Going Underground in Bonaire

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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—with Flow Bonaire.

Caving with Flow Bonaire
Caving with Flow 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.

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!

Fluroscent Snorkeling with Flow Bonaire

Photo by Alex in Wanderland

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.

Fluroscent Snorkeling with Flow Bonaire

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!

Caving with Flow Bonaire
Caving with Flow Bonaire

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.

Fluroscent Snorkeling with Flow Bonaire

Fluroscent Snorkeling with Flow Bonaire

Photo by Alex in Wanderland

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.

Caving with Flow Bonaire
Caving with Flow Bonaire
Caving with Flow Bonaire
Caving with Flow Bonaire
Caving with Flow Bonaire

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!).

Fluroscent Snorkeling with Flow Bonaire

And for those who want to be on the water but not necessarily submerged in it at 60 feet or deep within a cave, Compass Bonaire is another alternative to diving while still being able to enjoy Bonaire’s finest asset: that water.
Put what you want

Fluroscent Snorkeling with Flow Bonaire

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).

Snorkel and BBQ Cruise on Bonaire
Snorkel and BBQ Cruise on Bonaire
Snorkel and BBQ Cruise on Bonaire

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!

Fluroscent Snorkeling with Flow Bonaire

Fluroscent Snorkeling with Flow Bonaire

I think it’s safe to say we all heart Bonaire—and this fabulous photo Alex staged and snapped!

Fluroscent Snorkeling with Flow Bonaire

COMMENTS
  • August 17, 2015

    Can’t imagine how much adventure you had…love it

  • August 20, 2015

    Isn’t it great going beneath the earth and caving and what intricate photos! I didn’t know that you were claustrophobic so you’ve done awfully well to do all the stuff that you do and go all the places that you love. Also, Alex is a babe and I know because I’ve been following her for a year I think! 🙂

  • August 21, 2015

    One more amazing article on this blog. Thanks for sharing.

  • August 22, 2015

    Cave drive is so interesting and adventurous because it means to drive in center of earth. It looks like an art of magnificent creature which is diffuse to ocean. None can derisive to see this post and get real adventure moving around the cave and ocean.

  • March 5, 2016

    This is really interesting to me because I have never heard of caving in Bonaire. I’ve only heard of it as a dive Mecca. If you’ve not been to Blanchard Springs in Arkansas, it’s a beautiful living cave.

    Love the photo of the divers holding hands!

    • March 6, 2016

      I’d love to go to Blanchard Springs! Adding this to my list—thanks, Shannon =)

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