See the top things to do in Bonaire in a day. You’ll be calling this Dutch Caribbean island paradise shortly after arriving.
Are you planning a Bonaire vacation? Is Bonaire port-of-call part of your Southern Caribbean cruise itinerary? What to do in Bonaire on a cruise?
There is nothing not to love about Bonaire.
Bonaire is a Dutch Caribbean island that is just the right size to spend a day or a week. The island is known for its relaxed atmosphere and beautiful turquoise water.
There is plenty to do on the island, from exploring the capital city of Kralendijk to diving, snorkeling, windsurfing in the clear waters, and exploring the island’s national park.
We are so thankful that we had the opportunity to visit Bonaire for the first time on our Celebrity Equinox cruise. If it weren’t for the cruise, we don’t think Bonaire would have ever landed anywhere on our radar.
Had we heard of Bonaire? Yeah, but only when the Southern Caribbean and Aruba were in the same conversation.
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Cruising is a great way to discover new destinations and get a taste of what they are like, so you can then return for a longer stay. If you’re unsure about planning a whole Bonaire vacation, consider looking at cruises to Bonaire.
You can also trust me when we tell you Bonaire is worth some vacation time. Bonaire takes pride in their island and preserving what mother nature has blessed them with.
When you step onto the island, you will instantly feel relaxed and curious to see what it offers.
Bonaire is one of our favorite Caribbean islands thus far. The water there is glorious!
There are many things to do in Bonaire, including diving and snorkeling. They call it a “diver’s paradise” for a reason.
Bonaire Cruise Port
What to expect in Bonaire cruise port?
The Bonaire cruise port is located in the capital city of Kralendijk. The port is small and intimate. It was the easiest and best cruise port we’ve ever experienced: the best part, is no tendering.
Is Bonaire a tender port?
No. Bonaire is not a tender port.
No. Bonaire is not a tender port.
Once you step out of the gangway, bypass the NCL mascots outside for pictures, and walk off the short pier, you are on the island. A few booths are set up for local tour companies, like Bonaire cruisers and shops nearby. That’s about it.
We should disclose that the Celebrity Equinox was the only ship docked that day.
Things to Do in Bonaire
The island of Bonaire is almost 24 miles long. The drive along the scenic route took us less than 2 hours. You can fit in quite a bit for a day in Bonaire to explore what this beautiful island offers.
You can also head to the beach for the day or book a fun shore excursion. These are the things to do in Bonaire in a day.
Do you need to do an excursion in Bonaire?
Bonaire is not one of those ports where you must book a shore excursion to experience it. You can plan your do-it-yourself adventure by renting a golf cart or a car, walking around Kralendjik, or hopping in a taxi outside the pier to the nearest beach.
Golf Cart Rental: Rent One & Tour the Island
When we were researching ‘things to do in Bonaire on a cruise day, driving the island in golf carts continued coming up. Then we found out that the rentals are booked FAST.
We mean MONTHS in advance.
We didn’t think we would rent a golf cart at the time, but when we decided to explore the island with the time we had, we emailed Bonaire Cruisers immediately.
And guess what? The golf carts were booked on our requested date 4 months ahead.
Bonaire Cruisers kindly added me to their waiting list. Within a few weeks, someone had canceled their booking, and they emailed me asking if we still wanted the golf cart. We booked it. Worse case, we’d cancel, but we kept our reservation.
Is a Golf Cart Rental in Bonaire worth it?
Yes, it’s a fun experience—at least something you can do once.
Do you think a car rental may be better?
Like anything else, everything has its pros and cons. I do think a car rental will get you to farther destinations faster.
Is the golf cart safe to drive around in Bonaire?
Yes. It’s the perfect island to drive around in a golf cart in. There was never any crazy traffic to watch out for, and regular vehicles would pass around us. It was very calm, and the main road was pretty empty.
How long does it take you to make a loop around the island?
It took us only 2 hours to drive around the island’s main road with a few stops. Once we made the first go around, we continued to 1000 Steps.
What are the cons of driving a golf cart?
1) A golf cart is slower than driving a car rental. But what do you need to go faster for? 2) The sun will shine on you, so be prepared to get sunburnt.
We suggest wearing a long sleeve rash guard or wrapping something around your shoulders as you drive around, on top of applying sunscreen. Also, bring a reusable water bottle with you from the ship.
We rented from Bonaire Cruisers.
There was excellent customer service from the very 1st email exchange until we dropped off the golf cart.
A Bonaire cruiser representative will meet you outside where the cruise ship docks. They check your name off the list and then direct you to their office, which is only a short walk away.
It’s a smooth process of checking you in. They go over safety, the map of the island, and instructions on how to drive the cart and then send you on your way to explore.
Rather take a tour? Check out this North and South Island Tour with a Local Guide: [Book Here].
Explore the Bonaire Beaches
There are over 22 beaches in Bonaire. You can’t go wrong with any of them. We didn’t see all of them, but you pass by quite a few on your drive.
Do not expect all beaches in Bonaire to have white sandy beaches. Instead, you may find beautiful beaches filled with hard coral and rocks.
Our #1 tip for Bonaire is to ensure you have a good set of water shoes.
What we loved about the beaches is that they are easy to find along the routes. Each beach entrance is marked with yellow bright rocks with the beach name written on them.
Can you walk to a beach from the port in Bonaire?
No. No public beaches or beach clubs are within walking distance from the Bonaire cruise port.
1000 Steps (North Shore)
We will start with our favorite time of our day on the North Shore of Bonaire at 1000 Steps beach.
Believe it or not, our golf cart made it to 1000 Steps beach. There were several cars parked along the side of the roads. A smaller vehicle helps when parking.
Why is it called 1000 steps? Because of the limestone steps, you must take to get to the beach. There aren’t 1000 steps, but it’s a pretty steep descent, and then you have to take them on the way back up.
We walked further down the shore and found the perfect enclave to sit under for shade. Hubby immediately went out to snorkel. There were at least a dozen snorkelers at this location. We even saw a few divers scuba diving.
I am not a strong swimmer, so I didn’t trust swimming too far from shore to snorkel without a lifeguard or a guide nearby. Hubby went and, to this day, raves about the snorkeling here. He even saw a sea turtle! Seriously, it made his entire day.
While he snorkeled, I was joined by these wonderful ladies vacationing in Bonaire from the Netherlands. It was their last day in Bonaire. After 3 weeks of exploring the island, they said 1000 Steps was the best spot they found during their time there.
They also insisted we visit the Netherlands soon and see more than just Amsterdam. We promised. We’ve been dying to visit anyways.
Pink Beach (South Shore)
Earlier in the day, we made a quick stop at Pink Beach and were amazed at its sheer beauty. Nobody was around. The waters were not calm enough to swim in. It was such a nice spot to sit and take in.
Te Amo Beach
Not far South from the Bonaire airport and cruise port, you will find Te Amo beach. Since it’s so close to the port, it may be filled with cruisers.
Don’t let that stop you if you’re looking for a few hours at a beautiful beach.
Klein Bonaire is a small islet off the West coast of the island of Bonaire. It’s uninhabited, and you can visit by taking a water taxi.
The taxi will drop you off at No Name Beach, where you can spend the day and return to the main island later.
You can find a list of all the Bonaire beaches here.
Salt Pans & Pyramids
Salt is produced on the island of Bonaire.
These salt pans, at certain times of the year, turn pink. Isn’t that cool? It would have been cool to see, but it wasn’t the right time of year. We’d never seen salt pyramids before, so that was a first for us.
Imagine driving along the road, the blue Caribbean ocean and pink water on the other. We have to go back to witness this.
When can you see the salt pans turn pink? It all depends on the evaporation of the water and the crystallization.
There is more of a scientific explanation to it – and we’re not even going to try to dive into that web that isn’t ours, ha. But if you manage to visit when it’s pink, that’s a unique sight.
