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The Scuba Genies head to Bonaire! Part 1 of 2

The Scuba Genies

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In the first of this two-part blog, The Scuba Genies share their trip report from the Come Dive with Us hosted trip to Bonaire in September 2021…

Travelling during the Covid pandemic has been challenging for some, impossible for most, and missed by all. We have been scanning the rules and regulations daily, and as soon as the UK Government allowed us, we were off!

What was supposed to be a trip to Mexico for a gang of 12 of us, just like most trips over the last 18 months, we were forced to change as the travel rules changed – we have been trying to get to Bonaire for ages, and this became the perfect opportunity – at last!

With our bags packed, negative test results and completed Bonaire health forms in hand – we made an early start for Heathrow, prepared for an 0630 departure. A quick flight and we landed in Amsterdam. As a Dutch Caribbean territory, all flights from the UK to Bonaire on KLM go via Amsterdam. In the airport, we met up with the rest of the gang who had travelled from Birmingham. After a quick layover we took off for Bonaire, where we arrived about 9 hours later. Our health documents were checked at the airport, and we grabbed our bags. It seems odd to have to fly East to then go West, but as we stepped out of the minibus at Buddy Dive Resort, only 10 minutes after leaving the airport, the sunshine and blue sky told us it was worth it!

Our accommodation for the group was made up of two 3-bedroom apartments, a stone’s throw from the water, dive shop, dock and Blennies, the main restaurant and bar. Buddy Dive also has 1- and 2-bedroom apartments along with studios, all comfortably furnished with either a garden or ocean view.

Each 3-bedroom apartment is spread over two floors – but a floor up from ground level. The ‘ground’ floor of each apartment offers a double bedroom (beds can be configured as twins or double in all rooms), a bathroom, lounge with balcony, and a very well-equipped kitchenette. Microwave, toaster, hob, fridge/freezer with ice-maker and enough pots, pans and utensils to satisfy the avid cook! On the upper floor, there are two further double rooms with ensuite bathrooms, both with balconies of their own. Each bedroom is air-conditioned, and the lounge and kitchen have celling fans. All in all, quite perfect for a home away from home for a fortnight!

The rules of group travel say we must unpack (empty bags onto floor or bed), sort kit out (look at dive bag and save it for later), put cameras together (er….NO!) and hit the bar – so being rule-abiding people that we are, this is what we did. Picking up the rental van for our stay would have to wait!

The next morning after breakfast, served in the Ingridients restaurant and right on the water, we attended the Buddy Dive orientation. The staff gave us a quick tour of the dock and resort including the famous drive thru tank shed offering both air and nitrox tanks ready and waiting to be loaded into your vehicle. Check in at the dive centre was easy… we all completed our diver forms online before arrival so with a quick hello we were handed locker keys for our kit storage. Time to head back to the room and get ready for our first dive!! That is why we’re here after all!

As with all trips, the first dive was a check dive, so we climbed down the steps into the water off the dock to go an explore Buddy Dive Reef. Finning over the sandy bottom, past the coral restoration project ‘trees’ and following well laid lines with directional markers we hit the reef after just a minute or two where you can drop to 35+ metres over simply stunning corals. This reef, just like the rest of the sites we dived, is super-healthy and teeming with juvenile fish wherever you look. Moray eels, turtles, octopi and HUGE tarpon on our first dive! What a great start!

The following day we decided it was time to explore the island. We picked up our 6-person minibus from Reception, pulled up to the drive thru tank station and grabbed 12 well filled Nitrox 12l aluminium (A-Clamp – not DIN) cylinders. With our guidebook in hand, off we went driving on the right of course, in search of marine life.

There are over 50 dive sites scattered around the coast of the main island, and even more on the island of Klein Bonaire accessible by boat. We chose a comfortable start by picking dive sites to the South where the entry seems to be a little easier on old knees and hips. We packed up sandwiches we made after a quick shop at the supermarket the day before, along with waters and a few essentials – towels, sunnies and bug spray.

I won’t bore you with every dive site name and description – the guidebook is the tool for that – but it is more than safe to say that we dived, dived and dived again! Every dive gave us far more than we expected, and the marine park surrounding the whole island delivered the goods without fail. Super healthy corals, plentiful marine life, warm and very clear water at 30 degrees made life easy. Parking the van up at the marked dive sites wasn’t difficult, and a few strides across the sand was far simpler than we had expected.

I will say that some sites are a little more challenging to get into the water from – anything more than three or four steps doesn’t float my boat! We adapted our entries for the group – some kitting up in the water, some not, but the rule of thumb quickly became step in up to thigh-depth, inflate bcd, fall flat on your back and paddle out before putting your fins on. Simple! Getting out of the water was pretty much the reverse of the above – stand up when you can, remove fins, and then navigate the rocks and sand channels before you walk up the beach. Nothing that an over-weight, under-tall chap in his mid-50’s with dodgy knees and even dodgier hips couldn’t cope with! (That is me by the way…..no offense to anyone else intended and no animals were harmed in the writing of this either).

We saw stuff – lots of it! Huge tarpon, French and Grey Angelfish, forests of Christmas Tree worms, anemones with Peterson, sexy and cleaner shrimp, clinging crabs, nudibranchs – especially lettuce-leaf slugs, coral-banded shrimp, lobster and so much more. Turtles everywhere, trumpet-fish in unbelievable numbers, and that was generally the story – all in very good visibility too! The corals and huge sponges were stunning with fascinating reef-structures offering all sorts of hidey-holes for critters!

