Fifty miles off the coast of Venezuela, Bonaire’s lush band of fringing reef offers ideal conditions for novice and experienced snorkelers alike: calm, warm waters with excellent visibility, consistent sunshine, and unspoiled habitat. Bonaire’s marine sanctuary was established in 1979 and today protects a diverse coral reef from the high tide line to a depth of 200 feet. It is one of the world’s greatest snorkeling venues. While other islands have continued traditional spear-fishing, on Bonaire it has been illegal since 1972, and the fish know it. This island offers the snorkeler opportunities to see more species of fish, in greater numbers, more intimately, than any other Caribbean destination I know.
Gold-specked French angelfish will actually approach you. Schools of blue tangs, sergeant majors, brown and blue chromis, and French grunts are prolific. Trumpetfish, groupers, peacock flounders, butterflyfish, coneys, chubs, trunkfish, cowfish, orange-spotted filefish, and more, all circulate without fear of human presence. There are more parrotfish in the waters surrounding Bonaire than we’ve ever seen (or heard!) anywhere else. Although we’re careful about the use of brochure superlatives, Bonaire is truly a fish lover’s paradise.
After over twenty five years of visiting Bonaire, of learning its secrets, meeting its people and its fish it is our privilege to invite you to experience the great joys that this little island has to offer.If you are looking for a family adventure, Bonaire is the ideal place to introduce your kids to open water snorkeling.
Not only does it offer a healthy marine environment, but there is excellent infrastructure, friendly islanders, and a genuinely relaxed atmosphere. We love this island and believe that you will, too!
The title of this program, Exploring Bonaire, is indicative of our attitude and approach to this adventure. We’ve arranged some exciting elements that should allow our group to take best advantage of Bonaire’s natural, cultural, and culinary highlights. We will rent several large vans for our entire visit so that, as a group, we may independently explore some of Bonaire’s best shore snorkeling sites, many of which are off the beaten track. We hope to provide an opportunity to go night snorkeling when we may witness feeding octopus, lobsters, shrimp, and perhaps giant tarpons. At night, the coral animals (polyps), including Bonaire’s brilliant orange cup corals, extend their beautiful feeding tentacles.
We also plan to include a snorkeling outing by van to Bonaire’s mangroves. While many Caribbean mangrove environments can be mucky, in this particular area tidal flow keeps the water relatively clear and the marine life healthy. In the mangroves, we may intimately view juvenile reef fish, barracuda, anemones, sponges, and the peculiar upside-down jellyfish.
After our days activities, we will use these vans on several occasions, to “explore” some of the island’s best restaurants. We have selected some of our personal favorites, and convinced their management to let us bring 15 or so “friends” as well. Finally, in addition to excellent snorkeling, and fine dining, we have invited key individuals associated with Bonaire’s marine environment to share their knowledge, expertise, and perspective with our group.
While Sea for Yourself considers snorkeling the top priority, this program provides certified SCUBA divers with excellent diving opportunities. The resort offers a complete complement of tanks, weights, rental gear, and divemaster services.
Upon arrival in Bonaire, we transfer to Buddy’s Beach and Dive Resort, our home for the next seven nights. After a short program introduction we will enjoy dinner at the resort.
After breakfast at the resort, we will give you a detailed program orientation and overview of our week’s activities after the breakfast at the resort. This will be followed by instruction in the pool for anyone wishing to test their equipment or skills. After lunch on your own, we will have our introductory snorkel in the calm, clear waters just in front of the resort.
Most mornings and early afternoons are devoted to snorkeling protected shallow reefs and excursions to various regions of the island. We plan to visit Slagbaai National Park, the Arawak petroglyphs, the town of Rincon as well as Goto Meer Lake where we often view flamingos, brightly-colored parrots, and unique endemic lizards. Our tour of Bonaire’s southern end features colorful salt ponds and historic slave huts followed by a snorkel in the mangroves of Lac Bay. Evenings are spent enjoying slide-illustrated lectures, guest speakers, possible night snorkeling opportunities, and leisurely dinners both at our resort and at some of Bonaire’s finer restaurants.
