In addition to guided boat dives, you can dive independently from shore whenever you like at dozens of sites around Bonaire.  We asked Carolyn Caporusso, longtime Bonaire diver and former manager at Dive Friends Bonaire, what gear every diver should have with them on their Bonaire dive trip – particularly if they are planning to do shore dives around the island.  Here’s what Carolyn writes that you’ll want to put on your packing list if you plan to explore Bonaire’s incredible shore diving.

 

Booties and Open Heel Fins

Unless you plan to only dive from a boat or pier, you’ll want dive booties for your Bonaire trip. There are only one or two dive sites that I’d walk into barefoot – even without a tank on my back.  With the extra weight of a tank, you need to have foot protection to walk over the rocks and coral rubble at most entry points.  We also have a wealth of biodiversity in the shallows…some of whom have pretty mean defenses!  Fire coral, sea urchins and scorpion fish don’t mix with bare feet.

 

Dive Computer

If you’re going to be conducting independent shore dives, you will be responsible for your own dive planning.  The ability to keep track of your depth and time is essential.  Nobody wants a tour of the decompression chamber.  There are many easy to use dive computers on the market that are very reasonably priced.  And if you and your dive buddy are diving the same profile together all week, you can share the data.

 

Save-a-Dive Kit 

Who wants to drive all the way to Karpata or the park and have to cancel a dive because their fin strap broke.  Whenever you buy new gear, be sure to strip any workable parts from your old equipment. (Trust me, I have a lot of old dive bits and pieces sitting around the house).  You never know what might come in handy! Use an old mask box to keep a spare fin strap, mask strap, mouthpiece, o-rings and cable ties.  It doesn’t take up much space or weight in your luggage, but you will be the hero of your dive buddies if you can save someone’s dive!

 

Guide Book

There are two really good ones, Bonaire Shore Diving Made Easy and Bonaire Dive Guide.  Having a map of the dive sites with descriptions and recommendations for every experience level really helps you to make the most of your Bonaire diving vacation – especially if it is your first trip here.  You’ll get a better idea of the dive’s profile, what you can expect to see and suggested entry and exit points and dive planning considerations.

 

More Training

OK, so it’s not quite “gear to bring,” but definitely something to consider … additional training.  Many experienced divers have logged most of their dives from a dive boat, with a dive master (in the water) along with them.  If you start off your trip with an Advanced, Rescue, Navigation, Photography or Shore Diver course, you will feel more confident and be better prepared to make the most of your visit.

 

What else

Bring or rent an underwater camera.  It doesn’t need to be anything fancy and a GoPro is a great option.  You will see marine life on Bonaire that you will NEED to share with your friends or they might not believe you!  I’d also suggest a dry box for your car keys, license and maybe a bit of cash to buy a cold drink on your way back from a dive.