Pack smart for your next scuba trip!

Packing too much for any trip is a problem that most of us have. Over packing on a scuba vacation means heavy checked bags and lots of stuff you probably don’t need. Let’s face it. If you are a scuba enthusiast you really don’t need much to be happy at the beach but the right equipment. Our family loves to dive and after a year around the world, diving in lots of different countries we have light packing down.

Pack a 2-3 suits, 2-3 shorts and a few t-shirts and a light sweater. One pair of good walking sandals. That’s all you need. Wear your heavy items if you are coming from a colder climate and shed them as you move south. Bring a hat and sunglasses! Relax, you’re on vacation! Leave the fancy clothes at home and enjoy your week at the beach.

Generally, I only pack a mask and snorkel of my own gear. I rent the BCD, regulator and fins. But for shore diving in Bonaire this past week we brought booties, dive socks and fins. I’ve attached a photo of my carry-on items that included everything but my fins. (I brought them on this trip but when we travelled for a year this was something we rented along with our other equipment.) I like dive computers and investing in your own is probably a good idea if you plan on doing a lot of diving.

Pack and use sunscreen! Nothing worse than seeing sunburnt divers  trying to put on wet suits.  Ouch! (I’m talking specifically to the Canadians…I know we are happy to see the sun – but put the sunscreen on!)

I’m a big believer in sharing the things that work. I have just discovered the Hoboroll by Gobi Gear for packing up all my “must have items” into carry-on.  This gem cinched it all up tight and made it so compact there was plenty of room for my camera and essential scuba gear in my carry-on! I could easily have used it as a bag alone if not for bulky fins.  Still, with it there was not much need for checked baggage! The best part is I used the hoboroll as a beach bag later in the week as it easily carried four towels and sunscreen and water bottles for us. Thanks Gobi Gear!

We love our simple but amazing little cameras. We use the Canon SX280HS (and it has a sweet underwater case) and a Go-pro. Both are small and easy to pack. True photographers might want bigger and better equipment but these do the trick for us.  We have some amazing photos from our travels that prove it!

http://gobigear.com/products-page

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*For more information on Bonaire see our article about diving Bonaire http://thewayfaringfamily.com/2014/04/04/bonaire-best-diving-in-the-caribbean/ or follow @Bonairetourism on Twitter

The Elusive Frogfish: Bonaire

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We finally saw the elusive and hard to find frogfish during our recent trip to Bonaire. They are much smaller than I imagined and this one was bright yellow. We also saw pink and brown ones. They are really quite amazing and Bonaire is a great place to see them! Most of the locals can tell you dive sites where they tend to live.

http://thewayfaringfamily.com/2014/04/04/bonaire-best-diving-in-the-caribbean/

http://thewayfaringfamily.com/2014/04/03/blue-light-night-dive-on-bonaire/

Bonaire in Pictures

If you have never been to Bonaire here is a little taste of the beauty above and below the sea.

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Bonaire: Best Diving in the Caribbean

Best diving in the Caribbean? Look no further than Bonaire.

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As a family of divers, we wanted to make the most of our Spring Break this year. With around 25 dives completed last year on our RTW adventure we had enjoyed a great start to recreational diving. We had visited many “bucket list” dive destinations, including Fiji, The Great Barrier Reef and Thailand. After returning home to Kentucky in May – almost 10 months had passed since we last strapped on the masks and fins. So as we planned for Spring Break this year we had several goals in mind. 1 – Go Scuba Diving, 2 – Dive someplace new and world class, 3 – Not spend days traveling to our destination.

After considerable research, Bonaire seemed a good choice. Located in the Dutch Caribbean – Bonaire is considered part of the “ABC islands” of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao. Located off the coast of Venezuela, the island has a population of about 15,000 people and remains connected to the Netherlands. Bonaire is less developed than Aruba and Curacao and has a rustic casual charm that is perfect for divers. Flights arrive directly from Atlanta into the capitol of Kalendijk.

Diving on Bonaire

Diving on Bonaire is easy and excellent. The water is warm, the visibility is great, and the reefs and marine life are valued. Bonaire established a marine park in 1969 and has protected the waters, reefs and marine life ever since. All divers (and fishermen, yachtsmen, snorkelers, or windsurfers) must complete an orientation and purchase an annual admission tag. The tag costs $25.00 for divers ($10.00 for snorkelers) and is good for one year.

