If you think diving is all Bonaire has going for it, you’re very wrong. Indeed, many of its visitors are there to stay at the famed dive resorts and try their hand at shore diving, but there’s plenty for non-divers to do, too, from taking a Twizy tour around the island to going underground—literally—by caving in Bonaire.
Now I’ve been on plenty of cave tours in my time, from New Zealand to California, Hawaii to Tennessee. I will say it’s not always my favorite experience as the word “science” is often a trigger that causes me to zone out but that’s before I met Leo, who could even make rock formations sound interesting!
And let’s be honest, ladies, he’s not hard on the eyes either.
Our first time caving in Bonaire
We had planned to go to the dry cave first but we got there to find a tour bus, so we decided to flip-flop and start at the wet cave instead. Bonaire, which was originally an underwater mountain formation (or seamount), boasts more than 400 caves, but you need to have a guide in order to explore them—both for safety and for conservation; the island doesn’t want just anyone tromping around down there and potentially destroying the natural real estate!
We had to do a little bit of rock climbing to get down into the cave, which was easily my favorite part of the experience. I forgot how much I like to problem-solve my way down—and then back up—a series of rocky outcroppings, but there’s something so fulfilling about it. Leo had a rope ladder anchored into the rock that we used for assistance. Once we all reached the bottom, we turned on our flashlights, strapped on our masks and snorkels, and it was time to do some exploring.
My failed attempt at snorkeling in the caves
However, once we got into the belly of the cave and proceeded a little further into a very narrow tunnel, I started to get nervous. I haven’t really talked about my claustrophobia at length on the blog before, but let’s just say I’m more than mildly scared of tight spaces (airplanes even); that feeling escalates when I can’t see any natural light. And while the caves weren’t really all that tight, once we got in the snorkel rooms, all daylight was gone and I started to feel the panic rising.
Leo and the girls didn’t make fun of me, though, as I dog-paddled back to the opening and settled on a rock while he and Alex did a little free diving beneath the formations. I felt better the second I could see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel—literally—and didn’t need to leave the cave after all. Whew! Panic attack averted.
Then, we were out of one cave and ready to move onto the next, which just happened to be accessed via a small hole and a permanent ladder. While tight spaces are not my deal, climbing things most definitely is!
Though the second was a dry cave, I’d venture to say it was even cooler than the first one (though not literally in this case—each one felt like a Bikram studio on the contrary). Having wet hair and bathing suits on definitely helped to keep our body temperatures lower, though, as we climbed into the earth’s bowels once more.
The formations in the dry cave were even more visually striking than the first, with a number of fossils etched into the ceilings.
We did see some critters like a few bats (which I love)—and OK, some sizable cockroaches (which I don’t), at which point Angie peaced out—but it was worth it. As we climbed back out the ladder, the air felt noticeably different, cooler, than the heated temps down in the cave—definitely the opposite experience of what you expect to find.
We’re not the only ones who love Flow, it appears—even Jason Biggs and his wife Jenny Mollen endorse Leo and his team. Flow also offers mountain biking, free diving and a number of other activities through—I wish we’d had time to try them all! Of course what I really want to try is a fluorescent night dive. Hope we can swing that on our next trip to Bonaire (because, duh, of course I’m already planning one!).
Photo by Alex in Wanderland
We boarded the sailboat at 3pm and took an hour or so to drift around the island before the captain dropped anchor north of Kralendijk and we were able to jump in.
At three hours long, it was a pretty lengthy sunset cruise, but I saw so many gorgeous fish in the shallow waters as I snorkeled away from the group. I always recommend putting distance between yourself and big crowds of snorkelers; not only do they scare the fish away, but they kick up sediment that could potentially cloud your photos (not to mention, your own potential for spotting something really cool).
When Alex and I finally dragged ourselves out of the water, the Compass team had a lavish picnic BBQ spread out across the bow of the ship. Talk about dining with a view!
I think it’s safe to say we all heart Bonaire—and this fabulous photo Alex staged and snapped!
For more Bonaire travel tips, start here:
- Taking the Plunge: Becoming an Advanced Diver in Bonaire
- Island Living: 16 Reasons Bonaire Rocks
- Going on an Island Tour of Bonaire by Twizy
- #Bonaire247: Shore Diving, Yoga & Food Trucks
- Getting Schooled at Bonaire’s Salt Pier
- A Dive on the Wild Side: Bonaire’s East Coast