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The 'Tween Sites

FAR FAR Southern Dive Sites (Past Sweet Dreams)

Baby Beach

Last Dove 8/2017

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Isn't that pretty?? That's a 3 -4 foot cresting wave.... This non site which is named after a long departed beach is also a local knowledge site. The picture above was taken during a wind reversal so the waves were down. The site is located just past the last of the so called bridges on the road from Light house to Lac Bay. The site itself features with out a doubt one of the longest surface swims around. The shallows are swept clear. It is on the shallow side with the bottom shelf around 90 feet.. Not much to see.. we dove because we were looking for lion fish and didn't find many of those.. In time of several days of wind reversals it may be calm if you are desperate for a windward side site...yeah I think there are better options

Entrance in calm water is an EZ Pass... and other time stupid All things considered. This is a site best done when the wind is down for a couple of days

LIGHTHOUSE

(Last dove 9/2016)

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This is the southern most of the marked dive sites. As such I only recommend it when the wind is down. The best entrance is from the little road just south of the lighthouse.. it is fairly easy to get down to the water from several paths. Watch your footing as its coral rubble. Once at the water look around.. be careful of the urchins (there are a LOT of them). There are a number of fairly safe channels going out but with the surf and wind they change a lot... some times the best is almost straight out from the road other times I tend to go a little north towards the light house

The surface swim out is fairly far. The shallows here are actually surprisingly nice. (not as good as further north like Vista Blue/red Beryl) but still better then you would expect. There is also a probability for a different group of fish here as you are getting closer to the true south end of the island. The drop off here is not as severe as other sites.. you actually have to go out a bit to get deep water. In the extended shallow water there is a surprising amount of soft coral.. its is more a flatish bottom then most of the sites.

I surprised myself in seeing how nice this dive actually was ... if the wind is down... if the wind comes up the surf builds very quickly .. once again if the wind comes up (or should I say when) the surf builds quickly. I strongly recommend this only be done in very low wind or reversal days.

I would not recommend this site for inexperienced beach divers, but as you build your skill set.. it can be an enjoyable dive

Entrance is ranked as "takes some good thinking"

 

Radar Tower Area

last dove 11/2016

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This pretty much refers to the area between Red Slave and Lighthouse..

To enter here requires navigating over the berm of coral rubble and winding your way through the flotsam and jetsam of ocean trash created by man...(thought you were going to avoid ocean friendly rhetoric?? HA) Getting to the water you will find a narrow shelf of iron shore with some the healthiest algae and weed growth you have ever seen waiting to help you fall.. The step off into the water is usually around 2 feet or about twice as much as say around the Hilma Hooker and in most cases into slippery and unstable rocks. There are some cuts and easier entrances mostly south of the radar tower best about half way to the lighthouse and the others north. Also at he radar tower. In the water footing i challenging with uneven bottom, slick spots and holes. In calm waters I would rate this a medium to difficult entry. Unfortunately you need a couple of days of no wind to calm down the seas.. other was rolling waves are the norm and render this area pretty much undivable.

In normal Bonaire days this area will be feature 2 - 4 foot swells making it impossible to work you way into the water. In marginal conditions or when you want to prove that you are a macho diver you are better off going to Lighthouse where there is a wider more gentle slope into the water

The swim to the drop off is a moderate distance.. but that shelf offers some of the best of this area. Fields of Sea Fans and soft coral. pockets of live massive elkhorn coral

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The site has the broad 15 - 30 ft. shelf to the drop off which is soft coral forest Lots of black Durgons. The drop off levels off a bit at around 130 feet (yes it does deeper but much gradually)

I have pretty much found a current there every time I have dove it and usually different layers. The top current is usually mild the mid current (30-90) is pretty strong at its weakest and at is norm its almost easier ok IT IS easier to do a drift dive. The current sometimes drops off at around 90 feet.

This can be a very pretty sight and healthy elkhorn of this size is usual, but with normal diving conditions would not recommend this area..

 

Red Slave

Last Dove 2/2017

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This dive site is getting into an area on the island where current is very changeable as we are approaching another point. VERY Strong currents are not uncommon here and in windy days they can sweep you away. There was one death here in 2013. The general dive is patchy with numbers of wide sand channels separating areas of coral. The shallows are extremely sandy down to 40 feet. The coral is in general not as wide spread as most southern sites. There are a number of interesting ledges under which fish can be hiding. Entrance is down a lot of rubble and can be a little tricky getting the water. The actual entrance in the water is ever irregular..The sandy area tends to be a good place to find rays. Take a look when you get their and spot the one that looks best to you. I feel the ones on the north side towards the ruined house are usually a little safer and easier to get down the hill.. But there is a path by the last of the southern huts that is easy to follow. Once down you can usually find a fairly safe trace into the water. The water entrance is irregular with lots of rubble but manageable

The area has a fairly broad sandy shelf with some soft coral area I have seen some eagle rays there as recently as 2/2017/ The surge from the competing currents seem to result in decreased viz from sand in the water . All in all if you watch the current and stay shallow.. this is not a bad site to find rays.

 

I rate the entrance as moderately difficult another site best dove when the wind is down

 

 

Far Southern Dive Sites (Past Pink Beach)

FIRST OF ALL DO NOT DRIVE ON SAND.. THESE ARE PRIME TURTLE NESTING AREAS.. DON'T BE LAZY-- PARK ON CORAL RUBBLE

These sites offer very similar diving profiles as they all border on each other and the terrain is very similar. This means very broad shallows, which calls for a decent but not horrible surface swim, changeable currents and a little milkier visibility with a fall of starting at around 30 feet to about 100 feet or so. Unless noted otherwise there is a second drop are around 150 - 160 feet. Coming back up finds thick coverage of soft coral, barrel and tube sponges and heads of coral. The shallows in the south are really enjoyable. The combination of sea fans, soft coral, stag horn, and elk horn provides home to an amazing collection of juveniles. Also I agree with the guide books.... IN 90% of my dives I have come across turtles and squid. In many ways these sites is like two dives rolled into one. As a good friend of mine, Pete Streff, taught me.. you are doing a disservice to yourself not to spend a significant part of your dive in this area in the shallows. A note.. most dive guides rate this area as for intermediate divers. This is driven by the current which can be strong at times and often changes directions with depth. In preparing my comments I assume a diver to be properly trained with 10 or 20 dives (hey i had to give a number is YOUR comfort zone) under their belt and fully able and willing to make a no dive decision (to me that is the major sign of an advanced diver) .. I know I have I have been noting that when the surface is calmest, there seems to be more current,

Area South of Sweet Dreams (Before Orange Obelisk)( Tween Red Slave and Sweet Dreams)

Last Dove 12/2016

Be careful when wind is up its can be a bit rough

 

 

As you head past Sweet Dreams headed to red slave or lighthouse you will see a stretch with no sites. Sets a mind to wondering.. No one says you have to dive at the yellow markers.... Ok half way between Sweet Dreams and the orange obelisk you will notice a turn off... its worth a visit.. Follow the path to the coral rubble and you will find a path to the water.. a little south of the path you will find a good entry into the water and through the shore coral. Not really that bad unless the waves are thumping. When the wind is howling the southern dive sites in general can be nasty Nice collection of giant elk horn coral

This area surprised me in the large amount of soft coral and the extensive coverage and also the depth to which it grew... it almost obscures that hard coral... A bit of a wonderland. I have only dove it once but found it very enjoyable. As in all southern sites I imagine a real good chance for current so I would tend to dive early in the day and when the wind is down. A surprising EZ PASS dive in my book. Any of the obvious dive tracks are worth a look

 

Sweet Dreams

Last Dove 6/2017

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Like the discussion for Vista Blue, its surgey (don't you love it when I make up words? almost as much fun as my spelling). Once you actually park in the firm good access parking area, you observe actually a fairly nice small beach. Access to the actual water is a matter of selecting an approach you want to try Currently the bets i have found is a short walk South (left facing the ocean) pretty much in line with the second group of bushes. There is a large out cropping of coral at waters edge. If you look there is an area with a gradual slope into the water that is fairly easy Almost an EZPass. Once in, as in other sports watching your footing on the uneven bottom. Lots of ridge at right angles to the shore line. When the wind is up there can be a bot of cross chop and some small rollers but still very much a doable.

 

The shallows require a surface swim that is a moderate distance. The day I first dove this site I had a short tank so I didn't go down much more then 70 feet. Bottom coverage was intense with lots of soft coral inter spaced with the hard coral formations. Its is a dramatically different site then its neighbor Visa Blue with the soft corals much more dominant. Later dives have found the deeper shelf to be a possibility of sargassum triggers on the deep shelf from 135 to 165 , In general on the slope the presence of all the soft coral leads to a fair possibility of turtles.These southern sites are so beautiful that I am beginning to think about deleting my reviews. This was a late afternoon dive with a waxing moon and with a bit of a surge, as a result there was significant current but not impossible. My return was about 10 minutes shorter then my trip out. Divers should be aware that when the winds are up you will get wave action. The ability to dive this site in those conditions is dependent on divers comfort with waves.. Full moon this place can be interesting current wise

Fish life was not particularly big mostly wrasse (yeah the creole wrasse traffic jam) grunts and large numbers of french angels and other discs. I am becoming spoiled as I only saw one turtle in the shallows. It is my bet there is about 7 different turtles in this area as I recognized my initials I had carved in his shell from last week (checking to see if anyone actually read this stuff) but the shallows are extremely enjoyable

Again shallows VERY enjoyable including a large green moray sleeping under the shelf by the entrance (I could see it breath but my flash never disturbed it) . A fairly nice place to snorkel. Either directions gives you a shallows with lots of soft corals for an enjoyable off gas period again with possibility of turtles

Because of the shelf, you have to pick and choose your exit.. and YOU ARE LIMITED IN EXIT SPACES but very very easy for a beach diving site (when the winds permit). Again all in all an EZ Pass and one of my favorites

Vista Blue

- Most recently dove 6/2017

Site still has mooring which makes good reference

This site can be a little intimidating when you drive up.. There tends to be a bit of surge which hits the iron shore and make it look very rough. The surf has really chewed up the entrances. But sand has settled back in. I am using one in the area of the drive up where there is actually a sandy entrance which makes the initial fairly easy for the initial part just watch for the holes when you get about waist deep

 

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updated shots reflecting erosion

 

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... once you get in until about 5 or 6 feet of water beware of channels in the bottom which are mostly perpendicular to the shore and occasional holes that can make your footing a little uncertain. The surf can make it hard to see the hole so take your time and also time yourself with the waves. As southern sites go the surface swim is not that far but rougher as you are getting toward the tip.

