Bonaire has turned into an alternative sun seekers spot. No bright lights, fancy luxe shops or big billboards – the prime location there is the sea and the beach.
It is part of the Dutch Caribbean more popularly known as the “ABC islands” – Aruba, Curacao, and Bonaire.
Among the island trio it’s ‘the’ secret paradise isle that’s the lesser-known but boy does it have idyllic secret hideaway spots for any sun lover.
Everywhere is an easy drive from the Bonaire International Airport and getting to Bonaire has never been easier. American Airlines has direct service from Miami. United Airlines gets you there on a direct flight from Newark and Houston while Delta Airlines goes direct from its flagship hub in Atlanta. Check flight prices here.
Now here are Bonaire’s Secret Hideaway Spots for Four Kind of Sun Seekers:
Bonaire for the Diving Crowd
Ranked as one of the best dive destinations in the Caribbean, Bonaire also scores high on the sustainable clean side. The island nation has been practicing desalination for good clean drinking water plus the strict no-anchoring rule to preserve the coral reefs and other marine conservation long before the sustainability trend became en vogue.
Buddy Dive Resort
Sure the dive is the big feature at this large beachfront property but Buddy Dive Resort is also big on other outdoor pleasures from sport fishing to mountain biking and even windsurfing.
Cool features: The All-In Drive and Dive package has 7-days of pick-up truck or van rentals, with included daily buffet breakfasts, 6 days of unlimited air fills and a “Manager’s Rum Punch Party.” The McAir Drive-Thru, meanwhile, is a unique two-lane full-service air station for empty tank drop-offs and exchanges for full ones.
Rates: High season for a 1-night stay from $287. Check prices for your dates here.
Bruce Bowker’s Carib Inn
Now if your aim is to be more off-the-radar say into boutique sizes then this small dive-dedicated 5 Star PADI resort will be sure to please. Known for its highly personalized service, the diving crowd will have many memorable experiences.
It’s also considered as the property with the highest return guest percentage on Bonaire. Insiders there even go one step further to declare Bruce Bowker’s Carib Inn as one of the best in the Caribbean.
Why? You get good value for the rooms and great diving PLUS all the extra guest attention.
“We never advertise more than we can offer. We prefer to advertise less than we have so people are pleased when they see what they get,” says Liz Bowker, who owns The Carib Inn with husband Bruce.
Cool feature: Only 11 units with no plans for expansion, you get that home away from home feeling.
Rates: Standard room rates for double occupancy start from $129. Check reviews and prices here.
While Bonaire attracts the dive folks (you can tell judging by the license plate with its “Diver’s Paradise” signage) Bonaire has also morphed into a windsurfing hotspot. Something to do with the continual winds, sunshine and warm shallow waters – all the ingredients for perfect windsurfing conditions.
Sorobon Beach Resort Bonaire
This former nudist resort (a.k.a. clothing optional) since 2001 has turned family-friendly.
It’s also home to the Dunkerbeck Pro Center, a windsurfing school and rental spot opened by world champion windsurfer Bjorn Dunkerbeck who started this initiative with his windsurfing pal Philippe Bru. In the windsurfing world, Bru is the CEO and founder of the Philippe Bru Organization and the founder of the DefiWind. The world windsurfing event traveled two years across the Atlantic to the Caribbean with spots in Bonaire.
Located on the Sorobon Lagoon part of Lac Bay, the protected lagoon property has ample accommodations in every range. For stand-alone privacy, there are four chalet styles (Premium, Oceanfront, Ocean view, Cas Grandi), Honeymoon Suites, and Studios. Other accommodations are available at the Sorobon Boutique Hotel or in apartment styles like the Honeymoon Apartment or 1 or 2-bedroom apartments good for couples and families.
Cool feature: You get bragging rights here as you learn the intricacies of windsurfing at the Dunkerbeck Pro Center. After all, Denmark-born Bjorn Dunkerbeck is a 42 times PWA Windsurfing Champion!
Rates: Windsurf and Stay Packages start from $255. Check online here.
Bonaire has been ranked as the “Best Island for Snorkeling in the Caribbean” by the Caribbean Journal.
So pick a spot – in this case, snorkelers will find easy access to spot their favorite tropical fish including coral and so much more — so you won’t go wrong staying at any beachfront property in Bonaire. The shallow clear sea that hugs the shoreline is just one of the many fabulous features of this island gem. You will quickly discover open public beaches everywhere.
Bellafonte Luxury Oceanfront Hotel
For an upscale snorkeling experience you have to head to this premium oceanfront apartment hotel overlooking the sparkling blue Caribbean Sea.
Located in the quiet residential neighborhood Belnem, within 5 minutes from the small international Bonaire Flamingo airport you can snorkel in these shallow crystalline clear warm waters right in front of you.
Spectacular sunsets, rooms here are available as luxurious Studios, 1 and 2-bedroom apartment size suites and the fabulous private 2-Bedroom Penthouse that guarantees ocean view panoramas and more stunning sunsets.
Cool feature: It’s where the Dutch King and Queen stay.
Rates: Low Season from $225 and High Season from $275 – check your dates here.
Experience the true snowbirds as more migratory birds flock to this Caribbean island than actual snow birders. Bonaire hasn’t picked up on the snowbird phenomenon…yet. The popular travel moniker used to describe sun-deprived northerners swapping the cold winter blues for sunnier climes like Florida, Arizona or Texas should set their sights on this bird-friendly hideaway.
Over 190 species of birds are living on the island of Bonaire. The belle of the ball rightly goes to the prized pink Flamingos.
Caribbean Club Bonaire
An eco-friendly boutique resort situated at the foot of Bonaire’s hills welcomes many birds that come to roost amid the flowers and trees at this small secluded resort in the north part of the island.
Only a 10-minute drive the Goto Lake is flamingo central with guaranteed views of them. Other special birds include the Caribbean parakeet and the yellow-shouldered parrot, two indigenous birds found only in Bonaire. Click here for more bird watching details in Bonaire.
Cool feature: The stunning house reef makes for enjoyable views of the underwater world too.
Rates: Low Season from $47 and High Season from $51.50. See online prices here.
Booking in Bonaire
You can make your hotel booking by visiting each hotel website mentioned or by checking the online booking sites link. Room rates vary by season. For tourism information visit Tourism Bonaire
Photography by Ilona Kauremszky and supplied by the tourism board, who hosted the writer on a press trip.