18 Palms Bonaire Snorkeling Guide [Rated + Reviewed] 

by | Last updated Mar 4, 2024 | Best Snorkeling Caribbean, Bonaire

How do you even begin to choose where to snorkel from over 60+ dive sites in Bonaire? My husband and I have explored numerous spots and pinpointed some of the best snorkeling locations. 18 Palms Bonaire is one of them. Let’s walk through how to get there, where to snorkel, and what cool sea life you might encounter.

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Bonaire Snorkeling Rating Sytem

We love planning “snorkations.” Some of our favorites in the Caribbean have been St. John USVI, Belize, and of course Bonaire!

To help compare all of our snorkeling destinations, I have created a snorkel rating system.

Please see the rating key below.

OVERALL SNORKEL RATING KEY

🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿   =   World-class snorkeling and worth traveling just for the snorkeling alone!

🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿   =   Incredible snorkeling and should be on your list of top things to do!

🤿 🤿 🤿   =   Decent snorkeling and worth the effort!

🤿 🤿   =   Worth consideration if you are running out of things to do!

🤿   =   Not worth it!

If you want to discover all of my 14 FAVORITE Bonaire snorkeling sites in ONE comprehensive list, click on the link below!

18 Palms Bonaire Snorkeling

Beach entrance to 18 Palms in Bonaire

Snorkeling entrance to 18 Palms in Bonaire

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RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿

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HOW TO GET THERE

How to get to 18 Palms Bonaire

How to get to 18 Palms in Bonaire

Getting to 18 Palms is tricky and honestly pure luck if you get in.

Why?

Because you must go through Van der Valk Plaza Beach Resort to snorkel at 18 Palms. There is a guard at the hotel’s entrance. He/she decides if you are allowed in that day.

One year we were denied entrance. The next year we were granted entry.

You can buy a $125 day pass to the resort, which includes a sunbed, drinks, lunch, two snacks, pool and beach access, and beach towels.

However, we just wanted to snorkel for an hour and leave.

We explained our situation to the guard and were directed to Toucan Diving, which is a diving company on the hotel’s property. After checking in and showing our STINAPA passes, we walked right to the beach to snorkel the reef at 18 Palms.

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WHERE TO SNORKEL

A map of where to snorkel at 18 Palms Bonaire

A map of where to snorkel at 18 Palms

Gear up to the left of the rock wall on the small beach. Walk to the right in the water around the wall until you are deep enough in the water to throw your snorkeling fins on.

See my snorkeling entrance photo above.

Snorkel both to the right and left of the beach. We saw more pockets of fish soup on the left side.

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ENTRY

18 Palms has one of the easiest entries.

I always wear dive booties, but it does have a sandy bottom.

Water is calm and easy to navigate.

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MARINE LIFE WE SAW

Now the fun part! What will you see?

We saw some large colorful parrotfish, multiple schools of feeding blue tang (we had a similar blue tang experience at Bari Reef), a school of bar jacks, juvenile yellowtail damselfish, four-eye butterflyfish, Spanish hogfish, and little fish nurseries.

Other spottings were large schools of French grunt, who love to hang out around pillars (like at Salt Pier) or in staghorn coral (like at Lac Bay).

Coral types we saw were brain, lettuce, and some elkhorn.

To have the best underwater experience, I strongly recommend bringing your own fitted snorkeling gear!

Colorful parrotfish feeding with blue tang at 18 Palms in Bonaire

Colorful parrotfish feeding with blue tang at 18 Palms in Bonaire

Brightly colored juvenile yellowtail damselfish at 18 Palms in Bonaire

Brightly colored juvenile yellowtail damselfish at 18 Palms

School of French grunt hanging out by the pillars at 18 Palms in Bonaire

School of French grunt 

Snorkeling with a school of bar jacks at 18 Palms in Bonaire

Snorkeling with a school of bar jacks at 18 Palms

Snorkeling with a school of bar jacks at 18 Palms in Bonaire

Large colorful parrotfish posing for my camera

Fish nursery at 18 Palms in Bonaire

Fish nursery 

Close up of blue tang at 18 Palms in Bonaire

Close up of blue tang at 18 Palms

Snorkeling with a large school of blue tang in shallow waters at 18 Palms in Bonaire

Snorkeling with a large school of blue tang in shallow waters at 18 Palms

Final Thoughts

Do not miss snorkeling in Bonaire, which is my #1 favorite thing to do on the island!

18 Palms was a fun snorkel spot with plenty of fish soup to enjoy. The water is shallow, and the entrance is easy.

The only challenge is getting there. Maybe you get in, maybe you don’t. It all depends on the hotel guard that day unless you pay for a day pass or you’re a hotel guest.

If you love this type of detailed snorkeling guide, click on the icon below for all of my snorkeling guides around the world.

Our safari ranger and tracker at Lion Sands River Lodge

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Questions about our 18 Palms Bonaire snorkeling experience?

Let me know in the comments below!

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