Are you looking for amazing things to do in Bonaire for non divers? Then I got you covered!
My favorite parts of the Netherlands are without doubt their island municipalities in the Caribbean Ocean, one of them being Bonaire. Not only is Bonaire a paradise for divers but also an absolute dream vacation for slow travelers, honeymooners, and adventurers.
There are so many different things to do in Bonaire besides diving!
Beautiful, crystal-clear water, charming little towns, and stunning nature parks make the island a true gem for travelers. Many sources on the internet suggest lots of diving activities for Bonaire. If you are like me, and not a fan of diving, then it can be hard to find out what to do instead.
This guide is going to give a short overview of the ins and outs of the island, hidden gems, and an explanation of its very interesting historical development. Find 50 different suggestions on what to do in Bonaire besides diving.
Not sure if Bonaire is the right place for you? Check out Aruba vs Curacao vs Bonaire!
Table of Contents
- 50 Things to do in Bonaire for non-divers
- 1. Walk around the Capital City Kralendijk
- 2. Check out the Arts and Crafts Market
- 3. Visit the Pink Lakes by the Salt Mines
- 4. See the Flamingos of Bonaire
- 5. Visit the Bonaire Donkey Sanctuary
- 6. Book a Trip to Klein Bonaire
- 7. See the Slave Houses of Bonaire
- 8. Explore the Mangroves on a Kayak
- 9. See the Washington Slagbaai National Park
- 10. Boca Cocoloshi
- 11. Boca Slagbaai
- 12. Playa Funchi
- 13. See Rincon, the Oldest City on the Island
- 14. Go Horseback-Riding on the Beach
- 15. Check out the Cadushi Distillery
- 16. Pink Beach
- 17. See the Obelisks
- 18. Explore the Bonaire Marine Park
- 19. Go Landsailing
- 20. Playa Chikitu
- 21. Boka Bartol
- 22. Seru Bentana Lighthouse
- 23. Plasa Machi Mimi
- 24. Eden Beach
- 25. Take Kite-surfing Lessons
- 26. Atlantis Beach
- 27. See the Churches of Bonaire
- 28. Willemstoren Lighthouse
- 29. Seru Largu
- 30. Bonaire Botanical Gardens
- 31. Bonaire Cave Tour
- 32. Hike up Mount Brandaris
- 33. See Wayaka II
- 34. Go Cliff Jumping
- 35. See the White Mountains
- 36. Explore One of the Bonaire Museums
- 37. Te Amo Beach
- 38. Take a Sunset Cruise
- 39. See the Gotomeer Lake Viewpoint
- 40. Check out Playa Frans
- 41. See Lac Cai Beach
- 42. Lourdes Grotto
- 43. Gamble in the Barefoot Casino
- 44. Participate in a Dance Workshop
- 45. See the Indian Inscriptions in Onima
- 46. Dos Pos
- 47. Seven Body Beach
- 48. Bachelor’s Beach
- 49. 1000 Steps Beach
- 50. Tour the Country Houses of Bonaire
- The History of Bonaire
- Where to Stay in Bonaire
- How to Get Around Bonaire
- Frequently asked Questions
- Conclusion: 50 best things to do in Bonaire for non divers
- About the Author
50 Things to do in Bonaire for non-divers
1. Walk around the Capital City Kralendijk
The capital city of Bonaire is Kralendijk which is famous for its cute and colorful houses. Make sure to also explore the capital in the evening, where you can have a nice dinner at the pier and enjoy a beautiful sunset surrounded by joyful buildings.
My first impression of Kralendijk was so good, it reminded me of a mixture of a Mediterranean European City mixed with Caribbean influences. The capital is, unlike other Caribbean cities, very peaceful and I did not feel unsafe at any time.
There are also some great shops and stores in Kralendijk that are great for some souvenir shopping. Make sure to also check out the pretty street art that is all over Kralendijk.
2. Check out the Arts and Crafts Market
The Bonaire Arts and Crafts Cruise Market has a long-standing tradition. It began 30 years ago with only a couple of tents selling handmade goods. Nowadays, there are about 40 (!) different stalls that sell their crafts.
You can find the Market off the North and South Piers in downtown Kralendijk. Keep in mind that it is only open when cruise ships dock in Bonaire.
