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Green Star Award

We are very happy to announce that we have been awarded with the PADI Green Star Award!

Read how you can join us here.

The PADI Green Star™ Dive Center Award is granted to PADI Dive Centers and Resorts that demonstrate a dedication to conservation across a wide range of business functions, including water conservation, energy use, environmentally friendly transportation practices, use of sustainable materials, conservation leadership and a donation to conservation through Project AWARE. The Green Star Award identifies dive businesses that care about the environment and are acting to protect it.

 

We are specialized in the following environmental practices:

  • Clean Up Dives
  • Dive Against Debris
  • Adopt A Dive Site
  • Recycling
  • Citizen Science
  • Coral safe and biodegradable sunscreen

We are also a 100% Project AWARE partner.

COVID-19

Dive Friends Bonaire Updates & Alerts:

Please don’t hesitate to contact us with any questions or concerns. You can reach us daily between 8 am and 5 pm Bonaire time at +599 780 2572 (Phone or Whats App) or by sending us an e-mail at info@divefriendsbonaire.com.

Update, Monday, May 25th, 2020

Our retail store at the roundabout in Hato will be open 4 days a week, on Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday from 10 AM – 2 PM.

Updated, Friday, April 10th, 2020

Sand Dollar and Yellow Submarine remain open, every day of the week from 9 am till 5 pm. If you need private tanks filled, this is possible at Sand Dollar between the opening hours or at Port Bonaire upon request. Please make an appointment first if you would like to have your own tanks filled at Port Bonaire.

There have been no changes regarding the retail shops. For details, please find information in the update from April 2nd.

Updated, Saturday, April 4th, 2020

We changed the opening hours for our Sand Dollar and Yellow Submarine locations. We are open from 9 am till 5 pm.

Updated, Thursday, April 2nd, 2020

Dive Friends has temporarily closed several locations until further notice. Our Sand Dollar and Yellow Submarine locations remain open for now with the same opening hours as you are used to, from 8 am till 5 pm.

The Retail shop at the roundabout will only open on request. Please call first to make an appointment and we will open for you. You can reach us on +599 787 3860.

The REEF store in town will remain open. Please meet our staff at the REEF store if you would like to shop at Dushi shoes and Dushi style, as these will only open on request.

Updated: Monday, March 30th, 2020

Dive Friends Bonaire closely follows all developments regarding the Corona virus / COVID-19.
We do understand that, at this moment, tourists aren’t able to reach the island due to the travel ban. We hope that you postpone your travel so we can welcome you another time!

For all locals and tourists who remain on the island, we would like to inform you which measures we have taken to fight the spread of the virus.

  • All our locations have a special rinse tank with bleach to disinfect gear. As a guest of Dive Friends Bonaire, you allowed to use it.
  • After use of rental equipment, it gets cleaned with bleach. This applies to regulators, masks, snorkels, and BCD inflators.
  • All our shops and stores are consistently disinfected.
  • At the moment we do not serve coffee and/or tea. Our water barrel is filled with fresh, cold water, we do ask you to bring your own cup.
  • We keep to social distance agreements in all our stores. Distance marks are in place at every counter.
  • Currently we do not provide rescue courses to maintain hygiene and social distance. All our other courses are adapted.

We offer all our guests a 100% future credit for their booking and hope to welcome you soon.

Bonaire Updates & Alerts

Updated, Monday, May 25th, 2020

In Connection with COVID-19, the flight ban has been extended till the 15th of June

Update, Tuesday, April 21st, 2020

The first two cases are related in the sense that the two persons were in contact with each other. Although the first-person test with Corona did not definitively identify the virus, the second-person test did return as positive for Covid-19. As a result, the first person has also been regarded as a positive case of the Corona virus on the island. Remarkably, the first person has since been declared cured.

The second person is, according to the Lieutenant Governor, now also on the mend.

Third suspect case has not tested positive.

Update, Thursday, April 16th, 2020

First Covid-19 case on Bonaire:

The result of the first official infection is an “inconclusive”. This means that the result can be interpreted both positively and negatively.

In this case, they looked at the possible symptoms of the persons’ personal travel contacts in the past period. After consultation with experts on Curacao and RIVM, this case is considered a positive result.

