My wife and I will be taking a dive trip to Bonaire in January. We havenít done any shore diving before so we are looking forward to giving it a shot. Does anyone have any shore diving tips or recommended dive sites in Bonaire?
1. Bonaire Shore Diving Made Easy Susan Porter. Available online and just about every dive shop in Bonaire. It describe the entrances for most dive sites.
2. It is a iron shore. That means coral rubble instead of sand. Take booties with good soles.
3. Walk the entrance to the water without your gear before going in. Surprises are easier to handle without a tank.
4. Have Fun!
Lonely Planet also has a good scuba diving guide to Bonaire. Carl has it right. The beaches are composed of crushed coral and slimy rocks. Entries and exits can be challenging. I know that shore diving is one of the big attractions of Bonaire, but after getting smacked around a lot I did all of my shore diving at sites that had relatively easy entries and exits. There are a bunch of sites where there are ladders or docks. The house reefs at Buddy Dive, Captain Don's, the Sand Dollar and others are very easy to get in to and out of.
Also, petty theft from vehicles is a problem in Bonaire. Don't leave anything in your vehicle you are too fond of.
Personally, the shore diving was interesting to me at first and I did quite a few, but the schlep and sand everywhere and heat and falling down on entry eventually took the fun out of it for me. I mostly boat dive now except shore dives from the resort, or the occasional Salt Pier shore dive.
A trick I learned on Bonaire (after flubbing around on severtal shore entries). Watch the waves and count. Usually there will be a pattern of increasing wave height with several much smaller waves following the largest. Once you figure out the pattern you wait for the largest and then enter as it's receeding. Quickly go out far enough to float (chest high) and put your fins on.
Yellow Submarine (Dive Friends downtown location) is an easy entry/exit and a dive worth doing. Tori's Reef has an easy entry via a sand channel that used to be used to draw salt water for the ponds. Angel City isn't a bad entry and has a great double reef.
A few suggestions, I have been to Bonaire three times.
1.) Bring along a gallon jug of ice water, you might want to pack one in your luggage, you can tip the bartender a dollar for a bucket of ice, you can use this to drink and rinse off your face and hair a bit.
2.) Take nothing of value in your car, no wallets, expensive sun glasses, credit cards, cash, cameras, jewelry as Bonaire sometimes has a petty theft problem
3.) Leave the car unlocked so the thieves do not break your windows.
4.) Make sure you check all your tanks before you depart for the dive sites to make sure you have a full tank.
5.) Save a dive kit - at least O-Ring, Mask & Fin Strap
6.) Do not shore dive by yourself at night at a remote spot, as the lights on the shore when you are at the surface can be very deceiving depending on the light and cloud cover. Its easy to get disoriented at night.
Overall shore diving is very safe and easy on Bonaire. swim out to the blue water, submerge and look for current (Most likely there is not one) swim against the current, you can sometimes see the seafans and soft corals bending a little, submerge 50 - 70ft. for half a tank and follow the coral and watch your time, then reverse direction at 30 - 40ft. for the same time, surface, and swim back to shore, remember your safety stop at 15 ft. and slow ascent. So you start the deepest part of your dive first where you will use most of your air then reverse direction at a shallower debth the same amount of time underwater.
Thank you all for your advice. I can't wait to actually get there.
Not sure where you are staying but most resorts have stairs at the dock for easy exit. For an easy shore dive go to Windsock, just South of the airport. It has a real sand beach and the entry is gently sloped.
I took a collapsible water container (5 gal) and a collabsible wash basin (found at any camping store). I used these to rinse camera and gear between dives. They weigh nothing, collapse to very small dimensions and enabled us to do a bunch of remote dives and keep our gear rinsed.
Can't agree more with the good footware suggestion.
"The sea, once it casts its spell, holds one in its net of wonder forever."
- Jacques Yves Cousteau
I love shore diving but I really only venture off the beaten track rarely. I prefer to dive the same house reef many times and avoid all those gear schlepping, shore entry issues.