On the remote northwestern shore of Bonaire, the snorkeling at Playa Benge is known as a deeper water dive site that offers the chance to see larger fish species in very clear water. The water depths at Playa Benge range from ten to one-hundred feet deep. It can either be accessed from shore or by boat at Buoy #2.
The shore entry at Playa Benge is very rocky and steep. It is only recommended when the waves are low or calm. Watch the surf for a while before entering to observe for common rogue waves to understand the pattern and what you are committing to.
Once offshore of Playa Benge, the there are numerous coral formations to observe to the north and south sides of the cove. There are many very large parrotfish dining on the coral.
To reach the Playa Benge snorkelen dive site from Kralendijk, head northeast to Rincon. Continue north on paved roads following the signs to the Washington Slagbaai National Park. Once inside the park, the roads turn to rough dirt and are mainly one-way, one-lane roads. The Playa Benge dive site is on the west side of the park along the coast -- it is marked on the free park map and is marked on the ground by a yellow labeled stone. The total travel time from Kralendijk is roughly 1.5 hours with the last 40 minutes on rough road.
Before snorkeling off Bonaire, it is important to remember that there have been two recent (relative to coral growth rates) storms. In 1999, Hurricane Lenny passed near the island resulting in the first big waves in over 100 years. This wave action over a 24 hour period had a severe effect on the shallow water corals on west-facing coastlines. There was significant toppling of the massive coral colonies, along with bleaching and smothering. Similarly, in 2008, Tropical Storm Omar passed near the island producing heavy wave action along west-facing coastlines. The effects of these storm, along with occasional bleaching events, have left many of the snorkeling dive sites not appearing as they had in past photos nor seeming as described in the brief locally printed snorkeling dive descriptions, which tend to be older. While snorkeling off Bonaire, you'll occasionally encounter some large, older coral formation remnamnts that give clues to the size of the past reefs. And, you may notice some small new growth occuring along the sand flats where new coral is taking hold in the cemented coral rubble, especially quick growing fire coral.
All of the offshore water of Bonaire has been long protected as part of the Bonaire National Marine Park. For several decades, the waters off Bonaire have been guarded to produce a pristine underwater environment offering a unique experience for snorkeling. With water visibility up to 100 feet, Bonaire snorkelers are treated to numerous varieties of coral and abundant marine life. The marine park has dozens of snorkeling dive sites marked by small yellow boulders along the road side and yellow or orange buoys offshore. The marine park requires all snorkelers in Bonaire waters to have an annual snorkeling license visible on their mask with the fees collected to continue protecting the waters (the fee can be paid at any dive shop). Should you happen to spot an lionfish, the Bonaire National Marine Park requests that you report any sightings of the invasive fish by calling them at (599) 717-8444.
Overall, Playa Benge is the 2nd most popular snorkel dive spot of all 20 snorkeling dives in Bonaire.