Looking for the best things to do in Bonaire? In this Bonaire travel guide, I’ll go over 25 of the most incredible experiences to have on the island. I’ll also share my top travel tips for visiting Bonaire!
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Stunning turquoise water, abundant wildlife, dramatic desert landscapes, and a laid-back vibe: Welcome to Bonaire! This tiny little island in the Caribbean has no traffic lights and almost as many donkeys as people.
For such a small island, you’d be surprised how much there is to do once you arrive! Bonaire is filled to the brim with beautiful beaches, incredible restaurants, and tons of adventure activities.
Bonaire is one of those places that not many people know about, but once they find it they just keep coming back!
Here are 25 of the most amazing things to do in Bonaire!
Things To Do In Bonaire
On the hunt for the best things to do in Bonaire? Here are 25 incredible things you should do on your next visit to Bonaire.
1. Go Scuba Diving
One of the top things to do in Bonaire is go scuba diving. The main reason why Bonaire is so perfect for scuba diving is because they prioritize sustainability. 100% of the water surrounding bonaire is a protected Marine Park.
This means that the water, fishes, sand, coral, and all other marine life surrounding the island is protected. It is strictly forbidden to take or damage anything from the protected areas.
Another reason that diving is so Popular in Bonaire is because most of the dive sites are shore dives. This means that you can walk right into the water from the shore – no need to take a boat to the dive sites!
Here’s some marine life you may encounter when snorkeling in Bonaire:
- Sea Turtles
- Queen Conch
- And much more!
You’ll also see plenty of healthy coral reefs, mangroves, and even a few shipwrecks! It’s safe to say you’ll never get bored diving in Bonaire.
If you’re not certified for diving, you can still experience Bonaire’s incredible marine life! The snorkeling in Bonaire is absolutely incredible and should not be missed.
Most of your snorkeling will be done on the West side of the island due to the strong winds and rockier beaches in the East.
Here are some of the best snorkeling spots in Bonaire:
- 1,000 Steps Beach
- Wayaka II
- Klein Bonaire
- Tori’s Reef
- Lac Bay
- Boka Slagbaai
You can bring your own mask and snorkel or rent a set from one of the many dive shops on Bonaire. Dive Friends Bonaire, for example, rents out a mask and snorkel for $6 per day.
3. Cliff Jumping At The National Park
One of the most thrilling things to do in Bonaire is go cliff jumping in Washington Slagbaai National Park. The most popular jumping spot is called Boca Slagbaai.
At this jumping spot, you’ll climb up a short trail to reach the cliff. The jump is 25 feet tall and will definitely get the adrenaline pumping!
I’m a huge scaredy cat when it comes to heights but I was able to muster the courage to do this jump. It was so much fun and I’m glad I went for it!
Just be sure that you are always mindful of natural conditions like weather, currents, and rocks. And only jump if there are other people nearby!
4. Try Land Sailing
Have you ever heard of Land Sailing? I have to admit, I had no clue what this sport was before I visited Bonaire!
Land sailing (also known as land yachting and dirt boating) is a fun sport that involves racing on a wheeled blokart that is powered by wind.
Land sailing is one of the easiest sports to pick up for beginners. You basically control the entire blokart with a rope, so there aren’t a ton of complicated instructions to know before you try it.
Bonaire Landsailing Adventures offers 30 minute and 1 hour sessions that allow you to try out this fun sport. Each session includes safety instruction and equipment rental, so you can feel safe and comfortable before you get out on the track.
The best part about land sailing is that anyone can do it! As long as you are over the age of 8, you can operate your own blokart.
5. Spot Flamingos At Gotomeer
Flamingos can be spotted at many places around Bonaire, but one of the most beautiful places to see these majestic birds is Gotomeer.
Gotomeer is a saltwater lagoon in the North of Bonaire, just before the entrance to the National Park.
Flamingos can often be seen hanging out in the water near the shore of the lagoon, especially after a rain shower. The best time to see them is January-June, when they are tending to their young.
For the best views of the flamingos and surrounding area, take the paved road alongside the lagoon to the parking and observation area. Head up the staircase and enjoy the views of the lagoon and the National Park.
