Overview of Hilma Hooker

Hilma Hooker

Bonaire South
ABC Islands


A very popular dive site, The Hilma Hooker, is a must-do dive. The 70 meter cargo ship was purposely sunk on this location back in 1984. It's a fascinating dive, if you've never had the opportunity to explore a vessel this size before. At a depth of 20 to 35 meters, you'll need to watch your air, depth and time carefully.

Directions: 150 m North of the Trans World Radio entrance (South of the Airport).


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11/04/2018 Phil Beavan (Avg: 3.62 Review) - First time we took in the Hilma and not disappointed. Certainly not the biggest or best wreck dive but as with all wreck dives, fascinating. Take a bearing for the nearest buoy to shore and you'll find yourself at the prop after about five minutes. Wreck is almost completely intact and you can float around it in around 20 mins with little effort.

05/17/2018 Mike Holmes (Avg: 3.67 Review) - Went to Hilma Hooker with my girlfriend who only had her open water, I was a bit worried that we wouldn't be able to see much of the wreck. It turned out to be an amazing dive!! Even at 18m we could get a really good look at the wreck and she loved her first wreck dive, there was about 10 big tarpon swimming really slowly around the wreck which added to the fun. On the way back we just followed the reef.. Nice spot!!

03/30/2016 Dano718 (Avg: 3.23 Review) - This is a fairly easy dive if you enter at the right tide level one entry point makes it like stepping down a moderate stair. Look the entrance over before you suit up. The boat is not that far of the shore and at first you might think that the visibility is dropping but that will be the hull of the ship. Not as much life on the old girl as you would find in other locations, and the mast is deep. An over all nice dive.

12/18/2012 Todd Reimer (Avg: 3.68 Review) - If you are staying at a dive resort that does boat diving, Hilma Hooker will be something that they push you to do with them. However, this really is very unnecessary. As with most south side of Bonaire shore dives, the entry into the water is very easy. Once you are in, you do need to swim out to the 2nd buoy, which is 5 minutes at a leisurely pace. From there, the wreck is directly below you. The wreck is laying in 100 feet of water, but the most interesting parts of the ship to check out is really in the 60-80 foot range. Visibility during the day was fantastic, and there was quite a lot of coral growth all over the ship. Sergeant majors were laying their eggs on the sides of the ship and standing guard. Lots of other sea life hanging around too. The side of the reef wall is right next to the ship, so it's best to dive along the ship first, then make your ascent along the reef and then make your way back into shore. This was another special Bonaire dive that is different than the other typical dives along the island. Worth doing at least once on your trip to Bonaire.

05/03/2012 Anonymous (Avg: 4.52 Review) - The Best!!

02/18/2012 Joran Quinten (Avg: 4.32 Review) - This was my first dive after my PADI course. We set out with two very experienced divers. Due to my 18 meter limit, I only had a top view of the Hilma Hooker, which is very impressive, lurking in the depth (starting at 17 meters). There was some current, which made the return to shore somewhat lengthy. Spotted lots of different wildlife: turtles, eels, parrot fish, angel fish etc.

12/02/2011 Kym Haggett (Avg: 2.98 Review) - This is really 2 dives on 1 site... The wreck & the reef as a separate dive. This is always a busy dive if you don't get there by 09.30hrs as it's 1 of the most popular on the island. There's a group of large tarpon that hang around just off the wreck like sentinels keeping their eyes on you as you explore their home. Bottom time here can be short due to depth but it's good to have a look under the wrecks at what used to be the decks. No real amount of coral as yet on the underside of the Hooker because they didn't get time to remove the anti-fouling agents when it was sunk but it has started & every year we return there's a little bit more. Entry/exit here is always a challenge which is why a lot of people do it as a boat dive, but it's worth the agro. Just go careful & watch out for holes & loose rocks in the shallows.

08/04/2010 Robert D. Hunter (Avg: 2.70 Review) - Not a bad dive for wreck fanatics. Weren't any other divers when we were there, but were also surprised at the lack of sea life. Expected more coral growth on the wreck, but seemed a bit devoid of it. As for a deep dive, this really doesn't feel overly deep. The site is pretty well-hyped, but not really all that special compared to many other wrecks in the Caribbean. It's worth a dive, but we'll probably skip it in favor of other more colorful and lively sites if we make a return to the island. For the sake of a more lively comparison, try Karpata!

