Select Page
Written by Scuba Instructors ~ DIVE.in's Complete Guide to:

The Best Diving in Bonaire

Weather in Bonaire

AVERAGE TEMP. — 29°C / 84°F RAINFALL DAYS — 112mm / 4.4 inches

Water in Bonaire

AVERAGE WATER TEMP. — 29°C / 84°F

Currency

‎US dollar ($) (‎USD‎)
w

Language

Dutch
l

The authors:

torben lonne

Katt Andryskova

Scuba Instructor and Writer at Divein
When Katt is not traveling, she's sharing her thought on Oceanpancake or My Vegan Experiment 

Bonaire is a spectacular island in the Caribbean Sea surrounded by twinkling azure waters and beautiful coastline.

The capital is Kralendijk which is located on the lee side of the Island which means near the ocean downwind of the prevailing winds. Bonaire is one of the three ABC islands which are located 50 miles (80km) off the coast of Venezuela. The other two are Aruba and Curacao and share an arid climate, year long warm weather, and beautiful reefs.

Unlike many areas in the Caribbean, the ABC islands are outside of Hurricane Alley, which is the area of warm water in the Atlantic Ocean that sees many hurricanes form every year. This has allowed Bonaire to miss the destruction and remain one of the most popular tourist destinations for divers and snorkelers.

Scuba Diving in Bonaire

Bonaire offers scuba diving every day of the year, at tens of spectacular dive sites. There are plenty of shore or boat dives with award winning dive spots perfect for any skill level. Whether you are a beginner or an advanced diver, there are dive sites which are best suited for you. There are 63 official dive sites off the coast of Bonaire and another 26 on Klein Bonaire. The National Marine Park has over 470 fish species, 57 species of soft and hard coral, and spectacular underwater topography. This Dutch Carribean island has been protected for over 35 years, meaning the marine biodiversity is insane!

Where to dive around Bonaire?

The dive sites located on the West Coast of the island are the easiest to access and typically have no currents and excellent visibility. The East coast of the island has higher waves and stronger currents, however a greater chance of seeing megafauna such as dolphins, sharks, eagles’ rays and more. The North side of the island reaches into the Washington Slag baii National Park which features strong currents, with extremely remote dive sites only accessible with four wheel drives. Those sites area recommended for experienced divers.

Out of all these dive sites, it would be difficult to choose the absolute must dos, but this list will help you narrow down the enormous choice to the top 10 dive sites in Bonaire!

The 10 Best Dive sites in Bonaire?

Sort this list to fit your scuba level and wishes

Recommended Level


  1. Beginner
  2. Intermediate
  3. Advanced

Dive Type


  1. Coral Reef
  2. Wall
  3. Coral Garden
  4. Sandy Bottom
  5. Shore Dive
  6. Snorkel Friendly
  7. Macro
  8. Fish Life
  9. Mega fauna
  10. Current
  11. Experienced Dive
  12. Wreck Dive
  13. Artificial Reef
  14. Shallow Dive
  15. Pinnacle Dive
  16. Boat dive
  17. Historic
  18. Cleaning Station
  19. Snorkeling

Show only the very best


  1. Yes
  2. No

1000 Steps

This beautiful shore dive site starts off from the large number of steps down to the beach. The steps do not add up to 1000, but still give you a little work out walking down. It is a beloved destination for snorkelling, as it is a shallow dive site but provides beautiful coral reef and marine species. This dive site typically has extremely clear water, minimal current, and a stunning beach.

  • Easy dive site with biodiverse coral and marine species
  • Shore dive which is easily accessible from a parking lot
  • Stunning views of turquoise waters for no divers
  • Great destination for snorkellers

What you will see:

This dive site is filled with a large variety of soft and hard corals. For any coral enthusiasts, you will enjoy identifying the gorgeous coral species along with massive gorgonian fans. The stunning reefs start as shallow as 10’ (3m) of depth, meaning even snorkellers have the opportunity to admire the beautiful views. The reef is also teeming with reef fish including trumpetfish, butterfly fish, wrasse, surgeon fish, and frequently passing turtles.


Beginner Intermediate Coral Reef Wall Coral Garden Sandy Bottom Shore Dive Snorkel Friendly

Bari Reef

Another easy shore dive with minimal current and plenty of marine life. The coral reef leaves something to be desired, however the numbers of marine species found swimming around surely make up for it. It’s a great place to do some of your first dives, before heading out to deeper dive sites.

