Bonaire is not noted for its beaches; the sand is usually full of coral and rather hard on the feet, and those on the leeward coast are narrow. Beaches in front of some hotels have been helped with extra sand. However, they do offer peace and quiet, and you will not get pestered by people trying to sell you things.
Recommended are Sorobon (a private, nudist resort where non-guests pay US$10 for admission), Lac Bay which has an area of mangroves at the north end of the bay, and in the northeast Playa Chiquito. Be careful at Playa Chiquito, or Chikito, there is a memorial plaque there for good reason. The surf is strong and it is dangerous to swim but it is pleasant for sunbathing. Another reasonable, but shadeless beach is Pink Beach, south of Kralendijk, past the Salt Pier, the water is shallow and good for swimming but the strip of sand is narrow and gritty.
In the Washington-Slagbaai National Park are two attractive bays:
Playa Funchi, which is good for snorkelling, but has no sand and no facilities so the area is very smelly.
Boca Slagbaai, which is popular with tour boats for snorkelling and you can see flamingoes wading in the salinja behind the beach.
At the latter, there are clean toilets and showers in a restored 19th century house and salt barn (ask the attendant to open them for you) and drinks and snacks are available. A very pleasant break in a hot and sweaty tour round the National Park. Fishing, sailing, windsurfing and waterskiing are all popular as an alternative to diving, which is what most people come to Bonaire to enjoy.
You can charter a fishing boat through your hotel and arrange half or full day trips with tackle and food included. Bonaire has good bonefishing and also deep sea fishing. Two independent charter companies are Piscatur, run by Captain Chris Morkos, T8774, F4784, half day US$275 for four people, US$425 full day in 30-foot diesel boat, or US$125 half day for two people, US$225 full day in 15-foot skiff; and Slamdunk, a 30-foot Topaz, T5111 Captain Rich at the Marina, same rates but for six people. Captain Freddy, T5661, F5662, has a boat for charter which can be equipped for fishing, or you can cruise to the Venezuelan Islands. Captain Bob, T7070, F7071, also does fishing charters, half or full day, with his boat Its About Time. Fishing boats with diving gear can be chartered from Club Nautico, Kaya Jan NE Craane 24, T5800, F5850/1. There is an annual Bonaire International Fishing Tournament, held at the end of March, which attracts participants from throughout the Americas.
The annual Bonaire Sailing Regatta is held in mid-October. This has grown into a world class event with races for seagoing yachts, catamarans, sunfishes, windsurfers and local fishing boats. The smaller craft compete in Kralendijk Bay, while the larger boats race round Bonaire and Klein Bonaire. Held over five days, the event attracts crowds and hotel reservations need to be made well in advance. For information call the Regatta office, T7425/5555, F5576. There is also an annual Nautical Race in November for small boats. Speed races are held in Kralendijk Bay. The Marina at Harbour Village is the only facility of its kind in Bonaire. There are 60 slips for boats up to 110 feet with showers, laundry, fuel, waste disposal etc, and has a 120-ton syncrolift and supply shop for repairs.
Sailing trips with snorkelling and beach barbecue, often on Klein Bonaire, or sunset booze cruises, from US$25 per person plus 10 percent service, are offered on Samur (PO Box 287, T5592, F6677, sam...@bonairenet.com), a 56-foot Siamese junk built in Bangkok in 1968, based at the Sand Dollar Dive and Photo, with pick up service from most resorts. Others include Oscarina, a 42-foot cutter, T8290, 8819, and the Bonaire Dream, a glass bottom boat which sails out of Harbour Village Marina, tickets available in hotels, Bonaire Book Store, La Sonrisa Soda Fountain, Super Corner or T8239, 4514, F4536. Several charter yachts offer trips as far as the Venezuelan islands, eg Sea Witch, contact Capt Robert, T5433, F7359 or cell phone (5999) 560 7449, PO Box 348, a dive master who carries dive gear on board and takes a maximum of four guests on his 56-foot ketch; Woodwind is a 37-foot trimaran offering sailing and snorkelling around Bonaire, T8285, cell phone 560 7055; Bonsail Charters go wherever you want, T5999-607159 or F5398.
Conditions are ideal for windsurfing with winds of 15-25 knots in December-August and 12-18 knots in September-November. On the leeward side offshore winds allow you to sail to Klein Bonaire. At Lac Bay on the windward side of the island where the water is calm and shallow, there is a constant onshore wind. The bay is about three miles long and one and a half miles wide but a coral reef just outside the bay breaks up the waves. However, the adventurous can get out of the bay at one end where long, high waves enable you to wave ride, jump or loop. Jibe City (closed September) run by Ernst Van Vliet, is a BIC/TIGA Centre and has the latest models and Gaastrasails with retail shop and Hangout Bar. Lessons from US$45 per hour, rentals from US$20 per hour, US$265 per week. Windsurfing rentals and instruction are available on both sides of the island along with kayak, sunfish, mini speed boats, water skiing, sea biscuit rides, small hobie cat, waterscooters, waterskiing, hydrosliding and paddle boats. Many dive shops rent kayaks, quite a good way of getting to Klein Bonaire without a boatload of other people. Jibe City rents kayaks for a whole or half day, T5233, F4455, www.jibecity.com. Sand Dollar Dive & Photo offers courses, guided trips and rentals of various models of sit-in or sit-on-top kayaks.