Activities on Bonaire if you aren't a diver – or just feel like staying out of the water for a day *
*or if you have to board a plane the next day.
Bonaire is a small island. Nevertheless, there is quite a lot of things you can experience while visiting that do NOT involve diving. But if you happen to visit Bonaire and are not yet a diver I urge you to take a course and get certified! But let's say you want a day off diving or you are going to fly the next day, chances are that you are looking for some non-diving activities in Bonaire. That's why I've collected some of my favourite things to do in Bonaire that don't require a tank, BCD and regulator.
What is there to experience in Bonaire that doesn't have anything to do with diving?! 10 non diving activities in Bonaire
#1 Island road trip
Hire an off-road vehicle and go for a drive all around the island of Bonaire. You will have tons of opportunities to take pit stops, go for a swim in the ocean, meet wild donkeys or to enjoy the view. Combine all of the above with my suggestions (all tried and approved by myself) below:
Tipp: Don't be fooled by the size of Bonaire. Driving on off-road treks in the National Park will take a lot longer than cruising on asphalted roads somewhere else on the island.
Tipp: Bring plenty of snacks and water. Shops, outside of Kralendijk, do exist but don't count on them being open!
#2 Explore the Washington Slagbaai National Park
The Washington Slagbaai National Park, situated in the North of the island, invites you to snorkel, swim, hike, mountain bike and of course to enjoy the off-road routes.
We arrived in the afternoon which was a mistake. The park is open between 8 am and 5 pm but the last admission is at 2:30 pm. Why? All streets are one-way streets and there isn't enough time to complete the trek before closing time. Divers also have to enter the park before 2:30 because otherwise there isn't enough time to drive to the dive spot, dive and leave the park on time. The guards do not make exceptions but rules are rules.
Two different treks, which sometimes cross path but the start points are different, are offered. The longer trek is 34 km long and the guard told me that it takes at least 2.5 hours (without breaks!) to complete it. The second and shorter trek is 24 km long and you have to calculate about an hour and a half without stops to finish it.
#3 Kayaking in the mangroves of Lac Bay and snorkelling
Have you ever kayaked, snorkelled or excitedly watched jellyfish between mangroves?
Different tours are offered, at different times – find more info here.
#4 Snorkelling in the ocean
I know it is cold comfort for divers but there is this one opportunity to say hi and bye to some fish on your last day on the island. There are plenty of places perfect for snorkelling on Bonaire. The most beautiful are Wayaja 1, 2 & 3 in the Washington Slagbaai National Park and the island of Klein Bonaire (Dutch for Little Bonaire).
#5 The pink saline of Solar Salt Works
Especially in the early hours, the saline of Solar Salt Works in the South of the island seems to be pinkest. The high salt concentration in the water cause the pinkish colour. Unfortunately, the saline isn't open to the public but the view from the road by the ocean, is perfect and you can still take beautiful pictures.
#6 Relaxing on the beach of Klein Bonaire
Use a water taxi to get to Klein Bonaire (Dutch for Little Bonaire) and enjoy the sun and quiet for a couple of hours. The island is uninhabited but is home to turtles who lay their eggs here.
Tipp: There is little to no natural shadow on the island and there also aren't any vendors selling water or snacks.
#7 Searching for Donkeys
Bonaire is the home to wild donkeys – and I was super excited when I found out about this. I needed to see them! We spotted a couple of them on the road from the lighthouse Willemstoren to Sorobon. It was just a small group and they were quite far.
Luckily, we had seen them some more curious ones on our road trip around the island close to the wind generators. When we spotted them, we stopped the car about 10m from them so I could take some pictures from them from the car. What neither of us expected was what happened then: they approached us and eventually poked their head into the open windows! Apparently, they are used to paparazzi 😉
#8 Looking for Flamingos
There's several spots in Bonaire where you can observe the pinkish birds. One of the best places would definitely be Laguna Gotomeer, just right outside Washington Slagbaai National Park.
Other places to spot the birds include Salina Frans, Salina Matis and of course the Solar Salt Works salt mines.
#9 Learn how to Windsurf in Sorobon
The shallow waters of Sorobon beach make it a perfect place for windsurfing beginners. You can take courses here or rent a board and venture out yourself.
Windsurfing is definitely not one of my strengths, while I gave it a try at Neusiedlersee at home I quickly gave up and haven't tried again since.
#10 Watch Turtles hatch
On both islands, Bonaire and Klein Bonaire, you'll find fenced spots on the beaches. Those are turtle nests and if you are a bit lucky you can watch them hatch. Chances are pretty good because there are many nests on the islands, but we had just missed them hatch by a few days. April to January are good months for spotting them crawl out into the ocean. If you'd like to read more about it, head over to the Sea Turtle Conservation Bonaire – you can even adopt a nest there.