Snorkeling in Bonaire

Options Abound in a Snorkeler's Paradise

If theme park developers were tasked with creating the ideal snorkeling destination, it would look a lot like Bonaire. The water is warm and clear, the weather is good year round, and there are miles of reefs to explore. Most sites have no currents or waves to deal with, and snorkelers never have to swim far, because coral gardens begin just a few feet from shore. The waters are home to hundreds of species of tropical fish that thrive under the protection of an all-island marine park. Explore when and where you want by wading in from shore or enjoying a short boat ride in calm seas.

Highlights

  • 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

Bonaire Information

Snorkeling in Bonaire Overview

Bonaire's snorkeling sites are located along the island's western coast, which provides shelter from prevailing easterly winds and swells. A number of waterfront resorts have reefs right off their docks or beaches, and also offer boat rides to nearby sites. Many more sites can be reached from parking areas along the coastal highway.

Snorkeling in Bonaire Tips

To get the most out of a snorkel vacation, work with the water sports staff at your resort to create a mixed schedule that includes both boat and shore excursions. For the ultimate variety, book a rental car for access to miles of snorkel sites that are accessible from the coastal highway.

Best Places to Snorkel in Bonaire

At sites like Windsock and Karpata, groves of elkhorn coral grow close to shore and rise almost to the surface. A short boat ride brings snorkelers to the deserted island of Klein Bonaire, where star and brain coral are set against a white sand bottom at sites like Rock Pile, while forests of colorful sea fans cover Captain Don's Reef. For something very different, head to the east coast to snorkel a mangrove estuary.

What to Pack for Snorkeling in Bonaire

If you are bringing your own gear, and plan to do any snorkeling from shore, choose open-heel fins that fit into separate dive boots, as this combination will provide greater comfort when walking across gravel beaches and into the water.  Pack a jug of water for rinsing off afterward, and a large towel for changing.

Specials

Snorkeling

Captain Dons Habitat

1 FREE NIGHT + AQUASAFARI includes 7 night deluxe oceanview accommodations, Aquasafari including off road excursion, local lunch, mangrove kayaking & snorkel, pickup/dropoff from hotel. Available Mo-Su, morning and afternoon schedules, roundtrip airport transfers, hotel tax and service charges. Valid 12/2/17-12/5/17. Options to add on Kiteboarding lessons, Hiking, Biking and Windsurfing lessons and tours.
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From $581 per person double occupancy

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Packages

Snorkeling

Caribbean Club Bonaire

EXPLORE PACKAGE includes 7 night 1 bedroom studio accomodations, breakfast buffet daily, explore package including 1 day mountain bike rental, 7 day snorkel equipment, 1 guided snorkel boat tour, 1 guided kayak mangrove tour and 1 guided cave exploration tour, 7 day truck rental including taxes, airport transfers, hotel tax and service charges.
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Snorkeling

Buddy Dive Resort

BONAIRE - ACTIVITY ADVENTURE PACKAGE includes 7 nights in your choice of Studio, 1, 2 or 3-bedroom accommodations, breakfast daily, snorkel equipment rental for 7 days, mountain bike rental for 1 day, 1 guided boat snorkel trip, 1 guided cave exploration tour, 1 guided mangrove kayak tour, 7 days vehicle rental including taxes, roundtrip airport transfers, hotel tax, and service charges. Welcome drink and Manager's Rum Punch Party.
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From $1,712 per person double diver

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Resorts

Snorkeling

Captain Dons Habitat

Captain Don’s Habitat has been known as the “home of diving freedom” since 1976. From full 2-story 3 & 4 bedroom ocean front villas to 2 bedroom bungalows and ocean front deluxe junior suites, Captain Don's Habitat has an accommodation to fit everyone's needs.
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Snorkeling

Caribbean Club Bonaire

Caribbean Club Bonaire features cottages, studios, ocean view penthouses, and ocean view cottages deluxe, together with an on-premises full-service dive shop and activity center, two swimming pools, a restaurant, bar, and meeting room.
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Snorkeling

Courtyard Bonaire

The new state-of-the-art lobby at Courtyard provides greater flexibility and choices for our guests. You'll also enjoy inviting, flexible spaces where you can work or relax, free Wi-Fi throughout and easy access to the latest news, weather and airport conditions via our GoBoard technology. Plus, our well-equipped fitness center, the outdoor pool will help you stay refreshed and energized. Whether traveling for business or pleasure, your stay at Courtyard is sure to be more comfortable, more productive and more enjoyable than ever before!
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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.

Immunizations

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.

Water Quality

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.

Time

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).