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Bonaire is synonymous with diving, with more than 60 marked shore dives off the mainland and 26 lining the small isle of Klein Bonaire off the mainland's western coast. The entire reef system has been protected under the Bonaire National Marine Park since 1979, and, as a result, the water boasts some of the Caribbean's healthiest sea life.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Unless you dive off the eastern 'Wild Side' (where rough conditions typically require boat access), you won't encounter larger species like rays and big turtles as often as the smaller stars of the aquatic world, like this spotted moray eel.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Wreck dives are also quite common. The 130-foot-long Hilma Hooker comes into view around 50 feet below the water's surface, her mast tilted into the sea floor and an extensive reef carving up from her hull.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The Hilma Hooker was a drug-running boat when it was captured off the coast of Bonaire in 1984, rumored to have more than 25,000 pounds of marijuana when boarded.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Jellyfish, like this one spotted off the western coast of Bonaire, typically stay 10 to 15 feet below the surface and are, thus, easily observed from below.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The hairs that line the tentacles of sea anemones emit a powerful toxin that's harmful to fish and crustaceans, which are paralyzed before being pulled into the creature's mouth. The only aquatic creature that's immune? The clown fish (think Nemo), which you won't find in the Caribbean.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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This seahorse was almost invisible in the tall sea grass that grows in the shallows of a dive off northern Bonaire, its tail wrapped around a hearty stalk as the creature swayed in the current.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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One of two pier dives on the island, the Salt Pier is a working dock for boats that ferry the island's salt to places like the United States, where it's used to winter-treat streets. Unlike other shore dives, you're required to go through a dive operator and obtain permission from the salt company. But it's worth the modest hassle.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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Two squid, part of a larger school, cruise along the western shore of Bonaire.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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The other pier dive—Town Pier—can be explored only by night. As with the Salt Pier, you must dive with a tour operator, and, due to security risks, you must also provide your passport number. But it's worth the small effort; as the working pier boasts sea turtles, tarpon, sea horses, frog fish, and brilliantly colored coral like these tube corals—a striking variety given you seldom descend below 20 feet.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
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This small flamingo tongue shell is evidence of the smaller charms found in Bonaire's reef system.  
Credit: Nathan Borchelt 
 
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