Top 10 dive & snorkel sites

Bonaire offers 89 official dive & snorkel sites, but where to go?! To be honest, there are no bad dive and snorkel sites on Bonaire. Only good ones and even better ones! Besides the official dive and snorkel sites there are a lot of unmarked sites as well so even if you done all 89 sites there’s always something new to explore!

In the National Marine Park you can find over 470 different marine species, more than 57 sorts of soft and hard corals and different underwater topography.
On average, the visibility is around a 100 feet (30 meters) or more. The sea calm and conditions perfect for snorkelling and diving. Average temperature of the ocean is 80 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees celsius).

Here are some of our favourites and they also happen to be close to some of our oceanfront vacation villas and homes.

1. Bonaire Oceanfront Apartments – house reef

Right in front of Bonaire Oceanfront Apartments you will find our house reef. It doesn’t have an official name but don’t let that fool you. Like “Something Special” this dive is along the boulevard. The corals are a little less than on the northern and southern dive sites but there’s just so much to see and find! Let the guides from Private Divers Bonaire take you on a tour of the reef which they know like the back of their hand. They might even show you our permanent residents, a lovely seahorse couple. The frogfish is frequently spotted as well. Sometimes they are shallow and can even be spotted while snorkeling!

Private Divers Bonaire have all the facilities you need. In the shallows you will find the mooring blocks which house all sorts of blennies and other small critters. Keep an eye for a turtle or ray swimming around in the sandy area. When descending a little further you’ll find all sorts of sponges and hard corals. Perfect for night dives or fluorescent night dives. At night the octopus can be spotted and all sorts of other marine life you won’t see during the day.

fish in the blue bonairian sea

2. Cliff

Almost all reefs on Bonaire have a gradually sloping reef system, Cliff is one of the few dive sites that is a little different. It has a vertical wall system meaning the reef drops down immediately. For divers this is very interesting as fish live in the crevices of this beautiful wall overgrown with corals. On occasion even a Nurse Shark has been spotted in the little cave at the bottom (around 16 meters/50 feet). Other usual suspects at the Cliff are turtles, spotted eels, octopus and if you’re lucky maybe a seahorse.

Did you know that this is the house reef from our vacation rental Bonaire Sunset villa?! Can you imagine just walking in from your back yard and have this spectacular dive site as your house reef!

Dive Friends Bonaire has a location here as well so you can grab tanks and use their facilities.

3. Something Special

This easy entrance dive site along the boulevard just a minute walk luxury villa Kas Koral might not look that interesting upon first descending. You won’t see that many lush corals as you’re used to at the more northern and southern dive sites but ask any dive shop employee on the island where your best chance is to spot the elusive Frogfish they will tell you to go to Something Special. With even 5 or 6 spotted in a single dive! Believe us, there’s always something special here whether you’re diving or snorkeling!

From the yellow-headed jawfish (look for the one with eggs in their mouth!) to the big tarpons swimming around there’s something for everyone. Especially those into underwater photography, make sure to bring your macro gear. At the bottom there’s a big family of garden eels dancing and in the shallows you can find the juvenile spotted drum and my personal favorite the juvenile trunkfish. The octopus is a common suspect as well.

Something Special is also great site for night dives! A lot of tarpons hang around here after the sun goes down. The tarpons use your dive light at night to hunt for smaller fish, a great show to watch!

a fish in bonairean ocean
diver jumping in the blue ocean on bonaire

4. Bari Reef

Bari reef at Den Laman is ranked as one of the best reefs with the most biodiversity! Over 300 different species of fish and corals have been identified here. With different structures underwater there are plenty of hideouts for prey and predators. Everything can be found right here at Bari, from eagle rays, turtles, frogfish and seahorses to even a manta ray!

The dock can be used if you’re a guest from one of our oceanfront apartments at Den Laman and using Dive Friends. It makes it easy to get in and out of the water (either by steps or giant stride from the dock). You can find a lot of Christmas tree worms, trumpetfish in all sorts of colors, big schools of blue tangs and there’s a good chance of spotting a spiny lobster! For snorkelers the best spot is around the old concrete pier, also known as the “aquarium”. An unbelievable amount of small juvenile fish hangs around here.

5. Andrea 1 & 2

Looking for a perfect place for the beginning diver and snorkelers? Andrea 1 and 2 are ideal for both but also for the more experienced diver there’s plenty to see and find! The shallows are great for snorkelers with an abundant of underwater life. The whole parrot fish family can be spotted here, the midnight parrot fish, blue parrot fish and the rainbow parrot fish. Sometimes you’ll spot them before you’re even in the water with their fins our in the air!

