Image 01 Image 01 Image 01 Image 01 Image 01 Image 01

This is — salty tear — my very last post from Bonaire. The good news? I saved the best for last. Man am I going to miss blogging about this beautiful, lesser-known Caribbean isle!

Salt Pier Bonaire

But back to that salty tear bit. Salt and scuba go hand in hand on Bonaire. Salt is the island’s primary export, while scuba is the main draw for tourism imports. Nowhere do the two collide more epically than at , one of Bonaire’s most beloved dive sites.

The Salt Pier is — big reveal here — an active salt pier privately owned and operated by the Cargill Salt Company. Hence, you can only submerge when the dock is ship-free. Luckily, the day we set our sights there was all clear of big boats. Otherworldly landscapes, on the other hand? They were as far as the eye could see.

Salt Pier Bonaire

Salt Pier Bonaire

Salt Pier Bonaire

Salt Pier Bonaire

This was our second of two dives with my favorite dive outfit on the island, VIP Diving. Our dive butler Steven spoiled us again by setting up our gear and helping us enter the water as gracefully as a bunch of tank-strapped and wetsuit-clad young ladies could hope for.

VIP Diving Bonaire

Salt Pier Bonaire

We weren’t underwater more than a few moments before we simultaneously started frantically signaling “turtle!” to each other. He was a cutie, and in the shallow, clear waters, we got a great look for our swim together.

Salt Pier Dive Site

Salt Pier Bonaire

Diving Salt Pier

Salt Pier Bonaire

Talk about starting things off on the right fin! Still, nothing could have prepared me for the life that was waiting for us under the long steel octopus legs of the pier itself. If you narrowed your focus, tiny creatures burst alive from every cranny of coral. If you sat back to take it all in, infinity schools of yellowtail snapper pulsed slowly in all directions.

Salt Pier Bonaire

VIP Diving Bonaire

Salt Pier Dive Site

Salt Pier Bonaire

Normally I focus pretty heavily on shooting close up macro shots when I’m underwater. But Salt Pier begged for some wide angle attention. Still, old habits die hard, and I couldn’t stop myself from taking a closer look at some of what was below us.

Diving Salt Pier

Salt Pier Bonaire

Salt Pier Bonairethe trumpetfish shot on the left is possibly my favorite photo from all of Bonaire

Salt Pier Bonaire

Following the theme of all things small, I even spotted a baby lionfish! An invasive species in the Atlantic, many believe lionfish were introduced to this side of the world by aquarium hobbyists in South Florida who tired of their trade — another popular theory blames Hurricane Andrew, which reportedly smashed several shorefront aquariums (yup, also in Florida) containing the venomous predators. Genetically the DNA from lionfish from Rhode Island to Argentina ties back to just six lionfish!

Isn’t science wild? Unfortunately, in this case, it’s also tragic — the lionfish invasion is widely believed to be the Atlantic will ever face, and one of the top threats to biodiversity in the entire planet. In Bonaire, as in many Caribbean destinations, the dive industry is playing in reducing the lionfish population. At VIP Diving, you can actually enroll in a which includes a classroom session, practice time using marine park authorized spears, and two stab-happy training dives. At the end of the day, you’ll be handed a Lion Fish Hunter specialty card and your catches — you might consider packing for a few ideas on how to prepare them.

Salt Pier Dive Site

Salt Pier Bonaire

Oh, Salt Pier! I’m a creature of habit, and when I return to Bonaire someday, I think I will have a hard time pulling myself away from simply diving Salt Pier every single afternoon.

Salt Pier Bonaire

Diving Salt Pier

Because Salt Pier is a nice shallow dive, it was also our longest of the week. And good thing it was — I would not have been happy to call this one short due to air consumption.

Salt Pier Bonaire

Salt Pier Dive Site

Salt Pier Bonaire

Honestly, I’m not sure how to describe my emotions on this dive other than to just type like a billion exclamation points with a few disbelief-indicating question marks thrown in for good measure.

