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Where to Stay in Bonaire
At roughly 113 square miles, Bonaire is far from the smallest of the Caribbean islands, but very little of the island has been developed to support the tourist trade. Almost all of Bonaire’s accommodations can be found along a roughly three-mile stretch of beach on the West Coast, in and around the capital city of Kralendijk.
Near the island’s northwest corner, a mile inland from the West Coast, the town of Rincon has a few lodging options and is a good place to look for cheap hotel deals in Bonaire.
The Sorobon Beach area a few miles southeast of the airport also has some resorts, but because this beach is on the East Coast where the waters are substantially choppier, the area is less popular among divers. Windsurfers and kiteboarders, however, turn to the East Coast to catch a wave.
Bonaire Hotel Tips
Almost every resort and hotel in Bonaire is affiliated in one way or another with a diving operation; some are essentially intensive diving schools with a handful of simple bedrooms, while others have a more comprehensive array of resort amenities that includes excursions with diving guides. Because so many visitors to the island spend most of their time in boats and underwater, no-frills guesthouses are more common in Bonaire than on most other Caribbean islands. If the draw of diving and snorkeling is what has you looking into Bonaire hotels in the first place, you may well want to base your decision on which establishment has the best diving services rather than which one has the best spa, restaurant or swimming pool.
Aside from the resorts, hotels and diving operations with guesthouses, there are beach shacks, condos and villas for rent in Kralendijk and some of the other towns. If you choose one of these, chances are that you’ll be on your own as far as making diving arrangements is concerned. The advantages of these properties include greater privacy and, if you choose wisely, larger rooms and lower nightly rates.
Bonaire Hotel Recommendations
The crown jewel of Bonaire resorts is the Harbour Village Beach Club, an upscale all-suite property with a world-class health and beauty spa. It also has a lush sandy beach, a real rarity in Bonaire, where most beaches are rocky and treated as mere stepping stones to the water. A full-service marina and guided diving excursions are on the list of features, but this is one of the few places where many visitors come simply to enjoy a relaxing or romantic getaway.
If you plan to be too busy diving to enjoy a host of amenities but still want a luxurious room, the Bellafonte Chateau de la Mer is your best bet. Besides a swimming pool and hot tub, there are no major amenities, but the rooms are contenders for the most comfortable and stylish on the island. Reserve an oceanfront room where you can stand on the huge balcony and survey the sea, as well as the long pier from which you can go diving just steps from the hotel doors.
One of the most popular resort-run diving programs is Divi Dive Bonaire, run by the Divi Flamingo Resort. Guides and experts cater to divers of all skill levels, and guests can even take guided snorkeling and kayaking tours. Rooms, suites and studios are bright and airy, and the resort has two great restaurants and the only casino in Bonaire.
There’s no public transportation system in Bonaire, so most visitors rent a car or stick to taxis to get around during their stay. Car rentals are generally affordable and package discounts are often available to those who book their hotel and rental car together, but gasoline prices are highly inflated.
Taxis are plentiful and available around the clock. They do not use meters, but rather charge flat rates based on zones of travel. These are fairly affordable during the day, but increase by 50% late at night. If you take a taxi to your hotel after your flight to Bonaire, expect the fare to be between $9 and $20, depending on the distance from the airport.
If you’re comfortable getting around on two wheels, motor scooters are available for rent at much cheaper rates than rental cars.