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1st Trip to Bonaire in July!

Discussion in 'Bonaire' started by Daebado, Feb 3, 2020.

  1. Daebado

    Daebado Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Kansas
    Hi all,
    After much consternation, planning and research to pull together a trip to Florida to see the Goliath Grouper aggregation, hit the Blue Heron Bridge and then down to Key Largo for a few days of diving, my wife and I are taking our first trip to Bonaire the week of July 25th. Can hardly wait! :yeahbaby:

    It was going to be a great trip to FL, but we've always wanted to go to Bonaire and when our LDS put this trip up on their website, we ran the numbers and it was like $300 more than we were paying to go to Florida! Well, we've been to Florida many times so it was a pretty easy decision to switch.

    Since we're going with the dive club out of our LDS, the dates and lodging are already decided and fixed.
    We're staying at the Sand Dollar, which I understand has a pretty good dive site (Bari Reef) right out front (sounds like a great place for night dives!) and we are booked for 3 days of 2-tank morning dives with Dive Friends.

    My questions to the community are:
    1.) If you only had one week, what are the "Don't miss this dive" sites we should try to make sure we hit (besides Salt Pier - it's already on the list based on some limited research)?

    2.) 3 days for boat dives seems like a lot for Bonaire given that from everything I've read, Bonaire isn't where one goes to do boat dives (although I hear there are some pretty good sites accessible only by boat).
    Would I be better off skipping one of those days to hit more shore sites?

    What are your thoughts?

  2. Daebado

    Daebado Barracuda

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Kansas
    Oh, and while I'm at it, is anyone else planning to be there in this time frame? It would be really cool to meet and dive with some of the folks here on SB!
  3. Raphus

    Raphus DIR Practitioner

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: Germany
    I would not go out with a boat. You can access all Divesites from the shore(except Klein Bonaire).

    1000 steps is very beautiful, but the (only 74) steps are not easy in the heat in July..

    Salt pier is a must do!
    There are turtles(saw like 20+ on 1 dive) in the shallow(2-3m) and a good reef at the pier(15-20m).
    But also consider the reef before and after salt pier.
    It's a double reef with sand between. Reef is around 15m dropping to 30m(sand).
    North i
    Of salt pier is:
    Alice in wonderland, angel city, which are both beautiful and can be done in 1 dive. There is a good chance to see eagle rays.

    South of the pier is invisible, which has a huge sand area and a more shallower double reef. If you go south from invisible the reef is more healthy, but the currents and waves might be stronger.

    Don't forget the hilma hooker: North of Alice in wonderland. A beautiful wreck at 20 m with sand bottom at 30m. Tarpon and baracudas are hanging out here.

    The best night diving is at buddy dive/cpt Don's. A lot of big tarpon there, which follow you during the dive. (unnatural, but it's still a nice experience.. Just don't abuse it).

    If you got more questions, I am happy to give you more Infos :)
  4. Dizzi Lizzi

    Dizzi Lizzi ScubaBoard Supporter ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 100 - 199
    Location: California
    We had a great time with the Scubaboard Surge in 2018, there are alot of videos that @ROXANNE , @Moonie and @cardzard posted for various dive sites in the area. We did boat dives during the day and shore dives from the house reef. ScubaBoard SURGE Central 2018 Bonaire
    We dove Salt pier 2 or 3 times... 1000 steps was just one giant stride for me :wink:
    Daebado, Dish and ROXANNE like this.
  5. tursiops

    tursiops Marine Scientist and Master Instructor ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 2,500 - 4,999
    Location: U.S. East Coast
    Not true.
  6. rmorgan

    rmorgan ScubaBoard Sponsor ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Ohio, USA
    The north boat-dive-only sites (bloodlet, rappel, country garden) are lush and lively, and Klein has some worthwhile dives, especially, I think, the ones close to the point — maybe hands off, Sharon’s, that area—most of the Klein diving is on the northerly side because of proximity and conditions. But, really, it’s all good.
  7. Trailboss123

    Trailboss123 Divemaster ScubaBoard Sponsor

    # of Dives: 1,000 - 2,499
    Location: Pacific Northwest, USA
    If you are already paying for the boat dives, you should do them. You will get to dive sites that you most likely cannot get to from shore.
    Although, I have been on boats where the diver's request to dive a site like Karpata, which is a very accessible shore dive. I put my foot down on such occasions and let everyone know that I am not paying extra to dive a site that can be accessed from shore and that I have dived a dozen times.

