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  • bonaire-coastline-ships.jpg - Boats in the tropical waters along the scenic coastline of Bonaire.
  • bonaire-green-parrots.jpg - Vividly colored green parrots in Bonaire.
  • bonaire-coral-reef-fish.jpg - Tropical fish swim in a coral reef in Bonaire.
  • Bonaire-flamingos-2 - Flamingos on Bonaire.
  • bonaire-seabird-in-flight.jpg - A seabird caught in midflight on the coastline of Bonaire.
  • bonaire-sea-turtle.jpg - A tagged sea turtle in Bonaire.
  • bonaire-fish-in-reef.jpg - A small tropical fish in a coral reef in Bonaire.
  • bonaire-cove-snorkelers.jpg - Snorkelers head into a secluded cove in Bonaire.
  • bonaire-emerald-bird.jpg - An emerald-colored bird spotted in the wild in Bonaire.
  • Bonaire-scuba2 - Scuba diving off the coast of Bonaire in the southern Caribbean.
  • bonaire-yellow-bird.jpg - A yellow bird in the wild in Bonaire.
  • bonaire-teeming-fish.jpg - The waters of Bonaire, perfect for snorkelers and scuba divers, teem with tropical fish.
  • bonaire-sea-turtle-in-reef.jpg - A sea turtle in the reef in Bonaire in the Southern Caribbean.
  • bonaire-houses.jpg - Colorful houses line an inlet in Bonaire.
  • bonaire-polyps.jpg - A colorful colony of polyps in a coral reef in Bonaire.
  • bonaire-mountain-biking.jpg - Active travelers can opt to explore Bonaire's terrain on mountain bikes.
  • Bonaire-scuba1 - Scuba diving off the coast of Bonaire in the southern Caribbean.
  • bonaire-gentleman.jpg - A local man poses in Bonaire.
  • bonaire-coastline.jpg - A craggy stretch of coastline in Bonaire.
  • bonaire-kitesurfing.jpg - Kitesurfing is a popular pastime in Bonaire.
  • bonaire-wild-coastline.jpg - A stretch of wild, pristine coastline in Bonaire.
  • bonaire-wall-of-fish.jpg - A scuba diver comes across a wall of fish in Bonaire.
  • bonaire-sea-turtle-close-up.jpg - Close-up of a sea turtle swimming in the tropical waters of Bonaire.
  • Bonaire-windsurf - A windsurfer does his thing in the waters off Bonaire.
  • Bonaire-iguana - A green iguana poses for his closeup on  Bonaire.
  • bonaire-tropical-bird.jpg - A small bird clings to a tropical plant in Bonaire.
  • bonaire-children-on-beach.jpg - Children run along the beach in family-friendly Bonaire.
  • bonaire-cruise-ships.jpg - Cruise ships from P&O and Royal Caribbean moor in Kralendijk during a visit to Bonaire.
  • bonaire-windsurfers.jpg - Windsurfers catch the breeze in a bay on Bonaire.
  • bonaire-tropical-fish.jpg - A tropical fish shows off its spots in a coral reef in Bonaire.
  • bonaire-tropical-drinks-at-sunset.jpg - Watch the sun set with a tropical drink in Bonaire.
  • bonaire-seaside-cafe.jpg - Visitors at a seaside café watch a tropical sunset in Bonaire.
  • bonaire-school-fish-reef.jpg - A school of tropical fish in one of Bonaire's countless coral reefs.
  • bonaire-squid.jpg - A giant squid swims in the waters of Bonaire.
  • bonaire-manta-ray.jpg - A fancifully spotted manta ray glides along a reef off Bonaire.
  • bonaire-local-woman.jpg - A local woman in traditional dress poses in Bonaire.
  • bonaire-turtle-hatchling.jpg - A turtle hatchling makes its way to the sea on Bonaire.
  • bonaire-children-dress.jpg - Local children in traditional colorful garb in Bonaire.
  • bonaire-wild-coastline2.jpg - Waves crash ashore along Bonaire's wild coastline.
  • bonaire-sea-life.jpg - Sea life in a colorful coral bed in Bonaire.
  • Bonaire-snorkel - Snorkeling in the reefs near Bonaire  in the southern Caribbean.
  • bonaire-scuba-divers2.jpg - Scuba divers prepare to enter the tropical waters of Bonaire.
  • Bonaire-Kralendkijk.jpg - Along the waterfront of Kralendijk, capital of Bonaire, as night descends.
  • bonaire-scuba-divers.jpg - Scuba divers prepare to explore the reefs of Bonaire.
  • bonaire-sea-cave.jpg - Explore a pristine sea cave on a visit to Bonaire.
  • bonaire-local-dish-1.jpg - A local dish served on Bonaire.
  • bonaire-local-dish.jpg - Fresh local ingredients make for an appetizing lunch along the shores of Bonaire.
  • bonaire-coral-scuba.jpg - Scuba divers pass a bed of coral in the warm tropical waters of Bonaire.
  • bonaire-ocean-kayaks.jpg - Visitors take ocean kayaks out to sea along the coast of Bonaire.
  • bonaire-flock-of-flamingos.jpg - You're more than likely to see flocks of flamingos on your visit to Bonaire.
  • bonaire-starry-night.jpg - Stars fill the heavens in the dark of night on Bonaire.
  • Bonaire-flamingos - Bonaire's beautiful flamingos can be seen at the Pekelmeer Sanctuary and in Washington Slagbaai National Park.
  • bonaire-coral-reef.jpg - A scuba diver approaches a coral reef in Bonaire.

