First a word of caution. If you don’t like fish pictures or have tired of seeing water and fish, then skip this post. This is what the island of Bonaire is all about. A divers and snorkelers paradise mixed with Dutch and Spanish culture all wrapped up in a desert like land.
The trip from Trinidad to bonaire took 4 days as we went north almost to Grenada to avoid the Venezuelan coast and their offshore islands by 20 miles or so. It was such a pity to sail past places where 30 years ago we enjoyed stopping in. But the climate in Venezuela dictates that it could be unsafe for us due to piracy etc and most yachts now skip it.
We did catch a small Mahi and saw lots of distant large ship traffic but no small fishing type boats.
The south coast is very flat and care must be taken to avoid sailing up onto the land. There is a large lighthouse but land and reef extends out from it to the south west. This kiteboarder came out to take a look at us as we sailed along the leeward south end. Notice he is up on a foil and thus riding a few feet above the water. Quite fun to see as well as maybe another 30 kiteboarders of all colors and sizes flying along the coast.
The salt piles are also very noticeable from the sea being stark white and massive piles. More pics from land side to follow.
The Dutch coast guard was on patrol as our escort?. We made it into the anchorage just minutes before sunset and tied up to a mooring buoy off the town of Kralindijk in time to see a Green Flash. They do exist here frequently we found.
The island 30 years ago made the entire coast up to 200 feet of water a Marine Reserve. They do not allow any anchoring, fishing, spearing etc in the waters of the Reserve. Thus the underwater life is so spectacular
This is how we spent most afternoons. I got a new prescription mask for Christmas and put it to good use. The camera we bought in Trinidad from a radio shack, not expensive performed so well.
This shows what is holding Maraki in place and the little fish nursery as well as a variety of fish underus. The bow was in about 18 feet of water and at the stern it dropped off to 60 plus feet.
John’s goal was to photograph every species of fish we saw here but i will not include all of them.
We did rent a 50cc motor scooter one day and toured much of the island. The island only has about 16,000 residents so we chose a day when now ship was in town to do our touring. The roads are narrow and mostly flat.
Starting off toward the east and south we go to Lac Bay where windsurfing is the main activity. Maybe a hundred windsurfers here of all abilities, ages and sizes. Great wind but the locals were waiting for an even windier day.
They rent equipment as well as give lessons. What makes Lac Bay so special is that the water is shallow and is protected by an outlying reef that keeps the waves down.
From there we headed to southern point of island where the salt pans lie. The salt in 1800s was largely panned by slaves who lived in deplorable conditions. The owners finally built them shelters which you see here, tiny!!
We did stop mid day and go for a snorkel finding a turtle and 2 large lobsters which we left alone. We would have loved to grab them.
Next to see the piles of salt and the loading station. They still ship thousands of tons of salt out daily. Now owned by Cargil Company.The sun is so bright against the white piles. Some of the ponds turn reddish as the salinity increases and bacteria enter into the process.
We dashed off toward the north and the village of Rincon, the only other real town on the island. By the way, there is not a single traffic light on the island. Passed by Aleta’s goat farm which is apparently famous as she had a reality show in Holland last year as she tried to find a husband to help with the farm. No luck so far i am told by my Dutch relatives.
We pulled out our bikes and did a few days of riding as well. Yachties need to get their exercise too. But the heat dictates that we stop frequently for water and shade. These lizards wanted to share our picnic too.
Klein Bonaire is a small island just mile off the middle of the main island. We put in the sailing dinghy and took a day to sail over to snorkel. The colors, water clarity and variety was again overwhelming. Our very best turtle picture was taken here as well as many corals, sponges, and fish.
Our advice is to make a trip to Bonaire if you like clear, warm water snorkeling or diving. They only get 20 ish inches of rain per year, lots of breezes, friendly helpful people who are proud of their island, speak great English as well as Dutch, Spanish and papiemento, reasonable prices, use American dollar for currency! No snow for those of you struggling with winter!
What’s not to like? Hope you enjoyed the blog. Next up is Curacao only 45 miles west of here.