02/06/2009 Leo from Oak Park (Avg: 3.77 Review) - Good old Hilma is one of the deepest dives (for non technical divers) in Bonaire. Access from the shore requires 5-6 minutes of swimming toward the buoys first. Some divers prefer to submerge at the shallows and dive the drop off. This is fine too but I'd rather conserve all my air for the wreck. Start your descent from the northern buoy, explore the length of the wreck, then take the slope up to the shore. The deepest end of the wreck is at about 100 ft which may be at the safety edge of higher Nitrox mixes. Keep an eye on your gauges. The wreck is safe for EAN32 through which is the standard Nitrox mix at the island.

02/21/2007 Lawrence Bernard (Avg: 3.79 Review) - This site was really nice to dive, but, with all the areas to poke around in, it was very easy to slip below 60 feet if this is a concern. After a short surface swim from shore we were greeted by a large barracuda 'guarding' the forward marker float. This had to be a good site. At depth, the visibility was 100+ with a school of large tarpon hanging around above the bridge area at between 70 and 50 feet. Quite the sight! A great dive...the bottom time went way too so fast.

03/22/2006 F. Johnson (Avg: 3.00 Review) - This is a great free dive. Was easily visible from the surface. Saw my first bait ball here; it just hovered over the ship for a very long time, with large bar jacks feasting on it. The top side of the hull and rudder are only about 65' (20m) with the shallowest part of the hull slightly over 55' (17m). Easy for your spotter to see you down there. The day we were there, we could see even the deepest parts of the ship from the surface.

02/22/2006 John Keane (Avg: 3.72 Review) - When I did this the first time I had no idea what to expect, as my buddy and I were expecting another wall dive. Some slippery stuff at the entry, but nuthin' too tough, and there was very little (if any) current when we went. We had the site to ourselves in the early afternoon. We found the bottom of the reef at about 65 feet to a sandy bottom. Then we saw the enormous hulking hull. We could make out the bow, and then swam to the stern, where the propeller resides in its aperture, and viewed 6 massive tarpon. Like previous posters noted... watch your clock... there are so many things to check out on this massive wreck that you can easily lose track of time. Approaching the beach, the sandy bottom at 15 feet is a perfect spot for your safety stop. We came back the next day with the camera, since this was our favorite dive of the trip (second favorite is Oil Slick Leap).

01/16/2006 Mike Struchen (Avg: 4.05 Review) - As a Great Lakes wreck diver I really enjoyed this warm water wreck! I was told to do a surface swim out and then descend onto the wreck. I sort of followed this advice. I descended at the reef buoy and then over to the wreck, that way you get over any initial anxiety a have a chance to get relaxed before dropping over (I went to the stern first both times I dived her) The vis was better on the first day, as we were approaching a full moon and the surf increased each day, with the full moon being full the day before we left. It was great vis compared to what I am used to, though, and it was nice to be able to get back a ways and take in the entire ship. A must see, but only a couple times. I much prefer the reefs.

03/08/2005 Gerrit Barends (Avg: 4.12 Review) - My first wreck dive / deep dive. Amazingly drop-off, with mighty view at the "Old Lady"!! A must-do for every diving visitor at this diving paradise. Don't forget to watch your air and bottom time, as the minutes fly like seconds once down there.

01/28/2005 Natalie Thomas (Avg: 3.60 Review) - My first wreck dive as part of my advanced open water. This was amazing, and has definitely got me more interested in wreck diving. Loved the seargant majors and the way they were protecting their eggs on the hull, and also got to see barracuda.

11/04/2004 Bill Rafferty (Avg: 3.43 Review) - Dove this twice. Many good photo ops, even at 100 ft. Got a hilarious pic of a shoe (I think it was a Nike). Loved the tarpon, eels and shrimp. A definite must-do dive in Bonaire!

07/25/2004 JoAn (Avg: 3.85 Review) - Be prepared for a longish surface swim. There were some other groups at the site, but due to the wreck's size we didn't feel crowded. The bottom of the boat was covered with Sargeant Major eggs - each patch furiously protected by a male darkened Sargeant Major. Pretty funny!

06/13/2004 Robert J. West (Avg: 3.66 Review) - Dove the Hilma Hooker twice - once as a combined dive with Angel City (entered at Angel City, exited at Hilma Hooker), and once all on its own. Nice wreck dive with large tarpon, some huge green morays, and a big crab in the sandy bottom. The inner reef here wasn't as impressive as the outer reef was, but the wreck makes up for this. Entry & exit a bit tricky in the terraced shore, but not too bad. No real current to speak of when we dove here.