Update, Monday, March 30, 2020

All flights from the USA, Canada and Europe to Bonaire are temporarily banned through April 10th, 2020.
Bonaire has taken these measures in order to reduce possible spreading of the virus.

Currently, all United flights are cancelled until the 9th of May, 2020.
All American flights are cancelled until the 8th of May, 2020.
Awaiting Delta’s confirmation of flight cancellations and the proposed scheduled restart date.

Plastic Fantastic

Look around you, probably 90% of the objects are made of plastic or have some plastic in them. Plastic was invented at the start of the 20th century. Its was found when they tried to make plant products more durable. The first plastic was super small and not used a lot. However, when world war I and II raged, lots of natural resources got depleted and the need for new resources grew. Plastic was used a lot more during world war II for airplanes, parachutes, bullets, guns etc. Its exponential growth started in the fifties. People were rebuilding and the economy was at its lowest. Plastic was a convenient invention which was cheap to structure and hard to break.

Plastic is fantastic, it is cheap, doesn’t break, doesn’t take up flavors or smell and it can be watertight! However, we started using a lot of plastic for the wrong reasons. We are living in a world where everything has to be fast, easy, cheap, and available. However, using a plastic bottle for 5 minutes while it will outlive all of us is not the way to go.

We need to change our behavior towards plastic. Use it the way it was meant to be used. Like your diving suit and equipment. This is all made from plastic. But we pay good money for this equipment which triggers us to be careful! We deem these products worth a second chance, pay for them to get fixed.

I feel like divers are an easy crowd to tell my story to. We all love the ocean and like to be surrounded by fish instead of plastic. Because of this shared passion, it is easier to make changes in our life. I firmly believe we can make a change, yes companies and governments need to change with us. But we are the pressure that can affiliate this change. I hope you are all inspired to save our oceans by keeping them clean!

Tips and Tricks:

  • Bring your own cup and bottle for water or coffee!
    There are very nice reusable bottles for sale that keep your water hot or cold for a long time.
  • Clean up wherever you go.
    We have mesh bags to do some underwater clean ups, just ask at one of our 8 locations.
  • Use reusable alternatives.
    Use your own forks, knives and cups when you go for a BBQ on the beach!
  • Try to separate your waste.
    Selibon is doing a great job of recycling. We have separate bins for everything at our 8 locations! Don’t let it end up in the landfill.

Check out Debris Free Bonaire to see what else you can do to keep this awesome island beautiful!

“There is no green without blue” Sylvia Earl

 

By Roos Swart, Dive Master @ Dive Friends Bonaire

Behind the lens – SeaHale Photography

Meet Caitlin, the woman behind the Dive Friends Bonaire Photography center.

Caitlin has been working hard with several organizations and photography specialists to set up a photography department within Dive Friends! Not the kind where we rent out a camera and tell you which button to press but customized photography courses! Curious how Caitlin started diving and when she fell in love with photography? Please read it here and get inspiration from her story.

What was the reason for you to start diving?

Honestly? My University boyfriend! He was out in Thailand for summer holidays, so I went out for his last two weeks and for my 21st birthday. I left as an Advanced Open Water and Nitrox certified diver with two dive site cleanups under my belt. The week we got back, we planned our next dive vacation to Egypt for that Christmas! Saying that, I grew up as a competitive swimmer and lover of the ocean. The first job I said I wanted to do was Marine Biologist so that made me predisposed to liking it.

How did you get into photography?

I will be eternally grateful to my dad for this, he supported my interest and helped it grow into what it is today. Through him I realized you could take multiple things you are passionate about and create an even larger passion! He got me my first camera, then my first underwater camera and housing, and introduced me to ADOBE Lightroom. On a basic level, I like to capture moments and memories in photos better than journaling! It started at an early age in the woods and countryside of England. Lights/shadows, colours, and structures of nature inspired me. I wanted to share how I saw the world through my lens. When I became a diver, I was picturing the reef in the same way. I have a family full of non-divers who massively support me, I wanted to share my experiences with them! He also gets the credit for the creation of SeaHale. So, what I’d like to say is… Thank You Dad!

