Bonaire has always been known as an innovator, by establishing its marine park as early as 1979, and by setting up the region's first boat mooring system to avoid anchoring. But still today, Bonaire continues to be an innovator by offering its diving and snorkeling visitors a wide variety of new and interesting activities.
Visitors can use their time on Bonaire to learn a new skill, experience the latest in diving technology, or see a different side of Bonaire's vast underwater nature, gaining more knowledge about the creatures that inhabit this diverse water world. Activities can be geared toward certified divers, but there is also a wide assortment of fun things to do for those who enjoy the water, but don't wish to dive.
1. Battling the Lionfish: Many of Bonaire's dive operators offer some sort of educational activity about the invasive Pacific lionfish; some even offer cleaning and cooking techniques or special week-long events that focus upon the elimination of lionfish from the island's reefs. Time your trip to take part in one of these events, or, at a minimum, become more savvy about the continuing battle.
2. Cave Snorkels: For divers or snorkelers, a very special experience is a snorkel through one of Bonaire's water-filled caves. This truly offers a view of Bonaire rarely seen. There are several STINAPA-certified caving guides on Bonaire, who have undergone training to ensure these fragile habitats are not damaged during excursions. Although the caves do contain water, they are not totally filled, thus allowing participants to walk or snorkel to see the cave formations.
3. Fluorescent Night Diving: When viewed under ultraviolet light, many animals, including invertebrates and corals, emit a different wavelength of light, providing distinctive colors than habitually seen under normal light. Learn how fluorescence works, and then enjoy the show yourself while your guide leads you into the other-worldly night dive using two lights: a regular dive light, and a specialized, ultraviolet light as well.
4. Freediving: In recent years, Bonaire has become the "home-away-from-home" for champion freediver, Karol Meyer. With her annual visits to Bonaire, and subsequent new world records, there's been renewed interest in this most pure form of interacting with the marine environment. Workshops are available that can be adapted to the level of the participant, or private sessions can be also arranged to learn this thrilling, breath-hold form of diving.
5. Full Face Mask Diver: Have you ever wished that you could talk to your buddy while you’re diving? Until recently, full face masks were only used by the military and professional divers, but now recreational divers are getting in on the fun! There's no better way to learn more about fish and creature identification.
6. Self-Reliant Diver: During this course, participants are trained to plan dives so each diver can respond to emergencies independently, no matter whether you are diving with a partner, team, or alone. Self-reliant divers practice until they are comfortable with self-rescue skills and carry redundant equipment so that, in an emergency, the diver is equipped and prepared to react independently.
7. Side-Mount Diver: There’s an exciting new trend in the world of diving, as more and more divers are discovering side-mount diving. This system is crossing over from the technical side of diving and becoming more accessible to recreational divers. It employs a simple harness-style BCD with strategically placed D-rings where two smaller tanks are clipped on either side of the diver, instead of one large tank on the diver's back. It’s extremely comfortable and offers the extra redundancy of having two separate air systems. For those with back problems or trouble carrying heavy items, this is a great option because the tanks can be clipped when in the water. The system can be easily adapted for those who require a bit more air, or to those who don't use much, so the side-mount system's customization offers ease of use.
For those wishing to expand their knowledge and skills, enroll in courses such as freediving, Self-Reliant Diver, Side Mount Diver, or Full Face Mask Diver. Or, see how you can help with the fight against the invasive Pacific lionfish by learning how to properly capture these fish and then prepare them for meals. As the saying goes, "Eat 'em to beat 'em!" (REEF)
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Everyone can benefit from the expertise of one of Bonaire's experienced dive and snorkel guides, as their familiarity with Bonaire's reefs and creatures help you find those difficult-to-see animals or their behaviors. Or, experience snorkel excursions through some of Bonaire's caves or its mangroves, the nursery to the reefs.
So, be sure to plan at least one or two of these newest activities on your next Bonaire vacation. A variety of operators offer these, so check with your favorite dive or snorkel operator.