Salt Pier Bonaire

Diving Salt Pier

Diving Salt Pier

Salt Pier Bonaire

Salt Pier Dive Site

Salt Pier Bonaire

Salt Pier Bonaire

When it was finally fine to return topside, we swam slowly back towards shore. I can’t say I was ready for the dive to be over (or, you know, to leave Bonaire!) but an omen quickly appeared to remind me I’d be back someday. Another turtle — I like to think he was the buddy of the first one we hung out with — came over to say goodbye, accompanied by a little boxfish friend. The dive came full circle, just like I hope to do with this destination someday.

Diving Salt Pier

Salt Pier Bonaire

Back on land, we were fired up! How could we not be? We’d just spent an hour being blown away by Bonaire. And we did it together. I couldn’t have asked for better dive buddies than this crew of witty, hilarious and talented women — in fact, you can read Angie’s account of this dive , and Kristin’s version . And while I had to bid ayo to Bonaire, luckily I still had a few days to stave off separation anxiety from my girls.

Because next, we were saying bon bini to Aruba!

Salt Pier Bonaire

VIP Diving Bonaire

Salt Pier Bonaire

So, who’s planning a trip to Bonaire?

All underwater photos in this post were taken with the  and its . See a full list of my photography gear here. Many thanks to Bonaire Tourism for hosting me. As always, you receive my honest thoughts, full opinions and poorly written jokes regardless of who is footing the bill.

3-devide-lines
YOU MIGHT ALSO ENJOY
64 Comments...
  • Shaun's Cracked Compass
    January 14 2016

    Spot on with the trumpetfish! I just want to try and cheer the guy up..

    Your photos are always so amazing, I hope you do make it a ‘thing’ soon and show others the pic-ninja skills.
    Shaun’s Cracked Compass recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 14 2016

      Ha, poor trumpetfish — they always look SO stressed! And I’m actually in the process of working on my first e-guide… maybe if it goes well an underwater photography guide will be next!

  • Mary B
    January 14 2016

    I always love your fish close ups, but I am REALLY loving those wider shots with the pier pillars and all the fish – really beautiful!

    One of my best friends from college is from Curacao so I don’t know if she’d let me live it down if I made it to Bonaire before I visited her home island… but maybe I need to make a multi-island trip!
    Mary B recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 14 2016

      Definitely! Actually, the ABC islands are some of the few in the Caribbean which are actually really easy to hop between. Sometimes it’s a nightmare getting from one island to the its neighbors — and requires flying all the way back to Miami or elsewhere to connect. But Aruba Bonaire and Curacao are really well connected, making it easy to check off a few at a time!

  • Dominique
    January 14 2016

    I keep repeating myself, but your underwater photography is really something to aspire to! I can’t wait to explore Bonaire in five weeks! Diving at Salt Pier is high on my list of things to do 🙂
    Dominique recently posted..

    • And those editing skills, too! I tried to get Meihoukai to teach me this summer but it seemed like a whole lot of work ha 😉

      • Meihoukai
        January 14 2016

        Oh man, the FREE TIME I could have back in my life if I could stop being so obsessive compulsive about my photo editing. I have a problem.

        • Ha! But the outcome is worth it =)
          Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

          • Meihoukai
            January 17 2016

            And I mean not to brag but I do some of my best tv watching (“listening”) while editing photos.

    • Meihoukai
      January 14 2016

      Wow! Bonaire in five weeks! Did I know that was happening? If so — short term memories are great because they allow you to get excited about things over and over, ha. You’re going to have so much fun!

  • I’m still gutted both of my cameras picked this particular dive to die on, but so glad you captured such spectacular underwater imagery as always! These are some of my favorite dive shots of yours ever. *slow clap*
    Kristin @ Camels & Chocolate recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 14 2016

      Oh man, I totally forgot about that! But you still managed to pull together an amazing post. In fact — headslap — I meant to link to both you and Angie’s in this one. Going back to edit now!

