Divers: no further explanation needed, right? You totally get this.
Unscheduled. Away from the flailing crowds.
Shore diving is the surprise upgrade to Business when you’re stuck on the tarmac in an ice storm.
It’s finding the Uni-ball Deluxe in a drawer full of pencil nubs.
It’s scoring the comfy red chair at Starbucks.
It’s the Zen alternative to crack-of-dawn dive boat trips with no bathroom or sunblock.
I didn’t even know I was a shore diver until Bonaire. I thought I was a pack ‘em in, rented gear, compulsive gauge-checker kind of girl.
But then, as the next-to-last stop on our Caribbean Reconnaissance Mission, we checked into Villa Safir on the Netherlands Antilles island of Bonaire. For about $220 a day, we had a huge room with a Jacuzzi overlooking the island and ocean, breakfast as-you-like-it, a pickup truck outfitted for dive gear, unlimited air tanks, and the know-how of the inn owners, Peter and Bianca, Dutch expats who’d come years earlier for the diving.
Each morning we ate our fruit and granola and they drilled down on diving – were turtles our thing, or would a seahorse be a bigger prize? Had we been south yet, or was it time to head north?
We settled on an agenda, grabbed our gear, threw four tanks in the back, and rumbled down the road, windows open to the summer heat.
Those mornings sealed the deal for me. Hair in a ponytail. Ruts and bumps like a little roller coaster. Iquanas the size of small gators. Then a slow, relaxed suit-up at Karpata or Invisibles. We entered with the tide, timing the waves.
And as if that weren't delectable enough, the reefs! Holy moly. Right there, and I mean right there, splendid, teeming, abundant reefs, bursting with coral and fish at a time when reefs around the world are bleaching out, dying from pollution and global warming. But not there, not in Bonaire.
I am completely infatuated with the island, but I am in love with the life.
So let’s review:
- - Sleep in
- - Relaxed breakfast
- - Rattletrap drive
- - Random critters
- - Slow gear-up
And all that before you even hit the water.
Photos (c) http://www.rickcollier.com/ Take a look at Rick's site for more pics of Bonaire - both above and below the water!