14 Best Bonaire Snorkeling Sites: The Ultimate Guide  

by | Last updated Mar 19, 2024 | Best Snorkeling Caribbean, Bonaire

My husband and I LOVE snorkeling and LOVE planning “snorkations.” Some of our favorite snorkeling sites in the Caribbean are St. John USVI, Belize, and of course Bonaire! With over 60+ dive sites, choosing which Bonaire snorkeling site to check out can be overwhelming. We explored all corners of the island.

Here are our top 14 sites worth checking out!

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Bonaire Snorkeling Rating Sytem

All of my snorkeling guides have my unique snorkel rating to help you compare sites.

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!

Map of Bonaire Snorkeling Sites 

Here is a map of our top 14 snorkeling spots we discovered in Bonaire. Read on for a summary of each location.

If one sounds super interesting, I have also included an additional detailed mini guide under each site that reviews how to get there, where to snorkel, entry, and what cool sea life you might see (with lots of photos taken with my favorite snorkeling camera!).

All snorkeling photos are mine and what I actually saw as a snorkeler.

A Detailed Map of Top Snorkeling Sites in Bonaire

Map of Top Snorkeling Sites in Bonaire

SUPER IMPORTANT

If you are going to Bonaire, you are likely a diver or a snorkeler.

I would strongly suggest bringing your own snorkeling gear, which can transform a mediocre frustrating experience into an exceptional one.

The snorkel mask is one of the most important. The best snorkel mask for you may not be the best mask for someone else. It all depends on your face shape! Please see my review for Best Snorkel Masks from $35-$90.

My husband and I have had a lot of practice testing out snorkeling gear over the years. My top recommendations are listed below!

This Bonaire Snorkeling Guide lists my top sites from north to south as seen on the snorkeling map above. I have only listed the BEST sites. We also snorkeled other spots including Something Special and Corporal Meiss that were not worth rating.

Please keep in mind this guide is from a SNORKELER’S perspective, which will likely differ from a DIVER’S experience.

01- Playa Funchi 

Snorkeling at Playa Funchi at Washington Slagbaai National Park in Bonaire

Snorkeling at Playa Funchi at Washington Slagbaai National Park in Bonaire

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RATING: 🤿 🤿

First up is Playa Funchi.

This snorkeling spot is located in Washington Slagbaai National Park on the northern end of the island. Plan for a full day trip! Driving through the park itself is quite an adventure.

Don’t miss reading my 9 things you need to know about the park before you go.

We enjoyed seeing several schools of blue tang, black durgons, parrotfish, French grunt, trumpetfish, French angelfish, and an eel!

02- Wayaka 2

Gorgeous parrotfish at Wayaka 2 in Bonaire

Gorgeous parrotfish at Wayaka 2

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RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿

Wayaka 2 is also located in the Washington Slagbaai National Park. The park has three great snorkeling sites: Playa Funchi, Wayaka 2, and Boca Slagbaai. It’s easy to combine all 3 in 1 day!

This snorkeling site has a beautiful soft sand beach and is one of my favorite snorkeling beaches in Bonaire.

Go here for the fish soup!

We saw MULTIPLE schools of blue tang, plenty of parrotfish, sergeant majors, French angelfish, Bermuda chubs, and a cute little batwing coral crab.

03- Boca Slagbaai

A massive rainbow parrotfish at Boca Slagbaai in Bonaire

A massive rainbow parrotfish at Boca Slagbaai

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RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿

Boca Slagbaai is yet another fantastic snorkeling site in Washington Slagbaai National Park.

It’s often overlooked by the more popular Wayaka 2, but don’t skip it!

We saw some massive rainbow parrotfish that looked like little mermaids. 

In addition, other cool spottings were a sharptail eel (love those white polka dots!), spotted moray eel, chainlink eel, palometas, spotted trunkfish, blue tang, white-spotted filefish, peacock flounder, Rock beauty, and juvenile yellowtail damselfish. Lots to see!

There are also picnic tables with palapas on the beach to enjoy lunch or a snack in the shade.

