Bonaire is one of the underrated natural gems of the Caribbean. Often referred to as “diver’s paradise,” the island is teeming with distinct flora and fauna, both above and below the water.
Situated about 80km off the shores of Venezuela, Bonaire comes under Dutch municipality. It also forms a part of the ABC group of islands along with Aruba and Curaçao.
Having an area of 288 square kilometres, almost 20,000 people call Bonaire their home. The majority of the population on the island is Dutch. Bonaire’s capital, Kralendijk, is its main cruise port. A colourful little town perfect for a stroll and some shopping, Kralendijk makes for a pleasant introduction to Bonaire’s laidback personality.
Even though many cruise ships visit the island, Bonaire primarily attracts die-hard nature and water lovers. If planning to spend more than a couple of days on the island, make sure you rent a scooter. It is the best way to travel around and explore some of the hidden nooks of the island.
In terms of excursions, Bonaire’s relatively small size doesn’t hold it back from offering some of the most unique and fun activities in the Caribbean.
So, whether you are holidaying on the island for the first time or are a repeat visitor, here are some of the most incredible things to do in Bonaire.
Are you interested in trying a one-of-a-kind drink while in Bonaire? If yes, head straight to Cadushy Distillery, responsible for making the world’s only cactus liqueur. Because of its uniqueness, a tour of Cadushy is among the unmissable things to do in Bonaire.
Started in 2009 by Eric and Jolanda Gietman, Cadushy Distillery is in the centre of Rincon, the oldest settlement of the island. Visitors at the distillery get to learn about the process of concocting this exceptional drink, made by mixing kadushi cactus (found in abundance on the island) with lime, sorghum, and a special spice mix. The final beverage has a lovely bright green colour. You can have this special island drink straight or mix it up with a variety of cocktails.
The distillery tour is also a wonderful opportunity to know more about the history of other Bonaire spirits. Moreover, much to the delight of tourists, all tours end with a tasting.
Jibe City is, without a doubt, the coolest place to chill out in Bonaire. This beach club and windsurfing centre have a bohemian and friendly vibe, making it a favourite among water sports lovers, couples, and families.
Situated on the island’s east coast, Jibe City borders Lac Bay, the largest lagoon in the area. Consequently, the shallow waters are ideal to snorkel and for children to play carefree. Furthermore, the windy disposition of the location makes it the best place to enjoy thrilling water sports.
On offer at Jibe City are kite and windsurfing rentals, lessons for kids and adults, paddle boarding, and yoga on the beach or on paddleboards. The centre also has sun loungers with umbrellas and a bar offering a range of drinks and snacks. Visitors can further enjoy a table barbeque featuring freshly caught fish at the bar. If you feel a day is not enough, Jibe City also has accommodation options.
Another must-do attraction to cross out from your things to do in Bonaire checklist is a leisurely sail through the island’s 850-years-old mangrove forest. You can do this while spending a day at Jibe City, which is near the Lac Bay mangrove forest.
To maximize this experience, take a glass-bottom kayak through the dense vegetation of the mangroves. The trip is an excellent occasion to appreciate the natural beauty of Bonaire below and above the water.
Since the mangroves fall under Bonaire Marine Park, a protected area, it’s best to take a tour with a guide. While the guide can take you to otherwise inaccessible regions of the park and point out different birds, the glass-bottom kayak lets you enjoy the fascinating aquatic life residing underwater in the mangroves.
A fun and educational place to spend an afternoon with the family on the island is the Bonaire Donkey Sanctuary. Started in 1993 by the husband-and-wife team of Ed Koopman and Marina Melis, this expansive haven now hosts over 700 donkeys. The couple and their team take care of all donkeys, whether they need food, health care, or don’t have a home.
The donkeys in the sanctuary are friendly creatures who love to interact with humans. You can visit this shelter and travel around the grounds by car, bike, or even on foot.
The staff at the sanctuary is an enthusiastic bunch forever eager to educate visitors about donkeys and other animals on the island. You can also purchase carrots from the entrance and feed the donkeys while touring the sanctuary.
Among the essential things to do in Bonaire is to go snorkelling. You can easily snorkel off the coast, but the underwater life near Klein Bonaire is especially spectacular. Klein Bonaire is a small, flat, uninhabited island about 800 meters from Bonaire.
Since the area around the island is a protected reserve, a local catamaran tour is an ideal way to visit the best snorkel locations near Klein Bonaire. Furthermore, boat trips typically include professional guides, underwater photographers, snorkel equipment, snacks, and even alcoholic drinks on your way back.
As long as you are confident about swimming in the sea, snorkelling in Klein Bonaire is perfect even for first-timers. The boats usually stop near areas with a gentle current that makes it easy to swim without much of an effort.
Promising crystal-clear waters, the sea around Klein Bonaire is brimming with grouper, parrotfish, various corals, turtles, rays, bonefish, angelfish, and many more fascinating marine creatures.
Saving the best for last, scuba diving is one of the main things to do in Bonaire. It is also the island’s biggest attraction, enticing hundreds of divers from around the globe to visit Bonaire every year.
The waters around the island are a cornucopia of vibrant aquatic life featuring colourful corals, a melange of fish, sharks, hawksbill turtles, and manta rays. There are over 80 diving spots in the vicinity of Bonaire, several of which are accessible from the shore. Moreover, Bonaire offers some excellent wreck diving possibilities, unlike anywhere else in the world.
Among the most popular diving spots in Bonaire are 1000 Steps (don’t worry, you don’t have to go down a thousand steps), the wreck of freighter Hilma Hooker that lies at a depth of 18 to 30 meters, and Bari Reef, a shore dive with calm waters ideal for beginners.
Bonaire also has several PADI-certified dive centres that offer tours and courses. The courses are for both first-timers and professional divers wanting to add more challenging dives to their repertoire.
Book by: Jan 31st 2022
Book by: Jan 31st 2022
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