Surely by now you get the picture — Bonaire is a paradise for scuba divers, consistently rated as one of the top diving destinations in the world. And the majority of those who come to the island arrive to enjoy just that. But what about those who prefer to stay about sea level? Does this Dutch Caribbean island have anything to offer them?
Indeed, I found, during our week-long girlfriend getaway to Bonaire — indeed it does. While we’re all certified scuba divers and logged seven dives in as many days, we left plenty of time for topside exploring. These were the greatest hits.
1. Windsurfing and Kitesurfing in Bonaire
Windsurfing is a close runner up to diving in the heat for the title of Bonaire’s most popular watersport. The heart of the action is Lac Bay, which has two lively windsurfing clubs, and , and near-perfect conditions year-round. While we didn’t have time for hopping on a board this trip, we enjoyed the ambience of Jibe City’s on-site restaurant and bar and watching the pros from afar. We learned that kitesurfing, too, is beginning to catch on in Bonaire, though windsurfing is still vastly more popular.
Not into windsurfing but still want to get out on the gorgeous Lac Bay water? Consider a of the nearby mangroves, or a with neighboring Sorobon resort.
2. Cave Snorkeling in Bonaire
Bonaire may be just 112 square miles, but it manages to boast an estimated 400 caves within them. We wanted to see the very best of ’em, so we signed on for a morning of fun with Leo from . Leo is considered one of the island’s top adventure guides, and it’s easy to see why. When we arrived at the first cave of the day to find another car outside, Leo quickly improvised and switched the order of our visits so we’d have each place to ourselves. Hence, we kicked things off with the wet half of the tour — a flashlight-led cave snorkel.
While I’m the first to admit I get anxious in the dark, my fascination kept any fear at bay and I loved kicking around the cavern, trying to capture its beauty on camera. My favorite part of the morning? Holding my breath and freediving into a deeper chamber only accessible through an underwater passage. Talk about a thrill!
Next up, we hit the dry cave, where an enthusiastic Leo impressed us with his extensive knowledge of the island’s history and geology. Most science-y stuff goes in one ear and out the other for this right-brain blogger, but even I was thrilled to recognize the fossils of coral, shells, and other ocean remnants imprinted into the cave walls.
We loved our morning with Leo and he’ll be one of the first people I call when I return to Bonaire — Flow also offers up tours for biking, hiking, kayaking and kitesurfing.
3. Yoga in Bonaire
The outdoor sala at Sorobon Beach Resort is worth traveling to for a class, even if you’re not staying onsite — and pilates, personal training, SUP yoga, TRX training and outdoor massages are also available, if you’re looking for other ways to stay healthy and centered. Sorobon also hosts occasional retreats with top yoga instructors including Caribbean superstar Rachel Brathen, who lives on neighboring Aruba.
Other yoga offerings around the island include a various weekly classes with and , and daily classes at studio.
Photo on left courtesy of
4. Restaurant Hopping in Bonaire
Bonaire’s culinary scene is no joke. While some might scoff at the idea of going to a Caribbean destination just to eat, those skeptics clearly haven’t sampled any of the island’s crazy good restaurants, many of which are starting to get nods from international food critics and publications. If you’re a foodie who plans trips around your taste buds, you won’t go wrong bringing them to Bonaire.
Like to see food at its source? Hop on and cook your own catch, head to and sample island cheese, or make your way to Rincon’s and toast to drinking local.
5. Snorkeling in Bonaire
Bonaire’s famous fish and reefs aren’t just for divers — snorkelers can enjoy them too. When we needed a break from diving, we set sail on an evening snorkel and sunset cruise with , one of many snorkeling tours available in Bonaire. Compass offers both daytime and sunset sails as well as the option to add an onboard dinner in the evening. Barbecue on a boat? Doesn’t get much tastier than that.
After a leisurely sail made even more blissful by an open bar, we set off on a guided snorkel. We were pretty quick to break off from the pack, however, and — what else? — stage an intricate underwater photoshoot. Appetite properly worked up, we made our way back to the boat for a hot and fresh deckside dinner, followed by a colorful sunset.
Photo on left courtesy of
A snorkeling trip like this is a great way for those in a group with both divers and non-divers to share a little reef time, like many of our fellow boaters were.
Photo courtesy of
Photo courtesy of
6. Twizzying in Bonaire
Bonaire’s unique topography is just begging for a road trip. And I can’t think of a more unique way to explore than via a Twizy Tour with . These unique electric cars are right in line with Bonaire’s commitment to conservation, and driving them is an exhilarating experience. The tour takes in several of the island’s highlights, from the colorful capital of Kralendijk to the outskirts of Washington Slagbaai National Park to the charming town of Rincon. Read more about my Twizy experience here!
Photo courtesy of
7. Boating to Klein Bonaire
Bonaire’s beaches tend to be small, hidden away affairs — while some are soft and white-sanded, many are made up of crushed coral that hints at the healthy reefs offshore. The most beautiful stretch of sand I laid eyes on throughout the week was on neighboring Klein Bonaire, an uninhabited blip of an island popular with divers, snorkelers, kayakers, and beach-seekers.
Technically, we were out on a fishing trip with , but as a queasy non-seafood eater I have to admit I was cheering for the fish and didn’t mind a bit when our catch came up empty. Even without a single bite, it was great to spot Bonaire’s famous salt flats from the sea, snorkel, be out in the sun with friends, and best of all, swim to shore to walk on the white sands of Klein Bonaire.
Klein Bonaire is just half a mile from Bonaire at the closest point. In 1999, the government purchased the island for $5 million, and promptly turned its care over to Bonaire National Marine Park at the bequest of the donors, who stipulated the area must remain protected. According to signage on the island, Klein Bonaire may just be the only terrestrial area in the world managed completely by a marine park.
A footnote on that same sign led me to yet another daydream about returning to Bonaire — permitted camping (with no open fires) is allowed on Klein Bonaire. Can you imagine a more special adventure than having this entire beach to yourself after the day trippers returned across the channel? Bonaire continued to blow me away with its opportunities for true adventure — unlike so many Caribbean destinations that market happily to the masses, this is an independent traveler’s playground.
Bonaire boring for non-divers? I think not. And the list of possibilities doesn’t end with these seven — horseback riding, hiking, rock climbing, and biking are just a few more of the available options. I can’t wait to see what I’ll try next time.
Which of these activities would you put at the top of your Bonaire bucket list?
Many thanks to Bonaire Tourism for hosting me. As always, you receive my honest thoughts, full opinions and poorly written jokes regardless of who is footing the bill.