If diving on a weekend I believe it is a good practice to pop up when you hit 15 feet to check where the local fisherman are fishing.. they tend to give you a wide berth but you can return the favor by arranging your exit away from them

 

The area is a decent drop off to around 135 feet featuring a nice mix of soft and hard coral and sponges with a bit more emphasis on the hard coral.. all are in pretty good condition... going either direction leads to a lot of variety and bottom coverage. Nice holes and shelves for eels and lobsters to hide. The bottom is a shelf that has a second drop off at around 165 ft. One of the key features of this shelf is the presence of Sargassum Triggers

After your turn the shallows provide a healthy environment of soft coral with good numbers of smaller fish and possibility of turtles. I have also been having increasing luck with rays in the late afterrnnon

NOTE: As I found out in with my mistakes.. there is no exit between vista blue and sweet dreams. The iron shore is too extreme... you can however maneuver in the shallow to get back to your spot. If you see impassable iron shore its a safe assumption that you are too far south an need to head to the left

 

 

 

All in all with the exception of surge I rate this entry as an EZPASS... but watch the currents during the dive

Tween Vista Blue and Fisherman's Hut

last dove 11/2016

 

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This area is appearing in more and more dive books as things like "Hidden Beach and whatever" I pretty much stay with the STINAPA Dive site names with the exception of so called "local knowledge". In this stretch there are a number of little coves in the iron shore with nice natural sand. The ease of entrance depends on what the surf has been doing. If nothing else they are nice places to hang during a surface interval. By the creche of rocks there is currently a nice sandy entrance and a good location for the beach patrol

 

The dives themselves will be a a cross between my descriptions of Fisherman's Hut and Vista blue. As in both case, it will be a fairly long swim out but as you get a distance out you will come do a wide band of soft coral until you find the drop off. Unlike Fisherman's hut there isn't much relief or channels so its not that good for snorkeling except along the iron shore. I have found the currents to be a little less (not a lot less) then Vista Blue when they kickup (usually seems to be late in the afternoon)

At the drop off you have a moderate slope down to the depths with good soft coral and sponge life. I have found this to be one of my better turtle sites.

The trick it shares with Vista Blue is the further south you get, the less number of exits points you find so navigation/timing is semi important

If you pick and choose you will find some EZPASS entrances

Fisherman's Hut

last dove 12/2016. It is now difficult to dive thanks to the kite surfers

You won't find this on your books. This is a hut on the beach south just past the kiting surfing beach and Margate bay. Has been one of my favorites since some friends of mine dragged me there. The reef goes deep and is subject to strong current from time to time. The snorkel to the drop off is on the medium length side. (not as short as windsock mind you). Be aware of the kite boarders who think they own the water. ALSO be courteous... the shack is owned and occupied.. and has been abused by tourists. treat it like it is someone's home

I have always like this site for diversity and and for a fairly high probability of turtle sighting in the shallows

The best entrance is just south of the boats stacked on the beach.. You can pick a nice finger of rock out to the shallows. Surf action has taken away what it gave and the nice sandy beach is now iron shore. Once past the surf you will find the bottom uneven so watch your footing

The shallows near the entrance points has some nice cuts which are good for finding fish while doing the last stop. Nice area also to do your surface intervals.. Also easy references as there is an old boat trailer in about 10 feet of water just north of the best entrances and exits. There have been times we have done back to back dives here. The drop off is pretty pretty down to first shelf around 125 feet. Lots of healthy soft coral and a fair amount of hard with nooks and crannies for things to hide..

Working back in shallows is almost a delight with good coverage up to around 25 feet. Lots of soft coral with some valleys which are virtual fish hydrothoraces lots of young fish..

the site is very forgiving as far as exits go .. you can pretty much exit and where

All in All an EZpass

 

 

Atlantis

Last Dove 10/16

Physically this is a very nice site with a nice beach for surface interval or non divers. Approaches are dry and firm. It is just north of the the site where the kite surfers have entrenched themselves so it is a very busy place these days, This would be a moderately good snorkel location if it wasn't for all the surface traffic.

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Getting into the water does require picking your spot .. I found that the iron shore a little north or south of a straight line with the entry road seems to ramp down quite gently, making it one of the easier iron shore entries. In line with the bushes on the north end of the parking area has been working for me recently. With erosion you have to watch your trek in the shallows... there are a lot of ridges. Once in expect a long surface swim to the drop off dodging kits boarders. As this site is getting close to the end of the island it seem to have consistently more current then most. The vast majority of times i have been there the current is not TOO bad... It is very common for the current to be going different directions at different depths

The site offers a moderate drop off to around 100 - 125 feet a shelf that slopes to 150 - 170 feet and then another drop off leading to another slope down. Well not a coral paradise, the deeper area does offer fish, spots of coral... not your usual barren plain

 

Working back up is very enjoyable.. 60 feet and above is a variable forest of soft coral and sponges.. I have found this is a good site for turtles. and lots of fish... (ok multi-colored fish... wrasses, grunts, discs good size barracuda) and plenty of juvenile life to entertain you in the shallows. Unfortunately, as in a lot of the island, most of the bigger fish seem to be fished out. The coral is much more mixed between soft and hard then say red beryl or margate bay which seem to be more hard

The shallows are in fairly good shape with soft coral and ridges providing good hidey holes for young fish. The sand area in the shallows is wider then a little moral north and there is a forest of elkhorn coral. The only draw back, especially on weekends, is the constant surface traffic

 

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the shallows provide and excellent place to off gas even more

On my indecipherable rating system, I classify this as between an EZ Pass and opportunity for an oops)

Red Beryl -

last dove 5/2017

One of the southern sites beyond Pink Beach. Its a bit of a drive (yeah I know the island is less then thirty miles long and you probably drive more then that in your commute). As in most sites in this area you have a moderately broad shallows, which doesn't call for much of a surface swim to the shoulder of the reef, changeable currents and a little milkier visibility. Access is relatively good with flat beach area, a bit of sand. When parking along the road DO NOT use the paved spot.. that is actually a turn out space to allow vehicles to get by each other on the narrow road. Lazy Divers not willing to walk any distance have managed to break the edge of the road to drive to the water.. This has been blocked off again Please dont do the same. Give turtle eggs a chance

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The actual entrance to the water is a little uneven but not that bad depending on your spot.. I have found that best way is to park past the paved turn off.. There are two paths leading to a bush that is closest to the water (see photo above) The entlrance to the water there is a gentle slope of iron shore/dead coral with some the usua hoels and perpindicular ridges common to the south As you will find channels and grooves on the bottom. ...the further north you try to enter the worse the step down/off As mentioned once in the water the bottom is a little uneven so you have to be careful and work you way through some coral.

The swim out is not THAT bad.There is a "cut" in the coral at the shoulder of he reef that is excellent land mark for coming back. Major concern swimming out is the kite surfers who seem to dins the divers a shalom course. Dropping down finds the first bottom around 110 and a second drop off around 160. (for those interested in chasing the Sargasso triggers) . You have to pay attention to the current as I have found it not to be uncommon for the deeper you go the stronger the current and sometimes a different direction. That is one of the reason given in guide books for making this an "interesting dive" at timses. Coming back up finds thick coverage of soft coral, barrel and tube sponges and heads of coral In the shallows Towatrd the south there are lso large patchs of staghorn coral. I have not see many rbigger fish but the reef is full of grunts, butterflies,angles and occasional grouper. The eel population seems to be comig backl and the soft coral provides a good home to the young slender file fish.

The shallows in the south are really enjoyable around 10 meters/30 feet is beautiful. The combination of sea fans, soft coral, stag horn, and elk horn provides home to an amazing collection of juveniles. There are a couple of drop offs in the shallows that gives more places to explore. The sandy area in the shallows is not as wide say as Vista Blue which could impact turtle and ray sightings but there are lots of plate coral which is fun to look in for some of the more unusual small creatures.

The shallows and shelf area are very easily effected my wind and surge as far as visibility goes. When dove on the 14th there was a strong ESE wind which resulted in some wave action and had the shallows murky which makes it hard to spot turtles

In many ways this site is like two dives rolled into one. .. All in all I would rate this site between an EZ-Pass and an Oppps be careful of your footing as anything with color is slippery... yeah I fell again

North of Red Beryl (blocked site and open site)

( Last dove 12/2016)

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I know you can't find this on your map. It is just up from red beryl and has coral and poles blocking to prevent idiots from diving on the sand.

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South Margate Bay

last Dove 8/16

A little north is another virtually identical access that has not be blocked so people can try to mash turtle eggs. This second one is immediately to the south of Margate Bay. Access from the road is easy with good dry firm ground.

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Both sites share common access issues. Access to the water features a little iron shore drop off and uneven channels in the shallows. What makes this a pain is that with the surge there is a good degree of water action that makes it difficult to see the bottom as you walk out. You essentially have to slide your feet along to find your footing.

 

At the northern most of the two as you get out a bit you need to watch the stag horn the southern most of the two seems to have a fair amount of growing small elkhorn. The surface swim for both probably long enough to compensate for one beer at happy hour. There northern most (confused yet?) has a channel going down from the flats to the depth which makes a good landmark. With the wind up you can usually tell when you are at the drop as you also clear the point and start getting more rollers. The water is turbid as is all the south area. The end of the drop is about 120 feet (40 meters) with a shelf there until about 165 feet (55 meters). If you like deep diving its a nice shelf to poke around on with clumps of coral and some little holes and cracks. There is also some real nice small areas of nice elk horn coral in the shallows a little to the northI have been noticing a much faster current in the deep water areas and sometimes in a different direction then the shallow currents. In general, plan on some current through out .

AS through out the south area.. the bottom between 70 feet and 150 feet is a forest of life. The combination of soft and hard coral with the sponges requires you to be sharp as you may miss a turtle rest or eating and eels....

You don't have to be as careful as some spots in making sure you get the same exit. This area is more forgiving. All in all I rate this entry area more of an ez pass then an oops. The dive it self only suffers from potential for a current and murkier visibility Still all in all I really enjoy it

 

 

Margate Bay

Last Update 7/2017

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I found myself surprised. With my current preference to the southern sites, I had never put information in about Margate Bay.. My oversight. Thye have finally blocked off teh drive up access that all the lazy divers loved so much. No you have todo what I always prefer edt and park along the road and I don't have to deal with the brackish waters. (updated photos to follow in Septeber) As in the majority of southern sites, the entrance is iron shore with a lot of growth . The step down is no where as bad as the double reef . But it is challenging if there are any waves. I found the easiest to be a little the south or north of a midline to the parking. In general I favor going in in line with the southern (left looking at the water) line of bushes. I had a bit of wave action when I was there but only 1 -2 feet. Once you get past that there is some uneven footing but really not bad. All in All with erosion the way it is, this is a "no so bad"

Once in there are soft and hard coral starting almost immediately but not as thick as further south.. Lots of life in the shallow water. The swim to the drop off is moderate but I don't considerate in excessive. At the drop the reef is some of the healthiest I have seen on the island. The reef drops down until it starts to even out around 130 - 140 feet. As in all southern sites beware of current. Beginning of the dive (which was mid afternoon) I had some starting that hadn't been there when I started. The return on the shallows from either direction allows for an enjoyable off gas with lots to see.. The shallows also feature some elk and stag horn coral

 

The shallows are, are like most of the southern sites, impressive with wide expanse of soft corals providing hiding spots for lots of fish. AS you get shallow (15 feet or less) there is a forest of stag horn coral with large numbers of juveniles. You can easily extend your bottom time enjoyably playing in the shallows. The area of just sand is relatively small here which may hurt ray sights but improves j/v watching

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Chance for turtles is relatively good.. All in all I recommend this site for all level of divers (if surf is down)

Tween Margate Bay and White Slave

Last Dove 2/2017

Another of the unmarked areas this is past pink beach. There are several

The first was just before the road narrows down to one lane. I pulled off about 1/3 of the way toward Margate about 150 yards past pink beach. The shoulder is narrow with loose gravel so you have to pick and choose when you park.

