Lac Bay Bonaire Snorkeling Guide [Rated + Reviewed]

by | Last updated Feb 16, 2024 | Best Snorkeling Caribbean, Bonaire

My husband and I love snorkeling around the world, and the Caribbean is one of our favorite destinations. Bonaire is home to some of the best shore snorkeling if you know where to go. Read any Reef Guide book on Bonaire, and Lac Bay Bonaire is usually in the top 10 snorkeling sites to explore. It takes a little effort to reach the reef, which discourages some, but it is worth it. Discover my tips for finding the entry points to the reef at Lac Bay and the marine wonders that await.  

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Bonaire Snorkeling Rating Sytem

My snorkeling guides all contain my personal snorkel rating key, which of course is subjective. What you see in this magical underwater world of ours all depends on the day, time, and ocean conditions.

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!

Lac Bay Bonaire Snorkeling

Lac Bay Bonaire seen from Jibe City

Lac Bay, Bonaire seen from Jibe City

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RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿

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HOW TO GET THERE

Map of Lac Bay

Map of Lac Bay

The map above gives you a quick orientation of Lac Bay’s location on Bonaire. It’s one of the few snorkeling sites on the island’s east side.  

Understanding where to park and how to get to the reef is a little tricky and will require some effort.

Parking for Lac Bay Snorkeling

Two parking options for Lac Bay snorkeling

As you can see from the map above, there are two options for parking.

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Option 1: Jibe City

Jibe City Parking at Lac Bay

Jibe City parking at Lac Bay

One option is to park at Jibe City and walk in between the two sets of buildings until you reach the water.

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Option 2: Fish Shack

Parking at Fish Shack for Lac Bay Bonaire

Parking at Fish Shack for Lac Bay snorkeling

The second option is to park at an unmarked, unofficial sand parking lot BEFORE you reach Bistro Sorobon.

Fish Shack Parking at Lac Bay

Fish shack parking at Lac Bay

When we were there, someone had lined up large boulders in a line to designate the area but left enough space for a car to squeeze through. 

How to find the entry point to snorkel Lac Bay Bonaire

How to find the entry point to snorkel Lac Bay, Bonaire

After you park in the sandy lot, walk towards the inlet and AROUND the periphery towards the RIGHT (see photo above) until you see a little sandy path.

Entry point at the fish shack to get to the reef at Lac Bay

Entry point at the fish shack to get to the reef at Lac Bay

This path leads to the dilapidated fish shack.

Your entry point is to the left of the fish shack.

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WHERE TO SNORKEL

Where to snorkel at Lac Bay Bonaire

Where to snorkel at Lac Bay in Bonaire

It’s going to take some effort to reach the reef. 

Walking towards the reef at Lac Bay

My husband walking towards the reef at Lac Bay (you can see the waves breaking over the reef in the distance)

Walk about 15-20 minutes straight out into the bay until you are about waist deep or you start to see patches of tube sponge coral.

Tube sponge coral at Lac Bay reef

Tube sponge coral at Lac Bay

Throw your fins on and start snorkeling towards where the waves break over the reef.

Do NOT get too close to the breakpoint. 

Snorkel the reef area adjacent to where the waves are crashing until you reach what I call the “staghorn forest.” This forest is a very dense line of staghorn coral that you can even see from a satellite view!

See my map above.

Then you throw your fins on and start snorkeling towards where the waves break over the reef. Do NOT get too close though towards the break point. 

Snorkel the reef area perpendicular to where the waves are crashing until you reach what I can the “staghorn forest.” This forest is a very dense line of staghorn coral that you can even see from a satellite view! See my map above. 

Staghorn forest at Lac Bay Bonaire

Staghorn forest at Lac Bay, Bonaire

Do NOT swim over the staghorn coral.

Windsurfers at Lac Bay

Windsurfers at Lac Bay

Lac Bay is known as one of the best places in the world for windsurfing! That also means if it’s super windy, do not attempt to snorkel the reef.

If you enter the water at Jibe City, you will need to be very careful to avoid the windsurfers as you make the 15-20 minute walk out to the reef.

Do not attempt to snorkel as soon as you enter the water at Jibe City because the windsurfers will have a hard time seeing you.

Stay upright and walk until you see the coral or the water starts to get deep. 

Walking out to the reef from Jibe City

Walking out to the reef from Jibe City

We personally did not want to play frogger with the windsurfers, so we chose to enter the water from the fish shack.

There are NO windsurfers there.

Yes, the walk is a little longer, but I felt it was safer not having to worry about a windsurfer crash into me.

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ENTRY

Jibe City in Bonaire

Jibe City in Bonaire

We did not enter at Jibe City, but I have heard the entry is easy with a sandy bottom.

Walking through seagrass to the reef at Lac Bay

Walking through seagrass to the reef at Lac Bay

The entry at the fish shack was easy and very shallow. You do walk through some seagrass, so wear dive booties.

It feels like you are walking out there forever, but you reach the reef soon enough.

Looking back at Jibe City and the Fish Shack at Lac Bay

Looking back at Jibe City and the Fish Shack at Lac Bay after walking out to the reef

The photo above demonstrates how far you have to walk out before you start to snorkel the reef.

I took this photo looking back at both entry points.

By the way, snorkeling at Lac Bay is a workout!

Between the walk through the sand and water and snorkeling with a little wave action,  my legs were sore for a few days after. It was worth it though.

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MARINE LIFE WE SAW

This is a shallow swim, which is ideal for snorkelers. We did have to deal with some wavy/choppiness but nothing we couldn’t handle.

Visibility was clear.

If you love coral, this is your place. There were a lot of different types including tube sponge coral, elkhorn, brain, staghorn, and some sporadic sea fans.

Fauna highlights included seeing two barracudas (one large and one small), two Caribbean squid, and a cute porcupinefish (love those big eyes!).

Sporadic fish we saw were a banded butterflyfish, blue tang, sergeant majors, trumpetfish, and French grunt.

Fellow snorkelers have reported seeing octopuses and rays in Lac Bay, but we did not see any while we were there.

Banded Butterflyfish at Lac Bay

Banded Butterflyfish at Lac Bay

Porcupinefish at Lac Bay in Bonaire

Porcupinefish at Lac Bay (love their cute faces!)

Large barracuda at Lac Bay in Bonaire

Large barracuda at Lac Bay

Small barracuda at Lac Bay in Bonaire

Small barracuda at Lac Bay

Caribbean reef squid at Lac Bay

Caribbean reef squid at Lac Bay

Trumpetfish at Lac Bay

Trumpetfish at Lac Bay

Blue tang and French grunt hanging out in elkhorn coral at Lac Bay in Bonaire

Blue tang and French grunt hanging out in elkhorn coral at Lac Bay in Bonaire

French grunt in the staghorn coral at Lac Bay

French grunt in the staghorn coral at Lac Bay

Blue tang and fish nursery at Lac Bay

Blue tang and fish nursery at Lac Bay

Dense patches of coral at Lac Bay

Dense patches of coral at Lac Bay

French grunt at Lac Bay

French grunt at Lac Bay

Final Thoughts

A day at Lac Bay is definitely one of the top 11 things to do in Bonaire!

We love exploring new snorkeling sites. Don’t be intimidated by the 20-minute walk required to get out to the reef. As long as you are reasonably fit and have decent snorkeling skills, it will be worth the effort.

While Lac Bay provided an enjoyable experience, I believe there are even more exceptional snorkeling sites in Bonaire like Angel City and Klein Bonaire. Stay tuned for my Bonaire Snorkeling Guide.

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 Lac Bay snorkeling experience?  

Let me know in the comments below!

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