    As for boat dive locations to suggest or request on Bonaire itself, I would recommend Country Garden, Rappel, Bloodlet and La Dania's Leap. All northern dive sites. La Dania's can be done from shore as a drift dive north and getting out at Karpata, but you wouldn't be doing that on your first trip to Bonaire. Also, if doing La Dania's as a boat dive, you will likely be diving it to the south, which is something you would not do from shore. It is a gorgeous dive site. Small Wall is another dive you cannot do from shore, unless you are staying at the Black Durgon Inn.

    As for Klein Bonaire-- it is only accessible via boat diving. I have only dived there a handful of times, but I can recommend all of the dives I have done on the south end of the island: Hands Off, Monty's Divi and Rock Pile.

    As for "can't miss" shore dives on Bonaire, everyone is going to have their favorites. Salt Pier is definitely a signature dive and I am sure you will do it with your group. The Hilma Hooker wreck dive seems to be a favorite and signature dive for many, but does absolutely nothing for me.
    Since you are staying at Sand Dollar, you already have great shore access to one of the best dive sites on the island- Bari Reef (night and day)- so, take advantage.

    As for me, some of my favorites are dive sites that most people don't frequent a lot for various reasons. I like Nukove, I like Candyland (not on the map and unmarked, but easily found if you want to find it), I like Red Slave and Willemstoren Lighthouse, but they are very fickle dive sites that are weather and current dependent. I like the East Coast diving, but again, I doubt you would do that on your first trip to Bonaire with your LDS.

    For easily accessible and great southern dive sites, I am partial to Vista Blue, Red Beryl, Pink Beach, Invisibles and The Lake. I also really like Bachelor Beach, which is closer to town and just south of the airport. It is not for everyone, but it is for me. I have a way of diving it that is probably different than how others dive it and it just works for me. By the way-- huge Bait Ball has been residing there last week.

    For easily accessible and great northern dive sites, I am partial to basically all of them, but in terms of "can't miss" - I would say 1,000 Steps and Karpata for sure. I also like Weber's Joy (also known as Witches Hut). Tolo (also known as Ol' Blue) seems to be a huge favorite of many. I have dived it plenty and always enjoy it also.

    You are going to have a great time and my guess is that you will leave there and be flying home and thinking about how and when you will be going back to experience it again and you will also have an idea of which dive sites you want to "for sure" dive again and which ones you missed out on and hope to do in the future. It is a special and unique place.
    woodcarver, aviator8 and drrich2 like this.
  8. Dish

    Dish Are you for Scuba? ScubaBoard Supporter

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: High Plains of Colorado
    I agree with @Trailboss123 , Salt Pier is a “must do” shore dive. Hilma Hooker is interesting if you’re not an avid wreck diver. Lots of great dive spots, both shore and boat. You really can’t go wrong. Enjoy your trip @Daebado!
    Trailboss123 likes this.
  9. tkaelin

    tkaelin Solo Diver

    # of Dives: 500 - 999
    Location: CT
    Boat, shore all good. Have a 10 boat dive package for our trip in June and looking forward to it. Lots of ways to dive bon, not just one. Enjoy!
    Trailboss123 likes this.
  10. darook

    darook Manta Ray

    # of Dives: 200 - 499
    Location: Northwestern Wisconsin
    Echoing @Trailboss123 , if you have included boat dives, take them. If you have a truck that too. In July, it will be hot, likely crazy hot, so you will want to dive as much as possible. Bari reef right where you are staying is a GREAT site, particularly towards the ugly portion where the reef ends. Saw a frog fish there a couple of days ago and apparently there are more along with some sea horses. I haven't seen those yet but plan to look tomorrow.

    For night dives you are good at Bari but could pop over to Something Special, my wife's favorite, for lots of critters. Those sites are really only a quarter mile apart. Winds should be moderating in July so you can dive the southern sites all they way to Red Slave. Lots of coolness down there. Don't plan on seeing everything in a week, it is way too big for that despite that it is a small island. It will just whet your appetite hopefully for a return. I've only returned 11 times and while I am still on island, trying to figure out when I can again.

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