Bonaire is an off-the-beaten-path island destination in the Caribbean with beautiful beaches, natural wonders, and colorful architecture.
Bonaire is a tiny Caribbean island known for its unsurpassed natural beauty, making it a photo-worthy destination for the Instagrammer in all of us. Located in the southern part of the Caribbean near Aruba and Curacao, Bonaire has stunning turquoise oceans, colorful buildings, and magical underwater surprises that will wow your followers.
The Pink Salt Lakes
Travelers are scrambling to Bolivia, Spain, and Australia to see their pink lakes, so why not break from the mold and start a new trend by adding a shot of Bonaire’s pink lake to your Instagram? Salt is a major industry in Bonaire and it’s this industry and the process of evaporating sea water that has resulted in the pink lakes. Known as the Salt Pans, the pink lakes are located on the southern side of the island. Visitors pull over on the side of the road to admire the clear blue ocean on one side and the pink lakes on the other, framed in the background by large white salt pyramids of harvested salt.
INSIDER TIPThe pink lakes pop in color at sunset or at 2 p.m. when the sun hits the white salt pyramids and reflects on the uninterrupted pink surface of the lakes.
The Bonaire National Marine Park
The Bonaire National Marine Park surrounds the entire island of Bonaire and is one of the most spectacularly-preserved underwater environments in the world. Whether you’re scuba diving or snorkeling, visitors to the Bonaire National Marine Park will be astounded by coral that comes in every color from yellow to purple, along with about 470 species of fish like frogfish, sharpnose puffer, and ocean triggerfish. While it may require a special underwater camera, the clear waters and the colorful world of coral and fish of the of the Bonaire National Marine Park is sure to get top likes on your Instagram feed. And if you capture video of a seahorse or a sea turtle, be ready to go viral.
Gotomeer is a saltwater lagoon in the north section of Bonaire and it’s a delightful surprise for those who come across it. Sometimes called Goto Lake, it is one of the few sites where pink flamingos nest, and is thereby protected by the government, preventing visitors and locals from using the lake in any capacity. This has allowed for a pristine environment for the pink flamingos to breed and live, an environment that tourists can capture on camera as they drive to Rincon, the oldest town on the island. There’s even an observation area along the paved access road next to the lagoon that places Gotomeer and its pink flamingos in front of the hills of the Washington Slagbaai National Park, making for an awesome shot.
Most of the beaches in Bonaire are covered in calcified coral remnants from the coral-filled waters of the Bonaire National Marine Park, so white sandy beaches are a precious commodity. It’s no surprise then that Sorobon Beach is a beloved destination. The sandy, corral-free shallow waters extend far out into the ocean and are filled with swimmers and windsurfers zipping by with different colored sails. There’s a small restaurant, Hang Out Beach Bar, on Sorobon Beach that sells brightly-colored frozen drinks and local and international snacks. Whether you’re laying on a lounger, sitting at the restaurant, or relaxing in the shallow turquoise waters, you won’t be able to stop snapping away on your camera.
Dutch for “Little Bonaire,” Klein Bonaire is an uninhabited island off of Bonaire that’s only accessible by boat. It’s home to a great selection of off-shore dive sites and is popular among locals on the weekends who hang by the coast on a boat with drinks and food. Those who visit will be surprised to find plants and animals not present on Bonaire. If nature shots–both on land and under the sea–delight your Instagram audience, then Klein Bonaire is the perfect place for you.
Lac Bay’s Mangroves
Lac Bay’s Mangroves are filled with three different species of mangrove trees that line crystal blue waters of a bay near the ocean. As one of the best-preserved mangrove forests in the Caribbean, kayaking through Lac Bay’s Mangroves makes for a stunning experience and great photo opportunities. Thanks to the preservation of the mangroves, birds are plentiful here and large areas are covered with seagrass, which allows the bay to have clear waters and be home to queen conch shells, baby rays, baby seahorses, and lobster. Tourists should bring cameras for above and below water, as those who take tours can snorkel and capture as many beautiful sights underwater as they can kayaking above.