04- Karpata

Snorkeling with a school of blue tang at Karpata Bonaire

Snorkeling with a school of blue tang at Karpata

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RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿

Karpata is one of my favorite snorkeling sites on the northern end of the island!

The entrance might appear intimidating, particularly as waves cascade onto the concrete platform from which you’re expected to start.

Always read the ocean, and do not snorkel unless the water is calm.

The variety of sea life is pretty incredible.

We snorkeled with two turtles, white-spotted filefish (who were very curious about me and came right up to my camera), French angelfish, honeycomb cowfish (I think I caught them mating?), an Ocean triggerfish, a porcupine fish, a large school of blue tang, and a happy eel that literally smiled for my camera.

05- 1000 Steps

Two turtles battling it out on the reef at 1000 Steps in Bonaire

Two turtles battling it out on the reef at 1000 Steps

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RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿

1000 steps is super popular due to the dramatic entrance. Expect loads of tourists if you arrive later in the day.

As you descend what seems like 1000 steps (although it’s only 67), you’ll be treated to stunning vistas of crystal-clear turquoise waters enticing you to jump in. 

Why do you come here?

Turtles!

We saw so many turtles feeding on the reef shelf right at the shoreline. The reef must have had some turtle catnip, lol. They just kept coming back for more.

The challenge was keeping your body still to watch them as the waves were pushing you forward to the beach. 

Other fun spottings were a moray eel, a barracuda, and plenty of the usual suspects like sergeant majors and parrotfish.

06- Andrea 2

Scrawled filefish at Andrea 2 in Bonaire

Scrawled filefish at Andrea 2

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RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿

Andrea 2 is another well-loved site that’s only a short 10-15 minute drive from downtown Kralendijik. It’s located in a residential area.

What is nice about the snorkeling here is the water is quite shallow. The conditions are ideal for snorkelers to get up close and personal with all the beautiful fish.

Cool spottings included scrawled filefish, spotted trunkfish, honeycomb cowfish, banded butterflyfish, French angelfish, French grunt, parrotfish, Bermuda chubs, and schools of blue tang.

07- Bari Reef 

Bait ball at Bari Reef Bonaire

Bait ball at Bari Reef 

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RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿

One of the best snorkeling sites right outside of downtown Kralendijk is Bari Reef. We stayed at the Bamboo Bonaire Boutique Resort, which was only a 2-minute drive away from Bari Reef.

Right now it’s a little harder to get to Bari Reef because the public access point is currently under construction while a park is being built.

But there’s two ways you can still get there, which is all detailed in my mini guide below.

One of the coolest sightings was witnessing a massive bait ball being chased by a barracuda and later by a peacock flounder (who actually leaped up and caught a fish). Who knew fish could “jump”?

When I see a bait ball, it makes me want to jump right in like a pile of leaves.

Other amazing sea life we saw included a porcupinefish, a sand diver, spotted moray eel, white-spotted filefish, parrotfish, tarpons, blue tang, four-eye butterflyfish, trumpetfish, needlefish, and French grunt.

08- Klein Bonaire 

French angelfish at Klein Bonaire

French angelfish at Klein Bonaire

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RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿

Klein Bonaire is a really fun 1/2 day snorkeling trip, which is one of my top things to do in Bonaire! It’s an uninhabited island 1/2 mile off the coast of Bonaire.

This is the one snorkeling spot you are going to need a boat.

Take the water taxi offered by Caribe Watersport or Epic Tours OR join a highly-rated snorkeling tour led by an expert guide with delicious snacks and drinks included.

The snorkeling at Klein Bonaire is effortless because it’s a drift snorkel. You are dropped off and literally float down the ocean until you exit at a designated point on the beach.

We saw lots of great fish including a peacock flounder, scrawled filefish, four-eye butterflyfish, trumpetfish, parrotfish, blue tang, sergeant majors, an eel, banded coral shrimp, and black durgons.