04/08/2004 Jim Homan (Avg: 3.92 Review) - Too many divers go right to the wreck and ignore the reefs around the boat or even the relatively shallow hull around 60 feet. I have found some excellent and cooperative shrimp and other photo subjects on the hull. The Hooker itself requires a wide-angle lens -- either 15mm or 20mm -- and I recommend a shot from the sand looking up to the bow with the sun in the background. Keep in mind that will put you at about 120 feet. This is a very popular dive site, so go very early in the morning or expect to have company.

02/20/2004 Rich Penksa (Avg: 3.11 Review) - Great dive. Short snorkel from shore and you come down onto the wreck. Large tarpon all around the wreck. Great dive to do with the kids. We had our two 16 year olds with us who rated this site as their favorite due to the size of the wreck.

10/15/2003 Marge Lawson (Avg: 3.54 Review) - The first time we did this dive the surf was up, which made entry/exit just a little rough. Second time we did this dive, no problem. Garden eels at 90', barracuda cruising around the ship, etc. This is probably the most crowded dive on the island. There was almost always a dive boat there, and several vehicles for the shore divers. Most other dives that we did during the 5 weeks during mid-August to late September were very uncrowded. We seldom saw other divers underwater. The only reason to do this dive is to see Hilma Hooker. The coral, sponges, fish, and critters are much better at The Lake, just to the north, or Angel City, just to the south.

07/10/2003 Bob Mallin (Avg: 3.10 Review) - Nice wreck, visibility was a little disappointing however, 40-50 ft. Reef around wreck was nice, less fish than I would have expected.

05/17/2003 Anonymous (Avg: 3.24 Review) - Great site- a little rough on entry because of surf and urchins!

10/01/2002 John Kurre (Avg: 4.03 Review) - Paved road next to site. Short 150 yard swim out to Wreck. The wreck was a German ocean freighter and was completely stripped before being intentionally sunk to create man made reef. Therefore no oil leaking from wreck and not a lot of cables or ropes or nets etc. to get snagged up into. Big open hull makes easy swim through. Not a dangerous wreck to swim into, not in real deep water like some wrecks. Dive can be made without lights, string line, spare air or other such wreck diving gear. Wreck is near fringing reef not far from other good reef dives. Good visibility and not a lot of current. A good dive for beginner diver who can find a buddy with more experience. The wreck is in the middle of other good South Bonaire reef/wall dives and thus there is stuff to see around wreck and on swim out to wreck and the swim back to shore.

08/21/2002 Fiona Rattray (Avg: 3.98 Review) - Did this dive as an early morning dive to avoid the "huge" crowds ;-). The ship's wheel has corroded away in places, and the hull has way more sponges and corals than in 1999. Beginners could do the wreck by staying at the upper hull at 60 ft and cruising the reef.

07/18/2002 Terry Kratochvil (Avg: 3.47 Review) - My wife and I enjoyed this site so much that we dived it 6 times in 12 days. I would suggest that you swim over to the middle buoy which makes the edge of the reef at about the middle of the ship. Then you can submerge and dive the reef swimming toward the ship. I enjoyed seeing the ship appear out of nowhere, it was just amazing. I would like to suggest that you take your time diving this site and you will need at least three dives to enjoy the ship properly. At the end of the dive a fun way to decompress is to slowly swim back to the shore, do however save some film for the swim back. We spotted an octopus and lots of interesting fish on the way back.

06/28/2002 Dan Benson (Avg: 3.75 Review) - This site is a sunken ship lying in 100+ feet. It is fairly new (20 years), and as such doesn't have a profusion of coral or life yet. Give it another 10 -20 years and it should be a great site.

06/11/2002 Brian Schoepflin (Avg: 3.10 Review) - As a shore dive, we found it relatively easy. Plenty of parking, on a shell access road off the main blvd. Our dive was done in very good overall conditions, with little surge or surf. The swim out to the wreck was shorter than expected, sea life was about average for this dive site.

04/01/2002 Alexandra (Avg: 3.53 Review) - Doing it from shore is my favorite way to do it but this way is NOT for a new diver. Do the dive by swimming on the surface to the site, drop down, watch you computer then come back over the nice reef. It allows you enjoy the reef while decompressing. If you go by boat it's easier but they limit your time a lot because of the depth.

