Salt Pier Bonaire Snorkeling Guide [Rated + Reviewed] 

by | Last updated Feb 17, 2024 | Best Snorkeling Caribbean, Bonaire

My husband and I love snorkeling. We have been all over the Caribbean (and the world!) checking out all the top snorkel spots, and Bonaire is one of our favorites! The southern part of the island, especially Salt Pier Bonaire, stands out for its amazing variety of marine life. Let’s take a closer look at some of the best spots to snorkel at the pier and the incredible creatures you might encounter here.

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Bonaire Snorkeling Rating Sytem

After snorkeling many sites around the world, I decided to create a rating system to help differentiate them. All of the snorkel sites I review will have a snorkel rating.

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!

Salt Pier Bonaire Snorkeling

Salt Pier Beach in Bonaire

Salt Pier Beach in Bonaire

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RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿

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HOW TO GET THERE

Salt Pier parking in Bonaire

Salt Pier parking in Bonaire

Salt Pier is located on the southern part of the island, about 15 minutes from downtown Kralendijk.

There is plenty of parking in the sandy lot right off the road before you reach the pier as seen from the photo above. We have snorkeled Salt Pier several times at different times of day and have never had a problem finding parking.

If there’s a ship docked, do not snorkel. We have never seen a ship during our visits, so I’m not sure how often that occurs.

Bonaire's Famous Salt Pyramids

Salt pyramids 

Why the name Salt Pier? It’s located across from Bonaire’s famous salt pyramids. Bonaire salt is kind of a thing!

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WHERE TO SNORKEL

Where to Snorkel at Salt Pier Bonaire Map

Map of Where to Snorkel at Salt Pier Bonaire

There are two distinct areas to snorkel.

Turtles and spotted trunkfish love to hang out in the sandy/seagrass section pretty close to where you enter the water. This area is SHALLOW, so it’s easy to see everything. We always see turtles here, so that gourmet seagrass must be good!

The second area is a DEEP snorkel. After you are done playing with the turtles, snorkel along the pier and in and out of the pillars.

Salt Pier is our second pier snorkeling experience. The first was at Frederiksted Pier in St. Croix USVI, which was incredible. Pier snorkeling can be a little eerie at first, but you quickly adjust.

I kept thinking I was going to see a shark in the blue depths, but shark sightings are actually rare in Bonaire. My snorkel vest always makes me feel more comfortable when snorkeling at deeper depths.

I would recommend snorkeling all sections of the pier (towards the center and the left and right arms). Towards the end of each platform, there are usually large schools of French grunt and sergeant majors hanging around the pillar groupings.

We saw more schools of fish on the left side of the pier than on the right side.

What makes snorkeling at Salt Pier unique is you get to see the bigger fish like barracuda and tarpons but also little sea creatures in the coral stuck to the pylons.

It’s also the place you may see an octopus, but at a really deep depth. These are the few times I wish I was a diver. More on our octopus sighting later.

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ENTRY

Snorkeling entry at Salt Pier Bonaire

Snorkeling entry from the beach at Salt Pier

Salt Pier Beach is one of my top Bonaire beaches for snorkeling!

Entry is easy. Nothing technical. The bottom is a mix of sand and coral rubble, so it’s always a good idea to throw those dive booties on.

It is always a little challenging timing your body with the wave action as you put your favorite snorkel mask and fins on.

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MARINE LIFE WE SAW

I don’t want to jinx it, but we always see turtles in that sandy/seagrass section shortly after you enter.

During our last snorkeling session, we also some cute spotted trunkfish that were hoping to catch some morsels from a feeding turtle. Love those pursed lips.

We don’t see them at every visit, but we have seen large tarpons under the central pier platform. Their faces are so menacing I never like to get too close.

Fish we have encountered are large schools of French grunt, a barracuda, blue tang, palometas, parrotfish, bar jacks, and sergeant majors.

On our last snorkeling trip to Salt Pier, my husband even found an octopus. Well, a diver at the bottom found the octopus and alerted his dive buddies of the find.

We happened to be there during their discovery and got to see the octopus moving around in the coral. Granted, this sighting was at quite a deep depth. My husband dived down though and was able to get a couple of quick photos when it changed color during his approach.

This sighting was my second octopus encounter. I’m probably spoiled because my first was in the Maldives at Le Meridien, where we spotted multiple octopuses in very shallow water!

It was magical. I have a brief video showing the octopuses at Le Meridien (#2 on my Best Maldives Resorts for Snorkeling post).

Alright, now the fun part. Here’s all the cool sea life we saw:

Massive school of bar jacks at Salt Pier Bonaire

Massive school of bar jacks at Salt Pier

Snorkeling with a turtle and spotted trunkfish at Salt Pier Bonaire

Snorkeling with a turtle and spotted trunkfish 

Snorkeling beside a turtle at Salt Pier

Snorkeling beside a turtle 

Large school of French grunt under the pillars at Salt Pier

Large school of French grunt under the pillars at Salt Pier

School of tarpon under the pillars at Salt Pier in Bonaire

School of tarpon under the pillars

Spotting an octopus on the sea floor during a deep snorkel  at Salt Pier in Bonaire

Spotting an octopus on the sea floor during a deep snorkel at Salt Pier before diving down 

Diving down to see an octopus on the sea floor at Salt Pier in Bonaire

Husband diving down to see the octopus on the sea floor … amazes me how well they blend in!

An Octopus changing color once you get too close at Salt Pier in Bonaire

An octopus changing color once you get too close 

School of palometas at Salt Pier Bonaire

School of palometas on the sandy bottom 

Princess parrrotfish and Spanish hogfish at Salt Pier Bonaire

Princess parrrotfish and Spanish hogfish 

Pillars encrusted with several types of coral at Salt Pier

Blue tang swimming around the pillar encrusted with several types of coral 

School of bar jacks swimming right past me under the pillars at Salt Pier in Bonaire

School of bar jacks swimming right past me under the pillars 

Turtle at Salt Pier in Bonaire

I couldn’t resist … one more turtle pic at Salt Pier

Final Thoughts

Snorkeling ranks high among my favorite activities in Bonaire and is an absolute must-do. The island boasts numerous breathtaking sites, such as Klein Bonaire, 1000 Steps, Karpata, and Lac Bay, among others. Salt Pier stands out as particularly remarkable. What sets it apart is the minimal effort required to explore its stunning underwater scenery. Don’t miss it.

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 Salt Pier snorkeling experience?

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