Bonaire is one of the best Caribbean islands where you can have an awesome snorkeling experience thanks to its rich marine life and colorful coral reefs.
Bonaire is very well known by divers, especially for shore diving. This means the island is also perfect for shore snorkeling. It saves you a lot of money as you don’t need to pay for organised tours to take you to snorkelling spots far away from the coast.
You just drive around the island (definitely rent a car) and stop by a beach of your choice. You put on your fins and mask and start snorkelling. That’s it.
Where to snorkel in Bonaire?
The island is so small that you can drive around in a short time and check all snorkelling sites to decide yourself. Here are my favorite snorkeling spots.
Klein Bonaire is an uninhabited islet off the west coast of the main island and the snorkelling sites here are without a question the BEST. It is a protected area with no settlement and has one of the best coral reef with a rich marine life.
Or you can book a boat tour with Woodwind like I did. I strongly recommend to go for this option as they will take you to sites which you can’t swim to on your own. Besides the tour was just awesome.
Our guides, Dedrie and Nathalie were very knowledgeable about the marine life and also very caring. I felt comfortable at the second I met them. While snorkeling they explained a lot about the marine life, the fish and the corals.
We were 9 people and snorkeled in 2 groups which made the experience even more enjoyable as we didn’t “ran” to each other all the time and everyone had enough space to observe the marine life. We stopped in 3 sites for 30-40 minutes each. I was flashed by all the sorts of fish, corals, sponges and other stuff I don’t know the names of.
The highlights were definitely the two nurse sharks and countless green sea turtles. Klein Bonaire is home to over 500 sea turtles and the population is growing, which means it is guaranteed that you’ll see many sea turtles.
The meet point of Woodwind is located in the Divi Flamingo Hotel, just follow the signs. You can either go by or check their weekly program online and make a reservation. The 5 hours tour costs 65$. Drinks, snacks and lunch were included to the price. They also have any kind of snorkeling gear and/or wetsuits on board.
Wakayá Beach in NP Washington Slagbaai
It is one of the best snorkeling site in the main island Bonaire. It is in the National Park Washington Slagbaai, so you need to enter the park to get to this site. The entrance was super easy as it has a small sandy beach.
Here you can see a school of blue tang, doctor fish, palometa, sergeant major, beaugregory, smooth trunkfish and french angelfish.
The fish family in Wakaya was very interested in my GoPro. They swam all around me to find out what this GoPro is about. It was so cute.
I’d recommend to visit the National Park Washington Slagbaai directly at your first day. As the admission fee you pay is for multiple entry so that you can visit the snorkelling sites as much as you want.
It is in the Northwest of the island, just before Karpata. It has a nice panoramic view and steps down to the beach. No worries, it is not 1000 steps literally.
You can see spotlight parrotfish, blue tang (you know, Dory from the movie Finding Nemo), doctor fish, ocean surgeonfish and many more.
Good to know
- Fee for Bonaire National Marine Park: The marine life in Bonaire is protected. So you need to pay a Nature Fee of $10.00 per year ($25.00 for scuba divers) to get a tag from STINAPA which manages the protection of Bonaire National Marine Park and the Washington Slagbaai National Park. You can buy it in all dive shops. Don’t lose your tag and receipt as you get a discount with those for the admission to Washington-Slagbaai NP. You pay 15$, instead of 25$.
- Snorkelling gear: Be aware, most of the snorkel spots have rocky shores which makes the entrance barefoot is very painful and almost impossible. DON’T FORGET to bring open heel fins combined with dive boots, unless you want to look like a clumsy penguin trying to walk (onward or backwards) with your fins.
- Underwater camera gear: In case you are filming underwater with GoPro you need a Red Filter for blue water color correction.
Want to know more about Bonaire? Read my travel guide to Bonaire. For more insights I recommend Lonely Planet's Travel Guide for Caribbean Islands.
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