-out at the Goood Resort is an early 10.00 am, so you have just enough time to have breakfast and do some last-minute packing. On your ride to the airport, it’s only fair that you start planning your trip back to Bonaire.
Image Credit: Tourism Corporation Bonaire