3. Visit the Pink Lakes by the Salt Mines
The pink lakes by the salt mines are saltwater basins in the southern part of the island.
The lakes are pink as a result of the salt mining, because of the seawater evaporating. This is a must-do thing on Bonaire since you will not get the chance more often to see beautiful pink water.
If you don’t want the hassle of driving yourself, there are amazing tours that will take you to all these highlights.
4. See the Flamingos of Bonaire
There are a couple of different destinations where you can spot the flamingos in Bonaire. The best spots to see them are the Pekelmeer in the south of Bonaire, Lac Bay, and also at the Gotomeer, in the north of Bonaire.
Make sure to get your expectations straight before going. The flamingos of Bonaire are not as accessible as they are in Aruba, so you will most likely only see them from a distance.
5. Visit the Bonaire Donkey Sanctuary
The Donkey Sanctuary is one of my favorite things to do on Bonaire. The donkey sanctuary is home to so many donkeys rescued from the street.
You can drive through their habitat and feed them from your car. Such a great experience! Make sure to donate at the end of the tour, so these great people can keep doing this important work!
6. Book a Trip to Klein Bonaire
If you have some more time in Bonaire, make sure to take a boat trip to the second little island, Klein Bonaire. Klein Bonaire is a small island just off the coast of Bonaire.
You can reach it by water taxi or with an excursion. Make sure to check out the beautiful white sandy beach, called No Name Beach. Find my favorite tour to Klein Bonaire here.
7. See the Slave Houses of Bonaire
Bonaire used to be a major hub for the Dutch slave trade. You can still find the small, former houses of the slaves scattered around the island.
Up to seven slaves lived in these small houses while they worked on the plantations on the island. It is a powerful reminder of a dark past visitors need to see when coming to the island. Seeing the historical landmarks on Bonaire is an amazing thing to do in Bonaire for non-divers.
8. Explore the Mangroves on a Kayak
The Mangroves are a big and important part of the ecosystem in Bonaire. You can discover them with an experienced guide in the Lac Bay of Bonaire.
Your guide with the Mangrove Kayak and Snorkeling Tour can tell you all about the different species of mangroves, the animals that live there and other important facts during your tour.
9. See the Washington Slagbaai National Park
The Washington-Slagbaai National Park needs to be on every visitor’s Bonaire Bucket List. The Washington-Slagbaai National Park is a major attraction in itself, but it is also home to three major beaches. You can also see flamingos in their natural habitat in the park.
There are many more things to see in the Washington-Slagbaai Park besides flamingos and beaches. You can also marvel at hidden bays, explore geological caves and see some super-tall Kadushi cacti.
The Park is open every day from 08:00 am to 05:00 pm. The entrance fee is USD 45,00.
You can either explore the park on a tour or drive there yourself. There are two driving routes in the Park that you can check out on your visit. The shortest one is 1,5 hours long, the longer one takes about 2.5 hours.
I can suggest two different tours for the Washington Slagbaai National Park in Bonaire. The Washington Slagbaai NP Photography tour will provide you with a camera and a guide that can give you photography lessons on the go. Or simply explore the park on a half-day guided park tour.
Do you need travel insurance in Bonaire? Yes, travel insurance in Bonaire is highly recommended. Unsafe roads, water sports accidents, and food poisoning are only a few examples of when travel insurance could come in handy. EKTA offers worldwide travel insurance with 24/7 service and no hidden fees or restrictions.
10. Boca Cocoloshi
Boca Cocoloshi, or Boka Kokoloshi, is located in the Washington Slagbaai National Park. The beach of Boka Kokolishi mainly consists of sand and volcanic rock. There are also remnants of water snail housings on the beach, which gives the sand a light black tint.
11. Boca Slagbaai
Boca Slagbaai beach is also located in the Washington Slagbaai National Park. It is very special, because it is carved into the rugged limestone coastline.
On one side, the beach has extremely soft, white sand. On the other side the beach consists of sharp petrified coral. You can also see the Landhuis Slagbaai, an interesting colonial building.
12. Playa Funchi
Playa Funchi is named after a Caribbean corn dish. It is located on the former Washington plantation and is a great beach to visit.
Playa Funchi is home to hordes of Bonairean lizards, that will speed towards your car when you arrive there. They are harmless really, and are only looking to sip some of the condensation water of your airco.
