Bonaire adventure 2021

 

Due to Convid-19 restrictions Bonaire is still one of the few destinations open for travel. So together with 2 friends we rented Terrace 5 in Sabadeco. A very big vacation rental house, with private swimming pool. The house could sleep 10 persons, so there was plenty of room for just the 4 of us.

Diving was as very nice, as always, we have seen the usual suspects. Dive sites were pretty busy.
Our goal was to see the coral spawning. The trip was specifically planned in the coral spawning period. Unfortunately we have not seen any eggs popping out of the coral, just some smoking coral blocks.

September 23 – October 10, 2021

Flying Divers tour Bonaire 2020

We were lucky in November. During Covid-19 crisis, Bonaire opened up just in time for our group to proceed with the holiday. There were 9 divers in the group. Some visited the island for just a few days, others where there for the whole 10 days.

We had a great time together. We did 3 dives a day on most days. We visited all our favorite places, like Salt Pier, Something Special, White Slave and the Lake. Our all-time favorite is Salt Pier. The dive site itself is not particularly beautiful, but somehow the fishes are a little more relaxed than on other places. This makes them easier to photograph en to admire. Add the resident small group of green turtles and a great dive is guaranteed

We stayed in Delfins Beach Resort on the first weekend until the rest of the group arrived. WIth the group we rented the Villa Aventura again, the same villa as last year. When the group left, we rented Villa Nautilus in La Palma.
We had a great time and saw many nice things.

November 14th – December 2nd 2020

Dushi Bonaire (September 2020)

During the Corona-crisis our original plan was to go diving in Sulawesi. Indonesia was however closed for all foreign visitors. So a different plan was needed.
As Bonaire was one of the few places still open to divers, the choice for a new destination was easily agreed upon with our 2 travel buddies.

We rented a spacious, 3 bedroom, villa in Crown Terrace. The holiday home is called Villa Serendipity. and located on Crown Terrace 116. This was our homebase for 2,5 weeks.

During our visit we experienced a lock down of the Island. Luckily this did not impact our diving plans. Drive-through tank change was still possible.
During our stay, we were able to do 30+ shore dives. We visited all our favorite sites and saw the usual suspects (angel fish, barracuda, small blennies and gobies, tarpon, seahorses, frogfishes, squids, etc).

16 September – 5 October 2020

Bonaire with Flying Divers @ Villa Aventura (November 2019)

Bonaire: We stayed on 3 locations:during this 2-weeks trip

7-10 November: Delfins Beach Resort, located at Punt Vierkant
10-19 November: Villa Aventura, also located at Punt Vierkant
19-24 November: Villa Nautilus in Belnem

We rented tanks at Dive Friends Bonaire, and did a lot of shore-dives. During one night dive we planned to find the Ostracods mating event. Ostracods are small invertebrates that mate 2 to 5 days after full moon. 45 minutes after sunset the phenomenon starts and lasts for about 20 minutes. Dive lights must be off. LIghts disturb the event, and 1 light spoils the occasion for the whole group, so clearly a dive site must be selected that is far away from any bright lights on shore. We chose dive site Angel City. We snorkled out when there was still some daylight left, and waited at the buoy until it was fully dark. At about the right time, we saw the first small blue lights appear. Ostracods live in soft corals, during the event they rise from the gorgonia and emit faint blue lights in rapid succession. It starts slowly with only a few lights, and after a while more and more participate in the spectacle. The trick is to find a goof place on the sandy bottom to sit without damaging the corals, and look at the gorgonia.

Additionally we participated in Bonaire’s beach clean-up. This beach clean-up is a weekly  organised activity in which, apart from our group of 11, many other local participants and tourists pick up plastic from the beach. Quite a lot was collected.

One not so nice thing to happen: we had a break-in in Villa Aventura, and some lockers were stolen. 4 of us lost passports, money, credit cards and a phone.

7-24 November 2019

Villa Nautilus (August 2018)

Bonaire: Villa Nautilus is located in bungalow park “La Palma”. It is a very modern bungalow with a private swimming pool, a huge covered terrace and large garden. The “La Palma” park is still under construction, but luckily we were not bothered too much by the construction work.