Bonaire travel guide: Windsurfer & scuba paradise

our guide

The vibe

Bonaire, a charming Dutch Caribbean Island in the Netherlands Antilles, is part of the ABC Islands in the region, alongside Aruba and Curaçao. Bonaire's beauty is mirrored in its warm inhabitants, exotic wildlife and multihued ocean.  

It's  easy to become engulfed by the preserving spirit that flows in between the small picturesque huts, the petroglyphs-style Omina (cave) and red roof houses of the capital of Kralendijk. Nature lovers enjoy the creatures that roam the island’s landscape such as the iconic donkeys of the Donkey Sanctuary, pink flamingoes that beautify the Goto Meer and the sea creatures of the Marine Park. 

Cruise ships that call on Bonaire

Top reasons to go

  • Bonaire is all about the water. Divers and snorkelers enjoy peaceful days exploring reefs and wrecks.
  • At Washington Slagbaai National Park, a nature sanctuary, you can find parrots, flamingos, parakeets and many other species of birds and reptiles.
  • The red-stained petroglyphs that adorn the walls of Onima offer visitors a glimpse of ancient Bonaire's mysterious side.

Top things to do & see

Water sports

Scuba diving off the coast of Bonaire in the southern Caribbean.
Courtesy of Tourism Corporation BonaireScuba diving off the coast of Bonaire in the southern Caribbean.

Snorkeling, scuba diving, kayaking and windsurfing are all very popular on Bonaire because of its crystal clear waters and offshore reefs. Its diving is probably its most popular attraction, and there are reefs available for a variety of experience levels, from beginners to experts.

Klein Bonaire lies just off the western coast of the island, a smaller, pristine sister to Bonaire. It is surrounded by a multitude of outstanding dive sites and is a popular spot for picnicking and barbecues — in part because it is completely undeveloped. Klein Bonaire can be reached only by boat (water taxi or excursion), and visitors should remember that they must bring with them all they need.

Land activities

Even though its diving is the most popular attraction on Bonaire, there are plenty of adventures to take advantage of on land. Tour the island by either renting a mountain bike or heading out on horses and going horseback riding. Take a hike through the island or go rappelling and rock climbing. On foot, you can explore the local caves and salt plains. 

Other highlights include Arawak Indian cave paintings at Boca Omina, historic Dutch buildings, the slave huts at Rode Pan, the Solar Salt Works and the Willemstoren Lighthouse.

Flamingos on Bonaire.
Medioimages/Photodisc / Courtesy of Tourism Corporation BonaireFlamingos on Bonaire.

Wildlife

Whether it's bird watching or scoping out the wild iguanas that call this island home, the eco-friendly nature of the island allows plenty of animals to thrive on the island. There are also several farms to visit with animals such as donkeys and goats, so make sure to make a visit.

Best bets for dining

Bonaire boasts restaurants with island, French, Italian and Argentine influences. Okras, plantains, goat stew and funchi are popular dishes. If you really want the local flavor, sample the rock lobster, conch and wahoo. 

Best time to go

The island usually has good weather year-round, but the "rainy" season usually happens between October and January, even though the rain on the island is very limited. The summer months are usually the most popular due to the diving and water sports, and September and October are primo months before the crowds arrive.

Note: Bonaire is far enough south to fall outside of the hurricane belt, which kicks up in the fall, so you'll likely miss the big storms if you cruise here in autumn. 

Vividly colored green parrots in Bonaire.
Courtesy of Tourism Corporation BonaireVividly colored green parrots in Bonaire.

When you arrive

Docking information

Cruise ships arrive at the capital of Kralendijk, Bonaire. Cruise ships dock dock at Town Pier (or North Pier) or less commonly Customs Pier (or South Pier), both a short walk from Kralendijk’s center. 

Getting around

There are several ways to navigate throughout Bonaire. Tour buses are available to help you explore the island’s different sites.  Taxis are great for traveling to beaches, resorts, and the airport; however, rates are set and it is best to agree upon a price before beginning your journey. Renting a car is the preferred mode of transportation and drivers must produce a valid driver’s license. 

Need to know

Passport: All U.S. and Canadian citizens will need a passport.

Language: Dutch is the official language, but the main language is Papiamentu, which is common for the ABC islands. However, tourist companies should be fluent in English.

Currency: U.S. dollar

Safety: The island is generally very safe. However, exercise normal safety precautions, including not flashing cash and leaving valuables on the ship.

Your take

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Cruiseable team
The Cruiseable editorial team consists of award-winning travel writers, cruise bloggers and journalists.

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Overheard

“Bonaire stands apart. Elkhorn coral just below the surface, thousands of silversides pulsing in the shallows, a parade of parrotfish en route to some secret aquatic event.”

Islands magazine

“If you’re docked in Kralendijk for a few hours, enjoy some of the world’s best diving and snorkeling at one of the island’s 90 dive sites. Bonaire National Marine Park is a Unesco World Heritage site and covers the entire coast of the island to a depth of 200 ft.”

Lonely Planet

“Consider Bonaire. It's overshadowed by Aruba and Curaçao, and has smaller crowds, decent deals, no traffic lights or high-rise hotels. Sidestep the masses here.”

Islands magazine

“For a dose of culture, visit the Museo Boneriano, an old plantation house filled with island artifacts.”

AFAR magazine

Your take: share your experience


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