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The walk to the water is wet. There is a big step down to get in the water but you can find numerous "inlets" in the iron shore where you will find easy step downs. In general once past the entry the shallows are surprising easy to walk in if you look and choose a good course

It is a long surface swim to the drop off... more then most areas in the extreme south It appears to enjoy afternoon currents

The area closest to pink beach bottoms out around 75 feet but as you progress south this gets deeper and deeper. Initially the reef was a garden of soft coral and very beautiful and in excellent condition... as you progress toward margate the slope becomes more severe with more hard coral and the bottom of the reef gets deeper. The reef is in excellent condition with lots of holes for lobsters to hide. The overall area appears to be a nursery for barracuda as i saw the most I have seen on Bonaire, well over 40.

The shallows are a tad deeper then most places and a little more sparse but there are spots of excellent elkhorn and staghorn for your swim home

Getting out is much easier as the set out is easier then getting in as you can pick your spot

All in all a very enjoyable spot. While i wouldn't rate the entrance an EZ pass as it is harder then Margate or Red Beryl it is much easier then the hooker

White Slave

Last Dove 10/2016

 

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Parking for this site is easy plenty of space and that is probably the best thing I will s ay about it. I last dove this just to confirm my earlier opinions I formed when diving with some friends probably 5 years ago (yeah its been that long since I had any friends that would dive with me). I remember it having strong current and not much to see.

The general approach to the water is VERY similar to Weber's Joy up north with lots of loose small coral making footing challenging.. but manageable if you take your time. The water entrance is iron shore ledge with a drop off like most of the southern sites. What I though to be the best entry point was behind the southern most hut where the iron shore is almost a ramp. Once in the water there are lots of loose small rubble as well as the usual ledges and drop offs

 

Once you clear the surf zone you are in a sand desert that goes on forever.. actually there are some patches of soft coral when you return behind the private residences. The snorkel to the drop off if it is not the longest would be only exceeded by Pink Beach

Once to the drop off, it a gentle slope down to around 120 feet. I found it to be very sparse to the south but actually quite pretty to the north. Lots of healthy soft coral.. I don't really think it was worth the surface swim. Then the current. This dive was on a waning moon and late in afternoon, so there may be contributing factors... but the current was nasty. Looking at the waves in the sand, I don't think its uncommon. This site is also impacted by the shape of the island which results in some changing currents

As mentioned, the shallows behind the residences offered some ares of nice soft coral in about 18 feet and bunch of places to hang on as you looked at juveniles

I would rate the entry almost an EZ Pass , but a like an EZ pass entrance to Camden NJ. why would u ever want to go there

 

If in this area I would more a little north to the orange obelisk.. There is parking there too and you get away from the "point" that white slave is at and get less current

 

Pink Beach

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"Pink Beach' refers to a very wide area. Before 1999, the was rate as one of the top beaches in the Caribbean. Lenny eroded the beach and it has never come back. The 'beach' is now traditional southern iron shore. In reviewing the area I did two dives one at the north end, which is what you see pictures of, and the other on the south end by the obelisk.

 

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The north end, which is in the area of the buoy, is harder to get in. We found a fairly easy step down in line with the last palm tree.

 

The southern end one you make it down the coral rubble varied from an iron shore step down to a nice sandy strip right by the obelisk.

No matter where you go in it is a LONG surface swim to the deep water.. back a lunch.. The actual dive is a soft coral paradise. The drop off is extremely gentle almost surprising with max depth between 90 and 120 at the sand. The soft coral actually extends a bit out on the sand. The forest of soft coral makes the dive well worth it. I have not seen anything particularly large but the habitat is good for angels and parrots and the usual wrasses. If you don't mind the surface swim it is actually a pretty dive. The amount of south coral is along the lines you see in the extreme south sites. It is not much for snorkeling because of the wide sandy area and that can make finding the shore fun, but it does provide some shade for the non diver to hang out.

South Entrance/White Obelisk (last dove 10/16)

The southern most entrance has deteriorated with lots of loose coral In addition if you miss your exit you are now at white slave with its swirling current.. If you dive here make sure to find hard rock to get through the rubble and make sure you favor pink beach on your return...If not you are essentially diving White slave with all the current and fun (not)

 

If you come to close to the white obelisk you are going to work your butt..

 

 

Tween Pink Beach and Tori's Reef

Last Dove 12/2016

I am still working on find a good entrance here Current impression is that it might be ok towards Pink Beach based on experiences North of Pink Beach. Going North toward tori's reef has proven nasty with iron shore getting close to the water and then an immediate nasty drop off

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once in by what ever means you prefer (slide, fall or opps) its another LONGGGGGG swim to the drop off. The actual drop off is fairly gentle down to 90 - 110 feet sand bottom. I didn't see a lot of bigger fish but it was did have a lot of smaller ones. The day I was there was later in the afternoon and the reef was packed with Brown Chromis . The reef its self has excellent coverage be tween 30 feet and 90. Various hard corals What really got my attention was the number and variety of large health sponges

 

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Everywhere you looked there more sponges.

The shallows about 25 are a little sparse with soft coral but there are pockets to go searching. some excellent for turtles. When you get back to the shore the drop off gives you a good place to look for creatures as you try to find your exit

 

The entrance at this site is "Disaster Waiting to Happen" and the swim is long so this is not high in my list

 

 

 

Back to the Rest of the Island

 

Not So Far South

This area features LONG surface swims to drop off and severe iron shore entrances but also moderately good places to snorkel

 

Tori's Reef

last dove 4/2016

This site is below the Salt Pier approaching Pink Beach. It undergoes transformations as it is part of the salt collector system. The connection with the evaporation ponds is back... Access is still a bit challenging with some crawling but the inlet is cleaned up again.. From the mounds of rubble I would expect future changes

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The channel (which is the only practical access to the ocean in this area) can be accessed from either side. But right now (2017) the North side seem slightly better about half way alomng the channal. In general you will find, in safety's interest its probably best to crawl down the sides. The rocks used to re-enforce the channel actually lend themselves to this very nicely about mid way down .

Be careful some of the rocks will move as you step on them Once in it is a long long surface swim to the drop off. This is why you won't see many updates...t.. Once you hit the drop off.. The reef is moderate drop off to around 120 feet. It has a good covering of a combination of soft and hard coral and sponges. In addition to the usual suspects I did spot a number of black durgons. Coming back through the shallows encountered a number of tile fish. The nice thing about this site is if you go north in about 10 or 15 minutes the shore comes out in a undwerater peninsula kind of different with low impact from teh shore

The shallows at Tori's at around 12 - 15 feet become fairly bleak (especially in comparison to the extreme south sites or up north) But then this provides a fair opportunity ins the later after noon for feeding rays I nmid summer I cam across two that essentially posed form me

. It is important to have a good idea where you are as there is only a small cut in the iron shore for the inlet. The goods news is that the crevice along the shore is full of interesting critters if you don't mind playing the surge.

The long swim didnt seem so bad last time late in the afternoon when I found two eagles rays. The shallows lend themselves to such visitors as they are mostly sand wih only occasssinal groupins of coral

The Rock

last dove 11/2016

Unmarked local name. essentially an the southern most of the second reef from Invisibles (the third second reef section mentioned in the invisibles) nice sand entrance. Swim out not that bad but the reef is pretty much separated from rest of invisibles .. doesn't really make for much of a dive unless you head north to the main second reef

The relief is like a large mound which provides good contrast. I usually dive this a part of the invisibles

 

Invisibles

last dove 7/2017/p>

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This is a good news bad new site. The good news is that initial access is relatively easy . The bad news is the wholes and ridges that have formed in the shallows mostly at angles to the beach. If the waves are breaking stirring up the water is is difficult to see them In the shallows by the buoy spotted eagle rays are frequently reported (which means even I occasionally see them early and late in the day are best) . The bad news (well I don't think so but then again it is me) is that the second reef can be very deep.. Yes if you pay attention 30 meters can be done but you can find yourself at 40 +meters VERY easily. I think the best way to reach the second reef is to head down the sand shoot right by the buoy. This gives you a better reference point then selecting a parrot fish (yeah yeah old joke.. but hey I am old)

The second reef is easily reach in spots, but that way it is fragmented it is easy to lose your way and find yourself headed the wrong direction when you return to the interior reef. I usually make my turn back when the outer reef comes up close to the inner after the second large group of the second reef. There is a third area of the second reef but it requires a bit of a swim and may not be readily visible in cloudy conditions. (this all presumes you start your dive to the south which i tend to do)

My usual approach is too swim out to the mooring and drop.. there is a wide sand channel between portions of the second reef.. this runs a little deep (90+). Current is usually such that I end up turning left (south) you will come to a second channel that deposits you on the first reef. That can be a little confusing

If you turn right the second reef is also very nice but not quite as severe. It is also more continuous

In general early in the morning or late in the afternoon this is a good spot for eagle rays... The rest of the time there is a reasonable chance for schooling fish

working back the inner reef is extremely nice with lots of soft coral and with the flat sandy area a reasonable chance for squid and eagle rays.. when viz is up the area between the second reefs in mid water can be breathtaking (or maybe its time to have that reg serviced)

All in all under my new rating system I have downgraded this to "interesting"

 

If you dont want to go deep the first reef is very plesant especially towards the Salt Pier.. nice hard ad soft coral coverahe with moderate drop off. More and more I tend to stick to the first reef as there is more to see .

 

White Rock

last dove 12/2016

Don't go running to your guide book.. this is not a marked site but just another whim along the lines of Fisherman's hut.. just driving along path the busy sites .. not wanting to go too far .. I am looking at water past Aquarius and said.. what the heck and pulled over. good dry parking past two tree/bushes past Aquarius. a bit of sand here and there.. and an entrance whose drop off is not as bad as the hooker, but here the underwater surface and footing is more inconsistent. Based on initial perceptions, I think the best entrance is toward Aquarius side north of the second tree

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The site it self has a very broad shelf so its a bit of a surface swim to the drop off. Although this is in the area of the double reef.. and there is suppose to be one... I didn't really push hard to find it. The channel would appear to be wide with a sandy bottom at around 105ft (35m). The inner reef had a good number of elephant ear sponge, and other soft coral.. not a lot but a number. I wouldn't say anything like up north. I notice a lot of rainbow runners and damsels and the usual parrot fish and grunts, but nothing of great size. Of course I am blind.

The shallows have spots of hard coral.. mostly clumps of elkhorn.. When I dove it was cloudy late afternoon with murky conditions but there were a lot of juveniles and actually once you fought your way in it seemed like a worth while place to snorkel too... but again entry is NOT a snap. I would classify it has a oops no a oh my g...... For the experienced diver .. quite doable even with camera.

 

Salt City

last dove 3/17

Ok first and foremost IGNORE THE ENTRY AND EXIT MARKERS.

