11 Best Things to Do in Bonaire: From Blokarts to Barracudas 

by | Last updated Jun 9, 2024 | Bonaire

If you love great food and the underwater world, Bonaire is your happy place. I am really surprised this Caribbean island is not more well-known. We’ve explored every corner through repeat visits, uncovering all the fascinating attractions and culinary gems. Join me as I share my top 11 recommendations for the best things to do in Bonaire.

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01- Snorkel with Fish Soup and Turtles!

Snorkeling with turtles at Salt Pier Bonaire

Snorkeling with a turtle and a spotted trunkfish at Salt Pier in Bonaire

Bonaire is a top diving destination (over 60+ dive sites!), but it is also known for incredible shore snorkeling.  

It joins St. John USVI as one of the top snorkeling islands in the Caribbean.

Usually, access to an incredible reef requires a boat (like in Bora Bora, Great Barrier Reef, and Belize). One of the best things about Bonaire is the incredible reefs and sea life can be accessed directly from shore.

We used the Reef Smart Guides Bonaire: Scuba Dive. Snorkel. Surf. and snorkeled all the top sites.

Our favorites were Red Beryl, Angel City, Salt Pier, 1000 Steps, Karpata, Wayaka 2, and Boca Slagbaai.

We saw many types of tropical fish (sergeant majors, parrotfish, porcupinefish (as seen in my cover photo of this blog post), trumpetfish, French grunt, French angelfish, banded butterflyfish) and some of the bigger marine animals like eels, barracuda, eagle rays, and lots of turtles!

We are avid snorkelers, and Bonaire is our #2 favorite snorkeling destination in the Caribbean. For reference, Belize is our #1 favorite.

To start planning your “snorcation,” please see my Ultimate Bonaire Snorkeling Guide below where I review and rate the top 14 sites.

02- Learn to Dive from the Best 

Divers at Salt Pier Bonaire

Divers checking out an octopus at Salt Pier in Bonaire

Bonaire is known as the Shore Diving Capital of the World!

It’s easy to see why.

✔️     Easy shore access

✔️     Warm water temperatures (80°F)

✔️     Calm waters

✔️     Great diving infrastructure (so many dive shops to accommodate divers’ needs)

✔️     Affordable resorts

And we’re not just talking 5 dive sites. According to my Bonaire Reef Guide, there are 62 dive sites to explore!

My husband dives. I snorkel, so when we go on trips together, we snorkel.

However, I have considered one of those Discover Scuba Dive courses because it really would open up a whole new world.

For example, when we were at Salt Pier in Bonaire, my husband noticed one of the divers alert another diver of an octopus sighting (see the photo above). We hovered over and could see the octopus from a very far distance, but it wasn’t the same.

VIP Diving in Bonaire caters to both newbies and experienced divers. For $139, you can join their PADI Discover Scuba Diving program where you learn dive skills in a pool first and then do a real open water dive in a matter of 4-5 hours.

I haven’t done this (yet), but I have had interaction with the VIP Diving staff. A few years ago my mother and father-in-law joined us on a trip to Bonaire and rented snorkel gear from them. Very friendly and professional and they have 5-star almost 2,000 reviews on TripAdvisor!

03- Visit Washington Slagbaai National Park

Iguana saying hello at Playa Funchi Washington Slagbaai National Park

Iguana saying hello at Playa Funchi in Washington Slagbaai National Park

The Washington Slagbaai National Park was established in 1969 and is a nature sanctuary.

Expect to see a lot of flamingoes (who are a little skittish when you get close) and fearless iguanas who have no personal space and will walk right up to you searching for food or lick your snorkel gear.

The top things to do in the park are snorkeling and hiking!

We snorkeled Playa Funchi,  Wayaka 2, and Boca Slagbaai.

All were great.

Expect lots of fish soup at Wayaka 2. There’s a reason why this site is always busy with snorkelers.

Another great outdoor adventure is to hike Bonaire’s highest peak, Mt. Brandaris. We haven’t done it yet, but it’s reported to offer incredible views of the island and neighboring Curacao on a clear day.

Expect a very BUMPY road throughout the park. Make sure to have a 4WD vehicle. We always rent with AB Car Rental and have a great experience.

I would strongly suggest renting a car if you are staying in Bonaire, If you don’t have a set of wheels though, Adventure Makers Bonaire runs a highly-rated tour showing you all the gems in the park.

04- Eat at All the Food Trucks

Fish platter at Kite City in Bonaire

Fish platter at Kite City Food Truck in Bonaire

The World Food Travel Association named Bonaire a Culinary Capital.