For divers it’s easy to navigate and you can go either left or right and have a great dive. Tarpons, barracudas and turtles are common here. In the shallows you might spot a family of squid hanging out. There are big formations of brain coral and staghorn coral. Want to make this your house reef? Stay at our oceanfront vacation rental Crown Court 44a!

diver in the ocean on bonaire
Diver in blue ocean of bonaire

6. Salt Pier

One of the most famous dive and snorkel sites on Bonaire – Salt Pier. Hard to miss this dive site when you’re driving south, the massive pier that is used to load the salt on the cargo ships offers some spectacular views and wide variety of fish and corals.

Fish like to hang around structures and with the pillars of the pier in the water there’s a lot to hang around! It’s a shallow dive, between 15 – 55 feet, with lots of small critters to be found in the corals. But don’t forget to look up, the pillars are covered in all sorts of colored sponges and when the sun comes out, you’ll get a beautiful show of the sunlight shining down.

When snorkeling its beautiful to swim underneath the pier structures and in between schools of fish. Don’t be afraid of the barracuda’s that hang around, they don’t bite! Whether you’re diving or snorkeling, when on Bonaire you must stop at the salt pier!
(It’s not allowed to enter the water when there’s a boat moored, you can check if there’s a boat now at marinetraffic

7. Bachelor’s Beach

Right between some luxury villas and close to our oceanfront villa Piet Boon – Nos Shelu you will find Bachelor’s Beach. Unlike the name suggests there isn’t a big sandy beach but more a small sandy beach. Don’t be fooled because it’s truly stunning! There’s a large parking lot and the beach is at the base of a 10-foot cliff with stairs going down. Doesn’t get much easier than this.

Bachelor’s beach is used by locals as well to cool off or snorkel. Divers will find a sandy plateau first followed by the drop off covered in soft coral and hard coral.

During the day you can find the food truck King Kong burgers here, don’t miss out on their delicious burgers!

Blue ocean and white beach on bonaire
Blue ocean on bonaire

8. 1000 steps

There are not 1000 steps but it does feel like it when you have to walk back up the stairs after a dive. But don’t let that stop you from diving or snorkeling here.

There are some beautiful big staghorn coral formations to the left. Inside you’ll find all sorts of marine life hiding like squirrelfish, damselfish and creole wrasse. Turtles like to hang around here in the shallows where they eat the sea grass or other algae’s growing on the rocks. If you don’t come to close they will just do their thing. It’s fascinating to watch! Upon descending you’ll find lots of different corals. From big elephant ear sponges and yellow tube sponges to big brain corals. Keep an eye on the deep blue as dolphins can be spotted here.
Because of the little bay 1000 steps is usually calm with little to no current.

9. Oil Slick Leap

The name Oil Slick comes from the Oil terminal that was planned to be built here. Luckily that never happened and everyone can enjoy this great dive site. There is plenty of parking space. Are you adventurous? Take the leap and go in by Giant Stride (or take the ladder down like me!).

Underwater you will find barracuda’s, snappers, many different eels and sometimes even some lionfish. Bait balls can be spotte here as well. The reef starts as a gradually sloping reef but then suddenly descends steep down. Our ocean view rental house El Pueblo Diez Tres lies a minute away. The perfect villa and home base if you’re a big fan of all the northern dive sites Bonaire has to offer.

Divers in the ocean surrounded by fish on Bonaire
Shark in the ocean around Bonaire

10. East Coast Bonaire

When you’re looking for something different, try the East Coast of Bonaire. You might’ve read that this is the “wild” side of Bonaire. Where the leeward side is calm and tranquil, the east coast is a little different. Because of the famous trade winds the wind almost always comes from the east and hits the island here first. But rest assured, there’s some spectacular diving on this side. There are a couple official dive sites of which “White Hole” and “Turtle City” are the most famous ones. It is highly recommended to go with a guide.

If you go with Bonaire East Coast Divers, they will take you out by boat and do a drift dive. At turtle city you will be amazed at how many turtles you’ll see, probably more than 40 in a single dive! The other option is to go with Bas Tol from the shore, a little more challenging but with Bas Tol as your guide you will for sure see some amazing marine life!

At the east coast you’ll find the most exciting marine life like the spotted eagle ray, stingrays, moray eels and maybe even a shark! The corals are unspoiled and massive!

From vacation homes Kas Sandy Coast and Para Blou it is just a short drive to the East Coast.

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