Ask ardent divers where their favorite spot to dive is and you'll likely get the same answer: The Next Place. We love variety.
There is so much to experience on the reefs around the world we want to see them all.
But Bonaire has a little different allure. You'll find many divers returning here year after year, sometimes for decades. The island breeds loyalty. In fact, in 30 years of diving, it's one of only two destinations I have been more than once.
The 112-square-mile Dutch island is a top destination because of the ease and freedom of numerous shore entries, the normally outstanding visibility and the well-protected reef system.
But it's not all easy. Forty miles off the coast of Venezuela, getting there can be a trying experience. To reach Bonaire we had to travel overnight out of Houston, arriving about 7 a.m. When you're eager to get in the water after your trip, you'll hope you can sleep on planes.
Plus, we had to arrive at the Bonaire airport at 5 a.m. for the return trip. But it's worth it.
With more than 60 marked dive sites easily accessible from shore, the pristine reefs can be visited whenever your schedule requires.
All you have to do is grab your tanks, plop them in the back of the rental truck and choose one of the sites marked with yellow rocks along the main road.
We made 17 dives in seven days, as many as four in a day.
There are other interesting things to do on the island: a ruggedly beautiful nature park called Washington Slagbaai, a small casino, horseback riding and the like.
But this is not your classic “Caribbean” island with lush vegetation and constantly cooling ocean breezes. Basically, it's cactus and kitty litter surrounded by beautiful, clear and warm water.
If you're here to dive, it's perfect. And you'll be back.