It’s no secret that the diving along the west coast of Bonaire is what draws many tourists to the island. It is hard to explain to non/novice divers, or those who are more accustomed to diving from boats, the soaring feeling that comes from being able to gather your gear, jump in a truck and walk into the ocean for some of the best, most relaxing diving to be had in the Caribbean.
Here at VS, you can even eliminate the truck by gearing up and descending the sea ladder at the front of the villa to do a dive of the house reef. Whether you fin off toward the left (south) or toward the right (north), you will be treated to the beautiful sights on offer at any Bonairean west coast dive: gorgeous corals, curious French angelfish, stingrays, all manner of parrotfish, turtles large and small, barracuda, eels, eagle rays (These are also regular visitors to the shallows around VS and can be seen often with only a snorkel and a mask!) and many of the other “regulars” of Bonaire’s west coast fringing reef.
For the most fun, however, we recommend a “drift” dive from Oil Slick (from north to south) or Andrea I or II (south to north). You will need to find someone to do the drop off (though we don’t condone this, there is usually a reluctant or non-diver in every crowd) and from either direction one can fin along at a leisurely pace with a regular ol’ tank of air in the fun zone (35-60 feet) and arrive back at Salentein with plenty of air to spare. Both dives take from 45 minutes to an hour.
Here is a family video of a baitball taken in front of the villa at about 30 feet:
I get really jealous when other people -- tourists, residents, neighbors, my own flesh and blood -- get to espy Bonairean creatures or phenomena that I myself have longed to see. It's not fair. I swim every day when we are on island. I dive regularly, patiently, slowly. I read religiously about the best times and places to both identify and see what I long to see. So why is it that others always get there first? Lucy with the mantas and seahorses in January. Pretty much every tourist on the island with the bait ball at Something Special back in late winter. Mike and Anner with the world's largest Loggerhead turtle off Klein Bonaire. Some random guy with a whale shark (a WHALE SHARK for pete's sake!) two weeks ago.
So what was my first reaction upon hearing that son Elias and his girlfriend Lucy (who are both interning with Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire this summer) got to swim with dolphins in the warm, clear ocean off the back of the villa? Let me just say it was not a warmhearted fuzzy feeling of happiness for them, followed by a long congratulatory speech.
No. It was, "Excuse me? WTF? We sat around there for four months this past winter, just waiting for such a scenario to present itself. And you two Johnnies Come Lately who aren't even staying there at the villa but are merely snorkeling interlopers swam with the damn dolphins??"
I wasn't even ashamed of myself for the base and selfish knee-jerk reaction to this news: The two of them were innocently sunning themselves on the pool deck of the villa (where, I may have already noted, we let them visit to swim and use the outside shower, BUT NOT LIVE) when they spied a pod of dolphins (Spinner or Bottlenose? We will never know. But we would know if that had been I who swam with the damn dolphins. Because did I mention that I read and identify religiously??) that was moving unusually slowly from north to south. Elias and Lucy quickly donned their snorkel gear and swam unobtrusively toward the pod, which soon surrounded them. It was a group of about 8-10 adults, along with a calf of about a half meter...no canned dolphin encounter, this. It was the organic real deal.
C'mon. No fair.