Just off the coast of Venezuela in the Southern Caribbean Sea, you’ll find the island paradise of Bonaire. A popular stop on cruises through the Leeward Antilles islands, this is a place well worth exploring.
From finding the best beaches in Bonaire near cruise port stops to exploring Bonaire National Marine Park, you’ll want to hit the ground running here to make the most of every moment.
Making the Most of Your Time in Bonaire
The typical cruise through Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao will leave you with just one day to see everything that Bonaire has to offer.
From diving in one of the world’s greatest underwater ecosystems to sampling the local Dutch cuisine (yep, this place is actually part of the Netherlands), you’ve got a lot to see in a short time.
So, how can you possibly see it all on a tight schedule?
Let’s dive into everything that you need to know for a whirlwind experience on this magical island.
The Island of Bonaire: The Basics
Alongside Aruba and Curaçao, this island makes up one of the three ABC islands that draw in beach lovers from around the globe.
These are the three Dutch islands making up the westernmost islands of the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean. Aruba and Curaçao are part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, while Bonaire is a special municipality of the Netherlands.
While the official language of the islands is Dutch, many people speak the native language of Papiamentu, which is a unique blend of Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, and different African dialects.
What to Expect in Bonaire
Bonaire is famous for its extraordinary natural beauty.
The incredible reefs surrounding the islands are preserved as part of the Bonaire National Marine Park.
On the island, you’ll find the beautifully conserved wonderland of Washington Slagbaai National Park, which houses countless native species of wildlife.
Most travelers come to Bonaire to explore the many natural wonders here. Bonaire is proudly home to the one and only Blue Destination seas on the planet.
This means that the resources of the ocean are used sustainably while protecting the health of the ecosystem:
- For divers, this creates the opportunity to explore the pristine water of the nearly 100 dive sites encircling the island. Not experienced in diving?
- Bonaire is also a world-class snorkeling spot. Even if it’s not part of your usual travel routine, you won’t want to miss the chance to dive in here.
When you are ready to get back on dry land, the eclectic capital city of Kralendijk has lines of cafés, art galleries, boutiques, eateries, and bars.
It’s a small city so you can cover the main attractions of Fort Oranje and the Terramar Museum easily on foot in one afternoon with plenty of time to lounge and snap pics.
Why We Love Bonaire
While other Caribbean islands have been taken over by tourists, Bonaire still offers a raw slice of paradise.
Although the island is a mecca for divers from around the globe, it is far from a tourist trap.
Not only has the island taken extraordinary measures to protect the native ecosystem, but Bonaire is still without the wall-to-wall lines of resorts that have taken over much of the popular Caribbean islands.
Best Beaches in Bonaire Near Cruise Port Stops
While the capital city, Kralendijk, is well worth exploring, it’s really all about the beaches here.
As soon as you dock, make a beeline straight for the beach. Whether you want to live out your Instagram dreams in a glass-bottom boat or dive into the depths of the crystal-clear seas, this is the place to be.
But, with limited time to explore, which are the best beaches in Bonaire near cruise port stops?
While each one has its own charms, they are uniquely different. So, to help you decide, let’s count them down and see what each one has to offer.
Coco Beach Bonaire, or Playa Coco as it is called locally, isn’t the closest beach to the cruise ports but it’s worth the trip (and, of course, since the island isn’t that big, you’re looking at less than a ten-minute trip).
If you are ready for an exciting day out, make your way down to the snorkel and diving rental spots, or dance the day away to live music and DJs.
More in the mood to watch the world pass by as you sip a cocktail seaside? This beach is a prime pick for that too.
Looking for that tropical postcard-perfect vibe?
For turquoise seas and warm, clear waters, Bachelor’s Beach is the place to be.
A gorgeous spot for sunbathing as well as easy snorkeling and diving, Bachelor’s Beach is a fantastic shore.
There are no crazy treks or rocky obstacle courses here. Just a couple of minutes from the shore, you will find clear waters, colorful reefs, and prime diving conditions.
Te Amo Beach
With its cute name (meaning I love you in Spanish), this beach is one of the best spots on the island.
Its plush white sand shores and clear water filled with coral make it an outstanding spot to spend the afternoon.
Swim through the exotic sea life or search for sea turtles along the shoreline.
After you are done soaking in the sun, stop by the much-loved food truck by the entrance or head in the direction of the airport to find a wide variety of restaurants.
From the Divi Flamingo Beach Resort, you can access this popular beach.
Opt for the day pass and get an umbrella to lie out for the afternoon. After a day of swimming, diving, or just lounging, make your way to the resort restaurant for dinner.
If you’ve got time before you’re heading back to the ship, stop by the casino to get a taste of the local nightlife.
Scattered with millions of tiny pink foraminifera shells, Pink Beach is a good place for a picnic or to set off scuba diving or snorkeling.
It’s a narrow beach and it can be rocky though, so when it comes to the best beaches in Bonaire near cruise ports where you can go for a relaxed sun session, this might not be your best choice.
Pink Beach is more about swimming through the colorful world under the sea.
If you’re lucky enough to arrive on the right day, it’s absolutely stunning.
If you come on a day when more rocks have washed in, it’s not so impressive.
Best Time to Visit Bonaire
With a tropical semi-arid climate, you’ll find the weather of Bonaire to be the same pretty much every day of the year. Most afternoons hover around 30 degrees C / 90 degrees F.
Evenings stay warm as well, though you might want to pack one light jacket for windy afternoons.
Bonaire has a rainy season that runs from November to February. You will see regular showers during this time, but it is rare to have your whole rain rained out.
One other perk to visiting outside of the popular winter travel season, you’ll also have the benefit of fewer crowds.
Visiting Bonaire is an unforgettable experience.
While people often think they should just choose between Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, each island has its own extraordinary delights and it’s well worth exploring every one of them.
As soon as you arrive in Bonaire, you’ll see just what makes this place so magical!
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