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When you think of Bonaire, you think of diving. This stunning island in the Dutch Caribbean has plenty to offer in terms of beaches, nightlife and land based wildlife, but the thing that makes it a truly world class travel destination is the Bonaire Marine Park.

"Bonaire Marine Park" is the name given to the reef environments surrounding the island, which are all protected.

While this means this is a special conservation area, it doesn't mean you can't get out there and explore it pretty freely, you just have to treat it respectfully when you do. In this post we take a look at what you need to know about diving the Bonaire Marine Park.

dive the Bonaire marine park Shore diving in Bonaire is common and easy

Photo Credit: Chika

Why is the Bonaire Marine Park Different from Anywhere Else I Can Dive?

The Marine Park status is there to ensure that the sea life (which includes the coral reefs too) around Bonaire is looked after carefully.

This is important from a conservation point of view as there is a wealth of species here as well as fragile reef eco systems, and it is also very important to Bonaire itself, as a lot of their industry is dependent on the divers who come to diver here every year.

The Bonaire Marine Park has about 60 official dive sites within its area, and all of these can be accessed reasonably easily by boat or from the shore. Some of the best dive sites in Bonaire start at such shallow depths that even snorkeling alone will get you very close to some spectacular fish and coral.

Do I Need a Permit to Dive the Bonaire Marine Park?

When you are diving within the marine park in Bonaire you will need a permit and  you will also need to follow some guidelines when you are out in the water.

The permit is easy to get and inexpensive, and you will normally buy this from your dive shop, dive school or from the resort where you are staying. When you dive with one of the dive centers on Bonaire the fee will be included in the package price

It comes in the form of a plastic tag which you are expected to wear attached to your gear every time you dive in the Marine Park.

It lasts for a full year so you should keep hold of it if there is a chance you might return in the next 12 months. The cost of the permit is used directly to help protect and maintain Bonaire's marine environment.

Shoal of Scad in Bonaire - Canon 5Dmk II Underwater Video from Backscatter on Vimeo.

Planning a scuba trip to Bonaire? Then you should download the ultimate scuba dive checklist just like 5000+ other divers already so you will not forget to bring anything.

What Kind Of Restrictions Are There When I would like to dive the Marine Park?

There are a full set of guidelines around what you can and can't do when it comes to interacting with the sea life and the marine environment when you're diving in Bonaire.

These are to ensure that the thousands of people who dive here do not cause any damage or imbalance in the delicate ecosystems that exist here, while still allowing them to see and enjoy the very spectacular sights that can be seen around these reefs.

One of the most important things to remember is that you can't take anything away, so you can't try and collect any specimens. There are also restrictions on things like feeding fish. It is important to familiarise yourself with the rules before you dive, just so you don't inadvertently break them.

What are your thoughts about the Bonaire Marine Park? Let us know in the comments below

Would you like to go Dive Bonaire? Feel free to contact us. We have multiple partners that offer dive packages + accommodation and scuba lessons.

Planning a scuba trip to Bonaire? Then you should download the ultimate scuba dive checklist just like 5000+ other divers already so you will not forget to bring anything.

Article written by Rutger Thole who is an avid scuba diver and loves to travel, dive and write about scuba diving. Based in Amsterdam he runs and at least twice a year he plans a dive trip of the beaten track.

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