  • Ron Dodson
    January 14 2016

    I note the pink color of the salt evaporation ponds. Did they tell you about this pink color? It is caused by a microorganism called halophilic bacteria. A neat side benefit is that this is what gives flamingo’s who feed in the evaporation ponds their beautiful pink color.

    • Meihoukai
      January 14 2016

      I do remember hearing something about that while I was down there, Ron, but couldn’t recall the details. Thanks the heads up!

      • Ron Dodson
        January 15 2016

        By the way Meihoukai, I spend most of my year in the Albany, NY area and I very much enjoy reading about the exploits of someone from this area. Good luck!

        • Meihoukai
          January 16 2016

          Thanks Ron! Always fun to hear from someone reading from the Capital Region!

  • Amy | Toothbrush Travels
    January 14 2016

    I think this may be my favourite diving post.
    Seems like the perfect dive and SO much to see!
    Can see why you didn’t want to leave… xo
    Amy | Toothbrush Travels recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 14 2016

      Thanks Amy! Might be one of my favorites ever too. Easy, breezy, alongside amazing dive buddies, and absolutely awe-struck!

  • Thuc
    January 14 2016

    These are my favourite diving photos that I’ve ever seen! The one of your friend with the goPro and the one one photo above that, with the snapper wrapped around the pole, are so cool.
    Thuc recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 14 2016

      Thanks Thuc! I love the way the schooling snappers move like one big mega-organism. You just have to feel it for yourself.

  • tila
    January 14 2016

    amazing!!! always wanted to go diving!
    tila recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 14 2016

      Bonaire is the perfect place to learn 🙂

  • Rika | Cubicle Throwdown
    January 14 2016

    Aaaaaaamazing!!! So many fish! I don’t blame you for wanting to use ALL the exclamation marks. This looks like a stunning dive.
    Rika | Cubicle Throwdown recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 14 2016

      Maybe Bonaire is your next spot, Rika 🙂 Can’t say there’s nightlife that compares to El Boske, but you’d be spoiled for amazing diving!

  • Dan Perry
    January 14 2016

    Really great photos! I love all of the colorful wildlife, but your black and whites add a sense of spookiness that I also really enjoy. Enjoy Aruba!
    Dan Perry recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 14 2016

      Thanks Dan. I find black and white is a great way to “save” underwater images that are a little funky in the color-balance department.

  • OMG sea turtles! 😀
    Amanda | Lesson Plans & Layovers recently posted..

  • Angie Away
    January 14 2016

    You captured this dive so well – both photographically & in words. It was one of my top five dives ever and I love that it was with you gals! I can’t wait to do it again!
    Angie Away recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 14 2016

      I know! We need to pick our next dive destination 🙂

  • Erin
    January 14 2016

    I’m going to read up on this lion fish! lol

    • Meihoukai
      January 14 2016

      I find them fascinating! They are definitely a constant topic of conversation in the Caribbean, so it’s a good thing too 🙂

  • Ijana
    January 14 2016

    You’ve convinced me to visit Bonaire! I’d only ever heard of the place once or twice in passing before, so I’m glad you wrote so much about it or I never would’ve thought to visit.

    • Meihoukai
      January 14 2016

      Thanks awesome to hear, Ijana. Hope you love it as much as I have!

  • Ashley
    January 15 2016

    These photos are stunning, Meihoukai! I especially love the turtle shots, and the small fish near the purple coral. I visited Bonaire briefly on a cruise and loved it! It’s one of the few Caribbean islands I definitely want to revisit.
    Ashley recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 16 2016

      Yeah, the Caribbean is an area that is just starting to call to me. I have quite a few islands on my wishlist. Trinidad for Carnival, Dominica for hiking and diving, Saba for small island marveling, etc. I can’t wait to explore more!

  • Maria del mar
    January 15 2016

    I already miss being on the beach!

  • Marni
    January 15 2016

    As always, your photos are beyond stunning! They have me longing to teleport there asap. I particularly love the turtle buddies. It’s always nice to have a welcoming and a farewell committee!
    Marni recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 16 2016

      Indeed, especially an underwater one 🙂

  • Travel and Visit
    January 15 2016

    Your Canon PowerShot G7X is performing excellent, indeed!
    Travel and Visit recently posted..

