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Why you should discover scuba diving

If you’re visiting Bonaire, it is almost illegal to leave without experiencing our beautiful underwater world. And yes, of course, you can discover a lot while snorkeling, but the experience of snorkeling is not comparable to diving. Bonaire is the diver’s paradise, make sure you’ve been in paradise as well.

There actually are a few reasons why you should seriously give scuba diving a try. The first one: It’s a completely different world. Oceans cover more than 70% of the earth’s surface and we still don’t know very much about all the animals living in it. But the animals we do know are literally amazing. There are so many different types of marine life all over the world. And don’t forget about the corals, it may sound weird, but it is not guaranteed that we’ll always have these beautiful corals. Try to make sure that you don’t miss out on them and go for a dive in shallow water.

Diving is not just a funny activity; it is a way of life! Diving connects you to lots of new people, people who travel the world and go on underwater adventures. Always think about the next place you want to dive and meet new people, cultures and destinations. You’ll for sure meet a lot of new Dive Friends! While you’re busy exploring the marine life, you’re actually working out as well. During a 45 minute dive, you burn the same number of calories as during a low-speed run. And be honest, do you really want to prefer a low-speed run over DIVING!?

Feeling stressed? When diving the only thing you’ll hear is the bubbles rising to the surface and the sounds of aquatic organisms. If you get lucky and are on the right place at the right time, there even is a change to hear the singing of whales and dolphins. Because of neutral buoyancy, it feels like you’re flying underwater, become a pro and fly over shipwrecks and swim amongst big schools of fish. If you’re going to scuba dive for the first time, please accept that you won’t be able to feel 100% relaxed. Once the fear of being underwater disappears, you’re at the diver’s paradise, the best place to discover and relax at the same time.

Diving is a never-ending education process. It requires you to develop your knowledge and get a perfect technique. It is not only the marine life you should know a lot about, but you also have to know every detail of your equipment and how it works. Once you’re really comfortable underwater you should definitely look at the career opportunities, you’ll be able to work all over the world! Everyone at Dive Friends Bonaire would be pleasured to have you as our dive guest.


Everything you need to know about diving on Bonaire

Dive everywhere with your marine pass

Everybody who wants to go diving on Bonaire is required to pay nature fee. The waters around Bonaire and Klein Bonaire are protected by STINAPA and called the Bonaire National Marine Park (BNMP). The park surrounds the entire island till 60 meters deep and you have to pay for all water activities. The scuba diving fee is $45,- and runs for one calendar year.

Once you’ve paid for your nature fee, you’re allowed to literally dive everywhere on the island. On Bonaire you can just drive somewhere and make a nice dive or use one of the dive sites for your adventures. Shore diving is the most popular way of diving on Bonaire. When you’ve had enough of all the shore diving, take a look at our boat dives. Come to our Dive Friends Bonaire @ Port Bonaire location and join our one or two-tank boat dives. If you want to know which dive sites you really do not want to miss, check out our blog about The best dive spots on Bonaire.

Bring boots, not gloves

While diving on Bonaire, it is not allowed to wear gloves. If you must wear gloves during your dives, make sure to bring a doctor’s declaration, not older than 30 days. Bring your declaration to the headquarters of STINAPA at Barcadera to get a permit allowing you to use gloves. If you’re catching, collecting, or killing lionfish, you can wear gloves, but do need

Something you really do need when diving in the beautiful waters of Bonaire are boots. At almost every dive site you’ll be able to enter from shore. To protect yourself from the reef, please make sure to bring boots or buy them at our Dive Friends Bonaire @ Retail & Dive store.

Buy reef safe sunscreen & leave everything underwater

To help STINAPA we can all do our part in protecting the waters of Bonaire. Starting from the moment you arrive on Bonaire. It’s very important for all of us to start wearing reef-safe sunscreen. A lot of sunscreens are really bad for our ocean ecosystem, but did you already know that the ingredients are also toxic to our human bodies? Especially when we’re exposed from a young age throughout our lives. Not only sunscreen is destroying our reefs, body lotions and shampoos are also very bad for corals. That’s why we at Dive Friends Bonaire use Sun Bum and Vertra, their mineral sunscreens are 100% reef safe, and they also have other body-related items. We’ve got a big collection of Sun Bum and Vertra at every location, our crew can’t wait to tell you all about 100% reef safe sunscreen.