What is your top 1 tip for beginner photographers?

Make sure your buoyancy is good and then just shoot, Shoot, Shoot (practice, practice, practice)! Try it from different angles, landscape or portrait, and get creative. Have a quick look and review the photos, is it working? Practicing this will help you develop your skills, eye, and statistically greater chance of obtaining ‘the shot’.  It’s the beauty of digital because you can delete, delete, delete.

What is the secret behind a good photo?

Underwater? I’d say lights ?. Patience is key to obtaining good photos underwater (which means having a patient dive buddy)! Sometimes it’s best to slow right down and wait for the image opportunity to present itself, let the creatures become accustomed to your presence, and I’ll repeat shoot, shoot, shoot- that takes patience too! Start learning the behaviours of the reef: how they move, at what time, what is ‘normal/abnormal’, and that will help set you up for better shots too!

What makes Bonaire so special for photographers?

Essentially, it’s a classroom and playground. For the same reason as it is for scuba divers/snorkelers and water enthusiasts in general. You can pick up your gear and go whenever you like, you have the freedom to head out and dive/shoot your heart out. In general the conditions are most ideal! You’ve got wonderful subject selection, the Caribbean nursery Bonaire for macro marvels or pull out your wide-angle on Salt Pier or Northern Sites or even head to Klein Bonaire on the boat! It’s perfect to start or level up your photography and diving skills- you can truly learn how to dive with a camera, having that extra time to learn how the camera works and pair it with fine tuning your buoyancy (that will change completely every time you pick up a new piece of gear.)

How happy are the turtles on Bonaire?

Every tourist, diver, and snorkeler alike visits Bonaire for the abundance of turtles! Many green sea (Chelonia mydas) and hawksbill turtles (Eretmochelys imbricata) can be found all around the island, and even the loggerheads (Caretta caretta) and leatherbacks (Dermochelys coriacea) are occasionally sighted.

Sea Grass

The most abundant species, the green turtle, visits Bonaire for its favorite snack: the seagrass fields in Lac Bay. Their breakfast, lunch, and dinner is, “surprise surprise” called Turtle Grass (Thalassia testudinum) – a lush green grass that can grow up to 30 cm. The fields are perfectly mowed by our visitors. Green turtles are serious gardeners and keep their lawns fresh and perky.

Two years ago, joined a study of these awesome turtles’ grazing habits in Lac Bay. A new seagrass had arrived at Bonaire around 2010. Quite like the arrival of invasive Lionfish to Bonaire, this Halophila stipulacea came by shipping vessels ballast water. It thrived on Bonaire and rapidly spread throughout the bay. Research has been ongoing since 2010 to see if this new seagrass would change marine behavior in Lac.

Grazing behavior

My friend Irene and I researched grazing behavior over a 4-month period, looking at how abundance of marine life differed between patches of H.stipulacea and Turtle Grass. Every day, we took out kayaks loaded with dive gear, and spent 2-3 hours observing random spots in Lac Bay.

Smooth trunkfish

What an adventure! Apart from our research, we had Lionfish in our research cage and saw one of the biggest grey stingrays I have seen on Bonaire! Our research area indicators, wooden sticks with pink duct tape, were stolen by smooth trunkfish that kept following us across the bay. At one moment five trunkfish were following me in a perfect line.

Nursery

From our research, we concluded that Lac Bay remains an extremely diverse marine habitat. Millions of juveniles safely mature there before finding their way to the reef. However, the new H.stipulacea provides less protection and nutrition for juveniles compared to Turtle Grass, which our turtles still prefer. Unfortunately, the mowed lawns of Turtle Grass are more easily invaded than thick bushes – thus turtle grazing will likely help the invasion of H.stipulacea. The question remains if the Turtle Grass can survive this invasion (click here for the scientific paper).

Visit the turtles

Lac Bay is different from everything on Bonaire. The serenity and food availability keep not only green sea turtles happy but give all turtles a restful place to visit. Luckily for the turtles, diving in Lac Bay is forbidden. However, if you would like to get involved, you can dive Turtle City with East Coast Diving, enjoy snorkeling in the mangroves, sign up for the Turtle Awareness Specialty with Dive Friends, or join monthly lectures and volunteering opportunities with Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire.