There were some really special sited that we loved, and Salt Pier was one. The Cargill solar salt facility is easily found with its distinctive line of white salt pyramids.Each pyramid, roughly 50-feet high, can contain up to 10,000 metric tons of 99.6 percent pure salt. Even more noteworthy, in addition to the acres of salt ponds, the facility is also home to largest pink flamingo sanctuary in North America. Our very own Chloe has written an in-depth blog about Bonaire and its pure salt so be sure and check it out!

Back to the diving! We were given a hint to drive just past the pier to park where we would find an easy sand entry to the site. We kitted up and finned out through the shallows where we encountered three juvenile hawksbill turtles along with a few smooth pufferfish fighting to feed on patch of sponges, and then made our way under the immense structure of the pier. There are several platforms supporting the conveyor belts that move salt to the container ships and there wasn’t much diver-traffic to contend with. We were amazed by all things weird and wonderful – big scorpion fish hiding under the metal work, angelfish battling for food, schooling fish up above you, and frogfish! Barracuda, Caribbean reef squid, spotted drums, octopus, oh! and more frogfish! Even a flying gurnard in the shallows! What a dive! And as it is shallow, it can be a very long dive too, especially with the 200-210 bar fills the drive-thru often gave us.

Check back for Part Two of this Blog tomorrow!


Find out more about the worldwide dive itineraries that The Scuba Place offers at www.thescubaplace.co.uk.

The Scuba Genies are John and Mona Spencer-Ades, owners and Directors of ATOL and ABTA bonded Tour Operator and Travel Agency, The Scuba Place Ltd. The Scuba Place design and custom-build exceptional diving holidays around the globe, and have been doing so since 2011. They provide travel services to groups, clubs, buddy-pairs and individuals, and have a wealth of hands on experience when it comes to destinations as they are fanatical divers themselves. John has been diving over 30 years and is a PADI Dive Master, having logged over 2600 dives. Mona started her diving career in 2004, and has logged over 600 dives – she is currently a PADI Rescue Diver. The Scuba Place also provide hosted trips to both new and their favourite destinations each year, providing expert support, under their banner ‘Come Dive with Us!’ Previous trips have been to the Philippines, Solomon Islands, Papua New Guinea, Bonaire, Florida, the Maldives, Malta, Bahamas, Thailand, Truk Lagoon, Grenada, St Lucia, Cozumel, Cuba and Egypt. For 2022 and beyond, Palau, Bali, Raja Ampat, Ambon and Coron are in the planning stage.

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Seahorse Sunday in Barbados

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

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I had heard that it was possible to see racehorses relaxing and being washed down in the sea after a race day. It was on my Bajan bucket list. And so imagine my delight on our first day, when from the dive shop I saw them further along the beach. Camera in hand, I dash along the golden sand to ensure I was in with a chance to experience a whole other type of Sea-Horse! 

These magnificent beasts seem to love their Sunday swims, being cooled in the calm coastal waters. Their handlers wash them down, and even swim alongside them if they venture into deeper waters. They are there in the early morning before the day gets too hot, so if you want to experience this you need to be on the beach early. It is a magical way to start the day and, for me, a dream come true on our first day.

Of course, as divers, it is a whole other type of seahorse that we are usually pleased to encounter and Barbados has plenty of your “normal” seahorses too. If you can drag yourself away from the wrecks of Carlisle Bay (more on these in our next blog) and look around the coral bommies that are scattered on the white sandy seabed, then you may be lucky enough to find one of these enigmatic marine creatures.

Another great location to test your seahorse spotting skills is under one of the piers. Once you get your eye in, you can find them on many of the small sponge fingers at the base of the pier legs. Or even clinging to discarded items dropped from the boats above! 

For someone who loves both horses and seahorses, this was a real treat. To see the horses being bathed in the ocean at the very start of the day and then to spend two very different dives looking for their marine cousins. Magical. 


To find out more about visiting Barbados click here.

We dived with Barbados Blue and you can learn more about them here.

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The Stav: A wreck dive to fall in love with

Nick and Caroline Robertson-Brown

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We have dived the wreck of the Stavronikita in Barbados a number of times and it just seems to get better and better. Already one of the most popular dives in Barbados, it should be known as one of the best wreck dives in the Caribbean.

The Stav, as she is lovingly known, is over 100 m in length and sits in around 40m of water. Don’t let this depth put you off, however, as the masts sit just a few meters below the surface so there is plenty to explore in more shallow waters. This is perhaps what makes this wreck so special. It is big enough to take several dives to explore fully, but your ascent back to the surface follows the A-frame structure into the shallows and here life has fully taken hold on this artificial reef.

Sunk in 1978, nature has had time to make the Stav home. From the bow upwards every inch of the wreck is covered in corals and sponges. Beautiful gorgonians reach out into the blue, and when you shine a light on any given area the incredible colours are revealed. Schools of fish will suddenly appear, circling the mast, and then just as quickly swim off into the blue. Look more closely and you will discover small fish and critters that also call the Stavronikita home.

There are few wreck in the world with coral growth a prolific as it is here. The Stav seems to have been sunk in the perfect location. It is also testament to the local dive centers that the coral is in pristine condition. The wreck is a just short boat ride from shore, so as long as conditions and currents are good, it can be dived very easily.

On our most recent dive on the Stav we barely moved away from the mast structure. You can easily spend on hour or more here marveling at vibrant reef it has become. If you are not a photographer, bring a powerful torch to really experience the incredible colours of the marine life that lives here. You buddies will appreciate it too!

We would happily dive the Stav every day. But there are plenty more wrecks to explore in Barbados, as well as reefs, piers, coral conservation schemes and the rugged east coast. Watch out for more from Barbados coming soon.


Thank you to BTMI for making our trip possible. To find out more about visiting Barbados click here.

Thank you to Barbados Blue Watersports for looking after us so well and providing excellent models. 

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