The East Coast

The east coast of Bonaire equals currents and waves and wind.. and sharks. That’s what you hear about the east coast. Hmm.

You see amazing pictures on the east though. Huge schools of fish. Videos of manta rays scooping up the plankton-rich waters. And sharks. You rarely see them here in the west. In the east, they go with the rich ecosystem.

But the east side can be a challenge. If the wind is strong, then the waves make it hard to negotiate an entry. We’d heard the currents make it tricky too – too tricky to go on your own.

That’s where our friend Hilde told us she knew a man. His name is Bas. Bas runs his own personalised dive expeditions to the east.

Before we knew it, we were in the dinghy with all our dive gear at 7:30am. We parked Edna and waited for our ride – in the form of Patrice’s tours. Patrice was late. This cheered us all up. Well, except Jack who stressed we were supposed to meet Bas and Hilde in the supermarket car park in five minutes.

Patrice arrived in the nick of time though – and we were there. We followed Bas’ truck to a fishing village, Cai, at the edge of Lac Bay. This is the large lagoon on the south-east tip of Bonaire. The other side of the lagoon is where Delph and I saw that shark mooching near the windsurfing pontoon. We were on the murky side, with a wide channel for boats to go through. Sometimes a current, Bas explained. Nice.

Once we swam to the edge of the channel to begin our descent, it was no longer scary. We did see a little dead shark, very white, on the shallow rock bed. No obvious sign of its demise. Poor sharkey. We didn’t see any living sharks. Not because they weren’t there.

On our whopping 104 minute dive (in the end my dive computer gave up) Bas took us through different underwater habitats. This was Lu’s favourite part. A plateau of sea fans. A reef wall, coral outcrops. We saw schools of snappers, queen triggerfish, one of the most beautiful fish in the Caribbean, huge groupers, a whole wall of actual tarpon. Patrice said his favourite was the tarpon wall. They did sneak up on you. You’re swimming along, you look up and there’s a hundred.

Delph said her favourite part was coming back. She would say that. She’s the only one who still had half a tank of air. The rest of us scraped home. Patrice even ran out of air and had to leave early.

My favourite part was the octopi. Only one was in the open. As Bas slowed us to watch a rock, the rock transformed.

The rock before:

The rock after:

Once the octopus accepted us, it seemed to shrug and ballooned off. We shook our heads in wonder.

Jack’s favourite part? I think it was going with our new friend Hilde. And meeting Bas. They’re off for a special shark dive next week. Hmm. Might be cleaning Questie that day.

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