The growth of digital photography has changed everything, especially for recreational scuba divers (and Kodak shareholders). Seems like just a few years ago, underwater photography was a luxury. It cost a lot of money. The equipment was big and bulky. And, most photographers relied on trial and error when shooting print or slide film making it rather cumbersome to capture shots worth keeping.
But the days of the old Nikonos V film camera have given way to today’s simple, lightweight digital cameras. These days scuba divers have the option of high quality digital stills or videos something unheard of just 10 years ago.
If you’ve been to Bonaire, you’ve probably seen the license plates that proudly proclaim the island as a Diver’s Paradise. Well, it’s also an Underwater Photographers Paradise and for good reason.
Here is a few reasons why you could easily picture yourself booking an aquatic photo safari to the popular Dutch destination:
— Well Protected and Preserved Reefs: In 1979, Bonaire established the Bonaire Marine Park. The results of these forward-thinking officials can be seen each and every time you submerge below the crystal-blue waters. Bonaire regularly receives recognition for its healthy reefs and abundant marine life. As a photographer, you couldn’t ask for more. Whether you choose to go shallow or dive a little deeper, you can be assured of having something colorful and healthy to photograph. Frankly, Bonaire’s underwater terrain is the closest to a sure thing you’ll encounter in the entire Caribbean.
— Dive Right In: There aren’t many places in the world with shore diving that matches Bonaire. The island has been named Best Shore Diving in the Caribbean every year since 2004. You can often just leisurely walk right into the water and slowly descend on a reef. For photographers with large cameras and lights, it couldn’t be easier. The local environmental organization STINAPA helps make the island diver-friendly by maintaining bright yellow markers for every dive site on the island. It’s impressive and makes it easy to find a specific place to shoot.
— Divers WELCOME! Seems like some places you go tolerate scuba divers, but don’t always openly embrace them. That’s not the case on Bonaire. With more than 100 well-marked dive sites surrounding the 111 square mile island, it’s easy to find a place to explore. More importantly, chances are good that you’ll find someone ready and willing to talk about the diving.
The growth of underwater photography has led to an increase in the number of photo labs and operations on the island. Several of the popular dive resorts including Buddy Dive and Captain Dons Habitat actually have underwater photo labs and professionals on their properties. These UW shooters are always glad to offer their suggestions and ideas to fellow photographers. Frequently, photographers gather during the week to share their images -AND their stories.
— Plenty to Sea: At last count, there are more than 360 different species of fish that inhabit Bonaire’s clear waters. Looking to shoot (OK, photograph) a seahorse? You can find one in Bonaire. Do you want to ACTUALLY shoot something? You can do that also! Several dive operations now offer special supervised lionfish hunter programs and activities. If you want to build your UW photo library, there isn’t a better place than Bonaire to get started. You’ll leave with a collection of photos that will take you a while to sort at least until your next dive trip!
Veteran Bonaire visitors swear that the water is always clear, and for the most part, they are right. Bonaire has visibility near 100 feet almost any time of the year. Photographers know these conditions are rare and many book at least one trip to Bonaire each year. It is not surprising to see the same photographers year after year. Can you picture yourself in this underwater photographers paradise? You aren’t alone!