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There left over from some old CIEE idea most of them were wrong or tread to the erosion and not some like these are VERY VERY WRONG. I had my best success by going a distance up toward Salt Pier even with the end of the tree/bushes along the road (about half way between the Salty City Mooring and the first big salt pier mooring) Here I found the iron shore had worn to anice easy of slope to the water MUCH MUCH easier then any where else I could find, IT is slick

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Its a fair surface swim (if long swims are fair)to the drop off, about even with the salt pier. The drop off is very gentle to a sand channel around 70 feet - 80 feet. towards salt pier and south towars invisibles. The second reef is very accessible although it is mostly older harder coral (that means about flat dead) with some orange sponges It rises up and then continues the drop to 150 feet and beyond. If you go south the reef continues for about 10-15 minutes and then ends much like invisibles.. there is a space of lumps of coral and soft coral and then the second reef starts up again. This reminds me very very much of the invisibles but not as deep.. I did not go much more the fist major sand channel through the interior reef (again like invisibles... no I did not swim THAT far)

The over all site features lots of soft coral until yiou get to the deeper area furtyer south and the soft thins out a bit

Working the interior reef back I saw a number of smaller eels and could see some sizable fish in the distance.... I saw what appear to be 3 or so foot groupers.. and one tarpon.. Also some of the larger barracuda I have seen in a while is also more soft coral , Getting back in general area of entry there was a small forest of elkhorn coral very nice and unexpected

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The shallows beyond 30 feet were a little stark but with clumps of life.. Again the best place to get out is back where you started although you can find a some small steps up close to the parking area

Is the dive worth it?? If you are on island for longer then a week of if the wind is up, maybe. It is one of the more accessible of the double reef system in that it is not a "leap of faith" to get top the outer reef.

I rate this entry as "not all that bad" I major improvement on my earlier ratings

 

Salt Pier

last dove 3/2017

Ok the scoop. the owners of the pier, Cargill, is of the operating opinion that if you dive the pier when they aren't doing work on it and there are no boats there you are welcome to it,If you dive when they are working on the pier or their is a boat in expect to be arrested and fined. Of course with our great police who knows but you will ruin it for others

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In diving this site I have found the the years have eroded the beach heavily... If you park in the parking lot there is quite a drop off and a nasty shore break.. I tend to be lazy and feel that entering to the north almost in line with the end of the pier is easiest with a sloping slick entrance .. just watch your footing. Its a fairly long snorkel or surface swim to get to the pier... The pier dive is not that deep under the pier i don't think saw more then 50 feet. What you are there for is the pier supports with a fantasy land of sponger and invertebrate growth. School of many groups of fish are quite common including Tarpons. A wonderful wide and mid angle lens opportunity The reef itself is pretty much of a dump from the storms and traffic.. the drop off net to the pier really doesn't offer much except for more trash and debris. At night the pier turns into a thief's paradise. It is however an excellent macro flash experience and all the nice little crawly thing come out. This is a worth while site to do with a dive guide as it is also a frequent location for sea horses. For photographers this might even a must dive... but in general.. depends on how much you like sponges

Larry's Lair

last dove 4/2016

Another of the mid southern sites approaching Salt Pier. If you have been reading my view on this area you will know that I do not feel these are the easiest entries and Larry's Liar fits right in. Arriving at the site be careful of loose sand along the road. I have even seen divers with the blissfully backing their rental trucks over the loose sand on to the iron shore to cut down their walk to the water... and people wonder why rental prices are so high? Again at the water there is a bit of a drop from the iron shore into the water... no where near as bad a the hooker... but great potential for fun both coming and going. For my money.. I like the entrance a little north of the southern most yellow stone where the iron shore kind of slopes in the water.. be careful of slick spots an of course urchins. Also pick your way out ..there are some decent paths to deeper water and some great trenches

 

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Once in the water the bottom offers relatively sturdy footing. The shallows here are wide so expect a LONG surface swim to the drop off. I would say a tad longer then the hooker. This is alleged to be part of the double reef, but with sand channel at 125 ft.. (43m) and not in easy sight I decided to stay with the main reef and headed south. Large amounts of medium size grunts were to be found and again a good number of sponges including elephants ears. I did not see as many groupers are other location but then again I have seen a lot of local fishing boats working this area. Lots of different types of butterfly fish and smaller fish tucked in the reef. I guess I found myself investigating the sponges.. they aren't that big but offered nice contrast.

 

On the northern side once again so so fair amount of older coral formation (which mean mostly dying) large number of sponges . Around 20 minutes north of the entrance is a big extension of the first reef out towards the second in a peninsula like formation Only down side is that is 75 feet and deeper which really doesn't leave much time to explore if you start from the normal entrance.

The shallows actually proved a bit nicer then first impressions.. not thick coverage but nice opportunities to go from elkhorn or staghorn to elkhorn seeing what you can find I did not expect to be the case on the surface swim out. Also pockets of coral not much coverage but at least not a waste land Even found a snake eel

All in all I found this to me a very pleasant dive but wonder the worth compared to snorkel... I originally entered on the more northern part of the site.. but exited on the slope I found on the southern part .. I would say this is well within the limits of an adventure some beginning beach diver but there is good prospects for an opps saw an apparent experienced group trying to dribble their camera housing out of the water... so be mindful.. I also question if its worth the swim the the drop off but remember i am lazy

like Tori's reef .. this site just doesn't grab my fancy

 

Jeanies Glory

12/2016

Must be kind of obvious that I am stuck on a southern mentality. Well here is another of the southern sites in the area of the double reef. This site is probably most used as a way to sneak on the the salt pier and as such loses some of its own attractiveness. Some care should be taken in parking to loose material unless you are on of those tourists who don't care about the rental car and then you can park on the iron shore summered in salt water. It entrance is once again a combination of southern iron shore , drop off with a second drop about 12 feet out thrown in. Unlike other sites there really isn't a good entry . The shore drop is not much more then 6inches to a foot with urchins and slick spots... but it is pretty manageable. Best I found was a bit to the north of the site marker where there is a lone semi big boulder It is an excellent training opportunity for the Hilma Hooker entrance (meaning be real careful) . Once in the bottom offers good footing until the second drop in about 12 feet from shore. SURPRISE!!!

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The shelf/shallows offer a long surface swim to the drop, but hey you need to burn off breakfast or lunch. Its a gentle slope down to the sand channel at around 125 feet (42meters). The day I dove I encounter a mild thermo cline at around 90 feet (30 meters) with more milkiness then I have been seeing at depth and a couple degrees drop.. still in the 80s though. Again I did not try to go to the second reef.. which should be quite deep at this point in the reef. The slope offered a nice combination of soft corals, tube sponges, some smaller barrel sponges and smaller elephant ears. the site tends to have more grunts and parrot fish then grouper. The bottom had more soft then hard coral. I came up to the shallows in the area of the salt pier northern mooring buoy and worked my way back north. The shallows were a combination of elkhorn and soft.. not thick coverage but enough to keep me entertained. What I did see here like i first noticed at Larry's lair (forgot to mentions) was a carpet of green algae in the 20 ft.. range.. This seemed to be mostly on the bottom and not infusing the coral like the red algae does

This does not speak well of the water quality and certainly does not bode well for the islands future with the rapidly increasing building frenzy and addition of new hotel rooms. aahh what do I care... I only have another 10 or 20 years of diving and the green and red algae looks like Xmas

Working my way back I encountered the second drop off I mentioned in discussion of the entry. This shelf is certainly a challenge to get up and over at the northern part of the site... and seems to drop a little the more south you go. It does provide a fun area to find fish hiding... keep an eye out for octopus

All in all I would rate this site as a good probability for an oops getting in or out.. but again well within the range of a beginning beach dive. If you can do or have done the hooker entrance .. this is a snap.

 

Aquarius

last dove 1/2016

If Diving the second reef toward the south , a compass is strongly recommended.

Afternoon dive found shallows extremely murky and silty. Small school of horse eyed jack working second reef and a some tile fish building in the shallows near the north part of the entrance

This is part of the double reef system just past Alice In Wonderland. Parking is limited by the tide. (yes Virginia there is tide here on Bonaire), Entrance from the shore can be extremely easy with patches of smooth sand on the north of a line with the entrance road but you have to watch for a little bit of uneven footing in the water. It is VERY important to spot your exit as if you miss you will have elkhorn and very rocky. Some one has raised a pole which helps... The sandy patch has now become a mini beach .. nice for surface interval. Probably the easiest entrance in the double reef system

 

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There is currently no mooring here so navigation can be a little more challenging. The second reef runs from about 95 ft.. (31 meters) to 105 on the shore side The sand between the two reefs is fairly wide and at 35 meters. The crossing is a little bit of a leap of faith about 3 -4 minutes with a fair amount of time out of sight. The second reef is in beaten condition but not with the spectacular formations I think of when I think of Alice In Wonderland. As it goes south it goes fairly deep and the sand channel is also deep and much wider making return "interesting" . A Compass is almost essential As you go north the reefs come together and virtually join. As throughout this area the shallows are excellent for doing long stops or your way home. If you stay away from the second reef I rate this a very easy dive and the entrance has a breeze.

Alice In Wonderland

last dove 3/2016

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This is part of the double reef system in moderately deep waters.. The second reef is a distance from the inner reef so you have to have faith I usually begin to see the second reef in about 30 kick cycles (which is about 100 feet for me) . If you drop down near the mooring you will find a reef cluster midway between the reef to help navigation. The second reef runs between 27 and 33 meters in the center with the outer side dropping off

The entrance is of moderate difficulty.. If you pick your spot (currently almost on a line with the Cargill sign there are some moderate slopes and enter on the diagonal, its not too bad at all. and in a straight line with the road coming in there is a moderate step down leading to a nice cut in the shallow coral (12/10) THIS IS ONE OF THE SITES WITH THE NON MARINE PARK ENTRY MARKERS...USE ON YOUR OWN JUDGEMENT AND RISK,, I FOUND BETTER

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There is a nice sandy patch which promptly leads into a field of anti tank traps.

The swim to the drop is of a moderate length. The mooring is currently in about 6 meters of water .. not quite at the drop off.

The second reef has the usual mix of grunts, butterflies, wrasse and parrot fish.. I didn't see any groupers during my dive. There is an alarming increase in the amount of algae I am seeing... both green algae in the sand channel

The red algae is doing a good job forcing out the coral. I am no scientist but I have dove enough polluted water to know this isn't good. Finally some damage we don't have to blame on the divers?

The depth of the second reef allowed for a decent amount of time there. Its not the reef i remember but still is a very nice dive . Working my way back and to the shallows found the usual diverse life of juveniles and some smaller barracuda. I was quite please to find a school of about eight squids.. it was just a shame the water was so murky.