By Roos Swart, Dive Master @ Dive Friends Bonaire

Coral Reef Research by Floris and Laura

Diving is fun! We could be cruising along the reef watching the wondrous marine life all day every day. Two divers who are often seen grabbing tanks at Dive Friends Bonaire are Laura and Floris, two biology students from Amsterdam. They dive with a slightly different purpose: research! Get to know them and their story in this blog. Thank you, Floris and Laura, for writing this!

“We are diving with Dive Friends while doing research for Wageningen Marine Research in cooperation with STINAPA. We’ve met a lot of divers, snorkelers and other kind people that were very interested in our project. It’s always nice to see that other people are interested in what you’re passionate about. So we were happy when we were asked to write something about our research.

As most divers probably noticed, coral reefs communities have changed a lot in the last couple of decades. Especially divers that have been diving for a long time might have seen a shift from coral-dominated reefs to algae-dominated reefs. Research suggest this is mostly because of different human activities including pollution, global warming and overfishing.

While most research only considered the shift from coral to algae, now there seems to be a “new” group that is quickly increasing in abundance and might be a problem: benthic cyanobacterial mats. I say “new” since they are not actually new on the reef. Cyanobacteria are, just like coral, fish and algae, an essential part of a healthy coral reef.

However, these same cyanobacteria can also form thick slimy mats and rapidly increase in abundance. In some places the cyanobacterial mats increased from less than 1% of the reef cover to over 20%. Cyanobacterial mats can suffocate coral or other organisms, inhibit coral settlement and they are known to act as coral pathogens. Pollution, increasing nutrient concentrations and the increase in water temperature are thought to be among the main drivers of the increase of these cyanobacterial mats. However, their dynamics as not entirely understood.

That’s why we started different experiments around the island to try to better understand what drives the observed increase in cyanobacteria and how their abundance changes throughout the season. We also try to understand where and how fast they grow. Gaining a better understanding of why and where cyanobacterial mats grow might help in managing these mats in the future and help to protect the reef.

If you see us working on one of the Dive Friends locations or on any of the other dive sites, feel free to ask any questions. We will be happy to tell you everything about our research in more detail!”

 

Teach. Live the Dream. Change Lives.

Upcoming Instructor Development Course: August 14th – 28th

Dive Friends offers great opportunities for those who would love to be diving all day, every day. Our eight-week divemaster internship allows you to make diving your profession and lets you experience what it’s like to work in the friendliest dive center in the Caribbean. And if you really, truly want to live the dream, your ultimate goal might well be to take the Instructor Development Course and become a dive instructor yourself.

In this blog, some of our dive instructors share their most memorable moments as a dive instructor.

From fearful to fearless. New divers, taking a breath underwater for the very first time, can be stressed. Some think they will never be able to complete a dive and are struggling to overcome anxiety. According to Nienke, the most valuable aspect of teaching people scuba diving is to watch these new divers overcome their fear, exchanging it for a calmness and wonder as they take in all there is to see on the reefs. Knowing that you have helped them turn their fear into a newfound hobby is priceless.

Future ocean ambassadors. As a dive instructor, you get to teach young children. Whenever Caitlin takes out an eight-year-old on a Bubblemaker course; or a ten-year-old on the first open water dive, the feeling of introducing them to a whole new world is amazing. Some kids return from a dive completely fascinated by the animals they’ve seen and with a new goal: “Save the planet”. As the dive instructor who introduces them to the ocean and all it has to offer, you are an important factor in creating a new generation of ocean ambassadors.

Share your passion. Diving is incredible and as a dive instructor you get to tell people this every day. One of Iris’ most memorable moments was when she took her own father on a Discover Scuba Dive.  Her dad discovered that he loved diving just as much as his daughter. For Iris, seeing his smile after his first dive was a very special moment. Being a dive instructor allows you to directly share your greatest passion with those closest to you.

