Bjorn's Dive Log
Boca Bartol South on 6/18/2005
Jun 18, 2005, 12:00 AM
If you don't mind a kidney-punching drive through Washington Park, Bartol is an EXCELLENT reef due to limited traffic. Unlike every other Bonaire reef we dove, it has a significant, fairly level spur/groove structure, followed then by the standard (spectacular) Bonaire steep drop-off to 100+ feet. The spur/groove reminded us vaguely of portions of the Caymans such as the Grotto. Depths there are limited to 30', perfect for a beginner if the surf and current are low. From Bartol South, angle NE to encounter the spur/groove area. Stop to explore, or better yet continue to the drop-off, go deep, then return early for an extended and very satisfying deco tour between 30 and 15 feet. All of Bonaire is well-preserved, but Bartol especially is pristine. Beware the drive, though! If you like 4-wheeling, you'll have fun (4-wheel NOT required, though, a pickup definitely is).
Boca Slagbaai North on 6/19/2005
We dove Slagbaii after Bartol and an appropriate surface interval. This site is part of Bonaire's Washington Park, and is accessible for shore diving ONLY after a very tough drive over heavily rutted roads. If you want to dive the National Park, you may as well make it a 2 or 3 tank day, otherwise the drive is not worth it. With this in mind, this is a fine dive but is not up to the quality we came to expect in Bonaire. The entry was very easy, but the reef was not as spectacular as most Bonaire sites. An almost religious encounter with a young Hawksbill turtle made this dive great for us, but one cannot count on something like that. This particular turtle displayed an open curiosity... he hovered inches from my mask, then surfaced to breathe (we watched him the whole way), only to come back down and repeat the encounter again, swimming figure eights around my wife while she gently stroked the turtle's carapace. Plenty of larger critters; a green moray, huge shoals of creole wrasse, and others. This would be a good first shore dive due to the easy entry and somewhat protected bay.
Karpata on 6/19/2005
Plenty of reviews already on Karpata, which is becoming a "must-do" Bonaire dive. The reviewers speak true, Karpata is an excellent dive. We dove this site twice in June 2005, and like every other Bonaire site, including Southern dives like Red Slave, current was negligible for us this time of year. Perhaps current is seasonal, but the utter lack of current made our Bonaire dives really pleasant. Steep verticals, beautiful reef. Karpata can be a deep dive, use caution. May I suggest at about 40' depth backing WELL away from the wall for a time for an amazing, all-encompassing view. You will feel like you're flying as you cross the sand chutes! There's tons of life at 15', so the safety stop has plenty to offer. Navigation is easy due to the distinct sand chutes. Both N and S from the somewhat tricky entry are both excellent. Watch for the surf, you can get battered exiting.