Jim and Sherri's Honeymoon SCUBA Diving Trip to Bonaire
After our fabulous wedding Sherri and Jim went on a fun-filled and exciting (with a little romance thrown in) honeymoon to the island of Bonaire in the southern caribbean. Its a fairly long trip on Air Jamaica to get to Bonaire, but they treat you well once you are on the plane.
Once we arrived in Bonaire, we stayed in a one bedroom Villa at the Plaza Resort Bonaire. The Plaza Resort is spread out quite a bit, but we enjoyed the resort immensely. They have several restaurants on the premises, a Dive Shop, Toucan Diving, where everyone is professional, helpful, and top notch. ( Plaza Resort Layout )
The following describes the wonderful time that we had - to jump to a particular day, select from the following pull down list
Day 1, Sunday - On our first full day in Bonaire we first had to go thru a dive orientation and briefing, purchase a
Marine Park Tag, and perform a check out dive. One of the dive masters, Danni, at Toucan Diving, took us thru this process and she was very helpful. For the checkout dive we jumped into the house reef at the Plaza, called Eighteen Palms for a shore dive with the rest of the group going thru orientation. While we were suiting up we could see the dolphins off in the distance, and once we jumped in we could hear them "talking" to each other - they sounded so close, we expected them to show up at any minute. We spent 42 minutes on this dive and the water was beautiful (as it was on every dive. The water temp was 82 deg F, vis was about 80 ft. After grabbing some lunch at the Banana Tree restaurant (at the Plaza) we went out on the Blue Moon boat for a one-tank dive. We went over to Klein Bonaire and dove Hands Off (50 min/55 ft vis/82 deg). As we had both recently been Nitrox certified from our local dive shop, Columbia Scuba, most dives were on Nitrox, with several on air for logistics reasons.
On the boat ride back to the dock, we ran into some dolphins who swam with the boat for a while. They enjoyed jumping in the boat's wake, a real neat sight to see
We then did a third dive (27 min/46 ft/82 deg) late in the day, again at Eighteen Palms to checkout our new camera setup. We preferred to check it out on a shore dive, rather than jumping off a boat with it for the very first time it evers sees the open sea. With the shore entry we could slowly submerse it and verify no leaks. As we hit the water later than expected, it turned into a twilight dive, something that is Sherri's favorite!!!!
The camera setup is fantastic, but Jim has a lot of learning to do about underwater photography
Day 2, Monday - dawned warm, bright, and sunny (like most days on Bonaire). This was the day we got down to a regular routine of two-tank boat dives in the morning from Toucan Diving. For the rest of the week we went out in the morning on Purple Rain with a great group of folks that didn't vary much from day to day. Our Captian was Pieter, and most days our Dive Master was Ebby - both extremely knowledgeable and helpful. Our first dive (42 min/93 ft/82 deg) was on the wreck of the Hilma Hooker where the reef leading to the wreck is fantastic. There was a school of Tarpon hanging around the far side of the Hilma Hooker. In addition we saw porcupinefish, green moray eels, yellow tail snapper, and need we even say - parrotfish!!!. For our second dive (57 min/56 ft/82 deg) we went to Something Special and noticed Scorpionfish, yellow longlure frogfish, inshore lizardfish, ocean surgeonfish, green morays, sharptail eel, etc. In the afternoon we did a third dive (40 min/76 ft/82 deg) - a shore dive from at Windsock. This dive site was less than 5 minutes down the street from our hotel.
