In a barrier reef system like the Florida Keys or Australia the reef track is slightly off the coastline and the coral reef is a boat’s drive from shore. However, Bonaire is surrounded by a fringing reef meaning that as soon as you walk into the water from the land you are at the reef! No need for a boat at all. And Bonaire has some of the best shore diving in the world.
The yellow-painted rocks shown below mark the names and locations of each dive/snorkel site. So all you have to do is drive your car or ride your bike 😉 and get in!
The coral reef is incredible! Notice the long trumpetfish and round angelfish hiding in the coral sea rods on the lower right photo below. Looking very close at the branching staghorn coral on the upper left, each little bump is an individual coral polyp or coral animal. At night time the coral polyp will extend their tiny tentacles from these little bumps to grab food floating in the water.
I love free diving down to photograph fish. The silver bar jack on the top left turns dark black when it is hunting (lower left). The bar jack often hunts over the shoulder of a goatfish and picks up small invertebrates that the goatfish may stir up from the bottom.
Watch out for sea urchins! The round animals below are covered in sharp spines and usually live on the ocean floor in the tidal zone where you enter the water. But if you simply look down and are careful about where you step these animals are easy to avoid. There are many different species of sea urchins and their spines may look like white tacks, long needles or even thick pencils.
Can you spot the little animals in the photo below? The first is a peanut-size mollusk (related to a snail) called a Flamingo Tongue shown in the photo on the left. This little animal feeds on sea fans and will eat large holes in the sea fan shown below. The second is a small transparent shrimp living in the anemone on the right. The shrimp and the anemone are symbiotic partners.
All the photos above were taken with a GoPro Hero 3 and a red underwater filter with an added macro lens.