Bonaire vacation tips: The 10 best activities during your stay
Discover Bonaire with its crystal clear water, picturesque beaches and colorful underwater world. Visit the Washington Slagbaai National Park, admire the unique flora and fauna, enjoy beach activities and water sports and experience the local culture and culinary delights. Rent a car to explore the island and choose from a variety of accommodations for an unforgettable stay.
When you think of a vacation on the beautiful island of Bonaire, located in the Caribbean, images of crystal clear waters, white beaches and a colorful underwater world immediately come to mind. To make your stay unforgettable, we’d like to share our Bonaire vacation tips with you.
Bonaire’s nature and wildlife
1. Washington Slagbaai National Park
One of the most impressive natural areas on Bonaire is the Washington Slagbaai National Park. This park offers numerous activities, such as hiking, mountain biking and bird watching. Remember to consult in advance practical information, such as opening hours and entrance fees. In short, Washington Slagbaai offers:
- Beautiful landscapes
- Exotic animal species
- Abandoned beaches
From our personal Bonaire Vacation Tips: Bring plenty of water, snacks and sunscreen. There are relatively few refuges and catering facilities in the park. Particularly on the the longest of the two trails, you will encounter only the fantastic wilderness for long periods of time.
2. Flora and fauna of Bonaire
In addition to its unique landscapes, Bonaire is also home to unusual animal species, such as flamingos, iguanas, bats and sea turtles. Places like Goto Lake, on the edge of Washington Slagbaai, are ideal locations to observe these animals. Iguanas can be found all over the island, but particularly in Washington Slagbaai, they are particularly large. Sea turtles eat sea grass and the best places to spot them are at Lac Cai, in the channel that feeds the seawater into Lac Bay and at the Salt Pier. Especially on the right side of the conveyor belt, you can tell by the dark spots in the water where the seagrass is. To see the bats in large numbers, take a cave tour! In short, Bonaire is known for its unique wildlife. Some highlights are:
- Brightly-colored parrots (loras)
- Sea turtles
From our personal Bonaire Vacation Tips: Bonaire has no poisonous snakes or dangerous insects and spiders. However, some people are allergic to the venom of the local, small scorpions, for example. In that case, it is advisable to take off your clothes and any shoes well before putting them on.
Beach and water sports activities
3. Bonaire’s top beaches
If you love beaches, Bonaire really does have a lot to offer, but just a bit different from most other tropical vacation destinations. Discover the island’s top beaches, such as Te Amo Beach, Bachelor’s Beach, Donkey Beach and Sorobon Beach. However, Bonaire’s beaches generally do not have the facilities that most vacationers are used to, such as beach beds, shaded areas, snorkel rentals, bands behind speedboats, catering facilities et cetera. Beaches with catering facilities can be found at such places as Hang Out Beachbar, in the Sorobon area near Lac Bay. Perhaps the most fun beach activity is beachtennis. This sport is currently practiced on three courts on Bonaire, by a growing number of players. In short, Bonaire offers many beach options, but just a little bit different:
- Beach Tennis Bonaire
- Hang Out Beachbar at Jibe City (Lac Bay)
- Donkey Beach, opposite the airport
4. Diving and snorkeling
Diving and snorkeling are among the most popular activities on Bonaire. Especially for non-divers, most dive centers do have a Discover Scuba Diving program, where you explore the underwater world under the guidance of experienced instructors. In our opinion, the best diving and snorkeling sites are Klein Bonaire, 1000 Steps and the area around Karpata, especially the dive site La Dania’s Leap. In short, Bonaire is known worldwide as a diving paradise. Some recommended locations are:
- La Dania’s Leap
- 1000 Steps
- Klein Bonaire
From our personal Bonaire Vacation Tips: During our last dive from La Dania’s Leap to Karpata, we saw a giant manta ray. This is a fairly rare sight around Bonaire, but who knows!
5. Other water sports
Other water sports, such as kitesurfing, windsurfing, kayaking and supping, can be practiced at various spots on the island. Windsurfing at Lac Bay in the Sorobon area, kitesurfing at Atlantis Beach, supping and kayaking at sea, just off shore and, under guidance, in the mangroves. In short, even for non-divers and snorkelers, there is plenty to do in and on the water around Bonaire:
From our personal Bonaire Vacation Tips: Book a kayaking trip through the mangroves, the nursery of the sea! At the Bonaire Mangrove Center, take the version including snorkeling, because then you can see with your own eyes the thousands of baby fish among the mangrove roots.
