5 Tips To Get Your Kid Ready For Diving on Bonaire

Checklist for ensuring your kid is ready to SCUBA dive on Bonaire!

How To Get Your Kid Ready For DivingMany families flock to Bonaire over the year-end holidays, so now is the perfect time to take a few moments and go over these five tips to ensure your child has a wonderful experience SCUBA diving.

Kids and SCUBA.

It’s very important for all new divers, and even more so for kids who want to learn to dive, that they have easy and fun experiences on their first initial dives.  By having fun while learning, it practically ensures they will continue to dive and will have a new hobby for life.

On the other hand, your child shouldn’t be pushed into it, if they are not yet ready.

So how can I tell if my kid is ready to learn to dive?

 

  • Card him or her. All certifying agencies offer an adult open-water certification at age 15, and a junior open-water card at age 10, which usually requires the child to dive with a certified adult. There are also introductory experiences starting at age 8, such as PADI’s Bubblemaker program. Most of Bonaire’s dive facilities can provide these courses for your kids.
  • Be honest. Does your child have the strength and coordination necessary for scuba diving? Will your child pay attention to the training and follow the safety rules? If your child isn’t quite coordinated yet or isn’t disciplined or focused in other educational settings, wait a bit longer. There are plenty of other kid-friendly activities to do on Bonaire!
  • Keep it fun. Remember the ultimate goal: for your child to enjoy sharing a sport you love. Offer plenty of praise and leave the training to qualified instructors. Bonaire’s dive industry is fully developed with instructors who give quality and careful instruction.
  • Get the right stuff. It’s important to get gear that fits your child. Ill-fitting gear that is uncomfortable and hard to use will make learning difficult — and possibly dangerous.  Any Bonaire dive facility can assist you with getting the right gear for your child.
  • Consider an alternative. Don’t push a child into diving if he or she isn’t ready to take that first giant stride — they should be as interested in the underwater realm as you are. Start with snorkeling, and let him or her set the pace to make the experience fun.  Windsurfing or kayaking are other good activities to enjoy on Bonaire with your kids!

Bonaire Watersports Programs for Kids.

Kids get ready to take the plunge on Bonaire.

Several of Bonaire’s resorts or watersports operators have special programs just for kids. If you are thinking of introducing your child to any watersport while on Bonaire, get in touch with these providers of children’s programs.

Recommended Providers
For Children's Activities: *


Phone:
Fax:
717-2288
717-5279
717-5080
717-8647
785-0771
717-7791
717-2500
717-7133

(Source:  Sport Diver Magazine)


Subscribe to the free Bonaire Insider newsletter:


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


 

 

 

Aruba Airlines is Initiating Flights Between Aruba and Bonaire

Aruba Airlines has just announced they will begin operations at Bonaire’s Flamingo Airport, commencing November 30, 2017.

 

The flights from Aruba to Bonaire, or from Bonaire to Aruba, will operate four times a week, on Monday, Thursday, Friday, and Sunday.

Aruba Airlines commences service between Bonaire and Aruba.Aruba Airlines will operate these flights using a Bombardier DRJ-200, most well known as a “corporate jet,”  and is completely new and modern. The aircraft’s exterior is painted with the colors of Aruba Airlines.

This aircraft can provide up to 50 seats, all in economy class service.

Their sales office opened today, at Flamingo Airport. Contact Aruba Airlines for more information or to make a reservation. Those on Bonaire may visit the office at the airport or telephone 717-6825. The office is open Monday through Friday from 9:00 AM to 5:00 PM, and on Saturday from 9:00 AM to 1:00 PM.

(Source:  Aruba Airlines)


Subscribe to the free Bonaire Insider newsletter:


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


 

 

 

 

Is Your Sunscreen Harming Bonaire’s Reefs?

The Jury is In–Chemical Sunscreens Are Guilty of Harming the Reefs.

It was just two years ago when scientists began increased discussions about the possibility of chemical sunscreens harming reef environments. Always at the forefront of reef preservation, the island of Bonaire, coordinated by STINAPA and funded by the island and national governments and WWF, commissioned research to further investigate this potential threat to reefs.
Dr. Diana Slijkerman of the Wageningen Marine Research Unit, in the European Netherlands, presented her findings at a recent Connecting People with Nature presentation by STINAPA. The use of chemical sunscreens is just one more threat to reef habitats around the world.

Reefs around the world are already stressed. They are dealing with many different threats, including:

Now humans are adding chemical sunscreens to the world’s already burdened reefs.

There are two main types of sunscreen.

Chemical Sunscreens.

Bonaire sunscreen awareness program.The popular ones used today are chemical-based. They might have, as their active ingredient, one (or possibly a combination) of these chemicals:

  • Oxybenzone
  • Avobenzone
  • Octisalate
  • Octocrylene
  • Homosalate
  • Octinoxate
  • Helioplex
  • Parsol 1789
  • 4-MBC
  • Mexoryl SX and XL
  • Tinosorb S and M
  • Uvinul T 150
  • Uvinul A Plus

Note these chemicals may be found under other names as well.

These chemicals do not block the sun’s rays like physical sunscreens, but instead, they allow the skin to absorb the UV rays, transforming them into non-damaging wavelengths of light or heat.

Physical Sunscreens.

Physical sunscreens prevent UV rays from hitting the skin at all, by creating a reflective barrier using naturally occurring minerals. (Remember the days when lifeguards smeared white-colored zinc oxide over their noses?) These reflective barriers simply bounce UV rays away, so no sunlight is penetrating into the skin:

  • Zinc Oxide
  • Titanium Oxide

Different strokes for different folks–various regions use different chemicals in their sunscreens.

Dr. Slijkerman’s research uncovered an unusual fact. By sampling water in Lac Bay–which is somewhat contained by the barrier reef and not constantly getting refreshed by ocean currents as occurs on the coastlines or at Klein Bonaire–she tested for the presence of chemical sunscreens. Surprisingly, she could determine the origin of the people using Lac Bay at the time of sampling, simply by identifying which chemical was prevalent in the water.

Chemical sunscreens manufactured in the EU often use octocrylene for the active ingredient. Chemical sunscreens manufactured in the United States generally tend to use oxybenzone as the most popular active ingredient. Since oxybenzone was also the one chemical originally cited as having potentially deleterious effects on the reef, this is the chemical upon which high focus was given during the research.

Oxybenzone, the good, the bad, and the ugly.

Actually, there is nothing good about oxybenzone.

Read the label on your sunscreen to see if it is chemical based.Oxybenzone acts as an endocrine disrupter.

Relative to reef environments, oxybenzone harms or kills coral larvae by inducing deformities.

Remember that with chemical sunscreens your skin absorbs all the ingredients as well–just imagine what the endocrine disrupters do to your body!

With many chemical sunscreens, the chemicals stay intact and are eliminated from your body via fluid waste after passing through major organs. That means, even if you are just sitting on the beach, the chemicals from your sunscreen are still added to the environment via wastewater.  Or, simply taking a shower at the end of the day washes additional contaminants into the ecosystem. Entering the ocean slathered with chemical sunscreens is causing real environmental damage.

Oxybenzone induces DNA damage and viral infections of corals.

Viruses live on coral reefs, just like they do in any terrestrial environment. The recent research has indicated that viral infections of corals are on the rise, and a correlation has been established between oxybenzone and increased infections.

Oxybenzone bio-accumulates in the tissues.

Oxybenzone may increase coral bleaching.

A 2008 study indicated that coral bleaching was exacerbated by viral infections (Danovero, Robert, et al.  “Sunscreens Cause Coral Bleaching by Promoting Viral Infections.” Environmental Health Perspectives 116.4 (2008) 441-447.)

A further study in 2016 indicated that the endocrine disrupters affected corals (as well as fish, mammals, algae, crustaceans, and humans) with

  • reduced neurological function
  • development disruption
  • cell/cancer proliferation
  • DNA damage
  • coral bleaching
  • oxidative stress in the presence of sunlight

(Downs, C.A., Kramarsky-Winter, E., Segal, R. et al.  Arch Environ Contam Toxicol (2016) 70. 265.)

How much is too much?

  • Effects on corals were reported at oxybenzone concentrations of 72 ng/Liter.
  • Bonaire’s water samples taken from Lac Bay contained an oxybenzone concentration of 1,54 ng/Liter.  (ng=nanogram)

What if my sunscreen doesn’t list oxybenzone?

It is possible that the ingredients in your sunscreen use different chemicals, or they might use a different name for oxybenzone.

Furthermore, just because your particular sunscreen uses another chemical to provide sun protection, it still can be causing harm. There simply is not enough data yet on all the various chemicals used by sunscreen manufacturers to be sure.

How can I check if my sunscreen is chemical-based?

If either titanium or zinc oxides are listed, the sunscreen is good to go!The best way is to read the active ingredients on the label. If you see titanium or zinc oxides as the active ingredients, you are good to go!

If you see anything else, it’s best to search for another alternative.

A very simple test (although not foolproof) is to read the instructions for use: If your sunscreen says to apply it 15 to 20 minutes before sun exposure, then chances are it is a chemical-based sunscreen, and it’s best to find a natural alternative utilizing zinc and titanium oxides as physical barriers.

What can I do for sun protection while visiting Bonaire?

There are a number of methods visitors can employ to reduce the effects of hazardous chemicals in the ocean, while still having proper sun protection.

Choose your sun protection wisely.

  • Never use sunscreens which list oxybenzone or benzophenone-3.
  • It’s probably best to avoid sunscreens which list the other chemicals mentioned above, as there is not enough known about the potential for damage to corals.

  • Do use sunscreen products using natural minerals as a physical barrier to UV rays (zinc or titanium) such as the sunscreen produced by the local Bonaire company, Tropical Nature. Their sunscreen product provides SPF 40, and UV protection of 98%. It’s non-toxic to the environment and rich with essential oils and natural emollients. The Tropical Nature sunscreen, along with their other health and wellness products, can be found at MultiShop at the Sand Dollar Shopping Mall in Hato as well as at the MG Store on Kaya Grandi in Kralendijk.

Be aware of false marketing claims and read the ingredients.

Many sunscreen manufacturers these days use marketing ploys to make you think their products are environmentally friendly. Use of the phrases “all natural” or “safe for the reef” might be true. And then again, they might not. Read the labels.

If engaging in any watersport, wear sun protective clothing.

If swimming, diving, or snorkeling, wear a full-body skin or wetsuit, such as the ones sold at Carib Inn. A thin, lycra hood will also avoid sunburn to the neck. Utilizing such items will drastically reduce the amount of sunscreen needed and you’ll enjoy excellent sun protection, without worrying about sunburns ruining your vacation.

If you’re lounging on the beach, remember it’s not healthy anymore to have that nice tanned look, so check out SPF clothing. If you are not yet familiar with SPF or UPF clothing, there is a great guide to finding the right sun protection clothing.

Wear hats to avoid using chemical sunscreen when in tropical reef environments.Wear a hat.

Wearing a hat significantly reduces the amount of sun that can reach your face. Floppy, broad-rimmed beach hats are always in vogue for the ladies, while what guy wouldn’t want to wear a tropic-weight version of a Crocodile Dundee hat, complete with optional neck protection?

Help Bonaire keep our reefs the healthiest in the Caribbean.

So, if you only take away a few thoughts from this information, let them be these:
  • Read the label of your sunscreen. If it lists any of the chemicals noted above or requires that you apply it prior to sun exposure, it is most likely chemical-based and is probably harming Bonaire’s reefs.
  • Buy natural sunscreen products. These use a physical barrier of zinc oxide or titanium oxide to provide complete, immediate protection (no need to apply 15 to 20 minutes prior to sun exposure).
  • Plan to wear sun protective clothing and hats, or wetsuits or skins, to reduce your skin’s sun exposure instead of using sunscreen.

(Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter)


Subscribe to the free Bonaire Insider newsletter:


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


 

 

 

Scuba Diving Magazine’s 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards Feature Bonaire Top and Center

Bonaire Receives 11 Awards in the 2018 Readers’ Choice Awards from Scuba Diving Magazine.

Each year, Scuba Diving Magazine collects reader input and then shares the results with the world. Bonaire has once again placed at the top of its region in the Caribbean and Atlantic, racking up an impressive list of 11 awards for 2018, including these very notable First, Second, and Third Place Awards.
Bonaire is awarded the Scuba Diving Magazine Readers Choice Awards for 2018.

First Place Awards.

  • Best Healthy Marine Environment
  • Best Macro Diving
  • Best Shore Diving
  • Best Beginner Diving
  • Best Freediving

Second Place Awards.

  • Best Visibility
  • Best Advanced Diving
  • Best Snorkeling
  • Best for Underwater Photography

Third Place Awards.

  • Best Overall Dive Destination
  • Best Technical Diving

Bonaire offers the Caribbean’s Healthiest Marine Environment.

A brain coral spawns on Bonaire.

A brain coral spawns on Bonaire.

The reefs around Bonaire form a narrow fringing reef, which begins practically at the shoreline and extends to a maximum of 984 feet (300m) offshore. This natural resource has been managed for many decades now by the Bonaire National Marine Park (BNMP) whose mission is to protect and manage the island’s natural, cultural and historical resources, while allowing ecologically sustainable use, for the benefit of future generations.

Early protection has been a key component to Bonaire’s healthy marine environment. Nearly 60 species of coral can be found on the reefs, but they do vary by habitat.

Bonaire offers the Best Macro Diving in the Caribbean.

Of course! Bonaire has been known for many years as one of the best places to view little creatures!

A pink frogfish awaits its dinner on a Bonaire reef.

A pink frogfish awaits its dinner on a Bonaire reef.

Underwater, we have an array of fun little critters to make you smile, like our famous frogfish. Frogfish are about 4 or 5 inches long but can be much smaller, and come in a rainbow 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!

Bonaire offers the Best Shore Diving in the Caribbean.

Another easy one, since Bonaire enjoys over 50 dive sites where you just pull up in your tank-laden truck, gear up, and walk into the water. It doesn’t get much easier than that. Nearly all dive operators offer drive-through tank service, so pick up a few tanks and head north or south for a day of diving.

Bonaire offers the Best Beginner Diving in the Caribbean.

Conditions couldn’t be more like an aquarium. Water temperatures average a warm 78-84°F (25.6-28.9°C), with visibility averaging over 100 feet (30m), and occasionally reaching up to 150 feet (50m). Water temperatures do vary widely by season and location.

Water temperatures are normally at their lowest in late December and January. By March and April, the water begins to warm up, usually peaking at its warmest from late August through November.

With a shallow shelf just a minute’s swim from your entry, there is no need to dive deep, and the shallows around Bonaire provide many opportunities for beginner divers to see a variety of marine animals.


Video Courtesy of Bonaire Vision Films

Bonaire offers the Best Freediving in the Caribbean.

With world-champion freediver, Carlos Coste, residing on Bonaire, freedivers can be assured of many events and competitions. Or, for those who want to give it a try, training in this specialized form of diving can be arranged.

We here on Bonaire are thrilled once again to receive so many honors, but those who have been visiting Bonaire for years know that none of these accolades are secret.  It’s the reason we love diving on Bonaire and continue to return again and again to enjoy Bonaire’s healthy reefs, with easy diving, at your own pace, with frequent animal encounters.

(Source:  Scuba Diving Magazine, images by Ellen Muller, video by Bonaire Vision Films)


Subscribe to the free Bonaire Insider newsletter:


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


 

 

 

A Beginner’s Guide to Windsurfing on Bonaire

Arguably Bonaire is the best place in the world to learn windsurfing; it’s a windsurfing paradise for beginners!

Even dogs learn to windsurf on Bonaire!Bonaire has been known for decades as the premier place to learn windsurfing in calm, clear, and shallow Lac Bay.  The island has been producing home-grown windsurfing pros for years now, with our team always placing high in pro competitions around the world. But everyone must start somewhere, and it’s easy for beginners to learn windsurfing while vacationing on Bonaire.

On Bonaire, four-year-olds are naturals as they skim across the water, and it’s not unusual to see an octogenarian or two plying the trades as well.  Of course, there’s every age in between represented, too!  Even dogs catch on quickly!

Thinking about learning to windsurf?

If you’ve thought of trying windsurfing, but didn’t know much about the sport, then Bonaire is the perfect place to remedy that.  It’s not as difficult as it looks. We couldn’t say it better than this:

Windsurfing is an exhilarating sport, that you can pick up and start learning whatever your age or ability. With expert tuition, the basics will quickly become second nature and you’ll be wondering why you didn’t start years ago.

 

 

Windsurfing is a form of sailing. You stand on a board, holding a sail (which is attached to the board) and are powered across the water by the wind. You steer by adjusting the position of the sail and moving your feet.

It’s not the same as kiteboarding, although many sailors master both.

Top tips to get you on a board.

It’s easiest to get your initial tips from a qualified windsurfing instructor.

Anyone can learn windsurfing in the shallow waters of Bonaire's Lac Bay.If you’re keen to get a head start, understanding basic wind direction is an important skill to learn and will point you in the right direction, quite literally!  If you plan to try the sport during Bonaire’s busy winter season, be sure to book your lessons in advance.

Don’t be afraid of falling in.

The water in Lac Bay is calm, clear, and mostly chest-deep.  If you fall in, just climb back on your board, pull up your sail, and try again.

Know the windsurfing jargon.

Any time a new sport is attempted, there is always terminology consistent with the sport that must be mastered. Windsurfing is no different, and it might feel like you are learning a new language. Fear not! You’ll soon be throwing these terms around like a pro!  Of course, your instructor will explain anything you don’t understand.

  • Deck – the top surface of the board
  • Nose – the front of the board
  • Tail – the back of the board
  • Rail – the edge of the board
  • Mast – This is the upright post which the sail is attached to, it supports the front edge of the sail
  • Boom – is the bar attached to the sail–it’s basically the part of the rig that you hold onto, you could say it’s the handlebars
  • Rig – this refers to the windsurf set up i.e. the sail, mast and boom
  • Daggerboard – is the large retractable fin in the middle of the board. It provides the board with greater stability and sideways resistance
  • Fin – found on the bottom of the board, they provide stability and keep the board going in a straight line
  • Uphaul – a rope that allows you to pull the sail out of the water
  • Harness – a piece of equipment which goes around your waist and is then attached to the rig
  • Battens – flexible rods that provide strength and shape to the sail
  • Offshore – when the wind is blowing directly off the land or shore
  • Onshore – when the wind is blowing onto the land or shore
  • Jibe – a manoeuver that turns the nose of the board away from the wind
  • Tack – turning the board with the nose through the wind
  • Butterfly rescue – when you lay the sail flat on the board and paddle the board and sail back to shore

Four common beginner mistakes.

Kids excel at windsurfing when they start learning at an early age.Gear gazing

One of the big rules of windsurfing is that where you look is where you’ll go–if you’re looking down at your feet or the water, the likelihood is that the rest of you will follow soon enough.

Don’t stick your butt out

Not only do you look funny, research has found that lower back strain is one of the most common windsurfing injuries. Getting your stance right will not only improve your windsurfing and make you look good, but it will also help to prevent injury which means you can windsurf even more.

Loving your equipment a bit too much

Pulling the rig (sail) too close to your body will affect the way it catches the wind and will cause you to overbalance, ultimately resulting in a big splash. Remember to always keep your front arm extended to help keep the rig away from your body.

Not keeping your weight over the centerline

The centerline is the most stable part of the board. If you stand too far forward or backward, or too close to the rails (the edges) you’ll tip the board and again…. splash!

Read the entire article: A beginner’s guide to windsurfing.

Love Bonaire’s tropical waters?

You might also like to try:

Diving on Bonaire
Snorkeling on Bonaire
Kayaking on Bonaire
Kiteboarding on Bonaire

(Source:  Nielson)


Subscribe to the free Bonaire Insider newsletter:


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


 

 

 

Bonaire Insider Dining Review–Go Green Ayurveda Vegetarian Restaurant

Fresh, healthy, and vegetarian dining on Bonaire at Go Green Ayurveda Indian Restaurant.

 

These days many people are learning that they must change their eating habits and enjoy healthier foods. More and more people are becoming vegetarians, and some are even vegan. There is no need to worry about eating a healthy diet while visiting Bonaire, as Go Green Ayurvedic Indian Restaurant serves tasty meals which are good for you, too!

Trying organic Ayurvedic food for the first time.

I have to admit, prior to my first visit, I didn’t know much about the trend of healthy, Ayurvedic food. But, after visiting Go Green Vegetarian Restaurant for one of their Friday night dinners, I have to admit I now know much more about what goes into its preparation.

Only organic products are served at Go Green.

I might not have known about Ayurveda, but nearly everyone today knows that organic products are better for one’s body than those grown or processed via conventional methods. Organic foods must be:

  • cultivated in safe soil
  • with no genetic modifications
  • they must be kept separate from conventional products
  • farmers are not allowed to use synthetic pesticides, bio-engineered genes (GMOs), petroleum-based fertilizers, or sludge-based fertilizers

But what about the dining experience at Go Green?

Since I have now educated you on the principles of organic Ayurvedic food, let me expound on the dining experience itself! My companion and I didn’t know it at the time, but we were in for a treat!

Dinner is served every Friday evening.

Our first visit was for one of the restaurant’s Friday night dinners. Upon arrival, we were greeted by both Tina Woodley, owner and chef of Go Green, as well as Walter, who ensured all dining patrons were well taken care of.

As we arrived early, we had our choice of tables, but we were informed that they were expecting to be full. Even though we arrived without a prior reservation, they cheerfully made room for us. However, within 30 minutes, the entire restaurant was full!

The ambiance is relaxed and restful.

One can bask in the benevolence of Guan Yin, the female Buddha of compassion and mercy. There are wicker rocking chairs in which to relax, just in case you make the same mistake I did and arrive without a reservation. You may sit and rock contentedly until your table is ready.

But what of the food?

Yum–pumpkin soup.

Each Friday night there is a different four-course menu. We began our new dining adventure with Tina’s home-made pumpkin soup. Now in some areas of the world, pumpkin is only eaten in the fall–Thanksgiving in the United States being a noted holiday. However, here in the Caribbean, pumpkin is considered a staple and is enjoyed year round.

As we spooned the creamy soup into our mouths, I asked our server what was in it that gave the hint of sweetness. I was told that Tina personally shops for only the best of pumpkins, so it was truly just the fabulous taste of the natural pumpkin. Ahh, organically grown foods are just so much better!

The second course–a mixed salad, of course!

And one cannot eat healthy without some greens! Our second course consisted of a mixed green salad, served with hearts of palm, asparagus, and walnuts.

One very tempting addition was the two bite-sized fresh spring rolls in a zesty sweet chili sauce.

Third course–choice of seitan or paneer.

The night we visited, diners had their choice of either seitan or paneer with sweet peas for the main course, both served with rice.

Seitan is made from wheat, although it has little in common with flour or bread. Instead, it has a surprisingly similar look and texture of meat when cooked, making it a popular meat substitute.

Paneer is a fresh cheese common in South Asia, especially in Indian, Pakistani, Afghan, Nepali, Sri Lankan, and Bangladeshi cuisines. This was served pika, as it is called locally, or with a bit of spicy heat.

Since neither my dining companion or I had experience with either dish, we decided to each order one and then sample the each other’s meal. I was amazed at the plate of seitan when it was placed in front of me, I would have looked at it and assumed it was beef! And when I took a bite, it was tasty, and if our server hadn’t assured me it was meatless, I would never have known!

My dining companion, who loves cheese, enjoyed his paneer, only giving up a small taste for me to try. By the end of the main course, we were both nearly full, and we still had dessert to go!

Fourth course–bread pudding.

The evening’s dessert was bread pudding, which was the perfect hint of sweetness to complete our meal. As we finished our evening at Go Green, we left knowing we had enjoyed new foods, learned more about Indian cuisine, all while being good to our bodies. I can heartily recommend Go Green to any Bonaire visitor. One doesn’t need to be a vegetarian to enjoy Tina’s Indian cooking!

About Go Green Ayurveda Indian Restaurant.

Those who wish to do their bodies a favor, and treat them to a healthy meal while on Bonaire, can visit Go Green Monday through Friday for a vegetarian lunch. Dinner is served only on Friday evenings.

And take a lesson from me. Be sure to make a reservation in advance! The small restaurant is popular and books up quickly! Make reservations by calling +599 700-5488, or send an email to tina@gogreenayurveda.com.

Go Green is conveniently located on the main road in the northern hotel row, right next to the Harbour Village Marina. Their street address is Kaya Gobernador N. Debrot #49.

Visit Go Green’s website to learn more about this dining option on Bonaire. And, as is said here on Bonaire, bon apetit!

(Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter)


Subscribe to the free Bonaire Insider newsletter:


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


 

 

 

Underwater Photography on Bonaire Through the Lens of Michael McDonald

Michael McDonald, a long-time visitor to Bonaire, shares his tips on how to perfect your underwater photography.

For decades, Bonaire has been a mecca for underwater photographers. The island’s teeming reefs, along with its marine inhabitants, offer the visiting diver myriad opportunities for excellent underwater images.

Michael McDonald is one such underwater photographer, completing his 13th annual visit to Bonaire with a three-week dive vacation in June 2017. Michael has been diving since 1971 when he was certified at the age of 15, and he has been accompanied on his dives by his camera ever since then. He learned his craft with the original Nikonos underwater camera produced by Nikon way before the era of “point-and-shoot.”

Photographing the Wreck of the Hilma Hooker from a different perspective.

The Wreck of the Hilma Hooker is one of Bonaire’s most popular dive sites and is always a favorite with underwater photographers (learn more about this wreck’s history). Many divers who visit the dive site via shore, versus those arriving via boat, zoom right over the reef to the wreck. However, the reef, part of Bonaire’s double-reef system, offers plentiful opportunities for creativity.

Finding a fresh perspective on an often-photographed iconic wreck is difficult, but Michael found a new way to interpret the Hilma Hooker. He answers some key questions about how he got this shot!

Divers swim between an orange elephant ear sponge and the wreck of the Hilma Hooker, on Bonaire.

Q: What camera setup was used?

