Bonaire Reef Profile
The Bonaire reef profile features all types of hard corals. The drop-off zone usually starts at a depth of about 30 feet and has an abundance of mountainous star coral
in huge structures of mounds and pillars, both overlapping and sloping downward and marked with sponges and soft corals. As the coral formations sharply descend down
the reef slope, one can find leaf or scroll corals with fine stands of black coral.
This continuous coral reef slope follows the coastline, with some unusual buttress, spur and groove and double reef formations as well as several small vertical walls
in various locations around Bonaire and Klein Bonaire.
Bonaire Dive Sites
There are more than 90 recognized dive sites on Bonaire, and because the reef is so close to shore, you can explore the majority of these sites without ever boarding a
dive boat. Yellow marker stones along the leeward coast road are painted with each dive site’s name – just pull over, park your rental truck, gear up and wade in! Boat
diving on Bonaire has its rewards, especially if it's headed to Klein Bonaire. This small, uninhabited island, located three-quarters of a mile off the leeward coast,
is ringed with spectacular dive sites that have never suffered from silt or runoff. Bonaire has several wrecks of all sizes with the freighter Hilma Hooker, at a depth
of 100 feet, the most well-known.
There are also exceptional Bonaire dive sites to be found on the windward east coast, but should be undertaken only under the skilled supervision of a select group of
dive masters that offer guided shore dives or operate specialized boats for this adventurous option. Here you will find more challenging conditions and even greater
numbers of marine creatures.
Bonaire Marine Park
Bonaire diving owes its current popularity and promising future to the far-sighted actions of the Bonaire people and the Bonaire Marine Park. Even before the Park was
established, Bonaire and its citizens were enacting legislation that led the world in the preservation of marine life and reef ecology. In 1961, Bonaire began protecting
sea turtle eggs and their nesting habitat. Spear fishing was banned in 1971. In 1975, Bonaire made it illegal to collect, break or sell live coral. With financial
backing from the World Wildlife Fund, the Bonaire Marine Park was formed in 1979 to provide protection and adapt conservancy practices to insure the future of Bonaire's
The Bonaire Marine Park encircles the entire island from the high water mark down to a depth of 200 feet, as well as Lac Bay and its mangrove forests. Within this park
is one of the most diverse marine life populations in the Caribbean and ranks among the best in the world.
Bonaire scuba divers must purchase a $25 Marine Park tag, allowing them access for 1 full year ($10 for snorkelers). The maintenance of public moorings, staffing of
rangers and ongoing research are dependent on the collection of these fees. The Park is managed by STINAPA, a non-governmental, non-profit organization of dedicated
professionals that also oversees operation and management of Washington-Slaagbai National Park and the Barcadera cave system.
For more information about the Bonaire Marine Park and STINAPA, please visit the websites below: