Beautiful Bonaire is an Antilles island renowned for its stunning footprint-free beaches and fabulous underwater world. Hundreds of amazing dive sites lie within easy distance of the shore, and the waters are alive with colourful shoals of fish. It’s also quietly developing as a destination for foodies, with restaurants offering traditional Caribbean fare with a contemporary European edge.
Despite its gorgeous beaches, Bonaire doesn’t look like other Caribbean islands. It has an arid interior of mountains and sun-baked plains scattered with colossal cacti. Near the coast you’ll find the Cargill salt pans. These vast lakes have a vivid pink hue, and several are surrounded by white mountains of salt.
Popular Ports in Bonaire
Bonaire’s only cruise port is located in the capital of Kralendijk. Take a stroll through the downtown area next to the terminal. You’ll catch sight of colourful colonial houses and pass through shady plazas lined with restaurants and shops. Enjoy a glass of Caribbean rum at one of the lively local bars.
Most people believe that a Bonaire cruise is all about the beaches, and there are several within a stone’s throw of Kralendijk. Te Amo Beach is a stunning stretch of sand, which offers snorkel and dive access to the mesmerising coral reef and the island’s marine park. There are several food carts where you can purchase tasty snacks, too.
What are the best cruise ships for a Bonaire cruise?
After fun-filled days of snorkelling and sightseeing, you’ll appreciate the home comforts of your cruise liner. Here are two ships offering the perfect balance of luxury and economy.
There’s never a dull moment on the sophisticated Marella Explorer. Those on a romantic holiday can enjoy a couple’s treatment at the spa or lounge on a Balinese day bed at The Veranda, the adults-only sun deck. But there are plenty of family-friendly activities, too, including pool parties, an indoor cinema, and the Sport and Family Deck. You’ll be blown away by the choice of food on offer – from sushi to pizza, there’s something for everyone.
Marella Discovery 2
The Marella Discovery 2 really has a big wow-factor. Whether you’re watching a show in the five-storey atrium, solving puzzles to get out of the Breakout Room, or simply relaxing by the pool, you’ll have a memorable Bonaire cruise. Active travellers will love the climbing wall and open-air jogging track. There are lots of dining options available, from laid-back tapas in The Glass House, to succulent steaks and lobster tails at Surf & Turf Steakhouse. End the evening with an al fresco movie on the deck.
Shore Excursion Ideas
Make the most of your Bonaire cruise by exploring the island on a fantastic shore excursion. From scuba diving to catamaran rides, most activities are based in the oceans around the island.
Discover Scuba Dive
Bonaire is one of the world’s best locations for scuba diving, so where better to try it out? The water here is warm and clear, with a visibility of 30 metres, making it easy to see what’s going on beneath the waves. First you’ll learn the basics of diving, and you’ll be able to practise using the equipment in a shallow artificial reef.
Once you’re confident, it’s time to head to the ocean. You’ll be able to swim along the sea bed, through technicolour coral gardens, looking out for vivid shoals of fish, lobsters and sea turtles.
Boat transfer to Klein Bonaire
Play at being Robinson Crusoe by taking a water taxi to Klein Bonaire, an uninhabited island half a mile from the mainland. The only buildings on this stunning desert island are the remains of slave huts used in the 19th century.
You’ll be dropped at No Name Beach, a long sweep of talcum-soft sand. It’s one of the best snorkelling spots on the island, with spindly pencil coral and fascinating brain coral in the shallows. Enjoy relaxing on the beach or swimming in the warm waters. Luckily, unlike most desert islands, rum or fruit punch is available.
East Coast ATV experience
For those who prefer spending time on dry land, this exciting excursion takes you towards Bonaire’s beautiful east coast. You’ll travel on quad bike along Bonaire’s dirt tracks, passing through the rugged terrain of the Washikemba Reservoir. Look out for wild donkey herds and iguanas basking in the sun.
You’ll stop at the striking Spelonk Lighthouse for a photo stop. Another highlight of the trip is an exploration of one of the subterranean, bat-filled caves found on the island.