Challenge yourself. Apart from diving every day, dive instructors have many opportunities to challenge themselves and expand their dive horizons. Ever since working as an instructor, Daniel has challenged himself more than he could ever have dreamt beforehand. Being in an environment with professional divers all around helped him a lot. It is very easy to get introduced to new ways of diving, such as sidemount diving and tech diving. As a dive instructor, you will always find new ways to explore the ocean and all its beauty.

The ocean as your home. Finally, divemaster Vincent has just completed his divemaster training with us. He will be one of the students doing the Instructor Development Course this summer. Why did he decide he wants to move forward and become a dive instructor? The answer is very simple. Teaching is rewarding, and you get to teach in the most beautiful place on earth: the ocean. Whether it’s the Caribbean Sea, the Indian Ocean, or the Pacific Ocean, you get to go to amazing locations that not many people get to go to.

Need more? We don’t think so. Start living the dream now!

Sunscreen Awareness on Bonaire

Bonaire is world-famous for its diving along pristine reefs. The best thing? You can enjoy this year-round – there is no such thing as bad weather around here! Protecting yourself against the sun is vital to avoid serious health risks. At the same time, we want to protect the reef against harmful chemicals contained in sunscreens. Many sunscreens contain a particular chemical called oxybenzone. In this blog, we explain you why it’s time to stop using these sunscreens NOW!

Recently, scientists have been curious to find out the effects of oxybenzone on Bonaire’s precious coral reefs… and the conclusions are not very pretty. Sunscreens containing oxybenzone increase coral bleaching which, ultimately, can lead to coral death. Additionally, the risk of coral disease increases when oxybenzone is present in the water, and reproduction of the corals is reduced.

WWF, Boneiru Duradero and Wageningen Marine Research now bring sunscreen awareness to Bonaire! In four easy steps, you can minimise your “sunscreen impact” on the reef.

Choose wisely – Cut the oxybenzone*! Instead, choose a sunscreen that’s based on either zinc or titanium minerals. Take a minute to briefly check the etiquette of sunscreen products in the store to make sure that you’ll bring a great choice to our precious island.

Wear protective clothing – Divers are already pretty good at this one! Wearing a wetsuit or a rashguard allows you to reduce your use of sunscreen without increasing health risks. Another huge perk: it you won’t get cold while you are on one of our unlimited shore diving packages this summer!

Apply early – When you know you’ll be diving or snorkelling, think ahead and apply your sunscreen at least thirty minutes before entering the water. This will greatly reduce the amount of sunscreen that washes off into the ocean.

Spread the word – We are not called Dive Friends for nothing. If you dive with us on Bonaire, you’ll soon know that you are truly a part of the Dive Friends Family! We all share our fantastic dive experiences. Why not also spread the sunscreen awareness along with this unconditional love for our healthy coral reefs?

Click here for more information on this highly relevant topic. And while you guys are busy reading etiquettes in your local store, we’ll make sure we’re ready to go diving with you this summer. See you soon on Bonaire, with ongoing love for the reef!

*: Oxybenzone can also be mentioned as BP-3 or benzophenone-3

Freediving – Five reasons to start today!

 

Dive Friends Bonaire is now partnering with Deepsea Freediving and offering PADI Freediving classes as a PADI Freedive Center. Freediving is becoming more and more popular around the globe. Bonaire is an excellent place for freediving; the reef drop-off starts shallow and there is a huge diversity of marine life to observe along the entire reef, easily accessible for freedivers.

In this blog, PADI & AIDA Freediver Instructor Trainer and 12x World Record Freediver Carlos Coste gives you his top five reasons why you should learn to freedive… today!

  1. Freedom

Freediving is like flying into liquid space – weightless and free! With the help of simple and light gear, freedivers are able to enjoy the underwater world with three-dimensional movement possibilities. You will also enjoy the freedom to perform dozens of dives during a session, where the number of dives will increase once you are more advanced and fit!

  1. Development of relaxation & breathing control

Relaxation and breathing control are the fundamental skills to develop in freedive courses. So, if you are stressed, experiencing out of breath situations, or if you want to improve your meditation and visualization skills, a professional freedive course can help a lot! It’s a body and mind connection that will also provide you with a comfortable feeling during your scuba dives, as well as provide you with breathing and stress control.

