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The Private, Exclusive Guide for Serious Divers Since 1975
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August 2018    Download the Entire Issue (PDF) Available to the Public Vol. 44, No. 8   RSS Feed for Undercurrent Issues
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An Interesting Way to Off-Gas in Bonaire

from the August, 2018 issue of Undercurrent   Subscribe Now

Bonaire has plenty of activities, from kayaking in the mangroves to kiteboarding on the southern shores, for non-divers and those needing a dive break . When I needed an afternoon off, I went caving . Bonaire has over 300 caves, made up of ancient coral reefs . Six of those are open for people to explore, so Dirk, from an outfit called Flow Bonaire showed me what the island looked like underground.

The first cave he took me to was just off the main road . We walked a few minutes over limestone and through thorny bushes to a small hole, which I climbed down into via a recently-installed aluminum ladder. Once inside the cavern, Dirk gave me a few lessons in geology, speleology and history -- I liked seeing the underside of brain coral and the various formations he pointed out.

Much of the cave was damaged and dry, but farther back, he pointed out new baby stalactites forming and resident bats . There were some low ceilings, but I knew if Dirk, at six-and-a-half feet tall, could get through without hitting his head, I would be fine. The cave was surprisingly warm, so it was strange when I resurfaced after an hour underground, and the intense sun actually felt cool.

To enter the second cave, I did a little technical climbing, with the use of a cable ladder and the contours of the cave wall . We descended underground for 50 feet until we came to a small pool of water. I was wearing a swimsuit, so I took off my shoes and slipped into what Dirk called "the kiddie pool." The 80-degree cave water was refreshing. I waded across to a little rock dam that I had to climb over. After duck-walking a few feet, I dropped down into a larger pool of fresh water. I put on my mask and snorkel, and followed Dirk around the edges, looking at the interesting formations just below the water's surface. We found the one type of fish that lives in the cave, and I laughed when a large cave shrimp jumped on to Dirk's back and started feeding on the dead top layer of his skin.

After swimming back to the main room, the threehour tour was over, and I had a better appreciation of Bonaire's geology and how the island was made.

Rates for three-to four-hour cave tours start at $50 per person (

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