Things to know and ideas for your own excursion on Bonaire
Don't touch or collect anything! The taking and export of corals and coral stones in any form is strictly prohibited on Bonaire.
- Cruise Ship Berths
In Kralendijk, cruise ships use the North Pier and South Pier berths, which are centrally located in the city. You won't find a cruise terminal, there are only jetties on site. Various tour operators offer their available tours in the harbour area. As the number of excursions is limited, it is often advisable to book in advance. A local tourist information office is located near the North Pier on Kaya Grandi Street. Papiamentu and Dutch are officially spoken on Bonaire and the ABC islands. However, many locals can also speak English well and the US dollar is the official currency.
- Shopping Opportunities
Adjacent to the North Pier is Wilhelmina Park, where a variety of traders offer their goods at small stalls. Most of them are fresh food and handmade art objects. You may also find a souvenir or two there. From the South Pier, it takes only about five minutes to reach the shady park. Most of the city's shops, cafés and restaurants are located on nearby Kaya Grandi Street. The church building standing by Wilhelmina Park dates back to 1847.
After the arrival of a cruise ship, there are usually a sufficient number of taxis waiting at the berth. These can be used for various transfers, for which fixed prices are offered for many destinations, which in turn apply per vehicle, i.e. for 1-4 people. In addition, most drivers also offer tours of the island, although these are charged per person. The north and south tours last two hours each and currently cost 25 US dollars per person. The three-and-a-half-hour island tour is somewhat more expensive at 40 USD per person.
- Terramar Museum
Not far from the moorings is the Terramar Museum. The small interesting exhibition gives the visitor an understanding of the historical development of the island. In addition, some archaeological finds are presented. It is open Monday to Saturday from 09:00-18:00. If a cruise ship has docked in Kralendijk, a visit is also possible on Sunday at the same times. Regular admission costs 10 US dollars per person from the age of 13. Up to the age of 12, admission is free of charge.
- Fish Market
A small covered area was built in 1935 on the ancient Greek model, and is still well worth seeing today. Situated slightly above the North Pier and directly on the water, the local fish market used to take place there. Today, the construction is mainly used by fruit and vegetable traders from nearby Venezuela to present their fresh goods.
- Fort Oranje
Between the two moorings, the lighthouse of the small Fort Oranje catches the eye. The fortress dates from 1639 and was intended to repel enemy attacks with the support of the four installed cannons. After it was built, the fort was inhabited for a good two hundred years by the island commander in office at the time. The massive lighthouse was added later and was erected in 1932 after the wooden version was removed. Today, the area is home to the harbour master's office, which also issues diving permits, among other things.
- Bonaire National Marine Park
The underwater world on the small island is worth seeing and popular with divers and snorkellers alike. One reason for this is the Bonaire National Marine Park (BNMP), which was established in 1979. This nature reserve encompasses all the waters around Bonaire and Klein Bonaire up to a water depth of 60 metres. That's about 27 square kilometres of area where nothing may be collected or touched. Don't touch or collect anything! Nature thanks you with a generous wealth of species. Among other things, it is home to over 350 different fish and 57 coral species.
- Dive Sites
Bonaire has 87 designated dive sites, 54 of which are close to the coast. To help you find them, large stones have been placed along the roads and paths, painted yellow and labelled with the name of the nearby dive site. A conservation fee is charged for the use of the Bonaire National Marine Park. The annual licence is available at all dive schools/dive shops, at the Kralendijk Tourist Information, at the relevant STINAPA offices and at some hotels and costs 25 USD. For 10 USD you can also get a day diving permit or a necessary, gladly checked licence valid for one year for all other water activities. Children under 12 and cruise ship passengers do not need a separate permit for water activities, as long as no scuba diving equipment is used.
