Confession time: I’m not exactly the most accomplished scuba diver in the world. While I love scuba, I’m not one of those folks who makes an effort to dive on every trip. If it’s a particularly famous dive destination, then I’ll go for it, but I definitely don’t dive enough to be considered any kind of expert.
In all my travels, I’ve only been diving in a handful of countries: The Bahamas, Fiji, Egypt, Greece and now, Bonaire. Don’t tell anyone, but I rent all my equipment and I regularly forget to strap-on essentials like a weight belt and you know, oxygen.
Knowing that I’m still quite the baby diver, you can imagine how intimidated I was at first when I was invited to visit Bonaire, one of the world’s top destinations for underwater exploration. Seven dives in seven days was more dives than I’d completed in that past few years!
I was definitely the diver with the fewest outings under my belt in our posse of aquatic blondes. Fortunately these advanced, masterful divers happen to be some of my best friends – whew!
At least they could make sure all my hoses were attached properly, right?
Bonaire’s dive scene was a whole world of firsts for me – my first shore dive, first dive with no guide and the first dive with 50 sea turtles! With more than a hundred convenient shore dives on offer, you don’t have to set foot on a boat to access great diving, which is particularly nice for the seasick-prone.
It only took one peek under the surface to see why DIY shore diving is so popular on Bonaire – the whole island is fringed with vivid color and sea life.
Whether you stop at a yellow marker indicating a known dive site, or you just pull over and jump in anywhere like we did with VIP Diving, you’re bound to experience some of the best diving in the world.
And speaking of VIP Diving… over the course of a week, we’d been out with resort dive operations and other shops, but considering my need for literal hand-holding and general fanciness & undivided attention, VIP Diving fit my needs just right.
First, the dive shop reminded me of a swanky, Balinese spa, with cool colors and bright cushions – perfect for this apprehensive, semi-novice diver. Second, we had our own dive butler – yes, a DIVE BUTLER. His name was Steven and he was everything you’d want a dive butler to be.
Frankly, I found some of our shore dives a little challenging – the rocks and waves were tricky for my jacked-up knees with the added weight of a scuba set-up, but having Steven the dive butler there to guide me in ensured I didn’t get toppled over like a turtle in the waves.
While our first dive of the day was perfectly lovely, I wasn’t blown away. I’m the type of diver who gets really excited about big sea life – turtles, rays, dolphins, giant squid, Krakens and of course, any type of shark. (You already knew that though!) Our first dive was flush with colorful fish and coral, but nothing super thrilling.
And then we went to The Salt Pier.
Y’all, the whole dive, from start to finish, was spectacular – and get this, I didn’t even see sharks! The only biggish critter we encountered was a turtle, and we met him on our short swim out to the pier.
Between the volume of schools of fish and the general splendor of the towering, coral-crusted pillars, the dramatic scenery had me entranced for over an hour – and I’m the gal who’s usually ready to head back to the surface after 20 minutes!
The Salt Pier is still an active pier owned by the Cargill Salt Company, so you can only dive there when there’s not a ship docked.
I only took a GoPro with me on this dive and it was the best of all our dives that week for that particular photo setup. Cinematic shots without too much detail are the GoPro’s speciality.
That’s not to say there weren’t itty bitty creatures, sponges and corals just waiting to be photographed. For some stunning micro shots from Salt Pier, check out Kristin’s post.
Real talk: all the diving we did on Bonaire was beautiful, but Salt Pier absolutely took the cake. It may well be the most memorable dive of my life… so far!
Now that I’m hooked on scuba all over again, I’m looking for suggestions on where to take my next dive trip? What’s the best dive you ever had?
Huge Danki to Bonaire Tourism for hosting my visit. All opinions are my own, duh. All my underwater photos in this post were taken with a GoPro. For a rundown of my scuba photo set up, check out my guide here.
Angie is an official Travelocity Gnational Gnomad offering tips and inspiration to fellow travel enthusiasts. This post was sponsored by Travelocity. For more information on the Travelocity #Gnomads, please visit www.travelocitygnomads.com.