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Compact and easy to navigate, the capital city of Bonaire, called Kralendijk, has just enough to keep you occupied for the day. As a stop on a Southern Caribbean cruise, Bonaire has one of the Caribbean’s most incredible reef ecosystems in Bari Reef and some of the best views of Krendalijk from the lookout point at the Sera Largu.
The signature bird of the island, the flamingo, is a protected species that you can see from the Flamingo Preserve on the southern tip of the island. Arguably, Bonaire’s best attraction is the variety of coral and the abundant scuba diving opportunities. On cruises to Bonaire, the island swirls with natural activity.
Since 1979, the Bonaire National Marine Park is home to a variety of dive sites that take scuba divers far into the ocean’s vast reef ecosystem. On cruises to Bonaire, you can spend your entire day in port diving along one of the best preserved coral systems in the world.
Yet another incredible dive site to see when you cruise Bonaire is Bari Reef, which has some of the greatest biodiversity in the Caribbean. Spot octopi, barracuda, tarpons, and other species as you dive.
While on your cruise, Bonaire and its history might be something you’re not too familiar with. Take the afternoon to explore the Terramar Museum, which offers an in-depth overview of the history of Bonaire along with thousands of years of Caribbean history.
Take a dip in the warm waters of Lac Bay, where you can swim, snorkel, and windsurf the entire day away. Beach bars and restaurants make for a relaxed afternoon filled with sipping a cold drink or lounging at the bay.
Seru Largu means “large hill,” and this lookout point offers the best possible view of Krendalijk and Klein Bonaire in the distance. It’s one of the most popular spots in Bonaire for New Year’s Eve and is great for witnessing a breathtaking sunset.
Bonaire’s official bird is the flamingo, and you can spot entire colonies and families of flamingos during your time on the island. The whole family will enjoy seeing these beautiful creatures in their natural habitat.
Bistro de Paris
Address: Kaya Gobernador N Debrot 46
Bistro de Paris brings French cuisine to Bonaire by offering savory and sweet crepes, frog leg, and foie gras on the dinner menu, plus a variety of vegan and vegetarian options. On Tuesdays, there’s live jazz, and Wednesday is burger night.
Address: Kaya CEB Hellmund 5, Kralendijk, Bonaire
If you’re craving Italian, head to the trendy Capriccio, which offers dozens of delicious, classic Italian menu items from tagliatelle bolognese to a fresh catch of the day marinated in olive oil and fresh herbs. There are also over a dozen options for pizza and an extensive wine list.
Address: Kaya Gobernador N Debrot 49, Kralendijk 3109, Bonaire
At Go Green, you’ll find vegan and vegetarian dishes inspired by Ayurvedic dietary practices. Try the coconut curry chili while you’re here. Every dish is crafted with organic, locally sourced, non-GMO ingredients.
Originally, what’s now known as Kralendijk was built as a defense to protect greater Bonaire. In 1499, the Spanish took occupation of the island of Bonaire. By the 1600s, the Dutch had claimed Bonaire for themselves. The island changed hands several more times until the 19th century. Today, Bonaire has a thriving tourism economy that also works to preserve the natural landscape of the island’s reefs and mangroves.
Cruises to Bonaire dock their ships in downtown Kralendijk, which is conveniently located near an open-air shopping market, public restrooms, shopping, bars, and restaurants. It’s an easy jumping-off point to continue on to excursions and activities from there.
It’s pretty easy to get around Kralendijk by foot since it’s compact and walkable. If you want to venture further into the island, renting a bicycle, car, or hailing a taxi are all good options to get around. There are also various water taxis available to take passengers to specific locations on the island.
There’s an open-air market near the terminal on cruises to Bonaire, which you’ll stumble upon as soon as you exit the port. There isn’t much in the way of luxury shopping here, but there are handy supermarkets and the Bonaire Gift Shop for souvenirs to bring back home with you. The main mall, Harborside Mall, has jewelry stores and department stores.
The official currency used in Bonaire is the U.S. dollar. Mastercard and Visa are the more widely accepted credit cards. While in Bonaire, leave a 10% tip for your taxi driver and a 10-15% tip at restaurants if there isn’t already a service charge included in your bill.