Bonaire and Aruba Snorkeling Trip Report, January – February 2018

Five Foot Nurse Shark at Lac Bay Bonaire
Five Foot Nurse Shark at Lac Bay

By Tom & Jan Turner – (Jamestown, PA)
On January 17, 2018, my wife’s birthday, we left for a two week snorkeling trip to Bonaire and Aruba and here is our trip report.

We flew into Aruba (flights are so much cheaper into Aruba than Bonaire), and spent three nights in Aruba. Our first day, the weather was really cloudy and somewhat rainy, so we decided to walk back to the Natural Pool, which has always been a favorite activity of ours when in Aruba. The road traffic to the Natural Pool has become so intense that we had to be careful on our walk that we did not get run over. I doubt we will ever walk back there again.

Our second day in Aruba, we went on our favorite drift snorkel in the morning, entering at Puerto Chiquito and exiting at Mangel Halto. The water was great and the wildlife was entertaining and abundant. We watched two octopuses interacting, and found out later that they only interact when mating. We had lunch at Zeerovers, which is the best restaurant on the island, and then spent the afternoon snorkeling at Arashi Beach. The fish were great, the coral was great, but there was a pretty stiff current to contend with. We had a ball.

Spotted Drum at Front Porch on Bonaire
Spotted Drum at Front Porch

The next day, we flew over to Bonaire on Insel Air and spent the next two weeks enjoying the great sea life and coral from the easy shore access all around Bonaire. Our first day, we just went in from where we were staying and snorkeled around Bari Reef and Front Porch. We saw all of the regular reef fish, many species of parrotfish, Brown Chromis, damselfish and flounder, snapper and blennies, grunts and squirrelfish and filefish. We saw two Goldspotted Eels and several Spotted Drums.

The next day, we went to the Salt Pier, one of our favorite spots, and had a great swim. You see big fish around the pier, and this time we saw some really big barracuda and a huge Cubera Snapper, two Goldentail Morays and one Green Sea Turtle. The pier legs are really interesting because of all of the coral and sponges which have become established on the legs.

Five Foot Green Moray at Klein Bonaire
Five Foot Green Moray at Klein Bonaire

The next day, we went to Karpata, which is another favorite spot. This, along with Klein Bonaire and Lac Bay, has some of the best coral on the island. Along with all of the regular fish, we saw Ocean Triggerfish, four Green Sea Turtles and an octopus. The wildlife and coral is so entertaining and ever changing that you just never get tired of it.

In all, we snorkeled Front Porch, Bari Reef, Salt Pier twice, Karpata twice, Cliff, and Aquarium. We did a drift snorkel from Petries Pillar to Andrea II. We also went in at 18th Palm, and Red Beryl North. We snorkeled Klein Bonaire twice on the water taxi and once with Woodwind Tours. We highly recommend Woodwind Tours. They take you to great spots around Klein Bonaire that you can’t get to unless you have access to a boat, and they do a great job. We are not big on snorkel tours, but we do not hesitate to recommend Woodwind Tours. Because it was very windy the whole time we were there, we only ventured over to Lac Bay once. It was difficult to get out to the reef, and then it was very rough the whole time we snorkeled. We night snorkeled four times, twice at the Venezuelan Consulate, once at Bari Reef, and once at Divi Flamingo.

Hard and Soft Coral at Lac Bay

Besides all of the regular reef fish that are always around, we saw many Green Sea Turtles and a couple of Hawksbill Turtles, several octopuses, lots and lots of eels, the biggest surgeonfish we have ever seen, around 14 inches long, a five foot Nurse Shark at Lac Bay (see photo), a five foot Green Moray at Klein Bonaire (see photo), some Caribbean Reef Squid, some huge Rainbow Parrotfish at 18th Palm, a Flame Box Crab, a slipper lobster and many spiny lobsters while night snorkeling at the Divi Flamingo, several basket stars, a Bridled Burrfish, and a very interesting to watch Yellowhead Jawfish. We only saw one lionfish the whole time we were there.

All in all, we had a wonderful time on this snorkel trip. You just cannot beat floating in a coral and wildlife filled natural aquarium in water that is warm and comfortable enjoying all of nature’s creation. We love it.

Comments Moved From Previous System

Nicole & Galen – Mar 26, 2018 – Thank You!

Tom, once again, a wonderful post about your snorkeling trip to Aruba and Bonaire. Thanks so much for sharing your trip report and those cool pictures! All of the snorkeling spots Tom mentioned in his report are fully described in our Bonaire Snorkeling Guide eBook.

Pam – Mar 27, 2018 – Thank You!

Thanks for all this info! I always think of Bonaire as a diving destination so it’s great to know that it’s good for snorkelers too. Invaluable.

Altarose – Apr 29, 2018 – Thanks

We are planning a return trip next year and was happy to hear about all the great snorkels. You are right Zeerover is one-of-a-kind experience. Happy snorkeling.

Marian – Apr 30, 2018 – Thank You for Your Report

I enjoyed your informative report. Was it windy the whole time you were on Bonaire, or only the day you went to Klein Bonaire? We were in Bonaire February 2017 and it was wavy every day. Your report would have been helpful before going. I did buy Galen and Nicole’s eBook but we found too many places they recommended were not calm enough.

Tom Turner – Apr 30, 2018 – Marian, to Answer Your Question

Yes, it was windy everyday we were there for two weeks. This was our third time in Bonaire, but the first time in January. We typically check windfinder to find a couple of days when the wind will be the least during our stay, and plan those days for Lac Bay. This trip had not a single day where the wind was under 20 mph. We also had some problems with getting in at locations because of the waves, but we would head to another spot and always were successful in finding a spot that we could get in.

18th Palm is a spot that I am sure is accessible regardless of the weather. Also, Bari Reef, Front Porch, and Yellow Submarine. We heard that people saw seahorses at Yellow Submarine while we were down there, but we did not see them. Also, the water taxi to Klein Bonaire to do the drift snorkel is an option. Even if there are some rolling waves, I think this would be decent unless the weather was really bad. I hope this helps.

Atl Beardie – Sep 17, 2018 – We Love Bonaire Too

Thanks for a great trip report. Your experience in Bonaire parallels our own. We love it and find that it has more fish and healthier reefs than about anyplace else in the Caribbean. It can be tricky getting into the water in some places due to the rocky shorelines (shoes are a must), but totally worth it.

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