Learning to Dive in Bonaire

bonaire caribbean diving


Getting Scuba Certified in Bonaire


I let out a deep exhale and felt my body float softly towards the bottom of the ocean. A deep inhale then lifted me up again as if I was a yoyo attached to an energetic child.

“Just breathe normally.”

My instructor’s words danced around in my mind as I watched a flat, white bottom feeder scurry below me, with eyes as wide as mine. The toughest part about diving — besides getting past my fear of dying — was controlling my buoyancy.

Diving in Bonaire, Caribbean
Was I really diving? I could barely believe it felt this easy to breathe underwater. All my anxieties about panic attacks while learning to dive melted away as I began to relax, forty feet below the surface.

You might think someone like me would feel at ease in the ocean, being a regular surfer and spending a considerable amount of time in oceans around the world. Well, that’s not the case for me. I’m pretty terrified of the ocean, yet strangely attracted to it. The thought of breathing underwater scares the crap out of me. Over the years, every time I announced that I wanted to get my scuba certification, eventually lead to putting it off — just a little bit longer.

Learning to Scuba Dive in Bonaire

I arrived at Buddy Dive Resort in Bonaire with a new group of friends who all had previous diving experience. I was the newbie and I secretly wished for another non-certified marine enthusiast in my group. The last thing I wanted was to get thrown into something I wasn’t ready for.

There was talk of me joining the rest of the group for a boat dive (on my first certification dive) and that sent my anxiety into overdrive. I was so nervous I thought I might throw up. I was already imagining the worst: I wouldn’t be able to get to the surface in time, I would run out of air and panic, or my lungs would explode because I forgot to breathe. I know, I’m dramatic.

Learning to Scuba Dive in Bonaire
On my first morning in Bonaire, I met my Buddy Dive Resort instructor, David, who put the kibosh on that idea immediately. (Thank you, David!) First, I needed to complete the pool exercises and then I could move on to four shore dives, with an instructor. It was clear this was a resort that followed the rules and their first priority was safety.

The pool exercises made me feel much more comfortable about handling things if something did go wrong underwater. Each exercise — like filling up my mask with water and switching regulators under the water — seemed relatively easy. Granted, I was only in four feet of water with no distractions, but it gave me the assurance I needed before my first shore dive the next day.

Learning to Scuba Dive in Bonaire
From the second I jumped off the dock at Buddy Dive Resort that next morning, I was hooked. I deflated my BCD and joined the world of slow motion. The reef was a tiny little world of its own and in every coral head there was another surprise. Schools of fish swam near me as if I wasn’t even there.

The sea creatures kept my mind so busy that I didn’t even realize I was diving at nearly fifty feet.I’ve heard horror stories from other divers about their first experience in the water — where instructors left them to figure things out on their own or put them in situations only for advanced divers. I’m so thankful I had the opposite experience. I felt extremely relaxed and confident in my instructor’s abilities.

I dove again that afternoon and twice the next day to finish my certification. On my fourth day in Bonaire, I geared up for my first two-tank boat dive near Klein Bonaire. The reef near this island is said to be some of the best in Bonaire.

While all of my dives were unique — I saw plenty of puffer fish, lion fish, tarpons, and several eels — my favorite experience under the water in Bonaire was getting up close to these four Caribbean reef squid.

Caribbean Reef Squid in Bonaire, Dutch Caribbean

Bonaire will always hold a special place in my heart and I can’t wait to head back for another dive trip!

Plan Your Trip to Bonaire

After traveling consistently for over 10 years, we’ve come to trust and rely on a few websites to help us find the best deals on flights and accommodation.


  • Going is the first place we check when searching for cheap flights. If you sign up for their email alerts, you’ll receive flight deals at up to 90% off. I have traveled all over the world using their flight deals.


  • Booking.com offers savings on hotels, apartments, and villas in 80,000 destinations worldwide. You can browse hotel reviews and find the guaranteed best price on hotels for all budgets.


As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases. I’m also a member of other affiliate programs. For more info please read my Privacy Policy

Similar Posts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *


  1. Edgar Powell says:

    Diving in such a water is great way to enjoy your holiday…and very good pictures.

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      Thanks, Edgar!

  2. Since getting my Open Water certification a year ago I’m completely hooked on diving. Since you’re a fellow ocean lover I’m sure you are too! If you’re working with a reputable dive shop the instructors are almost always really great and make things very simple and easy. Congratulations on your certification!

    1. Ordinary Traveler says:

      Thanks, Laura! I haven’t dove since Bonaire (which was only a couple of months ago) but I’m diving in 3 days in Hawaii and I can’t wait!