Bonaire's massive reef system begins just a few hundred feet offshore,
which is rare anywhere in the Caribbean. Instead of taking a boat, you literally
can walk out a few yards, fall on your face and find the reef
almost directly below you. That's because the island is actually an
exposed mountain top.
Bonaire has the Caribbean's best shore diving, most of it a protected marine park.
in the Netherlands Antilles, Bonaire offers ideal diving conditions.
It is southwest of the normal hurricane belt, the sun shines virtually every
day and all the underwater activity is conducted on the island's 24-mile leeward
west side where the seas are normally calm. This is
one of the few places you can travel to and not worry about crashing waves and
heavy winds ruining a long-planned vacation.
at night is a specialty of Bonaire, and a night dive on the
Old Town Pier in the capital city of Kralendijk must be experienced to be believed.
After dark, the pier pilings that stand in just 20 feet of water transform into
a huge orange flower garden when thousands of thimble-sized,
orange coral polyps emerge to feed. They are also joined by countless tiny shrimp,
crabs and worms. A good underwater light is essential to appreciate
the show. Bring your own.
you want to become dive certified while on vacation, Bonaire
is the place to go. With waters just offshore so shallow, training can be conducted
in the real world, not just in a pool.
While the Cayman Islands are known mostly for finance and Cayman Lawyers, Grand Cayman boasts two aspects virtually unequalled anywhere: unusual marine life and good wall diving.
Its most famous site is Stingray City,
a shallow area only 12 to 15 feet deep where as many as 50 Southern stingrays
have almost become divers' pets. The rays are like cats, nuzzling
and brushing against diver's heads, chests, backs, all over. One of the world's
great underwater spectacles, all the excitement is well within
reach of even novice snorkelers.
Cayman's North Wall offers superb diving but it starts deep, around 90 feet.
However, at Little Cayman's Bloody Bay the drop off begins at
a very shallow 18 feet, then plunges sharply to 1,200 feet. Every type of Caribbean
coral and sponge you've ever wanted to see is at Bloody Bay,
lots of them, in all colors and sizes, and all in superb condition.
was here looking over the edge into the deep abyss below I
first appreciated that remarkable color divers call "deep drop off
a color unlike anything found anywhere above water. It's also an incredibly
elusive tint, one that no roll of my film has ever been able
boats also come over from Cayman Brac to dive Little Cayman
when the wind permits, but that's like staying in Tampa to see Disney World.
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