View Full Version : March water temp - wetsuit vs. skin

12-16-2011, 10:54 AM
We will be in Bonaire in March for two weeks, and I am looking for some advice to get us ready for snorkeling. What water temperature can we can expect at that time? Is a lycra dive skin generally suitable for some thermal protection, or should I consider a 3 mil wetsuit, or maybe a 1 mil wetsuit? The kids don't mind a little chill, but wife and I have gotten pretty cold in the Bahamas in 78 degree water with no skin or wetsuit. Looks like skins are much more affordable and easier to pack. Any advice?

Side question: The kids will be 7 and 10 years old and they are both strong swimmers for their age. We plan to bring flotation for the 7 year old to be on the safe side. Will we be able to find plenty of snorkeling to do as a family? My main concerns are ease of entry/exit and presence of dangerous currents. I have been reading Porter's guide book and the posts in this part of the forum, but I don't hear much about snorkeling with younger children.

12-16-2011, 11:13 AM
Southbound, Bonaire is alot further south(3" from the SUN)then Bahamas. Skins are needed to keep the sun off. Last May the water was 81d at depth. Maybe a 1mil, but a3 would be overkill... Ron

12-16-2011, 02:27 PM
I wouldn't say a 3 is overkill. I've used a 3 full in both March and Oct. down there. However on those same trips I've gone in nothing but _short_ shorts. You could really go either way depending on what your tolerance or mood is at the moment.

12-16-2011, 02:57 PM
If you were diving, I would suggest the 3mm. For snorkeling, the skin or maybe a 1mm suit would work and provide sun protection as well.

12-16-2011, 03:53 PM
More about not getting sunburn on your back of legs and neck that the lightweight suits offer for snorkel
where are you staying ? Most of the resorts have best snorkel right out front of those areas. Next to Denlamen condos is a site known as the aquarium, sunken concrete foundation that is home to alot of fish but be educated about fire coral before you go...don't be touching this stuff. Enjoy your time in Bonaire...we will be there in March also..the kids will love the donkey sanctuary too

12-16-2011, 05:45 PM
Thanks for the replies. Diverdebbi, we are staying in town at Bonaire Exclusive Bungalows. We are on a tight budget and could not swing water front - plus we like to cook our meals on vacation, with the occasional splurge at a restaurant. It has a pool for the kids during downtime and the customer service has been very good.

I will add the Aquarium to my list of easy, kid friendly spots. Others already on the list include Plaza (have to pay, right?), Divi, Yellow Submarine, Bari reef, Donkey beach, and Something Special. Second tier of my list includes Pink Beach, 1000 steps, Tori's Reef, Tolo, Wayaka II (if we make it to the park), Hilma Hooker, and Invisibles. Missing any? Any that should be removed from the list?

We will educate the kids (and ourselves) on the fire coral. How bad are the jelly fish generally during March? The whole family has been stung at one time or another here in N. Carolina, so we know what to expect, but would like to avoid them if possible (of course). Does a skin provide any warmth at all, and does it provide protection from jelly fish? Is it basically like a full-size rash guard?

12-16-2011, 07:26 PM
As far as snorkeling I would strongly recommend Wayaka II. It's off the wall how much is going on there in the shallows + you get a little bit of sand for relaxing on, which is noteworthy in Bonaire.

Also it's a good dive so you could do both there!

The park is definitely worth the trip.

12-16-2011, 09:44 PM
Yes, a skin is like a full-size rash guard. There are one-piece skins available, or you can pick up some tights at sites like Coolibar and add them to an existing rash guard. Highly advisable for sun protection, plus protection from various 'stingy' critters.

Bonaire has so little shade, and adult melanoma (I know first-hand) has been linked to sun-exposure in childhood, so better safe than sorry.

Also, you've probably read about the need for water shoes...the beaches aren't the soft-sandy kind in most places. But, kids do love to swim in pools, and it's great that you're staying where one is available.

george and judy
12-16-2011, 11:05 PM
We have snorkeled with kids and Bonaire is perfect for them. Heed the sunburn advice and a 3MM skin will be more than adequate for adults. Kids may just want to use an old t-shirt. Try to go on the Woodwind with Dee. She is super with kids and has 3 of her own on the Island. She will teach them great snorkeling tecniques and provide a wonderful experience.

12-17-2011, 12:03 PM
Not wanting to sound disrespectful, but t-shirts provide next to no sun protection. There are lots of places that carry rash guards or swim shirts for kids now--wish we had had them when I and our children were little.

12-18-2011, 09:47 AM
Thanks for all of the support - this is a very good forum. Tom, sounds like Wayaka II will be a definite. Tankhalffull, yes we will get hard-soled booties, and skins sound adequate at this point. We have always taken strong precautions with the kids for sun protection, and will be especially vigilant on Bonaire (if only our parents had known to do the same!). Now if I can get my wife to stop reading the real-estate listings... she is getting a bit ahead of herself - she may need to read Wouk's "Don't Stop the Carnival" for a reality check. It is easy to get starry eyed during the long winter in the mountains of North Carolina!