02/21/2008, Front Porch
We did some more diving today. We are now sporting a proper Bonaire dive pickup instead of the beater van that we had when my parents were here. The truck is smaller but works much better for diving.
We did a night dive at Front Porch. It was a great dive. Em knocked out her skills and while she was to navigating with a compass and dive light a huge 5 foot tarpoon followed her using her dive light to hunt.
02/20/2008, 1,000 Steps
Cuz Em decided to go for her Advanced Open Water certification while we were in Bonaire. Bonaire is such a great dive destination I can't blame her. There are great beach entry spots all up and down the coast.
The photo here shows "1,000 Steps", a great location off a nice beach at the base of a cliff. To get there from the road you have to climb down about 70 steps (with your gear). The site is named after what it feels like when you have to climb back up the steps after your dive with all of your gear.
The entrances to most of the Bonaire dive sites are often a bit rocky but quickly taper off into a 15 foot sand bottom running a hundred feet or so to a wonderful coral wall that drops down to 100 to 130 feet. We had a great day in the water followed by some spicy lasagna at the local Pizza place.
There are various dive shops in Bonaire. We moored just in front of Yellow Submarine the night we arrived and the facility looked pretty comprehensive. They have lots of class room space, a small shop, a great compressor setup friendly Dutch staff, and plenty of gear.
They did a visual inspection on our tanks at their facility on the south side of town today and set us up with tank cards so that we can just swap out their tanks and get our tanks filled quickly. We have four of ours and two of theirs which lets Em, Hideko and I do two tank dives.
We did a dive right off of Yellow Submarine's beach late this afternoon and it was a fantastic spot.
Mom and Dad flew home today so we spent some time onboard today cleaning up. We miss Mom and Dad already.
We have been getting to know the folks on Banjo next door and they are a wonderful couple. Diving nuts like the rest of us. They have given us several great diving tips and other local knowledge. Cruisers are general just wonderful folks.
Hideko and I have officially added Bonaire to our places we could live list. The island is quaint but not too deserted. There's a great place for breakfast in town, a solid pizza place, many wonderful restaurants with various cuisines, enough shopping options to get electronics, groceries and other stuff as needed (in particular fresh milk) and, of course, fantastic water sports. We're looking forward to testing out the Windsurfing and Kite surfing beachs. The island is not crowded at all (15,000) and get cruise ships far less freqently than most ports in the neighborhood. Best of all the people of Bonaire are friendly and kind.
02/17/2008, Harbor Village Marina
We took a break today to help the folks get ready to fly back to California. We ate a goodbye dinner at Salsa which is a nice restaurant on the south end of town. Dinner is servied in the second story of an open air wood and palm frond building with a great view of the harbor. A lovely spot for a lazy evening with great food.
The license plates here say Diver's Paradise. I must agree. The entire island is surrounded by a spectacular reef. The government seems well aware that this is perhaps the islands number one stock in trade.
Bonaire is a very environmentally conscious principality. No anchoring is allowed anywhere and they encourage environmentally friendly practices at every turn.
While you could probably jump in the water anywhere and go for a great dive they have established named dive sites all up and down the western coast of the island. They have also ensured that you have beach access to almost all of them.
The standard Bonaire dive trip involves renting a pickup with a tank rack in the back and diving your heart out. Any of the dive shops will swap your tanks out as fast as you can use them. You really don't need a boat unless your headed for Klien Bonaire or the rough east side.
On the down side if you like to dive off of your yacht you can only do so in the overnight yacht mooring field between town and the Harbor Village Marina. This is nothing to scoff at but there are a lot of great dive sites out of reach. You can only tie up boats under 36 feet in length on the dive mooring while diving.
We still had our beater van and the crew was ready to go diving. After checking over the free dive site guide we received at check in we decided to dive Windsock. Mom had been studying for her first dive and was ready to give it a try as well.
Once on the beach Pops watched the gear and the rest of us got the dive equipment ready. It was a nice little beach dive with easy access as the book said. Unfortunately for Mom is was not as flat as I had hoped when we got in to practice her basic SCUBA skills. Mom was a trouper though and completed all of the discover SCUBA skills and then went for a tour of the area.
It was a nice first dive but the last Mom would be able to get in due to her flight home coming up. We had a nice ride back to the marina talking about our first Bonaire dive and a good meal at the Argentinean restaurant next to the marina office.
We rented a Van today to drive around the island. It was a clunker and the key didn't work on any door except the back hatch. Sort of funny climbing in the back to open the thing every time we stopped.
Bonaire is a neat island and gave us our first taste of the fairly desert like ABCs. Lots of dry earth and catctus. They make fences out of cactus for heaven's sake (very effective that).
Our tour took us around the entire island. We saw flamingos in the north where park lands cover most of the area. The ruggad windward coast had beautiful rocky beaches and breakers along with cave paintings from the original pre colombian inhabitants. The south has Lac Baai, the famous wind surfing destination, and the lighthouse. The West coast has the slave huts and the main town of Kralendyke. A full and enjoyable day.