After breakfast, transfer to the airport for return flights home.
Exploring Bonaire is limited to approximately 18 participants. Due to the limited space available for this tour, reservations will be confirmed in the order deposits are received.
The cost of the program is $4595 per person, based on double occupancy, plus international airfare. For those requesting a single room, an additional supplement of $995 will be added to the tour cost.
We also have a very limited number of two bedroom suites. For those requesting a two-bedroom suite, a discount of $125.00 per person, based on double occupancy in each room, will be taken off the tour cost. For those requesting a single room in a two-bedroom suite, an additional supplement of $750.00 will be added to the tour cost. Please be advised that single space and two-bedroom suites are limited and subject to availability.
If you wish to share a room we will do our best to find a roommate for you. If, by the time of departure a share cannot be found, and space is available, you will be charged a single supplement.
Deposits & Payments
A deposit of $950, plus a signed, completed reservation form confirms your registration for the trip. You will be notified when your space on the program is confirmed. Final payment, plus single supplement, if applicable, is due 120 days prior to departure.
The tour fee includes
Tour fee is based on land package only. It includes all bus transfers in Bonaire, meals as indicated in the itinerary, accommodations in hotels as specified, all snorkeling activities, guided cultural excursions, local taxes, group gratuities to hotel/ resort staff, services of the trip leader including any needed snorkeling lessons, marine biology lectures, and explanations of Bonaire’s cultural and natural history.
The tour fee does not include
Airfare, air upgrades, departure taxes, medical immunizations, medical expenses, visa and passport fees, accident/baggage/cancellation insurance, individual transfers, excess baggage charges, meals not specified in the itinerary, dishes and beverages not part of included meals, alcoholic beverages, laundry, telephone, internet or fax charges, room service, Sea for Yourself staff gratuities, rental gear, SCUBA diving activities and other items of a personal nature.
International and/or domestic airfare
Sea for Yourself does not issue airline tickets. Trip participants are responsible for making their own air travel arrangements. Please do not purchase airline tickets until your reservation for the program has been confirmed and you have reviewed your travel schedule with our office.
All snorkelers, from novice to experienced, will enjoy this program. Our staff will gladly provide any needed snorkeling instruction, from floating to free diving. Whenever possible we will seek out protected water for our snorkeling excursions, but at times the surface may be choppy due to wind. Any “hiking” will be easy to moderate on well-marked trails.
Climate and weather
Bonaire’s climate is mild, subtropical, with cooling Caribbean breezes. The average temperature of 79°F varies little throughout the year. The rainy season extends from July to January, and the remainder of the year is usually very dry. We have chosen a time that should give us suitable weather conditions, but please note that storms over North America can affect Bonaire and other areas of the Caribbean. And as with any tropical destination, there will always be a chance of rain, mosquitoes, and sand flies.
Thermal tolerance obviously varies with each individual. As a guideline, many people wear a thin wet suit when in the water longer than 30 or 40 minutes. Please remember that some kind of covering (such as a Lycra suit or even pajamas!) when in the water is highly recommended as protection from sun, occasional stinging zooplankton, and to prevent coral abrasions. In the water individuals will best know their own “comfort zones” which can be extended with the use of a lightweight wetsuit which will help conserve body heat and add comfort and buoyancy while in the water. We wear wetsuits and recommend that you seriously consider wearing one as well.
After you have reserved space on a trip and the program is confirmed, you will receive information to help you prepare for departure, including airline information to arrange for your international and/or domestic flights, optional supplemental travel insurance information, a complete packing and a reading list and other useful information about our destination.
Sea for Yourself provides participants who are U.S. or Canadian citizens with limited medical, accident and evacuation coverage under our group travel insurance policy. We highly recommend the purchase of optional baggage and trip cancellation insurance; information will be sent to registrants. Exclusions for pre-existing conditions may be waived with the prompt purchase of travel insurance.