As usual in recent years, we have rented our dive tanks from Dive Friends. This is extremely practical due to the many and strategically placed locations on the island.About halfway through the holidays the coral spawning should have taken place. During the days when this should have happened, we made night dives at the times that we have always seen activity. However, apart from a few smoking coral blocks, and 1 smoking sponge, we haven’t seen any spawning activity. Too bad, it is very spectacular to see that corals produce eggs. Better luck next time!

Apart from diving at night, we have made some wonderful dives during day time: To name a few: Angel city (beautiful hunting eagle ray), Salt pier (octopus, green moray eel), Cliff (tarpons), Andrea II and Dive Inn (couple of squids), and the wreck of Hilma Hooker. At Windsock, under the fuel jetty, we found a freindly French Angel fish.

Finally, the island of Bonaire itself: It has become remarkably much busier than during our last visit!

Aug 24 – Sept 8 2018

Flying Divers club tour (May 2015)

Bonaire: This time the diving holiday consisted of 3 parts: First we stayed for a few days in villa Bunita (or Terrace 88) in Sabadeco; second, we rented a villa in Belnem named “the Spot”, together with our friends from the “Flying Divers” diving club; and finally back to Sabadeco to villa Bunita.

As always, we rented our equipment at Dive Friends Bonaire, the dive center with the 5 strategically placed locations on the island. On 2 of their house reefs, we had some special encounters: frogfishes at the Yellow Submarine on Playa Leche, seahorses at Cliff (Hamlet Oasis).

After a few days the rest of the group arrived. With our group (7 divers), we did some beautiful dives. Of course, we did not miss Bonaire’s wrecks: Hilma Hooker, and the two wrecks at Eden Beach hotel on dive site “Front Porch”.

For the first time in a long while we were able to dive again at the Salt Pier. Salt pier has been closed for diving for many years. Now diving is allowed again, provided there is no ship at the pier. We were lucky, the dive site was open during our entire holiday. The salt pier is somewhat disappointing, for anybody interested in corals. Although the pillars of the pier are covered with coral, which house lots of small fish. Schools of fish can be found under the pier.

May 23rd 2015

Hilton & Villa Sandemarie (April 2014)

Blog ABC CUR Curacao

Curacao: In April 2014 we stayed for 2 weeks in Curacao. The first week, just the 2 of us, at the Hilton hotel. We made some boat dives with the diving school at the hotel. The second week we rented a villa together with 10 friends from the diving club. 

Most dives we did from the shore. One of the favorites was the combination dive: Directors Bay – Tugboat – The Pier. We did this dive as a drift dive. That was an option because we had 2 cars. So 1 car brought all divers with their gear to the coral wall; jump in and drift towards the shallow area of the Tugboat. This is a shallow area, which is great for the safety stop. And finally, across the shallow sandy plateau to the pier where we spotted some seahorses. Lots of variety on this dive!

One day we did a boat trip to Klein Curacao. The crossing takes about an hour and a half. Due to the strong wind, the crossing was fairly rough, with high waves. At Klein Curacao the boat is fortunately sheltered, so we didn’t suffer too much from the swell when diving. We did 2 beautiful dives, and saw several turtles. The dives were truly amazing!

April, 2014

An island in the sun (June 2013)

Bonaire: In June 2013 we visited Bonaire with our diving friends Tom and Krysia. Tom and Krysia rented Crown Court 44B, a very nice villa with private swimming pool directly facing the ocean. The villa has direct access to the house reef that is part of the Andrea reef. Very convenient for a group of divers, who just needed to descent the ladder.

We rented Terrace 88. A very modern, clean and light house. Terrace 88 has a contemporary architectural style, it houses a swimming pool on the 2nd floor and is located in the mountains of Sabadeco. It has a great view of the entire island. Although totally different, both houses have their own charm.