13. See Rincon, the Oldest City on the Island
Rincon is not only the oldest city on Bonaire, but also in the entire Dutch Antilles. The first Spaniards built a settlement there in the 16th century to hide from pirates.
The village has a cute city center you can visit. Also, you have an amazing view over the Caribbean sea and Bonaire from the Rincon hills.
14. Go Horseback-Riding on the Beach
Horseback riding on the beach is such a dreamy activity that should be on every travelers bucket list. There are lots of riding schools in Bonaire that offer horses and tours for every possible level of expertise.
A great perk of exploring Bonaire on horseback: the four legged friends can walk on unpaved paths and help you explore off the beaten tracks.
15. Check out the Cadushi Distillery
The Cadushi Distillery is a great place for culinary enthusiasts that are looking to try something new. It is located in Rincon, the oldest village of the island.
My favorite drink from the Cadushi Distillery are the different island liqueurs. They created a different drink for each island in the Caribbean, such as the Kukui of Aruba or the Calbas of Curacao.
Slow Travel Tip: This is a great souvenir idea, since it comes from local production!
16. Pink Beach
Pink Beach is located on the Southwest coast of Bonaire. It used to have an intense pink hue, due to crushed seashells in the sand.
Since Hurricane Lenny in 1999, the pink color of the sand has disappeared. But, the beach is still beautiful and totally worth a visit. You can sunbathe, spot flamingos or participate in water sports on Pink Beach.
17. See the Obelisks
In 1837, the Dutch constructed four different Obelisks in Bonaire. They used them as a beacon to determine where to anchor their ships to transport salt from Bonaire to the Netherlands.
They are over 10 meters high and look like huge, colorful needles. Can you find all four of them?
18. Explore the Bonaire Marine Park
The ocean around Bonaire and Klein Bonaire is protected and belongs to the Bonaire National Marine Park. It includes coral reefs, sea grass and mangroves.
For non-divers, this is still a great spot to visit. You can explore the beautiful park on a snorkel tourinstead and still get an amazing sense of the marine life in Bonaire.
19. Go Landsailing
Landsailing is a fun activity for adventure lovers that don’t want to jump into the ocean. The land sails are basically like small go-carts with a sail attached to them.
You can book some Landsailing Fun and race your friends after a brief safety instruction.
20. Playa Chikitu
Playa Chikitu is an amazingly beautiful beach with huge value to the ecosystem in Bonaire. It is one of the few places where the green sea turtle lays their eggs.
While the beach is nice for sunbathing and observing some wildlife, it is not safe to go into the water because of the strong current. Keep this in mind on your visit.
21. Boka Bartol
Boka Bartol is an interesting cove nestled in big limestone cliffs. The cove consists of a beautiful beach made up from big stones. It is not a place suitable for swimming. Boka Bartol is located in the Washington Slagbaai National Park.
22. Seru Bentana Lighthouse
The Seru Bentana Lighthouse is located in the North of Bonaire and is still active until this day. It was built in 1927 and is still in good condition.
I find the Lighthouse super scenic and it is a great spot to check out in Bonaire for non divers. It is located on a hill, so you have a great view over the island and especially the Washington Slagbaai National Park.
23. Plasa Machi Mimi
The Plasa Machi Mimi is a historical building. It is located in Kralendijk, right on the ocean promenade. It was designed in Roman architecture style.
Years ago, it was used as a place to clean fish after fishing. Nowadays, veggies and fruit are sold there sometimes. It is super sweet and one of my favorite things to do in Bonaire for non divers.
24. Eden Beach
Eden beach is an extremely beautiful beach located in the mid west coast of Bonaire. It is one of these magnificent beaches that you can usually only see in travel magazines.
From Eden Beach you can see over to Klein Bonaire. It is also the place where yachts and luxury boats anchor. The beach is privately owned by the Eden Resorts, but you can still visit it.
25. Take Kite-surfing Lessons
Since Bonaire has wind blowing for about 300 days a year, it is an extremely popular place for kite-surfing.
You can find the best kite-surfing locations in the southwest of the island. The absolute best place to do it is Kite Beach (Atlantis). It is also possible to go kite-surfing on Pink Beach or even on Klein Bonaire. However, you must stay in the dark blue part of the water.
