Snorkeling Margate Bay – Great if the Weather Is Calm


This spot is on the southwest coast of Bonaire. Snorkeling Margate Bay is great, with shallow coral reef and many fish to see.

Most of the south end of the island is taken up by ponds used by the salt company to extract the salt, so there isn’t much land to break the dominant trade winds coming from the east. It is also near the southern tip of the island allowing the waves to wrap around the point affecting the whole area.

These things cause snorkeling Margate Bay, and all spots south of the white slave huts, to have waves and currents, especially when the winds are over 15 mph. In addition, the water entrance is difficult, so, this spot is best snorkeled on a low wind day so that the waves are smaller and the current is lighter.

Snorkeling Margate Bay, with a school of Blue Tang and other fish.

Water Entrance for Snorkeling Margate Bay

It is best to take advantage of the wind and left-to-right current when snorkeling Margate Bay and do a little drift snorkel. Take a look at the water with your polarized sunglasses and find the left edge of the dark shallow reef. Walk down the shoreline to where the dark patches of reef end. Get in there.

Water entrance for snorkeling Margate Bay

You will need good footwear for the iron-shore beach and entry. You will be navigating tricky rock shelves with some ankle twisting holes in them, fire corals growing on the top of them, and urchins living in some of those holes on your way into the water. Take your time walking in until it is deep enough to float and put on your fins. Again, this is not a good idea if there are waves.

Your exit will be similar just farther to the right. Again, take your time walking to shore and watch for waves.

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Where to Snorkel

After you enter to the left, drift with the wind and current back to the right weaving back and forth over the patches of shallow reef.

Variety of soft and hard corals at Margate Bay

Blurry Fish, Rotten Colors, Garbage Pictures

That does not look like what I saw! See our snorkeling camera pages for tips on selecting a good snorkeling camera, and how to use it for great pictures.

We saw many fish and quite a bit of coral while snorkeling Margate Bay. You can find Elkhorn Corals near shore, big patches of Staghorn Coral in mixed health, star, Mustard Hill, fire, brain, and finger corals, along with sea fans, sea rods, and sea plumes. Unfortunately there were many signs of bleaching or diseased corals, like there is on most of the island.

Elkhorn Coral at Margate Bay

There is a lot to see in about 10 feet of water, but ranges from 5 to about 15 feet. The visibility can be a little lower here because of the wind, waves, and current.

The top of the drop-off is deep, 35 feet, but you can swim out to it and check it out. There are some more soft corals as you go out to it.

Swim as far to the right as you have reef to explore, then head back toward shore to exit and walk back along the beach.

What We Saw While Snorkeling Margate Bay

Though there were many fish to see the variety was low. We saw schools of grunts, Blue Tangs and Doctorfish, chromis, and young parrotfish. We also saw a Whitemouth Moray Eel, squirrelfish, soldierfish, snappers, groupers, hogfish, damselfish, adult parrotfish, filefish, and butterflyfish.

The coral we saw while snorkeling Margate Bay are listed above in the Where to Snorkel section.

Variety fo fish and an eel at Margate Bay
Variety of fish and an eel at Margate Bay

Driving Directions

  1. Drive south out of Kralendijk on Kaya International toward the airport.
  2. Continue past the airport, past the intersection to Lac Bay and Sorobon Beach and through Belnem.
  3. You are now on EEG Boulevard. Shortly after Belnem, the road will turn to the left, come back near the water and you will start seeing the salt ponds on the left.
  4. You will pass the Salt Pier, some yellow painted boulders and the White Slave Huts.
  5. After the road curves to the left, keep your eyes out for the yellow painted boulders for Margate Bay. You can only park next to the road and walk to the shoreline.



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