Ensure you have everything to hit the beach and enjoy your time there. This beach packing list covers all the essential items you will need for you and your family. Add this beach vacation packing list as part of your beach planning.
Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary
As you drive South, you will spot flamingos in their natural habitat. You can stop at Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary.
Note you can’t get too close, but you can still take photos and admire them from a distance. If you have a zoom lens to go with your DSLR, we’d recommend bringing it to zoom in on these pretty birds. Sadly, we have no great photos but a video we can share here.
It’s worth the stop.
Old Slave Huts
Part of Bonaire’s history is these slave huts that were built in the mid-eighteen hundreds. The huts are where the workers used to sleep and live.
Keep a lookout for the pointy structures called obelisks. There are 4 of them throughout the island, each representing a color of the Dutch flag. Ships coming into land would use these to navigate to shore.
South of the Flamingos, you will find the lighthouse.
Driving around the coast, you will see wood assembled in triangular and pyramid shapes. Locals supposedly collect driftwood, and other items washed ashore by the lighthouse to assemble them.
Washington Slagbaai Park
Unfortunately, we did not have enough time nor the right vehicle to reach Washington Slagbaai National Park, Bonaire’s nature sanctuary. We include it because a planned day here is a great option.
If you’re in Bonaire for more than a day (lucky you), you can spend the day driving and exploring one of the two routes of the park. There are also three hiking trails available.
At this park, be ready to see beautiful vistas, beaches, native wildlife, local vegetation, flora, and beaches where sea turtles nest.
- Entry fee: $45 pp (Free if you already purchased a diving tag for Bonaire National Marine Park)
Tour Washington Slagbaii Park with a Local Guide [Book Here]
Photography tour Washington Slagbaai National Park [book here]
Bonaire National Marine Park
The marine life here is some of the best! If diving or snorkeling is your thing, you must make a day at Bonaire’s National Marine Park. This is the mecca for divers, and diving in Bonaire should not be missed.
There are excursions available that leave from near the port to the park to snorkel or dive.
- Entry-free to scuba dive: $45 | Other water activities: $25
Other Activities and Shore Excursions in Bonaire
Whare are other things to do in Bonaire? You can always book one of these tours.
Read more: Helpful Tips for Booking Shore Excursions Independently
1. Cave Tour
Did you know there are almost 400 caves in Bonaire? I didn’t either until I bookmarked this tour.
Explore two caves on the Northside of the island with a local guide. Explore ancient formations and even snorkel in crystal clear water in one of the caves.
2. Kayak & Snorkel The Bonaire Mangrove
Start a Lac Car beach and take glass bottom kayaks to the Bonaire Mangrove reserve. Let an informed guide point out and share their knowledge of the untouched beauty in the mangroves.
3. Snorkel Trip on a Catamaran
Sail on Catamaran to Marine Park and snorkel at some of their best spots. Lunch is included with this tour and is cruise ship itinerary friendly.
4. Landsailing Adventure
Have you ever heard of land sailing? I sure haven’t. This unique and fun Bonaire adventure involves a blokart. Ride (or is it sail?) against others on tour for an hour in the windiest part of the island and see who wins.
Bonaire is Paradise
There is no doubt that Bonaire is special.
The breathtaking coastal views at every turn left us speechless at times. We couldn’t believe how blue the water was. Sometimes the color was like a neon turquoise; we’d pinch ourselves to ensure we weren’t dreaming.
The locals are super friendly and take great care of their island.
If you have a cruise day coming up and it’s your first time, we highly suggest touring the island and seeing as much of its beauty as possible. You will want to return for a longer vacation.
See highlights of our day in Bonaire on Instagram.
The things to do in Bonaire in a day are plentiful. If you tour the island, you’ll see all the highlights that make this island paradise.