  • Shallow and easy dive site with minimal current
  • Plenty of fish life living around this shore dive
  • Great proximity to the capital of Bonaire

What you will see:

This shallow dive site features a large amount of sea horses and octopus living on a vibrant, healthy coral reef.  There are also many Tarpon which swim by. These fish are fascinating as fossils have been found of them dating back to the Albian stage of 113. Mya. There are also many lizard fish, tangs, angelfish, grunts, parrot fish, and snappers swimming around the reef.


Beginner Coral Reef Shore Dive Snorkel Friendly Macro Fish Life

Nukove

This dive site features many beautiful coral formations with a healthy biodiversity of soft, sponge, and hard corals. It is a stunning dive site on the northern side of the island in the Washington Slagbaii National Park. To get there, you need to travel along an unpaved and bumpy road, with no cellphone service in the area. You can just walk into the water off the beach.

  • Remote and beautiful dive site on the northern end of Bonaire
  • Sleeping nurse sharks can be seen in the coral structures
  • Extensive gardens of staghorn coral

What you will see:

The bottom topography of this dive site is heavily skewed towards sand and coral, with many fish species living in this area. There are big gardens of staghorn coral where nurse sharks sleep and hide. There is minimal current in this area, so you will not have to tire yourself out by swimming against the ocean. The whole area also has the usual suspects of reef fish including scorpion fish, lizard fis, trumpet fish, butterfly fish, and surgeon fish!


Intermediate Advanced Coral Reef Coral Garden Sandy Bottom Wreck Dive Artificial Reef Shallow Dive Our Favorite

Hilma Hooker

This 240-foot (72m) freighter has overgrown with coral structures and has become a spectacular underwater reef and popular destination for advanced divers. The wreck itself lies between two reefs, so the area is thriving with abundant fish life. The ship has become a home to an extensive range of marine life, and is a beloved spot for photographers to practice their skills.

  • Encrusted wreck at a depth of 60-100 feet (18-30m)
  • Great spot for advanced divers who have the certification do dive to 100 feet.
  • Wreck dive sites always attract a large variety of marine life as artificial reefs are havens

What you will see:

The wreck dive site features beautiful corals that have grown on this artificial site that was created with the ship sinking in 1984. Since then, the mound of metal and wreckage has transformed into an underwater paradise. Occasional storms have destroyed the hard corals, however massive schools of fish are still frequently seen swimming around the wreck. You will see fusiliers, butterfly fish, an occasional turtle, sand dwelling rays, and more on this dive!


Advanced Coral Reef Coral Garden Sandy Bottom Wreck Dive Artificial Reef Shallow Dive Our Favorite

Salt Pier

This beautiful dive site is popular with divers since it is easily accessible and the perfect spot for beginner divers or macro photographers. The pier’s pillars are covered in a wide range of corals including colorful sponges, hard, and soft coral. The astonishing corals have become the home to a wide array of fish in the shallow waters.

  • Shore dive easily accessible to anyone
  • The pier’s pillars are covered in colorful corals
  • Perfect spot for shallow water photography

What you will see:

There are large schools of fish which swarm around the coral encrusted pillars which provide with ample viewing opportunity for any level of divers. There are also turtles which swim in the rich biodiverse dive site and can be spotted hiding among the coral and large sea fans. The dive site is located near the pink salt ponds and impressive salt piles which are worth visiting before or aftere your dive site. The good visibility and shallow dive site means it is easy to navigate and find your way around.


Beginner Coral Reef Shore Dive Snorkel Friendly Macro Artificial Reef Pinnacle Dive Our Favorite

Karpata

The reef starts at a depth of 20 feet (6m) and quickly drops down to 100 feet (30m), featuring beautiful coral formations and ridges. There is a huge ship anchor embedded in the coral which has become a popular spot for divers to stop and get photos. The fascinating underwater topography provides ample spots for a variety of fish life to hide in. The dive site is a shore dive site with particulars about entering and exiting the water, so make sure to carefully listen to your dive briefing to ensure your safety.

  • Beautiful visibility with stunning panorama
  • Pristine and extensive coral reefs
  • Stunning underwater photography opportunities

What you will see:

This dive site is extremely popular with turtles, and you will be able to see one on almost every dive. They typically hide out on the left side of the dive site at a depth of 5-12 meters. Their shells do mean they are well camouflaged into the corals, so take your time swimming slowly to try and spot them. Occasionally you will see them swimming towards to surface to take a breath of air, during those times, try and approach them slowly and carefully as to not scare them away. There is also a large number of perch, blue tang, and parrot fish hanging around.


