Bonaire Travel: A Scuba Diver's Paradise
Visiting Bonaire requires much of the same planning as visiting any other country to go diving. Here’s a check list to get you started:
General Travel Tips
- Check for immigration/visa requirements specific to your nationality. Canadians and Americans can travel to Bonaire without a visa.
- Bonaire recently converted to US currency.
- If your home country is just coming out of winter, you’re probably in danger of sunburn in a place like Bonaire. Bring sunscreen, a hat, and long sleeved shirt!
- It is safe to drink the water in Bonaire.
- You’re not going to need a lot of clothes for a week of diving in Bonaire. Quick-drying clothes will serve you well.
- Pack masks, snorkels, and flashlights in a hard luggage so they’re protected.
- Softer items (i.e. scuba suit, fins, boots, spare parts), can be packed in something as simple as a backpack with an internal frame. The internal frame will provide some protection.
- Don’t forget to pack items specific to activities you’ve got planned e.g. water shoes for kayaking.
- Pack snacks for the flight and the dives just in case you can’t find what you like e.g. granola bars, fruit, water bottles
- There are dive shops on Bonaire, but with everything needing to be shipped across water, you’re likely to pay more than what you’d pay where you live.
- I’d recommend owning a dive suit, mask, boots, fins, and dive computer. The rest you can rent on Bonaire.
- Bring a dive light. It’s great to use to look into the coral nooks and crannies. You’ll more easily spot eel, shrimp, crab, and starfish.
- Consider buying a fish identification card so you know what to look for.
- Read ahead about the various dive sites, so you can pick ones suitable for your level of experience.
- For dives that you find of interest, double-check that you do not require a guide or special permission you need to solicit in advance to dive them (e.g. piers, wrecks)
- Bonaire’s topography provides great diving on the west coast. The east coast has high surf and will require more care — not recommended unless you’re an experienced diver.
- While diving on Bonaire, there can be theft from the vehicle. Local guidance is to keep the windows open in the vehicle and not leave any valuables (i.e. gear, expensive sunglasses). Air tanks, shirt/cover-up, water tend to be safe in the vehicle.
- Gloves are not allowed in Bonaire so you might as well leave them at home.
- Review hand signals with your buddy.
- Confirm that your DAN membership is up to date or that your health insurance covers diving.
- Plan for your last non-dive day, when you need to go 24 hours without diving before boarding your return flight. In Bonaire, you can explore caves, kayak in the mangroves, kite surf, snorkel, visit a pioneer village, ride horses, visit the flamingo sanctuary, and go to the butterfly farm.