Bonaire’s Magical Marine Environment
The ocean around Bonaire, whether above the water’s surface or below, is Bonaire’s biggest attraction, by far. Snorkelers, SCUBA divers, windsurfers, kiteboarders, and sailors spend hours plumbing its depths or skimming its surface. Bonaire’s fringing reef system is a national park protected to a depth of 200 feet all around the island and around Klein Bonaire, the small uninhabited island located in the lee, to the west, of Bonaire.
STINAPA and the Bonaire National Marine Park strive to inform residents and visitors how best to preserve and protect the resources of our oceans. No anchoring is allowed on the reef and special dive moorings have been installed to allow easy access to the reef without further damaging this fragile system. Additional moorings for visiting yachts are available on a first-come basis off Kralendijk’s harbor area.
Strictly underwater, we have an array of fun little critters to make you smile, like our famous frogfish. Frogfish are up to 4 or 5 inches long and come in an assortment of colors including bright yellow, red, green, white, black, and even pink. These little guys usually rest on sponges and move around by hopping along on finned feet. Ask your dive master where to look for one, and remember: Don’t touch the marine life!
Klein Bonaire is a hotspot for nesting sea turtles.
Klein Bonaire’s small beaches offer nesting areas to Hawksbill and Loggerhead turtles, while Green and Leatherback turtles are occasionally sighted in our waters as well. If you do visit the beaches on Klein Bonaire, please don’t walk through the dunes or any areas which may be marked off, turtle nests can be easily damaged by the weight of a human walking across it.
Since 2015, Bonaire has been part of the Yarari Marine Mammal and Shark Sanctuary, the eleventh such sanctuary in the world. The government of The Netherlands continues to pass legislation to protect these apex predators whose numbers are dwindling.
The goal of this foundation is to restore the degraded portion of the reef, in particular, the shallow water population of staghorn and elkhorn corals around Bonaire and the adjacent island Klein Bonaire. The main production coral nursery is situated on Klein Bonaire, where the coral is disturbed as little as possible and additional nurseries are located around Bonaire.
The fringing reef which surrounds Bonaire is a National Marine Park from the high water mark down to a depth of 200 feet/60m. Every diver who has not dived on Bonaire within the last calendar year must attend a diver orientation dealing with Bonaire Marine Park regulations and information. These orientation sessions are usually held at around 9:00 AM the morning after you arrive on Bonaire, and you are required to attend and to obtain your Marine Park tag, which is necessary to legally dive in Bonaire’s waters. The cost of the tag is US$45.00, and proceeds help support park management and services. Those who are utilizing the Marine Park, but are not diving, will be required to purchase a Nature Tag for $25.00. The nature tag can be purchased online.