As the anxiety of making my flight reached an all time high, it finally hit me that I actually knew very little about my next dive location. I had done some research about the culture of the island and taken a virtual tour of our host resort, but what did I really know about the island of Bonaire?
After a red-eye out of Houston, I finally landed on what would be my home for the next week. It would be an injustice for me to sum up my experience in one word or even one 500 word blog. Rather, let me take a moment to share a story or two about the diving and the people of Bonaire.
Voted as the “Best Reef in the Caribbean” by one or two different organizations, the diving in Bonaire is truly awe inspiring. Whether diving in shallow water or going deep, you are guaranteed to witness a world that most only have the chance to see on cable television. From giant Whale Sharks to tiny Sea Horses, keep your eyes open it is all down there. There is an abundance of beautifully colored coral and even a ship wreck or two!
I will never forget my first experience with a Sea Turtle who decided to swim past me and then do a double take to make sure that I was not disturbing the protected marine park which it calls home; or as I was just hovering at 15 feet waiting for my chance to climb back in the boat, a Great Barracuda decided to make his presence known. In case you were wondering, YES there is Fire Coral in the reefs of Bonaire, and trust me it is not afraid bite!
When doing my research on the island I was concerned that many of the dive sites might not be accessible to disabled divers. This was proven true as I saw that many of the shore dives around the island involve stairs, ladders, or traversing hard rocks. There is a simple solution to this dilemma, boat dives. While also a solution for disabled divers, boat dives also provide a great opportunity to see more of the island and to dive the less traveled and small sister island of Klein Bonaire.
As my week long journey into the diving and cultural world of Bonaire continued, I realized that some of the most beautiful views of the island might not always been hidden underwater. On land the abundance of Parrots, Flamingoes, Donkeys, and Goats play second fiddle to the warmth and welcoming nature which is shared by the local people of Bonaire.
During my stay with other Wounded Warriors, the people of Bonaire opened their arms, businesses, restaurants, and hearts to make us feel welcome and to understand that we have a new home in Bonaire.
As the Tourism Board of Bonaire states, “Once a Visitor, Always a Friend”; no statement has ever rang more true.