- Washington Slagbaai National Park
In the north-west of the island is another nature reserve. The Washington Slagbaai National Park was established in 1969 with an area of 5643 hectares, on the territory of the former Washington Plantation. Many different plant and animal species can be discovered in this protected habitat. Among others, you can see free-living parrots, iguanas and flamingos. The latter can mainly be seen foraging at the Goto Sea. On some beaches, such as Playa Chikitu, you should be careful as sea turtles like to lay their eggs in the fine sand. The park is also home to Mount Brandaris, which, at 241 metres, is the highest point on the island. At the entrance to the park, a visitor centre with a museum has been set up to report on the past of the area and also to distribute current information.
The entrance area is about 21 kilometres from the moorings and you can allow about 30 minutes each way by rental car*. It is open daily from 08:00-17:00, with the last admission around 14:30. Admission or entry costs 25 US dollars each for those over 12 years of age. This fee is waived if you have already purchased a valid scuba diving licence and can provide proof of purchase with a receipt and identification document. Sufficient sunscreen, drinks and food should not be forgotten on a day trip, as there are no supply facilities in the WSNP.
On Bonaire and Little Bonaire, you can spend a beach day on one of the more than 22 beaches, some of which are quite beautiful. Often a nearby offshore reef offers good insights into the beautiful underwater world. Divers and snorkellers from all over the world are enthusiastic about the great wealth of species on the Caribbean island. Most of the beaches are located on the west coast of Bonaire and, with the exception of Harbour Village Resort Beach, are freely accessible. It is rarely overcrowded and sometimes you are well advised to have beach/swimming shoes with you.
- No Name Beach on Little Bonaire
The small, uninhabited island of Little Bonaire, located directly off Kralendijk, is well suited for a relaxing excursion. Shady spots are almost non-existent, but there are excellent diving areas, and the long No Name Beach in the north attracts visitors with its fine, soft sand for sunbathing. In addition to coral formations, a wide variety of colourful and sometimes larger fish can be seen in the water. There is also the possibility of meeting sea turtles in the shore area, which use the small island for their clutches of eggs.
Bathing shoes* should be packed along. Sometimes there are sharp-edged pieces of coral in the sand. Little Bonaire is part of the Bonaire National Marine Park and is therefore a protected area. You can get to the island by water taxi. The 20-minute crossing starts from the nearby jetty and is operated by several providers. They are often ready at the pier as soon as a cruise ship has docked. The cost per person is between 15 and 20 US dollars for the return journey. Ideally, you should arrange a fixed pick-up time with the boat driver in order to be back on time. Some also leave at fixed times.
- Flamingo Beach
From the southern berth, the nearest beach is only about a 5-minute walk away. At Flamingo Beach you won't meet the animals of the same name, but the associated Divi Flamingo Beach Resort & Casino provides a good infrastructure. Drinks and food are available on site and sunbeds and parasols are available for rent.
- Sorobon Beach
Sorobon Beach in the southeast is popular with tourists. The beach section at the huts of the Sorobon Beach Resort is particularly suitable for relaxing. Sunbeds are available here for 5 USD each and the round sunshade costs 10 USD. Cool and refreshing drinks are available at the beach bar. A jetty leads over sea grass and coral close to the shore, facilitating access to the extensive, turquoise, bellybutton-deep and warm water. A few metres away is a hot spot for windsurfers who like to take advantage of the constant breeze for short rides and appreciate the shallow water. It is usually a bit more crowded there and you can get into the shallow sea unhindered in some places. The local surf school rents out surfboards if needed and according to availability. Sorobon Beach is about 12 kilometres from the moorings. By taxi or rental car*, you can plan on a 15 to 20-minute drive one way and expect to pay around 20 US dollars each way for a taxi.
- Eden Beach
There is also a popular stretch of beach to the north of the moorings. Eden Beach has fine, white sand, shady palm trees and the Spice Beach Club is a good beach restaurant offering a full range of meals, snacks and drinks. Various water sports, sunbeds and umbrellas are available for a fee, and you can take a water taxi from the small jetty to the nearby island of Little Bonaire. The crossing takes about 10 to 15 minutes. Eden Beach itself is about 2.3 kilometres from the northern berth. This distance can be covered in 10 minutes by taxi or rental car*. A taxi for 1-4 people costs 10 USD one way. If you walk, it takes 30 to 35 minutes in each direction.
