I HATE THIS BITCH BECAUSE SHE WENT ON VACATION AND NOW SHE'S RUBBING MY NOSE IN IT
So, yeah. Bonaire. It's this tiny scrap of land 50 miles north of Venezuela. The island is 28 miles long and 7 miles wide and shaped like a boomerang. The land is arid, scrubby, and populated with cacti and nothing resembles the tropical vegetation we all think of when we imagine exotic islands. But it's this dry, scrappy land that gives the reefs a chance for bounty. Bonaire's reefs are so special that they are protected as a national park. As far as I know, there are no HOAs. I mean, come on! People paint their houses pink, aqua blue, yellow, and purple, sometimes all at the same time! All of this put together makes this island my second-favorite place on Earth.
The marine life is rich and diverse. Sharks? Never seen one. Fish? The reefs are positively teeming. Seahorses like the one above? All over if you know where to look.
One of the best dive sites on the island is known as "1,000 Steps". The steps that take you down to the shore, from which you enter the water, are built into the cliff face of the island and even though there are 63 steps down, it feels like 1,000 when you're climbing up with your scuba gear (and tank) on your back.
See the baby octopus? Right there? Squished in the coral? It was trying to nap and not at all pleased that I was hovering above it, taking pictures, blinding it.
This is the Windward/East side of the island. There are a few dive sites on this side of Bonaire, but the current is rough and you really need to be in shape. Maybe I'll try it in a few years. The locals like to frequent this side of the island for their late-night bonfires and they build funky shrines out of driftwood and garbage. It's like a cross between the Neverland Beach of Lost Things and a Caribbean Blair Witch Project. Can't decide which.
That bright blue thing? It's a Lettuce Sea Slug. No, you don't put it in your salad and no, you don't put salt on it to get it off the reef.
The friggin' iguanas are everywhere. When you drive down the road, it's like a messed-up version of Frogger. But that's OK. I get back in my own special way:
That's right. Iguana soup. Yummy! But look out! Little tiny iguana bones are waiting for you...
Bizarre Foods with Coal Miner's Granddaughter!
There are wild donkeys on the island, left over from the 19th-century salt industry. When cars came to Bonaire, the donkeys were set loose and are now feral. So, I was rather surprised when this one let me walk right up to her. She even sniffed my hand.
Ah, eels. They're my favorite underwater animal and I love drifting over a reef and seeing one poke its head out when you least expect it. These are gorgeous animals that flow over the reef, sinuous and quiet.
Did I mention the Bonaire salt industry? It's still going strong! The entire south end of the island is taken up with evaporation pools. The salt melting the snow on your highway or the gourmet salt on your table could be from Bonaire.
And as a fitting end to this photo essay, I give you the biggest lobster I've ever seen on any of my dives. This one was hiding under a coral shelf, 60 feet down.