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Why QiGong On Bonaire?

Why QiGong On Bonaire?

How do you define wellness? How is it beneficial to all we do? Do you practice it?

We support all efforts to help divers enhance their skills and enjoy every underwater experience. But in our opinion, the most important factor is being healthy as this alone allows you to continue diving. So to assist your diving longevity and capability, we want to acquaint you with a skill that is twenty centuries old and tell you why it can benefit you today.

QiGong is a fundamental component of Traditional Chinese Medicine taught by Taoist masters for over 2000 years. It consists of integrating physical postures and graceful movements with coordinated breathing. The name of this system to aid in wellness is comprised of two Mandarin Chinese words: “qi” which means energy flow and “gong” which means skill or achievement.

QiGong (pronounced Chee Gong) has been practiced for many years throughout Asia to promote health, relieve pain, prevent disease, and prolong life. It is intended to cultivate body, mind and breathing by the relief of physical and mental tension, increase balance, stability, strength and improve circulation of body fluids through the gentle contraction and stretching of muscles in coordination with full breath cycles.

Just about anyone can practice QiGong and it’s especially beneficial for divers . It is applicable for a broad range of fitness levels, given its foundation on meditative posture, gentle movement, and breath which empowers you to play an active role in you own health, wellness and longevity. Studies in the United States, Korea and Australia have shown it reduces stress, alleviates depression and improves movement and strength.

The gentle exercises help facilitate energy flow, breathing and balance while calming and centering your emotions to navigate stress. It combines stretching, breathing, toning and strengthening for anyone at nearly any age and fitness level. Related to, but older than Tai Chi, QiGong is simpler to learn because the movement sequences are shorter, more repetitious and not as complicated.

What are the benefits of practicing QiGong for Divers?

  • As you develop more experience and skills, the calmer you are underwater. Calmness can help during changing diving situations, to regulate breathing and deal more effectively with unexpected developments that were stressful before.
  • QiGong’s benefits topside can easily transfer to enhance our well being underwater. Dealing with what causes stress in life is the same as in scuba – just in two different environments – a feeling of being isolated, forgetting our strengths and focusing on what we fear.
  • Mindfulness of QiGong can turn stress into a feeling of oneness, so, as we become more peaceful, we gain a feeling of being at one with the ocean enviroment.
  • Increased focus enhances our interaction with, or seeing amazing marine creatures, especially our favorites, such as turtles, sharks, nudis, etc.When we are happy, learning and experienced, we move more unhurridely and observe more.
  • Our breathing slows and deepens. As we learn to slow our breathing rate down to conserve air, we can enjoy the tranquil underwater world longer. Deep steady breathing also reduces the risk of a lung expansion injury.
  • Improves and maintains general fitness and stamina levels.Muscle tone and stength are also improved. The emotional benefits of diving are enhanced.
  • The soothing effects of the buoyancy of water mimic the Eastern techniques of QiGong meditation. Time spent underwater captivated by the sights of fascinating marine life, with only the sound of our own breathing, is a form of meditation.
  • Appreciation of color has profound affect on moods and emotions. Improved awareness of bright, intense colors, like those of the reef and its life, generally have a cheerful and soothing effect.

Suuz Martines has combined her love of the ocean with QiGong. She is a certified instructor who has studied, practiced and taught QiGong for 15 years. Her company is ScubaDoRag and to many divers and non divers she is known as CoCo Cheznaynay, secret agent of truth and style.

During the week of December 7-14, 2013, Suuz will be diving and leading QiGong wellness sessions at the Home of Diving Freedom, Captain Don’s Habitat, on the #1 rated dive destination in the Caribbean, Bonaire. There is no cost for participating and sessions will be held at times that don’t conflict with any boat dives.

A week of fun and wellness on Bonaire sounds good to us, but there are also special packages available for divers and non divers will be offered a free introduction to scuba. For more information click on the QiGong and Captain Don’s Habitat link.


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Destination Spotlight: Bonaire

Just 50 miles north of Venezuela and about 38 miles east of Curacao, lies a 24-mile long island with some of most beautiful and well protected dive sites in the world. We’re talking about Bonaire, of course. And if you haven’t experienced it for yourself just yet, this post might be the nudge you’ve been waiting for!

We’ve got the skinny on real 24/7 diving (we knew you’d love that), exquisitely preserved marine life, attractions and activities and some history for all you yesteryear junkies.

It just would have been wrong to keep this all to ourselves, so here it is, your virtual trip to beautiful Bonaire.

Diving Bonaire

As a result of submarine volcanic eruptions (millions of years ago, don’t worry!), Bonaire is the peak of a submerged mountain with sloping fringing reefs that are very close to shore. In addition, the dives are considered to be some of the best in the world. Bonaire has more #1 rankings from divers in the Caribbean including best shore diving for 20 years, best advanced/beginner and best macro/underwater photography.


We’ll tell ya!

Visibility is AMAZING: the underwater visibility is over 100 feet year-round and most of Bonaire’s 86 marked dive sites can either be accessed from the shore or are no more than 15 minutes away via boat. Since almost every dive is from a moored dive site, Bonaire’s appeal is from the newest to most experienced diver. So get your fins and cameras ready!

Over 360 different fish species: tons to see + clear waters, seriously what more could a diver ask for? From seahorses to turtles, nurse sharks, eels, angelfish, damselfish, peacock flounder and the not so occasional pelagic, the fish life is extensive. There are also tons of extensive colorful coral, sponges, crabs, mollusks and invertebrates. You’ll just have to see for yourself.