You have to watch your footing, but getting out is a bit easier then getting in as you cans Dee what you are doing... choose the right spot and it is almost like using a terrace

 

Angel City:

last dove 7/2017

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This is a another great reef for checking out both the first and second reef

Just south of the Hooker it comes with a diversity of entrances good and bad . Like Lake there is a fairly easy entrance here not super easy , but the bottom is uneven. There is currently a sandy patch going in on the southern part of the site. Once in the water you still have the bottom to deal with

 

The initial second reef in the area of the entrance sort of reminds me of inca or mayan temples ..reminders of past glories.... coral that was spectacular but is now mostly dead. The structure does provide a good place for fish As you go north the structure smooths out and coral actually improves.. going south you get more soft coral and more depth and also better coral

The second reef has varying terrain from 15 meters to the 30 meter range (and deeper if you want), but is fairly close to the interior reef. I found conditions on the second reef to be better then say Alice. If you head north you find yourself at the hooker anchor change when you do your turn. With the depths range available on the second reef it is easy to spend half your dive there which means you should watch your depth on the return to the main reef. If you head south the send reef says pretty much shallow until it drops off. The two reefs are close together

This last dive was late in the day on a full moon. I did not find much current, and nothing special in the wildlife. except for squid. (hey still lots of fish and critters I am just getting spoiled }. It is kind of fun finding the anchor and all the chain

For access I would rate this as moderate. Be careful in planning your exit as if you miss the good spot.. take you time and look as there are slick spots. All in All a site with moderate potential for an oops .

 

Wilhelm Express aka the Hilma Hooker

last dove 08/2017

They have graded the access road to the dive site but it is still hard to see traffic when returning to the main road.. and it is usually moving at 80 KMPH

This is one of the spots with the entry exit point marked... this ;suggested entry leads you right into coral

>With the impact of reversals and surge I would have to rate the entrance here as fairly difficult. All of the shore has a slight drop off that can make it difficult with camera or stage bottle. It seems that the areas with the easiest drop have the most in water hazards and uneven footing . Recently I have been favoring entering and exiting down by the antennas almost on line with the stern mooring. There is a large piece of coral sticking out of the water. A little to the left there us a little bay' with only about a six to 8 inch drop off..... Honest truth I fell more on the sand then I did the coral. There is also a fairly easy (remember that is a relative term... like the when the dentist said this will be fairly painless) way in almost directly in front of the entrance road All in All with exception of the crowds.. the first entries are probably the easiest because you have a shorter walk across broken ground

I still find this a much more enjoyable dive from the beach then a boat as you can set your schedule and not have the horde of divers spook the Tarpons and jack usually on the wreck. Don't be a hero.. grab hold getting in and out of the water. It is IMPORTANT to stop and observe where you want to make your exit if you don't exactly back where you survived your entrance. Then again if your entrances are like some of mine, then I really don't care if I miss the spot. Tired of the wreck.?? Believe it or not this is also a double reef and very few people dive the second reef... Again enjoy the shallows around the close mooring and around the entrances . I classify this entrance and exist as strong potential for Oh my g......

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Lake

Last 8/2017

 

OK ACCESS ROADs are GOOD again if not excellent.. but they have added a second approach road a little south of the first one.. I think the access is better from the old original. Plus it lines you up with the mooring buoy. You can also drive alone the old fence line but you risk getting blocked in

Primary Entrance> This is the shallowest of the double reef system sites (excluding Punt which is hard to get to because of construction). The entrance has eroded to iron shore but with a small drop (WATCH for dark spots. they are slick). I still think the best entry is best made along the fence on the north side of the site by a large piece of iron shore standing out of the waster. The iron shore slopes a bit with the urchins pretty deeply hidden.. It is slick footing. Once in the water there is several sandy areas that provide relatively good footing. Once again for a third time IF ITS BROWN IT IS SLICK And there are several holes that can twist an ankle (been there done it have the ice bag).

LAKE SOUTH

The second drive in, which is just a short distance south towards the hooker. Is easier to get your truck in, has less to choose from for entrances.. It is definitely going to take a step down and can be a bitch getting back out (I got rolled the other day) but it puts you right at the mooring for easy reference coming back

 

In both cases

The second reef is easily accessible only a short swim from the main reef and the second reef can easily be done in the 20 - 25 meter range. A nice dive, current permitting, is to head over to the second reef and head south.. as you go you can see how the second reef "encloses" the sand channel forming a "lake".. if you go past this point and continue to where the sand channel opens back up in about 20 - 30 minutes u will come to the stern of the Wilhelm Express.. allowing a quick pass of the prop and back north to your entrance. If you any more depth is certainly is available on the far side of the second reef. As in all southern sites do not ignore the shallows.. Plan for a long safety stop and enjoy the diversity of life that can be found in various coral formations in only 5 meters or less of water. Squid are not uncommon in the shallows and I have often seen ballyhoo. Depending on which entrance you use it goes from an EZPASS to "aren't we having fun" but in any case this is a very enjoyable and worth while dive

Punt Vierkant

last dove 4/2017

This is the first southern site along the double reef.. well actually technically it is the beginning. This site is being severely impacted by development and was closed off for a good part of last year. With the new construction Judging by the foundations poured and marked out, beach access for this site is endangered

 

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You have to poke around.. The entrance at first looks a little formable.. but a bit to the right I found an area where the iron shore is covered with growth just waiting to make you fall but where there is a nice sloping area that made entry perhaps the easiest of most double reef sites. There is a large piece if coral sticking up.. The spot is about in the middle if the new building pads

 

Once in the underwater lies series of ledges and holes, so while the footing is not bad, you are going to find a number of places where water depth will increase with out warning ( I know I did). The drop of is a moderate swim. The buoy for this site is closer to the entrance for lake then its to this entrance so I didn't use it for more then a landmark.. and I would suggest the same

The reef gently slopes down to the sand at around 100 - 105 feet. While there is a second reef.. it may be out of sight of land and is deep. The reef is very flat with mostly soft coral and sponges, It is nice. It is not worth the trip or air consumption unless you like playing deep (I personally like the high PPO2 to clear the cobwebs and the high PPn2 to add some back.

Coming back to the main reef I was surprised by how bad this reef has suffered over the last year. Probably because of all the new construction. If you go to the extreme north some health returns where I was about 40 minutes swim north of the mooring. Fish life was heavy with smaller fish, brown chromis, wrasses, discs and parrot fish.

I use to keep this dive as an ace in the hold , but now.... oh well .

Coming back in there are lots of ledges and holes to look in and their are bunches of coral almost up to the surf line.

Naturally its important to spot your exit... but I found the shore much more forgiving then say the hooker. I would rate the entry a little harder then an Ez Pass . I would not suggest this for a beach dive for a person unsteady on their feet but it is good practice and training for the rest of the southern sites

Chez Hines

 

Although listed as beach site .. this dive site can only be reached through private residences

 

Bachelor Beach

last update 8/2017

So you thought the old stairs looked bad.. get a look at the new ones.. little small and a little severe. The bottom landing leaves you with a little of jump down and a long stretch to get on.. This is one that I always seem to drive by and seldom dive. Like I had some sort of bias or bad experiences with it. So memory being one of those things... Access is great.. good parking, shade ...trash cans.. It can be a bit crowded but still nice and not the piles of broken glass. the entrance looks more challenging then it is. . The surface swim out to the drop off is of moderate distance. Matthew is has dug up the shalows.. the gradual sand has been pretty much replaced by coral rubble.The actual drop off is gentle to a bottom starting around 80 feet. I was accompanied most of the descent by a tarpon and got a chance to try to get a shot of a queen trigger fish. The bottom is an impressive assortment of soft coral. sponges and hard coral. The very bottom slopes gently down (i went to around 135ft 45 meter) and still founds a fair amount of coverage. The main reef is teaming with life, wrasse, butterflies,parrots. Really a fun experience. As i worked up in the shallows I found a number of sickly sea fans and a nice coverage of soft corals and elkhorn. I didn't see as much green algae as I expected and the red algae almost provided a nice contrast. All in all by current standards a fairly healthy reef... ahhh but don't worry.. there is lots of building in the area to take care of that. Mean time lots of soft coral to explore I rate this dive very highly. Access is very easy parking is good ..Enough traffic to minimize break ins for those dumb enough to lock vehicles and an enjoyable reef . Certainly an EZ-PASS type of dive

 

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North Belnem (now Corporal Meis) and Windsock

last dove 10/2016

 

PLEASE ADVOID TEH MARKED TUrTLE NESTS

Although far from spectacular this is one of my favorites. These are side by side sites that are hard to tell a part. North Belnem is actually the south end of the two. It, like a lot of the southern sites has developed a bit of a drop off (not as bad as sites further down) and once in the water the footing can be uncertain. The are several better areas for access from the main part of windsock. Neither is much of a concern getting in or out. Just take your time The area is a small beach and is popular with locals particularly on weekend and holidays. Once in its a relatively short surface swim to the drop off..

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I would recommend getting in mid point to the south part of windsock or north Bedlam particularly if the jet fuel boat is in.... that way you are good to go regardless of the current. You are not supposed to near the dock if a boat is in... knowing tourists its only a matter of time tulle these sites get closed because of violations

The site itself is a gentle drop to the bottom sand around 105 feet . Although not recently I have seen rays down at the sand. Overall fish tend to be smaller, lots of parrots, wrasse and so forth and so forth. Tarpons are not as common as you would expect. Its always good to play the shallow on the way back..

This is not a bad site for snorkelers.. not as great as it was but still good place and there are BBQ pits and trash cans available Entrance is ok for the starting diver and good practice for further south

TeAmo (also Donkey Beach)

last dove 7/2017

 

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Ok another one of those sites you won't find in the books, but it isn't one that I dreamed up either. It is more a local knowledge site(also know as donkey beach) (guess I am screwing that up aren't I?) This site is located across from the entrance to the long term parking at the airport. It is very popular with families have a picnic or just hanging after work.. And now with the Kite City food truck there it tends to be crowded. Cruise ships days this place is packed. The Site borders the channel going into the Plaza Marina on the North and Windsock on the South. It has a very nice sandy beach which is probably one of the reasons why it is popular with non-divers

 

The left part of the beach has been blocked at the parking lot by palm fronds to protect the nesting area. The fodo truck from teh Kite surfers has bloakced another part as they try to make it a private beach and frankly it is just getting crowded.

The entrance is a little tricky as most of the beach is contained by staghorn and other hard coral.. This also contributes to making it a nice snorkel site. The best entrance is on the southern site of the site and takes a little careful work to get through. It is a relatively narrow shelf... even narrower then windsock... The drop off is gradual down to the 100 foot range. Coral coverage is pretty extensive bit it is inter spaced with a fair amount of trash but still an attractive dive.. It tend to be fairly well populated with a wide variety of fish. What we have found is that apparently eagle rays like to feed in the marina in late afternoon as we have seen them headed in several times in the afternoon. One day we actually followed a pair.

 

Going north you will find yourself in the area of 18 Palms (Plaza house reef) which tends to have a good number of tarpon and other larger fish. Coming back keep in mind that you need to avoid turning left into the marina .. One of m favorite mistakes

It does not appear to be subjected to much current or surge but being next to a Marina entrance you have to remain aware of your location.

All in all this is a very nice, although often crowded site... it features an EZPASS entrance.. short surface swim hard surface parking, great snorkeling.. .the only thing more it could have would be hot showers

 

Along the Boulevard

 

Eighteen Palms

7/2017

 

House Reef at Plaza. For non guest this can be approached from the south end of the water front road where there is actually a parking lot. A Usage Fee may be charged As in all sites on private land ask for permission from the guards. Entrance is form one of two "beaches" with semi smooth entrances and uneven bottom. You are also on this site if you swim north past the marina entrance at TeAmo/ Donkey Beach

This site past 35 feet goes into almost a semi bowl shape as the reef comes out the closer you get to the marina. The reef goes into sand around 90 feet close to the hotel and the further you get towards the marina the bottom gains more hard coral and drops off more.

