Explore the Top Things to Do in Bonaire in a Day on a Cruise

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See the top things to do in Bonaire on a cruise. Soon after arriving, you’ll be calling this Dutch Caribbean island paradise.

Bonaire is a scheduled stop on many Southern Caribbean cruises and a dream destination. Our introduction to Bonaire came during a stop with our Celebrity Equinox cruise. Bonaire might have remained off our radar without this visit—a hidden gem now revealed. One of the best parts about cruising is the opportunity to discover new destinations like this one.

The island offers many activities in its stunning turquoise waters and beyond. You can explore Kralendijk, the island’s charming capital, be captivated by its world-class snorkeling or diving, or discover the natural beauty of the national park.

While we explored, it became clear that Bonaire is committed to preserving its natural wonders. To this date, it is one of our favorite Caribbean destinations. The water here is magnificent.

 featured blog image with scenic photo titled "Bonaire in a Day" with kathy in a red dress walking near the shoreline on a rocky beach, with the ocean extending into the horizonPin

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In this guide, we’ll share how to spend a day in Bonaire when you arrive on a cruise. While you can take a tour, you can also explore on your own by renting a car or a golf cart for the day.

What to Expect in Bonaire Cruise Port?

Celebrity Equinox docked in Bonaire Cruise portPin

Celebrity Equinox docked in Bonaire Cruise Port. Look at that water!

The Bonaire cruise port is in the capital city, Kralendijk. It’s a small and very easy-to-navigate port, making it one of the best we’ve experienced. A great plus is that you don’t need to use a tender boat—you walk right off the ship onto the island.

Right after you leave the ship, you can skip the mascots waiting to take pictures and head down the short pier. You’ll find a few stands where local companies offer tours and some small shops to explore. Everything is straightforward.

It’s important to mention that the Celebrity Equinox was the only ship there when we visited, which might have made things easier.

Things to Do in Bonaire

Bonaire is an island that stretches almost 24 miles long, and driving its scenic route can be completed in under two hours. This allows you to pack a lot into a single day and explore this beautiful island.

Do you need to go on an excursion to 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: Explore at Your Own Pace

Golf carts at Bonaire Cruisers sitePin
Bonaire cruisers golf carts

Renting a golf cart is a popular way to tour the island. When researching, it became clear that this option is in high demand. We tried to book a golf cart four months in advance with Bonaire Cruisers and found they were fully booked. Due to this, we highly recommend booking as early as possible.

Fortunately, they added us to their waiting list, and we secured a cart after someone else canceled their reservation. We kept our reservation, knowing we could cancel if needed, but it was a great decision.

Golf Cart Rental FAQs

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?

Both options have their pros and cons. A car rental might be preferable if you plan to visit farther destinations and want to maximize your time.

What are the cons of driving a golf cart in Bonaire?

  1. Golf carts are slower than cars, but there’s no need for speed on the island.
  2. You’ll be exposed to the sun, which can lead to sunburn.
    • To protect yourself from the sun’s heat, consider wearing a long-sleeve rash guard, wrapping something around your shoulders, and applying sunscreen. Don’t forget to bring a reusable water bottle from the ship to stay hydrated.

Is the golf cart safe to drive around in Bonaire?

Yes, Bonaire is ideal for golf cart exploration. Traffic is minimal, and it’s easy for other vehicles to pass safely. The roads are calm, especially the main road, which is often quite empty.

How long does it take you to make a loop around the island?

It takes about 2 hours to drive around the island’s main road, including a few stops. We even made a second loop to visit 1000 Steps.

Our Experience with Bonaire Cruisers

We experienced outstanding customer service with Bonaire Cruisers, from our first email exchange to when we dropped off the golf cart.

A representative from Bonaire Cruisers will meet you right outside where the cruise ship docks. They’ll check your name off their list and then guide you to their office, which is just a short walk away. The check-in process is smooth and efficient. They explain safety guidelines, provide a map of the island, and give detailed instructions on operating the golf cart. After that, you’re ready to go on your island adventure.

Prefer a Guided Tour? If you’d rather join a guided tour, consider this comprehensive North and South Island Tour with a Local Guide: [Book Here]

Explore the Bonaire Beaches

Bonaire features over 22 beaches. Not all these beaches have soft sandy shores; many are rugged, with beautiful hard coral and rocks, making them just as picturesque and worthy of a visit. What we loved about the beaches is that they are easy to find along the routes. Each beach entrance is marked with bright yellow rocks with the beach name written on them. Given the number of beaches, it’s challenging to see them all in one day, but you can visit quite a few during your day in Bonaire.

