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Roatan vs bonaire snorkeling

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New Jersey
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Roatan vs bonaire snorkeling

I have been to Roatan and the snorkeling was amazing. However i keep hearing that Bonaire is also great. Can anyone who has been to both compare. I am interested in easy water entry, little to no current and large variety of fish. Also how do these 2 places compare to maui?

Menlo Park...
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1. Re: Roatan vs bonaire snorkeling

Maui: occasional coral gardens with low corals (lettuce coral, cauliflower coral, finger corals), no horn corals (elk horn, stag horn), no sponges, no soft coral. Good fish density. Large green turtles occasionally. Whale noises in season. Water temp in whale season 75.

Bonaire: absolutely no beach, easy entry swimming off rocks or concrete piers, coral in very rough shape, little soft coral , good fish density, jellies, sharks, Winter water temp 81. Described as decent by people who haven't been anywhere else. Did I mention absolutely no beach?

Roatan: best hard and soft coral and sponge density in the hemisphere, good fish density, miles and miles (upwards of 100) of continuous reef crest. Several species of endemic corals and fish. No sharks. Lots of eagle rays (the coolest thing in the sea) Something new every day. Increasing numbers of hawksbill turtles, winter water 81.

If you have been snorkeling in Roatan to any extent you will be very disappointed in Bonaire. The only thing that Bonaire has to distinguish itself is well organized shore diving.

New Jersey
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2. Re: Roatan vs bonaire snorkeling

Dhauk it just seems that some of the pictures people post of snorkeling in bonaire it seemed like so many more different variety/species of fish then in roatan. Maybe because I more or less just stayed on west bay beach. Perhaps I would need to venture out more to see more.

Juneau AK
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3. Re: Roatan vs bonaire snorkeling

My two cents as an avid snorkeler who has been to many places in the Caribbean and who has done extensive research on snorkeling locations:

I have been to Roatan but not Bonaire, but have been to Curacao, right next to Bonaire. I don't think there is any way that you would be "very disappointed" in Bonaire. I have talked to many people, and have read many reports that attest to the good snorkeling in Bonaire. The people I know at TropicalSnorkeling.com rate it pretty high:

tropicalsnorkeling.com/bonaire-snorkeling.ht…

Personally, I thought the snorkeling in Roatan was very good, but did not stand out as being especially better than some of the other places I have been. I agree that the fish diversity and abundance could have better, at least at the spots I snorkeled, which were mostly around the West End. I was in Roatan in 2006.

People often ask me what is my favorite snorkeling location, and I always answer that I have yet to find it. Every place in the Caribbean I have been to has been good, and they each have their pros and cons. Belize may have been the best, but there isn't much off-the-beach snorkeling, which I (and most snorkelers) prefer.

Menlo Park...
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4. Re: Roatan vs bonaire snorkeling

to be honest it really is difficult to objectively answer questions about the "best" anything, unless the questioner qualifies the question with precisely what they are looking for. So I like Roatan because of the corals and sponges which give so much color And I appreciate the fact that there are few bare spots on the reef, which is so different from other highly rated spots. On my last trip I was fascinated with 2 kinds of fish I've never seen anywhere before. How can that be? But WEst Bay can offer few fish sometimes because of all the snorkelers: the fish just go somewhere else. In spite of the lack of a lot of coral, I like Maui because where else can you listen to whale noise while you snorkel? But Maui's cold during whale season. Bonaire has little living coral but it does have a lot of fish. Cozumel used to have good snorkeling, but several hurricanes put an end to that. Belize has fair snorkeling, but you can't get to it without a boat. Some people require sharks or turtles, or a place is disappointing. I have underwater pictures of snorkeling and diving all over the Caribbean and it's not hard for me to tell the locations apart. Perhaps the only thing one can objectively say is that Roatan's reefs offer a lot of color and variety and that they extend for many many miles, and that it probably has more species of coral than any other place in the hemisphere. If you don't like coral, well, why are you even bothering to get yourself wet? I dislike calling anything "amazing" because that is a pretty useless overused word that expresses nothing other than that the user was amazed.

Edited: 17 May 2012, 22:19
Menlo Park...
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5. Re: Roatan vs bonaire snorkeling

not to belabor the point, but I just reviewed my Bonaire pix and then it occurred to me: THAT"S the place where you cannot even begin to approach the water without shoes. Even in the shallows as you try to put on your gear there's no place to stand without risking cutting your feet or your butt. So you then have to either (1) wear coral shoes, (2) jump into deep water off a dock, or (3) jump off a boat. Then once in the water there is so much floor with nothing live on it. No coral and not even grass. Just bare crap and old broken pieces of coral. Looks like a hurricane just went through. No fish pix that aren't common everywhere else in the sea. The best picture I took is of the ocean full of jellyfish that showed up one day and we got to deal with. And I can also subjectively say that the food is better on Roatan. Way.

New Jersey
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6. Re: Roatan vs bonaire snorkeling

dhauk do you have links to your photos?

Trophy Club, Texas
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7. Re: Roatan vs bonaire snorkeling

Very interested in this post myself. I found Roatan to be some of the best snorkeling so far in the Caribbean and have Bonaire on my shortlist.

My impression of Bonaire (from pictures) is that it has a great diversity and possibly abundance of fish species, many not regularly seen in other areas of the region, but that the coral is in decline and I'd be snorkeling in a generally "white" seascape. Still sounds good, but maybe not quite as amazing as a few short years ago.

Anyway, here are my Roatan snorkeling pictures...

…photobucket.com/albums/…

New Jersey
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8. Re: Roatan vs bonaire snorkeling

Seems like Roatan has better corals whereas Bonaire has better fish density and variety. The one thing that turns me away from visiting Roatan again is the the need to take antimalarial meds. Not taking any risk.

Minnesota
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9. Re: Roatan vs bonaire snorkeling

We did the antimalarials (chloroquine), once a week, and it wasn't a big deal. You start one or two weeks before you leave, so if you're going to have a reaction, you'll know that ahead of time. The malaria strains in Roatan are mild compared to other areas, and, frankly, I can understand why many people don't bother. But...............we did it just to be on the safe side, and we had a great time, and I didn't have to worry as much about mosquito bites. We're home in MN now, and the mosquitoes are fierce. We're glad they don't carry malaria or dengue, because it would make living here tough!

Sunny California
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10. Re: Roatan vs bonaire snorkeling

Never been to Bonnaire, going to Roatan in about a month...

...but the best place I've ever been for snorkeling is St. John in the USVI...snorkeling right off the beach is great, ton's of fish within a few feet of beach. Quite amazing!