Snorkeling on Bonaire
Did you know that worldwide, snorkelers outnumber divers by a wide margin? The fact that less than 50% of Bonaire’s visitors are scuba divers is also a statistic that proves that you don’t have to go under the water to enjoy our beautiful marine park.
If you can swim, you can put on a mask and start enjoying the wonderful sea creatures and the coral formations. You will be able to float effortlessly and observe the feeding and courtship rituals of the reef’s many residents. There is nothing in Bonaire’s water that is dangerous but be sure not to touch anything as you may harm it and disturb the delicate natural balance of the reef.
Snorkeling is great entertainment for all members of the family no matter their age. Be sure to protect yourself against the sun by using a good sunblock, especially on your shoulders and the backs of your legs.
Night Snorkeling is another experience that should not be missed Everything changes at night. All that is needed is a flashlight and some protection for exposed arms and legs. Night snorkeling can be done in any snorkeling area you are familiar with (snorkel it during daytime first). Enjoy the wonders of the ever-changing ocean at night while some fish are sleeping and other critters are just starting their day.
If you can float, you can snorkel. In the calm Caribbean Sea you will find it easy to float due to the fact that salt water is more dense than fresh, so you will be able to “ride” higher on the surface than in lakes or swimming pools at home. If you have any doubt at all about your ability or comfort level while swimming, just find a beach with a sandy bottom, walk into waist deep water and lay down on your back. 99.9% of the people will float comfortably. Of course, you are not going to snorkel on your back, so stand up, put on a mask, and insert the mouthpiece, put your face in the water and breathe. (Those that don’t float naturally can avail themselves of a flotation device, such as a snorkeling vest.)
It’s a bit difficult sometimes for first timers to get used to the different breathing pattern, but with a bit of practice, you should be able to master the skill. The next thing to do, if you are still timid, is lie down on your stomach and try breathing with your face in the water. Try to swim a few strokes. If you were not using fins as yet, now would be a good time to try them out.
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.