Getting Schooled at Bonaire’s Salt Pier

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When Steven, our intrepid guide from VIP Diving, asked us where we wanted to go on our second tank, we looked at each other and shrugged. Two of us had gone diving in Bonaire before and wanted something new, while two were completely newbies to the island.

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

“I mean, Salt Pier is always a lot of fun…” Steven trailed off. “But there are a lot of divers again. Then again, there are also a lot of fish…by the hundreds…”

We perked up on that claim alone—and the fact that we’d be taking a dip right next to Bonaire’s famous salt mounds—and declared Salt Pier it was.

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

We pulled right up to the dive site and tiptoed over the rocks to the shore; the piers started another 100 or 200 feet out, not a long swim at all.

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

But fish aren’t what greeted us the second we suited up and took a peek below the surface; rather, this guy was.

It was only the second turtle we’d seen in our few days on the island—though we’d see plenty more on our final day—and we giddily glided beside him for several minutes. He wasn’t concerned nor bothered with our presence; he just continued to do his turtle thing until we finally left him to see what lies beneath the pier.

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

Salt Pier could not be a more literal title for this dive site: salt-encrusted pillars tower at 50 feet while fish of all shapes and sizes school by the hundreds.

The fish themselves weren’t anything out of the ordinary, but man the sheer volume was a sight to behold. This officially made it on my “top 10 dive sites” of all-time list.

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier
Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

Sure, I didn’t have one until Salt Pier, but now I do! It was right up there with Sipidan in terms of volume of fish we’d see at once.

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier
Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier
Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier
I’m so glad Alex took these shots of me considering my camera was dead!

But we also did a little hunting among the rocks and corals between the massive piers. We saw eels, big and small.

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

We saw plenty of juveniles, like this flirty little guy right here.

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

And we saw my first ever seahorse, which blended in seamlessly to the underwater landscape. I’m so glad Steven pointed it out as I would have never spotted it on my own!

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

Photo by Alex

Unfortunately, both of my cameras died on this dive—tip: charge all your cameras the night before a full day of diving even if they say they’re fully charged, as mine did!—so I don’t have nearly as much footage as my pals Angie and Alex (check out their own Salt Pier shots once those posts go live!).

I also put together this quick clip so you can witness the magnificence of Salt Pier for yourself. Doesn’t it make you want to dive?

After our 72-minute dive—a record for me as I’m usually cold by 45 minutes, particularly in a shorty—Steven suggested we stop by Kite City for a quick drink. None of us objected because did I mention their sangria? A pitcher later, and we were headed back to check into our second dive resort of the trip and get changed for dinner at Sebastian’s.

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

I will say, while the purpose of our trip was diving, I was blown away by the caliber of restaurants Bonaire now has to offer. We didn’t have a single bad meal—quite the opposite; I’ve never had food this good in the Caribbean before—and I was surprised by how many new establishments have opened in the past five years.

Good food, good diving, good company? I’d call that the recipe for the perfect girls’ trip to the Caribbean.

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

Diving Bonaire's Salt Pier

COMMENTS
  • August 12, 2015
    Briel K.

    I don’t think I could ever dive (bad gag reflex, can’t really even snorkel!) but it is fun to read your posts on diving! What cool creatures you see! That spider like one is one I could do without though! Eek!

    • August 12, 2015

      I’m still shocked I can dive with as bad of panic attacks as I get. And I actually was on the brink of one right before our final dive. But honestly, as long as the visibility is decent enough that I can see the surface, I’m fine. And recreational diving, you rarely go below 100-120 feet so you can almost always see the surface (if in the Caribbean…which is precisely why I’m also strategic in my dive trips, ha! no California diving for this claustrophobe).

  • August 12, 2015

    How fun! For some reason being so far underwater seems really frightening to me, but I would really like to face my fears and try it someday. What a neat experience and a plus that the food was good!

  • August 12, 2015

    Absolutely a hall-of-fame caliber dive! I’d do it again in a heartbeat!

    • August 12, 2015

      Diving hall of fame for sure! Let’s hope Brendal can bring the fish 😉

  • August 12, 2015

    LOVE your flounder pics — those turned out so great! Also adore the picture of us in our gear in front of the salt mountains. Definitely worth dragging our gear across the lot for!

    • August 12, 2015

      The sediment (or lack thereof) really makes a difference, no? I have plenty of flounder pics if you need any! 😉

      Mmmmm, flounder…

  • August 12, 2015
    Julieth Zuleta

    Hi Kristin, I am a newbie in diving, I recently got my certification for an Ocean diver, however I haven’t had the chance to dive much, I have only had 8 immersions. But I plan to do a lot more diving in the future as well as travelling, and right now I am considering to buy a camera that fits the following 2 purposes:
    1.- To take pictures and videos under the water while diving like you just did in this trip.
    2.- Take decent photos of the places I travel to.
    I am not a camera expert, actually I don’t know much about photography, but I want to have good memories of my trips, and I was wondering if you could tell me what cameras you have and which one you recommend the best.
    I have seen that the GoPro hero4 has 12 mega pixels and you can use it up to 40 meters, what do you think about this one as an option? Is there a better choice?
    Thank you so much and I love your blog! 🙂

    • August 12, 2015

      Thank you so much, Julieth! Honestly, so much of underwater photography is how shallow you are (you really need to be 30 feet or left for the colors to come out, otherwise it’s all blue) and the amount of natural light. These photos are super great quality because we were at about 50-60 feet and there was a lot of sediment from so many divers under the pier.

      All that said, I’ve always used the Canon G series for diving. I have the Canon G11 but the G16 is the newest of those, and it’s also great for above the water:

      http://amzn.to/1UDOC8m

      My friend Alex took the Canon GX7 with her on this trip and I was super envious of the quality of her photos and how well it did with macro life. It had a touch screen, too, which is an added bonus:

      http://amzn.to/1L6Yu67

      That’s going to be the next camera I get when I’m able to upgrade. Of course, in able to take any camera diving, you’ll also have to buy the housing for whatever camera you choose, and unfortunately each one is specific to the model you purchase.

      As for the GoPro, I have both the 3 and the Hero Session 4. They’re fun “extra” camera to have but since you can’t zoom with them, they’re not great for diving, particularly with the macro life as you need to get up close and GoPros don’t focus on the subject when you get right up in, say, an eel’s face =)

      Hope that helps!

  • August 13, 2015
    Yok

    Hey Kristin: I was not expecting those photos when I opened the post. Not the photos per se, but the encounters they captured.

    Many accessible dive sites no longer have that level of marine life. Was your experience that the reefs are struggling to maintain diversity or did they appear super healthy?

  • August 14, 2015

    I am totally blown away by your diving pictures. When your jaw actually drops, you know you’ve got great talent on your hands! So awesome for sharing this with us. I am digging your Bonaire posts, hanging on every word. Or photo, if I didn’t make my fangirling clear enough. 😉

  • August 20, 2015

    What fabulous photographs Kristin. I mean, look at those gorgeous fish. When you think about it, our world is so amazing and thank goodness Alex & co had their camera charged LOL!

    Really, really lovely. 🙂

  • November 26, 2015

    That our beautiful place, congratulations on your fantastic photos, seems like a dream paradise.

  • August 8, 2018
    Kate Lubinski

    The Salt Pier definitely looks like an amazing and out of this world place! I have never been to the Caribbean, but this article and the other piece on Bonaire that I came across on your blog really make me want to to there!
    I first came across Salt Pier here – https://dive.site/explore/site/salt-pier-l5Jg – and I am so glad it’s getting the exposure it deserves, the world needs to know more about these wonderful places!

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