As you might know, it’s also really important to not touch anything underwater. The reason you’re not allowed to wear gloves is to keep you away from touching corals. Try to keep a good distance (with your fins too) to make sure you never touch anything underwater. Keep in mind that you are NOT allowed to bring shells home from Bonaire. Everything except garbage has to stay underwater.

Bonaire’s climate

On Bonaire, the Caribbean sun shines all year round. It is almost every day 30 degrees Celsius/86 degrees Fahrenheit, and the water doesn’t get colder than 27 degrees Celsius/80 degrees FahrenheitAlthough the weather at Bonaire is perfect, we do have some rainy days. The ‘rain season’ runs from November till January and from may till august it’ll be windy. Which makes December till April peak season, everybody is trying to escape their cold winters.


If you don’t take a camera to Bonaire, you should go back home and get it or rent it at one of our locations. At the surface you’ll be able to shoot beautiful nature pictures, or just you with a Caribbean cocktail, it doesn’t really matter the view will make everything look great. Especially for diving we’d recommend you to take an underwater camera with you. The visibility here is perfect, so if you’re new with making pictures underwater, Bonaire is the perfect place to expand your skills. If you’re already an underwater photographer, but want to be a real expert, follow our underwater photography course. If you’re planning to do something with underwater photography, be sure to visit the photography center at our Retail & Dive location,

Rent a car

Last but not least, rent a car when you’re on Bonaire. Without a car you won’t be able to do some exploration. Of course, you can go scuba diving somewhere close to your accommodation, but if you want to get to other places, you definitely need a car on Bonaire. We offer guided shore dives or boat dives, but if you want to go for a dive yourself, no one is going to bring you to the best spots. If you’re planning on diving with Dive Friends Bonaire, we can rent you a pick-up truck at one of our partners. For more information and prices, send an email to: info@divefriendsbonaire.com. We really recommend you to be independent and rent a cool pick-up truck while visiting Bonaire, it will be worth it!






What is coral?

 Many snorkelers and divers on Bonaire may already know the answer to this question but not everyone is aware of what coral actually is.
This article will teach you all the basics about the coral reefs around Bonaire.

Corals are a marine invertebrate in the phylum Cnidaria. They typically live in colonies of many individual polyps. There are over 2,500 species of coral split into two major groups: hard corals and soft corals. Most coral species can be found on the largest coral reef in the world, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef. In the Caribbean, there are only about 60 different species, all of which can be found on Bonaire!

Hard corals make up about half of the total number of species with approximately 1000 different types of hard corals. They secrete calcium carbonate to form a hard skeleton, which ultimately makes up the foundational structure of coral reefs. Soft corals, or gorgonians, have skeletons that are flexible and can bend with the water movements. One of the most recognizable examples are the sea fans.

Below you will find a guide to some of the hard corals found at most of your favourite Bonaire dive sites. It’s always a great dive when you see large huge mega-fauna like whale sharks, turtles and eagle rays but the corals are homes to many different species of fish, shrimp and eel. They also house the cutest fish on Bonaire, juveniles! The next time that you head out for a dive, see if you can identify these types of hard corals. You’ll be surprised how often you’ll see them in the shallows during your safety stop.

Scientific name: Madracis auretentra     Common name: Yellow Pencil Coral

Key features:

Colonies form densely packed assemblages of small pencil size branches with blunt ends (“finger-like”)

Colouration: Cream to yellow

Funny fact to remember: looks like McDonalds French fries on the reef

Scientific name: Montastrea cvernosa
Common name: Great Star Coral

Large round polyps (“outies”)

Can form either large mounds/columns or flattened massive plates/crust

Colouration: Brown, yellow-brown, green to grey

Funny fact to remember: the colonies resemble doughnuts! Everyone loves doughnuts

Scientific name: Meandrina meandrites      Common name: Maze Coral

Can form hemispherical dome, flatten plates, columns and/or crusts with deep narrow valleys

Colouration: pale yellow to dark orange or dark brown

Funny fact to remember: Looks like a maze


In July 2017, Netflix released an original documentary Chasing Coral. It was filmed at three different locations on the Great Barrier Reef and documents the effects of rising sea temperatures on the corals. The film is a sober wake-up call for everyone; especially for those who live and work in the ocean environment. Coral reefs are threatened not only by human activities but also by Mother Nature herself.


