Protect Your Trip »

Protect Your Trip » Search, compare and buy the best travel insurance for the lowest price

Why Go To Bonaire

On the pristine island of Bonaire, the main attraction lies beneath the water's surface. The oft-overlooked sister island of Aruba and Curaçao, Bonaire is more famous for its impressive diving than its air of exclusivity. To travel to this paradise without exploring its underwater treasures would be a regrettable misstep.

Though any Caribbean getaway promises a welcome retreat from the clutches of your smartphone, Bonaire is less about relaxing and more about adventure. If you're not an avid diver, hike around Washington Slagbaai National Park and admire the breathtaking scenery, or venture off the beaten path and bike the island's unpaved roads. It's hard to believe that there's so much to do on an island that only measures 112 square miles. You could see the island in just one day… but would you want to?

READ MORE 

Find Flight and Hotel Deals

FLIGHTS
HOTELS

Press the down arrow key to interact with the calendar and select a date. Press the question mark key to get the keyboard shortcuts for changing dates.

Press the down arrow key to interact with the calendar and select a date. Press the question mark key to get the keyboard shortcuts for changing dates.

Protect Your Trip:  Search, compare and buy the best travel insurance for the lowest price. Get a Quote.

Rankings

The U.S. News & World Report travel rankings are based on analysis of expert and user opinions. Read more about how we rank vacation destinations.

Best of Bonaire

Protect Your Trip:  Search, compare and buy the best travel insurance for the lowest price. Get a Quote.

Bonaire Travel Tips

Best Months to Visit

The best time to visit Bonaire is from May to October when there are fewer crowds and bargain hotel rates. If you're planning a winter getaway, keep in mind that November through April comprises the island's peak season, when the 80-degree weather yields packed hotels and higher prices. Bonaire's temperate climate and unique location, just north of the equator and safely outside the hurricane belt, poses little threat of tropical storms, no matter the season.

Weather in Bonaire

Switch to Celsius/MM
Average Temperature (°F)
84
76
85
76
86
77
87
78
88
79
88
80
89
79
89
80
89
80
88
79
87
79
85
77
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
Average Precipitation (in)
2.1
1.1
0.7
0.9
0.8
0.8
1.3
1.7
1.7
3.2
3.6
3.7
Jan
Feb
Mar
Apr
May
Jun
Jul
Aug
Sep
Oct
Nov
Dec
See details for When to Visit Bonaire

Data sourced from the National Climatic Data Center

What You Need to Know

  • Buy a nature tag To enjoy the island's subsea spectacles, you will need to purchase a nature tag. Divers must pay a $45 fee, while snorkelers and swimmers must pay a $25 fee.
  • Dive safely "The bends," or decompression sickness, can result from ascending too quickly while scuba diving. To avoid the associated joint pain, fatigue, and dizziness, swim to the surface slowly using your breath bubbles to gauge your ascension speed.
  • The currency is the same The U.S. dollar is Bonaire's official currency, so there's no need to worry about conversion rates. Most credit cards can be used on the island, though American Express is not as widely accepted as MasterCard and Visa.

How to Save Money in Bonaire

  • Stay for a day Because Bonaire is so small, it's easy to see the coastline in a day with one of the island's tour companies. Taxi drivers are happy to take you on a 3 1/2-hour island tour for $40 per person.
  • Rent a bike Though a pickup truck or a Jeep would allow for easier handling of Bonaire's rough terrain, renting a bike is cheaper.
  • Arrive in summer or fall The offseason boasts discounted hotel prices and fewer crowds clogging up the beaches.

Culture & Customs

Defined by its Dutch roots, Bonaire possesses a separate identity from the neighboring alphabet islands, Aruba and Curaçao. Although Bonaire's economy relies on tourism, the island doesn't exude the same air of luxury that the other ABC islands are known for. With more of a rugged feel, Bonaire caters to adventurers and adrenaline-junkies.

Bonaire residents passionately protect the island's breathtaking landscape and underwater life, which means tourists are expected to as well. This means spearfishing, reef-anchoring, and collecting sea shells, sea fans, sand, or any type of coral is against the law. Though it may seem a bit extreme, you'll understand these strict guidelines after seeing how the marine park is thriving.

Food is also a distinct component of Bonaire's culture. In addition to krioyo (local food), you'll taste dishes influenced by Dutch, Indonesian and Indian flavors.

The languages used on Bonaire are as diverse as the island's cuisine. Though the official language is Dutch, English and Spanish are widely spoken. You'll also hear locals speaking Papiamentu – a Creole dialect with Dutch, Spanish and Portuguese elements.

Bonaire's official currency is the U.S. dollar. There is an 8% tax on goods and services, plus a hotel room tax of $5.50 to $6.50 per person, per day. Bonaire's standard tipping practices are similar to the U.S.; it's typical to leave an additional 10 to 15% in gratuity for waiters and taxi drivers.

Though Bonaire is considered one of the safest islands in the Caribbean, be aware of your surroundings and keep track of your personal belongings.

READ MORE 

Getting Around Bonaire

The best way to get around Bonaire is by car. Because Bonaire is so small, it's easy to drive the island's entire coastline in just one day. Renting your own set of wheels is also the easiest way to reach most diving spots. If you'd rather leave the island navigation up to drivers who are more familiar with the roads, plan on using Bonaire's fixed-rate taxis. Taxis can easily take you from Bonaire International Airport (BON) – less than 2 miles from the heart of Kralendijk – to anywhere on the island. You can also rent a mountain bike if you're planning to spend most of your time within a few miles of your hotel.

There is no ferry service between Bonaire, Curaçao and Aruba, so any island-hopping must be done by plane. However, in 2018 the government of Bonaire announced plans for a fast ferry service between the ABC islands. It's estimated that the project will take two to three years to complete. If you're stopping in Bonaire as part of a cruise, note that the island's port is located downtown; this means many shops and eateries will be within walking distance.

Entry & Exit Requirements

American citizens must present a passport prior to entry, as well as proof of a return flight or continued travel. When traveling from Bonaire to Curaçao or Aruba, there is a departure tax of $9; for all other destinations (including the United States), the departure tax is $35. Check with your airline to see if the departure tax is included in your airfare. For more information on entry and exit requirements, visit the U.S. Department of State's website.

Photos

1 of 22
2 of 22

Catch a traditional Bonaire dance performance while shopping in Kralendijk.

Courtesy of the Tourism Corporation Bonaire

Explore More of Bonaire

If you make a purchase from our site, we may earn a commission. This does not affect the quality or independence of our editorial content.

Recommended