A unique aspect of Bonaire diving is the plentiful shore diving. There are dozens of dive sites running the entire length of (the west side of) the island. Most dive shops provide package deals with unlimited diving. We rented a 4 door truck that enabled us to drive to any of the scores of marked dives sites, gear up, wade in and descend to the reef. Although, it was initially a little different than what we had done before (mostly guided boat diving) it does not take long to grow confortable with this type of diving. It really is safe, convenient, and fun. The freedom to choose a dive site and immediately go try it out is nice. Additionally, you can easily dive as much as you want – stopping in quickly to swap out empty tanks on the fly. Feeling less ambitious? Just jump in to the water at the “home reef” of your accommodations. We were literally 20 steps from our condo to the shore and Bari Reef – which contains the largest variety of fish anywhere in the Caribbean – over 300 species.

Boat diving is also available and we used the dive shop at our condominium to schedule multiple boat dives. This enabled us to visit tiny Klein Bonaire – a small island off the coast of Bonaire that is surrounded by reef.

What to see underwater?

The diving in Bonaire is excellent. The reefs are healthy with hard and soft corals, abundant sponges and LOTS of marine life. Highlights included green and spotted moray eels, unusual frog fish, trumpet and trunk fish, and large tarpon and barracuda. There is a noted absence of sharks here. If you are very lucky you may spot a Manta Ray or even a Whale Shark. Turtles and Spotted Eagle Rays are more common.

On Land

You can’t spend all your time underwater and when you are dry, Bonaire does not disappoint. The food is good, the main street is charming, and there are other activities. You can visit the salt processing facility and see the large pink ponds created in the desalination process. There is a flamingo preserve and donkey rescue habitat. Kite beach is great for a relaxing afternoon watching kite surfers and enjoying a burger from a food truck. Windsurfing is the sport of choice on the east side of the island near Lac Bay and there is a large National Park dominating the north end of the island.

Overall, Bonaire is an excellent choice for divers of any skill level. In the water and on dry land there is plenty to see and do and your week will fly by.

Blue Light Night Dive on Bonaire

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Blue Light Night Diving at Del Laman Resort on Bari Reef in Bonaire is a must for any diver! Bari reef alone has over 300 species of fish and is an excellent site. The site has more variety than any other location in the Caribbean. Night diving is always great. But this is something special!

Del Laman’s affiliated PADI dive shop, Bonaire Dive and Adventure, provides you blue lights and a special mask filter that allows you to see the underwater world in a new way. Guided by a great local dive master, who knows the reef, you can be assured you’ll be guided to exactly where there is lots to see!

As we descend into the water at dusk our blue lights barely emit enough light to make much of an impression. There is still enough natural light to see and we immediately come upon a free moray hiding in a coral bed.

We go deeper. About forty feet which is all you need in Bonaire to get a rich and mighty wall of coral. It begins getting darker and our blue lights begin to light up a world I never knew existed. Everything was in day-glo. Glowing like at a fluorescent party hosted by the Merry Pranksters.

The coral lit up gold, pink and green. Eels colors glowed bright. Anemones were bright pink and purple!
Giant fish follow your light to get a quick snack on smaller fish that get lit up. You can help and watch them hunt. This was an amazing dive and the kids loved it.

We spent about 40 minutes exploring the reef and the amazing variation and abundance of fluorescent colors visible there. It was like entering an underwater black light poster that had come to life. We were all having a great time.

Night diving is always an amazing experience but Blue-light diving at Del Laman is one of my top five “must do” dive experiences! I was just offered a glimpse at a secret world I never knew existed!

How to get the most “break” out of your Spring break

It’s that time of year again. It’s the week of Spring Break. If your house is anything like our house – the laundry is piled high, there is a list a mile long of things to do before we leave, the school has piled on homework to make sure the kids know they are serious, and everyone is in real need of a little sun, rest, and relaxation.

Here are a few tips to help get the most out of your week

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  1. Enjoy the trip. Whether by plane, train or car you can make the most of your travel time by enjoying the “traveling” part. Stop at a roadside attraction or sightseeing spot and take in the view.  Got a long layover? Bring cards or another portable game and play the time away.
  2. Go for a walk. Not a power walk. Not for exercise. Just for fun.  Soak in where you are.
  3. Buy from the local shops and restaurants. Nothing makes you feel like you are away from home than seeing the locals. You don’t have to be in another country to know this. Not only are you helping the local economy but you  get the benefit of  experiencing the community.
  4. Take pictures. Not just posed pictures. Get those casual moments and the awkward ones. Practice your photography.  You’ll love those pictures someday.
  5. Be unscheduled.  Even if you are on a cruise or at Disney where schedules dominate try to remember that you (and your kids) live in a schedule dominated world of work, school, sports, and other activities.  To really relax on vacation you need some “scheduled” free time.  Time that allows each person to discover what they want to do.  That makes everyone feel like they had a real vacation.

Encouragng families to live their travel dreams!

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