Our Things To Do On Bonaire Guide
How About A Trip To the World's Top Diving Destination?
If you're looking for things to do on Bonaire then this is the guide for you.
The island of Bonaire is a territory of The Netherlands and it's is known for the majestic beauty below its surrounding waters, vibrant and multihued fish and corals, and other fascinating sea-dwellers. It is easy to see why Bonaire has been lovingly known as Diver’s Paradise, and it’s been consistently at the top of the world’s best diving sites.
Nevertheless, although the island is more famous for its wonderful diving spots that its vibe of exclusivity and privacy, there’s more to Bonaire than just diving. The island is also home to a plethora of things to do and see
And even then, there are still a lot more that the island offers. Here are our top 10 picks:
Where Is Bonaire?
Bonaire is an island located in the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. Kralendjik, the island’s capital, is found on the lee side of the island near the ocean.
Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao form the ABC Islands, an archipelago situated approximately a hundred miles northwest of Venezuela. Fortunately for those 3 islands, they are located outside of Hurricane Alley, unlike most islands in the Caribbean. ABC Islands have a dry climate that’s attractive to tourists and visitors looking for warm and sunny weather all year long.
Bonaire is the most popular site for snorkelling and scuba diving due to its multiple shore diving locations and access to its beautiful and breathtaking fringing reefs.
The Weather On Bonaire
Bonaire’s humidity levels are constant, and the rainy days usually occur from October through January. The island is located outside the hurricane zone, although its tidal and weather conditions are seldom affected by tropical storms and hurricanes. This type of climate is well favorable to a lot of variety of cacti and other desert plants.
Things To Do On Bonaire
Places to See in Bonaire
Just 5 minutes from the main island of Bonaire is the islet of Klein Bonaire, or “Little Bonaire” In Klein Bonaire, you will get to see the best of both worlds: a long stretch of white sand beach, pristine waters, and wonderful coral reefs. Snorkeling at this magnificent islet is a definite must because seeing and encountering a turtle is a guarantee.
It is also a popular picnic spot and a jumping point for a lot of dive tours in the area. Hence, you can just lounge and relax the afternoon away on the beach and enjoy the soft breeze. Because Klein Bonaire is mostly isolated, it is serene and tranquil and you would only hear the calming sounds of crashing waves.
After enjoying the sands, sun, and sea in southern Bonaire, take some time to visit Terramar Museum that showcases and narrates what had transpired in the past on that part of Bonaire, through its gallery and exhibits.
There is a particular spot in the museum that reveals the dreadful history of the salt pans and the slave huts. This is the most opportune time to reconnect what you’ve seen and discover the history behind it.
Moreover, the museum also transports you back into seven thousand years of Caribbean history, complete with visual guides.
Admission is $10.00 per person, $5.00 for Bonaire residents, and children under 12 are free. A guided tour of the museum is available for $20.00. Tickets may be purchased in advance.
Alice in Wonderland
No, this isn’t about the iconic book by Lewis Carroll, but you will also fall down the rabbit hole at this coveted dive spot. The Alice in Wonderland tour in Bonaire provides divers and snorkelers the opportunity to encounter the fantasy world of gorgonian corals and multicolored fish at a closer and more personal level.
You will get the chance to see vibrantly hued parrot fish, sergeant majors, and emperor fish. There are also schools of barracudas, candy bass, and snappers. They won’t be having a tea party under the sea, but the vivacious creatures and varied corals work together to make Alice in Wonderland a must-see for divers and snorkelers.
You can also sign up for a guided tour or dive to get a better education of the marine and plant life that make Alice in Wonderland diving site so coveted.
Pink Salt Lake and Slave Huts
To make the most of your Bonaire trip, we suggest travelling to the southernmost part of the island to visit the famous pink salt and slave huts.
The scenery and panoramic view of the cotton candy pink lake bordered by turquoise waters is nothing short of a splendid sight, but the beauty that the site possesses hides a rather repulsive and horrid past. This ethereal paradise was once the spot where slaves conducted man force and underwent inhumane working environments.
