Take a guided kayak tour of the mangrove forest! I went on a one-hour tour organized by the Mangrove Info& Kayak Center. Before heading out, the owner gives you quite some information on mangroves and their importance for the ecological balance of the area. Certainly didn't know that they're quite endangered...
The water in the bay is clear so you can spot fish and jelly fish. If you sign up for the 2-hours tour, there's time for snorkelling aswell.
Don't miss to go on a sailing & snorkelling trip! Bonaire, which is known as "Diver's Paradise" has a lot of sealife to discover even if you don't go scuba diving. On my snorkel trip I saw two sea turtles and a lot of different reef fish. Unfortunately I can't find my underwater camera!!!!
There are quite some operators who offer these trips from Kralendijk. I went on the Woodwind, a trimaran. The 4hrs trip cost 40US$ and included snorkelling gear, lunch and drinks.
From the lighthouse the road turns north to Lac Baai or Lake Bay. There is a pretty beach there and mangroves. On the north side of the bay is a small naturalists hotel and windsurfers school. The mangroves are a great place for birdwatching. Here on the beach is where we saw the piles on conch shells.
This lighthouse sits on the southern tip of Bonaire. Thought we might be able to climb up it, but no dice. The first time we saw it, it was nearing sunset and 1/2 meter waves were breaking over the coral shelf shore. We noticed some huge emerald green parrotfish were playing in the waves just before they broke. You could see them clearly through the crest of the waves, with their fins breaking the surface. It was a beautiful sight.
There are only 67 steps at 1000 Steps but in the heat of the day, it could feel like 1000. Situated on the northern side of the island, a cliff face falls into the sea. The handy stairs allow you to access the water easily. Gear up at the parking area on the street and the entry is an easy walk down the stairs into the water from the beach. Hauling your butt back up the stairs with your gear on is hot work, but don't let it deter you.
Bonaire's largest export is salt. In the old days, donkeys were used to haul the salt to the ships to be exported abroad. Today, donkeys wander the island freely, though food and water is scarce. The Donkey Help Foundation helps orphaned donkeys and donkeys needing medical attention, and strives to improve the lives of all donkeys on Bonaire. You can visit the Donkey Sanctuary Tuesdays thru Sundays from 10:00AM to 4:00PM.
I left my heart at Andrea II. Well, sort of. If you should make it to Bonaire to dive, do make the trip to Andrea I & II. What's special about Andrea II is (aside from the squid, great coral and tons of fish), about 10 or 15 minutes into our dive there, I lost my engagement ring - it slipped right off my finger! I swam straight out from the marked entry and dropped to about 110 feet, then swam to the left and gradually rose to 70-80 feet. That's where the ring is, but damned if I could find it. Maybe you'll be luckier than I. But if you are, please have a heart and let me know!!!
The main thing to do in Bonaire is dive. But at 75 years old with only 85% lung function and Bob having just had a melanoma removed from his shoulder which isn't healed yet, I decided that I would just snorkel and Bob would not join me. But even the snorkeling was great. Some people saw turtles and octopus. In addition to what is pictured, I saw a sea cucumber, a barracuda, and various fish
If you're in Bonaire, there's a good chance that you came here for diving and you don't need me to tell you to get your butt in the water. There's so much great diving on the island, that it is hard to pick any one spot over another... The dive sites that I enjoyed the most (and these are in no particular order) are:
Woodwind came highly recommended on the Cruise Critic forum, the 1st place I check when planning independent shore excursions. I booked my cruise much later than most folks and waited even longer to book my shore excursions, by the time I got around to it, Woodwind was booked solid for the afternoon tour but they said they were organizing an earlier, slightly shorter tour for the morning so we signed up. Payment was not required to make a reservation which is nice in case the boat doesn't dock that day in port which has happened to us on a different cruise. You pay on board with either a credit card or cash.
