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Ultimate Bonaire Travel Guide - Hidden Gem of South Caribbean

In the Caribbean there are many stunning islands to find, while most might think of Jamaica, the Dominican Republic or the Bahamas first, to me a true hidden gem in south Caribbean turned out to be Bonaire, about which I will share much in this Ultimate Bonaire Travel Guide.

Bonaire is 1 of the ABC islands, also known as the former Netherlands Antilles, located just above Venezuela. The island is renowned to dive enthusiasts for its unique shore diving spots and snorkeling opportunities. It does however have much more to offer.

Last month I finally had the honor to complete my ABC, after having visited Aruba and Curaçao several times already. Bonaire tourism ensured that I experienced much of what the island has to offer, to show me the unique characteristics that make Bonaire stand out.

One of the most frequently asked questions I usually get is: which of the 3 ABC islands is the nicest or should I choose for my holiday? And although this really depends on your personal preferences, I have a pretty clear view on this now!


Which of the ABC islands to choose?

While Aruba has much to offer in excellent restaurants and accommodations, the nicest spots and nature areas are located a bit further apart. Curaçao is especially buzzing in nightlife with its colorful and vibrant capital, with many murals and abundant beach clubs all around the west coast.

And because Bonaire is modest in size it really has that a small-town vibe, also with a colorful capital, that is however quite small and limited.

Shops of colorful Kralendijk - Bonaire
Shops of colorful Kralendijk

As the island is independent now, but still a municipality of the Netherlands, many Dutch expats live here, making up about 15% of Bonaire's population. This distinct Dutch influence can be felt in Bonaire’s culture, architecture, and governance.

The island’s restaurant offering is good, with also some nice beach clubs, located quite near each other, about which you can read more further on in this blog. 

Ocean Oasis Beach Club - Bonaire
Ocean Oasis Beach Club

What sets Bonaire apart?

The island still has a very large rural area in the north and south, with authentic villages, desolate nature, salt flats and an impressive National Park, which covers about 20% of the island.

Most that choose to go to Bonaire do so for its unique nature, birdwatching, mesmerizing blue waters, marine life and the relaxing vibe and tranquility, which I really enjoyed!

Environmental- and marine conservation on Bonaire

But what I love most about Bonaire is its many sustainable initiatives and commitment to environmental- and marine conservation. The entire coastline is protected as part of the Bonaire National Marine Park, established in 1979. This makes it very popular for scuba diving and snorkeling, with some of the most pristine coral reefs in the Caribbean.

Te Amo Beach - Bonaire
Te Amo Beach

This is also the reason why you're required to pay as special visitors extrance tax of $75 for your trip, dedicated to the preservation of the island. This can be payed online from 7 days before departure.

As well as a STINAPA nature fee of $40 if you want to visit protected areas, both on land as in sea.

With more than 80 dive sites, Bonaire has often been named one of the top diving destinations in the world. Making it extra unique that many of these are accessible directly from the shore, all around the island.

View upon Klein Bonaire
View upon Klein Bonaire

And Bonaire is very proactive in sustainability, focusing on renewable energy, with much of its electricity coming from wind and solar power. As well as protecting its pristine nature and wildlife through many local initiatives, of which I got to experience a few.

Ultimate Bonaire Travel Guide

Of course I’m happy to share all my Bonaire experiences and tips with you in this blog, through many of my own pictures. As well as a must visit hotspots and activity list, so you can make the most out of your getaway, vacation or trip to this Caribbean paradise too.

Lac Cai Mangroves and Flamingo Sanctuary - Bonaire
Lac Cai Mangroves and Flamingo Sanctuary

But first:


How to get to Bonaire

From the Netherlands there are 3 airlines flying there, either directly or with a short pick-up stop in Aruba or Curaçao. KLM, TUI, and Corendon, starting from November, fly to Bonaire several times a week in about 10-11 hours from Schiphol airport in Amsterdam.

But also from the North-, South-America and Europe there several flights a week directly to Bonaire and some cruise lines also stop here, although too briefly to really experience everything it has to offer, in my opinion. 

& How to get around?

While Bonaire is quite small, cycling is not recommended, since not all roads are fit for this. Also taxi’s on the island are not abundant and tours are not cheap either, so renting a car is the most convenient and fun way to see more of the island.

Since some roads are not well-paved and the National Park is only accessible by 4WD, I can highly recommend renting a small jeep or SUV at Pickup huren Bonaire, like we did. 

Where to stay on Bonaire – hidden gem in south Caribbean

Although the island has quite an extensive offering of accommodations, ranging from resorts, AirBnB’s, private villa’s and boutique hotels and I only stayed at 2 this time, my favourite accommodations here were:

Delfins beach resort

This was my first stay, where I slept for 3 nights in a small apartment with private terrace, kitchen and a small bedroom and living room, everything you might need.

I really liked the wide and beautiful beach here, one of the few semi-sandy beaches on the island. Delfins is located directly on the sea with abundant free beach beds, and several pools, offering the best views over the west coast.

Delfins Beach Resort is committed to sustainable practices, including energy-efficient operations, water conservation, and supporting local conservation efforts.