That, however, is another story to tell. After the pink-hued lakes, huts, and salt hills, you will come across Atlantis Kite City, Willemstoren Lighthouse, where you will be lucky enough to spot an abundance of pink flamingos on the way. And finally, you will arrive at Sorobon—the home of the world’s best windsurfers.
If the previous activities and tours on the island of Bonaire sound pretty meek and timid to you, then a trek to Washington National Park is a treat for you. This park has a lot of fun potential, plus the park also has a lot more to see, do, and enjoy.
You can hike to the pear or the highest point of Bonaire where you can go bird watching, visit the rugged ruins, crash and fall into sand dunes and pits. Tourists could also go beach hopping and discover the virgin underwater sights in heavily-protected areas of Bonaire.
Cliff jumping at the stunning Slagbaai concludes this tour.
1000 Steps Beach
Now you might be thinking, “Do I really need to climb down then up 1000 steps to get to and from the beach?” Of course not! There aren’t actually a thousand steps to trek on this famous beach; only 67 to be exact. However, you will quickly realize why it got its moniker as soon as you climb back up with your SCUBA gear on.
You can find this beach on the northern region of Kranlendjik on the west coast of the island. The pristine blue waters of this beach complement the extraordinary multicolored display of coral reefs, fish, and even sponges.
Although it is most divers’ favorite diving spot in Bonaire, 1000 Steps doesn’t cater to the land and sunbathing lovers set. The beach itself is rather rugged with a steep stretch of sand and cacti shrubs on the shoreline. This is definitely not for sunbathers, but the panoramic view from atop the limestone steps is more than worth the trip.
The tourism in Bonaire lies heavily on the islands sand and waters. It’s a nice alternative to visit the hills for a while and get a panoramic vista of the entire island and it’s breathtaking coastline. Seru Largu or “Large Hill,” tourists get to see an unobstructed view of the western shoreline of Bonaire, where Klein Bonaire hovers off the clear turquoise coast.
Iguanas and wild goats are also visible atop the hill, as well as the huge monument with this iconic white and yellow cross. Bonaire’s landscape is dusty and its climate mostly dry, so the view looks out over the sand and cactus fields out to the shore. It is the island’s best spot to watch the sun set or stars come out. Every New Year’s Eve, the locals gather atop the hill to watch the fireworks display. Lucky them, right?
Mangroves of Lac Bay
Mangroves are a critical part of our ecosystem; they also serve as an important ground for breeding and feeding for a lot of wildlife species.
Trivia: an estimated 70% of the total species thriving and swimming around the Bonaire waters were born in there.
Fortunately, the mangrove forest at Lac Bay is protected and it is one of the best-preserved in the entire Caribbean. You can experience its glorious wonder by kayaking through sets of mangrove tunnels, see wildlife above and below the clear waters, and learn a lot about these trees.
Your Bonaire trip isn’t entirely complete without taking this tour.
Things To Do On Bonaire
Food & Drink
If you want to experience local and authentic cuisine in Bonaire, one of the best places to try is a Lac Cai. It is a nature reserve with a verdant mangrove woodland, sandy white beaches, a small restobar, and has natural beauty everywhere.
Lac Cai is absolutely off-the-beaten-path. It is visible from Windsurf place, but it is only accessible by crossing a long and snaking dirt road. You would need a vehicle that could survive the road bumps to get you along the dirt path, but it would be all worth it. You can go and enjoy the food here at Lac Cai at any time, but it is best to spend Sunday lunch here to experience fresh local food and awesome live local music.
Karel's Beach Bar
Bonaire is an island of gorgeous beaches, verdant forests, and—of course—breathtaking turquoise waters. The food in Bonaire is stellar too. There are a lot of restaurants and bars near the water, but Karel’s is directly on the water. Yes, you can enjoy your morning cup while relaxing on the water.