09- 18 Palms 

A colorful parrotfish feeding with blue tang at 18 Palms in Bonaire

A colorful parrotfish feeding with blue tang at 18 Palms

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RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿

18 Palms is a fun snorkeling experience, but the stars have to align to gain access.

You need to pass through Van der Valk Plaza Beach Resort as 18 Palms serves as the hotel’s designated house reef. Access depends entirely on the discretion of the guard on duty that day.

One year we were denied. The next year we got lucky. More details on how to get there can be found in my mini guide below.

We saw lots of schools of fish including blue tang, French grunt, bar jacks, and little fish nurseries. Other spottings included Spanish hogfish, four-eye butterflyfish, and juvenile yellowtail damselfish.

10- Angel City 

Graceful eagle ray at Angel City

Graceful eagle ray at Angel City

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RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿

Angel City is one of our FAVORITE snorkeling sites due to one magical experience.

Eagle rays!

As a snorkeler, we have seen eagle rays in deep water in Bora Bora and quickly swimming by in the Maldives. This was the first time I snorkeled with eagle rays in shallow water.

We were so close I could see their upturned noses as they searched for some crustaceans to munch on.

Now realize this is not a zoo.

You may see eagle rays, and you may not.

The first time we snorkeled Angel City, we did not. The second time we did. 

We went early and were the only ones in the water. Maybe that made a difference? I don’t know. Regardless, it was incredible, and I was super thankful to enjoy an incredible moment with these beautiful graceful fish.

We also saw plenty of schools of blue tang and bar jacks, parrotfish, a scorpionfish (thanks to my husband’s eagle eye!), a barracuda, sergeant majors, and a bearded fireworm.

11- Salt Pier

Turtle at Salt Pier in Bonaire

Snorkeling with a turtle at Salt Pier

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RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿

The southern tip of the island boasts the best snorkeling spots!

Salt Pier is a solid  🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿  site.

This snorkeling spot offers two unique areas to explore.

One is the sandy/seagrass section, where all the turtles like to hang out. The second is under the pier, where you can discover small and large sea life.

If you have never snorkeled under a pier, it can be a little eerie at first but eventually you adjust. The first time I did pier snorkeling was at Frederiksted Pier in St. Croix USVI, which was also pretty incredible.

I like to wear my snorkel vest during these deep snorkels.

Lots of great sea life to see!

Besides turtles, we also saw a barracuda, tarpons, spotted trunkfish that look like they are ready to kiss you with those pursed lips, LARGE schools of French grunt and bar jacks, palometas, sergeant majors, parrotfish, and even ….. (drumroll please) …. an octopus!

12- Tori’s Reef 

White-spotted filefish at Tori's Reef in Bonaire

White-spotted filefish at Tori’s Reef 

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RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿

Keep driving past Salt Pier and you’ll reach Tori’s Reef, another great snorkeling site on the south side.

Snorkeling is fairly easy, and you’ll see a large variety of marine life as you swim along the reef shelf at the shoreline.

One of the highlights of snorkeling Tori’s Reef was the variety of eels.

We saw a spotted moray eel, a chainlink eel, AND a green moray eel. This was the only Bonaire site I saw a green moray eel, and he was HUGE. He obviously knew where the good fish restaurants were.

Fish sightings included palometas, porcupinefish, white-spotted filefish, blue tang, French angelfish, bar jacks, French grunt, a barracuda, juvenile yellowtail damselfish, parrotfish, trumpetfish, banded butterflyfish, sergeant majors, and needlefish.

13- Red Beryl 

Porcupinefish at Red Beryl in Bonaire

Porcupinefish at Red Beryl 

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RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿 🤿

We love snorkeling at Red Beryl! It ties with Angel City as my favorite Bonaire snorkeling site.

Watch out for the kiteboarders at this site and go on a low wind day. 

As soon as I jumped in the water, I had a porcupinefish come right up to my camera. This photo is probably one of my favorite snorkeling photos I’ve captured. You can’t help but smile when you see that cute face.

There is a great variety of both coral and fish to discover at Red Beryl. We saw spotted trunkfish, banded butterflyfish, peacock flounder, parrotfish, French grunt, Bermuda chubs, French angelfish, sergeant majors, and spotted moray and chainlink eels.