Beginner Intermediate Coral Reef Wall Macro Boat dive

Capt Don’s Reef

  • Historic dive site dedicated to the Bonaire’s pioneer diver
  • Great dive site for all levels of dive certification
  • Beautiful coral biodiversity and fish life

What you will see:

Each dive site is slightly different, however mild currents and wide variety of reef fish are present at any dive site. Capt Don’s Reef is a dive site dedicated to Bonaire’s pioneer Diver, Don Stewart which worked hard to create conservation and preservation systems for Bonaire’s Reefs. The depths here range from 20 - 100 feet (10m-30m) allowing divers of all levels to enjoy this gorgeous dive spot.


Beginner Intermediate Coral Reef Wall Macro Boat dive Historic

Forest

  • A forest of hard corals providing ample habitat for sea creatures
  • Beautiful fields of black coral
  • Mild to moderate currents ideal for most diving levels

What you will see:

Another dive site with varying depths from 25-100 feet (10m-30m) which is better suited for slightly more advanced divers. The currents can increase to moderate levels which is how the abundant numbers of soft corals feed. The shallow waters are filled with these colorful specimens waving in the currents. The coolest coral you will spot, is the black coral which is a uniquely colored coral and grows typically at a depth of 100 feet (30m) and is now commonly used to create jewelry.


Intermediate Advanced Coral Reef Wall Macro Current Boat dive Our Favorite

Munk’s Haven

  • Great little dive site which features a cleaning station
  • Large amount of tropical reef fish swimming around the corals
  • Excellent place to practice photography on the unique coral structures.

What you will see:

This underwater haven is a home to many soft corals and their local inhabitants hiding in the flowing structures. There are massive sculptured coral heads near the reef drop off which leads down to 100 feet. This spot is also a cleaning station for larger fish, and you will be able to see massive groupers hanging out. There are also the other typical culprits hanging out, including surgeon fish, butterfly fish, pelagic fish swimming by, and some turtles.


Beginner Coral Reef Wall Macro Boat dive Cleaning Station

Sharon Serenity

  • Good dive site for snorkelers and divers alike
  • Boat mooring located close to the shore
  • Shallow sections of the reef available for safety stops

What you will see:

Located on the south west corner of Klein Bonaire, Sharon’s serenity typically has slightly stronger currents ideal for intermediate level divers. Snorkelers can also enjoy this spot since the boat mooring is located in the shallows and close to the shore. There is a large amount of elk horn and stag horn corals intertwined with soft corals. If you look on the coral reef, you will see many basket starfish, well camouflaged scorpion fish, and the occasional ray hidden in the sandy sections.


Beginner Intermediate Coral Reef Wall Macro Current Boat dive Snorkeling

So, there are the top ten dive sites in Bonaire, mostly easily accessible from the shore, and some requiring a boat. If you have travelled to Bonaire, make sure to let us know your favourite spots to dive and what was the coolest thing you saw?

Best time to visit Bonaire

The warm air and water temperatures throughout the year means you can never truly go wrong in visiting Bonaire. The additional benefit in comparison to other islands in the Caribbean, is that there is a significantly lesser chance of hurricanes even during the peak hurricane season from June 1st until the end of November. The best time to visit Bonaire is between May to October when there are smaller crowds and cheaper hotel prices. The peak getaway season in Bonaire is during winter, so the prices and crowds rise from December to April.

What to do in Bonaire

Most of the activities in Bonaire center around the beautiful nature and warm weather. There are plenty of tours available on the island including kayak tours, sailing tours, snorkeling tours, and even a submarine tour. There are plenty of beaches to visit to relax on, gorgeous mangroves to explore, and large swathes of protected national marine park filled with life. If you are a fan of donkeys, there is also a massive donkey sanctuary in Bonaire which has become a popular destination for many travelers. The stunning salt flats are a fascinating destination with a sad history of slavery which tours and guides spend time educating visitors.

How to get around the island?

To get the most out of your diving experience and adventure on the island, you can rent a four wheel drive vehicle to drive yourself to majority of the shore dive sites. Booties and closed shoes are ideal to have for most shore dives to minimize the chance of getting hurt on shark rocks.

What are your favorite dive sites in the Bonaire? Did we miss anything important? Drop us a comment below and let us know why you love diving in the Bonaire!

l

THE AUTHORS:

torben lonne

Katt Andryskova

Scuba Instructor and Writer at Divein
When Katt is not traveling, she's sharing her thought on Oceanpancake or My Vegan Experiment 

Torben Lonne

Scuba Instructor and editor

Torben has a huge passion for Scuba diving and traveling. He's also the co-founder and editor-in-chief of divein. 

0 Comments

Submit a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *