Bonaire Snorkeling Trip Report October 26 through November 10, 2012

by Tom & Jan Turner
(Jamestown, PA)

Manta Ray, Playa Pabou, Bonaire

Manta Ray, Playa Pabou, Bonaire

We wanted to share our Bonaire snorkeling trip report. On October 26th, my wife and I flew into Bonaire by way of Curacao. After picking up our reserved pick-up truck at AB Rental (a great place to rent a vehicle), we made it over to the apartment that we had rented for our first week on Bonaire. It was late, and the apartment manager suggested that we get barbecue at Bobbijans, which was just down the street from the apartment. It was great barbecue, and we ate there every weekend of our trip. Bobbijans is only open Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, and the prices are great. We highly recommend Bobbijans.

We were on Bonaire for 16 days, and we were able to snorkel 14 of them. We used Galen and Nicole's eBook for snorkeling Bonaire, and we never had a bad snorkel.

There was a calm for the first few days that we were there, so we took advantage of no wind and spent the first two days at Lac Bay. With no wind, there were no wind surfers, and we were able to access the snorkeling area with no conflict. What a way to start our trip. The coral is absolutely magnificent in Lac Bay, and the wildlife was tremendous. We saw really big queen parrot fish, the biggest french angelfish we have ever seen, two octopi, several eels (purplemouth and spotted), spotted file fish, many squid, two that were either fighting or mating (never saw that before), besides the huge abundance of reef fish that were present. It is really impossible to adequately describe the wonderful forest of soft coral, and the huge hard coral and really thick stands of staghorn coral that we swam around in at Lac Bay. If there are any calm days forecast while at Bonaire, spend it at Lac Bay.

The list of snorkel spots that we got to are as follows: Lac Bay, Karpata, Klein Bonaire (drift snorkel twice from the water taxi, and two drift snorkels in two different spots with Woodwind cruises. Woodwind cruise has a very reasonably priced snorkel outing with a very helpful and informative guide named Dee. Go on a day when there are no cruise ships.), Yellow Hut, Playa Pabou, Red Beryl North, Andrea 1, 18th Palm, Andrea 2, Margate Bay, Boca Slagbaai, Hidden Beach, Spice Beach, and the Salt Dock. Some places we went to twice.

We were able to night snorkel four times. Our first day on Bonaire, we went on a night snorkel with Renee at the Venezuelan Consulate. She is very helpful and informative. Then we went twice at the Divi Flamingo, and saw the biggest lobster that we have ever seen, besides all the other stuff like more eels than you really want to see. Then we went back to the Venezuelan Consulate on our own.

We were there during the rainy season. It rained once really hard during the day, and twice at night while we were asleep. We did have some murky water to deal with, and I assumed that it was mostly from the rain and runoff that occurred.

The worst spot that we snorkeled was 18th Palm. This was still a fine snorkel; the coral was pretty thin, but the fish and wildlife were wonderful. Saw a really big Barracuda, maybe 4 feet long. Spice Beach did not really have any coral to speak of, but there was tons of wildlife and a sunken sail boat. Saw a spotted eagle ray and a really big crevalle jack, more scorpion fish than we have ever seen (at least 12 different fish), and lots of the regular reef fish.

Some of the highlights of our trip, we saw turtles almost every day. We were up to about 25 turtles for the trip. We were able to get many good pictures of turtles. We saw several spotted eagle rays, all kinds of queen trigger fish, 2 big ocean trigger fish, file fish, parrot fish, coneys (saw a coney eat another fish), many eels, squid, damsel fish, trumpet fish, clouds of blue chromis, brown chromis and sergeant majors. Lots of black durgeons, schools of blue tang, trunk fish and cow fish, snook, lion fish, scorpion fish, barracuda, snapper, tarpon, crevalle jack, a big midnight parrot fish and a school of giant queen parrot fish at Andrea 1, margate and black margate, lots of porcupine and puffer fish, bonefish, bristleworms, red lip blenneys, palometas, got some good pictures inside of a bait ball, several spotted snake eels, many big barracuda around the salt dock, and the best of the trip was an eight foot manta ray that came by at Playa Pabou.

The captain of the Woodwind told us that Playa Pabou was a good spot to see a manta ray. We had already snorkeled there, but decided to go back on our last day to snorkel. Lo and behold, a manta ray came by and we got a pretty good picture of it. It was just cruising through, so we didn't get to see it for long, but it was great.

Some info for those who like to check out the local cuisine. We found lots of great seafood on the island. Some of it quite pricey, some of it very reasonable. We had fish and seafood every day and found it all to be very fresh, and never had a bad meal.

For local places that mostly cater to locals with very reasonable prices, we found four places: Bobbijans has a great barbecue, but the side dishes are lacking; the Rose Inn in Rincon, good food but very busy at lunch time; Divi Divi Bar and Restaurant (, good fish and good prices; and Mi Banana, one of the best fried snapper meals we had on the island, great prices and excellent food, not to be confused with My Banana.

