Perfect Rides for Both Novices and Pros
Riders skim across shallow seas in blurs of neon color or launch skyward from the lip of a wave. The show is powered by the trade winds that sweep in from the east, delivering a steady supply of invisible energy to be captured by sail and kite. Expert riders from around the world come to Bonaire to hone their skills and show off their moves. But the same conditions that stoke the pros are equally kind to novices. Sheltered shallow water bays and leeward coastlines are perfect for those just learning to harness the power of the winds. Veteran coaches are on hand to ease the learning curve and facilitate fun.
- Best for: Everyone with a love of water and nature
- Best season to visit: Year-round, as it's below the hurricane belt
- Weather: 70s, sunny and dry in the winter, 80s in the summer, with occasional afternoon or evening showers
Board Sports in Bonaire Overview
Unlike some destinations where windsurfers and kiteboarders share the same waters, Bonaire provides ideal conditions for both board sports on opposite sides of the island. To the east, windsurfers can cruise the expansive shallows of Lac Bay on fast crosswind runs. The southwest corner of the island is a favorite with kiteboarders, who can launch into the calm water with offshore winds.
Board Sports in Bonaire Tips
Kiteboarding is one of those sports that can be extremely frustrating if you try to teach yourself, but surprisingly easy and fun when working with a professional instructor with the right teaching aids, support and safety gear. When selecting an instructor and school, check to see if they are certified by the International Kiteboarding Organization, or IKO.
Best Places for Board Sports in Bonaire
Consistent trade winds and large expanses of reef-protected shallows draw novices and experts alike to Jibe City and Sorobon Beach. Experts venture beyond the reef line at Lac Bay to challenge ocean swells. Kiteboarders find ideal conditions south of the town of Kralendijk at Atlantis Beach, which is away from boat traffic and resorts.
What to Pack for Board Sports in Bonaire
Leave the wetsuit at home and pack a pair of board shorts and a lycra swim shirt. Special kiteboarding or windsurfing shoes are optional but will help grip the board, and provide foot protection on rocky shores. Fit sunglasses with a retaining strap that floats.
Captain Dons Habitat
See Packages & Learn More
See Packages & Learn More
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
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Entry Requirments: US and Canadian citizens must have a valid Passport, valid at least three months beyond the planned period of stay. No visa is required for stays shorter than 90 days.
Exit Requirments: The departure tax is USD $36.05 per person, which should be included in your international airline ticket taxes, so there should be nothing to pay at the airport. Domestic departure tax is $9.27 to Curacao, St. Maarten, Saba, St. Eustatius or Aruba and should also be included in your airline ticket taxes.
No vaccinations or preventative medications are required for travel to Bonaire. Check with the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at cdc.gov
Culture and Customs
Bonaire provides a low-key take on island life. Bonairean culture blends the traditions of Spain, Africa and the Netherlands. Locals who may initially display the discrete reserves of the Dutch quickly prove warm and accommodating of visitors. And despite decades of tourism, the service industry mentality does not dominate the cultural psyche. Cruise ships now call at the Kralendijk waterfront, but divers remain the main source of business for on-island resorts. Nightlife is more likely to mean a sunset dinner at the harbor followed by a stroll to an ice cream shop, or tall tales of underwater adventures shared at a waterfront tiki bar, with a reasonable bedtime in anticipation of tomorrow's adventures. And there are ample adventures to be found. Washington Slagbaai National Park covers the entire northern end of the island, creating an outdoor playground for hiking, mountain biking, birding and day trips to small surf-washed coves hidden within iron shore bluffs. The trade winds that cool the island also power kite boarders, and the sheltered waters of Lac Bay are home to Jibe City, one of the Caribbean's epicenters of windsurfing action. Blue water fishermen don't have to travel far to hook up with trophy catches, kayakers can find shelter in mangrove channels, and sailing charters provide a relaxing way to skim the coastline without venturing into open ocean. An experience unique to Bonaire are the cave snorkel trips that take swimmers into clear pools of fresh water hidden below the island's limestone substrate.
Electricity, Phone and Internet Access
Electricity is 127 volt, 50 cycle. Many dive shops offer stations for charging lights, strobes or delicate equipment.
Most hotels offer WiFi and some local restaurants and bars offer WiFi. Surf-it hotspots are available with a Surf-it prepaid card from Telbo. Calling Bonaire requires dialing 011-599-7 and 6 digit number. Be sure to check with your cell phone carrier to see if they offer an international plan or you will be subject to roaming charges.
Bonaire offers desalinated sea water which is purified and safe to drink. Bottled water is also available for purchase.
Language & Currency
There are 4 main languages spoken in Bonaire, Dutch is the official one used in government and legal transactions, while Papiamentu is used in daily exchanges and spoken by the locals. English and Spanish are also widely spoken.
As of January 1, 2011, the U.S. Dollar became the official currency of Bonaire. Credit cards are normally accepted in most restaurants, bars and stores. It is recommended you contact your credit card company before travel to make sure they know you will be using the card out of the country. ATMs are available which Cirrus, NYCE and other networks.
Bonaire is in the Atlantic Time Zone (AST) and does not observe Daylight Savings Time. Bonaire is 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-4 GMT).
Location, Size and Population
Bonaire is 24 miles long by 3-7 miles wide, approximately 111 square miles. The small island offshore, Klein Bonaire, which is uninhabited is 2.3 square miles. Bonaire is located just 30 miles from Curacao, 50 miles North of Venezuela and 80 miles East of Aruba. Bonaire is located in the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea and outside of the Hurricane Belt. The population of Bonaire is 18,900 (2016).