Tip: Bring sturdy water shoes to navigate the rocky shores comfortably. This will enhance your experience as you explore Bonaire’s diverse beaches. Read more: Caribbean Cruise Packing List

Can you walk to a beach from the port in Bonaire?

Unfortunately, no public beaches or beach clubs are within walking distance from the Bonaire cruise port. You’ll need some form of transportation to reach these scenic spots.

1000 Steps (North Shore)

We’ll start with our favorite part of the day on the North Shore of Bonaire at 1000 Steps beach.

Believe it or not, our golf cart reached 1000 Steps Beach. Several cars were parked along the side of the road, which showed that a smaller vehicle helps with parking.

Why is it called 1000 Steps? It’s because of the limestone steps you must descend to get to the beach. There aren’t a thousand steps, but it’s a pretty steep descent, and you have to climb back up on your way out, which can be quite the workout.

Once we made it down, we found the perfect little enclave to sit under for shade. My husband immediately went out to snorkel. The area was bustling with at least a dozen other snorkelers, and a few divers were also exploring the deeper waters.

I’m not a strong swimmer, so I opted to stay closer to shore rather than snorkel too far out without a lifeguard or guide nearby. Meanwhile, my husband explored the vibrant underwater life and returned ecstatic, seeing a sea turtle among other marine wonders—it truly made his day!

While he was snorkeling, I was joined by delightful ladies from the Netherlands who were also vacationing in Bonaire. It was their last day on the island after three weeks of exploration, and they shared that 1000 Steps was the best spot they had found. Their enthusiasm was contagious, and they even insisted we visit the Netherlands and explore beyond Amsterdam—a promise we were happy to make.

Pink Beach (South Shore)

Yellow rocks with the names of the beach mark each beach location in Bonaire. Pink Beach is written on this yellow rock. Pin

Our visit to Pink Beach was marked by its serene beauty and isolation. The beach is easily recognizable by the distinctive yellow rocks. While the waters were too turbulent for swimming during our visit, the setting was ideal for relaxing and enjoying the natural surroundings.

Te Amo Beach

Located close to the airport and cruise port, Te Amo Beach is a convenient stop for those who are short on time. Its proximity to the port means it’s a favorite among cruisers, but don’t let the potential crowds deter you; it’s a beautiful spot to spend a few hours.

Klein Bonaire

For a more secluded beach experience, consider a trip to Klein Bonaire, an uninhabited islet off the west coast. Reachable by water taxi, No Name Beach offers pristine conditions and is ideal for a day of relaxation away from the main island. Be sure to book your water taxi ahead of time to secure your passage.

  • You can find a list of all the Bonaire beaches here.

Salt Pans & Pyramids

Mountains of Salt in the distance and Salt Pans in BonairePin
Salt Pans and Pyramids of Bonaire

Bonaire is known for its salt production, and the landscape is marked by vast salt pans and large salt pyramids. These salt pans can turn pink at certain times of the year. We didn’t catch them in pink, but it’s definitely on our list for next time. The sight of the salt pyramids was new to us and quite impressive.

Imagine driving along the road with the deep blue Caribbean ocean on one side and, potentially, pink water on the other. We need to go back to see this!

When can you see the salt pans turn pink? The color change depends on the water’s evaporation and crystallization process. While this phenomenon has a more scientific explanation, we’ll leave that to the experts! However, if you manage to visit when the salt pans are pink, you’re in for a truly unique sight.

Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary

pink flamingo

Driving south, you’ll encounter flamingos in their natural habitat at the Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary. While the sanctuary restricts how close you can get, you’ll still have a chance to take photos and admire these beautiful birds from a distance. If you have a DSLR camera with a zoom lens, it’s worth bringing it along to capture detailed shots of the flamingos. Unfortunately, we didn’t get any great photos, but we have a video to share that captures the experience.

It’s worth stopping to see these iconic birds.

Old Slave Huts and Obelisks

An integral part of Bonaire’s history, the slave huts date back to the mid-1800s. These small, stark structures served as living and sleeping quarters for workers on the salt flats.

As you explore, look for the distinctive obelisks across the island. There are four in total, each painted in one of the colors of the Dutch flag. Historically, ships used these obelisks as navigation landmarks to find their way to shore.