This site traditionally has a large population of large fish made up of tarpons and the larger snappers. The shallows provide a good hiding place for octopuses . This is mostly a hard coral site

Again be courteous This is a private beach.. The fresh water is not yours

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Divi Beach/ChaCha

last dove 02/2016

This is the beach running from the custom pier in town on south past dive. Public entrance can be gained dear the Dive Inn (now Dive Friends)

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This is a very simple site to enter.. the major issue is parking. You are pretty much in the heart of town.. It is going to be hard to access when a Cruise ship is in. Most of the diving is to the south toward divi. The entrance has a bit of loose coral rubble going to sand... the swim out to the deeper water is not the far. The reef is battered but surprising things to see.. right now there have been sea horses and frog fish... use to be an interesting underwater sculpture but that has been destroyed.... about twenty minutes down when you get to in front of the Divi resort there us an immense fish mans anchor.

The site offers easy access and is pretty much protected when surf and wind is up which makes it nice wild card to hold... The fish life tends towards your usual standard reef fish with activity scaring off some of the "exotics" The entrance and exit are easy to find so this is most serially an ezpass type site.

 

 

 

Town Pier

Often Listed as one of the Caribbean Top Night Dives, this dive was at the towns North Pier in Playa Kralendyjk. It has been closed for several year with the often listed reason being damage from one of the wind reversals. That is a little hard to believe in that it is used almost daily by cruise ships. From my understanding you can pretty much blame the US of A and its Port Security regulations for ships calling in the US. Like it or not it is something that has to be done.. While pretty much ignored at Salt Pier it is rigidly enforced at Town, Customs and BOPEC. If some one offers a guided tour unless it is being offered and booked through a recognized Diver Operation who might have gotten a special exemption (I know the Dee Scarr of Touch the Sea has gotten limited permissions on an occasion), I would avoid it. Be advised violation of marine park rules can result in fines, confiscation of all diving gear or deportation or all three.

 

The Down Town Park (the public Mooring area)

 

last dove 3/2016

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This "site" is the area of the old slave hospital where they have built a park. It is in the area of the public mooirngs. As you can see you havea very easy entrance with steps and a combination of sand and loose coral. What is nice is that this remains protecetd when the winds are up/ Its an easy swim to the dropoff where there is a gradual dops to around 130 feet.

As to be expected there is a fair amount of trash in the area (you have to love the boaters. It is mostly hard coral with sponges and soft coral interspaced. The site provided a good number of hidey holes for small critters and it has a lot of the characteristics of Something Speical so it attractssame type critters.

The shallows are used for a lot of after school activites like water polo so it can get crowded. The easy entrance in and out makes it very easy site to use. It can be crowded by all the sites seem to be anymore. Its a true EZ-Pass and provides a nice alernative to the "named sites"

 

 

Something Special

This is the northern area of the roadstead /harbor front which starts at Dive Flamingo. It I bets reached by taking the first east bound road after harbor village (the first blue arrow) which is just after where there is a walk through/bicycle path. When you get to the water front you can turn to your right where there is a fair amount of parking

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The entrance is extremely easy with loose but manageable coral rubble. The area is traditionally calm. I have not included this and several similar sites as for all intents and purposes you are diving in a marina /anchorage. There tends to be a lot of small boat traffic go from boat to boat or just leaving. A lot of the boats moored don't really seem to lock their over boards discharges. It also tends to extremely crowded.. I counted 12 dives (and 4 reef crawlers) when I was there recently.

 

The reef itself is pretty much worn and empty until the drop off which is actually not that far out. The drop off only goes to about 120 feet. You can only go for about 10 or 15 minutes north until you come to the high traffic Harbor Village Marina entrance.

 

The reef it self is mostly hard coral , dead coral, sponges and deas sponges and a fair amount of trash. It is actually a fairly good reef Fr. macro as the little guys like the trash. Wide angle is questionable. There is a good possibility for eels with the amount of nooks and crannies. North by the marina entry there is a field of garden eels in shallower then normal water (40-60feet) When dove from the marine park mooring you are further away from the anchorage and not quite as subjected to the prop noises

All in all i find the noise and crowds to off set the ease of entry.

 

Northern Sites

Eden's Rubble/Front Porch

-last dove 10/2016

The site formally knows as Front Porch has been transformed into the Coco Beach Club. Access is still allowed although most of teh beach is rental area now. Easiest access for divers is from the side towards Sand Dollar .

 

 

 

There WAS a bit of a drop off more on the Eden Beach side but it COULD easily be gotten around. The best entrance was by the post sticking out of the water where the dock use to be (isn't that great and is now sourrounded by boats and flaots.. For ease of access entering the north end of teh reef is probably best (again toward Sand Dollar) The best part of the reef is in front of the Beach Club This has several small wrecks including the infamous tug from sunset years in 80 feet of water straight down from the pole). The tug has fallen over so that it is flat in the water after the line holding it up parted. This is a real shame as it was a fun little wreck before the collapse. The wrecks are south of the CoCo Beach Club (toward eden beach)This is one of the lesser dove sites so there is usually a surprising amount of marine life. OK you were waiting for the bad news. more in front of the old sunset beach hotel . . There is a third wreck..(our confidence which is now a pile of rubble). south from the entrance working your way to the front of Harbor Village, BUT there further south you get the more current you are going to find.. If you are going for the excursion start at the beginning of the dive with a full tank and expect to work your behind off.

Bari Reef

last dove 9-15

This is the house reef for Bonaire Dive and Adventure and DeLamanin

 

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the reef lies just west of the traffic circle in Hato (where Sand Dollar, Buddy Dive and Habitat are located). The access road is off the west end of the circle like you are going to Bonaire Dive and Adventure. Instead of following the paved road into the dive shop follow the dirt road (sometimes marked with a yellow rock) to the water. You are right next to Front Porch and the old site of Hotel Bonaire or Sunset Beach Hotel. (yes you can ask permission to go through Bonaire Dive and Adventure but..) The walk to the water is loose rock with several paths in... pick what strike your fancy.. I don't really have a winning route.. none are that bad.

You are entering just about in the middle of a slide area.. To the south is a smallish reef .. Front Porch which has recovered nicely from being a house reef... but it is small to the right is Bari.. It is still a house reef but full of parrots and angels.. nothing really really special... the reef goes down to about 125 feet to a sandy plateau that gradually drops off to the depths....

If you turn around at around 30 you will be in the general area of the "fish" or ""reef" balls in front of sand dollar which was an attempt about 7 or 8 years ago to help the reef recover from Lenny

There can be a chance of an afternoon current but not all that often. All in all a OK dive.. entrance and exit aren't that bad.. lots of diversity and a place where macro can be at its finest. I rank this and EZ PASS but unless you are a sentimentalist if you are only here for a week or two ,, there are a lot of reefs I would recommend first

 

 

 

Capt. Dons House Reef - Reef Scientifico Dive Site

updated 3/2011

Hey same site as cliff just take a left turn instead of right. This side has a more gentle drop off the cliff with its mini wall. Saw a couple of tarpon early, lots of the usual small fish (butterfly. red eyes, juvenile french angel, yellow tailed snappers)and of course lots of parrots. Buddy Dive has improved their navigation line which is again a nice land mark.

 

- Cliff Dive Site

Latest Updated 402916

This has always been one of my favorites dives. Easy access, short surface swim, good landmarks for when you zone out. .Access has gottenb a little complicated with the Villas clsoing off access with an electric gate Two way remain

Capt Don's Habitat

This is a resort so the area is private. Managemnet has reviewe theiur policy and currently is being more open. First and formost as in any private access ASK FIRST!!!! Dont just go walking in. In the US this would quailift as theft of services. The general policy is that for small dive teams if you park in and gear up in parking lot, there is free access. Do not use showers or any facilities. If you want to use the facility there is a $% person. Dont show up with 6 of your best or least friends. Once again ASK FIRST . The actual reef is to the north of teh entry with the site La Machaca being to the south

 

Dive Friends at Hamlet

They are very open but it is a private area ASK PERMISSION FIRST Kerp in mind the lock the gates aroun 530p

Cliff is a little to the south of their entrance

This forms

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Once at the water the entrance is just a matter for working your way through the loose dead coral and in water obstruction.. It is a fairly easy entrance. Once in its a short kick to the drop off. Going south will bring you to the cliff dive site... right brings you towards WEB's water plant If you aim between the two moorings you will get to the Cooper Barge.. Both directions if you don't mind the tires and trash offer a nice drop off and a mix of hard and soft coral with small sponges.. South is a more attractive dive with less trash. Keep and eye out for tarpon and turtles. Honestly it is VERY seldom that I haven't seen at least on tarpon.

The shallows are good for anemones and small shrimp (look close ) and fish feeding in the rubble. There is a lot to see at this site even though it would never rank in the books as spectacular .

All in all even though the footing is some what loose getting in and out .. I would rate this as EZ Pass)

Peitre's Pillar Area

last dove 2/2016

This site is just north of Hato before the big turn by the new medical school.. Access is found through a tree line path just north of a kadester column. This is actually south of Peitre's Pillar but what the heck. Some people are calling it "Hato Wall" well show me the wall

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The path down is not that hard to use... little steep but good footing.. The entrance is not the easiest because of coral in the shallows and loose rubble.. All in all I think the best entrance is a bit down to the south.. walk past the sandy patch. Ass the big coral rubble starts up you will see two big rocks in the water between these (favoring the north most) is a nice gradual slope which gets you easily into the water.. the shallows aren't too wide... and offer a fair amount of structure for juvenile life.. If current permits going south is very interesting as the contours keep changing offering a variety of life...with the slope area changing into the wall like area of small wall. if you go about 30 minutes south you actually can get to the little cave at small wall and most of the small wall site... Going north retains a gradual sloping reef which ends at about 120 feet. The major turn off is the large amount of red algae in the deeper cooler areas. At the rate it is growing we won't have a lion fish issue much longer

The shallows seem to produce the most consistent possibility of turtles later in the day

 

 

 

The entrance being a bit of a bog will be buggy at dusk.

The entrance is easy if you find it. All in all a nice off the beaten track dive site that is getting discovered

Andrea 1

Last Dove 10/2016

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Big changes in the entrance here. With all the construction going on in this area, you now approach the site from father north. actually you now use the same turn off used for the rebuilt Andrea II, except you do a left turn. It is well marked. At the sight they have cleaned up and put in a cement road down to the water... A LOT EASIER!!. Parking is now limited Entrance is still near the thatched tables is marked by yellow splotch on the rock. Current conditions make the entrance on the easy to moderate side. What makes it difficult is loose rocks and the fact that the rocks at the beginning are VERY SLICK... other then that it is one of the easier one As usual this site seems to usually play host to squid and some times turtles. Its is a gentle slope down to the bottom at about 120 feet (40m) Nice combination of hard and soft coral.

