Famous oceanographer Hans Hass sang the praises of this island as a diver's paradise, as reflected on the "Diver's Paradise" motto on every car license plate. Bonaire is one of the top ten diving destinations around the world.
Why is that? Perhaps due to its specific location in the southern Caribbean, far away from the northerly hurricane belt; also, its dry climate with little rain means the sea water is particularly clear. Perhaps because the Bonaire National Marine Park has protected the waters around the island since 1979. But maybe the fact that you can always go to one of the 50 dive sites by car and descend immediately. Everything together makes diving in the waters around Bonaire a unique experience!
Even without diving equipment, it's worth taking a look under water. Watch the turtles and stingrays eating and be inspired by the colorful reef. Many dive sites are also well suited for snorkeling. If you can swim, can also snorkel! Just put on a mask, some fins, and off you go. And if you want to try something different: go cave snorkeling. Bonaire is made up of coral rock which has grown over the millennia and has produced magnificent underwater caves.
Bonaire offers near perfect conditions for all surfers, from beginners to professionals. With its mile-wide, knee-deep lagoon (the waves are stopped by a reef), with warm shallow water at about 82°F and winds blowing toward shore, Lac Bay is the perfect spot to learn or deepen your knowledge. A constant trade wind blows almost year round on Bonaire at about 15-20 knots from the east; only in October and November do the winds die down.
Experienced surfers enjoy the best bump and jump conditions and the flat water surface to train slalom or freestyle. Talk with some of the island professionals and perhaps they will show you some of their new moves, such as the Gecko Flaka, which was invented here. No doubt you will also meet some of the many professionals who come from all over the world to train on Bonaire.
Kitespot No.1 on Bonaire is currently Atlantis. The beach offers both beginners and advanced surfers a perfect area: water at about 82°F and a constant wind blowing away from the land. Dolphins and whale sharks will pass by the drop off repeatedly. The Bonaire Kiteboard School maintains a small boat that kiteboarders take back to shore and to offer lessons.
On a guided kayak tour through the extensive mangrove swamps in Lac Bay, you will discover the fantastic hatching grounds of many species of marine fish. The Mangrove Information Center offers several daily guided tours, some with an opportunity to snorkel. Before the actual tour, there is a multi-lingual, comprehensive explanation of the mangrove swamp ecosystem. Don't forget sunscreen and headgear when visiting.
Always worth a visit is the 60 hectare (150 acre) Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire. Since 1993, Marina Melis's team has been taking care of the donkeys on Bonaire. The donkeys were released with the abolition of slavery and have run wild over the years. Marina has made it her task to take care of sick and wounded donkeys. The donkeys are taken to the sprawling sanctuary and nursed back to health. They can then continue to live out their lives there in a protected environment.
Visitors can travel by car, motorbike or bicycle through the park and are often accompanied by donkeys who like to take a look through the car window. There are several picnic areas available for a break. A fantastic experience not just for the kids – make sure to take your camera. Marina is happy to tell you about her work with the donkeys. You also have the opportunity to adopt a donkey or make a small donation to help fund the park and finance the work with the donkeys.