- Red Slave Huts
In the very south of Bonaire you will find the Red Slave Huts. These are former shelters used by slaves. The small huts were built in 1850, used by several inhabitants and served as weekly accommodation. The slaves worked in the nearby salt fields under the most difficult conditions. Today, of course, the restored huts are uninhabited and serve as a memorial, a reminder of darker times gone by. The Slave Huts are a good 17 kilometres from the cruise ship berths. For this distance and in each direction, you can plan a 25 to 30 minute drive by taxi or rental car*.
- Pink Beach, White and Yellow Slave Huts
On the way to the southern part of Bonaire, you reach the beach section of Pink Beach after about 12 kilometres. This beach has no infrastructure, but is very popular with divers because of the nearby reef. The beach got its name from the light pink colour of the sand. A little further south, you pass some former slave huts. The so-called White Slave Huts fulfilled the same function as the reddish huts five kilometres away. Between the small red and white buildings along the road are the Yellow Slave Huts. Four obelisks were also erected on the island, which were given different colours (red, white, blue, orange) and served as orientation aids for arriving ships.
- Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary
Amidst the adjacent salt lakes, a flamingo colony cavorts in the Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary. More than ten thousand of these graceful animals live in this nature reserve, which may not be entered by humans. Other species such as ospreys, cormorants and herons also feel right at home here. To observe them, a good pair of binoculars or a camera with a decent zoom lens is almost essential to get any kind of overview from the road. This can be done a little better from the lighthouse not far away, which offers a better view. The Willemstoren Lighthouse Bonaire is twenty metres high and was inaugurated in 1838.
- Excursion Portals and Excursion Providers
Via the tour and excursion providers GetYourGuide*, My Shore Excursions* and Viator*, you can book various excursions, activities, tours, tickets and entrance fees on Bonaire, which are often offered at much lower prices than comparable excursions by the shipping companies. Thus, if you book in time, you can realise a variety of excursions on your own.
A small pre-selection of shipping company-independent excursion offers
for, in and around Kralendijk,
we have put together here for you.
- Cruises and Special Offers
If you haven't booked a Caribbean cruise yet, but would like to get to know Bonaire personally and go on excursions on your own, you will find great offers with the major cruise operators in the German-speaking world. Aida*, Costa* and Tui Cruises - Mein Schiff* offer charming itineraries with their modern cruise ships, along with other interesting destinations. Book your next dream holiday directly with your favourite cruise line at fair conditions.
All ocean and river cruises can also be booked conveniently and inexpensively online with the cruise specialist Kreuzfahrten-Zentrale Astoria*. You can choose from a wide range of daily offers from various shipping companies. These include AIDA Cruises, Carnival, Celebrity Cruises, Costa Cruises, Cunard, Holland America Line, MSC Cruises, Norwegian Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean and TUI Cruises. The popular special offers are also attractive, with which you can travel particularly cheaply and possibly also get a great bargain.
- Post office opening hours: Monday to Friday from 08:00-12:00 and from 13:30-16:30.
- Bank opening hours: Monday to Friday from 08:00-16:00.
- Tourist information opening hours: Monday to Friday from 08:00-12:00 and from 13:30-16:30.
- Shop opening hours: Monday to Saturday from 08:00-18:00. Some shops close from 12:00-14:00.
- Country code: +599-(7)
- Police: Tel. 911
- Emergency doctor: Tel. 912
- Vaccination recommendation: Tropical Institute Bonaire
- City map: Kralendijk Map
- Climate chart: Bonaire climate
- Port occupancy: Cruise ships in Kralendijk
- Port occupancy: Registered cruise ships
- Local currency: US Dollar, 1 USD = 100 Cent
More port information of popular cruise destinations in the Caribbean