Unfortunately it is one of the areas being heavily impacted by the red algae especially in the deeper cooler water

I haven't really seen that many bigger fish here.... seldom see tarpon... or larger groupers.. but this last time I saw some smaller groupers (12 inches maybe) and a couple barracuda and a young green turtle that has been hanging around for a couple of days.. (several other divers had seen it too Either direction is good but if you go north you have a broader shelf area to play in on in the second half of the diver.. Play in the shallows at the end of your dive for the squid. Don't be too proud to pop up to get your bearings on exit. YOU NEED TO EXIT WHERE YOU ENTERED!!

 

Andrea II

last dove 10/2016

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Traditionally this site has been known as the thieves supermarket but with new construction this is improving its just a minimart . That was an positive statement from the past.. now I would say be careful and don't cut yourself in the parking lot on all the broken glass.. DO NOT LOCK YOUR CAR HERE... DO NOT CLOSE WINDOWS.. if you are going to lock the car take a brick and break the window yourself.. at least YOU got benefit from your deductible Entrance here is surprising and moderately difficult caused by uneven underwater terrain and slick surfaces Take your time and its ok. The best entrance is a break in the coral by a metal post. (yeah yeah CIEE has an entrance rock further south feel free to use it) MAKE SURE YOU USE THE SAME EXIT!!!! This is an excellent place for snorkelers and beach goes with thatched tables. This is the first of the northern sites where the coral bottom is more and more of the leaf type with greater depths. The drop is gradual. The shallows, as in all north sites not impacted by Lenny or following hurricanes is amazing. Haven't seen any squids this time yet, but this ranks up in my list of sites. Lots of file fish of various colors, parrots, puffers, the usual collection of damsels and who knows what else may be bye. I haven't seen many tarpons here, but have seen grunts, smaller groupers and small barracuda. It is also fair spot for turtles The gorgonian (I know not even close) and soft coral is very prominent. The primary algae killing the reef here is the red and is almost like a carpet below the thermo cline All in all a fairly easy dive whose slick entry makes it potential for an oops

Sabadeco Pier

ACCESS OPEN AS OF 10/20/2016

 

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To get to this little Pier when you turn right to Andrea II (there is a sign at the split) keep going PAST the entrance to Andrea II and drive almost to the development road ends... You will see an address 34C. If you look careful there is a right turn in side the first fence that servers several more houses that curves down to the water. At the end is the pier. There is parking at the pier (about there spaces) and some up at the being of the drop to he water. Please remember this is a neighborhood be nice and don't block anything. Security of your vehicle is suspect as the location is easy to hide at.. Also It will be packed by fishermen and locals on weekend on holidays.

Guess what .. entrance is a REAL EZ PASS jump. It is a very short swim to the drop off. All in all I like going north current permitting.. There are a number of nice coral up cropping sort of min- promontories.. and about 15 minutes easy swim you will get into an area where there is a min-wall down about 60 - 70 feet. South or north this is site consisting primarily of hard coral...with lots of differing relief.. This is what makes this dive appeal to me

The first shelf on the bottom is around 125 feet in general where a spare reef continues to fall off

There is a higher degree of construction debris in the water and the usual tires. but the contours of this dive help to overlook the cosmetic issue.

There is only one way out... a shortened ladder on the north side of the pier. You want to check it out before you go into the water to ensure your confidence you can pull your self up on to the ladder

This dive site is a little hidden, a little dirty but not a bad off the beaten path place.

 

 

 

 

 

Oil Slick or Oil Slick Leap

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One of the more unusual entrances is found at Oil Slick. This site is found at the "T" that begins the tourist road north right after Caribbean Club and the "rape plunder and burn development of Pueblo"

This site has no beach your entrance is either to "leap" off several paved locations or climb down the ladder (which is missing a rung).. once in you have a relative narrow shallow area like you find at Jeff Davis or Weber's Joy with the sloping drop off to the deep. The wall by where you jump in provides a good location to examine different invertebrate life. The shallows on either side are also a good place to find squid. The major draw back on this site is its popularity. Climbing up the ladder at the end of the dive is essentially a buddy sport. The entrance is most certainly an "EZ-PASS" With its easy entrance I find this to be very nice .. when you can find parking

 

 

Jeff Davis Memorial.

(last dove 2/2016

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This is a very difficulty site for beach entry.. You will find a crack in the bedrock near the memorial plate at the path straight out from the limited parking. There are also some rocks piled up to make it easier but it still requires a bit of climbing to get in or out.. Once down stay to the south and the actual entrance is not that bad

The site it self offers a broad shelf leading to the gradual drop off.. As in most of the northern dive sites. the coral is what I call the lettuce of shelf type (which is very fragile) and pretty much continues uninterrupted well past recreation diving limits

 

Witch's Hut/Weber's Joy

Last dove 11/2014

This one of my favorite northern sites (ok there are not a lot of beach sites in the north and I like most of them). Its a short drive north of the northern resorts and derives it name from a small building where the parking is for the site (i think they use to roast divers there).

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As in most secluded sites... break ins should be a concern (now repeat after me the beach divers oath .. never lock your vehicle never take valuables..)

The access to the beach is down a set of easily traveled stairs. water access is a little tricky as there is lots of loose coral rubble.. and STEEP EROSION . take your time seek your footing... once in there are some surprises but in general easy passage. in high surf there can bed a whirling surf action that makes it a little hard to move through the surf.

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Drop off is only a moderate surface swim and finds you in a forest of soft coral and sponges. The bottom is not all the decisive as evens out and then continues to the abyss. The reef is full of life but again mostly grunts, angels, butterflies and wrasses (the usual cast of characters). See some pics

The real attraction of the northern beach sites to me, besides the dense growth in the deeps, is the richness of life in the shallows where you would do the second pat of the dive. It is a forest of gorgonian and other soft coral along with occasional outcropping of hard. Traditionally it is a good place to find sea horses. I have also found some squid in the shallows.

When getting out don't fall victim to taking your fins off too soon... the surge swirls a bit and you can find yourself doing a bit of a dance trying to make your way out

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All in all a very very enjoyable dive that i rate as a true EZ-Pass

Webers Joy North

last dove 3/2014

OK I would not normally call this an entrance but if they are going to say Jeff Davis is a beach dive then this is a beach dive too. If you go just past the hut at webers joy (i am being PC and saying nothing about that being witch's hut and... opps ) just as the road climbs to Thousand Steps you will see some space big enough for parking... you are there...

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As you can see from the pictures.. it is a little bit of a slide/climb down. The sandy patch that use to be there is now coral rubble . It places you just north of the mooring.

This site offers you all of what I like about webers joy... a semi narrow shelf a good drop off to deeper water. You enter justa bout at the coral formations at webers .. the general area which borders on the mooring and the shallows as always been good for octopi (lots of holes) and it is one of the areas where I more commonly see squid... Over the years it has also had its share of sea horses, but as established else where unless sea horses come with sign I can't find them

Beyond the unusual you will see your usual suspects. (not tarpons usually) but parrots, damsels, angel fish, great white sharks (only kidding)

Finding the exit is easy as just go to the shore from the north side of the mooring

I rate this as a bitching entrance to sliding disaster but it does keep your from the crowd at the main site

Thousand Steps

This is the last northern dive site before the beginning of the one way status of the "tourist" road. From here on to To To its one way.. honest

This site gets its name from the 90+ steps going to the water. which seem like a 1000 coming back up. I played with the steps a long time ago when I was "training" for the Inca trail.

The site is pleasant with a nice size protected bay.. I enjoy it when i do it from boat but really have never dove it from the road because of the steps.. just isn't worth it. The size of the cove also makes it a fairly long surface swim to the drop off... I have found it to be a good spot for squid and occasional turtles.. but the deeper areas are a little bleak from the out flow from the short wave radio station power plant

the actual entrance is fairly easy once you make it down the steps... its the return that gets you

all in all I just haven't found much of a reason to lug gear. I think to to and webers joy provide similar experiences with out the pain

 

 

 

To lo (Ole Blue)

Last dove 8/2017

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. This always has been one of my favorites even though it really isn't that unique. Parking is easy, although you are in the wide open north which means high probability your car will have visitors. It is well past the start of the one way so you have a drive to get back south. To get to the water can be a challenge due to beach erosion. As you can see the beach is now all loose rubble and coral. You actually have to climb down. I have found the easiest way to do this is in the south part of the parking eher ethere is a "sort of " stair Once down the extreme SOUTHERN part of the site is a little easier to pick and choose your entrane or the extreme south up against the rocks there is almost a shelf going out which avoids the dramatic step down you have else where..Also recently a fairly easy way has formed in about the middle of the cove where the drop off has filled in. .The rest of the area has a bit of a drop off. There is a nice shallow area with good juvenile population. I have frequently found squid there. It seems like I usually head south for the dive with a good variation of hard coals, but north is also as good with a bit more of wall like structure. As you go south in about 10 minutes in the shallows you come across the massive out croppings in about 30 feet that are at the dive site Country Garden.. they are covered with fish,, usual grunts Sargent majors and the usual parrot and damsels. I have also frequently found (well as frequently as I find them) octopi in the shallows. If you go north you will find that unlike in the south the shalow felf (12- 8 meters ccall it 36 - 21 feet)shelf is more hard coral then you owild fine in the souther sites. The soft coral is prettty much concentrated along the sand line around 16 feet (5 meters). What is kind of fun is that you cna almost tell your exit point but listening for the rocks tumble in ths surf. It is hard to really say what I like about the site except that it is a nice pleasant location.. comfortable dive and usually not effected by current. That said I woudl caution you. If you dive the northern part of this site (north of the mooring) watch the current. There is a point of land there which when you past you usually get a reverse in the current and a pickup in speed.. So if yoru are headed north and your dive gets REAL easy.. be aware you probably passed the point .

 

If you overlook the problem with the erosion I rate the entry pretty much an EZPass. Do remember you are on a one way road at this point in time and most turn left leaving the parking lots.

Karpata

last dove 3/2014

This site has a mixed entry . It a set of long stairs down to the water. Once there you have to work you way out to the water along the old cement slab. This use to be a bit challenging because of loose rocks and some blocking stuff, but it is much better except for one big old rock near the north east corner of the old dock (shalkows) that you need to step over. When you go in... DO NOT USE THE OLD DOCK AS AN ASSEMBLY AREA .. your gear will get washed away and it is slick...

This is pretty much a one way to go dive site as technically going north takes you into a reserve. Its not that nice north nayway

There is a nice channel giving you a frame of reference... it seems like usually the current has you going south which is just fine in my book.. the past combination. This site is pretty unique in the continuation of hard coral to beyond recreation dive limits. The dive south offers a number of channels and shelves and mini caverns (mostly deep) to show of the hard coral.. on your return work the shallows particularly about 15 minutes out where the shelf broadens out into a covewith a good chance to see turtles

there is also an encrusted anchor just off the shelf in about 35 feet of water (a guess I will measure next time I am not following turtles)

 

The shallows at Karpata can be really breath taking with hard coral espeically large elk horn coral interspaced with the soft coral. karpata

 

The shallows have lots of life with squid also a good bet

still a nice place to take a surface interval

 

Candy Land

 

Another of the local knowledge sites. This is on the road past the BOPEC that takes you to NuKove and Playa Franz.