After a good night’s sleep, our flight arrived in the evening, the diving could begin. We rented tanks from Dive Friends. With the 4 locations on the island there is always a convenient store nearby to change tanks. The first dive was as usual at the diving school, on dive site Cliff. After that we were on our own, and all the dive sites of the island were at our disposal. We did about 20 dives, all from the shore. The water was clear and quite warm. So we have made fairly long dives of at least an hour.

At Weber’s Joy we found a frogfish. Unfortunately, it had disappeared when we returned after a few days. There were 4 seahorses to be found at the Dive Inn. At the pier of Something Special at the Yellow Sub we encountered a small school of squids.

We have made several dives from the bungalow at Crown Court. Because the swim ladder missed a few steps, it was easy to get into the water, but getting out again was a bit of a challenge. We were fortunately also close to the Sabadeco pier. The ladder was in a somewhat better condition and we could easily walk back the last 50 meters to the bungalow. The dive site at the bungalow is very beautiful and unspoiled because there is much less diving.

We have visited all of our favorite dive sites: Angel City, the Hilma Hooker, Something Special, Weber’s Joy/Witches Hut, Ol’Blue/Tolo and so on. It was low season and therefore never crowded. We were the only divers at most dive sites. Again, another enjoyable trip to Bonaire!

June 2013

Coral spawning (September 2011)

Bonaire: On the first day of our dive trip to Bonaire we took it easy: to recover from the journey, get acquainted with the villa we rented, try-out the pool, explore the path to the sea (50 meters), pick up a rental-car, get some groceries, and arrange our dives at Dive Friends. Our mission for this holiday: Coral spawning!

For the obligatory first dive at one of diving school shops, we chose Yellow Sub at Something Special. It was an immediately hit, we spotted a manta! This same manta was already regularly seen for 2 months, and we were lucky that it did a swim-by. A manta is a very special encounter on Bonaire.

In the evening we had to stay awake until 10, because of the night dives we planned to do. It was not easy: coffee, walk, sit inside (far too hot), sit outside again, watch TV …. pfff, finally at half past nine we could get ready for the dive. As our villa had direct access to the ocean to dive site Andrea, we made all our night dives from the villa. We accessed the water via a short vertical ladder along the steep cliff. We had already tried out the entry and ascent during daylight hours, with and without equipment. 

Coral spawning is normally at its peak 6 and 7 days after full moon, this time was no exception. Almost the entire dive, we hovered next to a coral block that was producing masses of eggs. If you accidentally bump your hand to coral, there will be severe scratches, but still eggs manage to emerge of what seems to be a rock. We have seen the birth of offspring of all kinds: star corals, soft corals, flower corals, but also the brittle stars. It was again a very special phenomenon!
The rest of the time we have visited our usual favorite dive sites. Angel city, the Hilma Hooker, Margate Bay, Invisibles, Windsock, Something Special, Weber’s Joy, and Tolo. However, most dives we have just made from the villa. It was an excellent dive site. Because he is not in the “official set”, there are of course very few divers. It was beautiful!

September 2011

Schools of fish (February 2011)

Bonaire: Because we did not stay in a resort, but in a villa, we rented our equipment at “Dive Friends Bonaire”. This is a diving school with 4 locations on the island. At Hamlet Oasis, Yellow Sub (on Playa Leche), the Dive Inn, and at Port Bonaire. Tanks could be exchanged at any location. It was very convenient to drive-by whichever Air-refill station that happened to be closest.

While diving we discovered a new common “hobby”. We both like to look at schools of fish. Large schools of boga’s (Inermia vittata, belonging to the “Bonnetmouths”) were swirling around at Angel City. Boga’s are between 10 and 20 centimeters in size. The school was hunted by a small group of Horse-eye jacks (Caranx latus). The boga school panicked around us and was forced into a bait ball by the jacks. An amazing sight. The jacks always attacked from below, as if they wanted to force the fish to the surface. We have not been able to observe that boga’s were also captured.

Another school was present at Windsock. The school of small bait fish was located under the pier where the oil vessels usually are. Here too, the school was swarming so beautifully that we even went back for a second dive to admire them again. The dive under the pier is very shallow, maximum 10 meters, but well worth it.

