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Travel and diving in Bonaire the Netherlands Antilles

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Travel Story, scuba diving in Bonaire the Netherlands Antilles in the Carabbean Sea

Proceed immediately to the pictures of the scuba diving on Bonaire in the Caribbean

photos diving bonaire

Also see the scuba diving presentations on Bonaire in the Carabbean Sea (movie slide show).

Dive Travel Report scuba diving on Bonaire The Netherlands Antilles

Saturday 31 October 2009

After a few hours of delay at Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam, we landed after a flight of 11 hours and 40 minutes on the small airport of Bonaire. As soon as you get off the plane, the heat burns on your shoulders. At the same time, a few drops of rain fell from the sky. November clearly means rainy season in Bonaire! It takes a while before we get through border control because the local population takes their southern pace very seriously. A bit strange is that all information signs are in Dutch; this is one of the official languages on the island. So far away from home and yet so familiar! We immediately get picked up by 2 vans (without air conditioning) of the Buddy Dive Center. After a short drive, we arrive at our hotel. A few members of our group had booked an apartment; others an ordinary hotel room. The apartments were all right, but the hotel rooms were very small. They hardly had any air conditioning or a proper bathroom and were clearly ready for a renovation. We therefore didn't waste any time and negotiated at the reception to move to the new apartments that were located at the small pebble beach. Luckily it wasn't high season and they had several apartments available. It was the charge of 200US$ more than worth it!

Buddy Dive Hotel isn't a 4 star-hotel, but it certainly offers quality. The breakfast consisted of a sufficient variation and you could even fry your own eggs and pancakes. On certain days, they also served dinner in the open-air bar (usually a fixed menu) for a very reasonable price. The food was even yummy too! The other nights, we usually went to The Lion's Den, that was located right next to our hotel.

Bonaire is known as a dive island; in other words, there is very little to do for non-divers. Beautiful sandy beaches aren't available and the flora and fauna is rather limited: the country is littered with all kinds of cacti, between which a lot of lizards and other reptiles.

Our divers go scuba diving in Bonaire

divers in Bonaire

Marc, Eddy, Patsy, Godelieve, sandra, Rudi, Hilde, Jean Paul, Monika,
Dirk, Swa

Where is Bonaire, one of the islands in the Netherlands Antilles?

folder bonaire

Scuba diving in Bonaire.

Scuba diving in Bonaire means side diving in the Carabbean Sea (except for 7 other dive sites). The advantage of Bonaire is that all the dive sites can be reached easily by car. The dive sites are very well marked with a yellow stone, on which the dive site's name is mentioned. You can literally park at the Carabbean Sea to go scuba diving. Tricky distances in a heat of 30°C are therefore out of the question. After you get dressed, you can jump into the Carabbean Sea and immediately start diving. How good would it be if we had places like this in Belgium and The Netherlands? Be careful because the sun is very strong. The first day we didn't even get out the shade and still got a little burned.

Driving in Bonaire is very simple. There's actually only one road that goes around the whole island. Only in the north you suddenly get to a one-way road. Here you'll have to make a little detour, while enjoying the cacti, iguanas and other reptile-like creatures. Sometimes you come across goats, raptors, flamingos and donkeys. With donkeys, we obviously mean the real donkeys of animal nature. Fortunately, we didn't encounter the other species.

In terms of the car we'd recommend a pick-up truck. You literally throw all dive tanks, dive equipment and other stuff in the back. They're great to very quickly and easily load in and out and all of this without making much effort. In the loading area of the pick-up truck there are a plastic container and a few beams attached. This so you don't need to secure anything and don't need to be careful with your wet stuff after diving.

Since there's hardly ever a strong current on the west side of the island (except for the extreme north and south), you can dive when you want. There are 63 dive sites on Bonaire and 23 dive sites on the nearby island called Klein Bonaire (which means small Bonaire). You can catch a boat to Klein Bonaire, but it isn't recommended in terms of diving locations. You may as well save the cost for the boat for other things or next dive trip. Furthermore, Klein Bonaire offers no real added value to your diving holiday. On the contrary, the dive sites on Bonaire are significantly better than those of Klein Bonaire. Don't let yourself be seduced by the boat dealers who ask a way to high price for their boat dives.

folder dive sites bonaire

We dived with Nitrox 29 to 33 in aluminum 12-liter dive tanks. Each bottle must be measured with an oxygen analyzer (which are available on location), registered in the nitrox dive register and the bottle itself must be well marked with the names, %O2 and MOD (Maximum Operation Depth). Preferably a nitrox dive bottle that is cold so that the filling pressure at the same time can be reviewed. All dives were estimated at 1 hour or 50 bar and dive outs on 5 meters depth, at the same place as where you come back to the surface. In this case, you'll be able to use a 200-bar stocked dive bottle; especially if you want to go to 30 to 36 meters depth (restriction nitrox depending the measured %O2). Don't forget to set your dive computer correctly, on the right oxygen percentage of your nitrox mixture!