For pricey spots that cater to tourists, Wils was very good, At Sea was one of the best meals we had on the island, It Rains Fishes was very good, Donna and Georgios was very good and a little different because of the Italian twist. Some places that were good and a little less expensive: Unbelievable had excellent fish, Kon Tiki had a good Fish and Chips, but they called it something Dutch, Paradise Moon was very good with a convenient location. We had pizza at the Buddy Dive Resort which was very good, but they do not have a good selection of toppings. We found the Sunset Grill, which had high recommendations, was closed for good.

We rented a pick up truck because of some of the bad roads to deal with, but found that the roads were fine except for Washington Slagbaai. The next time we go, we will rent a car, and if we decide to spend a day at Slagbaai, we will get a truck just for that day. Slagbaai is definitely worth seeing, but it does take all day and there is not a lot of time for snorkeling. If you want to snorkel in Slagbaai, I suggest using one day to see the park, and then going back and go directly to the snorkel spots. We saw a wild boar just outside of Slagbaai (which I guess is very rare to see one), many parrots, and, of course, lots of Flamingos.

We had a wonderful time at Bonaire. The snorkeling is as good as we have ever seen. We will definitely go back when the opportunity again arises. The only two downsides to our trip was the awkward way to travel there, and the way that you have to deal with the petty theft on the island. These are small items for the wonderful things there are to do at Bonaire.

Read Tom & Jan's 2015 Report

Comments for Bonaire Snorkeling Trip Report October 26 through November 10, 2012

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Nov 24, 2012
Wonderful Report!
by: Galen & Nicole

Thanks for sharing that great trip report you guys.

We also saw more turtles on our last trip, than the time before.

Thanks also for the restaurant info. We had the best meal of our lives at At Sea. Bummer to hear about Sunset Grill. It was a nice place to eat. We have also enjoyed Bobbijans.

It sounds like the rainy season did reduce your visibility, but it is normally very very good.

And just in case anyone wants to know, Spice Beach is near Eden Beach and Bari Reef.

Also, here are some links for anyone who wants to see a map and read more about getting out to the snorkeling in Lac Bay, and how to do the water taxi drift snorkel at Klein Bonaire, and more about our Bonaire Snorkeling Guide eBook.

Nov 24, 2012
by: Anonymous

The Manta photo is terrific!!! My Gary owns a Marriott time share and we have requested properties on both Bonaire and Curacao along with one on Grand Cayman as exchanges next year. I am excited to see which one comes through!

If we wind up in Bonaire, I will definitely be using Galen and Nicole's guide as well as your review for planning our trip!! Thanks so much!

Nov 25, 2012
Bonaire--- Beats Hawaii and Belize {to me}
by: debbieo

I second everything in the trip report!!! Ohhhh I wanna go back to Bonaire! Spent 14 days in Bonaire in the spring of 2011. Snorkeled every day but one, the day we explored the park.

Galen & Nicole's ebook helped to make our 40th anniversary the best memory ever. No wondering where to enter or exit the water- nor how hard those entrances and exits would be (knee replacement). Every location had amazing sights to see--and I knew exactly how to locate each one of them.

The night snorkel with Dee was a brave new world to see and learn about. Now, we are not tied to land in the night.

The Woodwind is a great ride to parts of the reef I would not have seen, at a reasonable price and the education and food was a great bonus.

Klein Bonaire--I went twice and was sad there was no time for more. Just lay there and the beautiful coral just passes below you. If you ask the taxi man will drop you father up the reef than normal spot and drop your stuff (towels water) at the other end. Take enough water to bathe your face off. In fact keep several containers of water in your vehicle to bathe off after a snorkel.

Do not miss the trip through the mangrove. Snorkeling there was a eyes wide open experience. Try to go first, as the sand will get stirred up and visibility lessened if you are at the back of the line. Gigantic fish, colorful sponges, and the eeriness of being in the roots.

There are lots of great places to rent on Bonaire and it is never far to an amazing snorkel spot. We used Flipkey to locate ours. I think we would rent a truck again.

This spring we stayed 2 weeks at Glover's Atoll Belize with Slickrock Adventure. It WAS simply a once in a lifetime adventure-- with new reefs to explore every day, fresh Lion fish for appetizers- but the reefs of Bonaire seemed, to me, more vibrant, and teeming with life. And even on an island in the middle of 100's of patch reefs I felt it was easier to reach a great, if not better reef, from the shores of Bonaire.

I am researching our next spring adventure. Roatan or maybe Grand Cayman. I am not sure that we can top Bonaire.

Thank you Galen & Nicole. Your ebook was the tipping point in making my decision to visit Bonaire. Snorkel on and hopefully I will be following in the wave of your flippers!

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