What Is It About Karpata?

The last time we went to Karpata dive site, the sea became unexpectedly large. We had to motor back the seven nautical miles to the marina mostly with the bung out of the dinghy. Normally if we drive with the bung out, we’d sink. Coming back from Karpata that day, the breaking waves were making us sink faster than removing the bung. Removing the bung it was then! I had to cling to the front of Edna to give her extra forward weight so the waves didn’t push us upright, while Jack manoeuvred through the wash. At the end, he had a twitchy back and I suffered ripped skin on my fingers. We left Karpata alone after that.

The thing is, Karpata is a really beautiful dive. It has the same drop-off as most of Bonaire; the dramatic reef wall. This is a wall though, with a difference.

The first thing you see are the underwater ridges. A huge blanket of rock being shook out makes up Karpata. It feels like mountain climbing – going down. And the dive site is in the north of the island – in a region populated only by towering cacti. This clean current at Karpata combines to create deep blue conditions. The corals curl themselves onto the slopes.

We were like a group of parachutists, with tanks on our backs. Me and Jack and the girls and Patrice. Patrice’s tours had just turned into Patrice’s dive tours. Not that he minded. We are finding this out about Patrice. Everything is easy. Drive, not drive. Dive, not dive. Patrice doesn’t mind.

It’s good he doesn’t mind too, because he didn’t catch the Ormerods at their best yesterday. As hard as Karpata is as a boat dive (in a little dinghy), it turned out to be challenging to enter and exit as a shore dive too.

There are great facilities. You can get changed, put your dive gear together under the trees in the shade, alongside a plague of non-biting midgies. The fun starts when you make your way down stone steps and onto a tiny coral beach. The waves swell onto the shore, making their way past a concrete platform. The truth is that it wasn’t too bad. It was just different. And we’re not always good at different.

We sounded something like this:

‘You took my dive weights down to the beach instead of Lulu’s.’

Huh? ‘You pointed at your weights when you told me they needed taking down to the beach.’

‘No I didn’t.’

Eye roll. No, of course you didn’t.

And: ‘Lu, why are you putting your weights into your sister’s jacket?’

‘I am?’

‘Yes, you are. Delph, can you carry your weights down?’

‘No.’

We inched our way to the concrete platform, where Patrice had been waiting for us. Not that he minded. Ten minutes later, we were finally ready.

We had the best time diving. Until we came back up again, and had to inch our way back to the shore. Maybe Karpata is just too nice a dive. Underwater is so calm and spiritual, the return to air becomes a disappointment. Wait. Is that possible?

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