Bonaire – Diver’s Paradise
Everyone knows Bonaire as one of the paradise islands in the Caribbean. The beaches are snow white, the water is azure-blue and there is a cozy and relaxed atmosphere. Bonaire is also known as a diver’s paradise. The coral reefs are among the most beautiful in the world. But don’t worry, Bonaire is also a wonderful destination for travelers who do not dive. I want to share some of the best activities on Bonaire with you.
Together with Aruba and Curacao, Bonaire is a popular winter destination for many travelers. The weather is often very good with an average temperature of 27 degrees Celsius. Most tourists stick to the beach (which I can fully understand), but there is more to do on this beautiful island. With a surface area of 288 square kilometers, Bonaire is the second largest island of the Netherlands Antilles and has the shape of a boomerang.
Most hotels and apartments are located in and around the capital. From here you can easily explore the whole island. The best thing to do is to rent a car from the airport. There are 2 routes over the island, one to the north and one to the south part of the island.
Diving & Snorkeling
As you now know, Bonaire is a true paradise for snorkeling or diving enthusiasts. One of the best activities on Bonaire is therefore diving. There are many places around the island where you can enjoy the beautiful underwater world.
There are also places where you can just enter the water from the beach with your snorkel, and you will be amazed by the living corals and many tropical fishes.
Tip! The best places for snorkeling are 1,000 Steps Beach, Lac Bay and Klein Bonaire.
Washington Slagbaai National Park
Bonaire is not only a beautiful destination for going underwater. The island also offers good solutions if you prefer to stay on land. If you like to be in nature, Washington Slagbaai National Park is one of the best activities on Bonaire. Visiting the park is possible by car, mountain bike or even on foot.
There are two routes in the park: the yellow route (35 kilometers) follows the coastline and the green route (24 kilometers) leads to the famous snorkeling spots. The terrain is mainly hilly, and you will find a lot of cactus forests, impressive rock formations (Boka Kokolishi) and the salt lake Boka Bartol. You can also see various sand dunes and the Suplado Blowhole. The bays on the westcoast are ideal for swimming and snorkeling. There are more than 500 different animal and plant species in this park! Think of lizards, iguanas and many colorful birds. Some of the beaches are known as breeding grounds for various turtle species.
Tip! For a beautiful view you can hike to the highest peak Brandaris (240 meters) and will take approximately 3 hours.
West of Bonaire, about 2 kilometers from the coast at Kralendijk, there is a small coral island, which is called Klein Bonaire. With approximately 6 square kilometers, an uninhabited island.
This area is best known for the fairytale-like diving and snorkeling spots that can be found around the island. Besides the beautiful reefs, it is also an important breeding ground for sea turtles.
Tip! Dive or snorkel in different places around the island to see the most beautiful reefs.
Until 2010, Bonaire belonged to the Netherlands Antilles but nowadays Bonaire, Sint-Eustatius en Saba have the status of special municipality of the Netherlands and form together the Caribbean Netherlands.
Kralendijk is the capital of Bonaire and is a colourful and lively city. With around 13.000 inhabitants it’s the largest city on the island. The name Kralendijk refers to the coral reef that is located here. You can stroll through the narrow streets and you will find beautiful souvenirs in every shop.
In addition to Fort Oranje, Kralendijk also has a number of interesting cultural and historical sites, two churches and a small museum. Most sights are within walking distance of each other.
Large cruise ships regularly dock here from November to April. On these days, you will find a large market on the Wilhelmina Square with special products that are locally made on Bonaire.
Tip! On the pier you will find Karel’s Beach Bar. Best to visit just before sunset. Not only can you enjoy a beautiful sunset, but it is also Happy Hour.
One of the most interesting activities on Bonaire is visiting the salt pans in the south part of the island. Most of southern Bonaire is used for the extraction of salt. Since the Dutch gained control over Bonaire in the 17th century, salt has been extracted here. The logistics process could be optimized by using slaves. After slavery was abolished, less and less salt was initially extracted on Bonaire, but now it is back in full swing. The salt pans are often pink in color, and therefore interesting to see. The salt water also attracts various flamingos. If you’re lucky they are close enough to the road, otherwise you may see them flying or standing in the middle of the lakes. If you drive along the salt pier from Kralendijk you will also come across the slave huts.
Tip! The coastal road is a very nice route that takes you all the way around the salt pans.