Other spots to spot flamingos in Bonaire are Pekelmeer and Lac Bay.
* Fun fact – did you know that Bonaire’s airport is named Flamingo Airport? And the airport is even painted flamingo pink!
6. Visit Klein Bonaire
Klein Bonaire (or “little Bonaire) is a small, uninhabited island just 800 meters (0.5 miles) west of the main island.
Its unspoiled waters are a part of Bonaire’s protected marine park, which makes it an incredible place to dive or snorkel. You’ll also find incredible water visibility around Klein Bonaire.
The water taxi to Klein Bonaire departs from Karel’s Beach Bar every day at 10:15am, 12:15pm, and 2:15pm, and from Eden’s Beach Resort at 10:30am, 12:30pm, and 2:30pm.
You can grab a taxi back to the main island at 12:45pm, 2:45pm, or 4:45pm. The tickets cost $20 roundtrip for adults and $10 for children 11 and under.
Keep in mind that there are no facilities at Klein Bonaire, so you will need to pack your own food, water, sunscreen, beach towels, chairs, etc.
7. Tour Washington Slagbaai National Park
Washington Slagbaai National Park is located on the northern end of Bonaire, about a 50 minute drive from downtown Kralendijk.
This 14,000 acre park is home to some of the most beautiful sights in Bonaire. There are hiking trails, beaches, and plenty of wildlife found in Washington Slagbaai.
You may be able to spot flamingos, parrots, iguanas, parakeets, and many other species of birds and reptiles. The visitor center at the entrance of the park contains a history museum and a picnic area.
It’s important to note that you will need a car or truck with high clearance to drive through the park. There are lots of areas on the road that are rocky and uneven.
8. Attend A Cultural Event
One of my favorite things about traveling to a new place is experiencing the local culture. Luckily, Bonaire puts on many cultural events throughout the year to help visitors get a taste for local life.
Two of the most noteworthy events are Nos Zjilea and Taste of Bonaire.
We attended Nos Zjilea during our stay in Bonaire and had an amazing time. This event brings together local artisans, performers, and cooks to share local culture with visitors. It is located in the cultural park Mangazina di Rei.
Taste of Bonaire is another event hosted by the tourism board of Bonaire. During this event, visitors have the opportunity to sample the dishes from some of the best restaurants on Bonaire. There are also musical performers and local artisans.
Check out the tourism board’s calendar to see if you’ll be on the island during any of these fun cultural events.
9. Explore Downtown Kralendijk
Kralendijk is the capital city of Bonaire and the main port of the island. In the downtown area, you’ll find plenty of colorful buildings, a variety of restaurants, and tons of shopping opportunities.
Spend an afternoon walking around the main street and picking out a few souvenirs. Stop by Gio’s for a mid-afternoon bowl of gelato or some coffee.
10. Salsa Dance On Thursday Nights
Looking to get your hips moving? Every Thursday evening is Latin night at the bar Cuba Compagnie.
The DJs play a variety of dance music from the Caribbean and Central and South America. Dancing starts around 10pm and goes until ‘late’.
If you happen to be in Bonaire in October, be sure to check out Cuba Compagnie’s annual Halloween party!
11. Take A Wind Surfing Lesson
Did you know that Bonaire’s shores are known as one of the best windsurfing spots in the world?
Catch some wind in your sails with a windsurfing lesson at Lac Bay. Bonaire Windsurf Place is the only locally owned and operated windsurf shop on the island, and they offer daily group lessons at 10am, 1pm, and 4pm.
12. Swim At The Beautiful Beaches
Because of its protected status as a marine park, Bonaire is home to some of the most beautiful beaches in the world. The sand is clean, the water is clear, and there are loads of fish swimming through the corals.
Some of the most beautiful beaches to visit in Bonaire are:
- Bachelor’s Beach
- Donkey Beach
- Wayaka Beach
- Boka Slagbaai
- Playa Chikitu
- Sorobon Beach
Help keep Bonaire’s beaches beautiful by packing your trash out with you, wearing reef-safe sunscreen, and leaving the shells where they lie.
