Bonaire,  Caribbean,  Cruises,  Experiences

Best Things to Do in Bonaire on a Cruise – One Day Itinerary

Are you looking for things to do in Bonaire on a cruise? Then I got you covered in this amazing Bonaire One Day Itinerary!

Bonaire is a beautiful small island located in the Caribbean sea. Together with Aruba and Curacao, it forms the ABC-island chain.

Many Caribbean Cruises have Bonaire listed as a port-of-call in their itinerary. As an avid cruiser, I know how hard it can be to plan for every single port.

To make this easy for you, I have created four amazing cruise itineraries – featuring the what things to do in Bonaire on a cruise!

Let’s dive right in (pun intended)!

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Author walking on shore in a pink bathing suite with beautiful water behind her on beach

Bonaire Cruise Port Guide

Cruise ships dock in one of two piers in Bonaire. Both piers are located right by the capital city of Kralendijk. They are called the Southern Pier and the Northern Pier.

The two piers have a capacity for up to three cruise ships, although this does not happen very often. If there are two cruise ships docking, the larger one will always dock on the Southern Pier. The smaller one will then dock on the Northern Pier.

The ports are small and intimate – no tender boats necessary!

Both Piers are located within walking distance of the capital city Kralendijk. Cruise passengers have access to amenities such as:

  • Tourist Office
  • Local tours operators
  • Scuba diving operators
  • Terramar Museum
  • Shops
  • Cafés
  • Restaurants

Northern Pier

The Northern Pier is perpendicular to the coast. It is just over 200 feet long. The exit gates are opening directly into a pedestrian street.

The pier is located right next to the Old Fort. It is only a few steps away from the Sea Promenade and Kaya Grandi. This is the biggest shopping street of Kralendijk.

Southern Pier and Terminal

The Southern Pier is also being referred to as the New Pier. It is located parallel to the coast and it has a small cruise terminal adjacent. The Southern Pier and Terminal has a small, open-air shopping complex, called Harborside Mall, attached.

It is located about 300 ft (100 m) away from the Plaza Wilhelmina and the Sea Promenade.

Deciding What to Do in Bonaire on a Cruise

The island of Bonaire is quite small.  The cute little island is 111 square miles, with a width that ranges from 3 to 7 miles and a length of roughly 24 miles.

This makes it quite easy to explore the island in one day. However, you still need to think ahead of what to do in Bonaire from the cruise ship.

As a cruiser, I find it important to plan my shore days with some contingencies. I have therefore only assembled info about totally flexible providers and itineraries.

You basically have three options to choose from when picking your things to do for one day in Bonaire on a cruise:

  • Book a half-day trip or shore excursion
  • Book a rental car/golf cart and make a road trip
  • Spend the day in Kralendijk

Best Guided Shore Excursions and Day-Trips in Bonaire

Private Klein Bonaire Snorkel Tour (5/5*)

If you are traveling with a group of people, this Private Klein Bonaire Snorkel Tour is an amazing experience. You will travel to the small, uninhabited island and explore three amazing snorkel sites.

The tour can accommodate up to 8 people and costs about USD 900 for the whole group. This is an amazing deal for a four hour private trip.

Pick up from the cruise port is included. And you have the option to cancel for free – in case there are delays or the ship has to change the route. Snorkel gear, snacks and refreshments are included.

Brenda was amazing. She took a personal interest in our excursion to make sure it was the best possible experience. Best snorkeling trip we’ve ever had!

Amazing beach with crystal clear blue water and lots of white sand
Klein Bonaire from Boat

Private North and South Tour with Local Guide (4,5/5*)

This private, three hour North and South Tour takes you to the most beautiful points of the island. You will be able to see about 30 (!) different points of interest and all major landmarks!

You get to change the tour if required, since it is totally private. I love this tour, because it includes all the flexibility you need! And as a bonus, you get to try local food and drinks!

See amazing landmarks, like the Goto meer, Rincon, the Donkey Beach and many more interesting things! The local guide will tell you all you need to know about this tour.

We saw all the highlights of the island with our fantastic guide Resine. She was friendly and welcoming and had great knowledge of her island. We would select this tour company again and would request Resine in a heartbeat!

Donna R

Highlights of Bonaire and Cultural Experience (4,5/5*)

See the best of Bonaires cultural highlights, like the Salt hills and a flamingo refuge in the South of the island with this tour. You will visit the Slave huts, the lighthouse and the 1000 steps dive site!

This three hour tour will start at the Bonaire cruise port and take you around the island with a local guide. I love tours that give some historical background of the islands – and this one definitely covers all the bases.

The cancellation option is free. The tour is offered in English and Spanish!

This tour takes you all over the island, giving you a great overview of life on the island. Great photo stops at the salt “mountains”, slave huts, lighthouse, church, shoreline, flamingoes, etc. The small house museum is interesting, too. Try the iguana soup while there. Tastes like chicken. Really!