The water was quite cold, no more than 25-26 degrees. Just like other times in winter, we have shortened the dives to 45-50 minutes and we have made a maximum of 2 dives a day. Despite the relatively few dives we have seen a lot of beautiful things again: French angels, a pair of squids, jacks, a remarkable number of large barracudas, a lot of lettuce sea slugs, a lot of fire worms, but remarkably few moray eels. For the first time we have found large specimens of the lion fish. This non-endemic species is purportedly escaped from a Florida aquarium. Some lion fish were quite large 25-30 centimeters, others only small, no more than 10 centimeters. It seems like a lost battle to remove them from the waters of Bonaire.

February 2011

Yes, another trip to Bonaire (2010)

Bonaire: Our best dive this time was at 1000 steps. It was the first dive on the 2nd day of our holiday. Of course, we started with our usual routine: first look from above where we could enter the water, then change into our diving suits, down the stairs with the many steps, walk a little bit over the beach and enter the water.

At 1000 Steps dive site, the reef is very close to the shore. Very early during the dive, we saw a huge dark cloud looming. It was a large school of fish, perhaps 100,000. We were pretty sure they were scads. A small fish, the size of a herring. They look as if they could be tasty. Some jacks were hunting around the school. As a result, the school was swirling in a way that sometimes can be seen on TV. Sometimes we saw the school from the outside, sometimes we were literally in the middle of it. It was very spectacular and that is why this dive is on the list of the most beautiful ones we have ever made in Bonaire. Meeting a school of fish happens somewhat regularly, but the numbers cannot be compared with the huge school at 1000 steps. Obviously after a few days we returned to see if they were still there. And? Yes! They were still there!

We also found an orange seahorse on the house reef of Plaza Resort, 18th Palm. Unfortunately, this one had a somewhat restless character, if we found it on the way out of the dive, we had to search again on the way back. But hey, that makes the find all the more fun.

Other details: jawfishes at Something Special, small gobies and white shrimps on the sandy plateau at Invisibles; the school jacks and a large grouper at Angel City; our first lionfish at 1000 steps; banded pipefish at Windsock.

After 20 dives it was time to finish the diving and clean our gear. Of course, we had to get rid of the accumulated nitrogen on the last day. Which is why, just like in 2009, we rented a boat again and did some snorkeling at Klein Bonaire, and enjoyed the views of the island from the water.

4-12 June, 2010

Coral spawning (October 2009)

Bonaire: Not immediately discouraged, we try again the next day. Another dive site this time. We look for a site with a lot of coverage, other than Something Special, where we could still easily enter the water. That is really important when diving in the dark. Fortunately, there are more than enough of those dive sites.

At 10PM we are ready to enter the water. We are not the only ones; a buddy pair has just finished their dive. Just to inquire …. Yes, there appears to be some spawning activity. Hurray! The other divers saw some smoking sponges and also corals that produced eggs. We quickly changed into our dive gear and entered the water. And yes, near the edge, on the first block that we encounter, we see the familiar cloud of white-pink balls. We are thrilled and hope for even more of this spectacle. That is slightly disappointing, there is certainly activity, but it is not massive. In some places we see a coral block of “boulder star coral” that is spawning, but the majority is not active. We meticulously look at all the tentacles of the “flower coral”, but unfortunately, they don’t show eggs. All in all, it was a great dive with the most spawning activity that we have seen so far.

It is time for the third night dive in a row. We go to the same dive site again. We are the first, but not for long. As soon as we descent, it turns out that tonight is clearly the grand finale of the phenomena, it could not possibly get any better than this. Floating eggs are everywhere! Coral polyps are thick with eggs, we can see them very well on the surface of the corals. Then suddenly, as if a signal has been given, the entire block releases the eggs. Amazing when you consider that the surface of the coral is very sharp and solid to the touch. We no longer know where to look or what to take a picture of. The release is fast and it is so massive that it is very difficult to properly capture the event on a picture.

