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The Scuba Genies head to Bonaire! Part 2 of 2

The Scuba Genies

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In the second 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. Missed Part One? Read it here!

There is another dive we just must share with you and one that we can confidently call a ‘Dive of a Lifetime’. There were 12 of us in our group, and collectively we have logged in excess of 8000 dives in some very special places around the world. And every one of us was totally blown away by this dive! A fellow diver, by way of the Girls that Scuba FB group mentioned that if the timing was right, an ostracod dive was one not to miss. A link to an online article noted that 2 to 5 days after a full moon and 45 minutes after sunset, was the best time to observe the mating ritual of these tiny creatures. And only if they have not been exposed to light of any kind. That meant no streetlights and no torches. NO TORCHES!

We lucked out and were in Bonaire during a full moon and planned our Ostracod dive carefully. One the fifth night after the full moon we headed south to Red Beryl, a site we had previously been to and knew the terrain. We were in awe of the soft coral forest at the site, and this was the perfect environment for the ostracods. As the ‘show’ only lasts about 20 minutes, we entered the water while it was still light and left a beacon on the shore to help guide us after the dive. We gently finned out over the sand and hovered above the soft coral at around 8 metres as the dark crept in. Little sparks of light started to appear in ones and twos, and then just as we had hoped, chains of these tiny creature were all around us, in hundreds and then thousands! Everywhere you looked, the ostracods were rising to the surface, like underwater fireflies linked together flashing their bioluminescence one after the other, giving us nature’s most amazing firework show! The only way I can explain it is seeing thousands of Tinkerbells all at once! 20 minutes later, it was all over so we turned on our torches and headed slowly back to the shallows, happy to find a sleeping turtle, scorpion fish, more octopus and lots of little creatures.

As our holiday inevitably came to an end, we chose a site within minutes of Buddy’s called The Invisibles. A highly recommended dive site, we parked up alongside the beach, kitted up and walked down the rock beach and into the water. 95 minutes later, we walked back up the beach with memories of green turtles feeding, free-swimming moray, immense sponges and a plethora of anemones with their tenant critters – shrimp, crabs, and all things fascinating. And back in the sandy shallows we didn’t know where to look! A golden spotted snake eel, juvenile angel fish and a box crab that scuttled across the seabed before vanishing into the sand in a finger-click.

In summary, the diving here was very special – it truly lives up to its reputation of being one of the best destinations to visit, and in fact, over-delivered when it came to our expectations from the Caribbean. To mix it up, in addition to shore diving we also scheduled 4 days of boat diving right from the dock at Buddy’s. We were able to explore all around Klein Bonaire and reach some of the more difficult shore-entry sites including Karpata and 1,000 Steps. We would recommend this highly if only to get away from a daily dose of sand in your boots!

Buddy’s is a full-service dive operation, offering quality accommodation, good food, and the dive centre is as slick an operation as we have ever seen or experienced. The drive-thru tank station is genius for shore diving, the house reef is easily accessed, and the boat diving from the dock on one of their 5 purpose-built dive boats is organised perfectly. Catering for newbies all the way through to technical and rebreather divers, Buddy’s delivers it all, and very well. The staff are fun, highly professional, and the whole set-up is geared to making a dive trip work without any fuss. Even the shop is very well stocked with kit, spares, forgotten stuff and replacements for broken things!

Importantly, Buddy’s is also a supporter and enforcer of the Marine Park protection rules – the whole of the island is surrounded by a protected marine reserve, so no touching, no gloves, no pointy-sticks. Turtle nesting and coral regeneration programmes are evident, and given the fantastic health of the reefs, the protection initiatives and regulations work.

Would we go back? Without any hesitation, and repeatedly!

Bonaire delivered the goods. Great diving, great accommodation and freedom to dive wherever and whenever you want – especially with the tanks on the house reef available 24/7. A perfect destination for dive clubs and groups as the 3–bedroom apartments really work.

Bonaire is exceptional value for money. There are very few places on this planet where you can dive so much for so little in a great marine environment.

Key Facts:

  • Getting there: Flights with KLM to Bonaire depart from any major UK airport via Amsterdam. From London Heathrow it was a 12-hour total flight time. An extra 23kg bag also costs less than £90 return if booked in advance.
  • Air temperature: Tropical – average daily temperature throughout the year is 31’, reasonable rainfall (passes quickly) and the sea breezes are most welcome!
  • Water temperature: 28-30°C. A 1-3mm full suit is recommended to protect from scratches and stings and to keep the sand out.
  • Visa requirement: No tourist visa was required, but under COVID there are protocols in place. See https://www.bonairecrisis.com/en/travel-to-bonaire/ for the current requirements.
  • Currency: US Dollar with ATMs easily found, and all major credit cards are accepted.
  • Electricity: 120V with American 3- and 2-pin plugs. Our US/UK converters worked without issue

Accommodation: You mention Bonaire and Buddy Dive Resort is the first place people mention. Only 10 minutes from the airport makes for a super simple transfer. Multiple room types, all with kitted out kitchens and air-conditioned bedrooms. Two pools, two restaurants, full-service dive shop and staff always around to answer questions or lend a hand.

Diving: With both world class shore and boat diving available, warm and clear water, abundant marine life, coral and sponges like you’ve never seen, what more could you ask for?

Price Guide: Expect from £1500 per person based on two sharing for 7 nights with bed and breakfast. Unlimited shore and house reef diving, Nitrox and car rental all included. Return flights and transfers also included.

Additional costs:

  • STINAPA Marine Park passes: $45 per calendar year. We purchased ours online prior to departure and carried a copy in the vehicle when shore diving.
  • Buddy Dive Vehicle Insurance: $19 per day of vehicle rental for one named driver for the duration of your stay. For an extra $5 you can name another driver for a day. This was added to the room bill, and we split the cost with the rest of our apartment.

Our Advice: Stay longer…. 10 days would be the perfect amount of time in our opinion to get the most out of the shore and boat diving. And with numerous flights during the week to choose from, any duration can easily be arranged.


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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