Truly unlimited diving: one of the best things about Bonaire is that you can pretty much get into a car and drive to one of about twenty dive sites and dive in. But most dive resorts (and there are many) allow you to dive when you want. Whether it’s 3am or noon, you can grab a tank and in one giant stride (or take the less climactic ladder) you’re moments away from the beautiful reefs and diving freedom. Want more? Then explore 80 dive sites from their custom dive boats.

Some popular dives include:

  • Forest (Klein Bonaire)
  • Invisibles
  • Margate Bay
  • Hilma Hooker
  • Hands Off (Klein Bonaire)

Oh! And for all our certified Nitrox divers, the resorts on the island offer Nitrox.

Green Life

Bonaire takes pride in being one of the world’s most beautiful treasures, which is why it’sdetermined to protect its natural resources. All of the waters surrounding Bonaire and the uninhabited Klein Bonaire or “Little Bonaire” have been named Marine Parks since 1979. To maintain and preserve the natural environment spearfishing and reef anchoring are strictly prohibited. Collecting seashells, sea fans, sand and any type of coral are also against the law.

Underwater environmentalist Captain Don Stewart (Captain Don’s Habitat’s founder) was also at the forefront of environmentally sound developments and reflected this love in his resort. This continues today from the low impact construction methods, to the use of solar water heaters and energy saving devices, as well as a state of the art wastewater treatment system, every detail has been designed to have the least possible impact on the local environment.


Bonaire is rich in beautiful fauna and flora, so it’s perfectly okay to want to spend some time outside the water too. So what can you do around an island that does not have a single traffic light?

Here are some awesome topside activities:

Windsurfing at Lac Bay: the peaceful, protected lagoon at Lac Bay is the perfect spot for windsurfing with clear, waist-deep water at a constant 15-25 knots per hour winds.

Flamingo Watching at the Salt Flats: THE place to watch flamingos, there are thousands, is at the salt ponds in the National Park at Goto Meer or at the southern end of the island at the solar salt works. Every day at sunset, the entire flock flies back to Venezuela for feeding. A beautiful not-to-be-missed sight.

Washington Slagbaai National Park: A truly natural and dramatic terrain which offers excellent snorkeling and subtle discoveries but don’t feed the Iguanas!

Kralendijk: The Capital City: Bonaire’s capital is a quite town of colorful, well preserved buildings. Only a few blocks in size, you can sightsee the island’s highlights such as: Fort Organje, Queen Wilhemina Park, Government House and the mini Greek temple-style fruit and veggie market. The city also offers a variety of bars and restaurants that offer authentic dishes that blend the best of European and the Americas cuisine and drinks.

Come visit the most diver rewarded destination in the Caribbean and you will discover why Bonaire has the highest percentage of diver repeat visitors.

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Maduro Dive at Captain Don’s Habitat for Wounded Warriors

One week out of the year, Bonaire welcomes a group of Wounded Warriors to their beautiful paradise. From August 18-25th wounded veterans and their significant others come to Bonaire to complete their final step in obtaining their dive certifications and, of course, enjoy the natural beauty Bonaire has to offer.

Who’s responsible for this great event?

Diving Equipment & Marketing Associations (DEMA)
Tourism Corporation Bonaire
Captain Don’s Habitat

First Hand Look

Our Operations Director, Barbara Seidel, was there for a few days to give us a first hand account of what went down.

Between trying Kadushi (a sweet Bonaire drink made from cactus), cocktail hours and the Managers Rum Punch Party at Captain Don’s, Barbara was able to find time to partake in what she was really there for, work! (We kid!)

The Veterans

This year Barbara returned to Bonaire for this great event and came back fully impressed and full of great stories of her time hanging out with the lively bunch of veterans.

They all had great stories, each one in his own way was memorable and in great spirits, she shared.

One of the veterans she recalls of the many extraordinary men and women was John, from Buffalo, New York, who had a wonderful attitude.

John’s Story

John was shot and injured so badly in Iraq, he was sent to Germany for treatment. His family was flown to the hospital on site because doctors didn’t think he was going to come out of the coma. But miraculously, he did.

What I really remember about him, besides his love to joke around, was that he had a wristband that had a bullet as the clasp. I later found out that the bullet was from the gun the Iraqi had shot him with. His buddy shot the man and took his gun. He then saved the bullet for John to keep, she recalled.

“The fact that John pulled through and is now enjoying life and constantly joking around with everyone shows what wonderful spirit he has. It was an honor to have met him.”

The Dives 

Oceanic played a really large role this year. They dished out red, white, and blue gear for the veterans. Once they were all geared up in their patriotic fins, masks and snorkels it was time to plunge!

One of the things we love about Captain Don’s Habitat is that you have options in how you choose to dive. Captain Don’s has three different boats to take you to your dive site OR you can dive in right from the resort with their divers-only baby dock. Just one stride off the pier and you’re already surrounded by coral and colorful wrasse and gobies.

How’s that for a diver’s dream?

The Experience

We just HAD to ask Barbara what her most memorable experience was on her trip.

Her answer?

Aside from experiencing the gorgeous green flash at sunset by the bar, she shared how impressed she was with everyone’s hard work and dedication to making these seven days the best days possible for these injured veterans.

Marie with TCB USA
Jack at Captain Don’s
Dan with Oceanic
Dave with DEMA

All the work they did to make a week in these men’s lives unbelievable was an honor to witness, she shared.

Get more on how Bonaire honors US military veterans here.

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Picture Yourself in Bonaire!

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!

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