  1. Rediscover the joy to dive

Look at freediving as a new approach to the underwater world: more sportive, meditative and rewarding. It is a constant inner exploration and self-improvement discipline. Freediving will help you to become more aware of your body, which can improve your lifestyle and your health.

  1. Become a part of the marine life

Freedivers are quiet, and therefore fit more naturally in the underwater world. There are no bubbles and heavy equipment to scare off the marine life. So, if you are looking for some quality marine time with whales, dolphins, groupers, or manta’s, then let’s freedive!

  1. Longer and more relaxed scuba dives

Yes, freediving also improves your scuba dives! Learning breathing and relaxation techniques will allow you to boost your scuba dive performances, and result in a longer tank life. Additionally, the equalization techniques used in freediving can be beneficial and useful for scuba diving.

We at Dive Friends Bonaire are absolutely convinced that freediving is a valuable addition to everyone’s dive experience! Interested in the courses we offer? Have a look at our freedive course page and don’t hesitate to contact us!

New Year Blog – Bring On 2018

Come dive with Dive Friends in 2018!

There is always a slightly sad feeling when the end of the year festivities are behind you. We at Dive Friends Bonaire are excited to start a new year full of diving. But to make 2018 an unforgettable year full of amazing underwater experiences, we need you! So, stop feeling gloomy and start planning your next dive trip! We have made you a nice “calendar” to help you decide when to book your tickets to come visit us. Can’t choose what you like best? Don’t worry – we make diving a great experience year-round.

January, February and March

January is the month for clean slates and following up on your New Year’s resolutions. During your visit to Bonaire, you can also do something for the reefs as part of your Spring Clean! Why not learn how to hunt the invasive lionfish, gather scientific data during the Fish ID or REEF Survey Diver Specialty, or join us on our quarterly Clean-up Dive? In February, love is all around. Let us take you on a guided Ostracod Night Dive for a most romantic experience amongst a sea of blue stars. Also, cruise seasons draws to an end in March. You can profit from the increased availability of our instructors by taking as many Specialty courses as you want. Expand your horizon with us!

Photo by Rudy van Geldere

Photo by Davy Lepsi

 

April, May and June

Time to spot some turtles! April marks the beginning of the sea turtle nesting season. If you’re lucky you might spot a female Loggerhead turtle visiting our island to lay her eggs. In June, green turtles and Hawksbill turtles also start making their way to Bonaire. Take our Sea Turtle Awareness Distinctive Specialty if you want to learn more about these amazing animals! In May and June, the ocean is also teeming with other new life! The reefs are a nursery for many juvenile fishes at this time of the year. Be prepared for some cute encounters with baby Trunkfish and blue tangs. Also, the fourth Bonaire Dive Week will take place from May 26th to June 2nd. Let us be your host while you enjoy all the fun activities that Bonaire Dive Week has to offer! Our team is ready to provide you with all the tanks, equipment and knowledge of Bonaire’s reefs to make for an unforgettable experience.

July, August and September

Are you the type of person that just can’t get enough of diving? July and August are your months! The days are long and water temperatures reach their peak. Enjoy multiple shore dives until the sun sets without getting cold! In September, the days are shortening slightly. However, water temperatures are still peaking and the winds are reduced in strength. Thus, diving conditions are perfect! Take your chance to spot the well-camouflaged creatures such as frogfish and seahorses without battling currents. This is also the perfect time to go East Coast Diving… let us book it for you!

Photo by Caitlin Hale

October, November and December

October brings to Bonaire one of the most famous and surreal underwater events: coral spawning! Let us take you on a night dive and watch how those corals start to ‘smoke’ and send their offspring into the ocean. Other marine life is also influenced by the coral spawning event; be prepared for some crazy mating behavior from the fish around you! November and December bring even more reasons to go crazy. Where better way to spend the most festive months of the year than in Diver’s Paradise? It’s always a celebration to go out on a dive on our coral reefs. After a fresh shower and a mind full with new life-lasting memories, you can enjoy your Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner at one of Bonaire’s award winning fine dining restaurants. On top of that, you will find Bonaire covered in pretty lights and our staff greeting you with a loud chorus of various Christmas songs!

Photo by Davy Lepsi