A little bit further down we find flower corals. Tiny little white balls can be seen in the normally transparent tentacles. There are even coral polyps that already release eggs. Brittlestars feast on the eggs while crawling around on the corals. Because of our bright diving lights, they quickly scurry back to their dark crevasses in the coral. We can only catch a short glimpse of them. Completely exhausted, we leave the water after an hour. Lamps empty, successful dive!

The last evening it gets busier at the dive site. There are now already around 4 buddy pairs. But it’s the end of the show. Only a few “boulder star coral” release eggs. The “flower corals” stopped spawning. This was the signal for us to stop night diving.

We enjoyed the rest of our vacation with day diving in all known places. Also a few new favorites have been added to our list, for example Margate Bay, a site where the coral is very beautiful. On the last day, we rented a small boat to enjoy the views of Bonaire from the water.

4-17 October, 2009

Nitrox (January 2009)

Bonaire: Our Nitrox training started with a 100-page instruction book with a lot of calculations and other tasks. If we just wanted to study that before class next day. All possible plans to go diving were immediately “down the drain”.

It was really a lot of reading, but after about 10 hours of struggling, we were through. Next day there was an afternoon session with our instructor to evaluate the answers to the questions. After that: a real exam! Fortunately, we both passed with high grades and are now certified Padi Nitrox divers certified to dive with up to 40% oxygen.

It is no longer needed to do a training-dive with nitrox, we were able to get started right away. We have always been a bit skeptical about the alleged positive side effects of the enriched air mixture. But it really seemed to help! We felt considerably better and less sleepy at the end of the day.

There is actually only 1 very small disadvantage, packing the gear takes a little more time. You have to measure the oxygen percentage of the tank, and then perform a number of administrative actions.

During the diving itself there was no difference. We generally do not like to dive very deep, the maximum depth of 25-30 meters is well within the limits of nitrox diving.

The place where we usually record the our deepest dive in Bonaire is on the wreck of the Hilma Hooker. You can easily touch the 30 meter there and enjoy the wreck. We have dived on “the hooker” several times. This time we wanted to take pictures of the wreck as a whole. It appears that it is quite possible with our 10mm lens to get a decent picture of the entire wreck with Theo as a model. We have been experimenting with one of us posing with the wreck in the background.

 

Unfortunately the ocean was not very calm. A large part of the coast was damaged due to the storm of last fall. As a result, the entry into the water was sometimes a little challenging, and of course also slippery due to algae growth. This combined with the high waves sometimes made entry into the water a tricky business.

The water temperature was relatively cold. That in itself was normal for the time of the year, our thermometers indicated about 26 degrees. Although you are using nitrox to extend your dives, we have shortened them to about 45 minutes due to the temperature and reduced the number of dives to 2 per day. A more intense dive regime is postponed until next time when the temperatures are a bit nicer.

Dive sites were not very busy. We saw relatively few people at the sites, but also few in the town and at the restaurants. Cruise ships were the one exception. Almost every day there was a mega monster on the pier. Once, we were diving at the Windsock during the departure of a cruise ship, about a kilometer away. What a deafening noise! The fish too seemed to be somewhat disturbed. They could see us, of course, but probably did not hear us exhale. Their behavior seemed different from other times. Unfortunately, that did not mean that we could now approach them more closely. You can’t have everything.

Furthermore, we have not really seen anything special, but it was nice nonetheless: a few eagle rays, a few turtles, the seahorse at Plaza Resort was still in residence, quite a few barracudas, and the usual parrot fish, butterfly fish, gobies, a striking number of flamingo tongue snails, etc.

We again fully enjoyed our week on Bonaire.

24 Jan – 2 Feb, 2009

“Photo shoot” Bonaire (June 2008)

Bonaire: Well, nothing like the real “photo shoot”, that is the international underwater photo competition that is regularly organized on Bonaire. During our previous trip to Egypt we tried the Nikon D300 with the Inon flash for the first time. We made some mistake with the flash settings. So, this holiday was a big session to practice flash-settings in clear water.

