Review Date AVG ShoreDiving Site
11/13/2010 4.08 The Invisibles Bonaire South, ABC Islands
The Invisibles is a nice site just off the road. There is room to park a number of cars comfortably, most within 50 feet of the entry. We entered in an area just to the north (right when facing the ocean) where the ledge had an intermediate step and where there was a sand channel past the ledge. The swim out to the reef was of moderate length, maybe a few minutes. At the mooring buoy before descending we saw both a spotted eagle ray and reef squid. We dove to the north and found the reef to be in better condition than some of the other Bonaire sites we dove this trip. Fair amount of active fish life. We found it helpful to descend at the marker buoy, as this provided us with a good underwater 'landmark' for when to return to shore.
11/13/2010 3.34 Andrea II Bonaire North, ABC Islands
This site is tricky to find, but worth the effort. The road from town turns right away from the ocean then back left parallel with the ocean. Shortly after that left turn is an entrance to a housing development with two yellow stones, one on either site of the entrance gate. These two stones mark the two Andrea sites; slow down or you will miss them. Turn in to the housing development and follow the signs (first right then first left I believe). There is a sizable parking lot within 100 yards of the entry point. Although the road continues past the parking lots, and the gate is down, there is not room to park on the beach and the drop from the end of the road to the soil would probably do damage. The entry route was marked with yellow stones and involved stepping down and around perhaps 10 feet of ledge and rocks. It was easy for us, and we got small, medium, and large cameras in and out without any problem. Divers need to don and doff fins in chest-deep water rather than on shore. The site was quite lovely, with mostly healthy coral, and lots of plant and animal life. The terrain lends itself to photography. Note that the off-the-beaten-path location of this site makes anything left in cars vulnerable; ours was rifled through and we lost a pair of Ray-Ban sunglasses and two pairs of black shorts.
11/13/2010 2.85 Tori's Reef Bonaire South, ABC Islands
The neatest thing about Tori's Reef is the entry through a salt intake channel for Cargill's salt ponds. After passing under the machinery that takes salt from the ponds to the ships, the entry for this site is at the second small bridge; the first also appears to be an intake channel but one that is perhaps more modern, concrete and less amenable to entry. There is room to park several cars within 25 feet of the entry point. After stepping down two to three feet worth of rocks, one enters the intake channel and can don fins. Then one swims out through the mouth of the intake channel. The swell was up a bit the day we did this, and swimming out was a bit more difficult than we expected, but still fairly easy. Exit by reversing the entry steps, recognizing that the swim in may be a bit choppy. We enjoyed our dive here but unfortunately the numerous sandy channels meant that the visibility was poor in the ocean state we encountered. Several guidebooks note that there are interesting fish in the channel itself; we found this to be the case but the ocean was too rough for us to spend much time looking at these fish.
11/13/2010 4.32 Karpata Bonaire North, ABC Islands
Karpata was my favorite site of this trip, with the best visibility and reef. The topography is interesting and the fish and plant life together were excellent. The road to Karpata is narrow but quite passable. There is ample parking and the entry is accessible down a few stairs. At the bottom of the stairs there is a concrete platform where one can sit to don fins and masks. With snorkel or regulator in your mouth, roll on your belly with an outgoing wave and kick away from the entrance. Conditions were rough when we were there so we exited by kicking on to the platform with an incoming wave, then crawling a ways to remove fins. In better conditions, it likely would be possible to swim very close to the platform, remove your fins, and walk out.
11/13/2010 2.75 Weber's Joy Bonaire North, ABC Islands
Previously known as Witch's Hut, we had enjoyed two dives here in 2007 and returned here eagerly. Unfortunately we were quite disappointed to find the reef much less healthy than we remembered. There was a substantial amount of dead and bleached coral, along with relatively little plant life and only modest numbers of fish. The road to the site is fine, although narrow in places. Across from the site is an old building with about six parking spots next to it; this is few spots relative to other dive sites in this area, so the site tends to be less crowded. From a parking spot to the beach is less than 100 yards down a gently sloping ramp with an occasional step. The entry itself is on coral rubble and is somewhat steep, so step carefully. I would recommend donning your fins in chest deep water; trying to walk in with fins on would be very difficult at this site.
11/10/2010 3.51 1000 Steps Bonaire North, ABC Islands
We found the famous stairs quite reasonable, both up and down. Easy entry right off end of stairs, mostly sand with a few rocks. Stairs provide a great landmark for return and exit. Sizable parking lot at site. Probably the most lovely topside of a dive site on Bonaire. Reef conditions here are the worst we have seen so far in Bonaire; lots of dead and bleached coral. Nevertheless, we thoroughly enjoyed the marine life we saw on this dive, including a big turtle; dog snappers; tiger groupers; big and small bar jacks at cleaning stations; file clams; shrimp; and numerous juvenile fish (heading back to exit).
