Whether you come for our scuba diving, Bonaire snorkeling or other Bonaire activities, for a week or for a month, there is always something to do for the outdoors-minded or culturally curious visitor. Here is a list with just a few of our favorite things to do.
To participate in Bonaire snorkeling or any of these Bonaire activities, you can ask the Sand Dollar Reception Staff for assistance once here, or let us know in advance what you would like to do whilst on your vacation. We will happily suggest activities, tours or sightseeing expeditions specifically suited to your style.
In the meantime, enjoy a preview of enjoyment to come when you visit our island. We love all things Bonaire – Bonaire snorkeling, Bonaire activities, Bonaire culture – and know you will as well!
The Bonaire Marine Park was named one of the Caribbean’s Best Places for Snorkeling in 2016 by USAToday.com. It was voted #1 in Islands magazine’s Editors’ Picks: Best Snorkeling in the Caribbean. It was also named one of the top 10 places to snorkel in the world by the Caribbean Journal and one of the Caribbean’s Best Places for Snorkeling by Frommer’s.
The beauty of Bonaire snorkeling is the sheer number of sites to select from and the ability to access the sites from shore. At most sites you can pretty much walk towards the water, jump in, and find yourself in the middle of a superb snorkeling site.
Two of the best snorkeling areas are right at or near Sand Dollar. One area is around the ruins of an old cement pier just south of Sand Dollar and Den Laman. The boundaries of this old cement platform form a natural “aquarium” that is simply teeming with fish. Other shyer species take shelter underneath submerged slabs.
The #1 favorite area though is directly in front of Sand Dollar on Bari Reef. There have been well over 100 species of fish identified there within snorkeling depth. Also notable along our terrace area is the Bari Reef Ball Project, a series of 8 or so 600 lb. reef balls. The reef balls were sunk in 2006 as part of a pilot program dedicated to the production of artificial reefs. Made of a special concrete mixture whose Ph. levels are close to that of the ocean, they stimulate early marine assimilation and growth. Eleven years later, many creatures now call these man-made structures home, with more growth building all the time.
Bonaire’s Lac Bay offers near-perfect conditions for all levels of wind surfers, from beginners to professional sailors. The shallow waters of the bay boast favorable on-shore winds making Lac Bay the perfect place to learn. More experienced sailors use the flat water expanse to train in slalom and freestyle. For more information visit Bonairewindsurfing.com.
Kite Boarding takes place on the south-west side of Bonaire where the steady trade winds make for ideal boarding for beginners and experts alike. Kite boarding lessons are available from expert instructors with chase boat support available for safety. Lessons are available and calm and crystal clear waters to teach you the ins and outs of kite boarding. For more information visit kiteboardingbonaire.com
Kayaking is another watersport to be enjoyed on Bonaire. You can kayak the open ocean in sit-in kayaks or explore the secluded passageways of the Lac Bay mangroves in sit-on-top kayaks. Programs ranging from novice to the highly challenging are available from a variety of outfitters.
Mountain biking is the perfect way to tour the island. Go at your own pace along miles of uncrowded roads or off-road trails following well-marked pathways. Bikes can be rented for independent exploration or in conjunction with a tour lead by local guides.
Bonaire has many hiking trails that lead to some amazing vistas, however many are hard to find without local expertise. Outfitters such as FlowBonaire can recommend the best trails to match your fitness level and interest. From moderately challenging to intense, their guides will lead you on hikes through some of the most beautiful spots on the island.
Bonaire rose above sea level 60 – 70 million years ago revealing limestone formations that have dissolved under the action of rainwater forming numerous caves. A few of these caves are open for guided tours offered by FlowBonaire, an official certified cave guide. Hike through some of Bonaire’s dry caves or snorkel in a flooded freshwater cave.
Tours & Activities
Washington Slagbaai National Park is a nature sanctuary located in the northern end of Bonaire. It comprises two former land plantations totaling just under 14,000 acres that once supplied salt, charcoal, aloe extract, divi-divi pods, and goats for export to Curacao and Europe. In addition to snorkeling and diving, visitors can hike, bird watch and more.
No trip to Bonaire would be complete without a stop at the Donkey Sanctuary. In 1993 a Dutch couple established the Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire for sick, wounded and orphaned donkeys. Today the Sanctuary offers a sheltered, protected life to all the donkeys of Bonaire. There are more than 400 donkeys living in Sanctuary being provided with food, drinking water and medical care and have plenty of room and freedom.
Also on the Bonaire bucket list should be at least one good Flamingo sighting. The Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary, located in the vast salt pans at the southern end of the island, is one of only four areas in the world where Flamingos breed. The area is not open to the public, but with a good pair of binoculars or camera zoom lens you can often spot at least a few of the birds. The Caribbean flamingo is the most colorful of all species of flamingos, due mainly to the red carotenes that come from their consumption of the tiny rosy brine shrimp that live in the water. They can often be seen flying at sunset as well, when some members leave to feast in nearby Venezuela.
A Taste of Bonaire
Bonaire has a number of unique places to visit – none quite as unusual as the Cadushy Distillery, where the world’s only liqueur made from cactus is made. And sampled! If drinking a cactus cocktail isn’t your thing, you can also sample the Rincon Rum, Cadushy Vodka or their Captain Don’s Whiskey.
If you’ve been on Bonaire before you know the Yellow stones along the road mark the best dives sites. But it is the white stones you need to follow to find Aletta’s Goat Farm off the road to Rincon (the first dirt road on the left just past the soccer/football field.) The farm is open for tours and sampling the cheeses Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays at 9:00 am for a small fee. If you can’t make the tour not to worry her goat cheese is sold in most major super markets and included on many restaurant menu’s.
If just the THOUGHT of all of your active Bonaire vacation is making you hungry – relax! Bonaire has almost as many restaurants to chose from as it does dive sites! These establishments boasts a very large number of establishments deliciously serve up the cuisine of the myriad of ethnicities present on the island, including Dutch, Colombian, Chinese, Italian, Surinam, Indonesian, French, German and delicious kuminda krioyo (local food) consisting of different types of stews, fresh fish, funchi, rice. Ask our Reception Office staff for recommendations or visit TourismBonaire.com for a current listing of options.