It's a luxurious and eco-conscious option if you like more facilities on-site. The resort offers a fully equipped fitness center, one of the largest swimming pools on the island, and a high-end dining option, ran by Michelin-starred chefs Jonnie and Thérèse Boer, with a unique menu focusing on flavorful, fresh and local ingredients.

But I also enjoyed the lush tropical setting and laid-back beach bar with a selection of drinks and light meals, perfect for enjoying the seaside and the hotel’s direct beach access.

More about this in my top 10 restaurant and beach club list below. Find all details for your stay at this beach resort here.

And get an impression through this gallery:

Harbour Village Resort & Beach Club

While I only had dinner at this resort’s beach restaurant, I also had a small tour around the resort which feels like a small village and looked very promising.

It's the only adults-only 5 star hotel on the island, very private, with undoubtedly the most beautiful beach on Bonaire with spectacular sunsets, only accessible to hotel-and restaurant guests.

I can’t wait to come back and stay at the Harbour Village Bonaire next time.

Get an impression through these pictures:


Sorobon beach resort

Same goes for this stunning and sustainable beach resort on the east coast of Bonaire. The only hotel located directly on Lac Bay, looking out on its stunning light blue waters.

Sorobon offers authentic and sustainable beach houses, right on the beach, next to a windsurfing school and several beach bars.

And it has its own restaurant and beach bar on-site as well. I went here for lunch and a delightful beach massage, from their skilled massage therapist Johana Ramirez. But staying overnight is also on my list for my next visit.

Puur Bonaire

This little gem should not be missed when on Bonaire either.

If you prefer a more personal and intimate setting, this small-scale boutique hotel is the place to stay! I stayed in the upstairs apartment for 3 nights, which was very comfortable and spacious, providing room for 5 persons.

But Puur Bonaire also offers 3 studios with all the modern amenities you need, such as aircon, free Wi-Fi, your own kitchen, bathroom, flat-screen TV, and private terraces.

There's also a shared swimming pool in a lush setting with plenty of comfortable sun beds, lounge spots and even an outdoor gym! 

The design is a combination of contemporary, bohemian chique, with that Caribbean charm. Decorated with love and detail by the friendly Dutch owners Imca and Jos, who used natural materials and a soothing color palette to create a relaxing atmosphere. 

The boutique hotel is situated in a quiet neighborhood, providing a peaceful retreat, while still being close to the island’s main attractions, including beaches, diving sites, the airport and Kralendijk. See more and book your own stay at Puur Bonaire.

What to do – Bonaire activities

There is quite a lot to see and do on the island, if you like exploring, which I do:) I will happily share the activities and spots that I experienced myself, from north to south. As always illustrated through my own pictures to convince you visually.


1000 steps

A popular diving spot, but also very nice to visit just for its mesmerizing blue waters, as you can see on these pictures:

Luckily these stairs are not actually 1000 steps, but can feel like it to divers who come here to spot marine life and sea turtles, and have to walk back all the way up again with their gear😊

The road leading there is already quite impressive and clearly shows the archeological origins of the island, which is actually just a rock of coral, pushed up over centuries.

Washington Slagbaai National Park

Founded in 1969 as a protected nature reserve and not to be missed. Be aware that that you need an off-road car to access the 50 kms of unpaved roads through the 55 km2 park, that covers about 17% of the island.

You will be certain of flamingo sightings in the many wetlands throughout the National Park. Besides the normal roads, there are 2 hiking trails that can be followed. And several guided tours can be booked, with a few houses available for rent to stay overnight in the reserve as well.

Goto lake 

The perfect spot to see flamingo's in their natural habitat, accessible from both in- and outside the National Park.

All of the below sites are located in the National Park and are very photogenic!

  • Wayaka II, a popuar snorkeling spot and small but pretty beach

  • Playa Chikitu, a spectacular spot along the north coast, where sea turtles come to nest

  • Boca Slagbaai, a historic site with traditional storage houses, also popular for its flamingo lake

Seru Largu

A popular spot for locals and tourists alike for its stunning views and location inland, between Kralendijk and Rincon.

Situated on the second largest hill of the island at 123 meters height, offering views over the capital, Klein Bonaire, and on clear days even towards Curaçao.

At the summit you will find a white cross monument serving as a religious symbol and landmark.


The oldest village of the island, founded by the Spanish in 1527, offering a glimpse into the rich culture of Bonaire. Here you can still experience traditional Caribbean life, explore the island's typical nature, and participate in local traditions. The town is surrounded by rugged landscapes, hills, cacti, and traditional kunuku (farmland).

It’s very close to the National Park and the northern coast, and houses the Cadushy Distillery, a cactus liquor factory, which can be visited for tours and rum tastings.

Every year Dia di Rincon is celebrated on the 30th of April with festivities and music already starting from the 27th. People from all over the Caribbean come to Bonaire for these celebrations, which are worth visiting in this vibrant and authentic village!


Lac Bay

This is one of the Caribbean's best windsurfing spots. The bay’s shallow, warm waters and steady trade winds create ideal conditions for windsurfing enthusiasts of all levels. Lessons and gear can be booked easily at the local windsurfing school here.