Bonaire is always very suitable for this. You can take all the time you need, there is nobody demanding your attention or telling you to hurry up; and if you want to hover for half an hour in front of a fish, nobody cares.

As usual we stayed at Plaza Resort. As we limited ourselves to day-dives only, there was the additional opportunity to try out the different restaurants. Kralendijk houses a large number of very good fish- and steak-restaurants. Recommended by us: “It rains fishes”, “la Guernica” (top!), “Salsa”. All can be found on the boulevard in Kralendijk.

The weather was a different matter. It didn’t start good on the first day: rain, strong wind and thunder! We thought it would be a good idea to wait until the weather cleared. Of course we first had to do the usual and umpteenth orientation dive on the 18th palm, the house reef of Plaza. No big deal, the sea horse was still there and it is a nice place for diving. Of course we visited one of our favorites first: “Angel City”, to see if the schools of barracudas and jacks were still there. Yes, they were! 

For the next days, we had already planned visits to our favorite sites. In the north: 1000 steps, Ol ’Blue, Cliff, Witches hut, Karpata.

In the south of course the wreck of “the Hilma hooker” was on the list. Of course we did not skip Invisibles, Windsock, Pink Beach, “Angel City” (several times), and the “18th palm” (also several times).

Species list? On the 18th palm we luckily found the sea horse, the squids and a really huge barracuda. We saw an eagle ray in the distance on O ’Blue and Karpata. We came across a green turtle on Karpata, which immediately swam away. The most special finds were small: a brightly colored purple and orange flatworm and a mantis shrimp of about 5 cm in size.

All in all we had a wonderful time on our favorite diving island Bonaire. We are already looking forward to next time!

24-30 June, 2008

Coral Spawning (September-October 2007)

Bonaire: On the Internet and in the dive magazines we read that September/October was the time of coral spawning. Coral spawning is the term for corals that reproduce. During a few days in autumn they release large amounts of eggs (small white/pink balls that appear out of the coral) and sperm (clouds of smoke). It was full moon on September 26. 4-7 days after the full moon, the spawning of the hard corals starts. From 3-6 days after full moon soft corals start to emit smoke. On the Internet you can read exactly at what time it is best to enter the water. Every kind of coral has such a favorite moment to “spawn”. We thought it would be nice to experience that in Bonaire.

We have discovered that it is not true that all the corals on the reef spawn at the exactly the same time, making it a mass event. On a first dive we saw one block that emitted a puff of eggs, it stopped immediately and the rest was still dormant. The next day we found another large coral block that was more active. Large quantities of eggs emerged from this for 10 minutes. They just emerge from inside the coral. On another dive we arrived directly in a dense fog during the descent. A huge rope sponge (about 2m high, 2m wide and 2m deep) was producing an enormous cloud of sperm and eggs. You couldn’t actually see where it exactly came from. Beautiful and spectacular.

A small frogfish currently lives on the buoy at Invisibles. This resulted in a temporary fame, the site was crowded. Well there is more to see at Invisibles too. You will find a group of garden eels on the sandy bottom that is quite easy to approach. Garden eels are usually quite shy and live in deep waters, At Invisibles they can be approached on 8m sandy bottom.

Furthermore, a school of small silver fish was “stranded” directly at the water boarding point. This was actually much more of a spectacle than the frogfish. The school had not escaped the attention of the pelicans, and was under constant attack of  jacks and a large barracuda. 

Our last night dive was at the Windsock. We selected a spot with many gorgons (one of those large “plant-like” corals with arms waving in the current). We were looking for basket stars, a very fragile looking sea star, it does not like bright lights, so they are difficult to approach.

When we finished our dive, it soon became apparent that the thieves had made a visit to our pick-up truck. Fortunately, we never lock the car, so we had no windows broken. They did however rip the interior lighting, after which they searched the car. Since we had nothing of value with us, nothing was missing. We could simply reconnect the interior lighting, so no damage, luckily.

The last 2 days we went to visit Washington Slagbaai Park and Sorobon. It is important to take a few days of rest after doing many dives. We did three dives on most days and ended this trip with a total of 38 dives. Even for us this was a record.

