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Bright colourful coral, tropical fish and pleasantly warm crystal-clear water - there is some fantastic diving to be done around Bonaire. The bottom of the Caribbean Sea is littered with shipwrecks, offering divers an exciting and unique experience.
Shipwrecks are places where marine life flourishes. The wrecks act as a kind of reef: fish and other marine creatures like to ensconce themselves between the old planks. Wreck diving adds an element of excitement as the sunken ships often tell an interesting and sometimes tragic story that will certainly enhance your dive tour. These are Bonaire’s most interesting diving wrecks.
“12 tons of marijuana were found behind a strange plate on the ship’s hull”
The story of the Hilma Hooker would make a great movie script. In 1984 the ship encountered technical problems off the coast of Bonaire. The port authorities offered assistance but were refused. The Hilma Hooker remained behind Klein Bonaire for a week, and this naturally aroused the suspicion of customs authorities who towed the ship into port. A thorough search on board found nothing, but a dive team discovered a strange plate against the hull of the ship. Behind this plate they uncovered an impressive 12,000 kilos of marijuana. Authorities were unable to determine who owned the vessel so the ship was towed to the west coast of Bonaire. Here it rusted away and finally sank.
Local dive schools immediately came into action and transformed the wreck into a fantastic and safe dive site. Today the Hilma Hooker is overgrown with a beautiful layer of coral and sponges and is home to rich tropical marine life. Make sure that someone in your dive party brings a camera and don’t forget to pose by the ship's giant propeller – a spectacular sight.
The wreck of the Hesper lies at an approximate depth of 40 meters. The owner, Captain Don, had bought the ship for only US$150 and was busy renovating it. It sank in 1988 when Hurricane Gilbert left a trail of destruction in the Caribbean, and was later discovered at the bottom of the ocean. The wreck is a fantastic place to photograph. The site is also popular with small harmless sharks.
The Tug, a small but very interesting wreck, lies in the waters near the Bonaire Great Adventures Center. Colourful fish circle the ship and the cabin is often the best place to spot an extremely large moray eel – the wreck’s most interesting resident. The Tug is a very popular dive spot which is easily accessed from the beach, it is usually best explored on a weekday.