Bonaire Days 3-4

Filed under: — Anastasia @ 2:40 pm

Jeff and I finally managed a four-dive day on Monday – but only by squeezing one in before breakfast.

Since the gear room didn’t open until 8:30, we hauled all our scuba stuff up to the balcony the night before, and plopped into the water at 7:30am to do a pre-breakfast dive. I had the macro lens on, which actually winds up taking a lot of the enjoyment out of the dive for me because I spend so much mental effort stressing over focus issues. There’s certainly no shortage of macro critters in Bonaire, though; I spotted dozens of little secretary blennies peeking out of holes, and even saw some of my local favorite, yellow-headed jawfish, popping up and down in the coral rubble.

Carol and Michael met us for breakfast, and then we drove north to a favorite site of ours from last time: Oil Slick Leap. We thought it might be a little more camera-friendly, since there’s a ladder down into the water. Since it’s the windy season, the chop was picking up quite a bit already by 10am, making the camera hand-offs at the ladder bottom a bit of a pain.

It was just as pretty a dive as I remembered, once we got underwater and away from the wind. There’s a large shallow area near the entry that’s great to poke around in looking for little stuff, but also a beautiful drop-off covered with gorgonians and all kinds of interesting fish. I spent some time filming a barracuda who wasn’t very shy, and finding little blennies for the macro photographers to play with.


Back in the shallows, we were entertained by an enormous swarm of blue tangs that descended on the area like locusts to eat algae off the coral, darting en masse from one coral head to the next.

We spent the rest of the day back at Bari Reef for an afternoon and a night dive. The afternoon dive was nothing special (I was on macro again – argh), but night dives are always fun. In Bonaire, you usually wind up being followed by tarpon, huge silvery fish that hunt for dinner by your dive light. There was also some sort of enormous snapper trying to get in on the action.

I was especially entranced by basket stars. During the day, they just look like strange lumps inside gorgonians. But at night, they unfold in these amazing fractal patterns, and feed off tiny plankton in the water.


After our dive, Jeff and I raced over to Papaya Moon, a mexican restaurant in Kralendijk where Carol and Michael were having dinner with a bunch of folks from digitaldiver.net. Based on our food experiences last time, I wasn’t expecting too much, but we were in for a surprise. Everything was amazing – I can’t recommend this restaurant enough to anyone visiting Bonaire. The entire DDN crowd ordered the dessert special: apple pie. (I know – weird at a mexican place, right?) Although not normally a pie person, Jeff and I caved to peer pressure, and were glad we did. They make the most amazing pie, loaded up with thin-sliced apples and caramel, and served on a hot fajita platter with ice cream. Definitely perfect after-diving food!

Tuesday morning, Jeff and I headed back to the Hilma Hooker by ourselves while Carol and Michael went to Windsock. We didn’t get that much of an early start, but we still managed to do our dive and meet them at Windsock before they got in the water. We finished off our surface interval there and then followed them in. Windsock is just next to the airport runway, and I think it’s hands-down the easiest beach entry ever. It’s a very sandy beach, with only a few dead coral bits to get around in the shallows, so you just walk right in without worrying about tripping or slipping on anything.

Best of all, it’s a pretty great dive site, too! The slope is full of beautiful coral formations, and I also found the world’s stupidest fish at this dive site. I have lots of video of a lizardfish who kept getting scared and would dart away – about two feet, an then let me settle back in for some more video. But my favorite was the bright yellow trumpetfish who was “hiding” in a purple gorgonian, and seemed quite confident that I couldn’t see him.

We scarfed down some lunch in town, and then met up with a divemaster back at Sand Dollar for our afternoon dive on Salt Pier. Since it’s a working pier for the salt ships, every group needs to register with the harbormaster and go with a guide, even though you only dive when there aren’t boats there. It’s a great place for fish nerds: there are half a dozen sets of pier pilings which provide nesting areas and shade for schooling fish. French and queen angelfish are all over the place, as well as schools of snapper and lots of sergeant majors protecting nests.

Jeff perked up when our divemaster mentioned it was also a good place to find tarpon. Sure enough, when we headed to the northern edge of the pier, we found an entire school of tarpon cruising around. Jeff played with the big fish while I swam in and out of the pier pilings, occasionally letting my hair down for a photo.


We pondered a night dive, but ultimately decided to take it easy and rest up for a busier day on Wednesday…

1 Comment

  1. Thanks for not mentioning that I forgot my reg at Oil Slick! Although I was wise enough not to have made fun of Michael when he forgot his gear for the Hooker. There but for the grace of the scuba gods, and all that…

    Comment by Carol — 6/9/2008 @ 12:41 pm

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