Bonaire is a relatively small island, but it offers a large variety of activities, for all types of tourists. You can visit throughout the year, as it features almost constant weather. Not yet part of mass tourism, you won’t be bothered by crowds here. There are lots of things to do in Bonaire, that you can organise at your own peace.
Check also our article on what to do in Bonaire with kids, you might find good tips there as well.
I’m listing here a selection of the most common things to be done in Bonaire:
Bonaire is known as “the diver’s paradise”, so diving is listed as one of the best things to do in Bonaire. The island is known as one of the best worldwide destinations for diving from shore. Many divers I met here said this is the most wonderful diving location they’ve ever been to.
Check our full post on diving in Bonaire. This is a must if you ever get here!
2. Beach time
We are on a tropical island. The most common option among all the things to do in Bonaire is to spend your time relaxing on the beach. There are plenty of options, for every taste. From powder sand to rocky shore, shallow waters or abrupt water entrance, secluded and wild or touristic with sun lounges and entertainment, you will find the perfect beach for you here.
We have a detailed post regarding Bonaire beaches. Check it out and choose your ideal sun bathing location.
3. Road trip to Rincon
Rincon is the first settlement done in Bonaire by the Spanish colonisers. Now, Rincon is a tiny village where the time seems to run even slower than on the rest of the island. On this short road trip, you will also drive through some beautiful scenery that should not be missed in Bonaire.
From Kralendijk center, head north, on the coast. As you exit the city, you will drive right on top of the cliffs, admiring the blue shades of the Caribbean. Have a look also on the top of the hills on the right. Here are the best properties in Bonaire, luxurious villas that worth a little fortune. Continue your way up Queen’s Highway until you are close to BOPEC oil tanks and than head right towards Goto Meer. Take a close look to the lake. Goto is a flamingo reservation and entire flocks of pink birds are usually seen here. Then, as the road makes a right turn, you will approach Rincon. The road is very picturesque here; you can see the little village from the hilltop, just a bunch of houses guarded by a yellow church.
In Rincon, you can make a short stop at Cadushy Distillery, where various local liquors are made, using old, traditional methods and recipes. Their most famous product is the cactus liqueur. “The Spirit of Bonaire” is one of the few cactus drinks in the whole world. You can to taste here a sample of Cadushy products and the team will explain the whole production process. While we were chatting with the bartender, Eric had a great time in Cadushy’s terrace, a green oasis with many large parrots.
To return in the capital, you can take the direct route on Kaya Rincon, or make a short round to the north side of the coast. There is just a dirt road here, close to the windmills. But the landscape is quite impressive! The sea is completely different than what you experienced on the other side of the island. The deep turbulent waters feature strong currents and high waves. Make a quick stop at Boka Onima to be amazed by the impressive power of the ocean and to get some splashes from the waves crushing on the rocky coast.
Before arriving in the city center, make one last stop to get at one of the best panorama on the whole island. You will see a sign directing to the right, to Seru Largu. This is a high hill from where you can observe most of the island and the vast sea surface that surrounds it.
4. Kayaking in the mangrove
Lac Bay mangrove forest is a maze of channels and natural tree tunnels. It offers a unique scenery, natural and unspoiled. The area features three species of mangrove trees (white, red and black) and several sea grass beds. All of them are vital for the fragile ecosystem. In the mangroves we have a real nursery for Bonaire marine life. The water forest protects both the coastline and the reef, acting like a filter zone. The importance of this area is recognised internationally; Bonaire mangroves are classified as Ramsar site since 1980.
To visit the mangroves, you can choose 1 or 2 hours kayak tour, the second one including also a snorkelling session. We chose the short version, even though I think the second option to be a wonderful experience too. We paddled the kayak through the canals in a very spectacular scenery. The water is so clear here that we could spot entire schools of fish, plus various crustaceans and shells on the mangroves underwater branches. There are just a few spots with moderate wind and currents, so kayaking is quite easy and relaxing here, completely different than kayaking in a mountain river.
Tours in the mangrove area are done with a certified guide only. He explained us very nicely the importance of the mangrove area for the entire island and what can be done to protect it. From time to time he also pointed to various birds or vegetation, so that we wouldn’t miss anything from our tour.
You are not allowed to use fins in the mangrove area and it is advisable to apply only natural, reef-friendly sunscreen if you plan to enter the water, in order not to harm the ecosystem. The mosquitos can be really problematic in the mangrove area, depending on the season and weather. It is best to go prepared with some remedies. As I try to use natural options, Citronella essential oil proved to be quite effective.
5. Day trip to Klein Bonaire
A water taxi trip to Klein Bonaire is probably the most popular among all the things to do in Bonaire. After you visit the tiny islet and take a snorkelling tour on its coast, you will understand why.
See our detailed post about Klein Bonaire for more information regarding Bonaire’s “little sister” and some tips for your trip there.
6. Flamingos at Goto Meer
Lake Goto is one of my favourite spots on Bonaire. I love to spend some time here in late afternoon, before sunset; for me, it is one of the most relaxing and disconnecting places in Bonaire.
The saline lake hosts hundreds of flamingos that can be observed right next to the road. It is wonderful to see these gracious pink birds in their natural habitat. But the young ones, little and grey, remind me of the Ugly Duck story I sometimes read to Eric at bedtime. If you are lucky enough, you can see the flamingos flying above your heads into more wild places. It’s incredible how nature could create them to be able to fly so delicately.
Goto Lake is filled with water from the sea, but rain water also gathers here. Now it is the dry season, but I was told the water level will be much higher in a few months. The lake is surrounded by a hilly region covered in cactuses and bushes. But, at dusk, when the sun goes beyond the hills and the light diminishes, it reminds me of forested mountain regions. I miss those a lot and that’s why I probably like this spot so much.
If you go to Goto Lake, especially in the evening or in rainy or less windy days, make sure you have so remedies against mosquitos. This is their territory, one of the best mosquito habitats from the whole island. Make sure you can avoid them to be able to enjoy the scenery and the silence.
7. Extreme water sports
If you feel adventurous enough, you can try a new extreme sport in Bonaire.
Sorobon beach is one of the best windsurf locations in the world. Protected by an offshore reef, it features shallow calm waters where you can walk for minutes, the water not going above your waist line. The windsurf center offers various types of trainings, from very beginners to specialised techniques and even lessons for kids, starting 7 years of age.
Atlantis beach offers the perfect conditions for kiteboarding, with steady tradewinds and pristine warm waters.
For now, we just resumed at admiring both locations. You need some time to learn properly, and also a great physical shape.
8. Road trip to Washington Slagbaai National Park
The whole northwest side of Bonaire is protected as Washington Slagbaai National Park for almost 50 years now. It sums up what the island has to offer, but in an even more wild and untouched manner.
We have a full post dedicated to Bonaire National Park, the road trips you can take there and sights that should not be missed.
Which of the things to do in Bonaire seems the most interesting to you? What would you try first on your vacation here?
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