Best Bonaire Boat Trips for Snorkeling

I have created an in-depth post about the best boat tours for snorkeling in Bonaire. Bonaire is famous for its beautiful marine life, so snorkeling needs to be on top of your list of things to do in Bonaire on a cruise.

There is an amazing offer out there of Bonaire Snorkel Tours, so be sure to pick something that aligns with your cruise schedule and your departure times. Find out on how to explore the Lac Bay Marine Resort and the cute island of Klein Bonaire.

Book a Rental Car/Golf Cart for a Road Trip

Another great way to discover Bonaire is with a road trip. The island is quite small, so you can explore everything in one day.

Lots of people rent golf carts in Bonaire to explore the island. There are some upsides to this. There is not a lot of traffic on the island and the carts are easy to navigate.

However, the golf carts are usually already booked months in advance.

We preferred renting a car. This gives us the opportunity of bringing more stuff along, and lock our valuables away while we sit at the beach.

If you are looking for things to do in Bonaire for-non divers, make sure to check out my post for more information and inspiration.

Here are our favorite stops during a one day Bonaire road trip marked in a helpful map!

Best Places to Visit in Bonaire from Cruise Ship

If you are looking to explore Bonaire a bit by yourself, I have created an interactive map for you that can help. Find all my favorite places that you should visit when you are coming to Bonaire on a cruise in this map.

Things to Do in Bonaire from Cruise Ship

1. Visit the Best Beaches in Bonaire from Cruise Ship

By driving around on the island we discovered many small but beautiful beaches. Most beaches in Bonaire are rocky or stoney. The water quality is amazing and you can bring your snorkel gear to all of the Bonaire beaches.

The nearest beaches to the cruise port are the following: Coco, Bachelor’s, Te Amo and Flamingo, and the Chachacha Beach. You can reach all of them either with a bit of walking or by taking a cab. Coco Beach is less than two miles away from the cruise port, so it is super convenient to visit.

Bachelors Beach is three miles south of the cruise port.

Some of the nicest sand beaches are Playa Lechi, Seven Body Beach and Te Amo Beach. These beaches are great to relax and get that picture perfect Caribbean Beach moment.

If you are looking for a very special beach trip, head over to Pink Beach. Pink Beach Bonaire gets it’s fabulous color from crushed sea shells. Another really special beach is Boka Kokolishi. Boka Kokolishi is a back sand beach.

If you love snorkeling or diving, head over to Wayaka beach, Playa Benge or Chachacha Beach. These beaches offer the best access to Bonaires amazing marine life.

Playa Chiquito is beautiful, but swimming is forbidden because of the strong, dangerous surf. But the nature there is great for sunbathing.

Boka Bartol is a beautiful beach located in the Marine Park. It is a great diving location with plenty of amazing coral formations.

1000 Steps is a snorkel and dive site located in the northern side of Bonaire. You can easily reach it with car or boat. The name is a bit misleading, since it only takes 67 steps to reach the beach.

Lac Bay is a good swimming location. You can also see pretty mangroves there.

If you are looking for some relaxation, buy a day pass at the Divi Flamingo Beach Resort or check out Spice Beach Club.

2. Check out the Washington-Slagbaai National Park

For an even more exciting beach day head over to the Washington-Slagbaai National Park. The Washington-Slagbaai National Park also has three major beaches—Boca Cocolishi, Boca Slagbaai and Playa Funchi.

Boca Cocolishi beach is located on north coast. Keep in mind that it is not well-suited for swimming. There is a strong surf. However, it is a black sand beach with lava-formed pools. It is very appealing for hikers.

Boca Slagbaai is especially popular because of the flamingos. It is above all a good swimming and snorkeling site. It has facilities and you can buy some drinks there.

Playa Funchi is an amazing snorkel site. There are stunning coral formations, lots of tropical fish and calm waters. It has no sand or facilities. There are flamingos.

There are many more things to see in the Washington-Slagbaai Park besides flamingos and beaches. See hidden bays, geological caves and 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.

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.

3. See the Flamingos of Bonaire

There are a couple of different locations to see the flamingos in Bonaire outside the Washington-Slagbaai National Park.

The best spots to see them are the Pekelmeer in the south of Bonaire and Lac Bay. You can also encounter them at the Gotomeer which is located 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.

A great place to see the flamingos is at the Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary.

4. Visit the Pink Lakes by the Salt Mines

The pink lakes by the salt mines are called Gotomeer. Technically, it is a saltwater lagoon separated into small salt pans. It is located in the northern part of the island.

There are also quite a few more saltwater basins in the southern part of the island. The lakes turned pink as a result of the salt mining. The effect happens because of the evaporated sea water.

5. Visite the Donkey Sanctuary

Visiting the donkey sanctuary is one of my favorite things to do on Bonaire.

