Bonaire snorkeling is some of the best that the Caribbean has to offer, with a schools of tropical fish, such as jack, needlefish, and trumpetfish, and exhilarating corals and sponges. If you’re lucky, you might even catch a glimpse of turtles or Barracudas making their way through the water.
What Makes Snorkeling in Bonaire So Great?
Bonaire is one of the best snorkeling destinations in the world for several reasons. There is an abundance of access from the shores, which is free! Most of the Bonaire snorkeling is accessed from the shore which means that you won’t need to pay to have a boat take you to your destination, and you can snorkel entirely on your own schedule. There is also a huge variety of abundant sea life, such as corals, sponges, turtles and fish. The area is protected from the winds and waves due to the shape of the island, and the waters are almost all protected as part of the National Marine Park. This means fish won’t flee from you and you can have a wonderful, up-close experience. Snorkelers will also have very fair snorkeling conditions when hitting the water. The water visibility is fantastic at 26 to 46 meters (85-150 feet), with water temperatures ranging from +27 to +29C (80-84F). There is also a wide range of depths for snorkelers of all experience levels to explore.
Bonaire Snorkeling Destinations
Lac Bay, or Sorobon Beach is well worth the twenty minute walk in the shallows to reach the snorkeling area, as it is the best snorkeling spot on the island. To get there you will need to enter at Jibe City and walk along the sandy bottom into the ocean. Walk out into the middle of the reef until you can see health corals at a water depth of 4 to 5 feet. Take time to explore the coral heads as you may even catch some pufferfish staring back at you! While you are exploring you can also catch sights of angelfish, grunts, goatfish, tang, truckfish and many others! Note that this area is best snorkeled on a day with soft winds as you will experience less waves and current. No matter when you snorkel, be sure to avoid swimming too far north as you will encounter very strong currents.
Klein Bonaire is definitely a highlight of Bonaire snorkeling. The small, uninhabited island, just a half-mile offshore, is a protected part of reef. To get there you will need to take a water taxi, snorkeling boat, kayak, or rent a motor boat. The best spot to snorkel Klein Bonaire is No Name Beach, which is by a buoy marked with the letter “A.” This is a drift snorkel and you will enter near buoy B and drift with the current towards buoy A. If you snorkel close to shore in the three feet of water, you will see fantastic corals and even some turtles swimming about! If you are feeling adventurous, you can swim a bit further out from the shore until you meet the dark blue water where there is a steep drop off. You can see larger fish and turtles here and the water visibility is still great.
If you are looking for a calm, easy snorkel, then consider Bari Reef. This spot is in front of the Sand Dollar Condominiums, but you are not able to use their dock. Enter the water in the sandy area just south of the Den Laman Condos. Once you have picked your way through the rocks and concrete, swim to the right along the old concrete pier. Here you will see many fish, corals and interesting sponges. You can also swim over to the Sand Dollar Condo dock to see the fish, such as damselfish, filefish, hogfish and soapfish there, and you might catch some Barracudas and other larger fish during your swim.
Best Time of the Year to Visit Bonaire for Snorkeling
Bonaire is a desert island, which means that is doesn’t generally get a lot of rainfall. The driest months stretch from March to June. Any earlier than this and you will be faced with a lot of rain, and later into the summer the winds pick up quite a bit. December through April is tourism season, so anytime from the end of April to June is the best time to visit Bonaire. During the day, temperatures range from +29-32C (84-80F), with nighttime temperatures dropping just a bit.
Getting to Beautiful Bonaire
Bonaire is an island in the southeastern Caribbean located next to Aruba and Curacao. Direct flights from the U.S. are only offered once a weekend, but connections through Curacao occur daily. To reach your snorkeling destinations you will need to rent a car as public transportation is limited. Be prepared for a small, manual transmission truck, as major car rental companies are rare in Bonaire. Once there, you will find a nice variety of resorts, hotels and apartments to stay in.
While an increased frequency of tropical storms has roughed up the reefs a bit, Bonaire is still a fantastic snorkeling destination that will provide you an exhilarating experience!