In this excellent image, Michael used his standard camera setup, a Canon 5D in a Subal CD5 housing with a Subal Wide Angle port. His lens of choice was a Sigma 15mm 1:2.8 EXDG Fisheye. His dual strobe setup is with Sea&Sea YS-D2s on 6- and 9-inch arms (15-23 cm) per side, which help to give a naturally illuminated look to close objects.

Q: How did the divers manage to pose so well?

Michael’s main “model” closest to the camera is an underwater photographer herself, and she very graciously poses for his images. Having a knowledge of underwater photography assists models with getting themselves positioned properly. Michael’s buddy is amazingly neutrally buoyant.  What he commonly does is to look ahead of where she is swimming, to identify potential subjects. He then moves forward quickly, ahead of her, to compose the shot highlighting the closer features of the image–in this case, the orange elephant ear sponge–keeping in mind a clean, uncluttered background. He then waits for her to swim into the image.

Based on Michael’s position, his model knows where to position herself and then Michael starts shooting, moving his model up/down/in-out/left-right with finger pointing. The other two divers in the group “just happened” into this image, as generally, they tended to be more in front of the group.

Q:  How was the light balanced properly, getting the light-absorbing orange sponge beautifully illuminated, but also with a rich, blue background and the wreck in ambient light?

As soon as Michael is in place, he tries to immediately get about five or six shots of the main subject, the orange sponge. This allows him to quickly rearrange the strobes, if necessary, to eliminate shadows and give the complete presentation of the main subject.

At this point, he can check the “blueness” of the water and the background, to ascertain if he needs to change the f-stop to make it lighter or darker. Since the light of his strobes will only reach as far as the sponge, it is the f-stop of his camera which will determine how cool or warm the water will appear.  Shutter speed is mostly irrelevant because the use of underwater strobes will freeze any action.

Q:  What are the camera settings used to get this photograph?

The camera setting was ISO 160 with f/5.6 at 1/60 speed. Michael’s strobes are generally set to a mid-range, unless there is a really light background, such as sand, or if it’s very dark, like the underneath of the wreck. The dual strobes were fairly equally spaced apart and behind the lens port, which provide full illumination without harsh shadows. With the full-frame feature of the Canon 5D coupled with the 15 mm wide-angle lens, Michael estimates he was about eight to ten inches (20-25 cm) away from the sponge. One can see the incredible wide angle it provided!  This manner of shooting is called “close focus wide angle” because it focuses upon a subject very close to the len, but yet offers sweeping views.

Of course, it goes without saying that any underwater photographer who gets close to the reef must employ excellent buoyancy skills to avoid harming any of corals, sponges, or marine creatures living within them. Michael’s years of diving experience have taught him how to do so without causing harm. Less experienced underwater photographers should not attempt such shots until they have attained the proper buoyancy skills.

Q: Is the time of day a factor in getting stellar images?

Bonaire's Salt Pier is a popular dive site.The time of day could be a factor, especially for wide-angle photography. On Bonaire, if one wants to shoot a wide-angle image with the sun in the background, such as with the images of Salt Pier, it’s imperative that the dive be done in the afternoon, which is best between 2:00 and 5:00 PM, after the sun has moved to a western position in the sky. This allows a photographer to get the sun bloom but still shoot with an upward angle, which always helps to keep the background uncluttered.

For the Hilma Hooker, Michael was at about 45 feet/14 meters of depth (the wreck sits in about 100 feet/30 meters of water) and shooting with an upward angle. The key for timing this shot actually is less sun-related. It is more important to get to the dive site early–Michael suggests by 7:30 AM at the latest–to beat the crowds that can come later. The visibility will always decrease with additional divers in the water, so to get this type of visibility into an image, shoot early.

Q:  Why return year after year to dive and photograph Bonaire’s reefs?

Michael tells us why he returns so often to Bonaire:

“There are two huge draws for me to Bonaire. The first is the amazing reef life – I so love the macro life (which, unfortunately, I’m not sure many people see as they go blazing across the reef).

“The second is the shore diving – I’m diving with people I know and trust in a very small group at our own schedule. I don’t know of any other place that has that combination.”

— Michael McDonald

About Michael McDonald.

Mike McDonald, returning Bonaire visitor and underwater photographer.

Michael’s professional life was with the United States Air Force and as a Montana Air National Guard officer. He flew an F16 for 28 years and was an instructor pilot for over twenty years.

Michael retired in 2012 after 38 years as a Colonel. But he certainly still keeps busy, as currently, he is a full-time graduate student, working on his second Master’s Degree in history.  He hopes to be accepted into a Ph.D. program soon.

Michael has about 1000 dives under his weight belt; he holds his basic certification along with nitrox certification.  Although he has never gone further with his diving education, he says he tends to be the leader in many of the group’s dives–perhaps a throwback to his military training?

View more of Michael McDonald’s underwater photography from his recent Bonaire visit.

 

We hope that you are inspired by Michael’s beautiful underwater photography and that it helps to realize that every diver can aspire to do the same!  Be sure to ask your favorite dive operator on Bonaire for tips and assistance when you are next on Bonaire.

(Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter)


Subscribe to the free Bonaire Insider newsletter:


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


 

 

 

Bonaire–The Green Destination with a Blue Economy

Can Bonaire become a better Green Destination with a Blue Economy?

On Thursday, October 26, 2017, the tourism office of Bonaire hosted their first Green Destination Conference. With many of Bonaire’s visitors having an active interest in nature, clean energy, and proper waste management, the conference provided attendees from Bonaire’s tourism sector with expert advice on how the island can become even more “green,” and, at the same time, develop a blue economy.