Bonaire has a seriously good food scene, especially their food trucks! Our favorite foodie Caribbean destination is still St. Martin, but Bonaire is giving it some competition.

Our favorite food truck is Kite City. It’s delicious. I could eat their fish platter every single day. Super fresh and flavorful. Of course, the platter will change depending on what’s available.

Another food truck worth checking out is Cactus Blue.

Ever had a lionfish burger? This is the place to try it. 

It is not a fishy-fish, and it’s very tasty! They sprinkle it with jalapeños, grilled onion, cheese, and crispy bacon and top it with honey mustard dressing. 

The third food truck not to be missed is Stoked. You cannot miss it. It’s the big red bus on top of the hill near the airport. I strongly recommend the tuna sashimi burger and the potato wedges. So fresh and delicious. 

05-  Enjoy a Unique Dinner Experience

Marinated wahoo with Aleppo pepper and sauce made from the smoked bones of the fish, parsley/basil oil and parsley chip

Marinated wahoo with Aleppo pepper and sauce made from the smoked bones of the fish, parsley/basil oil and parsley chip at CHEFS

Bonaire is home to two of the TOP 5 RESTAURANTS IN THE CARIBBEAN as rated by the Caribbean Journal!

What? Bonaire?

Yep, pretty impressive.

Brass Boer tied for #1 and is headed up by 3-star Michelin Chef Jonnie Boer. Choose your own dishes or go with Chef’s Menu. Very flavorful and well-executed. The ambiance is incredible. The tables are located oceanfront, allowing diners to enjoy some epic sunsets.

We enjoyed Brass Boer, but we loved the food and experience at CHEFS. This dining event needs to be scheduled MONTHS in advance.

It’s located in the Bamboo Bonaire Boutique Resort, which is where we stayed. I love when you can enjoy a great meal (and wine!) and roll into bed after.

CHEFS has a unique U-shaped layout, allowing the diners to converse with neighboring couples in addition to the staff in the middle. The experience is very interactive.

The menu is a surprise and a conversation! Incredibly tasty and well-thought out dishes. DO NOT MISS THIS FOODIE EXPERIENCE.

06- Taxi to a Beautiful Uninhabited Island

No Name Beach on Klein Bonaire

No Name Beach on Klein Bonaire

A visit to Klein Bonaire is a must!

It’s a small uninhabited island right off the coast of Bonaire. It has a beautiful white sand beach and an incredible reef.

There are no facilities here, so bring everything you need. You can hang out at the beach, but the real reason to visit is to snorkel. We saw turtles and plenty of beautiful tropical fish.

The way to get there is by water taxi or a snorkeling tour!

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WATER TAXI

Klein Bonaire Snorkeling Tour

Klein Bonaire water taxi drift snorkel

TRAVELER’S TIP: You can get a FREE drift snorkel drop-off from the water taxi.

Caribe Watersport offers the drift snorkel on “no cruise ship days.” Confirm the day and time with them first.

Epic Tours offers the drift snorkel at 10 am at Nautico Marina and 9:30 am at Watersport Center Bonaire.

Drift snorkel means there’s very little effort involved. They drop you off in the water, and you slowly drift your way along the reef until you reach No Name Beach.

We did this and loved it!

Klein Bonaire is one of our top snorkeling spots! If you are confident in the water, I would strongly recommend snorkeling Klein Bonaire using this form of transportation.

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SNORKELING TOUR

If you are not as confident in the water and have a hard time picking out all the little sea creatures, then consider a guided snorkeling tour.

Three highly-rated tour companies are offering this fun experience with slight variations:

→   01- Epic Tours: 1 guided snorkel + BBQ dinner/drinks + beautiful sunset views

→   02- Seacow: 2 guided snorkels + homemade snack/rum punch + photos (extra $)

→   03- Woodwind: 2 guided snorkels + lunch/beer/rum punch + photos (extra $)

07- Windsurf and Snorkel at Lac Bay

Windsurfers at Lac Bay

Windsurfing at Lac Bay 

Lac Bay has beautiful white sand and clear, shallow turquoise water.

There are plenty of fun things to do. There is a shallow section to snorkel, which offers plenty of patches of coral and tropical fish. We even saw two barracudas and Caribbean reef squid on a recent trip.

Getting to the reef can be a little confusing and intimidating because it involves a little walk. Follow my Lac Bay Bonaire snorkeling guide for more details!

If you want to just chill, there are plenty of beach bars and chairs to relax and enjoy. Some favorites include Jibe City and Sebastian’s Beach.

Lac Bay is also considered one of the world’s best places to learn windsurfing due to the consistent trade winds, warm shallow water, and soft sand below.

