Scotland 2
    Venezuela 2
    New Caledonia

Show MapBonaire - December 2004


We arrived in Bonaire, just after daybreak on 21st December. The Bonairians are very protective of their coral reefs and no anchoring is allowed around the island, so we picked up one of the many visitor moorings just off the town of Kralendijk.

Nechtan at Bonaire.

Bonaire is one of the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao) which are Dutch territories and have a distinctly Dutch culture (like Amstel beer!).

Unlike Venezuela, crime is not a problem here and we were able to fully relax and even walk down the street late at night in perfect safety. Bonaire calls itself a "Divers' Paradise" and the waters around the island are managed as a marine park. We fished our dive gear out of the locker and got into the water as soon as we could.



Queen Angelfish.



Tom and a stovepipe sponge.

On Christmas day we phoned home (Australia and Scotland) on our fancy new Iridium satellite phone, that we bought while we were home for the summer. It costs about a pound sterling a minute but this is cheaper than using our mobile and the satphone works anywhere on the planet. We still talk fast when we use it though!


Tom phoning home on Christmas Day.


Christmas Day dive.

In the afternoon we went for a dive off the boat at her mooring. We saw an octopus, a spotted moray eel, a seahorse, and just about every fish in the identification book! Diving here is a bit like swimming in a big aquarium. Our favourite fish is probably the Queen Angelfish - the pictures we take of it don't come close to showing how bonny it is - the blue colour is iridescent and the yellow flecks on each scale really stand out.

At night we had a couple of drinks at Karel's beach bar, a popular hangout for cruisers, where we met an Australian couple and their daughter and we all went out for a meal together. Theo and Sue Misdom and Monique are also heading for Oz on their boat "Sutamon", and are great fun. Monique came with us on a few dives and we were so impressed by her underwater digital camera that we've decided to get an underwater camera housing as a late Christmas present for each other (maybe in Curaçao).

Christmas Day dive.


A mango margarita and a beer at Karel's Beach Bar.

The next week was spent fitting in as many dives as we could. Various marine conservation measures are enforced by Bonaire, such as no anchoring, no collecting, no spearfishing and even no diving gloves (this discourages divers from touching the coral). These measures certainly seem to be paying off as the reefs are in great shape and there's an abundance and wide variety of fish.



A Blue Tang.

Not everything is colourful - this is a 1.5 foot long Donkey Dung Sea Cucumber (no kidding!).


A Spotted Moray Eel, poking his head out.

Lavender Stovepipe sponge surrounded by fish.


A French Angelfish.

We were able to hire a car for a day and go for a spin around the island. On route we saw typical Bonairian fences - don't misjudge your leap over these ones! - as well as evidence of the slave past, the solar salt works and flamingos (didn't manage a good piccie of the real thing until we got to Curaçao).



A cactus fence - very effective!

Slave hut.


The solar salt works and loading pier.


The Willemstoren Lighthouse - a light in name only as the light does not work - and it's a dangerous coastline!!!



The Queen Mary 2 also paid Bonaire a visit - in the picture an average-sized cruise ship on the left is dwarfed by the QM2 on the right.

Out and about in Kralendijk itself you may come across Yenny's place - she makes beautiful artwork from pieces of rubbish and is famous for her Big People creations, 2 of whom we met ...



Woe betide anyone else who dares to eat these!


The footpaths of Kralendijk are adorned with flamingos made of coral pieces.


After just 10 days, we decided that we'd better keep moving so we washed off all the dive gear and stowed it back in the locker again.

Bonaire was probably the best diving we've ever done, although the Bonairians admit that the Great Barrier Reef is at least as good - that's something to look forward to.

If we ever get the chance to visit Bonaire again, we will spend more time touring the Washington-Slagbaai National Park and do loads more dives, especially around Klein Bonaire. Trying out more of the super restaurants goes without saying!

On the last day of 2004, we headed to the next island westwards, Curaçao .


Freshwater wash for the dive gear before stowing.


Email us:  tomandsueATmcnaughtan.net (replace AT with @ before sending!)