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Money: ANG
Language:
Papiamento,
English, Dutch
Time Zone:
GMT -4 hours
Sat 12:03:42
Phone Code: +599
Religion:
Catholic 72%,
Pentecostal 4.9%
Electricity: 127/220V
Netherlands Antilles Scuba Destination Info:
      Overall summary of Netherlands Antilles
[edit]
Bonaire is a fantastic place for shore diving. It's known as the shore diving capital of the world. You hire a jeep, load up a couple of tanks of air/Nitrox, drive along the coast road and then stop off at any of the 60 dive sites, kit up, do your buddy checks then dive. It couldn't be simpler.
I've just come back from 6 days' diving there. The people are friendly, the food was excellent, there was no trouble or hassle from the locals and the corals and fish were out of this world. I'd certainly recommend it.
I agree, been to Bonaire four times and enjoyed every dive! We have seen a Spanish lobster there three times Never seen one anywhere else in the Caribbean. Excellent visibility, except for the wreck. Food is excellent, people are friendly. Can't wait to go back!
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      How to get to Netherlands Antilles
[edit]
KLM fly direct to Flamingo International Airport (Bonaire) from Schipol, several times a week.
From the states, currently, you can only fly in from the upper east coast. Or, you can fly into a sister island and take a very unreliable, time wise, puddlejumper. Both companies are terrible to deal with and are always leaving late, causing connection problems.
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      Top travel tips for Netherlands Antilles
[edit]
Take US Dollars and some mosquito/sand-fly repellent. Most places take Visa and other CC's. Get a place with a kitchen. Breakfast is harder to find at a restaurant and is expensive. Grocery stores are good, prices are average for an island.

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      What's the diving like in Netherlands Antilles
[edit]
Brilliant - mostly coral and fish. There is also the Hilma Hooker wreck. Do the night dive at the town pier, the colours down there are out of this world!

In addition to the Town Pier also consider Salt Pier. This is a larger, deeper environment with only slightly less dense coral and sponge growth. You have a local school of Tarpon and a chance to see some other peligac fish on occcasion. It is a loading terminal for the industrial salt operation which covers most of the southern tip of the island.

Both dive sites require hiring a guide, but costs are reasonable. Group sizes are limited in number of participants. Of course this means you will be herded through to some extent, nevertheless, both sites are worthwhile.
**You can, once again, do the Salt pier without a guide. Just don't try to dive there if a ship is loading. Nice shallow dive with lots of fish and a Sharp tailed eel or two.

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      Best wreck dives in Netherlands Antilles
[edit]
The only wreck is the Hilma Hooker. It is a nice dive, but if you are not first on the wreck, visibility goes down pretty quick. Go early in the morning. The wreck sets in about 65-95 feet of water.
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      Chance of big fish in Netherlands Antilles
[edit]
I can only speak to Bonaire. The large fish (1 m+ length) you will commonly encounter on the leeward (west) side of the island are Tarpon, Tiger Grouper and out on the reef edges, Baracuda.

There are a couple of dive boat operators who go out on the windward (east) side where you can encounter more Tarpon, sharks and larger turtles. The windward (east) side is a very rough ironstone shore with perpetual heavy surf due to the trade winds. The minute you get into any depth of water, the bottom will be covered with fire coral. Gloves are not permitted to be worn by divers in Bonaire waters. I would not recommend venturing there from shore.

The leeward (west) side of the island is shore diving heaven. Ironstone shore, but not too rough with mild waves and frequent sand channels. Dive sites are marked with yellow painted boulders bearing the dive site name.
**We have seen terminal phase Parrot fish which are 2-3 ft in length. Several 2-3 ft Midnight Parrot fish as well.
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      Coral quality in Netherlands Antilles
[edit]
Excellent - Bonaire takes conservation very seriously, and it shows in the coral and fish. Using dive gloves is against the law and you could have your equipment and dive permit confiscated, if found using gloves.
**A lot of variety of corals and sponges as well. Best diversity of corals on any island we have dove.

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      Best time to dive in Netherlands Antilles
[edit]
Basically year round. There are some spring rains and higher winds in March through May. Best delineated by the start of low season rates at accomodations. This causes some reduction in vis due to wind bourne sand and algal growth from rain. This may reduce vis to the 20 m range instead of a 30-40 m range at other times.

August through early October the winds calm, there's no rain, it gets hotter, but vis goes from very good to great. August-September is coral spawning season, usually around the full moon.

The Lesser Antilles are out of the Carribean hurricane belt, though some rain can extend south from passing storm systems.
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      What to take to Netherlands Antilles
[edit]
Make sure you take, or hire, an underwater camera. The colors and sights are spectacular and you should be the envy of your friends when you get back home and show them.
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Big Blue Planet knows about the following locations in Netherlands Antilles:

Bonaire
Bonnaire is known as the Diver's Paradise! This is not an idle claim, as this island has set itself up as a place of total diving freedom. Along with the usual selection of boat dives (of which there are many), the island has also pioneered the c...
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Curacao
Curacao is very similar to Bonaire only a little more developed. The shore diving is great, but be sure to ask about currents. Mushroom Forest was one of my favorites, lots of coral heads full of small moreys sticking their heads out as you go by. Al...
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Saba Island
Saba is a rugged mountaintop rising out of the ocean, surrounded by deep ocean pinnacles. Fly into the shortest commercial airfield in the world, navigate the windy roads to the town of Windwardside and stay in one of the picturesque cottages for the...
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St Maarten
St Maarten has become a great dive destination. Return divers have come to enjoy the outlying wreck and reef diving, which offers fantastic dives and excellent photo opportunities. For the average diver whose partner or family do not dive, here is wh...
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St. Eustatius
St. Eustatius, or Statia as it is locally known, is a friendly little island located in the North Eastern Caribbean. Visitors enjoy the interesting colonial history, great hiking and what many people describe as “amazing” diving. What makes the divin...
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