It’s been a long time since I’ve visited a destination where I had a hard time saying goodbye. While I loved Bologna and thought Panama City Beach was stunning, I’m always happy to come home. For once, I had mixed feelings about leaving. I had experienced one of the best weeks of my life and leaving on Saturday was hard, despite knowing I was coming home to Scott and summer in my beloved San Diego.
I’m obviously drawn to tropical islands, but the beauty of the island is usually the only thing I feel connected to during my stay. This time it felt like I was leaving more than just a beautiful island: I felt like I was leaving new friends and missing out on all the gorgeous landscapes that I had yet to discover.
Perhaps my reluctance to leave was because Bonaire is now and forever will be the first place I went scuba diving. The diving in Bonaire is some of the best in the world; maybe I’m afraid that all of my future dives will pale in comparison. It might have been the people, too. The staff at Buddy Dive Resort was genuinely welcoming, instantly making me feel like we were old friends. Along with the friendly staff, I traveled with an amazing group of people who made me feel safe while I learned to overcome my fears of breathing underwater.
The locals in Bonaire always have an intriguing story to tell. Walter and Liezeth of Bowalie Sailing shared with me their story, how they’d decided on a whim to leave everything behind, move to Bonaire, and buy a yacht — without any sailing experience. We had the pleasure of taking a sunset sail with them and they even let us steer the boat!
During my stay in Bonaire, I wasn’t only enchanted by the underwater world, but the sights above the water as well. I never thought I would ride a horse bareback in my bikini, or laugh hysterically while my horse (Scarlet) swam around a lagoon, carrying me on her back.
After visiting some of Riviera Maya’s caves and cenotes, I’ve always wanted to explore more of these underground caverns in other parts of the world. Thanks to Leo at Flow Bonaire, I learned that Bonaire consists mainly of fossilized reefs and is home to over 300 caves. Most of these are dry caves, but Leo guided us through one of the wet caves, where we snorkeled with cave shrimp.
A leader in nature conservation, the island of Bonaire takes ocean conservation seriously. All divers are required to attend a thorough orientation before their first dive on the island. They also require a check-out dive as part of the briefing process, which gives each diver a chance to check their buoyancy so that damage to the reef is minimized or eliminated. The underwater marine park is protected, and they strictly enforce the “look but don’t touch” rule.
I don’t think I could have picked a better place to get my scuba certification and ease my way into the sport of diving. I love surfing too much to leave San Diego for good, but I wonder if I can convince Scott to spent a couple of months every year in Bonaire.