Karpata Bonaire Snorkeling Guide [Rated + Reviewed]

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

My husband and I downloaded the Reef Smart Guides Bonaire on the Kindle app and snorkeled all the top sites in Bonaire such as 1000 Steps, Klein Bonaire, Angel City, Bari Reef, and Lac Bay. Karpata Bonaire was one of our favorite snorkeling sites on the northern end of the island. Follow my snorkel guide to get all the juicy info on how to snorkel this popular spot.  

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Bonaire Snorkeling Rating Sytem

I have rated all of our snorkeling destinations to help differentiate them.

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!

Karpata Bonaire Snorkeling

Entrance to Karpata Bonaire

Rocky beach at Karpata in Bonaire

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RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿

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HOW TO GET THERE

Entrance to Karpata Bonaire

Entrance to Karpata in Bonaire

Karpata is located on the northern end of Bonaire about 25 minutes from downtown Kralendijk.

It is just down the road (about 5 minutes) from another fantastic snorkeling site, 1000 Steps. It is easy to hit both sites in one day.

If you want to snorkel both 1000 Steps and Karpata, you must snorkel 1000 Steps first. Why? You cannot turn back once you drive past 1000 Steps because the road is one-way.

To get back to Kralendijk, you must loop around through the town of Rincon. See the map below. 

Our safari ranger and tracker at Lion Sands River Lodge

Map of how to get to Karpata in Bonaire

When you’re passing through Rincon, don’t forget to stop at John’s Homemade Ice Cream! Super creamy and refreshing especially after a good snorkeling workout.

The parking lot for Karpata is pretty big, but it fills up quickly especially with divers. We got a late start. By the time we arrived around 12:15 pm, it was almost completely full.

The entrance is marked by the typical yellow painted stone you’ll see all over Bonaire. Normally there is an iguana, who is part of your welcoming committee!

Iguana welcoming us to Karpata in Bonaire

Iguana welcoming us to Karpata

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WHERE TO SNORKEL

Where to Snorkel at 1000 Steps Bonaire

A map of where to snorkel at Karpata

I was intimidated at first. When you first walk down the steps to the rocky beach, you’ll see a large concrete slab jutting out into the water with the waves crashing over it.

Great, I’m going to get knocked down before I even get into the water.

Don’t worry. It’s not as scary as it looks. And yes, that is where you enter the water. More on the entry in the next section below.

Once you are in the water, snorkel slightly diagonal to the right to the back reef first. Then snorkel back in along the shoreline before reaching the concrete platform to exit.

You are making a snorkel circle.

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ENTRY

Concrete platform in Karpata in Bonaire

Concrete platform in Karpata in Bonaire

There is a little skill involved but nothing too challenging. I would NOT attempt snorkeling here though if the water is really choppy.

Walk out on the concrete slab and gear up. I strongly recommend bringing your own snorkeling gear if you are going to Bonaire!

The waves will be breaking over the concrete slab, so don’t set anything down. Otherwise, you will be going fishing for your stuff.

Enter the water to the RIGHT of the concrete platform.

You will be stepping on coral rubble, so make sure to wear dive booties.

Viewing the concrete platform from under the water in Karpata in Bonaire

Karpata entry/exit on the concrete platform: Why you wear dive booties!

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MARINE LIFE WE SAW

Karpata offers a great variety of marine life for the snorkeler.

We saw two turtles, a massive school of blue tang, vibrantly-colored white-spotted filefish, a pair of French angelfish, a pair of honeycomb cowfish (caught them mating, that’s a first!), a happy eel, a porcupinefish, and an Ocean triggerfish.

The Ocean triggerfish was a surprise. I saw many triggerfish at the Reethi Faru Resort house reef in the Maldives, but this was the first time I saw one in Bonaire.

You’ll see lots of coral! We saw staghorn, elkhorn, lettuce and brain coral, and sea fans.

A pair of white-spotted filefish with a school of blue tang swimming over lettuce coral at Karpata in Bonaire

A pair of white-spotted filefish and blue tang at Karpata in Bonaire

An eel actually smiling at me in the lettuce coral at Karpata in Bonaire

I didn’t know eels could smile! 

Spotted moray eel at 1000 Steps Bonaire

Snorkeling with a turtle at Karpata

Porcupinefish at Karpata in Bonaire

Porcupinefish at Karpata

Honeycomb cowfish at Karpata in Bonaire

Honeycomb cowfish 

Turtle cruising along the reef shelf at 1000 Steps in Bonaire

Snorkeling alongside a school of blue tang at Karpata

Turtle cruising along the reef shelf at 1000 Steps in Bonaire

Snorkeling with a turtle along the back reef

A pair of white spotted filefish at Karpata in Bonaire

Close up of a pair of white-spotted filefish

Two honeycomb cowfish mating at Karpata in Bonaire

Ever seen a fish mate? Me neither until I snorkeled at Karpata. Two honeycomb cowfish caught in the act.

Turtle cruising along the reef shelf at 1000 Steps in Bonaire

Ocean triggerfish

Vibrant white-spotted filefish at Karpata in Bonaire

Vibrant white-spotted filefish 

Final Thoughts

Shore snorkeling is one of our favorite activities to do in Bonaire! There are so many great snorkeling sites, and Karpata is one of them. I hope this snorkeling guide helps you plan an amazing day out on the water!

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 Karpata snorkeling experience?

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