13. Visit The Salt Pyramids
One of the most unique features of Bonaire is the salt pyramids and surrounding pink ponds. These mounds of salt, roughly 50 feet tall, can be seen from the land and the sky as you fly into Bonaire.
The solar salt facility covers approximately 13% of the island and produces between 300,000 and 500,000 metric tons of salt annually.
The view at the salt pans is absolutely stunning because of the contrast between the turquoise sea, bright pink ponds, and striking white pyramids.
The salt pans also contain a protected nesting area for flamingos. Because the flamingos are protected by the government, it is prohibited to enter the salt pans.
However, you can see the pyramids and pink ponds very clearly from the main road. Definitely pull off to snap a picture here while you’re visiting Bonaire.
14. Meet Donkeys At The Sanctuary
Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire have been caring for sick and injured donkeys on Bonaire since 1993. The sanctuary is now home to over 700 donkeys.
The donkeys receive food, water, and medical care at the sanctuary. The healthy donkeys are free to roam around the large park, while the sick and injured ones receive special care in smaller facilities.
You can visit the Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire daily from 10:00am to 5:00pm. Navigate through the park in your rental car, golf cart, bicycle, or on foot. The entrance fee is $9 for adults and $4.50 for children 12 and under.
Not visiting Bonaire anytime soon? You can still observe the donkeys on the live Donkey Cam on the sanctuary’s website!
15. Taste Cadushy Liqueur
If you’re visiting Bonaire, you definitely have to have a taste of the local liqueur. It’s called Cadushy and it is made right on Bonaire in the town of Rincon.
So what is Cadushy?
This liqueur is made out of the spiky Kadushi cacti that you’ll see all around the island of Bonaire. It is sweet and has a bright green color.
Visit the Cadushy Distillery to learn about how it is produced or order a Cadushy cocktail at one of the many bars around the island!
16. Go Underground In The Caves
Did you know that there are over 400 caves on Bonaire? The extensive cave system on the island formed tens of thousands of years ago.
A certified cave guide will take you to some of the more accessible caves on the island.
We did a tour with Cave Tours Bonaire and had the most incredible time exploring both wet and dry caves.
On their signature cave tour, you have the opportunity to explore two different caves. The first cave is home to some of the most incredible stalactite and stalagmite formations. The second cave is filled with water and provides the unique opportunity to snorkel underground.
I highly recommend this tour for anyone going to Bonaire who likes a little bit of adventure! It was definitely one of the highlights of the trip for me.
17. Grab A Beer At Jibe City
Looking for laid-back island vibes? You’ll want to head over to The Hangout Beach Bar at Jibe City.
This colorful beach bar has a number of tables, sofas, and sun loungers overlooking the turquoise waters of Lac Bay.
They also offer water sports equipment rentals including kayaks, SUP boards, snorkel gear, and windsurfing equipment. You can even take a windsurfing lesson here if you’re feeling up for it!
Be sure to come on Thursday nights for The Table BBQ or Fridays for a la carte tapas night.
18. Take A Luxurious Sunset Sail
Looking for one of the most incredible things to do in Bonaire? Sailing on the Melissa should be at the top of your list!
Their 6-Course Sunset Sail experience was definitely the highlight of my time on the island. It included a 6-course tasting menu from a professional chef, luxury wines, and a sunset sail around the island.
The ship was beautifully decorated with vintage rugs, plush cushions, and some light blankets for when the sun went down. The chefs prepare everything onboard using organic and local ingredients.
The real fun began after the sun went down, though, when we turned up the music and started dancing! I can’t guarantee that every sailing trip will end in a dance party, but the captain did admit that it happens more often than not.
19. Check Out Historic Rincon
The town of Rincon was established in 1527 and is the oldest settlement in the Dutch Caribbean. The town was originally built to prevent pirate attacks.
Visit Rincon to see the colorful houses, historic churches, and beautiful surrounding nature.
Rincon lies in a valley and is surrounded by hills. Head to the top of one of the hills for gorgeous views of Rincon and the valley. Keep an eye out for the sign for Altamira Unjo, which is a path off the main road that leads to a beautiful viewpoint.
