From Panama Jack — June 8, 2016 at 11:00 am

Beautiful Bonaire: A Diver’s Paradise

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©istockphoto/FrankvandenBergh

©istockphoto/FrankvandenBergh

The serenity, isolation, and peace-of-quiet blue waters of Bonaire attract adventure seekers worldwide, with scuba diving here one of the most popular water-based recreational activities in the Caribbean. While many recreational divers are content to dive shallow waters exploring intriguing surface reefs and local marine life, other dive enthusiasts seek to dive deeper, discovering the liquid landscape of uncharted waters.

Location And Amenities
Bonaire is an island municipality of the Netherlands located in the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea; together with Aruba and Curacao they form a group known as the ABC Islands. Located approximately 50 miles north of the coast of western Venezuela, the ABC Islands lie outside the hurricane belt, offering a reliable warm and sunny weather with an average annual temperature of 81.5 degrees Fahrenheit.

The northern end of Bonaire is mountainous, the southern end populated by an extensive mangrove forest, flat, and barely above sea level. A huge portion of the southern end of the island lies covered with shallow salt water in the process of evaporation for salt production, which aside from tourism stands as Bonaire’s major industry.

Visitors to the Caribbean Dutch islands of Bonaire, St. Eustatius, and Saba discover abundant aquatic life, flourishing coral formations, warm seas, and exceptional visibility. Bonaire, the most visited of the Netherlands islands, is a diver’s paradise consistently ranked as one of the best shore diving destinations in the world. The beautiful island of Bonaire boasts more than 100 dive sites to challenge divers with varying levels of experience and expertise.

Bonaire Marine Life
Bonaire’s underwater world teems with marine life. Blue- and rainbow-colored Parrot Fish, Angel Fish, Butterfly Fish, Grunts, Gobies, Groupers, Blue Tangs, Frog Fish, and Jacks are ever present. Lucky divers may encounter Sea Turtles, Sea Cucumbers, Sea Horses, Eagle Rays, Manta Rays, Whale Sharks, and Dolphin Pods.

©istockphoto/Cornelis Opstal

©istockphoto/Cornelis Opstal

Reef Formations
Bonaire is protected by a narrow, fringing double reef, starting at the shoreline and extending to a maximum depth of 200 feet. The waters surrounding Bonaire remain protected as part of the Bonaire National Marine Park.

Colorful Corals
More than 55 species of coral thrive in the waters of Bonaire, including black coral. Sponge species are varied, appearing in different areas and at different depths. Divers in the shallow waters of the reef delight in discovering Elkhorn, Boulder Star, Staghorn, and Gorgonian coral formations. Beyond the reef drop-off Boulder Star and Lettuce Corals are prominent. At greater depths, the dominant coral species include plate-forming corals such as Blushing Star and Great Star growths.

Earn International Certification
Bonaire’s certified dive masters are amongst the most qualified instructors in the world. Multi-lingual instruction from snorkeling, one-day familiarization courses, and advanced open water instruction are available with a broad assortment of international certifying agencies located island-wide.

Experienced divers can expand their certifications with advanced level specialty scuba courses including wreck navigation, Nitrox, or night diving. Additional courses include dive leader training classes to earn certification as an assistant instructor, full instructor, dive master, or dive control leader. For divers with extensive experience, an adventurous spirit and the required prior certifications, advanced technical diving classes such decompression procedures, extended range, and tri-mix are available.

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