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Even the licence plates in Bonaire say ‘divers paradise’. Bonaire, a famous destination in the underwater world, is not so much in the freedive world (yet…). So let’s explore the potential of Bonaire as a freediving paradise! This little southern Caribbean island is blessed with rough natural beauty above as well as below the surface. Besides curiosity, my main reason to come to Bonaire was to take my freediving skills to the next level. Best move I could make! I would love to share with you why. Here are 12 reasons to make Bonaire your next freedive destination, whether you’re a freedive novice or looking to go like a pro.

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1. The water: Deep, clear, warm and calm

The contrast of blue’s between depth and shallow waters is spectacular. 50 metres from the shore, the reef drops big time. Right away, you can already train up to 30 metres deep. 100 metres from the shore, you can train 50 metres deep. Just a little further, the depth reaches 120 metres. Opportunities exist at every level. The shape of the island gives Bonaire a big, protected harbour. It is blessed with 24 miles of leeward coast, out of the wind, with hardly any currents. This makes the visibility suberb! The water temperature is around 28 degrees, up to 30 degrees in the summer.

2. A beautiful, protected reef all around

Bonaire (and Klein Bonaire, the little island in front of Kralendijk town) is almost completely surrounded by a drop-down reef, including vertical walls. Very early on, the island realised this beauty should be preserved and taken care of. Since 1979, the entire coast has been a protected marine park. Therefore, the quality of marine flora and fauna is still subpar! The destination has one of the most diverse and plentiful fish populations in the West Indies. Every reef visitor contributes to the conservation of the marine park by buying a tag from STINAPA Park Management (divers $25, freedivers and snorkelers $10)). From the shore, you can access endless exploration spots for fun Caribbean freediving. More than 60 shore diving spots are marked by yellow-painted stones at the side of the road. 1000 Beach and the South Pier are a must! No spearfishing (except for lionfish) or anchoring is allowed. But with more than 100 moorings, there are still enough possibilities to attach your boat or freedive float. Or find a sailboat to travel on powered by the wind.
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3. AIDA freedive training centre

I progressed in 2 weeks, compared to how I otherwise may have progressed in a year. I did my AIDA 3* and 4* courses with DeepSea Bonaire, the freedive school of world champ Carlos Coste. No regrets! I learned so much from him. With 13 years of freedive teaching and multiple records to his name, Carlos offers a top-level freedive training centre. Whether you’re a newbie, want to take your freedive skills to a higher level, or are looking to train for some very serious depth, DeepSea Bonaire can help you push the limit. Carlos can also help you out with buddies, training buddies, oxygen, and FRX training. Check Deep Sea Bonaire to see what freedive courses, freedive competitions, and freedive holidays are coming up.

4. Freedive buddies in Bonaire

It’s not always easy to find a freedive buddy to train with, right? In Bonaire, you won’t be the only freediver in the Caribbean freediving scene! Although scuba diving dominates in this place, freediving is starting to become more popular. Open apnea trainings are organized by DeepSea Bonaire. There is a Bonaire freedive Whats app group (managed by Carlos & Gaby). 

5. Safety Facilities

All spots are within swimming distance from the shore. There is a hospital with a hyperbaric oxygen room and enough specialists in decompression sickness. Not too unimportant.
 

6. Freediving in caves

There is a huge underground ecosystem to explore on this island, and not many people know about it. Bonaire has 300–400 caves, many of which are still to be discovered. Fascinating fossilised coral formations, stalagmites, stalactites, crystal clear waters, and many hidden corners where you can dive into bring you to other cave rooms! The top layer (+/-2,5m) is freshwater; when diving below this, you’ll get to the salty layer. Incredibly cool and a must for every adventure seeker and freediver to go caving when coming to Bonaire! Contact FlowBonaire for this adventure. Owner Leo is a freediver too. He fully understands your eagerness to dive to the bottom of the cave and is happy to let you do so, safe and secure.

7. Relaxation maximisation

As with freediving, the more relaxed you are, the better your freediving performance. There is no stress in this place. With no traffic lights and little traffic, even the iguanas and donkeys are chilling on the street. With only 16.000 islanders, Bonaire is a very relaxed, uncrowded, and peaceful island. After a chill-out, you can go for a boulevard evening stroll, an open-air cinema, a picknick on the beach, or spoil yourself with a fresh seaside dinner.

