We just arrived in San Juan, Puerto Rico, this AM on an American Eagle flight out of Bonaire, Netherlands (Dutch Antilles). Bonaire is the "B" in the "ABC" islands. I was wondering if we were even going to make it out of there. As we boarded the prop plane (some Italian make), somebody ahead of me noticed one of the tires was low on air.
The guy pointed it out to the AA representative, and he said "Don't worry, they'll fix it before we take off." Okay...I'm assuming they did, because we made it off the island.
The Bonaire experience can best be encapsulated in the slogan that appears on their license plates: "Diver's Paradise." And it was. They had to about drag me back on that airplane, and not because the air was low in the tire.
Seriously, on Bonaire, it's all about the diving. The shops. The hotels and resorts. The people. Sure, they mine salt, and cater to all the nice Dutch folk who fly over on KLM from the Netherlands. But if you're a citizen of global scuba diving, you're a citizen of Bonaire.
We stayed at the Divi Dive Resort, courtesy of a recommendation by our Toronto-based travel agent, Squba Holidays (thanks again, Luke!). Divi Dive was hands down the best dive operation I've ever visited with. From the dive gear lockers right next to where the boats come in, to the rinse tanks (one just for cameras), to the shore diving (where we also did our first unguided night dive), to the 90+ incredible dive sites, Bonaire is it, baby. I'm already thinking about a return trip.
The coral reefs in Bonaire are nothing short of spectacular. Forget the superhighway dive sites of Cozumel (which I also love)...Bonaire is all about the country roads of diving. The divemasters coast along at a snail's pace, forcing you to really stop and smell the coral, to take notice of it all. The colors down under Bonaire's clear blue water defy description, but if you think about that super box of Crayons you had as a kid, multiply it times 5 and that will give you some idea of the variety. And the shapes...the closest I can come is a 3D Dali painting.
We did several of the "famous" dives, most all of them off the boat: 1,000 Steps, Angel City, Hilma Hooker (a 250 foot long wrecked Dutch cargo ship), Barkadera, 18 Palms...the list goes on. We also did the world-class "Town Pier" night dive...think of it as an underwater haunted house at night, filled with colorful sea ghosts and marine life. Not for the night dive weary, let me assure you, but with the proper perspective and attention, a remarkable experience.
The land lubber life in Bonaire doesn't exactly provide the sizzle of Aruba, but there are plenty of good restaurants with great variety...Cactus Blue is worth a look...and the sushi place downtown fit our raw fish needs...but know that they all mostly close around 10 (one exception being downtown's Citi Cafe)...
In Bonaire, it's all about the diving. Check out the pics I'll be posting soon on the left...and know that I'm already dreaming about my next Bonaire dive.