Willemstoren Lighthouse

The Willemstoren Lighthouse is a historic beacon on Bonaire’s southern tip, located south of the flamingo habitats. As you drive around the coast near the lighthouse, you’ll notice unique structures made from wood. These are assembled in triangular and pyramid shapes from driftwood and other washed ashore materials. Locals gather these items and creatively assemble them by the lighthouse, adding a touch of artistry to the rugged coastal landscape.

Washington Slagbaai National Park

Unfortunately, we didn’t have enough time or the right vehicle to explore Washington Slagbaai National Park in northern Bonaire. This terrestrial nature reserve is known for its diverse habitats, including beaches, dunes, salt flats, and mangroves. It’s ideal for hiking, bird watching, and experiencing dramatic landscapes. We include it because a planned day here is a great option for nature lovers.

If you’re fortunate enough to be in Bonaire for more than a day, consider spending a full day at the park. You can drive along one of its two scenic routes or hike one of the three trails available. The park offers stunning vistas, secluded beaches, and a chance to see native wildlife and local vegetation. It’s also a site where sea turtles come to nest.

Entry Fee: $45 per person, but it’s free if you’ve already purchased a diving tag for Bonaire National Marine Park.

Tour Idea:
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 in Bonaire National Marine Park is among the best you’ll find anywhere! This park encircles the entire island, including its fringing reefs, seagrass beds, and mangroves, making it a premier destination for underwater adventures. Known as the mecca for divers, Bonaire’s underwater activities are unforgettable, whether you’re diving or snorkeling.

Excursions to the park for snorkeling or diving are readily available and typically leave from near the port.

Entry Fees: Scuba diving: $45 | Other water activities: $25

Other Activities and Shore Excursions in Bonaire

Kayak and Snorkel The Bonaire Mangrove [Book Now]

Explore Bonaire’s mangrove ecosystems with a guided clear-bottom kayak tour in Lac Bay, complete with snorkeling gear. Learn about the four mangrove species and the ecosystem’s wildlife.

Snorkel Trip on a Catamaran With BBQ [Book Now]

Join a four-hour catamaran cruise. Sail to Bonaire Marine Park for a guided snorkeling session, then relax on board with a BBQ lunch and drinks while enjoying views of Bonaire and Klein Bonaire.

Tour a Cave in Bonaire [Book Now]

Explore Bonaire’s hidden wonders on this adventurous cave tour. Explore some of the island’s 400 caves and descending ladders, learn about stalactites and stalagmites, and snorkel in crystal-clear underground waters. You must be physically fit and able to do this tour.

Land Sailing Adventure [Book Now]

Have you ever heard of land sailing? Experience the thrill of land sailing on Bonaire’s windy side, perfect for zipping across the sand in wind-powered carts. After a detailed safety and operation briefing, enjoy 50 minutes of racing against friends. It’s a unique and exciting way to have fun and try something new.

Read more: Helpful Tips for Booking Shore Excursions Independently

Bonaire is Paradise

View of Bonaire Island as we sailed away on the cruise ship.

Bonaire truly stands out as a remarkable destination. The stunning coastal views and incredibly blue waters, sometimes a vivid neon turquoise, often left us in awe. It felt surreal, like a dream.The locals are exceptionally welcoming and deeply committed to preserving their island’s natural beauty.

If you’re visiting Bonaire on a cruise for the first time, we highly recommend exploring the island to experience its magnificent scenery. You’ll likely find yourself planning a longer return trip to soak in even more of its charm.

See highlights of our day in Bonaire on Instagram.


Kathy Ava

Meet Kathy Ava, a food, travel, and cruise writer based in Los Angeles/Pasadena, and the owner and main writer of Tasty Itinerary. 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 tasty itineraries. She's always on the hunt for delicious, fun travel destinations and cruise itineraries. She firmly believes that life is short and we must make the most of it, so always say yes to dessert.

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  1. We’ve been wanting to do a cruise to the ABC islands and of course you hear so much about Aruba. Now Bonaire is high on my list…for you know, when we can actually travel! Those beaches look absolutely incredible.

    Also, I have to say, your site looks gorgeous. I love the updates.

    1. The ABC islands are so worth it! I hope cruising opens up soon and its better than ever.

      And, thanks. Still working on the site, but its coming along. 🙂

  2. 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!

    1. 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.

  3. 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.

    1. 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.

  4. 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 😉

    1. 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.

  5. Happened uppi you for a Pinterest search. Just booked the Bonaire cruisers! I let them know if was from you!! Thanks!

    1. 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.