The afternoon tour on the trimaran is from 2-5pm and costs $50, the morning tour that was organized was from 11:30am-2pm and cost $45, they said the snorkeling time was more or less the same and that the sailing time was cut. The snorkel spot Woodwind's cruise tour goes to is the reef off Klein Bonaire, a small uninhabited island off the coast of Bonaire that has been incorporated into the Bonaire National Marine Park. Although you can go off on your own, I thought it was fine following the guide as he pointed out a lot of different fish and at least 10 turtles, both green turtles and hawksbill turtles, I don't believe we saw and loggerhead turtles but that is the third kind you might see.
The snorkeling here is a drift snorkel which means you drift with the current and then the boat picks you up at the end, I think we were in the water for well over an hour, maybe 1 1/2 hours. The crew is friendly and knowledgable, we had Robert as our guide as the more experienced group, the others went with Dedrie (Dee). Of all the snorkeling tours we've ever done, I thought this one was the best run with a great crew. I would highly recommend it if you find yourself on Bonaire.
Snorkeling equipment is provided and they also provide beverages-soft drinks, beer, wine and rum punch. Plus a few local snacks were passed around.
I had it in my head that the best place to see flamingos was in the south of Bonaire at the flamingo sanctuary at Lake Pekel near the salt works as that is where the majority of them nest but we got a much better view of them by heading north to Goto Lake (Goto Meer), a saltwater lagoon where we saw a large number of flamingos. The flamingos are protected in Bonaire, they have thrived and their numbes have increased to an estimated 10,000-15,000 from around 2,500.
Flamingos have their pink color because of their diet of carotenoid pigments found in the algae and small crustaceans that theyeat, Caribbean flamingos have the brightest coloration of all. On the southern part of the island we saw pink water that had everything removed from it except for the algae that the flamingos eat
After we were done with our snorkel tour, the owner of Woodwind asked us if we were interested in a 3 hour island tour so we opted to do that instead of getting a taxi to take us around. The tour was on a 20-30 person minibus and cost $25 per person, a reasonable amount for a 3 hour tour. They first took us north along the west coast of Bonaire pointing out some rock formations and popular snorkel and dive sights. At the north end of the island, they took us to an overlook to see Goto Lake which was filled with delightful pink flamingos, still a bit too far away to see closely. But they then took us closer to the lake, we couldn't get out but you could see the flamingos up close and personal from the window including one poor fellow with a broken wing who was walking in circles while trying to eat his afternoon snack.
From there they took us through the middle of Bonaire with a couple of stops for photos and then down to the southern end of the island to see the salt flats and slave huts. The flamingo sanctuary down on that part of the island is too far away to see anything but pink dots.
Before we got to the flamingo sancturay, in a little pond, we saw this juvenile flamingo. At first glance we weren't sure what it was with its grey feathers.
Maybe mommy and daddy told it to stay there while they flew off to Venezuela for lunch.
The salt flats of Pekelmeer are located at the southern part of the island and are quite something to see, the wind blown white salt foam contrasting with the pink pools of water that are filled with the brine shrimp that the flamingos like to eat. Off in the distance you can see the enormous piles of salt waiting to be loaded onto ships by Cargill Salt Bonaire N.V. Salt is Bonaire's only export, our guide told us it was used solely for water softening products, several other sources said it was also occasionally exported for use as winter road salt in the US. The salt is a natural product of sea water, sun and wind, held in condenser ponds until it is ready to be harvested.
Salt has been a major industry on Bonaire for over 350 years, originally harvested by slaves and after slavery was abolished, by local laborers.
1,000 steps was our best snorkelling experience in Bonaire. We were fortunate enough to see an endangered hawksbill turtle a few metres in from the drop-off which was just amazing to watch. You can also see a variety of coral and gorgonian sea rods, and of course tons of reef fish. Entry into the water is right from the beach which is also really beautiful.
Built in 1968, the stone staircase down to the beach is actually only 67 steps, however was apparently given its name for how it feels like 1,000 steps when climbing up with scuba gear. The site is well marked and located along the scenic coastal drive, which was also a highlight and totally worth doing.
Kaya Gobernador N Debrot 71, , Bonaire, Caribbean
Good for: Solo
E.E.G. Boulevard 10, Caribbean
Good for: Business
We really enjoyed this place and the good service that they provided. I have seen on their website...more