It’s not easy being “Green.”

Bonaire's windmill park at Morotin.In 2016, an initiative began to audit the results (at that time) of Bonaire’s efforts to become a sustainable, “green” destination. By definition, this incorporates more than just nature preservation and conservation, and includes the following aspects, which all must be present in some manner:

Bonaire is once again named to the Top 100 Sustainable Global Destinations for 2017!Bonaire’s strengths as a green destination.

Bonaire’s strengths were found to include:

Bonaire’s areas for improvement as a green destination.

The island’s challenges where improvement can be made were also identified:

  • Bonaire must address the issue of roaming animals which consume native flora
  • create better visitor monitoring with educational efforts as to how a visitor can minimize their footprint
  • climate resilience
  • additional wastewater management efforts
  • improving the local production of goods and local workforce
  • establishing sustainability standards for tourism businesses

Bonaire was awarded the Silver Quality Coast Award and named to the world’s Top 100 Sustainable Destinations.

Silver Quality Coast Award, awarded to Bonaire in 2016.For its efforts, Bonaire was awarded the Silver Quality Coast Award, an excellent result for the island’s initial effort, but clearly giving room for improvement.

Just last month, on World Tourism Day, Bonaire was delighted to announce that it had been named again to the Top 100 Sustainable Destinations.

What is a Blue Economy?

A destination with a Blue Economy recognizes ecosystems as its natural capital and protects and maintains them accordingly. Further, the destination aspires to social and economic stability through the use of clean technology and renewable energy. For a destination such as Bonaire, with much of tourism tied to the island’s marine habitats, having a Blue Economy is imperative. Bonaire wishes to become the first Blue Caribbean Destination, to add to its honors as a Green Destination.

Why should Bonaire strive to have a Blue Economy?

For decades, Bonaire has founded its tourism on the protection of its ecosystems. The establishment of Bonaire’s marine park has been held as the benchmark around the world for protection of coral reefs. Now, nearly all protected marine areas utilize a similar plan to protect their natural marine resources.

Tourism must serve as a stepping stone to the development and well-being of all those living on Bonaire. The island’s tourism must enable them to create a Blue Economy and live in harmony with nature.

Current nature-related projects on Bonaire.

Echo Foundation spearheads reforestation efforts on Bonaire.Bonaire is already active in a number of nature-related projects, including:

  • sustainable agriculture
  • nomination of the Bonaire National Marine Park as a World Heritage area
  • management of free-roaming herbivores, such as goats, pigs, and donkeys
  • reforestation
  • ecological rehabilitation of Lac Bay and the southern area of Bonaire
  • coral restoration
  • erosion control and habitat restoration
  • sustainable goat farming

A concerted effort in Bonaire’s wastewater management began in 2013.

From 2013 to 2015, the island was busy with the installation of a wastewater transport system and wastewater processing facility, which transforms wastewater into water suitable for agricultural irrigation.

Last year, in 2016, the wastewater plant reached a milestone, processing its 1000 batch of wastewater. Plans are in place to expand additional residential areas (Hato and Belnem) into the wastewater treatment program in the next year.

By processing the wastewater, ocean contamination is limited. The inclusion of the island’s ocean-side resorts is critical–Bonaire’s population hovers at around 20,000–still a small number of inhabitants. However, the island hosts approximately 130,000 stay-over visitors each year as well as about 400,000 cruise ship visitors in port for a day during the cruise season. The amount of waste generated by tourism must be managed, as it represents the majority of the waste-related footprint of the island. So although tourism brings benefits, it can also pose threats to a destination’s natural resources.

Nearly 40% of Bonaire’s energy needs are met with clean, renewable energy.

This is a staggeringly high percentage and Bonaire already provides the highest rate of clean energy within The Netherlands (European or Caribbean). This is mostly powered by the Morotin Wind Park, which was established in 2009, along with a solar-powered energy pilot program serving the needs of approximately 70-80 homes, which began in 2015. Plans are in place to increase the number of wind turbines at the Morotin Wind Park over the next five years, further increasing Bonaire’s use of clean, renewable energy.

Bonaire’s master plan for energy supply.

In addition to the expansion of the windmills, the island’s master plan for energy includes the following:

  • Alternative cleaner fossil fuels, including the development of an AlgaePARC
  • New motors designed with a dual-fuel aspect
  • Solar energy will become decentralized and more readily available to local businesses and residential homes
  • Seeking a better energy storage solution

What is an AlgaePARC?

Since photosynthesis performed by microscopic plants was responsible for the formation of earth’s fossil oil reserves millions of years ago, and, currently these reserves are declining, research is being conducted into the potential to use photosynthesis to (re)capture inorganic carbon and convert it into the organic molecules that are the feedstock of all carbon-based food and fuel available today.

Microalgae and cyanobacteria (also called phytoplankton by biologists) have great potential as a photosynthetic catalyst, as they have some important advantages over traditional agricultural crops. For example, the predicted areal productivities of microalgae are much higher and can be obtained without the use of arable land.

Many algal species are salt tolerant and therefore seawater can be used for cultivation, making Bonaire an ideal location for the cultivation of microalgae. Currently, those involved with the new AlgaePARC are researching which types of algae can best be cultivated here on Bonaire.

What is your impression of Bonaire as a Green Destination with a Blue Economy?