Furthermore, Theo made his 750th dive on “Hilma hooker”; Monique did the 1000th dive, the night dive at “Windsock”. In short, it was again a wonderful diving holiday.

September 24 – October 9, 2007

Brrr …… cold!!! (March 2006)

Bonaire: We started with the usual introduction dive on the 18th palm house reef of Plaza Resort. Unfortunately, the frogfishes from the previous trip had all disappeared. Unfortunately, no new rare creatur had taken its place. The pair of squids is fortunately still a regular visitor to the house reef, as always they are nice to watch.

As soon as we went into the water, we already noticed: the water temperature was unexpectedly low. About 25 degrees! That did not really encourage us to have long dives and many dives per day. The first week it was also unexpectedly mild above the water, so we shortened our dives to around 45 minutes and limited ourselves to day dives.

After the introduction dive, we made an additional dive on the house reef, but now with the camera. After 1 photo: flash failure. Oops! That is not looking good for the rest of the trip.

So, we started to dismantle and inspect the various parts of the camera- and flash- housing and the cables. It soon became apparent that a cable was broken. So, photography was over for the rest of the holiday. 

The following days we visited a large part of the dive sites on the shore. Oil Slick Leap (crystal clear), Karpata (anchor), Something Special (sea horse on the sandy bottom!), Alice in Wonderland, Angel City, Hilma Hooker and so on. Between dives we made several short trips to viewpoints, Lac and the salt pans. Goal achieved: a nice and relaxing holiday!

March 6-21, 2006

Oh no! Not again! (September 2004)

Bonaire: Hurricane Ivan ……. You planned a trip to Bonaire one week after hurricane Lenny in 1999 ……, you are completely washed away ….., 5 years later you are treated to Ivan ……

We started with very nice weather. Beautiful blue sky and a few fluffy clouds. After arrival, we quickly went to the diving school of Plaza Resort Bonaire to sign up for a shore diving package. We were already looking forward to visit all the dive sites again.

Of course, we had to do the compulsory introduction with a film about the ins and outs of Plaza and a check-dive on the house reef. Just before we went into the water we were informed that there were 2 frogfishes on the house reef …….. in a barrel sponge near a rock which shape was accurately described. Frogfishes, we love them! So, after searching, searching, some more searching, and some serious searching, we were defeated, they were nowhere to be found. So we abandoned the search. In the meantime, we had already heard dolphins underwater. Sure enough, we suddenly saw them lying on the sandy bottom below us. And a moment later they suddenly appeared beside us! How crazy can it get! Miss the frogfishes, and find some dolphins. Good score for a first dive! No camera with us! That is a pity, so no way to prove this! 

After 3 dives on the house reef and an even better instruction, we finally found the first frogfish. The next day, Martijn, an instructor at Plaza, pointed out number 2. It turned out that were looking at the wrong barrel sponge. Well, then of course you won’t find them. With the same sponge we also found number 3 a day later. Theo found her because number 2, a male, sat down on her and she moved. Her? According to Martijn it is a lady as she is getting fatter. The camouflage of this specimen is really incredible, this frogfish was absolutely exactly a piece of dead coral. In the end we saw more frogfishes this holiday than the last 20 years together. They tend to stay in the same area if they are not bothered too much, so revisit is possible. The same applies to seahorses, by the way, once you’ve found them, you just go diving again the next day. 

 

Wednesday, September 8 was Ivan’s-day. We were immediately banned from diving in the morning. Because of Ivan all diving activities were stopped and boats were no longer allowed to sail. It was a bit of a disappointment, because the weather was beautiful. We were however allowed a dive on the house reef. During the dive the visibility deteriorated considerably, compared to the previous day, this was caused by sand stirred up by the underwater swell. After this dive we had to stay in our apartment to “sit out” the hurricane. It started with an enormous amount of rain. After that it was quiet for a while. The big hit was expected between 5PM and 8PM when the eye of the hurricane was about 120 km north of Bonaire. In the end it could have been worse. The buildings remained mostly undamaged. There was some dead coral and sand on the roads and one of the jetties was destroyed. Plaza’s sandy beach had moved to the reef. The result was that the reef looked like a snow-covered landscape. White sand on the reef, the coral under the sand is mostly dead. It will grow back, but it will take a while. We were so happy that we could have been diving on pristine reefs for the first 10 days.