Mangrove information Center Kayak tour

Lac Cai is an important protected nature area with extensive mangroves that are quite difficult to explore. But the Mangrove Information Center makes it easy through small guided kayak tours. It also includes snorkeling in the mangroves, which is very unique, fun and highly recommended!

Lac Cai – conch beach

Drive a bit further to the tip of this area to see a unique fishermen’s spot where 3 hills of conch shells can be found, the result of a tragic history. There's also a small restaurant and the brightest light blue waters you have ever seen!

Donkey Sanctuary

This is a hilarious, yet important must visit in my book! The Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire has made a significant positive impact on the welfare of donkeys, brought to the island many years ago for hard work, and now abandoned.

With your visit you can contribute to the local community and humane treatment of these animals, providing donations for the sick and injured. The sanctuary rescues donkeys in need, giving them necessary medical care and a safe place to live.

They also work with the local community, schools, and organizations to promote animal welfare and conservation and offer volunteer opportunities for those interested in contributing to their cause.

For just $9 per person and $2,50 for a bucket of food you can enter the sanctuary by car and feed the 820 donkeys that live here, which will guarantee lots of fun and cuddles. 


Just driving around the desolate south is already interesting with its deserted beaches and wild donkeys. And don’t forget to stop for a bit of history at the lighthouse and slave huts.

Salt Pier, Salt Flats & Flamingo Sanctuary

Bonaire is home to one of the Caribbean's largest flamingo colonies at the Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary. These birds are a significant part of the island's wildlife.

The island’s large salt flats are stunning to see and still an important part of Bonaire’s economy. The salt industry has a long history on the island, dating back to the colonial period.

I had a unique tour from Salt Pier around the salt production and the flamingo sanctuary, which was nothing less than spectacular.

Salt Pier is also a popular snorkeling and diving spot for its frequent sea turtle sightings and the corals around the base of the piers.




The colorful, yet small capital of the island, with many authentic shops and interesting bars and restaurants, as well as some cultural sights and museums.

Klein Bonaire

This uninhabited island of 6 km2, just a 20 minute boat ride off the coast of Bonaire, features pristine beaches and unique coral reefs. Be aware that there's hardly any shade and there are no facilities here though. It is however part of the marine park and a popular spot for snorkeling and diving.

You can get there by water taxi from Kralendijk, located at Karel’s Beach Bar, which runs from 9.15 to 14.15 and goes back from 10.15 to 16.45.

Every hour for $25 p.p. and $15 for kids under 13 years old.

You can also go there by organized snorkeling tour or as a volunteer with Turtle Conservation Bonaire, like we did. They go early in the morning to check for turtle nests. A unique experience and the best way to get the island all to yourself!

Cave Tours Bonaire

In about 3 - 4 hours Dutch Dirk will show you 2 of the 300 caves on the island. During this unique tour we visited a dry cave with unique coral and geological formations that have been preserved and formed over several centuries.

In the 2nd cave we snorkeled in an underground lake which was nothing less that spectacular! If you are into adventure and want to learn more about the islands origins and history, I can highly recommend this tour with Cave Tours Bonaire.


Where to beach? – Top 5 Bonaire beach clubs

  • Club Tropicana at Delfins Beach Resort

  • Sorobon Reef bar

  • Oasis beach club, the place to be for Friday night’s Happy Hour from 5 pm and Sunday’s fish and meat BBQ

  • The Beach Club, will be refurbished soon, offering free sun beds and great breakfasts

  • Karels Beach Bar, located along the boulevard in Kralendijk


Where to eat? – Top 10 Bonaire restaurants

  • Zara's - with its rooftop restaurant and unique 6 course Chef's Table menu

  • Brass Boer - for unique dishes and Michelin-star level food, accompanied by the best sunsets

  • Posada Para Mira - the best restaurant for real local food and authentic stews, near Rincon

  • Number Ten - perfect for a hip breakfast or lunch in Kralendijk

  • Club Tropicana, Ocean Oasis, Sorobon Reef Bar or the Beach Club

  • Foodies - next to Lac Bay, only open for lunch in the weekends, and dinner from Wednesday until Sunday from 5-10 pm

  • The Captain's Table - laid-back fine dining in Kralendijk

  • La Balandra - great food with the best sunset views, directly on the beach of Harbour Village Resort & Beach Club

  • Ingredients at Buddies Dive Resort - renowned for its truffel pasta, prepared fresh at your table in a big parmesan cheese

  • Kite City & Stoked foodtruck, located at Te Amo beach - 2 of the currently 40 Truki Pan's spread out over the island.

Although small, Bonaire blew me away with its natural beauty and diversity. To me, all of the above features combined, make Bonaire a really unique destination in the Caribbean, celebrated for its natural beauty, environmental preservation, and versatile outdoor opportunities.

If you're planning to go here too you can find more info about the island on the site of Bonaire Tourism. And even more tropical island inspiration on my Caribbean page.

I hope I was able to convince you of the island's versatility and beauty. And that my Ultimate Bonaire Travel Guide will help make the most out of your own holiday or trip to this hidden gem in the south of the Caribbean.


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