All these sites between BOPEC and Playa Frans take a bit of effort to fight a break in the coral along the sure... most good spots are marked by pylons of drift wood and tires or bottles

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The site is located as you come dove the last of the hills behind BOPEC and have a straight stretch with a salina on your right (see first two pictures above)opening to the water on the left. You will a space that you can park in on the right (see third pic above) with an obvious path to the water. (see 4th picture) If You see a road trace over the iron shore you have gone too far .. The road trace takes to two more markers featuring old tires. If you take the path you will see a stick with a green soda bottle on it which is in line with a break in the shore coral by a protruding rock

The land to the entrance features lost of loose rocks and many opportunities to fall and hurt yourself.. Try not to, you are in a cell dead spot. so yo might be too

The shore line is pretty much blocked with elk horn coral... I have found only one entrance. looking at the water you will see a coral formation sticking out of the water back toward bopec (west or south or what ever.. I really need to get a working compass) if you walk to it you will see a narrow cut out to the deeper water.

All in all the shallows aren't that wide so the surface swim isn't that bad. Lots of hard coral... so there are fishing hiding in the shallows.. I have usually gone off to the right which lead our into walls and promontories. The drop off is severe.. sort of a shallow at about 150 ft../50 meter. The site can be subjected to current.

It is important to get back to where you started... there are some fake channels that can confuse.

If you don't mind the unsure footing getting down the hill and the crap shoot on current the walls and promontories are enjoyable. This is a dive for experienced divers but can also be used to gain experience.

 

Old Tire 1

This general area also known as Taylor Made

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Old Tire 2

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More local knowledge areas. The road trace I mentioned in Candy Land is just before the main dirt road starts to go up again and leave the salinas to continues to New Kove.

traceThis is a view of the trace looking back from the old tires

It is extremely rough so take your time and stay on the marked area. The site I refer to are marked by a pile of wood with old tires hung.. There are at least two prominent ones and smaller ones. This area has dense coral along the shore. Both tires mark area where you can fairly easily step in the water and then find breaks in the coral to get out into deeper water.. Please remember you pretty much have to come back where you go out!!!!

I find the best approach is explore find my cut and get in water about chest deep before putting my fins on. The shallows except for the barrier and along the drop off are extremely barren. The drop off is a pretty far swim. Once there you are treated to a drop off down to around 140 feet.. Some ways it reminds me of Carpark but with out the access to the extreme depth and the great shallows . I have been amazed by the number of barracudas including schools o barracuda I have seen there. I have noticed a tendency for faster then average currents here. The hard coral deeper in in pretty good shape.

All things considered If you want to experience the north I would recommend continuing to Playa Franz which offers more attractive coral and easier access. I rate this as an advanced dive

 

 

Nukove

(last dove April 2012)

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Next to last on the northern non park dive sites.

This site before Lenny required negotiating a tight path to the water and a little sandy beach. The parking area feature the worse bugs I have seen anywhere on island except my bedroom when I am trying to fall asleep. It had a narrow channel that Capt. Don excuse me found when he built a little dock many many years ago..

 

The path down from the parking area is not to bad then you are at the coral rubble beach .. oh joy

Lenny and following storms devastated the shallows rendering what was great horn coral field into rubble and closing the channel... You sort of can work your way out using the step, fall crawl method, the best being on the right side but still an excellent opportunity to break something. The shallows are bleak when there was magnificent elkhorn before. The site have coral ridges going to depth separated by chutes and there are some minor promontories. I personally feel it isn't worth it. Go to Candy land or Playa Frans which offer pretty much the same features but with less effort and risk.

I rate this site as extreme advanced and what the hell am i doing here. If the entrance does get you the bugs will. It is one of the buggiest place I have found on the island.

 

Playa Frans

(last dove 11 2012)

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Playa Frans is the north most non park dive site.. In fact it is essentially right next to the park. To get here you have to drive up the hill by BOPEC and essentially drive for ever.. a safety note.. there is no cell coverage in the area. The location is essentially a small fishermen's village with people using each of the houses there. It is a shelter lagoon.. entrance into the water is extremely easy with your choice of approaches. If you use the boat ramp, as in all similar entrances. remember dark patches on the concrete are slick.

The greatest trick to this dive site is to find the small channel through the coral reef. Look for a float.. that marks one side .. there is another float but its under the water.. use of this channel makes the dive a LOT easier. You CAN with a bit of effort make it over the reef not using the channel but its close. Finding the channel on the return trip can be fun there is a submerged float in line with the cut but it can be a bit hard to find as last time i was there it was in about 15 meters of water (like that metric reference?)

there is a broad shelf with not much to see off the anchorage... the swim to the drop off is no where as bad as southern sites but still is a distance. Once at the drop off you have mostly promontories and cliffs along the way as bottom. I was not overly impressed with the fish life but its is pretty dive with what I have found to be consistently good visibility and calm waters for normal weather conditions. I feel the ease of entrance, the shelter nature and visibility make it a very worth while dive

Washington /Slagbai National Park

The park is essentially a whole day commitment. The roads are rough and I have found the "long way" significantly better.. but in the end both ways use the same

 

Playa Benge

This site is found on the long road in the park and overall I found it to be one of the easiest to use. If you don't mind the rocks. When wind is up the surf adds some sport

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The path down from the parking area is fairly gentle and not too far. The actual entrance into the water is very similar to Weber's Joy with lots of loose coral rubble. It pays to watch your step. Once in the water you have to find a break in the first coral barrier.. I felt that the best was on the left side looking at the water.. There are several good breaks that you can swim on walk through. The surface swim to the drop off is pretty long .. maybe a tad worse then Tori's Reef. With a strong wind form the east this can be a very pleasant location.. Going to the left found impressive promontories of coral providing almost a wall like perspective. Visibility was quite good in period of bad visibility. Not many fish but very beautiful. Going back it was easy to find the exit as you are diving against wall like structure until you come back to the Playa (beach.. once you see sand appearing at 30 feet shelf.. you are home). All in all with a very divable location.. Just watch your footing on the coral rubble. I rate the entrance as moderate difficult if the surf is down. I really like the ease with which you can find the turn back to the beach with the sand chute.

Boca Bartol

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This is the second of the dive sites on the long road in the park.. Like Benge you are dealing with a rocky beach which can work hard at tripping you up or helping you work on that weak ankle or knee. The entrance is very much influenced by the wind.. with a little wind going to give you some nice rollers

The shallows have a lot of coral but chutes through them are locatable Overall I found that entering on the left side by the big rock gave you some protection and a pretty good shot to getting out...

This also placed you well if current is cooperating to get away from the actual Boca for your dive and more into the walled structures of the headlands. Getting out is going to take some time as this is a lonnnnnng surface swim to the drop off. In general as most park sites, I have been that impressed with the amount of fish life, but if the winds are down visibility tend to be better then the south. What I really enjoy is the promontories and formations of hard coral

The entrance/exit cab be fun with the surf again trying to contend with the rocky "beach. With any wind I rate this as an advanced dive .. in most condition a place to gain experience although certainly not an EZPASS

Boca Katuna

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I have not dove this site yet (the third on the long road in the park). The site itself is quite pretty and looks easy to get in .. once you make it down the hill.. As you can see from the pictures.. the first part of the descent is very much mile Jeff Davis or Webers Joy North... you have to scamper down some rock with full gear..... My buddy had knee problems the last time i was there so we passed... maybe some time in the future.

Playa Funchi

This beach can be reached by either the short or the long way through the park.

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The walk from the parking to the entrance is once again not that bad once there you encounter a combination loose coral rubble and sand beach.. Footing is not the best in the world but no worse the webers joy and a lot easier in and out the say the Hooker. Once in the water there is a lot of coral heads so you have to carefully find a path. I kind of favored the entering from the middle of the beach. The surface swim to the drop off is a looongggg way.. We headed to the left and encounter stunning visibility, not many fish but a nice variety of terrain. One again with the normal wind we found only minor current.. The surf was a little bit but not all that beady return can be a little challenging in find the turn.. There is a mound of coral rubble that is fairly long that can be used as a land mark... The mooring buoy is a distance in from the drop off so finding this or other landmarks is a must to take some of the stress off navigation. The coral in the shallows and the surface swim do not endear this site to me. If I was only doing two in the park I will take Benge over this unless I wanted to only take the short road. All in all I would say this was a moderate entry/exit

Biso Morto

Ok a pretty cover a pretty beach and looks like a bitch to get to so I have only dove from a boat

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Wakaya I

Essentially I did find this site worth the struggle to get into the water I will re-examine this fall

Wakaya II

On the way to Slagbai....A very pretty location.. with lots of steps

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As you might be able to see from the water colors.. this site has a lot of hard coral between the stairs and the open water.. there is a very easy diagonal channel you can swim out and finding the general site in your return is aided by a mooring..(the next to last pic above shows the channel there is also a second one more to the left which I will show better this winter) . the cut is a little tricky finding on return. Beside that it is not a bad entrance or exit (of you don't mind the stairs) Footing is easy no urchins There is small beach, which if it is not crowded would be a nice place to hang out.. I have found the coral in the park to be quite impressive in size.. this site features that with larger promontories. a very enjoyable presentation. I have not found fish population to be anything special... but this is certainly a nice dive.... great scenery, relatively easy entrance and a good place to off gas. Worth while for snorkel es too.

 

Wayaka III

The left most of the Wayakas.. the longest walk to get in but worth it

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This site is actually what could serve as an outlet for a salina in time of high water of storms. It is a but of a trek from the parking to the water. The footing is all loose coral rubble so you have to be careful.. The shallows have lots of coral so entrance to the water is limited.. You will see from the pictures above that there is large boulder along the water.. I have found the best entrance to be past the boulder to the right... that opens out to a coral rubble beach with access to a wide cut in the coral out to the deeper water. There are a couple of tight spots but not that bad.. The rubble just requires careful walking and no sudden stops.

In the water I have pretty much gone to the right.... this takes you the promontories and headland that typify the Wayakas. The shelf to the deep water is not that wide... (more like windsock for a comparison) and relatively sparse. This is a site for large massive hard coral and land walls

Again i have not seen anything special as fish goes.. but in general found this to be a very nice dive. The entrance and exit except for loose coral and the distance is fairly easy.

 

Boca Slagbai

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Slagbai is the last of the dive sites in the Park. It is accessible on either route. What makes it nice is that it has showers and toilets that are often available as well as a snack. As in most of the park Bocas the swim to the drop off is fairly, ok, extremely long. Easy entrance is available through sand that form on the iron shore. When I was last there most of the sand was to the right when facing the water. There are sever; cement cannons along the left side of the boca and several spots for after diving plunges into the water. Since the waves are a shore break you have to keep an eye out for swells but as the park goes this is fairly protected. Once to the drop off , I have found that this, for park sites as. less issues with current. The best way to turn is purely up to the diver and the current. I do recommend if possible you turn so you get away from the boca as the coral will be more protected. As I have found through out the park I am not that impressed with the fish life and the coral really got wasted by Lenny and the following storms, but the visibility ss usually very good. I rate the entrance as a definite EZPASS I would recooomend this more for snorkeling along the sides of the boca then for diving

Get their early enough to enjoy a cold drink before you get the crap knocked out of you on the road back. You are about 30 minutes from the entrance.