The ultimate guide to a Bonaire vacation: what to do
Debby and Ron share their list of things to really see on Bonaire. After their first visit to the island in 2008, their tips still remain relevant now, in 2019!
Are you planning a vacation to Bonaire? Good choice! This beautiful island has so much to offer, from crystal clear waters and great dive spots, to a rich history and culture. After our first visit to Bonaire in 2008, we created a list of things guests should see or do from the island. Here is our ultimate guide to a Bonaire vacation: what to do, with the best tips and sights to make your trip unforgettable. Later we will create a separate listing of all the holidays, events and festivals on Bonaire!
Uninhabited Klein Bonaire and the donkey sanctuary
- Discover Klein Bonaire. We found Klein Bonaire to be one of Bonaire’s most spectacular sights. It is an uninhabited island just off the coast of the main island. We took the water cab from the promenade and later again from the Eden Beach Resort. We really enjoyed the beautiful view of the sea and the second time we even saw dolphins! On the islet itself you can enjoy a quiet beach day, snorkeling among colorful fish and maybe even spot a turtle! We were even lucky enough to meet an oceanic triggerfish! Note: there are no catering facilities on Klein Bonaire and there are hardly any shaded areas. So cover up well and bring a cooler with plenty of food and drinks!
- Visit the Donkey Sanctuary. In all the years we visited Bonaire after that first time and even now that we have lived there since 2013, we have visited the Donkey Sanctuary. Visiting the Donkey Sanctuary is a must when you are on Bonaire. It is a wonderful place to learn more about the donkeys that live on the island. You can buy carrots or kibble at the entrance, but you can also get your own bread at the supermarket. Let the loaves “age” for a while first with the packaging open, otherwise it will stick to the animals’ palates. Feed the donkeys from your car, or get out and pet them. With your entrance ticket you contribute to the care of injured donkeys on the island.
By car to Sorobon and 1000 Steps
- Relax at Sorobon Beach. Want to enjoy a relaxing day at the beach? Then there are plenty of smaller and slightly larger beaches on Bonaire. We found Sorobon Beach to be the perfect spot. The beach is located on a peninsula on Lac Bay and offers a view of the windsurfing activities there. There is no hospitality, but a bit back we found some great beach bars, including the Hangout Beachbar. We enjoyed DJs there on Sundays, the then world-famous Full Moon Party and the table barbecue on Thursday nights.
- Explore the island by car. We quickly found out on our first visit to Bonaire that the island has no public transportation. The best advice we got at the time was to rent a car to explore the island. Bonaire is not big, so you can explore the whole island in one day. Wiser by trial and error: rent a car only through a reputable car rental company to ensure you get the best deal and full insurance.
- Visit 1000 Steps. We went to find this famous little beach that first time with buckling knees because… 1000 Steps! 1000 Steps is a beautiful snorkeling and diving spot with colorful fish and even sea turtles. It’s a challenging staircase down, but the view of the water and marine life is totally worth it. The stairs, by the way, have nowhere near 1,000 steps….
Beautiful views in these places
- See the flamingos at the Lake Goto. We were advised by locals to drive to Lake Goto to spot flamingos. These beautiful animals are a sight to behold and they were plentiful. About two years after our first visit, a major fire raged at the nearby oil transfer company Bopec. The pollution from the fire, caused the microorganisms, food for the flamingos to disappear from Lake Goto, causing the birds there to disappear. At the time of writing this blog post in 2019, the flamingos appeared again in increasing numbers in Lake Goto!
- Bezoek Lac Bay / Lac Cai. Lac Cai is a headland in the lagoon Lac Bay, a protected area with clear blue water and mangroves, separated from the open sea by a coral dam. On Lac Cai you can enjoy the shell mountains and the locals, who like to party there, especially on Sundays. On the other side of the lagoon, is the Sorobon area (see above).
- Feast your eyes on Seru Largu. Seru Largu, in addition to the top of Brandaris, offers probably the most beautiful view of Bonaire. It is the perfect place for a picnic or to just enjoy the views. We could easily get here by car and we were lucky that we were the only ones at the time. We did experience in later years that this is not always the case! By the way, in the year 2000 a large monument was placed there, with the text in Papiamentu: “Kristu Ayera Awe Semper”, which means something like “Christ, yesterday, today and forever”.
A natural and historical monument
- Slave Huts. The Slave Houses are an important part of Bonaire’s history. The small huts are located south of the airport, towards the southern tip of the island, near the Pekelmeer. The Slave Houses are famous and unique in the world, because in many places where slavery occurred, all memories of this dark period, have been carefully erased.
- Washington Slagbaai National Park. If you love nature and adventure, the Washington Slagbaai National Park is not to be missed. During our first visit to Bonaire, we had rented a four-wheel drive car especially for this visit and that was no luxury! In the park you will find vast plains, breathtaking views, beautiful beaches and crystal clear water. The park is home to numerous animal species, including iguanas, flamingos and parakeets. The park is also a paradise for bird lovers, as it is home to as many as 203 different species of birds.
Bonaire vacation: what to do?
As you can see, there are plenty of activities on Bonaire to fill your days. Whether you enjoy water sports, exploring nature or just relaxing on the beach, Bonaire has something for everyone. Here are some more tips to make the most of your vacation on Bonaire:
- Always bring your snorkeling gear and underwater camera on your explorations
- Be sure to carry plenty of sunscreen and water; it can get very hot on Bonaire
- Try local dishes such as goat stew and pastechi
In short, a vacation on Bonaire is ideal for anyone who loves sun, sea and beach. But even if you are more into adventure and nature, Bonaire is the ideal destination. The best tip we can give you after our first visit is: do not forget to enjoy the local culture and cuisine and above all: enjoy a wonderfully relaxing vacation on this beautiful island.