Karel’s Beach Bar is a dinghy stop for boats docked in the harbor of Kralendijk. They are open the whole day to serve breakfast, lunch, and dinner. In the morning, though, they serve one of the best Cappuccinos on the island. You would also love their sausages, pancakes, eggs, or whatever is on their menu, but the best part about Karel’s is their location
If you’re lucky, you could even get an up-close and personal encounter with vividly colored fish if you have a waterfront table here. Overall, the service is good, the food is very good, but the view is what made Karel’s Beach Bar stand out from the rest.
Mezze is a family-run restaurant that serves oriental, western, and Middle Eastern dishes with a Bonaire twist. With a plethora of flavors, succulent main courses of a Turkish hardwood grill and yummy pita bread baked from an authentic Turkish wood-fired oven, your Bonaire holiday would definitely be a memory to cherish.
Turkish kebabs with hummus, stuffed vine leaves, and hummus are one of Mezze’s bestselling dishes. Another crowd favorite is the fresh octopus from the oven with stuffed artichoke, Turkish baba ghanous, and muhammara. Their falafel tastes excellent too!
Aside from the food, you would also enjoy relaxing on Mezze’s charming terrace, right on the boulevard and with the striking view of the beautiful sunset. If you’re looking for sweets to cap off the feast you’ve just had at Mezze, they also serve baklava and chocolate dates. The cocktails that they serve are really worth a visit.
If your idea of an ideal vacation dinner is a perfectly seasoned steak or locally-caught seafood paired with fresh garden salad, capped off with a beautifully decadent dessert or a unique house blend iced tea, then Patagonia is your place to be.
Aside from being a nice restaurant, Patagonia also offers a selection of fine wines and amazing customer service that would add another layer of impressiveness to the already impressive Patagonia. Relax on the terrace and savor the warm climate of Bonaire while looking at the beautiful view of the sunset. If you’re lucky, you could catch a glimpse of one of the huge cruise ships on the dock; or chill inside with the restaurants top-notch air-conditioning system that’s a relief from the warmth outside.
Things To Do On Bonaire
Activities to Do in Bonaire
Things To Do With The Kids
Albeit significantly small, the small island of Bonaire houses a lot of mysterious caves. Some of these caves have Indian paintings on their walls, some have tunnels, and some have water. There are a lot of guided cave tours, but the coolest and coveted ones are the ones with water.
Jentis Tours visits a cave that has different rooms where you have to hold your breath and swim across a tunnel to survive and get through the other side.
Bonaire is a perfect location for windsurfing
The island of Bonaire houses a plethora of donkeys, so much so that it is also called The Island of Donkey’s. Naturally, one of the ways to explore the island is to go horseback riding. At Rancho Washikemba, they will lead you to the deserted northern area of Bonaire that eventually opens up to form a lake where the donkeys will go swimming with you. Here’s the awesome part: they actually swim, and not just paddle on the shore like the horses on other islands. This experience is truly a must-do in Bonaire
Open today: 10:00 AM - 5:00 PM
If you are into more extreme water sports and you crave the adrenaline high that competition brings, Bonaire holds an annual Bonaire Regatta event that brings together all sailors from the Caribbean to compete in this 4-day event. For this year's event, the daytime sailing competition will be in Playa, and the course runs through Bonaire and Klein Bonaire.
Bonaire Regatta is a big National event for the people of this island. Party mode is on here with live music, food stands, kids' corner, and craft shops to even make the even livelier.
Bonaire, Netherlands may be a small island, but it sure makes up for its size with the abundance of its natural beauty everywhere: white sandy beaches, fascinating caves, warm tropical-like climate, good food, turquoise waters, and diverse wildlife.
It may have had a not-so-pleasant past, but hey, which place is pristine from the start, right?
Bonaire also has a rich history and an even richer culture. Its people are warm and hospitable, and that adds another layer of excellence to the place.
The island is small, but it certainly has a lot to offer... and not just its waters.
We hope that you enjoyed our things to do on Bonaire guide and you have a fantastic time on the island.