Each day we made 3 to 4 dives with nitrox and this for 6 days. Our last day was a rest day on Bonaire. This as our return flight was the day after in the late afternoon. I firmly discourage you to dive over 4 dives a day (especially for air divers). Even though Bonaire offers an unlimited amount of dive sites, it's necessary to be aware and occasionally enjoy the other things that the island offers. Allow enough time between the diving. It's a question of your own safety and that of your buddies. An accident blights not only your leave, but also those of all other fellow divers and fellow travellers!

There is a decompression chamber on Bonaire, which has about 35 customers per year! The new decompression chamber built in 2009 is housed in a building next to the Centro Medico central-clinic by doctor Dick van der Vaart and is less than 100 meters from the first aid of the hospital. Although they aren't officially merged, they have a strong cooperation. In the event of a decompression accident on Bonaire can you reach doctor van der Vaart during office hours on the following telephone number 717-7140, at night this number will be put through to the hospital. Don't forget to dial the country code, if you call with a mobile phone and be aware that the island doesn't have service everywhere. Of course, you can always call the general emergency number 911. These addresses and phone numbers are a must when you go diving.

The water in the western centre of Bonaire is 29°C and in the extreme south 28°C. A 3mm neoprene wetsuit is more than sufficient to go diving. The visibility was usually about 40 meters, but on the wreck Hilma Hooker we only saw as far as 25 to 30 meters. When you get to this wreck to see the sandy soil and slope structure, the sight still is pretty good.

Most of the dive sites on Bonaire are suitable for both beginners and more experienced divers. You can always go to a depth of 30 meters and usually even to 40 to 45 meters deep. At Karpata, a magnificent drop off, you can certainly go down to 60 meters. Bear your saturation in mind, %o2 with MOD if you dive with Nitrox mixture and mix consumption. Equally, you can dive everywhere on a depth of 10 to 20 meters. At the wreck Hilma Hooker a depth of 27 meters is recommended. The wreck lies on its side with the spacious side towards the depth. At the bottom, you'll find some big fish and other life. This is a little deeper than some dive websites indicate. However, I recommend to never dive to the maximum, certainly not on multiple saturation dives!

After the necessary research and opinion of divers who had been before, we decided to dive at the following dive sites:

Photos scuba diving in Bonaire The Netherlands Antilles:

photos diving bonaire

pictures diving;pictures diving;

1-11-2009 Bonaire diving Buddy's reef and Andrea I
2-11-2009 Bonaire diving Toris reef and Pink beach and Aquarius
3-11-2009 Bonaire diving Hilma Hooker Wreck and La Machaca and Karpata and Buddy's reef
4-11-2009 Bonaire diving Red slave and Andrea II and Webers joy and Buddy's reef
5-11-2009 Bonaire diving Salt city and Buddy's reef
6-11-2009 Bonaire diving Ol'blue and Buddy's reef
Divers on the surface
Divers under water
Bonaire hotel Buddy Dive
Bonaire Landscape
Also see the presentations diving in Bonaire (movie slide show).

Description of our diving locations and scuba diving:

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General Information:

We dived a lot in buddy's reef. It was from our hotel, only a jump away to the water. Next to this, it was an unbelievable reef. The dive sites 1000 Steps and Oil Slick leap were also on my to-do list. These are not currently accessible due to the Hurricane at the beginning of 2009. They are very badly damaged at the entrance as well as where you'd go under water. As inquisitive Belgians, we were sure to have a look, but weren't able to see anything.

Read our other dive travel stories and see our many pictures - photos about scuba diving and of the landscape from ADC Scuba diving Antwerp - Deurne

For more information on learning to scuba dive, visit ADC learn Scuba Diving Antwerp - Deurne.

Any questions about learning to scuba dive? You can always contact ADC Scuba Diving Antwerpen - Deurne for advice.

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