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Snorkeling Bonaire


Photo/Susan Davis

Quick-Jump List:

Bonaire's Guided Snorkel Experience
The Guided Snorkel Sites
Other Great Snorkeling Sites
Klein Bonaire Sites
Click on a section on the map to jump to enlarged section map or use the quick-jump list to view the snorkeling sites.


Worldwide, snorkelers outnumber divers by a wide margin. In fact, less than 50 percent of Bonaire's visitors are scuba divers, proving that you don't have to go scuba diving to enjoy Bonaire's beautiful marine park.
If you can swim, you can put on a mask and start enjoying the wonderful sea creatures and coral formations. You will be able to float effortlessly and observe the feeding and courtship rituals of the reefs many residents. There is nothing in Bonaire's water that is dangerous, but be careful not to touch anything, because you may harm it and disturb the delicate natural balance of the reef.

Snorkeling is great entertainment for all members of the family, no matter what the age. Be sure to protect yourself against the sun by using a waterproof sunblock, especially on your shoulders and the backs of your legs.

Night snorkeling is another experience that should not be missed. Everything changes at night. All that is needed is a flashlight and some protection for exposed arms and legs. Night snorkeling can be done in any area you are familiar with (explore it during the day first). Enjoy the wonders of the ever changing ocean at night while some fish are sleeping and other critters are just starting their "day."

Bonaire's Guided Snorkel Experience

One of the most successful programs that Bonaire has to offer is the unique Bonaire Guided Snorkel Experience. A number of sites have been chosen, representing a cross section of Bonaire's reef life. Most of the sites are accessed from shore, while some involve short boat trips. Whichever suits you, they all begin with an informative presentation, providing an overview and introduction to that particular snorkel site. After the orientation, a trained guide leads the group on a guided snorkel, pointing out all sorts of marine life and behaviors.



The Guided Snorkel Sites

You can snorkel just about anywhere in the relatively calm waters off Bonaire. The following are locations that have been selected for the Bonaire Guided Snorkel Program.

MANGROVES | 1000 STEPS | CLIFF
JUST A NICE DIVE | NO NAME (Playa Neme)


MANGROVES
Located on the eastern side of Bonaire in Lac Bay at Sorobon. There is easy shore entry from the sandy beaches next to the fishermen's dock. Snorkelers will see upside down jellyfish (Cassiopea xamachana) and baby barracudas.

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Photo/Julie Morgan
1000 STEPS
A beautiful, panoramic vista awaits snorkelers as they descend the steps down to the beach. Enter the water from the sandy patches and swim to your right, where you will be in shallow water. Snorkelers will see a variety of submerged ironshore formations where fish congregate in the recesses, small overhangs and small cave sections of the rocks. Huge schools of Stoplight Parrotfish are here, along with all members of the angelfish family, such as Blue Tang, Doctorfish and Ocean Surgeonfish. Observant snorkelers can watch them feeding on an abundance of new algae growth.
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Out towards the dive buoy are extensive coral formations in very clear water, where Black Durgeons and White-spotted Filefish can be seen along with huge French Angelfish. Turtles are also seen here, and this is the only site where Night Sergeants (they look like Sergeant Majors on steroids) can be seen in the surf zone of the shallows. There is also an abundance of hard corals and purple tube sponges. ( See dive site #17 on Bonaire map.)
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Photo/Julie Morgan
CLIFF
Accessed from boat or shore, this site is a great introduction to snorkeling Bonaire. It marks the beginning of a change in the topography of the island, so as you move about the site, note the underwater changes as well.( See dive site #26 on Bonaire map.)
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JUST A NICE DIVE
This is a top rated Klein Bonaire site, but it is accessible only by kayak or boat. The top of shelf is in two to three feet of water, and snorkelers enjoy weaving in and out of the isolated large brain corals and prolific colonies of gorgonians. This site is good for spotting angelfish, a least six different species of parrotfish, surgeonfish, butterflyfish and, occasionally, turtles out a little deeper. ( See dive site D on Klein Bonaire map.)
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NO NAME (Playa Neme)
This is a classic snorkel site located just off Klein Bonaire. It is one site on Klein that lends itself for a beach entry, although you will need a water taxi or other boat to get there. Perfect for first time boat snorkelers, there are generally large schools of fish in the sandy shallows. ( See dive site A on Klein Bonaire map.)
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Other Great Snorkeling Sites