Culture and local experiences
6. Local culture and traditions
Bonaire also has plenty to offer culturally. Get to know the local culture and traditions by attending holidays and events such as the Bonaire Regatta and Carnival. For lovers of techno and urban music, the Electric Tribe Festival is organized on a regular basis. Furthermore, visit historical sites such as Fort Oranje and the slave houses. In short, lovers of history, culture and music will certainly find what they are looking for on Bonaire!
From our personal Bonaire Vacation Tips: Both Karnaval and the techno festival Electric Tribe, give you a completely different experience than what you are probably used to back home from festivals and carnival! If you happen to be on the island when these happenings take place, then a visit is highly recommended!
7. From our personal Bonaire Vacation Tips: sample local foods and drinks
Discover Bonaire’s rich culinary culture and take a tasty journey through local dishes and eateries. Sample local dishes and drinks at typical restaurants and “snèks” in Kralendijk and Rincon. Also the many ‘food trucks’ scattered around the island often offer local delicacies, such as dishes with lionfish, the invasive ‘lion-fish’. In short: despite the many restaurants with Asian and European cuisines, there is also a lot of local cuisine to enjoy on Bonaire:
- Mikey Snack, the most famous local snèk
- Cactus Blue, food truck with lion-fish dishes
- Posada Para Mira in Rincon
Our personal tip: Not quite local, but from the area, are Yhanni’s Arepas! Yhanni makes these Latin American delicacies at BTB’s beachtennis courts.
Accommodations and transportation on Bonaire
8. Stay at a beachfront resort
During your vacation on Bonaire, you can choose from several hotel-style resorts on the beach, such as the Delfins Beach Resort, Chogogo and Sand Dollar, all of which are located directly on the sea. Such resorts tend to be a bit more massive and organized, but can often offer rooms a bit cheaper, when combined with airfare. Ideal for guests who want to travel fully catered for. Disadvantage: you often see a bit less of the island, unless you rent a car and skip eating at the hotel to go out for breakfast, lunch or dinner. The alternative is to rent an apartment or villa.
9. Rent a private accommodation
For the ultimate freedom, choose to rent a luxury apartment or luxury villa from one of the island’s accommodation providers. It’s often a bit more expensive, especially in combination with a loose airline ticket, but you can explore Bonaire much more easily. You have all the freedom of not being tied to excursions through the resorts, or eating at your hotel.
From our personal Bonaire Vacation Tips: most private accommodations have a well-equipped kitchen and a barbecue. With smart food shopping, the budget even for staying in a private villa, can come down considerably!
10. Transportation on Bonaire
There is no public transportation on Bonaire. Because the island has so much more to offer than just the immediate surroundings of your accommodation, renting a car is highly recommended. This also gives you the flexibility to go to local markets and supermarkets to do your shopping. There may also be cabs, but they are very busy when there are cruise ships or large planes arriving. There are also bicycles and mopeds for rent, but with the bad roads, they are not the safest and ideal means of transportation.
From our personal Bonaire Vacation Tips: book your rental car far in advance to avoid disappointment.
In closing, some reflections on these Bonaire vacation tips
A vacation on Bonaire is excellent to combine with a visit to the other ABC islands, Aruba and Curaçao. Regular flights between the islands make this possible. Keep in mind that Entry Tax must be paid each time you enter Bonaire. Finally, it is important to consider practical matters. Research the best time to travel, the length of your vacation, the calendar of events on Bonaire and buying the mandatory STINAPA Nature Tag for nature protection.
And our final personal tip: always take an underwater camera on your trips around the island. Almost every jump in the water is graced by the most colorful reef fish and coral species. It gives unforgettable pictures!
In short, with our Bonaire vacation tips, you’ll be all set to explore the island and enjoy all it has to offer. Whether you’re a nature lover, love spending time on the beach or are interested in the local culture, Bonaire has something for everyone. So don’t wait any longer and plan your dream vacation to our paradise island, where unforgettable memories await you.