Jibe City offers lessons starting from $50 pp. When we snorkeled the reef, we saw quite a few windsurfers at all different skill levels.

08- Experience the Thrill of a Blokart!

Blokart at Landsailing Adventures in Bonaire

Credit: Bonaire Landsailing Adventures

Ever heard of a Blokart?

Yeah, me neither until I went to Bonaire!

As we chatted about earlier, Bonaire is renowned for its fantastic windsurfing and kiteboarding opportunities, thanks to the consistent trade winds. These winds also create perfect conditions for landsailing!

Imagine a blokart (also known as a land yacht) as a wheeled pod that you sit in, equipped with a sail you can manipulate to control your speed. It allows you to reach speeds ranging from 30-40 km/hr (approximately 20-25 mi/hr)!

Bonaire Landsailing Adventures was started in 2017 by Canadian Donna Hudgeon (who later moved to New Zealand) and her New Zealander husband, Andrew Sands.

I love Donna’s title … Coordinator of Fun! She promises a “blokart grin” at the end.

New Zealand is known for its incredible adventure sports. I’m sort of an adrenaline junkie. My first time bungee jumping was in Queenstown, New Zealand! I’ve also swam in Devil’s Pool in Victoria Falls, Zambia and cage dived with great white sharks in South Africa.

Landsailing would be right up my alley!

Unfortunately, I did not discover this sport even existed until well into our trip after we passed the sign on our way back from Washington Slagbaai National Park.

Next trip to Bonaire though sign me up!

09- Drink a Cactus at Cadushy Distillery

Cadushy Distillery in Bonaire

Cadushy Distillery in Bonaire

When you walk up to Cadushy Distillery, the first thing the friendly staff will ask is …

“Have you ever tried drinking a cactus?”

Well, no I haven’t, until I visited Cadushy. Locating in Rincon, this is the perfect stop on your way back from Washington Slagbaai National Park.

Rom Rincon rum is their most famous rum, but they also make vodka, whisky, and gin.

They also offer an interesting tasting of their Island liqueurs representative of Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao, Statia, and Saba. The Bonaire liqueur is the one made from a cactus! It was interesting and fun to try. 

I wish I had tried the Spices of Saba liqueur.

We went to Saba a few years ago and I had a Saba Spice as an after-dinner digestif, which was very unique due to the fennel. I haven’t been able to find any since our trip. I’m not sure if Cadushy’s version is the same, but I enjoyed it while in Saba.

After trying a few liqueurs, we had a few cocktails. The best one was the Rum & Coke made with Rom Rincon rum.

If you time it right, you can join in on one of their distillery tours.

10- Stroll the Colorful Town of Kralendijk

Mural at Kralendijik, Bonaire

Mural in Kralendijik, Bonaire

Kralendijik is the colorful capital of Bonaire. It draws you in with the brightly colored shops and restaurants. Because of its location on the west side of the island, expect some spectacular sunsets.

Although the service can be a little spotty, Sebastian’s offers some of the best oceanfront dining in Kralendijk with epic sunsets and views.

There are a lot of cute shops like Salt Shop Bonaire to wander into among the alleyways and streets. Some of the walls of the buildings are painted with cool murals that draw you in.

Make sure to eat the most delicious crispy chicken burger you have ever had at Foxy Flamingo. My favorite is the Roxie (kimchi sauce, jalapeño candy, cilantro, fresh papaya hot sauce).

Fun little town to explore!

11- Kayak and Snorkel Through the Mangroves

Mangrove Tour in Bonaire

Credit: Royal Activities Bonaire

Mangroves are tropical trees and shrubs that have learned to adapt and thrive in salt water. Lac Bay National Park has one of the best mangrove forests in the Caribbean.

A cool way to experience this unique ecosystem is cruising through the secret mangrove tunnels in a glass-bottom kayak, so you can take in all the sea life below.

Don’t worry. No alligators. It’s not Florida.

And you get to snorkel to see all the big tree roots and the little sea critters that call it home.

We found out about this kayak & snorkel experience on our way out to Lac Bay, but we ran out of time to do this tour. Too many snorkeling sites to explore! 

The highly-rated company Royal Activities can make this excursion happen. They even provide Stroopwafel cookies! If you have never had one, you are missing out on life. So good!

Final Thoughts

We seldom revisit destinations, but Bonaire is the rare exception. We love the exceptional shore snorkeling and the amazing food scene. Our Bonaire getaway follows a simple rhythm: Snorkel. Lunch. Pool. Dinner. Repeat. I consider that a perfect vacation day. If you appreciate outdoor and culinary adventure, you’ll agree.

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