Seru Largu may not be the tallest point on Bonaire, but it offers unsurpassed views. Set in the northern part of the island, Seru Largu literally means “large hill,” so it’s no surprise that it has great views of the capital, Kralendijk, and Klein Bonaire. It’s primarily recognized by a large golden cross on the top of the hill and the words, “Kristu Ayera Awe Semper.” In the local Papiamentu language, it means “Christ, Yesterday, Today, and Forever.” If you happen to be visiting during New Year’s Eve, head here for the best shots of fireworks.
1,000 Steps Beach
One of the most popular off-shore scuba diving sites is 1,000 Steps Beach. After parking off the side of the road, travelers will find a steep stone staircase that leads down–what feels like 1,000 steps–to a beach full of calcified coral. The stark gray stairway set against the beach and bright blue ocean makes for an attractive shot. Standing at the top of the stairs, you can capture photos of the cliffs and the shoreline, too.
Washington Slagbaai National Park
Washington Slagbaai National Park is a nature sanctuary home to endangered species, hiking opportunities, and great beaches. Whether you’re touring by car, mountain biking, or hiking in the park, you’ll catch sight of animals like flamingos, iguanas, and rare birds, as well as saltpans, blowholes, sand dunes, and mangroves. It has some of the highest hills on the island, some of which offer a special opportunity for a cool shot of the mountain range in Venezuela separated from Bonaire by miles of sparkling blue water. Be sure you have enough space on your camera to capture all that Washington Slagbaai National Park has to offer.
INSIDER TIPIf you didn’t capture every amazing beach, blowhole, or colorful flamingo on your phone in one visit, remember that the $25 entrance fee is good for an entire calendar year.
The Cadushy Distillery is a unique distillery in that it distills alcohol from cacti, a plant that covers most of the arid island of Bonaire. Those that make their way to this distillery in Rincon will be delighted to find a perfect Insta-worthy spot to spend the afternoon. The distillery’s patio is filled with ancient Calbas trees, Lora parrots, colorful signs and chairs, and funky artwork that all come together to create an engaging shot that will have your followers double tapping. When you’re not taking photos in the yard, your camera will be pointed at the colorful Cadushy liqueur that comes in bright colors like green, yellow, red, and blue. A boomerang video when you cheers with the colorful Cadushy liqueur is a must for your Insta-story.
The Donkey Sanctuary
Donkeys may not be regal like horses, but when you come across over 700 in one sanctuary, it’s hard not to capture their adorability in a photo or two. The Donkey Sanctuary is a non-profit on the island of Bonaire created by owner Marina Melis to protect the donkeys that bred and multiplied after being left by the Spanish hundreds of years before. Melis allows tourists in the Donkey Sanctuary for a fee, which goes toward paying for the donkeys’ food and upkeep. Visitors can drive through the sanctuary by car, scooter, or bike or walk, and feed the donkeys a carrot or two. It’s a perfect experience for the ‘Gram, as you’ll have donkey snouts fighting for your camera’s attention as soon as you enter the gates.
Courtyard by Marriott Bonaire Dive Resort
Tired of plain Caribbean hotels that don’t provide that the perfect shot for a good Insta-post? That’s not the case with Courtyard by Marriott Bonaire Dive Resort. The rooms of this hotel are set within houses painted in bright colors that look like they were plucked from a Dr. Seuss book. The colorful houses line a paved pathway from the lobby to the pool and come in pastel colors of pink, yellow, blue, and green that pop against white trim and landscaped floral gardens. Guests often take photos on the pathway, which allows them to be framed by the colorful homes in a truly spectacular shot.
INSIDER TIPThere are plenty of other Insta-worthy shots to be found at the Courtyard by Marriott Bonaire Dive Resort like the infinity pool that seems to flow into the bay or the hot tub at night when the tiki torches are lit and the moon and stars twinkle above.