At Bonaire’s Harbour Village Beach Club, young guests will contribute to the island’s ocean conservation efforts. // © 2015 Harbour Village Beach Club
Feature image (above): Bonaire is famous for its beautiful coral reefs and impressive dive sites. // © 2015 Harbour Village Beach Club
Bonaire, an island that lies off Venezuela’s coast in the southern Caribbean, is one of the region’s leading dive destinations. As compact as the island is, it’s studded with dive hotels and operators and ringed with intriguing dive sites. And now, Bonaire has a new addition to the mix: a program from Harbour Village Beach Club that invites guests to participate in the island’s conservation efforts.
The resort is working with Teens4Oceans, an organization that provide activities, resources and experiences to youths who are passionate about ocean conservation. Harbour Village has installed an innovative underwater video and data-monitoring system that allows visitors to observe coral growth and view marine life just off the resort’s sandy shores.
Harbour Village is a particularly good spot for the program, as the resort is home to a new set of coral trees installed last year in partnership with Coral Restoration Foundation Bonaire. Approximately 70 elkhorn and staghorn corals are maintained by staffers at Great Adventures Bonaire, the hotel’s on-site PADI five-star instructor development center — for eventual transplant to the house reef at Harbour Village.
“We are thrilled to be able to take another step to help preserve Bonaire’s amazing coral reef environment and share some of the projects we have underway,” said Jean-Marc Petin, general manager of Harbour Village Beach Club. “We’re particularly excited about this program because of its direct impact on youth education and scientific research on Bonaire and anywhere else on the planet.”
The system includes two underwater cameras. One camera rotates 360 degrees to detect and measure environmental conditions such as the water’s pH, salinity and temperature. The second camera is static, focusing on the Coral Restoration Foundation nursery. This camera will be used for live demonstrations on how the coral-growing process works. General activity and fish behavior can also be seen with the second camera.
One of the big pluses of the program is that it’s not just for visitors. The program is also open to students residing on Bonaire — a bonus for visiting students, who can work side by side with island residents within their age group. Local programs such as the Junior Rangers, which Harbour Village helped become a new member of Teens4Oceans, now have the opportunity to use this state-of-the-art technology for aquatic research projects, as well as to connect with students worldwide to build communication and leadership skills through ocean stewardship.
Harbour Village Beach Club is a family-friendly member of Small Luxury Hotels of the World. The resort is located on a 4-acre private peninsula and offers a range of accommodations, including guestrooms, suites and beach houses. The Harbour Village marina on Bonaire has 60 slips or docks for yachts, spanning up to 150 feet, and one dock for 240-foot mega-yachts. The resort’s La Balandra Restaurant and Bar overlooks the beach and supplies beach dining at no extra charge. The Spa at Harbour Village Beach Club features eight private rooms and a full menu of spa treatments.
The resort’s Kids Great Adventures is a supervised children’s program for ages 6 to 12. It includes a snorkeling component where kids learn to identify fish, keep a snorkeling log and experience Supplied Air Snorkeling for Youth, a form of snorkeling with scuba equipment at the surface instead of a snorkel.
Harbour Village offers a variety of dive packages, and Great Adventures Bonaire can provide dive services to all ages and skill levels. The resort also has a PADI wreck-diver specialty course, which equips guests with the knowledge and skills to explore sunken vessels. “Our Confidence,” a 60-foot dive wreck, is located just a few feet away from the club’s private beach.