Bonaire is considered to be one of the best diving locations in the Caribbean. All the waters around the island are designated as a marine park, and with little rainfall and run-off from the island, the water is amazingly clear and even more importantly, warm! It’s also incredibly easy to dive here because the reef is so close to shore – you can walk in from the shore or jump off the back of the boat and there’s the reef wall right underneath you. So it’s no wonder that we were a tad frustrated not to have our dive compressor working!
But that wasn’t going to stop us – having the use of Al’s pick-up truck was great, as we could hire tanks and equipment from the local dive shop, although with only two seats in the cab it meant some of the crew had to ride in the back island-style!
There’s plenty of choice for dive sites, with 63 of them all along the west coast, marked on the road with yellow stones, or by yellow buoys in the water that small boats or dinghies can tie up to.
During our time in Bonaire, Rob completed his open water diving certificate with Bruce, and Geoff also got back under the water after a break of many years.
The underwater scenery isn’t as spectacular as other parts of the world, but for ease of access and variety of fish life it’s unbeatable. Here are some pictures:
The revolving door on Toucan was working hard while we were in Bonaire – we said farewell to Mia, but welcomed back Penny from her side trip to the UK, and then a little later said goodbye to Jackie who was off on further adventures in the Galapagos and South America! We were able to celebrate Jackie’s birthday before she left, and had a great day exploring the mangroves by kayak.
The day was topped off by dinner at It Rains Fishes restaurant, followed by birthday cake back on the boat.
We also had a chance to tour the southern part of the island, which is the kite-boarders and wind-surfers heaven, and enjoyed a pleasant hour or two hanging out at the quirky bar in Lac Bay.
On the way we got up closer to the salt mining operations. That’s a lot of salt shakers in them thar hills!
And then we stopped to explore the original slave huts, which believe it or not slept 5 adult men.
The slaves would walk 37km from the north end of the island to work at the salt mines during the week, and then walk back home again at the end of the week. What a harsh, miserable, existence it must have been with no amenities, not even headroom to stand up in the huts. It’s the dark side of Caribbean history, and evident everywhere we’ve been.
Finally, at the beginning of our third week, our compressor piston arrived by Fedex from Miami and Ronald was able to fit it within the day. Hurray! Finally, a working dive compressor. Just to celebrate we had a couple of dives each off the back of the boat, including a night dive which was pretty fun.
Sadly we weren’t so lucky with finding someone to repair our portable generator which gave up the ghost during our stay in Bonaire, or a refrigeration technician. Both those jobs will have to wait until we get to Curacao or Aruba.
We’d stayed long enough in Bonaire, the feet were itching, the eardrums were suffering, and the boat was covered in a film of Bonaire dust blowing off the land. Time to move on! We had one last ice cream at Gio’s (the BEST ice cream ever), completed our clearance with Customs and Immigration and the next morning headed 35NM to the big smoke of Curacao, where our new rudder bearings were waiting for us at Curacao Marine.