The donkey sanctuary is providing a home to a huge amount of donkeys rescued from the street. They were used by the slave drivers a long time ago and then simply left on the island.

You can drive through the sanctuary and feed them from your car. Such a sweet experience! We could even pet some of them from the car.

Make sure to donate at the end of the tour, so these great people can keep doing this important work!

6. See the Slave Houses

The former Slave houses can be found all over the island. Most of them are super small and white and barely fit a grown person in them.

7. Go Snorkeling or Diving

Go snorkeling or scuba diving in Bonaire’s pristine coral reefs. They are known for their incredible biodiversity.

While I suggest booking a guided snorkeling or diving boat trip, you can also go underwater by yourself. Just make sure to bring the right gear and then head out to explore!

8. Go to Klein Bonaire

Take a boat tour to Klein Bonaire and be prepared to be amazed!

Klein Bonaire is a small uninhabited island off the coast of Bonaire. The easiest way to get there is with a guided boat trip or with a water taxi.

You can relax on its beautiful white-sand beaches or go snorkeling.

9. Get Sporty in Bonaire

You can take a windsurfing or kiteboarding lesson and enjoy the island’s ideal wind and water conditions. This is one of the most fun things to do in Bonaire on a cruise if you ask me.

You can also go kayaking or paddleboarding in the calm turquoise waters along Bonaire’s coast. There is a huge offer in water sports and other activities on the island.

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. Explore Bonaire’s Nature

Visit Lac Bay! It is not only a popular spot for windsurfing but also a nature reserve known for its mangroves and bird-watching opportunities.

Maybe you can even explore the underwater sculptures at the Bonaire National Marine Park, an art installation that doubles as an artificial reef.

Spend the day in Kralendijk

Since the capital city of Kralendijk is right next to the cruise port, you can also spend the day there.

The city is super small, so you can just spend some nice hours walking around there and exploring the colorful buildings and the lovely street art.

The biggest shopping street in Kralendijk is called Kaya Grandi. You can buy authentic souvenirs there.

The Caribbean style houses in Kralendijk are well preserved. There are nice water-front eateries and usually some small markets.

Check out the Plaza Wilhelmina and the Bonaire museum. You can see impressive seashells there and learn about Bonaires history. A great souvenir from local production is bath salt.

Wrap up: Best things to Do in Bonaire on a Cruise

There are many fabulous thing to do in Bonaire on a cruise and I hope you like them as much.

I suggest renting a car and checking out the most amazing points of interest. See the Gotomeer, the flamingos in their natural habitat, and the slave houses. If you are adventurous, you can have a lot of fun in Bonaire with a rental car.

Booking a guided day trip to Klein Bonaire is also a great option for one day in Bonaire. Guided shore excursions are a great way to get to know the island without having the hassle of arranging things for yourself.

Lastly, you may just want to walk over to the colorful capital of Kralendijk and have a fun day shopping and exploring.

Check out my Aruba Cruise Itinerary and Curacao Cruise Itinerary for your Caribbean Cruise. Headed to the Dominican Republic next? I got you covered with a report about the Dominican Republic Cruise Ports.

Bonaire is one of the best Caribbean Islands to visit in December – give it a go.

More Cruise Inspo Needed? Go check out One Day in Malta.

Frequently asked questions

What is Bonaire best known for?

Bonaire is best known for pink salt lakes, flamingos and an amazing marine life. It is a famous spot for water sports, snorkeling and diving.

Is Bonaire worth seeing?

Yes, Bonaire is definitely worth seeing. There are many fabulous things to do in Bonaire and the small island is very charming and safe.

Can you walk around Bonaire?

Yes, you can walk around in Bonaire. The island is super safe and people are not driving scarily. From the cruise port you can reach Kralendijk and some beaches by foot. For other attractions on the island I suggest booking a rental car.

How long does it take to drive around Bonaire?

It takes about 3-4 hours to drive around Bonaire. The island has no stop lights and barely any traffic, which makes it a great place to drive.

Can you walk to a beach from Bonaire cruise port?

Yes, you can walk to a beach from the Bonaire cruise port. The closest beaches to the Bonaire cruise port are Coco Beach, Bachelor’s, Te Amo and Flamingo, and the Chachacha Beach. You can reach all of them either with a bit of walking or by taking a cab.

Do Cruise Ships Tender in Bonaire

No, cruise ships usually don’t tender in Bonaire. There are two big piers in Bonaire cruise port, that can service all the incoming cruise ships. Tender boats are usually not used in Bonaire.

Should I bring cash to Bonaire?

No, it is not necessary to bring cash to Bonaire. You can mostly pay with a credit card or debit card on the island. If you do bring cash, you can either bring Euros, US Dollars, or Gulders.

blonde girl pink dress in front of blue door santorini

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.

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