Bonaire,  Caribbean and South America,  Cruises

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

Are you looking for the best 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 best things to do in Bonaire on a cruise!

Let’s dive right in (pun intended)!

Pristine sandy beach meeting the crystal-clear turquoise waters of a calm sea, under a beautiful sky with soft clouds, creating a serene tropical scene. You can find this beach on Klein Bonaire, amazing thing to do from bonaire cruise port

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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

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!

google map screenshot of the bonaire cruise port with markings of the northern pier and the southern pier
Bonaire Cruise Port Map

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 in Kralendijk.

Southern Pier and Terminal

The Southern Pier is also 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.

Picture of the Bonaire Cruise Port and Kralendijk in the background. A panoramic view of a colorful coastal town with a waterfront promenade, featuring a variety of brightly painted buildings and a clear blue sky overhead.

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.

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.

the author in a patterned swimsuit and denim shorts standing by the rocky shore, with the stunning turquoise sea behind her under a clear blue sky.

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

See the best of Bonaire’s 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!

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 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 locking 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 on this map.

10 Things to Do in Bonaire Cruise Port

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 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 love snorkeling or diving, head over to Wayaka Beach, Playa Benge, or Chachacha Beach. These beaches offer the best access to Bonaire’s amazing marine life.

A breathtaking view of a rocky coastline leading into a vibrant turquoise sea under a sky scattered with fluffy white clouds.

2. 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 the 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 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.

Three vibrant pink flamingos standing in shallow turquoise waters with a backdrop of green mangroves and a clear sky, reflecting a peaceful wildlife habitat.

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 seawater.

A salt lake with striking pink hues bordered by white salt deposits, contrasting with the clear blue water in the foreground under a sunny sky.

5. Visite the Donkey Sanctuary

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

The donkey sanctuary provides 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!

A curious donkey poking its head into a car window, with a backdrop of other donkeys in a dry, fenced field under a blue sky with white clouds. the bonaire donkey sanctuary is an amazing place to visit from cruise port

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.

They are an interesting reminder of the gruesome time that Bonaire had to endure during the slave trade.

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!

girl snorkeling

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.

A tranquil deserted beach with white sands, clear turquoise waters, and a sparse landscape with green shrubs under a bright blue sky.

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 of water sports and other activities on the island.

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.

A picturesque view from a high vantage point showcasing a blue railing, cacti, and shrubs, overlooking a serene lake surrounded by rolling hills under a partly cloudy sky. Stunning Nature of bonaire that you can visit in one day from cruise port

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 Bonaire’s history. A great souvenir from local production is bath salt.

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.

Wrap-Up: Best Things To Do in Bonaire On a Cruise

There are many fabulous things 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.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is Bonaire best known for?

Bonaire is best known for pink salt lakes, flamingos, and 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 stoplights 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 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.

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About the Author

Sabrina is a passionate travel blogger and content creator, based in the Netherlands. She spends most parts of the year abroad at various destinations 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.