One of the Dutch Caribbean nations, Bonaire has several things to make it more than worth a visit. It’s got beautiful beaches, enchanting snorkeling spots, and natural wonders. Diving is one activity that can’t be missed, as Bonaire is considered by Forbes in 2017 to be one of the best diving spots in the world. Keep in mind that if you’ve not dived before in Bonaire, you will need to get a Marine Park Tag through an orientation to be legally able to dive. Bonaire has made environmental stewardship and sustainability a core value, so it is important that you adhere to it. This article helps you know how to be a more eco-friendly tourist. Here are some of the top things to do in Bonaire:
Bonaire is said to have over 22 beaches. These are some of the best ones:
Lac Bay is characterized by its sandy beaches, shallow turquoise waters, windiness, and mangroves on its east. The shallow waters make it a perfect swimming spot, especially for kids which attracts many families. It’s also coupled with frequent trade winds making it ideal for windsurfing. The nearby Windsurf Place is recommended for lessons and gear. While swimming is one of the main attractions, there are some spots nearby for scuba diving. The beach also has lounge chairs, great food and drinks. Finally comes the nearby wildlife that is one of Bonaire’s highlights. You may see some small hills of conch shells, which is a reminder of the times when the conch harvesting was legal. Fortunately, the species is now protected and taking conches, or even just their shells is outlawed. Other animals to watch out for include the flamingos, pelicans, lizards and turtles. Finally, you can also take kayak tours of the mangrove forest which is very well preserved and an important habitat for many species. Remember to carry mosquito repellents.
This beach is found between the mangroves on the east side of Lac Bay, which has given it the nickname ‘hidden beach’. The path to get here can be a bit rough as you have to pass the mangrove, but this effort might be worth it, considering what the beach has to offer. Just like in Lac Bay, the waters here are a clear turquoise to swim and snorkel in, and you can find mounds of conches. Nearby you can find a restaurant that specializes in seafood, serves alcohol, and sometimes hosts live entertainment. Keep in mind that the beach is crowded on Sundays.
This beach is pretty small, located near the airport, under a small cliff. The way to access this beach through the cliff is through the stairs, which a few have described the last few steps as too uneven, so you should mind your step. Besides the cliffs, the beach has clear, shallow waters, and palm trees. The waters make it an ideal spot for swimming and snorkeling, including for beginners.The corals, underwater plants, eels, fish and turtles make for interesting sights when snorkeling.
The pink sand is caused by crushed shells of pink, microscopic creatures called foraminifera. Unfortunately, a storm in 1999 had taken away most of the pink sand, leaving only a small strip left, perfect to lay down on. The beach is still worth visiting for the amazing snorkeling and diving experiences. When diving, you can find sea animals such as scorpion fish, barracudas, eels, and sometimes a turtle. The coral creates a beautiful underwater world that makes the snorkel experience that much better. To get here, you will need to book a taxi in advance to drop off and pick up from the salt pier.
Bonaire’s Eco Tourism
Bonaire is rich in biodiversity and has several natural attractions that show how integral sustainability and protection of the environment is to Bonaire. Here are some of their top natural destinations
Bonaire has around 400 caves that are a vital part of its ecosystem. There are two types of caves: ‘dry’ and ‘underwater’ with the latter often having underwater snorkeling spots. You can take guided tours in some of them where you’ll be climbing and snorkeling underwater. These activities will require some level of physical fitness. The stalactites and stalagmites ever present throughout many caves will definitely give you a fascinatingly eerie atmosphere. You’ll need to contact local tour operators to book a tour. This site could help with that.
Washington Slagbaai National Park
This is the national park, named after the plantations that were once in its place: Washington and Slagbaai. Several species of flora and fauna in Bonaire such as parakeets, seagrass, coral reef fish, flamingoes, turtles and many more are protected here. The park is also an amazing place for water sports and activities, especially as a spectacular diving spot. Some of the notable landmarks in the park are the Boko Kokolishi(Bay of shells), Lagadishi Trail, Playa Funchi, and Pos Mangel.
Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary
There are only four designated breeding grounds for flamingos in the world, and one of them is Pekelmeer in Bonaire. Since the breeding season of flamingos lasts for around the first half of the year, this is the optimal time to visit the place. During this time, you can find thousands of flamingos in the reserve. For the sake of protection, you can’t actually go visit inside the sanctuary, but rather look at them from the Pink beach, or road above. You can book tours for this. A fun fact about flamingos is that they’re pink because of the pink present in the brine shrimp that’s in their diet. These shrimp are found in the pools found in the sanctuary, where the flamingos eat.