26. Atlantis Beach
Atlantis Beach, or Kite Beach, is located in one of the most beautiful spots on the island. On one side you can marvel at the beautiful blue sea, on the other side you see the magnificent salt pans of Bonaire.
27. See the Churches of Bonaire
There are five different churches in Bonaire. All of them have been built in the early 1900 or slightly before that. The churches of Bonaire are architectural highlights and are definitely worth a visit.
28. Willemstoren Lighthouse
The Willemstoren Lighthouse was built in 1838, named after King Willem. Back then, lots of ship stranded in the rough seas right in front of the coast of Bonaire.
To make the area a bit safer for ships, the people of Bonaire started to build the lighthouse. It is located in the south of the island and still active until this day.
29. Seru Largu
The Seru Largu Viewpoint is located on a hill with a height of 123 meters. From there, you have a lovely view over the island. Seru Largu means ‘big hill’ in Papiamentu. It is a super interesting spot and one of my favorite things to do in Bonaire for non divers.
30. Bonaire Botanical Gardens
The Bonaire Botanical Gardens are located on the road to Rincon. It is not necessarily a garden with lots of pretty flowers, but offering more Permaculture, Medicinal Herbs and Organic Herbs.
The gardener Mr. Manuel can show you around on a tour and explain the process of planting plants on a desert terrain like Bonaire.
31. Bonaire Cave Tour
Take an adventurous tour of Bonaire’s caves with a local guide and marvel at the natural phenomenons the island has to offer.
The local guide can teach you the difference between stalactites and stalagmites and show you an underground snorkeling spot in fresh water. What a unique thing to do in Bonaire for non divers.
32. Hike up Mount Brandaris
The highest mountain on the beautiful island Bonaire is the Mount Brandaris, with a height of 241 meters. The hike is quite challenging, but you will be rewarded with a stunning view from the top.
Make sure to head there before 12:00 am. It gets too hot to hike after that.
33. See Wayaka II
The Wayaka II Beach is one of Bonaires hidden gems. It is located in the Washington Slagbaai National Park, between Wayaka I and Wayaka III.
The beach is only visible during low tide. The beach consists of white sand in one side and volcanic rock on other places. Some spots are even soft pink.
34. Go Cliff Jumping
Cliff Jumping is something I find super scary but lots of people absolutely love it. So I absolutely needed to include it in my list of 50 best things to do in Bonaire for non divers.
The famous dive site Oil Slick offers, addition to great diving, a large rock which can double as a launch for a fun day of “Cliff Jumping”. Make sure to hop by. Pun intended.
35. See the White Mountains
In the south east of Bonaire, the Cargill company has its salt mines. They have built huge white mountains consisting of white salt crystals.
It is one of the biggest eye-catchers in Bonaire for many reasons. Not only do they look absolutely stunning, but they are also located right by the pink lakes. It is a great photo spot and one of my favorite things to do in Bonaire for non divers.
36. Explore One of the Bonaire Museums
Bonaire currently has seven different museums on the island, offering culture, history and insight for those interested.
As a slow traveler, I try to incorporate at least one museum per destination I visit in my itinerary.
Here are Bonaires Museums at a glance:
|Boneiru Museum (Skal & Bonaire Museum)||Kaya NE Craane 34, Kralendijk|
|Belua Museum||Kaya GF Betico Croes 6, Kralendijk|
|Museum Chichi’ Tan||Rincon|
|Documentation Center Herensia Boneriano||Kaya Korona, Kralendijk|
|Kas Krioyo Museum||Kaya Milon 4, Rincon|
|Museum Mangasina di Rei||Kaya Rincon s/n, Rincon|
|Museum Washington Park||Kaya Gilberto RE Herrera, WSNP|
37. Te Amo Beach
Te Amo is the Spanish saying for “I love you”! Te Amo beach is one of the few sandy beaches on Bonaire. This makes it an excellent destination for beach lovers, avid swimmers and people looking for a slice of Caribbean paradise.
38. Take a Sunset Cruise
Sunset cruises are one of my favorite things to do in Bonaire. There is nothing more romantic than boarding a catamaran, holding a glass of home made rum punch and watching the sunset from the ocean.
39. See the Gotomeer Lake Viewpoint
The Gotomeer Lake Viewpoint can nicely be reached with a car. You can park there and have an amazing view over the Gotomeer. There are some benches to sit and enjoy the view. You might even spot some flamingos.