If you are visiting Bonaire at the end of April, be sure to head to the ancient town to celebrate Rincon day. Every year on April 30th, locals gather to play music, dress in colorful costumes, and dance in the streets. There are also numerous stalls with local food and handicrafts.
20. Golf In The Desert
In case you haven’t already noticed, pretty much every activity on Bonaire has a sustainable theme. And of course, this applies to the golf courses as well!
Golf courses are typically pretty bad for the environment. They require tons of water to maintain the greens and they are often built by clearing out native vegetation.
Because of Bonaire’s commitment to sustainability, their golf course looks a bit different. The Bonaire golf course is built into the existing environment and was made to stay as natural as possible.
The fairways consist of sparse local vegetation and existing local soil. It’s a totally unique golfing experience!
Book a tee time at Bonaire’s Peidra So golf course here.
21. Go Horseback Riding Along The Beach
Want a unique way to experience the landscapes of Bonaire? Hop on the back of a horse!
Horse Ranch Bonaire offers a trail ride through Bonaire’s countryside, ending with a swim at the beach with the horses.
You’ll spend an hour riding through the countryside, among the mangroves, and along the beach. You’ll then have time to swim and relax on the beach before riding for another hour back to the ranch.
Book the trail ride and swim experience with Horse Ranch Bonaire here.
22. Explore The Foodie Scene
Bonaire has an absolutely incredible foodie scene. Whether you’re looking for fresh seafood, authentic Italian fare, or even Turkish street food, there’s a spot for you on Bonaire.
Here are some of my favorite restaurants on Bonaire:
- Rum Runners – beautiful sunset restaurant with tasty cocktails
- Ingridients – beautiful views, creative dishes, and a focus on seasonal ingredients (be sure to try the parmesan truffle pasta cooked in a wheel of cheese!)
- Sebastian’s – international menu with a Mediterranean flair
- Doner Station – quick and tasty Turkish street food
- Boudoir – fun lunch spot with tons of Avocado-themed menu items (try the avocado frappuccino!)
- Capriccio – Bonaire’s premier Italian restaurant with an impressive wine list
Be sure to check the tourism board’s calendar of events to see if you will be visiting during their Taste Of Bonaire Event.
During this event, you will have the opportunity to sample signature dishes from some of the best restaurants on the island.
23. Enjoy A Drink At The Tiki Bar
Looking for a unique cocktail experience? Bonaire’s newest bar, Tiki & Co, offers exotic drinks, tropical cuisine, and a laid-back vibe.
Be sure to try the Sorobon Zombie, which involves the bartender lighting the bar on fire!
Tiki & Co is open from 5:00pm to 1:00am Tuesday-Thursday, 1:00pm to 2:00am Friday & Saturday, and 5:00pm to 1:00am on Sundays.
24. Go Birdwatching
Bonaire is home to a wide variety of bird species. Some common birds you may see on the island are flamingos, parrots, bananaquits, hummingbirds, caracara birds of prey, and many more!
Here is a full list of birds you may encounter on Bonaire.
You can, of course, just head off on your own to try to spot some birds. However, if you’re a beginner bird watcher, you will probably want to join a tour.
Bonaire Bird Tours is the leading provider of birdwatching tours on Bonaire. You can join one of their pre-determined routes, or create your own custom tour!
25. Explore The Coast By Kayak
One of the best ways to explore Bonaire’s beautiful coastline is by kayak! You’ll paddle through isolated lagoons, secret passageways, and mangrove forests.
I highly recommend going with a clear bottom kayak so you can see the flora and fauna beneath you as you paddle. Clear Bottom Bonaire offers a really magical 3 hour kayaking tour that also includes snorkeling stops.
Getting To Bonaire
The only ways to get to Bonaire are by air or cruise ship.
For most visitors, this means that they will be flying into Bonaire’s Flamingo International Airport.
From the United States, you can reach Bonaire via direct flight from Houston, Miami, Atlanta, and New Jersey. You can also connect to Bonaire through Aruba or Curaçao.
From Europe, the only direct flight to Bonaire is by KLM from Schiphol airport in Amsterdam.
