The Dive Sites of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao by Jack Jackson
The Dive Sites of Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao by Jack Jackson

The former Dutch colonies often known as the ABC islands, Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao, offer diving that can be both stupendously exciting or rather dull. It all depends on the dive-site and your disposition.
The larger island, Curacao, has a large port with industrial areas but most of it remains as untamed and wild as its smaller neighbours.
Close to Venezuela, the islands offer a year-round stable climate, but they are not the palm-clad idylls of the cliché Caribbean but sun-blasted desert islands covered in scrub, cactus and, in the case of Bonaire, saltpans.
Who cares We go for the diving and Bonaire is famous for its long-established marine park. Its protected reef walls are covered with colourful sponges and corals. The other two islands offer equally pristine conditions and have learned from Bonaire the benefits of preserving their underwater assets.
Jack Jacksons guide is easily followed and packed with useful information. However, I didnt envy his task of identifying differences between dive sites. Many seemed so samey to me, in their pristine perfection, that I remember joking that the boat always went to the same place - only the names were changed! This guidebook might have helped me focus on the differences rather than be drawn by the similarities.
Of course, individual sites do stand out: the underside of the pier in Kraledijk or the wrecks of the Hilma Hooker in Bonaire, the Superior Produce in Curaçao and the Arashi aeroplane in Aruba. No one should miss the corals fed by the currents around Klein Bonaire, nor a dive-site in Curaçao called Seldom because it is so rarely visited!
Grouping the ABC islands is a good idea. Dividing a trip between at least two of these destinations will provide the variety I felt was missing when staying for more than a week on one island.
This guide is almost perfect, though I still think the best diving is in the turbulent waters off the north coast of the west end of Curaçao, and this area gets no mention.

The Dive Sites of Aruba, Bonaire and CuraÃao by Jack Jackson, New Holland. Softback, 176pp, £15.99