Scuba diving in Bonaire should be on every diver’s bucket list. It’s especially known for its shore diving and many consider this little island one of the best shore diving locations in the world.
I have a love-hate relationship with scuba diving. While I love being down at the bottom of the ocean I hate all of the stuff you have to do to get there (including getting on an off of a dive boat). That’s one of the reasons I was so excited to try shore diving. You can just put on your gear and walk into the water from the beach.
Here’s the scoop about shore diving in Bonaire. I’ll show you what you need to know about Bonaire and will take you through some of my favorite dive sites.
If you are looking for some other activities to round out your trip check out my recommended things to do in Bonaire.
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Bonaire Quick Facts
Size: 110 square miles
Language: Dutch and Papiamentu are the official languages, however, English and Spanish are widely spoken.
Currency: U.S. Dollar
Climate: Temperatures average about 82 degrees. September and October are the hottest, least windy months.
Average Water Temperature: Water temperature in Bonaire varies from about 77°F to 84°F
Airport: Bonaire International Airport, also called Flamingo International Airport (BON)
Tips For Scuba Diving In Bonaire
The first thing you should know is that the island really caters to scuba divers which makes the whole process much easier.
You’ll need to rent a truck and rent equipment if you don’t have your own. Then you can dive where ever and whenever you want.
There are over 80 marked dive sites on Bonaire. You will see a yellow rock on the side of the road with a dive site name that coordinates with the dive site map (we got this map from our hotel).
We got our gear and car from AB Dive through our hotel. I was really happy with them and would dive with them again. The gear was in very good condition and the prices were reasonable. Our tanks were delivered to our hotel each morning so all we had to do was load up our gear and go each day.
STINAPA Marine Park Tag
STINAPA is a non-profit that manages the Bonaire National Marine Park and Washington Slagbaai National Park on behalf of the government. In order to dive, snorkel, or participate in other water sports, you need to purchase a Nature Tag.
STINAPA Diver Tags are $45 USD. Includes free admission to Washington Slagbaai National Park.
STINAPA Nature Tags (for snorkeling and other water sports) are $25.
Bonaire Dive Sites
There are over 80 dive sites around Bonaire, so I only scratched the surface. We talked to the manager at our hotel and asked for recommendations for dives with parking nearby and relatively easy entries.
Here’s a rundown of the Bonaire dive sites we tried.
Bonaire Dive Site #33: Chachacha Beach – Town Pier
This was our first Bonaire dive and the location that AB dive took us to do a quick buoyancy test. It’s close to town with plenty of parking and easy entry.
Underwater Highlights: Large sea urchins, eel, porcupine fish, stoplight parrotfish (male), a bunch of huge 3 ft barracuda (from a distance I thought they were sharks at first)!!
Unmarked Bonaire Dive Site: The Rock
This is an unmarked site between Invisibles #51 and Tori’s Reef #52. It’s marked with a small rectangle shaped rock by the side of the road. I loved the easy, beach entry on this one.
Underwater Highlights: Lots of soft corals, stoplight parrotfish (male)
Bonaire Dive Site #56: Red Beryl
This is another easy entry on the south side of the island. It was one of my favorite’s for the trip.
Underwater Highlights: Sea turtles, huge corals, smooth trunkfish, four-eyed butterflyfish
Bonaire Dive Site #17: Weber’s Joy (Witch’s Hut)
The entry was easy but not quite as easy as The Rock and Red Beryl as there are some steps to navigate. The reef drops down more sharply than the southern dive sites to form a wall.
Underwater Highlights: French Angelfish, corals that looked like mushrooms
Bonaire Dive Site #36: Windsock
This site is near the airport and offers a small beach with a nice, easy entry.
Underwater Highlights: Watersnake, eel, huge schools of fish, smooth trunkfish
Bonaire Dive Site #22: Andrea 2
This easy-entry site also had 2 small huts with some shade on the beach. There is a good bit of shallow reef so this is a great one for snorkelers. I got to swim with a baby turtle on this dive.
Underwater Highlights: Barracuda, stoplight parrotfish (male), sea turtle
Bonaire Dive Site #5: Wayaka
This site is located within Washington Slagbaai National Park and is located on the northwest side of the island. There are some steep stairs to get down to this site. There is a railing but it’s still a tad tricky to navigate. This site had some more current than the others did — mostly in the very shallow water. This was my least favorite dive of the trip but we saw a huge lobster (a total monster) on this dive, so it was still pretty cool.
Underwater Highlights: Sea turtle, huge Caribbean spiny lobster!! (the body on this thing was 2ft long with antennae that reached out another 2ft!)
Bonaire Shore Diving Essentials
Since you won’t be diving from a boat, you need to think about getting to the dive site and into the water — and this can be rocky and rough at times. Even if you are doing a nice, easy dive from a beach, the beaches tend to be rocky.
Some Bonaire dive sites require you to park up on a road and climb down a set of stairs or a pathway to get to the site. Hard soled booties are a must!
Pro Tip: Bonaire has recently voted to ban certain harmful sunscreens, so don’t forget a good reef-safe sunscreen!
We did our dives with 3mm shorty wetsuits and I wish I had a full wetsuit. The water temperature in January was 77 degrees and these dives tend to be long (most of ours were close to an hour) so it’s easy to get a bit chilly. If you have an option, go for the full suit.
Water temperatures range from about 77°F to 84°F so you can probably get away with a shorty wetsuit during the warmer months.
Bonaire Dive Resorts
Choosing the right hotel in Bonaire can make the difference between an okay trip and a fantastic one! Many hotels and resorts on the island cater to shore divers and will help arrange everything from scuba gear rental to a rental truck.
Try one of these dive resorts the next time you’re diving in Bonaire:
- Coral Paradise Resort (read my full review about this resort here)
- Buddy Dive Resort
- Courtyard by Marriott Bonaire Dive Resort
- Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino
- Captain Don’s Habitat
Bonaire Scuba Diving FAQs
Q: How many dive sites are in Bonaire?
A: There are over 80 marked dive sites in Bonaire and Klein Bonaire (“little” Bonaire, located an easy water taxi ride away)
Q: What is shore diving?
A: Shore diving is simply scuba diving from the shore instead of from a boat. When you do a shore dive, you’ll walk into the water from the beach.
Q: How do you fly to Bonaire?
A: The following airlines fly to Bonaire: American Airlines, Aruba Airlines, Delta Airlines, Divi Divi Air, Insel Air, KLM, Tui, United.
Q: Is snorkeling good in Bonaire?
A: Yes, if you’re not a certified scuba diver you can still enjoy Bonaire’s amazing reef system and underwater world through snorkeling. Many dive sites including Andrea 2 and Wayaka offer great snorkeling close to shore.
Q: What is STINAPA?
A: STINAPA is a non-profit that manages the Bonaire National Marine Park and Washington Slagbaai National Park on behalf of the government. In order to scuba dive or snorkel in Bonaire, you’ll need to purchase a dive tag, which is currently $45 USD. This also gives you free admission to Slagbaai National Park.
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