Snorkeling Red Beryl North – Lots of Fish and Corals
Snorkeling Red Beryl North is great, with a shallow reef that has lots of fish and corals, including Staghorn, Elkhorn, and Pillar.
Just south of Margate Bay, this unmarked spot is at the north end of the kite-boarding area on the southwest coast of Bonaire. The winds come over the salt ponds that dominate this part of the island making for good conditions for the kite-boarders. Unfortunately it makes snorkeling Red Beryl North a risk. But this spot is not in the middle of the action, it is on the edge. Even so, you really need to watch for any boarders or boats in the area if you snorkel here.
Snorkeling Red Beryl North is best done on a low wind day because of waves and currents. The water entrance is really difficult and waves make it worse. The low winds will also decrease the amount of kite-boarders out on the water.
Water Entrance for Snorkeling Red Beryl North
You will need footwear to navigate the entrance for snorkeling Red Beryl North. Use the left-to right current and do a small drift snorkel. Look in the water with your polarized sunglasses for the dark reef patches in the shallows. Get in on the left side of the dark patches.
Take your time with this entrance. It is not for anyone not steady on their feet. You need to make your way over many levels of big loose rock, shelves, holes, some with urchins in them, with fire coral and other small hard corals growing on the shelves. You really must have low wind and waves to do it, or you might not be able to stay on your feet. Walk out until you are able to float and change into your fins.
The water exit will be like your entrance, just farther right. Make sure of your footing and watch for waves.
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Where to Snorkel
After entering on the left when snorkeling Red Beryl North, let the current move you slowly right as you explore the shallow reef between shore and the top of the drop-off.
In the area where you start snorkeling, to the left of where you parked, the topography is interesting. Near the shoreline there is a shallow parallel reef, and you can swim between the two. It had some Elkhorn, soft corals, and zoanthids to see. We also saw a lot of fish in this area near shore.
Otherwise, on your way toward the drop-off, there is coral in depths from 3 to 15 feet that is easy for a snorkeler to see. We saw a lot of fish on the slightly deeper reefs. There were lots of corals including fire, brain, finger, star, starlet, and Mustard-Hill corals, along with many sea rods, sea fans, and sea plumes. There also were many patches of Staghorn in different sizes and different depths, some not very healthy. A good number of Pillar Corals were growing within some of those Staghorn patches and there were nice patches of Yellow Pencil Coral too. Along most of the shoreline you could spot some live Elkhorns.
We got to see a small group of Caribbean Reef Squid in these shallower reefs and we spotted some nice sponges too. We have seen turtles regularly at this spot, two Green Sea Turtles on the last visit.
The reefs closer to and on top of the drop-off are also healthy to see, with big soft corals and much more. The drop-off starts in about 30 feet of water.
Unfortunately, like most spots around Bonaire, we saw lots of signs of coral stress and bleaching on the reef while snorkeling Red Beryl North. And the visibility is variable, but usually a bit low.
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What We Saw While Snorkeling Red Beryl North
Overall, we saw a lot of fish while snorkeling Red Beryl North. We saw: angelfish, butterflyfish, damselfish, chromis, parrotfish, wrasse, schools of tang and surgeonfish, schools of grunts, snappers, grouper, hogfish, Trumpetfish, Bar Jacks, goatfish, squirrelfish, cowfish, trunkfish, filefish, triggerfish, Chubs, mojarra, needlefish, and scorpionfish.
The corals we saw at Red Beryl North are listed in the Where to Snorkel section.
- Drive south out of Kralendijk on Kaya International toward the airport.
- Continue past the airport, past the intersection to Lac Bay and Sorobon Beach and through Belnem.
- You are now on EEG Boulevard. Shortly after Belnem, the road will turn to the left, come back near the water and you will start seeing the salt ponds on the left.
- You will pass the Salt Pier, some yellow painted boulders and the White Slave Huts.
- After the road curves to the left, keep your eyes out for the yellow painted boulders for Margate Bay.
- The next unpaved turnout after Margate is where you want to park for Red Beryl North. One indicator that you are at the right spot is that across the road from the turnout there is a break in the bushes allowing you to see the salt collection ponds.
- If you see the paved turnout with yellow painted boulders for Red Beryl you have gone too far, it is just before that.
- Parking is on the side of the road.