Sunday, January 17, 2016

Snorkel Adventure in Klein Bonaire

For those of you who think all I do is go to the Caribbean and play all day long, here is some fodder to support your argument.

For the record, there was no ship in port today and the store was closed. So we couldn't work. This was my first full day off EVER on a Caribbean business trip. And we made the most of it. Check out the video of our experience here, or scroll down to read more details.

"We", by the way, is Justin and me. Justin is the Regional Sales Director for this area. We decided to team up on this trip to get more done and it's been highly productive. You'll see him in pictures below.

After a great breakfast at our hotel, we picked up water, sunscreen, and snacks at the supermarket and then headed downtown. We took the water taxi "Kantika di Amor" across to Klein Bonaire at noon. In the picture above, we're standing on Bonaire, but you can see Klein Bonaire in the background, just above the roof of the boat. ("Klein" is Dutch for "little" - it's a little island).

The water taxi takes about 20 minutes to get across to Klein Bonaire and they drop you off at No Name Beach. The front of the boat drops down so you can just walk off onto the soft sandy beach.

For only US $15 return, it's a great service and makes for a cheap and awesome day trip.

No Name Beach, from what we hear, is the only true sandy beach in all of Bonaire. As this is the first and only beach I've ever been to on Bonaire, I can't dispute that. All boats bring their passengers here because it's the only spot on the 6+ mile circumference (about 10k) of the island that doesn't have coral reef protecting it.

So we walked up to the north end of the beach and snorkeled around. It was nice, but not spectacular. Lots of fish, a few corals I'd never seen before. But the colors weren't as bright as I was expecting.

So we played on the beach for a while and ate some food and then hiked down south to Buoy B (No Name Beach is at Buoy A. It's a rough walk.

You walk south because the current (albeit a weak one) runs north. So when you finally get in, you can drift (slowly) back to No Name Beach for your ride back. By this point, Justin had seen a turtle and gone off to swim after him. Later I found out he swam into an eel. I kept going because I wanted to see more of the reef.

So the reef runs pretty much unbroken around the entire island (except for No Name Beach). However, there are small sections every once in a while, maybe 5 to 10 feet wide, where you can swim through it. As you can see in all of the water pictures above, the light blue/teal water is the shallows. Then the dark blue is the deep ocean. The reef divides the two, with no middle ground whatsoever. The second you cross the reef, the bottom drops out and it's very intimidating. Only snorkel Klein Bonaire if you're really confident in your swimming and snorkeling abilities. Because once you cross the reef, you can't get back in.

So if you run into trouble out there, you don't really have any options. Because if you try to swim through the coral, you'll end up in worse shape than whatever the problem was you were swimming away from. Plus there's fire coral here, which I had never seen before, but it's COOL.

I saw tons of fish and lots of different types of coral. Besides the regulars - Parrotfish, Sergeant Majors (the zebra striped fish, there's one in the pic above), a few French Angelfish (love them!), the Blue Tangs (Dori from Finding Nemo), and all the others - there were a few sightings that got me particularly excited.

First, turtles are always exciting.

This was the third (of four) turtle I swam into today. He was the most photogenic and least camera shy. I also saw a sting ray (always fun) and a flounder. But my personal favorite from today was a giant purple lionfish. Let me rephrase that. A LIONFISH.

When I first saw it, I thought it was a fan coral. But when i saw it move, I knew. And had to get a closer look (it was about 35 feet below me - my camera has a depth gauge). When it saw me dive, it retreated into a nook in the coral. I couldn't find him when I got down there, so no pic. :( [It looked just like this.] It's probably for the best though. They're so venomous and I'm stupidly curious, so things could have gone downhill quickly. And remember that part about not being able to get back to shore because the reef blocks the path?

By the way, Lionfish aren't native to the Caribbean so seeing one here is rare. They're an invasive predator that destroy everything and kill all the fish and are basically the worst thing to happen to life in the coral reefs. But my goodness are they pretty.

I got back to the beach and found Justin and we took our pic on the beach for the corporate newsletter (Justin is in Del Sol flip flops, shorts, shirt, and hat. I'm in Cariloha sandals and shirt, Del Sol shorts and sunglasses - we were definitely reppin' our brands).

We caught the 4:30 water taxi back to Bonaire, quick dropped off our rented mask, fins, and snorkel at Dive Friends, and then went back to the hotel for showers and de-sanding our bits and pieces.

We caught the sunset...

...and grabbed a bite to eat at the PureOcean restaurant at the Divi Flamingo resort.

It was a great day off. Now it's back to work.

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