Bonaire Dive Sites, Dutch Caribbean

For independent shore diving I’ve found nowhere that beats Bonaire. With the reef starting less than 100 yards from the beach for most sites access is generally an easy swim. The island’s tourism is focused on independent divers, with numerous truck rental/unlimited air packages and accommodations with good cleaning stations and storage for dive gear. While Bonaire lacks the larger pelagic life, such as most species of sharks, the reef is full of colorful fish and other creatures such as eels, rays and turtles.

This our second trip to Bonaire. For more photos from our first trip see Diving Bonaire: Taking your skills to the next level.

For detailed information about the dive sites on Bonaire Reef Smart Guides: Bonaire is an excellent resource.

Dive Sites

Salt Pier

A favorite dive site on the island, the route winds under the pier with myriad schools of fish and quite a few larger predator fish prowling around. If you love colorful fish this is the dive for you. We also saw a number of small eels of various colors. The coral is mostly dead in this section but the numerous pilings supporting the pier provide a complex and unique habitat for lots of creatures. The entry can be tricky when it’s windy and the surf is up, with holes in the uneven bottom close to shore. It’s also a popular site, you won’t have the place to yourselves but there is plenty of room for the number of visitors.

The Cliff

Convenient if you are staying at the Coral Paradise Resort, just gear up at home and head out the back gate. The access is between two houses with steps leading down to a very small beach. A wall dive with some clefts of sand the coral is in OK shape, especially in the shallower waters.

Night Dive

The water was relatively calm compared to our first day with easy access to the water. We did not find much night action on the reef though. Snappers followed us at lower depth and we did see one big tarpon in the shallows on the return but nothing much else of interest.

Alice in Wonderland

This is a double reef site with a relatively easy entrance albeit with some rocks and holes. On a windy day there were waves but we didn’t have too much difficulty getting in or out. Visibility was not great and deteriorated on the second dive. Lots of fish on the top of the first reef, less so on the front side of the second reef. Nice islands on the sandy bottom between the reefs. We saw a school of squid on our way out in about 12ft of water.

Buddy’s Reef

We accessed this wall dive via the Bari Reef dive entrance, a small beach next to the Buddy Dive Resort. From this entrance with the current heading south we first headed north into the current towards Buddy’s Reef. Visibility was poor but the wall was loaded with fish of all sizes.


This is a double reef site with a relatively easy entrance, although you do have to dodge some fire coral on the way out to the buoy. Just beyond the buoy there is a visible sandy channel through the first reef to the sand channel between the reefs, making it easy to find your way back.

This site is loaded with fish of various sizes and the coral is in good shape. Visibility had improved compared to the day before. The back reef also had a lot of activity with lots of baby fish and hungry bigger ones as well as garden eels along the sandy bottom. The highlights were a large green moray ribboning through the first reef and a giant ray in the sandy channel between the reefs.

Angel City

Compared to our first dives of the day at Invisibles, Angel City was disappointing. Although this is another double reef site with a sand channel between there were considerably fewer fish and a lot of dead coral. That said, it also has some spectacular coral as well, such as the largest brain coral I’ve ever seen, the side of which dropped down 8-10ft. I also liked the back reef filled with ferns swaying the in the surf, hiding myriad fish and guarded by a barracuda that greeted us on the way out and back in.

Ol’Blue (Boka di Tola)

One of the northern sites, this one is listed in the guidebook as 3 stars for both the reef and fauna. Unfortunately it disappointed for both. The reef had a lot of dead coral and with fewer fish than we’ve seen at other sites. Access is not too difficult even in somewhat choppy waters as there are gentle steps downs to the sea and the reef is close to shore.


This northern site is one of the most popular. There was only one car ahead of us when we arrived at 9:30a.m. after doing Ol’ Blue, but the parking lot had about 10 cars when we left. A couple of groups arrived shortly after us. Despite the numbers in the parking lot we saw few other divers on the reef.

This wall dive has sandy clefts that you weave in and out of. We didn’t see anything of interest in these clefts but they are known for moray eels. Up top the shallow reef is particularly pretty with an abundance of healthy coral and fish.

For links to all the posts in this series see the Diving page.

July 11-16, 2021