Snorkel straight off the pier or scoot across to a world-class windsurf spot from these hotels in Bonaire.
Tiny Bonaire, with its desert-like landscape, sits just above South America – part of the ABCs – alongside Aruba and Curaçao. Pancake-flat and rugged, the Dutch island lures active and independent travelers who stop by to see the flamingos on its lunar-like salt pans. However, the real treasure is in the water. With near-constant trade winds and warm shallow waters, it’s a world-class windsurfing destination. Similarly, divers and snorkelers flock to explore one of the world’s oldest marine reserves accessible from the shore. Here’s our guide to the best hotels in Bonaire, bookable with Culture Trip.
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Drop off your suitcase, and get your diving gear on. This property, which resembles a little village of its own, is less than a mile from Bonaire International Airport, meaning you can start your holiday as soon as you land. As the name suggests, the main draw for this property is its access to over 100 dive sites – each room has space for drying out your gear. The hotel’s diving partner can organize trips for novices to pros alike. The water theme continues in the spacious, simple rooms, with decor themed around the ocean, alongside luxury comforts such as pillow-top mattresses.
How many hotels can boast their own reef? Enjoy independence and privacy at this luxury boutique hideaway, where the apartment-style accommodation fronts the water and its own private pier. Befitting of one of the best shore diving destinations in the world, there’s direct access to the marine park from the Bellafonte – or simply relax on one of the pier’s loungers. However, with the airport just five minutes away, expect some occasional noise from landing jets. Though the property is fully serviced, opt for a deluxe suite for longer stays or if you need a full kitchen, though the standard category does include a kitchenette with fridge and microwave.
A dream for diving fanatics – and the people forced to travel with them – this resort makes balancing relaxation with underwater exploration a breeze. For the non-divers, there are two freshwater pools with cabanas, a spa and salon, and a casino. The island’s capital of Kralendijk, with its restaurants, shops and craft markets, is also just a five-minute walk away. While there’s only a small beach to speak of, the cheerful two-story balconied rooms are right on the water. Divers will appreciate the on-property dive school, custom boats, gear storage lockers and a fully equipped dive shop, as well as shore access to the reef from the hotel’s piers. What more could you ask for?
Family-run, adults-only and situated in a quiet neighborhood on an unpopulated stretch of coast, One Ocean is where to go if you want a restful break. With four no-nonsense, self-catered apartments in neat two-story blocks, or a beach villa for six, you can live as the locals do at your own pace. There’s a private dive gear storage room for all, as well as a rinse tank and outside shower. While there’s no communal pool, you will find a plunge pool – but who needs a pool when the ocean is right there? Rooms are clean, simple and contemporary. Pick the two-bedroom penthouse for its 430sqft (40sqm) sun deck, ocean view and full kitchen.
Watch a passing dolphin pod splash by as you enjoy your morning cereal. All of the 22 apartments at the Belmar have an ocean view and either a patio or a terrace, meaning you don’t need to venture out for sundowners with a view. All apartments are self-catered and have a full kitchen, but the focus here is still very much on service. Pick the brains of the friendly staff for ideas for non-dive days, or grocery shopping. Though the mineral-based swimming pool is fun, you haven’t truly experienced Bonaire without a swim or dive in the private house reef, Sara’s Smile, from one of two piers. Forgot something? There’s also a dive shop on site.
Foodies rejoice. Brass Boer, the on-site beachside restaurant at trendy Delfins, has both food and views to die for. If locally caught seafood isn’t for you, head for champagne sundowners on the venue’s private stone jetty. With over 116 apartments, from studios up to 13 villas, there’s plenty of choice when it comes to accommodation. Decor is slick, with polished concrete floors, dark wooden beams and splashes of aqua. All the options, even the studios with their microwave, fridge and coffeemaker, include cooking facilities. Book an over-water cabana for a day at the pool – or spread out on the resort’s expansive beach. With the island’s coastline fairly rugged, a stretch of sand on your doorstep is a rarity.
Look out for the tropical mockingbirds this luxury bed and breakfast is named after while you’re on Bonaire. You’ll see them flitting about as you traverse the island. Quiet, stylish and funky, this boutique B&B has just four guest rooms, all with beach towels and Nespresso machines provided. Located in a quiet residential area, you’re not on the water like many other properties on our list, and there’s no pool, but it’s just a short walk to the beach or the shops and bars of downtown Kralendijk. After all, the real reason to stay is the warm welcome of the owners, who promise you won’t have to think about a thing during your break. Book the spacious studio for a longer stay.
If lolling in the colorful hammocks under palm-thatched roofs at the Windhoek doesn’t make you feel like you’ve gotten away from it all, nothing will. Exuding tropical glamour – just not Caribbean glamour – this resort, inspired by Bali, was designed by noted Dutch architect Piet Boon. Twelve single-story villas surround the large central pool, while a further two larger villas boast their own. Rooms feel exceptionally private, wrapped with green palms and red jungle flame. Windsurfing paradise Lac Bay is less than 10 minutes away, while kiteboarding hotspot, Atlantis Beach, is just around the corner.
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