Snorkeling is not limited to Bonaire's Guided Snorkel Program. The accessible shore diving applies to snorkelers as well, and many of dive sites offer great snorkeling. Below is a quick description of some of these sites on Bonaire and Klein Bonaire with the snorkeler in mind.

Karpata | Oil Slick Leap | Front Porch
Something Special | Windsock | Sorobon Reef



Photo/Janice Huckaby
Karpata
There is easy entry along the old concrete pier for both divers and snorkelers. The water is wonderfully clear here, even in the shallows, and there are beautiful elkhorn coral formations on your right after entering. There is a large variety of fish, and many snorkelers report frequent turtle sightings. ( See dive site #10 on Bonaire map.)

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Oil Slick Leap
An interesting system of open caves along the shallows awaits snorkelers. Entrance is made by climbing down a metal ladder. Since the area borders an ironstone shore with no sandy beach area, the visibility is above average. The shallows boast good growths of gorgonians with large numbers of Flamingo Tongue shells clinging to the branches. ( See dive site #20 on Bonaire map.)
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Photo/Tim Peters
Front Porch
Entering Eden Beach and taking the right hand turn into the parking lot of the now closed Sunset Beach Property accesses this site. The access is quite easy and by either traveling either north or south, you will encounter a large variety of fish. This is one of the sites of beginners to get their fins wet.( See dive site #31 on Bonaire map.)
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Something Special
A good drift snorkel going north towards Dollar. Snorkelers have identified 75 to 80 species of fish on one trip. Be sure to enter on the Kralendijk side of the marina and check out the huge fill-rocks along the side of the open pagoda across the marina entrance from Balandra Restaurant at Harbour Village. To access from shore, take the dirt road just prior to the Marina heading North. Follow it to the waters edge. ( See dive site #32 on Bonaire map.)
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Photo/Tim Peters
Windsock
An easy entry for beginners with lots of Elkhorn and fire corals that pierce the surface and serve as hiding places for a multitude of fish. The best snorkeling is to enter at the north end of the beach and head toward Plaza Resort. Located just south of the airport near the start of the runway, hence its name. It can be reached either from shore or a boat. Occasional rays and turtles. ( See dive site #36 on Bonaire map.)
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Sorobon Reef
The shallows will reward snorkelers with views of countless juveniles as well as a multitude of colorful adults. It lies inside of the flinging reef, which protects the entire windsurfing bay at Lac. Drive along the fence before reaching Sorobon Beach Resort. You need to cross the knee-deep water to reach the snorkeling area. If one heads towards the swimmers platform and then straight out towards the exposed Elkhorn Coral, a well formed reef system will reward you. The area is rich with fish life as well as large patches of Elkhorn and other coral species. Special Note: If local conditions are not favorable (high winds or large waves), this site is for strong swimmers only.
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Klein Bonaire Sites


Bonheur de Betsy (Rock Pile)
This site is boat or kayak accessible. It features an extensive shelf of gorgonians, beautiful isolated Boulder Star Corals and huge, isolated Brain Corals heads. The shallows have beautiful white sand as do most sites on the south of Klein Bonaire. ( See dive site I on Klein Bonaire map.)

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Photo/Julie Morgan
Captain Don's Reef and South Bay
Both of these sites are tucked into a bay on the south side of Klein and are accessible by boat. There is lots of sugar sand in the shallows and extensive gorgonian forests. Beautiful coral formations are out a little deeper. ( See dive sites K and L on Klein Bonaire map.)
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