Tote a camera on any dive, and you can nearly guarantee that your profile won’t match that of any of the other divers. Photographers often dive shallower for longer, proving the time constraints of most dive boats too limiting.
Bonaire changes the dynamics of diving by completely removing schedules. This tiny island offers more shore dives than anywhere else in the Caribbean, and allows underwater shooters to answer to no time constraints other than those of their dive computer.
“You make your own plan, and you go anytime you want—even night diving, anytime you want,” says David Rietveld, general manager of Delfins Beach Resort.
This means shooters can wait for ideal light conditions, just as it’s common for topside photographers to wait until clouds or weather align just so.
Moreover, the island is home to diverse underwater landscapes—which also means a diversity of underwater ecosystems, and accounts for Bonaire’s variety of fish life, unmatched by any other destination in the Caribbean.
RESORTS Buddy Dive Resort, Bonaire
Divi Resort, Bonaire
OPERATORS Buddy Dive, Bonaire
Divi Dive Bonaire
2 CAYMAN ISLANDS
The Cayman Islands pack a lot of must-haves for underwater shooters starting with pristine conditions nearly every day of the year. This destination is known for 100 feet of viz on most days.
Plus, its topography— sheer walls, grottoes, pinnacles, patch reefs—inspires creativity.
“Wide-angle photography is why I love Little Cayman,” says Neil van Niekerk, of Southern Cross Club resort on the island.
His favored shooting style takes advantage of the best this destination has to offer, starting with the water clarity, which allows for much more light distribution.
More light at greater depths helps colors pop. The walls on all the islands are gardens of sponges—orange elephant ears, purple vases and red ropes.
But it’s not just excellent lighting and color that make an image. Luckily, the walls and reefs see a parade of life, such as Caribbean reef sharks, eagle rays, tarpon and turtles.
The biggest highlight, van Niekerk says, is when “you are going for the holy grail of lining up the diver and the shark and the dive boat— along with the sun ball—all in the same shot.”
Of course, photographers best pack all their lenses on a trip to the Caymans. At the site Mixing Bowl, for example, the sands yield yellowhead jawfish—spot the males with a mouth full of eggs—along with, depending on the season, other macro wonders like pipefish, pipehorses and seahorses.
Cayman Brac Beach Resort, Cayman Islands
Cobalt Coast Dive Resort, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Compass Point, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Little Cayman Beach Resort, Cayman Islands
Sunset House, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Brac Scuba Shack Divers, Cayman Brac, Cayman Islands
Divetech, Grand Cayman, Cayman Islands
Continue reading your story on the app
Continue reading your story in the magazine
Readers Choice: Best Destinations For Photography
Species diversity, ideal in-water conditions and weird wonders earn these destinations top honors
In It To Win It
Competition can help you improve your shots
Breathing air from a tank isn’t the only way to explore beneath the waves.
Underwater, it’s vital to remember what’s really important
A Studio In Your Hand
Video can bring non-divers into the underwater action
Underwater photography – Do No Harm
Tips for being an ethical underwater photographer
Ask Dan – Decompression sickness
How can I reduce my risk of decompression sickness?
A smorgasbord of wrecks and reefs ensures you’ l l never run out of photo ops in these warm waters
Sea Hero: JOHN WELLER
How one photographer’s mission to save the Ross Sea is bringing the planet together
16 TH ANNUAL PHOTO COMPETITION: OUR SPONSORS
What’s a contest without prizes? These generous donors—whose ranks include avid shooters like you—help make photographers’ dreams come true.