September 2004

Seahorses and Frogfishes (January 2002)

Bonaire: In January Theo and I traveled to Bonaire. Our home for 2 weeks was the Buddy Dive Resort. We have stayed several times in various apartments on Bonaire, but this was our first time in a resort. It is wonderful that you have your diving gear so close at hand. Feel like diving? Put on your suit and hop in! Diving whenever you want …….. that is possible if you are at a waterfront resort! Staying at a resort is especially useful when diving at night. You can walk to the water in your swimsuit and after a dive you will be in a nice warm shower in no time. 

The Town Pier is a very special dive. The old wooden pier was replaced a few years ago by a brand-new concrete colossus. All pillars are now completely overgrown with soft corals. Beautiful orange cup corals everywhere. The pier is therefore completely restored to its former glory. We did a night dive twice. This is now only possible under the guidance of a local guide. Which also has its benefits. At the end of the first dive the divemaster came to us when we actually had to leave the water because of the maximum agreed dive time.
He: “Have you seen the seahorses?” We: “No”. He again: “Do you want to see them?” Silly question ………

We went down again, all the way to the end of the pier and yes ….. 2 seahorses: red and black/gray, cute! One dive light empty, but well the other worked fine.

The second time we were informed at the briefing that there are about 5 frogfishes living on the Town Pier. Yes, exaggeration is mastered by some. But…. just to be sure, we asked the divemaster to call us if he found one. And yes, just below the water surface stuck against some coral, there he was. What a camouflage, that divemaster really had very good eyes to spot this critter. And how wonderful to finally see a frogfish (not to exaggerate, it was about 5 cm).

Another nice dive was Mi Dushi on Klein Bonaire. They say there are 10-12 seahorses here and usually they found around 5. We enter the water full of anticipation. And after about a minute number 1 (purple/gray) was spotted. A few meters down number 2 (yellow/green) was holding on to a small rock. After that, the dive master then left us to our own devices for a while. The seahorses were much larger than we expected, we estimate about 20 cm long. They have the annoying tendency to always turn their heads away, which is not an endearing quality to photographers, if they want to take a picture.

On the return trip, the search started in earnest. Another black, orange and gray found. 

We had a wonderful trip and saw lots of amazing stuff: turtles, lots of tarpons, spotted eagle ray, cleaning shrimp, large green moray eel, sepia, octopus, friendly French angels, sleeping parrotfish, also awake by the way, and so on. We are going back again for next time, that’s for sure.

January 2002

Bonaire after Lenny (December 1999)

Bonaire: The weather was horrible, we were unlucky in 2 respects. 2 weeks before we left, hurricane Lenny broke loose in the Caribbean. Lenny has caused waves of 12 meters on Bonaire. The island has not suffered much from wind, but the waves have caused serious damage. All diving facilities directly alongside the water, were destroyed. Restaurants in Kralendijk have been washed away. All piers have been completely wiped away.
A week after Lenny, the weather in itself was still unsettled. The first 8 days we saw the sun for a total of 2 hours. It didn’t rain, it poured! All day long! Dark skies, streets were flooded.

Lenny has also done considerable damage under water. The dive sites in the north were the best. Irrespective of the low visibility, and sand on the corals, we still enjoyed ourselves. After a little while you get used to the damage, and you concentrate on other. The fish were still there, so you that part can be enjoyed as much as before. There were many turtles, many large barracudas, many French and Queen Angels, lots of scorpion fish. The tarpons on the Hilma Hooker wreck were still on their preferred location in the hull; the tarpons hunting during night dives were present (2 at a time even!). Very special, we saw spotted eagle rays on 6 dives, 2 came very close. 

However, I think we will probably wait a few years before we go back to the Antilles

December 1999