Goto Lake is the biggest saltwater pool in Bonaire. It is located on the edge of the Washington Slagbaai National Park. Hollywood films like Jurassic World and Jurassic Park have been filmed there.
40. Check out Playa Frans
Playa Frans is an idyllic fishing beach with some fishing boats. It consists of white sand, petrified coral, coarse pebbles and also some small stones.
It is super remote, so you will probably have it all by yourself. I love nothing more than sitting on a deserted beach all alone. It is a super sweet spot and one of my favorite things to do in Bonaire for non divers.
41. See Lac Cai Beach
Lac Cai Beach is located at the edge of Lac Bay. It is a beautiful, white sandy beach that borders on stunning mangroves on one side.
Interesting to know is that the Kanko, or Large Conch lives there. It is one of the iconic animals of Bonaire. Sadly, in the past they have been hunted for their delicious flesh. Nowadays, they are protected because they are close to going extinct.
42. Lourdes Grotto
The Lourdes Grotto, or the Gruta Lourdes are a famous religious site in Bonaire.
You can find them close by the city of Rincon, although they are a bit hidden away. There are some beautiful rock formations to see.
43. Gamble in the Barefoot Casino
Bonaire has two famous casinos on the island. Both of them are located inside bigger resorts.
The Casino in the Divi Flamingo Beach resort is famous as the world’s only casino that does not require you to wear shoes.
44. Participate in a Dance Workshop
Whether you wanna learn Salsa, Rumba or Zumba – there are some fun dance workshops for every taste, age and skill.
Why not get moving to those fun Caribbean beats, burn some calories and learn the traditional dances of the island in a dance workshop.
45. See the Indian Inscriptions in Onima
All over the Caribbean you can see drawings in caves, left behind by the Arawak Indians. They have been amazingly well preserved. There are over 10 different sites where you can see them in Bonaire.
The Inscriptions in Boca Onima at the best preserved on the island, so I suggest you visit them first. However, there are quite a few other location that offer petroglyphs.
|Boca Onima||east side of Bonaire (north) (signposted from the road)|
|Karanja Grandi||west side of Bonaire (mid) (behind the airport)|
|Cueba di Roshikiri||east side of Bonaire (mid)|
|Ceru Crita Cabai||–|
|Fountain||east side of Bonaire (north)|
|Cavern||east side of Bonaire (mid) (near the lighthouse)|
46. Dos Pos
Dos Pos means “Two Wells” and is the name of a scenic hike in Bonaire. It is one of the few freshwater reservoirs on the island. It used to be a plantation, so you can still see some mango trees there.
The wells of Dos Pos used to supply the inhabitants of Rincon with fresh drinking water back in the day. Nowadays you can hike in the area, enjoy some amazing viewpoints and maybe even spot the yellow-winged Amazon parrot.
47. Seven Body Beach
Seven Body Beach is a super small beach in Bonaire. It is named like that because it roughly has the size of seven people lying next to one another.
The beach is an interesting spot for swimmers and snorkelers. There is a fantastic coral reef called The Cliff and it can be reached from shore.
48. Bachelor’s Beach
Bachelor’s beach is a super tiny little beach in Bonaire. During high tide, you might not even see it. During low tide, however, a beautiful white sandy beach emerges from the Caribbean water.
Visiting Bachelor’s beach is a great thing to do in Bonaire for non divers.
49. 1000 Steps Beach
1000 steps beach is one of the most famous beaches in Bonaire. It is located next to a high cliff, so you have to climb down lots of steps on a limestone staircase.
It might not be a 1000 steps down there (it’s only 67), but you will have an amazing view over the ocean from this beach. It usually is not crowded, despite being very famous. Even locals hang out there from time to time.
50. Tour the Country Houses of Bonaire
Bonaire still until this day has some of the old country houses that used to be built back in the day by the Dutch.
The country houses used to be plantation houses that wealthy businessmen owned. There are not as many country houses in Bonaire as there are in Curacao, and they are also not so nicely upkept. I still suggest checking them out, since they represent important history.
Manor Guatemala, Manor Yatu Baku, Manor Bakuna and Landhuis Karparta are a few example of these Landhuises.
