Number 1 Bonaire dive site, beyond competition, is the White Hole outside of Lac Bay
This Bonaire dive site is a big pit, about the size of a football field (for Americans: a soccer field) in the shallow part of the barrier reef. The 40 feet deep bottom is covered with white sand, the wall on the West side has the healthiest sheet coral you can find in the Caribbean. I can stay on that wall for ages. Ledges provide the sleeping grounds for Green Morays, at the upper edge of the wall, the biggest school of Snappers and Grunts ever is lazing in the sunshine until dusk when its time to start hunting again. This wall is the place to see the rare Black Grouper and the big Cubera Snapper. But you can also see the delicate Spotted Anemone Shrimp between the tentacles of the Giant Anemones. In the sand you can see Queen and Milky Conch humping forward. And often enough I spotted a Southern Stingray who dug himself in the sand to get some rest. If you approach it very low and slow you may be able to rest next to it and get some close up pictures of its eyes.
Would you like to see Tarpon at the dive site? Dozens of them in the Hole. And when you still have air left after gazing at all this beauty, go out on the shallow reef on the seaward side of the Hole where Green Turtles like to hang out in amazing numbers.
There are two ways to get to the White Hole dive site. The cheap one, for the real die-hards, is to go to Sorobon and walk / snorkel for about half a mile in mostly knee-deep water to the East-North-East. When you are lucky you see the mooring that is on the seaward side of the Hole. Pick a deep enough channel through the shallow reef and enjoy your dive. I tried it once and did not find the Hole.
The easy way, my way, is to go on the boat of Bonaire East Coast Diving. It is very comfortable and you will definitely find the Hole. You'll need a car to get there though and Bonaire Rent a Car is a good option.
Number 2 is a bit harder to decide but After ample consideration I pick Angel City dive site
It is the easiest of the double reef dives on the South-West shores of Bonaire. Easy to find, you just drive south on the coastal road and stop at the yellow stone with the name Angel City on it. The dive site is opposite the transmitter station of Trans World Radio. Swim out to the mooring and go down there. On your right hand side you will see the second reef touching the first one. The sandy area between the reefs is 60 feet deep, the top of the second reef about 50. Stay on top here, do not go down the slope in search of the third reef. You will not find it and Curaçao is far! Go left on top of the reef (South, for those with a compass).
Look down to see the huge towers of Boulder Star coral below that shelter a variety of fish. Go slow! Its not an exercise. When you go slow enough, it will take you 20 minutes to get to the shallowest part of the second reef (less than 30 feet). At that spot the second reef touches the first one again. Here you see schools of Black Margates, Schoolmaster and other Snappers hanging underneath the big coral heads. Going further South, the second reef gets deeper again. But it is worth your while to continue for a minute or so, to see a big school of Horse-eye Jacks circling near the surface. Cross the channel to go back on the first reef and turn left again (North this time). It has a gentle slope and you should be able to see the mooring if you are around 20 feet at the last part of your dive.
Number 3 Bonaire dive site is on the East side again, between Lac Cai and the Blue Hole is a beautiful slope named Fungi
The dive site on Bonaire to see Eagle Rays graciously flying by. And Stingrays, and Turtles, and – but only for the very lucky ones – every once in a while a Manta Ray passes by here. The reef is extraordinary healthy, a real joy for the eye. If you know where to look (and have your lucky day) you will see Nurse Shark and maybe a Reef Shark too. For Fungi, there also are two ways to get there. From the shores of Cai, or with the East Coast Divers boat. When you are diving from shore, careful planning is a life saving must. I hate swimming at the surface, so I start my dive right away, using the channel to go out. It is a 20 minute swim to the reef, but on the way there you will see Spotted Lobsters, Grey Snappers and Tarpon to make it worth your while. Depending on your air consumption you may have 20 minutes on the reef itself, before its time to get back in the channel. I sure hope you are at the right spot when you still have at least a third of your air left, or you are in big trouble. Unless the tidal current is inbound. It is ripping, and when the current is inbound you will be back in no time. When it is outbound you have to pull yourself in along the bottom. Or slowly go to the surface and pray for a fishing boat or the East Coast boat to pick you up. My advise, take the boat to go there. And if you want to do it as a shore dive, take a good local guide.
It gets harder after the top 3 Bonaire dive sites, but here are my favourites
Most dive sites around Klein Bonaire are gorgeous, especially on the East and South side. Up North the 1000 Steps and Karpata are favorites. The drift from unmarked La Dania's Leap to Karpata is unforgettable. The more South you go on the Western shore, the more it looks like the East Coast dives I described. Invisibles is a must, and Margate Bay. On quiet days you should go to Red Slave, that usually is too rough on windy days. For wreck divers there is the Hilma Hooker or the much smaller wrecks at Habitat, Front Porch and Harbour Village. But whatever you do, DON’T TOUCH THE CORAL and enjoy the beauty of the Marine Park.
By Wietze Koopman owner of Bonaire Seaview Apartments