  • Marie
    January 16 2016

    Amazing pics! We leave for Bonaire in 6 days! Snorkelers, not divers but certainly encountered divers while snorkeling at the Salt Pier last year ? Amazing place!!

    • Meihoukai
      January 17 2016

      Awesome, Marie! Did you see my post on Bonaire for Non-Divers? 🙂 Enjoy your trip!

  • Kay
    January 16 2016

    Thank you for the memories. Have have visited Bonaire 15 times and I am always in Awe! I have have a special love for this place. So happy you were able to let me be there too?

    • Meihoukai
      January 17 2016

      That’s beautiful Kay, I love hearing when people have such a special connection to a certain place. Thanks for coming along with me on this one 🙂

  • Jessica
    January 16 2016

    I absolutely love this post! Such amazing pictures in the water 🙂 And thanks for giving me the name of the boxfish, I was looking for that name since I saw one in Belize!
    Jessica recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 17 2016

      Oh man, I love those little guys so much! They look so delicate and crunchy… if that’s not a weird way to describe a fish 😉

  • Katherine
    January 17 2016

    Always love looking at your pictures ! Thanks for sharing 🙂
    Katherine recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 17 2016

      Thanks Katherine! I love sharing them — your feedback means the world!

  • Jade
    January 18 2016

    You absolutely saved the best until last! These photos are so beautiful.
    The desire to get back under the surface is now a need.

    • Meihoukai
      January 19 2016

      I feel you — considering where I’m living right now it’s been WAY to long since I went diving.

  • Your underwater photography never ceases to amaze me! Also, as it’s -15 today in Chicago, nice to have some warm images to look at, thanks!

    • Meihoukai
      January 19 2016

      WOW that’s cold. I can definitely see why right now is high season for the Caribbean — no one wants to be home!

  • Cindy
    January 19 2016

    Hey Meihoukai! I love your photography and I just went to your obsessions page but your Canon G7 X wasn’t listed. I’m headed to Costa Rica soon and was wondering if you thought the Canon Powershot s100 and it’s housing would be a great alternate for underwater photos? I currently have an SLR and I love it, but I don’t trust the underwater “housing” for it. What is your opinion? Thank you! -PS. I read your blog on the daily, love it.

    • Meihoukai
      January 20 2016

      Whoop! You’re right, I still haven’t updated since upgrading from the s100 to the g7X. The g7X is definitely the superior of the two when it comes to image quality and zooming capabilities, but the s100 served me well for many years! I saw whatever fits your budget will be just perfect. Hope that helps!

  • Julie
    January 20 2016

    Hello 🙂 lucky you, These photos are so beautiful, what was your stuff to do this amazing shot
    Scuba diving is the best hobby at all
    Julie recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      January 21 2016

      There are links to my camera equipment on my obsessions page. Thanks for stopping by!

  • Chris
    February 29 2016

    This post is just what I needed.

    Sadly I realised the other day that it’s been 12 months since our last dive!

    Time to start exploring some options in the frigid waters around Melbourne!! 🙂
    Chris recently posted..

    • Meihoukai
      March 3 2016

      I bet there are some hidden gems to discover… good luck!

  • Bill and Bunny
    June 23 2016

    On island for two weeks now and absolutely love Salt Pier (and the whole island). Seriously considering becoming year-round residents. Your pictures are brilliant and, oh yes, VIP is the outfit to dive with, gear up with, and just hang out with.

    • Meihoukai
      June 24 2016

      So glad to hear you’ve loved Bonaire, Salt Pier, and VIP Diving! I don’t blame you for considering a permanent move!

  • Dominic
    December 8 2016

    Awesome photographs. I am stunned. Makes me really want to go and dive Bonaire :o)

    • Meihoukai
      December 11 2016

      I’d go back in a heartbeat. I will someday!