Other Related Southern Caribbean Itinerary Articles:
Beach Hop Beautiful Curacao Beaches in A Day
An Adventurous Day in Aruba Cruise Port
Swimming with Stingrays in Grand Cayman
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Meet Kathy – a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena. With over 20 years of experience planning trips and logistics at her full-time job and for herself, she’s become a pro at crafting unforgettable travel itineraries. She’s always looking for delicious, fun cruise itineraries and travel destinations and is slightly obsessed with Italy. Her passion and curiosity for travel started in childhood on her yearly and sometimes bi-yearly trips to PR. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it – so let’s explore the world and make some incredible memories.
Sunday 4th of September 2022
Going to the ABC islands on Royal in October
Sunday 4th of September 2022
That's great! The ABC islands are beautiful! Loved Bonaire. Have a fantastic time!
Sunday 27th of March 2022
Happened uppi you for a Pinterest search. Just booked the Bonaire cruisers! I let them know if was from you!! Thanks!
Sunday 27th of March 2022
That's so fun! You will have a great time! Don't forget to wear sunscreen, sunglasses, and a hat while driving around. You're going to love it.
Also, that's so sweet of you to mention me to them. You do not have to though. I do not any affiliations with them besides renting the golf cart from them for our trip and we had a blast. Just happy to pass along our experience and recommendations to other cruisers.
Macey @ Brine & Books
Thursday 14th of May 2020
Renting a golf cart sounds like so much fun!! I think a change from soft, white sand is always a good way to switch it up; those beaches sounds lovely. Those salt pans turning PINK?!?!? Too cool!! I would love to see that. Oooh, and I love your new look here on the blog, so sleek ;)
Monday 18th of May 2020
I wish my visit was during the time the salt pans are pink. If you look it up on Google, you'll see amazing pictures of it. It's so cool!
Thanks for the new blog theme comments. It's a work in progress, but I'm loving it and happy to hear you like it too.
Thursday 14th of May 2020
I just realized that you changed up your blog theme! Where have I been?
Bonaire looks BEAUTIFUL. Nothing gets me more than coming up on a place and just seeing its striking beauty. I felt that way about Capri and the Greek islands. Of course, I was seasick too so the ground was even more magical lol! That port picture is gorgeous along with the turquoise waters and beautiful beaches. Sighhhh....
Your video is giving me total wanderlust. GAH, I am SO ready to travel right now! I'm even missing the Florida coastline.
I have never rented a golf cart... bucket list?
I snorkel with a lifevest. The ocean freaks me out, and like you, I am not an amazing swimmer.
Monday 18th of May 2020
Yes! New blog theme. I've been productive these days. Still working on it, but it's coming along. =)
Bonaire is one-of-a-kind. I think out of all the Caribbean Islands it is my favorite. You will absolutely love it. Rent a golf cart, it's fun.
I snorkel with a life vest too and I'm always too scared I won't be able to swim back to shore haha. I like snorkeling from a boat best. I would love to take some swimming classes to get better at it.
Wednesday 13th of May 2020
Oh my god no lie I seriously think I want this to be one of my first trips when travel is possible again! We still have to rebook Mexico one day because that’s what my Aunt and mom really want, but me, I’m going to Bonaire! It seriously does look like paradise. Love your beautiful pictures. Exploring the area by golf cart sounds like so much fun and I’m so jealous of the ladies you met who stayed there for three weeks. They were living the life! Those pyramids are so cool too. I want to see them when it’s pink. I gotta research that. Maybe I need to marry a scientist and we can honeymoon there when it’s pink??
I love all your tips too. Awesome post as usual!
Kathy | Tasty Itinerary
Wednesday 13th of May 2020
If you're looking to do a solo trip, I'd say Bonaire is a perfect choice. Especially after all the chaos going on in the world right now, Bonaire is great getaway after this is all over.
Now, the pyramids won't turn pink, it's the salt flats around them that will. I think it will be pretty special to experience.
So happy you loved the post. Hope you get to visit Bonaire after your Mexico trip. Ah, can't wait for travel to be back better than ever.