8. Exploration options

On your freedive day off, there’s loads to explore, below as well as above the surface. Basically, wherever you go, it’s beautiful, and you’ll surely discover something unique. Wild donkeys, parrots, pelicans, flamingos, cliffs, and secluded beaches. I was happily surprised by the rough beauty of Bonaire nature. It’s a unique mix. You can (& should!) go on safari in Washington Slagbaai National Park. Combine the exploration with some action. Go kayaking or snorkelling in the mangrove forest; sail, swim, or kayak to the uninhabited island of Klein Bonaire; go for a hike in ’the cactus outback’; explore Bonaire by mountainbike; go for some rockclimbing; or just rent a car and cruise around. Bonaire is also a top destination for kitesurfing and windsurfing. If you stay a long time, you may want to give it a go. Don’t miss out on the local ‘snacks’, which are Caribbean-style bars. They are especially fun in the afternoon. Have a drink with a local and absorb the Bonairean ambience. With all this happening mostly during the day, you can chill away in the evening, sleep early, and be ready for the next day of training.

9. The coolest training pool

In front of the boulevard in Kralendijk, there is a swimming pool, and it’s the coolest freedive training centre I’ve ever seen. It’s natural, with a white sandy bottom and tropical fish swimming around. Lines have been rolled out so you can focus and train like in a real pool. There are lines for 50m and 1 for 70m. In a setting like this, it makes dynamic training a lot more fun! And it’s free! Unique in Caribbean freediving!
 

10. Healthy, tasty, delicious food

Bonaire is a melting pot of cultures. You’ll find food and ingredients from all over. Colombian ceviche, Venezuelan arepas, Surinam roti, Creole dishes, Dutch bread, or the local stobas (stews) or funchi (steamed corn). There are’snacks’ (local bars), takeaways, charming restaurants, seaside dinner places, or just make your own picknick. Definitely try the local lionfish, the most responsible fish to eat! It’s tasty, healthy, and threatens the ecosystem, so go for it.  Food tip: GoGreen Ayurveda restaurant, serving the most delicious pure foods. Check out this handy directory to find your preferred food.

11. Cross-training options

To be a good freediver, we have to work on aerobic and aenarobic training. I learned all about that in the AIDA freedive course. There are numerous gyms in town offering group lessons, TRX, and yoga. Name it, and you can train it. There are massage, acupuncture, yoga, and spa places. A waterfront run on the boulevard is also quite nice for a change!
 

12. The people

No one walks by you without saying Bom Dia (good morning) or Bom Tardi (good afternoon). That’s the vibe and ambience of a little, uncrowded island. Bonaire is a nice mixture of locals, import locals who fell in love with the island, active travellers, water sports enthusiasts, artistic people, and creatives. You fit right in!
 
 
And all of this, ALL YEAR ROUND! There are no hurricanes in this part of the Caribbean.
 
See you in Bonaire!
 

A few more thoughtful travel takeaways:

  • You can drink the tap water. The quality is superb! So just bring 1 bottle and re-fill! Skeptical? Just bring your filter water bottle.
  • Spearfishing is prohibited. The only fish that is allowed to be speared is the lionfish, which is unbalancing the ecosystem. Check out STINAPA for more information about that!
  • Get a car or scooter to get around. It’s not a must, but it can bring you to every corner of the island. Especially further inland, you’ll discover cool local places to eat.
  • Where do I stay in Bonaire? Anywhere in or near Kralendijk is a good location. The waterfront is fantastic! A few places that caught my interest: Medium budget: Blue Diver. Wow factor: Summer dream Ocean Club. Wow 2 with boat pick-up service from Deep Sea: You & Me appartments. Check Flipkey and Homeaway to browse rental houses in Bonaire
    • On a budget? Check couchsurfing and AirBNB (-<25$ discount) to stay with a local for budget accommodation in Bonaire.
    • Staying Long-term? Ask on the Bonaire housing facebook group. There are many people offering housing and apartments.
  • Keep the receipt for the STINAPA Marine tag and bring it with you when going to Washington Slagbaai National Park. It saves you 10 dollars on the entrance fee!
  • On first sight, Bonaire is not for the budget traveller. Which is good. It will never get crowded here. Though if you happen to be on a budget and look around the corner, behind the restaurants on the first row, meet locals, ask locals, and buy locally, you’ll manage, and it’s definitely worth the freedive progression!
  • Locals speak Papiamentu; some speak Dutch; some speak Spanish; and some speak English. Some say it all. Learn a few local language phrases, and you’ll make some local friends. Goodmorning: Bom dia, Good afternoon. Bom tardi. Thank you: Masha danki. Bye: ajo. Hopi Bon: very good.
  • Being 11 degrees north of the equator, the sun is super strong. It is best to dive in the mornings or afternoons and wear loads of ocean-friendly) sunscreen.
Disclaimer: All recommendations in this post on Bonaire Caribbean freediving are my own, as always. I don’t earn any money from writing this. I hope that Bonaire will receive more freedive fanatics in the future. I do earn some pesos for the adventure fund from affiliate links on this website. Thank you for clicking through.

 

 


 
Suzanne

Hi! My name is Suzanne. I'm here to help you go on ocean adventures and make positive impact for a healthier ocean. Explore this website to learn what I do and how you can make some splashes too!

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