11/09/2010 3.43 Ol' Blue Bonaire North, ABC Islands
Completed two dives here, one to the north and one to the south. Reef to south appeared slightly healthier, although both directions were nice. Good visibility. Usual fish and critters. Unusual interactions with bar jacks, who darkened themselves then used me and my buddies as hunting cover, swimming under us very closely then whipping out to grab (or try) something off the reef. Site is well-marked from road and has ample parking. Entry is down a ledge over stable but uneven rocky steps. Definitely manageable, although would suggest moving equipment down then donning closer to the water. (Please consider not donning equipment right at stairs down ledge, as this blocks others.) Entry is through a sand channel 15 to 20 feet in length just to the left of the 'stairs' from the parking lot. You do NOT, repeat NOT, have to navigate over rocks, although many divers seemed to think this the best entry and exit. We got three cameras in and out here without a problem. Very enjoyable morning.
11/08/2010 4.00 Willemstoren Lighthouse Bonaire South, ABC Islands
Unusual southwestern swell due to tail end of Hurricane Tomas meant that most southern sites had tough entries and poorer-than-usual visibility. Meant unusual opportunity to dive here. We parked with 25 yards of entry to left side of lighthouse. Decent path to water, good entry marked with various driftwood pieces. After a few rocks at surf break, can walk some distance on smooth sandy bottom. Then a 5ish minute swim to the reef. Slight current from east, easily manageable given conditions. Plant life probably the best we have seen in Caribbean: rods, gorgonia, etc., all over. Usual fish, several giant green morays. Three dolphins cruised by. Swell had picked up a bit at end of dive, but easily manageable for experienced divers.
11/08/2010 3.11 Oil Slick Leap Bonaire North, ABC Islands
Wonderful, relaxing late afternoon dive at this site. Fair amount of parking, all within 50 yards of entry. Giant stride entry off small concrete platform to north of ladder. Be prepared to don fins efficiently, as others may be waiting to enter. Unusual amount of swell due to Hurricane Tomas was present but manageable. No swim to reef. Area around entry down to 35ish feet, plus top of reef from 25 feet up, denuded of coral; instead lots of rubble, although can find fish and creatures to check out. Reef itself is reasonably healthy; we stayed around 45 feet and felt that deeper might be healthier. Lots of different fish species, particularly butterflies, parrots, hamlets, trumpet, sand diver, goat, spotted drum, moray eels (several varieties). Watched large school of doctor fish aggregate hunting with a goatfish, parrotfish, and trumpet fish, very cool. Also had a neat experience with a HUGE tarpon swimming right for me (if it had been chicken, he turned first). Very comfortable safety stop near exit, which is easy to find using mooring buoy anchor at 25 feet. Exit ladder a bit steep but easily navigated.
03/14/2009 4.16 Place of Refuge The Big Island, Hawaiian Islands
We try to dive here every time we make it to the Big Island. Topside it is an incredibly beautiful spot, somehow peaceful despite the number of people around. It is easily accessible by rental car and parking is quite close to the entry point (we pay $3 to use the church's lot, please do pay them, it was distressing to us to see people not respecting their honor system). The site is well-protected from swells and currents, contributing to ease of entry and exit. We use the two-step entry point on lava that is almost exactly halfway between the two points of the bay. It often is crowded with inexperienced snorkelers but people generally are polite about making way for the awkward looking fools in all that heavy gear (and they seem to appreciate a simple tip or two). There really is no way to go wrong with this site underwater...swimming around where the wall hits the sand in deeper (50 to 60 ft) water is interesting, as is staying in a bit more shallow water to either side. Have your underwater fish guide handy, as one can find the vast majority of the 100 most common fish here. For photography the great visibility and light here can white out photos, so it takes some care.
03/04/2009 3.39 Puako Village End The Big Island, Hawaiian Islands
This is an easily accessible and enjoyable site. We did two dives here in March 2009, one during calm conditions and one during pretty high winds. During both dives we could hear humpbacks singing and saw turtles, nudibranchs, flatworms, and many types of adult and juvenile fish. The shallows are nicely protected and would provide decent snorkeling for non-divers. A key piece of advice is to go early, when conditions are most likely to be calm and the area is less crowded topside and below water. If you enter and exit at the appropriate spot, there should only rarely be conditions that make getting in and out even remotely difficult. After following the directions to the site, once in the parking lot the appropriate spot is just past where the trees end. There is one place that looks OK, but the better option is several yards south. After entering the water and donning fins and mask in the protected area, one can swim right out. There are two mooring balls, a white one to the right and an orange one to the left. Swim toward the orange one and keep an eye out to the left for a large channel that leads out to the reef. One can go in either direction; to the right the reef drops to about 90 feet, to the left about 60. The reef to the right is a bit more dramatic topographically, to the left is a large flat coral garden in about 45 to 50 feet. There are no facilities at the site. Kohala Divers Limited is nearby in Kawaihae; they have reasonable rental prices and a pleasant staff who are efficient for a dive shop. Cafe Pesto in the same shopping center as Kohala Divers is a nice place for lunch, although one has to get out of obvious swimwear to feel comfortable.