Diving

With over 86 dive sites there are plenty to choose from, both directly from shore that are marked with a painted yellow stone with the dive site name on it and by boat, where you can tie directly to a yellow mooring buoy labelled with the site name.  Klein Bonaire also offers further dive sites that you can explore either by your own dinghy, water taxi if you have your own equipment or through a dive company.

You do need to pay a nature fee, which is $25 a calendar year, $10 for a one day dive or a $10 annual fee if you plan to do any other water activity.  For the annual fee you will be issued a circular tag to attach to your dive equipment or a diamond tag for all other water activities.  If you are planning to dive for just a day, you will be issued a paper licence.  You need to have the tag with you when diving or participating in a water activity.  You can pay for the nature fee at the dive stores, where they will provide you with a dive map and explain it to you, as well as suggesting dive sites.  The Stinapa Bonaire website can provide you with information about the marine park, nature fee and national park.

An interactive dive map can be found by clicking here. Alternatively there are downloadable dive maps if you want to plan your dive trip before you arrive which you can access by clicking here.

Dive site map

Dive map from the following URL: http://www.tourismbonaire.com/bonaire-dive-sites

There are beautiful, mature and a wide variety of coral on the fringing reef running on the western side of the island, as well as surrounding Klein Bonaire.  We did not see a lot large fish, even though it has been a marine sanctuary for over 30 years.  Early mornings and sometimes in the evenings we would find fishing boats behind our moored boats, fishing on the marine sanctuary reefs, possibly the reason for no large fish?  Nevertheless there is plenty to see in the beautiful, clear waters surrounding Bonaire.  So many dive sites, so little time.

Hilma Hooker – 15/12/2017 – Karen

Tristan, Andrew and I did a dive today on the Hilma Hooker Wreck.  The water clarity was excellent, the wreck clearly visible before we even descended.  Tristan and Andrew descended much quicker than me as I struggled to clear my ears, but I eventually got there.  On my descent I thought there was two sharks near Andrew and Tristan but as I got closer they were just large Tarpons.  There were a few tarpons lingering around the wreck.

The wreck is in excellent condition, with little growth on it, which was surprising as it has been down there for over 30 years.  Any hanging objects or things that make it dangerous for diving on wrecks have also been removed.  We started at the stern of the boat at about 100 feet and then worked our way to the bow and then along the other side before ascending.  There were a lot of smaller fish but apart from the tarpons we saw no other large fish while we were there.  Tristan did notice an interesting thing on the top side of the wreck was a steady stream of bubbles  coming out a small hole.  We later found out that after it sank, holes were cut into it so that the air exhaled by divers could escape.

hilma_hooker-5234515-cargo-ship-1083
Hilma Hooker by J.M. van Rooij via http://maritime-connector.com/ship/hilma-hooker-5234515/

The wreck has an interesting history, launched in 1951 in the Netherlands, it is a 236 foot freighter.  The boat changed hands and names many times during its time from ‘Midsland’ to ‘Mistral’ to ‘Williams Express’ to ‘Anna C’ and then ‘Doric Express’ its moniker ‘Hilma Hooker’ will perhaps be what she is remembered as.  Although she sank in 1984, this was not her first sinking, having sunk in 1979 off of Dominican Republic before being raised, sold and renamed yet again.

It was in 1984 that the ‘Doric Express’ aka ‘Hilma Hooker’ had trouble off the coast of Bonaire, some say it was steering difficulties other say engine problems.  She was towed into port in Kralendijk, Bonaire, where after a search 25 000 pounds of marijuana was found.  The crew were arrested and the vessel impounded at the port, however no owner came forth for the boat.  The boat was in poor condition and leaked, requiring constant pumping to keep her afloat, the costly process and potentially dangerous situation resulted in the government, the tourist bureau and dive operators deciding to move the ship to Angel City another dive site, so that if she did sink she could be used as another dive site.

Hilma Hooker was moved to Angel City, where 5 days later she sank to the sea bottom.  Some believe the bilge pumps couldn’t keep up with the leak, others believe that dive operators may have helped her to sink. No one can say for sure.

Dive Information:

If you are doing a boat dive there are three buoys which you can tie up to, two at the bow end and one at the stern end.  If you are doing a shore dive follow the coastal road from Kralendijk heading south past the airport.  When you get to the Trans World Radio Station and tall transmission masts, just opposite this you will see the yellow rock marking this dive site.  There is plenty of parking there.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s