Bonaire is famous as the shore diving capital of the Caribbean. But most diving is done on the calm, sheltered, west coast of Bonaire. Due to rougher conditions and the need for specialized boats, there is very little diving done on the east coast.
The east coast has much more wind and wave action. Typical dive boats won't function well in these conditions, and entry from the beach for shore diving isn’t possible. Bonaire East Coast Diving is the only dive operator who currently has the specially designed Zodiac boat that can handle the conditions. They limit the size and number of excursions to protect the unspoiled nature of these dive sites. These dives are not recommended for absolute beginners, as divers use the backward roll method to enter the water, and reentering the boat can be a little challenging in rough seas. But while you are in the water, it is well worth the effort.
Scuba diving off the east coast is a completely different experience from the calm, easy dives on the west coast. Different geography, coral formations and sea life make for a unique dive experience. With so much activity on the west, most of the larger sea life has moved to the east side of the island. Sea turtles, eagle rays, sharks and large moray eels are constantly sighted. To see what made Bonaire so famous in past decades, reserve a spot on one of the east coast dive excursions.
Wet suits and dry suits insulate scuba divers and prevent hypothermia. Wet suits are the most common diving suits, since dry suits are most commonly worn in very cold waters. If you scuba in a tropical climate, you probably will want to invest in shorties, knee-length diving suits with short sleeves.
Look for Henderson suits with "hyperstretch," which is stretch neoprene that provides a custom fit divers of all shapes and sizes. Unlike traditional wetsuits, Henderson suits have more elasticity, shaping to the contours of your body. If your wet suit gives you a rash, wear a Lycra top and shorts underneath.
Divers need to have the training, skills and experience to undertake a technical dive safely. PADI offers a technical arm of training, as do many other certifying agencies. Technical diving demands durable dive equipment built for rigorous use. Look for a well-established scuba dealer that carries quality brands, offers manufacturers' warranties and can ship dive equipment worldwide.
Consider your scuba BCD as life-support equipment. Of course, fit is important for a comfortable dive. But reliability is essential in allowing you to explore an alien world that does not support human life. If you are shopping for a gift for the favorite scuba diver in your life, consider packages of pre-selected diving equipment that may include a scuba bcd, regulator, octopus and gauge console.
While some divers choose to rent a used scuba BC, it is wise for frequent divers to invest in the right BC for them. These devices are available in back inflation, jacket, and technical styles. An Oceanic BC -- like the Islander, Ocean Pro and Ladies Isla -- will offer quality design, comfort and fit.
|Sheri Ann Richerson|