Day 3, Tuesday - dawned warm, bright, and sunny and we decided to do some shore dives rather than boat dives (after sleeping in a bit!!). After partaking of the buffet breakfast at the Plaza, which we did every morning, we decided to head north to the dive site Andrea II since it sounded like the shore entry was relatively easy. We were going by the book, Shore Diving Made Easy which was a great help for all the dive sites. We entered the water and once hitting the buoy, went south to around Andrea I, then reversed direction back to our starting point. It was a great reef, saw schools of baraccudas, a number of lizard fish, spotted moray eels, porcupine fish, parrotfish (I know, hard to believe!!). After drying out and swapping tanks back at the Plaza, we decided to check out the house reef at the Divi Resort called Calabas Reef. After checking in at the Divi dive shop, we entered the water from their dock via stairs. It was a fantastic dive (45 min/95 ft/82 deg), we went south one about one dive site and then north about two dive sites. Saw a number of tarpons, a blank and white crinoid (feather star), long spined urchin, donkey dung sea cucumber, french angels fish, etc.
Day 4, Wednesday - Ahhh, another day in paradise, another day to go diving on Nitrox. We did a couple more boat dives in the morning. The first was at Petrie's Pillar, where it appeared that the fish were sleeping in for the morning. The dive was nice (53 min/65 ft/82 deg) and we saw lots of small fish, but all the bigger ones seemed to be resting for the morning. Petries Pillar is only accessible via boat as the shore is extremely rocky with waves crashing against it making shore entries impossible. For our second dive we puttered just to the south to Small Wall, another nice dive. We both enjoyed the "wall" (56 min/56 ft/82 deg). We saw a small sea horse at the top of the wall in a small bush, a huge school of blue chromis, spotted morays, a three-rowed sea cucumber, banded coral shrimp. After we were done with our dive and had broken down our gear some reef squid were spotted inshore of the boat/mooring so we grabbed our snorkel and fins and jumped in for a look see.
Sherri got another night dive in. We hooked up with our dive master Ebby, and Mark and Donna Honzel (and about 200 other divers) and did a dive under the Town Pier. We were lucky and were one of the first groups to get in, and therefore were ahead of the pack which was stirring up the bottom. We averaged a depth of 14 ft (67 min / 22 ft / 82 deg) for the entire dive and saw some wonderful sites. Ebby is fantastic at finding frogfish. We saw things like sea urchins, yellow frogfish, tiger tail sea cucumbers, sea horses, banded coral shrimp, slipper lobster, giant anemone (purple/lavendar - as if I'm a good judge of color). Plus things I don't even know what they were :)
Day 5, Thursday - Another day that dawned bright, sunny, and warm. Yes, hard to believe!!! So we decided to go diving after having buffet breakfast at the Caribbean Point restaurant. We went out with the usual crowd, plus one addition, Irene, the vieographer for Tucan Divers. She dove with us on the first tank dive (66 min/72ft/ 82 deg) and videoed the divers, reef, and marine life. She captured some of the things we saw at the Ol' Blue dive site, such as, a moon jelly fish, flounder, sharptail eel, trunkfish, spotted drum, four eyed butterfly, sand divers, as well as some crazy divers. Our second dive (64 min/50 ft/82 deg) was over at Klein Bonaire on Bonaventure where we saw a purple mouth moray, multiple trunkfish, angel fish (grey, french), rock beauty, grasby, banded butterfly, and beautilful coral and plant life.
Day 6, Friday - Last day of diving. We did two more boat dives from the Purple Rain on a couple of reefs pretty far south. The first was Margate Bay and it was a nice dive (62 min/72 ft/82 deg) where we saw some great stuff: a spotted eagle ray (unfortunately not close enought for a good photo), juvenile spotted drum, porcupine fish, sharptail eel. The second dive (67 min/71 ft/ 84 deg) was not far away at Invisibles and for our last dive we saw some fantastic marine life: smooth juvenile trunkfish, scorpionfish, gardeneels, huge spiney lobster, scrawled filefish, reef squid, and a few flounder.
Day 7, Saturday - Travel Home day. Getting to and from Bonaire is not a quick experience. And I've come to the conclusion, that when traveling on Air Jamaica, the list times are "recommended times" not a hard and fast rule. Having said that, it was a pleasant flight once the plane arrived in Bonaire and we made it back to Baltimore with all our luggage. A day to wind down and then back to work.