The History of Bonaire
First things first. Bonaire is part of the famous ABC islands; Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao, and lies roughly 80 km off the coast of Venezuela. Bonaire is, since 2010, one of the Netherlands’ special municipalities, together with Sint Eustatius and Saba.
The island was, from the year 1499 and for almost a century, colonized by the Spanish people. In the famous 80-year war, the Dutch tried to take several Caribbean Islands back from the Spanish. In the year 1636, the Dutch ultimately managed to conquer the island Bonaire, which eventually became a plantation of the Dutch West India Company.
Over the years the island was subject to leadership change many times, but ultimately always found its way back under Dutch control. In the year 1862, the last slaves were finally freed from the island under the Emancipation Regulation. In 2010 the island finally managed to acquire a new and more independent status as a special municipality of the Netherlands.
Remnants of the history of Bonaire can still be seen and witnessed all over the island. Small, former slave huts can be found in many different places. There is also an alarming amount of donkeys inhabiting the place, who were initially brought to the island as working animals.
Nowadays you can visit most of the donkeys in a donkey sanctuary, which was founded by a Dutch couple in 1993. Make sure to stop by this cute place and leave a donation!
Where to Stay in Bonaire
If you are still in need of a cute and luxurious place to stay in Bonaire then I got you covered. The Ocean Breeze Boutique Hotel in Bonaire is one of the chicest places I have ever stayed in.
The outside style of the house looks very much like the famous colorful houses in Kralendijk. It is painted in bright turquoise. If that doesn’t flood you with happy vibes, then I don’t know what will.
The rooms are decorated in modern beach-house-decor, which gave me major ocean vibes. The hotel was super central and we could easily reach all our destinations from there!
Read more about our stay in the Ocean Breeze Boutique Hotel in Bonaire here.
For booking and more information head over here.
Other great places for you to stay in Bonaire:
- Courtyard By Marriott
- Sorobon Beach Resort
- Landhuis Belnem Bonaire
- One Ocean Boutique Apartments Bonaire
How to Get Around Bonaire
The island Bonaire is quite small. However, you do need transportation to reach all the amazing things discussed in this article.
We opted for getting a rental car and I can wholeheartedly suggest that to any Bonaire traveler. We book our cars in the Caribbean usually with DiscoverCars. They have the best selection for a great price.
If you are planning on exploring off the beaten paths, I suggest getting a 4×4.
Frequently asked Questions
The top attractions in Bonaire are definitely the Pekelmeer, the flamingos in their natural habitat, the Washington Slagbaai National Park, the colorful capital city of Kralendijk and the white slave houses.
There are many amazing things to do for non divers in Bonaire: See the flamingos in their natural habitat, visit one of the many beautiful beaches of Bonaire, go snorkeling in the Bonaire National Marine Park, see Kralendijk or explore the Cadushy Distillery.
Yes, there is a lot to do in Bonaire. The island does not only offer amazing diving, but is also suitable for water sports, adventure tours and wildlife spotting. It is great for swimming, hiking and horseback riding.
To see all that Bonaire has to offer, I suggest staying for at least a week. If you have some more time, 10 days to two weeks are an ideal time to see Bonaire without having to rush.
Yes, Bonaire is worth seeing. Many natural phenomena in Bonaire make the small, Caribbean paradise an absolute hidden gem. Even if you are not an avid diver, there are plenty of amazing things to do in Bonaire.
Conclusion: 50 best things to do in Bonaire for non divers
As promised, here are 50 amazing ideas for your next vacation to Bonaire. I was very skeptical before my trip, because Bonaire has such a reputation of being a divers-paradise and not much more.
However, the island proved me wrong. There are so many beautiful, inspiring and relaxing things to do on the island. I can wholeheartedly recommend Bonaire to everyone!
I hope you will enjoy your vacation in Bonaire as much as I did.
Looking for more ideas on the perfect Caribbean vacation? Check out the most amazing destinations in the Caribbean!
Make sure to visit Bonaire in winter, it is one of the best Caribbean destinations in December.
About the Author
Sabrina is a passionate travel blogger and content creator, based in the Netherlands. She spends about half of the year traveling to various destinations together with her husband.
She provides slow-paced itineraries that focus on quality over quantity. Sabrina wants to help her readers to get more out of their travel experiences – while doing less. Read more.