North of Kralendijk on Bonaire, the snorkeling at Bari Reef is easy shore-access dive site right near town. While other dive sites might be closed out due to winds and waves, the snorkeling at Bari Reef is usually calm. The Bari Reef wall is known to provide habitat to over 300 species of marine life.
The Bari Reef is located at Buoy #30 directly west offshore of the Sand Dollar Condominiums and offshore of the Den Laman Condominiums. This snorkeling dive site is generally barren sand flats out to the wall edge, except for the old sucken piers or rock piles. The best snorkelen is located off the southern third of the Sand Dollar Condominums where the rocks provide anchor to some nice staghorn coral growths. The water depth ranges from 6 feet to 30 feet at the wall edge. While snorkeling at Bari Reef, you may encounter sea turtles, barracuda, parrotfish, goatfish, blue tangs, porcupine pufferfish and trumpetfish. There is usually good visibility up to 60 feet.
To reach the Bari Reef snorkeling dive site from the Kralendijk town center, head north on Kaya Grandi, which becomes Kaya Gobernador Nicholas Debrot for 2.1km. At the north end traffic circle, turn right on the third road heading west to on a dirt road to the coast. Turn right and park. Enter the water to the left of the old cement pier.
The snorkeling along the old cement pier is locally known as the Aquarium since it provides habitat for many small reef fish. Depending upon tides, it is about three to six feet deep.
From the old cement pier, the Bari Reef is to the right heading north up the coast line. It is offshore of the Sand Dollar Condominiums. As you snorkel to the north, be aware that there is an active dock at the Den Laman.
Before snorkelen 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, Bari Reef is the 6th most popular snorkel dive spot of all 20 snorkeling dives in Bonaire.