Bonaire is one of the islands forming the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. It is one of the so called ABC islands, together with Aruba and Curaçao. The official language is Dutch, but English, Spanish and Papiamento is also commonly spoken. Bonaire is considered one of the finest places in the world for scuba diving. Many visitors also take the opportunity to do some windsurfing, since Lac Bay on the islands eastern side is well known as a windsurfer’s paradise. The coral reef surrounding Bonaire is easily reached from the Western and Southern shore. Most of the diving is done on the leeward side of the island, since the water on that side is remarkably calm and currents usually vary from minimal to non-existent. Dive sites around Klein Bonaire are not accessible from the shore, and the same is true for some of the northern dive sites outside Bonaire. Boat dives usually require signing up the day before.
During the last decades Bonaire has been very determined in its work to protect its pristine underwater world, and one of the very first marine parks in the Caribbean was established here. The Bonaire Marine Park today includes the whole reef and the waters surrounding the island, from the high water mark and down to 200 feet (60 metres). If you have not dived in the park during the last calendar year, you will have to participate at a diver orientation session. This way, you will be informed and updated on all the regulations and receive necessary information concerning the reef. After participating, you will receive a Marine Park tag. You pay US $25 for the tag, and the money is used to help paying for the park management and services. The diver orientation sessions are usually taking place at 9 o’clock in the morning, so if you arrive to Bonaire later it will be illegal for you to dive in Bonaire’s water during that day.
The Bonaire climate is very arid, and the low amount of rain has made the waters surrounding the island exceptionally free from silt, sediment and other deposits. This is one of the reasons why Bonaire is so popular among underwater photographers. Water temperatures are usually between 78 and 84 °F (26 and 29 °C) and the visibility average is over 100 feet (30 metres), with visibility often reaching up to an astonishing 150 feet. The waters are calm and diveable 12 months a year. Since the water around Bonaire has been protected for more than 25 years, the reef is in extremely good condition compared to many other reefs in the Caribbean. As mentioned earlier, Bonaire has worked actively with conservational and environmental issues much longer than most other nations in this part of the world, and can today boast a unique marine life. A majority of the Bonaire Dive Operators participates in the Council of Underwater Resort Operators, CURO, and has developed standards and practises to protect the reef from any dive-related harm.