03/04/2002 Wanda S. Rodriguez (Avg: 3.83 Review) - I did several dives at this site including a night dive. The wreck is very impressive. Great local story about how this wreck got here. I enjoyed the reef on the way out and back from the wreck. The shallow shelf on the way to the wreck is a great place to take pictures. I got some great shots of bristle worms, sea anemones, and trumpet fish trying to pretend they were sea rods. On the night dive we surface swam to the buoy. It was a lot further than it looked.

09/16/2001 Jim Goodenough (Avg: 4.10 Review) - Have dived this site several time - from boats and from the shore. A very nice shore dive. Even laying directly on the bottom, I could not get my depth gage to register beyond 99 feet. After inspecting the prop, going through the swim-thru, seeing the garden eels, and watching the Tarpon and Barracuda, you do not have any time to explore the anchor that lays ahead and to the right of the bow. On one dive, I was so preoccupied with the sights and my camera that my pressure was down to 850 PSI the first time I looked. Take care.

09/10/2001 Kelly from New Orleans (Avg: 2.74 Review) - Storm generated waves left a nasty iron shore entry. We heavy sole booties or suffer the consequences. The reef here is far better than others on Bonaire because more divers ignore the reef for the wreck.

07/19/2001 Fiona Rattray (Avg: 3.72 Review) - Great surface dive. Also, 6 or 7 tarpon lurk inside the wreck.

06/18/2001 Tom Steiner (Avg: 4.47 Review) - Just find this dive a great one and a unique one a must be dived !!!

06/11/2001 Steve at Albany (Avg: 2.83 Review) - Saw some very Large tarpon. Was a great wreck dive. Some swim throughs. Very nice deep dive. Would love to dive it another time. Bring a light to see deeper into the wreck.

06/04/2001 Amanda Gowans (Avg: 3.67 Review) - My deepest dive to date. Easy surface swim and could see the boat from the surface that day. Saw several large Tarpon. Came up the reef and saw an octopus being harassed by several small fish in about 10' of water. A definite must do dive.

05/20/2001 Robert Illanne (Avg: 3.48 Review) - A bit of a kick to get to the bouy markers. Rodales magazine nailed it. A must do again dive. Big Tarpon kept us company throughout the entire dive. My son's first deep dive and big wreck dive.

05/09/2001 Scott Chaffee (Avg: 3.03 Review) - Nice easy dive, watch your depth and time, large tarpon in hull, wreck lays on its side, explore the reef on way out and way back in. Something different after diving reefs all week.

04/27/2001 Remko Fortgens (Avg: 3.31 Review) - Nice large wreck, great visiblity and sometimes encounter with larger fish species like tuna, barracuda's (1.5-2 meter type)


Site Photos

(click photo for a larger version)

 Map     Sat
GPS: SB0601


Entrance at Hilma Hooker 

The entrance is well-marked. There is no need to park along the road.


 Map     Sat
GPS: SB0602


Parking at Hilma Hooker 

Plenty of hard-packed coral for parking. An observational note: it's not often one is able to see a 'full moon' in the middle of the day!


 Map     Sat
GPS: SB0603


Entry at Hilma Hooker 

Just watch your step, and assist your buddy.


 Map     Sat
GPS: SB0604


Entry at Hilma Hooker 

The three buoys in the background mark the bow, stern and amidships of the wreck. Determine the direction of the current, and swim on the surface to the up current buoy. Take a few minutes to catch your breath, follow the buoy line down, and then drift to the opposite end of the ship. Save some air to explore the reef as you are making your way back to shore.




Aerial at Hilma Hooker 
(click photo for details)

You can't see the second reef, as its peak is about 45 feet (15 meters) in depth.

Last Verification: February, 2001  


Diver Averages for  Hilma Hooker  (1=worst, 5=best)

Average Site Condition

Ease of Shore Entry:  3.56
Bottom Conditions:  4.03
Reef Conditions:  3.67
Animal Life:  3.77
Plant Life:  3.41
Facilities:  2.59
Solitude 2.95
Roads:  4.13
*Site Average:  3.58

Average Enjoyment Level

Snorkel:  2.64
Beginner Scuba:  2.95
Intermediate Scuba:  4.03
Advanced Scuba:  4.13
Night diving Scuba:  3.41

Number of reviews for this site: 39


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