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DiverWire Profile: SCUBA Girls Escape to Bonaire

(DiverWire) This is a story of how two young women decided to take the road less traveled after graduating from their respective post-secondary programs in Holland and America.

Bonaire in the Dutch Caribbean, just 50 miles north of Venezuela, the proverbial ‘Divers Paradise’ attracts many people from all over the world. With its constant trade winds and average 80 degree weather all year around it’s not hard to imagine why. Bonaire is a diver’s mecca with endless dive sites, marine species and an international community.

Emma Van Der Veen (23 years old) originally from Wissenkerke, Holland was a regular visitor to Bonaire as she was growing up. Emma enjoyed her first Discover Scuba Diving experience in Bonaire while on vacation in 2000. In 2002 she returned to Bonaire to complete her Junior Open Water course. Once she was a certified diver she enjoyed family dive vacations to such places as the Maldives, Red Sea, Bali and Costa Rica.

She says “the Dutch custom is, that by the time you are 16 you should have chosen your future profession.” Given that both of her parents were in the Medical field she chose nursing, which was a 4 year program. It was during her second year of nursing (while in the Maldives on vacation) she realized that she wanted to take her career further within the Scuba industry. She completed her nursing program and quickly moved to Bonaire (the day after Graduation) to further her professional dive career. She started with the getting her Dive master credentials and then moved forward to become an Instructor in 2009.

She continues to work as an Instructor with the same dive shop where she trained Wannadive in Bonaire. When asked about her lifestyle in Bonaire she says, “Coming from a small village of 1200 people in Holland – life was simple and that she enjoys that same type of atmosphere here in Bonaire”. In her spare time she enjoys communal dinners and socializing with a few friends. She states that “she is passionate about showing and teaching others about the sea.”

Her favorite dive sites in Bonaire include the East Coast sites, where the chances of seeing pelagics are common. Emma’s future plans include backpacking through Peru in July 2012 and then possibly relocating to Asia or Indonesia in 2013 to continue her dive career.

LeAnn Marie (26 years old) originally from Austin, Texas, attended Texas Lutheran University to become a Photo Journalist. She was completing the Communications and International Studies program when she was introduced to Scuba diving as part of her Phys. Ed. segment. LeAnn received her open water certification when she was 18 years old.

Once bitten with the scuba bug LeAnn quickly finished her PADI advanced diver course as well. As part of her studies with Texas Lutheran she was part of a study abroad program, during this time she got to dive in some great places off the coasts of Mexico and Central America. Once she finished her studies in 2008 LeAnn states “I then took a leap of faith and moved to Grand Cayman alone.”

Her first Cayman job was in the restaurant sector. LeAnn knew this was just a stepping stone to get to where she really wanted to be. After a short stint in the restaurant business she then found her first dream job in Grand Cayman, taking pictures underwater. During this time she honed her skills and learned a lot about underwater photography. While living in Grand Cayman LeAnn then met Nick Curtis, a Canadian PADI Instructor. As is the life of some scuba pros – they relocate occasionally. LeAnn and Nick decided that a change of scenery was needed they then relocated to Bonaire in 2010.

After doing some volunteer dive work with the Light & Motion sensor project of Bonaire, LeAnn then took a position as a photographer. She was now in the water every day taking pictures of happy tourists and marine life with Bon Photo in Bonaire. In keeping with the Bonaire way of life, leisure time on the island is laid back and relaxed. She says that she is not really a morning person but since she has arrived in Bonaire that has changed; she looks forward to each day in the sea. LeAnn’s future endeavor is to continue to learn about her passion and to eventually travel to see more of the world underwater. She would love to spend more time hanging out with sharks and pelagics.

These are just two of the fascinating personalities that make Bonaire special. Watch for more personality profiles in the near future.