14- Lac Bay

Small French grunt in the staghorn coral at Lac Bay in Bonaire

Small French grunt in the staghorn coral at Lac Bay 

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RATING: 🤿 🤿 🤿

Lac Bay has been on our list of Bonaire snorkeling sites to check off for a long time, and we finally did it!

The reason we put it off is because of the challenge of accessing the reef. I would strongly recommend snorkeling at Lac Bay for experienced snorkelers only.

It requires a 15-20 minute walk out into the bay with all of your gear before you start swimming. You need to be in moderately good shape. 

Remember, Lac Bay is one of the top windsurfing places in the world! The water can be choppy, so don’t attempt it if it’s super windy.

Trying to figure out where to start the walk out to the reef can be confusing, so I have included detailed directions in my mini guide below for orientation.

If you love dense patches of coral, Lac Bay is your happy place! It had some of the best coral on the island.

I’m more of a fauna person than a reef person, so some highlights we saw were TWO barracudas (one big and one small), porcurpinefish, lots of French grunt (especially around the staghorn coral), banded butterflyfish, sergeant majors, trumpetfish, blue tang, and Caribbean squid (which are super fast and hard to capture on camera).

Bonaire Snorkeling Tours 

Klein Bonaire Snorkeling Tour

Boat tours in Bonaire

The best part of snorkeling in Bonaire is you don’t need a boat (besides Klein Bonaire).

All sites can be accessed by shore. In my opinion, you can rent a car and easily snorkel on your own.

However, sometimes you just want someone to show you the good stuff and not have to figure out the logistics.

For those moments, several highly rated snorkeling tours can help you out with even some yummy food and drinks thrown in.

Here are the three top-rated snorkeling tours that fellow travelers rave about:

→   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 $)

5 Bonaire Snorkeling Tips

My Bonaire Fish Identification Card

My Bonaire Fish Identification Card

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#1- YELLOW STONES

Most of Bonaire’s dive sites are marked by the famous yellow painted stones. You can’t miss them.

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#2- STINAPA PASS

Purchase a STINAPA pass ahead of time. In order to snorkel or dive at Bonaire National Marine Park or drive through Washington Slagbaai National Park, you need to purchase a $40 nature tag. The money supports protecting the reef. It’s good for one calendar year.

I printed it out and covered it with clear packing tape to protect it.

Then I stored it in my Ugo, which goes with me on all of my snorkeling adventures. We were never asked to show it, but you should always have it with you just in case.

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#3- SNORKELING RESOURCES

We used two resources during our snorkeling adventures:

→   Reef Smart Guides Bonaire: Scuba Dive. Snorkel. Surf.

Although it is geared more towards divers and a little outdated, it still gave us a great starting point of what sites to explore. 

→   Bonaire Dive Map & Reef Creatures Waterproof Fish Card

This waterproof reference (pictured above) was invaluable as I tried to identify the fish I saw from my GoPro footage later.

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#4- SNORKELING GEAR

My first snorkeling experience was in 2007 in Costa Rica.

I rented gear that was not made for my unique body shape, and I was miserable. The mask was fogging, and the whole attempt was just awkward.

I have learned from my mistake. Purchase snorkeling gear that fits your body. It will take some trial and error but once you find the right gear … ah, the experience is magical.

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#5- DIVE BOOTIES

This tip goes along with the snorkeling gear, but make sure to bring dive booties.

You will be stepping over rocks and avoiding sea urchins while shore snorkeling. Unless you want some bloody, stubbed toes, do yourself a favor and bring those booties.

Your feet will thank you.

Final Thoughts

The Caribbean is our favorite destination to escape in the winter, and most of our island getaways are focused on snorkeling.

Bonaire offers some of the best Caribbean snorkeling, and I truly hope this guide gets you on your way to planning a fantastic “snorkation”!

If I were to select 3 must-visit sites from this list, my top choices would be Angel City, Red Beryl, and Salt Pier.

There are still numerous sites awaiting exploration, and among those remaining on my list are Red Slave, the Invisibles, and Oil Slick.

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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