Today was my first full day in Bonaire with the Tinsley family! I flew to Newark, New Jersey yesterday where I met the Tinsley’s to board our flight to Kralendijk, Bonaire. Woody and Danae have two charismatic children, Rowan and Bryson-Bell that are absolutely hysterical and full of life! I have never been diving in the tropics, nor have I ever been this close to the equator so I’m ecstatic to be here! Bonaire is known as “divers paradise” and the reefs are simply spectacular! Protected by the STINAPA Marine Park, the Bonaire reefs are well managed and in an overall healthy condition.
The Tinsley family and I are staying at Buddy Dive Resort for the annual Kids Sea Camp! Buddy Dive is directly on the coast and its location provides its guests with ample opportunities for world class shore diving. I’m here to assist Woody Tinsley with the Kids Sea Camp program! They provide safe, fun and educational vacations to children and their families. Over the course of the week, the children will be become Scuba certified depending upon their group. Some of the families are here to become open water certified, others to become advanced or adventure divers and one is here to become a rescue diver! The instructors are from around the globe but many are from the Netherlands, since Bonaire is governed as a territory of the Netherlands. I’ve been designated as the week’s photographer and assistant to shadow and help the various groups with their dives. Woody, Danae and I got organized for the week last night by sorting through all the paperwork, shirts and prizes for the week. Woody then gave an introductory speech to all the families for the week out on the beach. The resort is absolutely gorgeous and Buddy Dive’s buildings are all a bright Caribbean yellow color. They also have an outdoor cabana where the meals are served which backs up to a pool and a beach overlooking the ocean. This morning, I shadowed the younger group with Rowan and his instructor Michiel in the pool. Rowan was so funny trying to use the SeaLife camera and taking selfies underwater! I then joined the Adventure diver group on their first dive offshore. I couldn’t wait to get geared up and get into the water! It was vey different for me not have to wear a wetsuit while diving haha! The warm water of Bonaire is home to a wide array of tropical marine life and I was stunned by just how many fish species were present along the wall and under the dock. I followed the team out to the edge of the drop off, where the notorious Bonaire reef drops into the depths just a fee hundred feet offshore. I saw large heads of coral along the edge as well as countless fish species. From parrotfish to jacks there were species of all kinds here! I was particularly fascinated with the schools of blue tangs that drifted over the reef stopping to feed on algae along the way. The kids were enthralled with the marine life and the instructors worked hard to ensure that they saw as much as they could while also getting the proper training in. Woody and I went on a dive with a group of the parents in the afternoon and we ventured out to the reef. A group of squid, apparently now known as a squad, was hovering over the staghorn coral. They seemed unfazed by our presence and hovered gently in the water column before continuing onwards. We also saw curious trunkfish and schools of grunt while on the dive! We then quickly dried off and joined Danae and the kids for a sunset tour of the island. The ship was an authentic Dutch trading ship replica that moved via sail and the kids playing on the deck while the parents watched the sunset. I had the opportunity to speak more with Danae while on the tour too! It was a great first full day and I can’t wait to see what the rest of the week has in store for us!