Please let us know how you think the island is progressing in its quest for continued sustainable tourism.  You may submit detailed feedback via the comment section below and you may respond in general terms, or cite specific areas of Bonaire, such as the Bonaire National Marine Park, the Washington-Slagbaai National Park, Lac Bay, etc.
We welcome your feedback!

(Source:  Bonaire Insider Reporter)


Subscribe to the free Bonaire Insider newsletter:


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


 

 

 

2017 Orionid Meteor Shower Peaks Tonight

If skies are clear on Bonaire, there could be excellent views of this year’s Orionid meteor shower.

 

Meteor showers over Bonaire.

Each year in November, those on Bonaire are normally lucky to have an excellent viewing of the Orionid Meteor Showers.  Normally, these meteor showers begin to appear in October and last four or five weeks, but there is only one night when peak conditions are expected, and that is tonight! The best time to view the Orionids, if the skies are clear, is usually just after midnight or just before dawn.

What causes the Orionid Meteors?

The Orionid meteor shower is 1 of 2 meteor showers created by debris from Comet Halley. The Eta Aquarids in May is the second meteor shower created by debris left by Comet Halley. Halley takes around 76 years to make a complete revolution around the Sun.

It will next be visible from Earth in 2061.

It’s called Orionids because the meteors seem to emerge or radiate from the constellation Orion.

A First Quarter Moon will make this meteor shower easy to see in both the Northern and Southern Hemisphere. While you can easily see a shooting star looking straight up, the table below shows the exact direction of the Orionids from your location.

How can I find the Orionid Meteors on Bonaire?

How to find the Orionid Meteors on Bonaire during peak viewing.

Direction to see the Orionids in the sky:

What is the best way to view the Orionid Meteor Showers from Bonaire?

One of the best aspects of nature lovers visiting Bonaire is that it is relatively easy to get close to nature and see some spectacular natural events. The Orionids are just one more example of this, and here’s the best way to enjoy them.
  • Check the weather: Meteors, or shooting stars, are easy to spot, all you need is clear skies and a pair of eyes.
  • Get out of town: Find a place as far away as possible from artificial lights.  Bonaire’s southern coastline is a good place.
  • Prepare to wait: Bring something to sit or lie down on. Stargazing is a waiting game, so get comfortable and enjoy it!

(Source:  Time & Date)


Subscribe to the free Bonaire Insider newsletter:


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


 

 

Fabulous Undersea Artwork Coming to Bonaire’s Hato Traffic Rotary

Recycling unwanted scrap metals into a beautiful, undersea piece of art which can be enjoyed by all of Bonaire’s visitors.

 

Bonaire is famous for her beautiful and protected underwater environment.

The value placed by Bonaire on protecting the environment is what has kept tourists from all over the world flocking to Bonaire, year after year. Now, some of that beauty and environmental protection will be spilling over into a community-based public art installation at the Hato Traffic Rotary, which traditionally has been a serviceable, albeit not beautiful, piece of land.  But that will all change soon!

Artist and sculptor Mark Ansier will create an undersea landscape in Hato.

The Hato traffic rotary will be the site of artist/sculptor Mark J. Ansier’s monumental sculpture of an underwater scene and diver, the natural subject of choice for an island known as “Diver’s Paradise!” It will be constructed completely out of metals reclaimed from throughout Bonaire. The metals will be recycled and sculpted into a coral garden, turtles, stingrays, tropical fish, topped by one or two divers. Reclaimed metal includes steel which is naturally rusted, coming from cars and buildings, stainless steel and other metals from appliances. Artist Mark says,

“This is the time for art. Collect steel and make a fish! Why not clean up the island and create something beautiful and meaningful on that piece of land?”

— Mark J. Ansier

This sculpture will be a personal memorial to the artist’s son and dive buddy, Matt, who he tragically lost in 2007.

New undersea artwork coming for Bonaire's Hato traffic rotary.When can the Hato Traffic Rotary artwork be viewed?

Work will commence in mid-October with a target completion date before the end of the year.

The entire Bonaire community will be involved.

In order to build the project, Bunita Boneiru, the foundation administering the project, will involve many sectors of the community. Bunita Boneiru believes that it is important to create something of which the entire community of Bonaire can be proud.

  • The collection of waste metal will be a part of an island-wide clean up. Selibon (the waste management institution of Bonaire) will also help by storing old car wrecks and other metal.
  • Welders and students from FORMA (an adult education and vocational school) and the Technical School who are interested in learning the trade will assist Mark. This way they can improve their skills and have better chances on a good job.
  • There will be a garden surrounding the public art installation that is specifically designed and created with “donkey and goat proof” plants in the colors of the Bonairean flag.

The initiating and main sponsors of the project are Sand Dollar Condominium Resort, Den Laman Condominiums and Dive Friends Bonaire in cooperation with Maduro & Curiel’s Bank (Bonaire) N.V. and IVA/Boneiru Nos Orguyo.

Be sure to look for this fantastic new addition when you are next driving around on Bonaire!  This area in Hato is also home to the new Trans World Radio underwater mural, and, with both of these works of art, visitors can enjoy a preview of what they will see when diving or snorkeling on Bonaire.

(Source:  Fundashon Bunita Boneiru)

 


Susan Davis, Bonaire InsiderSusan Davis has been living on Bonaire for over 25 years. She is a PADI Master Instructor, and an underwater and topside photographer. She also enjoys writing for The Bonaire Insider tourism news blog. 


1 2 3 37