Todd Reimer's Dive Log
Salt Pier on 12/18/2012
There is a lot of conflicting information about whether or not you can dive salt pier. The brochures state that you cannot dive salt pier unless you have permission from Cargill, and that you need a permit. However, asking all of our local dive shops, no one was willing to mention how to obtain this permit, and they were not willing to assist. I was lucky enough to have dinner one night next to a local police officer who recommended that I dive there, and when I asked about the permit, he told me it was not needed. So, I decided to drive by, and sure enough there was a tour group suiting up, and even some workers at the salt mill walking around. When I asked how to arrange a tour, the guy basically said that so long as there was no ship in the dock, that it was ok to dive. With that, we suited up and jumped in the water. The dive is quite an easy shore dive, as the entry is a flat beach entry with minimal rocks (for Bonaire), and the dive itself is very shallow. The pier itself has approximately six sections with coral encrusted pylons and schools of fish hanging out underneath them. The depth was only about 40 feet, and visibility was great. Just make your way from one pylon to the next and then work your way back…. The dive plan is just that simple! This ended up being one of my favorite dives on the island because it's different than most of the other reef dives, and it's really easy to get in and out of by shore, which is a big deal if you are lugging a big camera rig with you. I would highly recommend this dive to anyone spending time on Bonaire. If worried about the permit thing, I would scout out the location and just go in at the same time as another organized group. Worst case scenario, you could just play the 'I didn't know' card. But like I said, we dove with employees on site, and they didn't seem to mind at all.
Town Pier on 12/18/2012
As of December 2012, we were instructed that we are no longer allowed to dive here. However, the dive master insinuated that it's pretty common that people sneak out here to dive at night anyway, but you would be doing so at your own risk. We passed on doing the unauthorized dive, so unfortunately cannot say if it was worth it or not. Either way, it is a shame that the alleged 'Best night dive in the Caribbean' is no longer diveable, even if you wanted to opt to pay extra for a permit. Maybe that will change by the next visit there.
Hilma Hooker on 12/18/2012
If you are staying at a dive resort that does boat diving, Hilma Hooker will be something that they push you to do with them. However, this really is very unnecessary. As with most south side of Bonaire shore dives, the entry into the water is very easy. Once you are in, you do need to swim out to the 2nd buoy, which is 5 minutes at a leisurely pace. From there, the wreck is directly below you. The wreck is laying in 100 feet of water, but the most interesting parts of the ship to check out is really in the 60-80 foot range. Visibility during the day was fantastic, and there was quite a lot of coral growth all over the ship. Sergeant majors were laying their eggs on the sides of the ship and standing guard. Lots of other sea life hanging around too. The side of the reef wall is right next to the ship, so it's best to dive along the ship first, then make your ascent along the reef and then make your way back into shore. This was another special Bonaire dive that is different than the other typical dives along the island. Worth doing at least once on your trip to Bonaire.
Karpata on 12/20/2012
This was the best reef dive we did the entire trip. This was even better than the 2 spots on Klien Bonaire that we went to. It has a very healthy reef with lots of fish and coral formations everywhere. Almost no sand to be found, which keeps visibility clear. Entry consists of walking down a number of steps, and then making your way to the platform. The one in the picture was almost completely submerged, so it wasn't as easy of a walk as it appears. If you are carrying SLR camera gear, it can be a very tricky entry as you have the steep stairway, rocky walk, and wade through the surf past the platform before you can get in. But, if you just have a compact or no camera equipment, it's pretty simple. Parking is easy, but driving there from the south, the 2 way road turns into 1 way, and you end up driving for 20 minutes or so to get back to where you were coming from. Therefore make it your last dive before you head back to pick up more tanks, or break for lunch.
Calabas Reef on 12/20/2012
We stayed at Divi Flamingo, so this was our house reef. The facilities here are fantastic, and the waters were always calm. Even though the reef wasn't as beautiful as places like Karpata, we always see something new on our dives here. 2-spot Caribbean octopus, various types of eel, lots of the usual sea life, and even a seahorse. On our last dive, we even got to hang out with a pair of Caribbean reef squid for 5 minutes at about 10 feet before heading back up the ladder to call it a day. Night dive here was a little annoying as the local tarpon hang out and use your dive light to chase other fish. It makes it hard to really investigate the little stuff as this huge silver behemoth of a fish constantly swims over your shoulder. (But this is typical of Bonaire night dives I hear). Still, due to the excellent facilities, it really made the dive safe and enjoyable. All in all, this is a great spot to do a dive if you are a beginner, or just want to have an easy dive.
Andrea II on 12/20/2012
On the plus side, we ran into 2 small turtles at the very beginning of our dive. However, that was it for the highlights. This is a very sandy reef. Conditions were fair, and we did not encounter much sea life during our dive here. Still, parking was easy, and walk to the beach and into the water was flat and not too rocky. Even though this was one of our least memorable dives on the island, it still was a nice relaxing dive.