If you would prefer to cruise to Bonaire, there are many cruise lines that stop on the island.
These include popular cruise lines such as Norwegian Cruise Lines, Royal Caribbean, Princess, Holland America, Celebrity, and many more.
All visitors to Bonaire must pay the $75 per person tourist entry tax. This fund is used to support education, infrastructure, tourism development, and sustainability initiatives on the island.
You can fill out the visitor entry form and pay the tourist entry tax online here.
How To Get Around Bonaire
Renting a car is the best way to get around Bonaire. There are well-known and reliable car rental agencies located at the Flamingo International Airport. It’s important to note that most cars are manual, so if you don’t know how to use a stick shift you should reserve an automatic vehicle well in advance.
If you’re thinking of visiting Washington Slagbaai National Park, you will need a high clearance vehicle as some of the roads are very rocky and uneven.
If you don’t want to rent a car, the next best option is to rent a golf cart, scooter, or quad bike. These offer a more “open air” experience, so be make sure to keep an eye on the rain forecast.
Taxis are also available in Bonaire but are limited. According to the Tourism Board website, you can reach a taxi in Bonaire by calling +599 717 8100.
Hotels In Bonaire
Looking for the best places to stay in Bonaire? Here are some of the top-rated hotels on the island:
Luxury – Harbour Village
Harbour Village has to be one of the most beautiful hotels I’ve ever stayed at. The property is stunning and is home to one of the only private beaches on Bonaire.
Make sure to get a room with a view of the sea view so you can drink your morning coffee while looking out at the glimmering turquoise waters.
Best For Families – Grand Windsock
The Grand Windsock is a great option for families visiting Bonaire. This property has apartment-style bungalows with multiple bedrooms, kitchens, and lounge areas.
Some of the rooms even have a private pool. If yours doesn’t, don’t worry! The hotel has a very beautiful pool area located right next to the lobby.
Budget – Art Hotel
For a cheaper option, be sure to check out Art Hotel in Kralendijk. It’s close to plenty of dining options and attractions in the downtown area.
Things To Know Before Visiting Bonaire
Where Is Bonaire?
Surprisingly, not many people have heard of this little island paradise in the Caribbean. It is often overshadowed by its larger sister islands of Aruba and Curaçao.
Bonaire is located in the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean sea. It is approximately 50 miles from the coast of Venezuela.
This island is part of the ABC islands with the sister islands of Aruba and Curaçao. It is owned by the Kingdom of the Netherlands.
What Language Is Spoken On Bonaire?
Because Bonaire is owned by the Kingdom of the Netherlands, its official language is Dutch. However, very few locals speak Dutch as their first language.
Papiamento is the most widely-spoken language on the island of Bonaire. This Spanish-Creole language sounds like a mixture of Portuguese, Dutch, and Spanish. Don’t be surprised if you recognize some words if you speak any of those languages.
English and Spanish are also widely spoken on Bonaire.
Here are a few words in Papiamento to learn before visiting Bonaire:
- Bon dia – Hello / good day
- Danki – Thank you
- Bon bini – Welcome
- Porfabor – Please
- Bon salud – Cheers
The STINAPA Nature Fee
On top of the tourist entry tax, visitors must also pay the STINAPA Nature Fee if they plan on entering the National Park or any of the water surrounding Bonaire.
STINAPA is a nonprofit organization that manages Bonaire’s nature parks. These parks are maintained and managed almost completely with funding from tourists, so your nature fee really makes a difference.
You can pay your STINAPA Nature fee online here.
Can You Drink The Tap Water In Bonaire?
Yes, the tap water in Bonaire is 100% safe to drink. There is a desalination plant located right on the island, so all tap water on Bonaire is clean and safe.
Not only is it safe to drink, but it also tastes great! I drank tap water during the entire week I visited Bonaire and I never experienced any unpleasant tastes.
There is no reason to drink bottled water on Bonaire. Be sure to bring a reusable water bottle for your visit to Bonaire to save money and help preserve the environment!
This post was all about the best things to do in Bonaire and what you need to know before you go.
Disclaimer: I was a guest of the Bonaire Tourism Board. As always, all opinions are my own.
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