Bonaire

Often referred to as a divers’ paradise, this small, safe, and friendly island is the “B” in the group known as the ABC islands (with Aruba and Curacao). It’s situated in the Dutch Caribbean, and there’s a good possibility flamingoes outnumber residents.

Ranking high on our “ease of travel” category, Bonaire welcomes every type of traveler. Families, couples (gay or straight), and singles will feel at home here.

Unspoiled, laid back, and unpretentious are good adjectives to describe this island. Don’t let the size of the island fool you, either. While it may be compact, there’s a lot to pack in during your stay. And though not rich in beach miles of real estate, Bonaire more than makes up for it in the rich snorkeling and diving opportunities.

Its reef-lined coast is all within the Bonaire National Marine Park system. With 86 official dive sites, making more than one trip to Bonaire is advisable. Fifty-three of those sites are easily accessible from shore. More than 55 species of coral are found in Bonaire’s reef system. Sea turtles, Parrot Fish, Eagle Rays, and a myriad of other marine life can be found here. One popular site is the shipwreck Hilma Hooker, a 1,000-ton sunken freighter.

If diving isn’t your thing, no worries. Bonaire has you covered. The calm waters make ideal fishing conditions. Head out to the open waters and cast a line for Yellow fin, Marlin, Wahoo, or Mahi Mahi. Bonaire also hosts a number of local and international fishing tournaments each year.

The entire landscape of Bonaire is definitely worth exploring. Rock climbing at Brandaris, the island’s highest point rewards visitors with remarkable views. Go jump off a cliff in the Washington Slagbaai National Park. There’s also excellent snorkeling and prime flamingo watching. We recommend getting there early in the day. The park closes at five. Also, drive slowly – the roads within the park can be a bit rough.

Accommodations options on Bonaire are extensive and distinct. Expansive and luxurious hotels, intimate apartments and guest houses, and funky and fun resorts – it’s all here.

Upscale and secluded Bellafonte Chateau de la Mar boasts an exclusive sunning and dive pier, idyllic ocean views, and ample amenities. Spacious and comfy apartments in Happy Holiday Homes appeal to families or guests seeking a private and personal take on their Bonaire stay. With two swimming pools, the lively Poolbar Restaurant, and a fleet of custom dive boats, Buddy Dive Resort is ideal for active visitors or avid divers.

With such a plethora of cuisine available on the island, you should never miss a meal. Actually, you should add a couple extra to the standard “three squares a day”. For a gratifying meal in a romantic and intimate environment, make reservations at Chez Madeleine. Looking for an oceanfront hangout with lots of menu options? Rum Runners at Captain Don’s Habitat is a good bet. Also, sandwiches, breakfast items, and sundry pastries at Between 2 Buns are sure to get your salivary glands going.

Carnival, the island’s biggest cultural event, takes place in late February and early March each year. Parades with vibrant costumes and lively music light up the streets. If your stay coincides with this celebration, check out the lesser-known Bonaire Carnival Pub Crawl – a great way to sample the local watering holes!

If snorkeling and scuba are high on your travel wish list, you’ll hit the jackpot in Bonaire. In addition, the island’s welcoming locals don’t care if you’re gay or straight – they just want you to enjoy their beautiful piece of Paradise. And you will. Trust us!