Bonaire, situated off the Venezuela coast, is a Caribbean Island of the Netherlands. This reef-lined coast is protected by the Bonaire National Marine Park. Bonaire is home to some of the most stunning coral reefs in the world, making it a popular spot for scuba diving and snorkeling.
But, if diving and snorkeling are not your thing, no worries! Bonaire is a stunning island that offers plenty of activities for visitors, including, hiking, bird watching, and horseback riding, as well as other cultural attractions. Keep reading for highlights of the wonderful opportunities you’ll find at the Bonaire cruise port!
This island has much to offer a passenger of a ship that stops at the Bonaire cruise port. For your excursion, take a guided tour which includes transport, or you could take a taxi to the sites you want to visit. The nearest town, Kralendijk, is only a 4- minute walk (about one mile, or 1.7km) from the Bonaire cruise port, if you prefer to do some sightseeing in the area. Or you could rent a scooter for shopping or beach excursions.
Take An Island Tour from Bonaire Cruise Port
Taking a guided tour by bus is one of the best ways to see the sights of Bonaire.
Board a bus from the Bonaire cruise port for a 4-hour tour starting from the capital city of Kralendijk. Along the way, you will stop at many sightseeing attractions. Some of these will likely include:
The Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary
You will visit the Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary, located on the vast salt pans on the island’s southern end. It is one of only four areas in the world where beautiful pink Flamingo breeds. The sanctuary is home to more than 10,000 flamingos, as well as a variety of birds.
Please note that the “sanctuary” is relatively literal: human visitors are not allowed on the property. Instead, you can view the flamingos from the nearby road. For close up views, take binoculars (or use the magnification feature on your smartphone).
On the island’s east side near Lac Bay are the calm waters of Sorobon Beach. The bus tour will make a 2hr stop off at this beach. You and the family can enjoy a quick dip in the sea or relax and soak up the sun on the beach. Here you can watch the many windsurfers who make the most of Bonaire’s steady trade winds.
You can rent loungers for sitting on the beach, or there are a few lanais where the family can relax in the cool shade and enjoy a picnic. There are a few beach bars for cold drinks and light meals. If you and the children enjoy snorkeling, walk about 100 yards across from the beach, the water is only a few feet deep. Walk to the inside of the bay, where you will find a good spot for snorkeling. Be sure to snorkel a reasonable distance away from the windsurfers.
If you would rather spend the whole day at the beach, you could take a 20-minute drive by taxi from the cruise port to Sorobon Beach instead of taking the bus tour.
Bonaire Slave Huts
The Bonaire slave huts, built in the 19th century are world-famous. You have likely seen photographs of them even if you didn’t know exactly what they are.
They are a series of small, dark, and cramped stone huts that were built to house slaves who were working in the nearby salt pans. The huts are now a historical site and a reminder of the island’s history.
The small two-person stone houses have small doors and very low ceilings. The interior headroom is around 4 feet or so (only a little larger than the height of a 5-year-old child). It’s reported that these huts sometimes housed as many as six slaves.
The slave huts have been restored to their original state – although the original thatched roofs have been replaced with more durable coverings.
The Willemstoren Lighthouse
If you are fascinated by lighthouses, you will enjoy a stop at Bonaire’s first lighthouse, which was built in 1837. Since then, another four lighthouses have been constructed on the island. The Willemstoren Lighthouse was renovated in 2012 and is in good working order.
Visit The Bonaire Donkey Sanctuary
Enjoy a fun day visiting with donkeys that have been rescued, rehabilitated, and are now sheltered and protected. There are more than 400 donkeys at the Bonaire Donkey Sanctuary; most were sick, wounded, or orphaned when rescued.
The kids will enjoy petting and feeding the donkeys. Also, visit the gardens at the sanctuary, where you will see tortoises and iguanas among the lovely local plants. You can join a guided minibus tour, take a 10-minute taxi ride, or rent a golf cart in Kralendijk(a 5-minute walk) and drive to the sanctuary(6.3km).
The Bonaire Arts and Crafts Market
Just off the north pier in Wilhelmina Plaza, a 5-minute walk from the cruise port is the Bonaire Arts and Crafts Market. Browse the stalls of the more than 40 artists and crafters selling a beautiful selection of their items, all locally made. Enjoy some local food, tropical drinks, and exotic desserts. At the same time, you can listen to live music from some of the island’s musicians and singers.
Take A Bonaire EYE SEA Boat Trip (Klein Bonaire Island)
Take a fabulous trip on a glass-bottom boat and see the beautiful marine life at the bottom of the ocean as you travel to Klein Bonaire Island. The family can snorkel at various stops along the way; snorkel gear is provided by the tour guide. The duration of this trip is between 1.5 to 2 hours.
Klein Bonaire is a small uninhabited island about 0.8km from Bonaire. It is protected land and is home to turtle nesting grounds. One of the snorkeling spots is No Name Beach.
You can take a water taxi to No Name Beach on Klein Bonaire Island if you prefer not to take the boat tour. The water taxis travel from the cruise port to the island several times a daily.
The Bonaire – Rancho Washikemba Horse Ranch
Take an exciting trip to the Washikemba Horse Ranch, only 7.8km from the cruise port. You can book the Ride and Swim tour, which is suitable for first-time and advanced riders. You will be transported from the cruise port to the ranch, where you will meet your horse companion for the tour.
The ride (walking gait) will take you from the ranch to the beautiful Lagoon Bay, where you can swim and play with the horses in the sea. The guide takes a group of 5 people at a time, and a special package for a family can include lunch and transport to and from the cruise port.
Alternatively, you can travel by taxi to the Washikemba Horse Ranch.
Take A Bonaire Semi-Submarine Tour
The Bon Sea is a semi-submarine that will partially submerge into the crystal, clear waters of Bonaire. The vessel is spacious and air-conditioned and will provide you with breathtaking views of the island’s marine life like turtles, moral eels, and beautiful corals. A special outing for the whole family!
Visit The Bonaire Echo Conservation Center
Spend an hour at this conservation center learning more about the conservation programs to protect and preserve Bonaire’s beautiful nature. See the endangered, Yellow-shouldered Amazon Parrot as you follow the guide on a walk through a dry forest that has been replanted.
You will also learn more about the native tree species on the island. Wear shoes for off-road walking and bring along some water shoes on this trip. You can take a taxi to Dos Pos (20.1km), where the tour guide will meet you and take you to the Echo Conservation Center.
Take the family shopping at a few of the lovely shops in Kralendijk. A quick walk from Bonaire cruise port, here you will find unique gifts and beautiful souvenirs. There is something for everyone:
- Something Sweet Bonaire – the children will love this candy store!
- Addo’s Books and Toys – a large selection of books for divers and toys for the kids.
- I Love Bonaire Store – local Brand items, T-shirts, and more.
- Salt Shop Bonaire – is a fun shop offering unique and authentic salt-related products.
- GN Art – a local artist using recycled material to create beautiful treasures.
If you are lucky enough to stop at the Bonaire rruise port on your trip, you will not be disappointed. Dutch colonial architecture, coral reefs, flamingos ,and rich flora and fauna make this island a colorful and vibrant place to visit on your cruise.