What can you do? How are you able to help? How can you slow the process down? Bonaire is very fortunate that our reefs have been protected since 1979 and are therefore some of the healthiest in the Caribbean. All the waters around Bonaire, from the high-tide line to 100 m from shore and 60 m deep, are protected under the Bonaire National Marine Park managed by STINAPA. Within the marine park, you may not touch, tease, or take anything with you. Furthermore, Dive Friends Bonaire sponsors free quarterly clean up dives around the island of Bonaire to help keep the reefs clean and healthy. We also have the Debris Free Bonaire program: Going for a casual walk on the beach? We can provide you with a mesh bag to fill with plastic debris and you will be rewarded with a free drink! A little bit goes a long way.


By Zara

An Interview with Dee Scarr

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It’s all about feeling a connection to the underwater world. An Interview with Dee Scarr.

I meet Dee Scarr at the Dive Friends Bonaire Hamlet Oasis location, where she pulls up with a pick-up truck bed full of trash! I’m immediately ecstatic to meet her, we had discussed meeting here so she could make use of the trash disposal unit at the location. It’s one of my biggest passions and lifelong projects: the fight against pollution- marine debris. Soon to be spear-heading the Debris Free Bonaire program, I’m very keen to gain some insight and advice!

When Dee Scarr first arrived on the dive scene it was a very different place. She explains to me that there was a general fear of most creatures underwater, and even going near the water was not terribly popular. She wanted to create a way for people to overcome these fears and dispel any preconceived notions of the underwater world. Dee started her program, Touch the Sea, in 1982; 2 years after arriving on Bonaire. What began as a very hands-on experience, (‘Stroking a scorpionfish’ or ‘tickling an octopus’); changes in attitude led her to evolve the program to focus on education on a very personal level.  She guides both divers and snorkelers on to experience things from her perspective; creating a sense of belonging to the sea. This in turn creates a desire to help protect the marine ecosystem.  Admittedly, it was a strange notion for me to imagine a time when it was OK to touch the creatures and corals; but the message behind it has my full support. Before our sit down, Dee graciously gave me a copy of her three books: Touch the Sea, Coral’s Reef, and The Gentle Sea to gain some understanding of her background and the messages she has been trying convey. She also instructs me to visit her website;  to gain more information on all her various projects. I’m greatly intrigued by her programs, but we agree: these are all things I can research.

Our conversation begins to focus on two topics: being a woman dive professional; and conservation in the here and now. Dee was one of the first females to make an impact on the scuba diving industry; she became in instructor in Florida in 1974 and began her career on the island of San Salvador. She noted that back then women were hardly allowed/expected to move tanks around or set up boats. Interactions on the boat always varied, but Dee was determined to share her passion.  Without going into specifics, she described a few of the stories where she received judgment as a female diver; and I related back with her some of my encounters. While we both find it frustrating, it has not deterred us to carry on with our desires or goals. After listening to her stories, I thank her for everything she has done both as a female and as a conservationist. If it was not for women like Dee Scarr, the opportunities I have today could not be here. The first major recognition of Scarr’s work was in 1991, when she was the second recipient (after Jacques Yves Cousteau) of the PADI/SeaSpace Environmental Awareness Award. Her most recent recognition is this 2008 Academy of Underwater Arts and Sciences NOGI Award for Distinguished Service. She’s received the Boston Sea Rovers Diver of the Year Award, the Beneath the Sea Diver of the Year Award, and the Underwater Club of Boston’s Paul Revere Spike (2007.)  She was an inaugural member of the Women Divers Hall of Fame and SSI’s Platinum Pro Divers (those with more than 5000 dives; Scarr has logged over 7000 dives).

Chatting away, we almost lose track of time. We discuss the state of corals, weather, fishing, cruise ships, and come back to the topic of marine debris. She explains she always carries a mesh bag with her so she can collect rubbish on her dives. The problem is everywhere she dives, and it’s only getting worse. Divers and scientists need to increase their awareness of how much impact they have by their choices and behaviors in and out of the water.

Dee has an enthusiasm of action, she wants to make things happen; and the best thing is she will explain why and how she wants to get it done! It’s very infectious.