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Frequently Asked Questions for Cruise Ship Visitors

Common cruise visitors’ FAQs.

What is the size and population of Bonaire?

This is one of the most frequent cruise visitors’ FAQs. Bonaire is a small island with a population of approximately 24,000. Most people live in the main town of Kralendijk, and about 1,800 live in the smaller town of Rincon, found in a valley in the north.

Cruise ship on Bonaire

The island is approximately 112 square miles, ranging from three to seven miles in width and twenty-four miles in length. The north part of the island is hilly and has a national park. The south side is flat with salt pans. Both parts are unique as well as beautiful. Bonaire is located approximately fifty miles north of Venezuela. Also, approximately one mile away from Bonaire is the small island of Klein Bonaire (literally, “Little Bonaire” in Dutch). It is uninhabited, so be sure to bring sunscreen and water if you visit. The beach is very nice, and the snorkeling is excellent. A water taxi is available.

What is the history of Bonaire?

Bonaire was originally inhabited by a branch of the Arawak Indians who sailed from Venezuela over 1000 years ago. The first Europeans to arrive were the Spanish in 1499. They did not stay long, as they decided not to develop the island. However, they took the Indians who were here as slaves, leaving the island uninhabited. After that, there were also visits by the French, Portuguese, and Spanish convicts who returned, leaving their imprint and influence. In 1633, the Dutch took possession of the island, along with Aruba and Curaçao. They imported African slaves to work the plantations and the salt mines. Bonaire’s ownership changed hands several times until 1816, when the Dutch maintained leadership. Slavery was abolished in 1863, and around this time, Bonaire started attracting more inhabitants. Early in the 20th century, visitors started arriving on Bonaire. Eventually, a pier was built, further attracting tourism, and in 1943, the airport was built.

What is Bonaire’s political status today?

Bonaire is a special municipality of The Netherlands, along with Saba and St. Eustatius, since October 10, 2010.

What languages are spoken?

The official language is Dutch, and the spoken language of the local people is Papiamentu. It is a Creole language based on seven different languages, reflecting the mixed culture and history of the island. Also, English is spoken by most people, and Spanish is also widely spoken.

What is the temperature?

The air temperature averages about 86°F/30°C, although it can be hotter from August through October. The water temperature varies from 79°F/26°C to 84°F/29°C.

How are the snorkeling and diving?

Bonaire is one of the top destinations in the world for snorkeling and diving. The waters surrounding Bonaire form a marine park. Shore access is easy at most dive sites for either diving or snorkeling. Visibility is often 80 to 100 feet, and the reefs are alive with coral and fish. However, touching or standing on corals or other marine life can be harmful to both the marine organisms and the snorkeler/diver, so please take care!

Where does the cruise ship arrive on Bonaire?

The ship arrives at one or two of the main Bonaire cruise port terminals, just south of the downtown area of Kralendijk.

How do we get around?

If you stay in Kralendijk, most places are within easy walking distance. For visiting the beaches, a taxi will be needed in most cases.

What about taxis?

Taxis will be available directly in the area of the pier where you disembark; costs will vary depending upon the destination. Taxis can also provide tour services.  View the various services available to cruise visitors by Bonaire’s taxis.

What currency is used?

The U.S. dollar is the official currency as of January 1, 2011.

Are there banks nearby?

There are several ATMs in the downtown area as well as several banks. All transactions must be accompanied by a photo ID.

What is shopping like near the Bonaire cruise port?

There is an outdoor market in nearby Wilhelmina Park, near where the cruise ships dock, which sells local wares and foods. Also, a cruise shopping mall is newly available adjacent to the docks.  Kaya Grandi, the main street in Kralendijk, also has shops with clothing, souvenirs, jewelry, snorkeling, and diving equipment. Grocery stores and a pharmacy are nearby.

Are there restaurants or bars in the vicinity of the cruise piers?

There are several restaurants and bars in the downtown area, well within walking distance.

Are public toilets available on the island?

Yes, but they can be very busy on days when cruise ships are in port.

Is there required paperwork for pets or service animals?

Yes, if you are bringing a pet or service animal onto the island, certain paperwork needs to be in place. Please refer to our pet page for more details.

How far is it to a beach, and what amenities are available?

Bonaire is not known for many sandy beaches since it’s much better known for its underwater beauty. However, some sandy beach areas are available in select resort areas.

What about the national park?

Washington Slagbaai National Park is located at the north end of the island. It takes approximately 45 minutes to an hour to drive there from the area of the cruise piers. Opening hours are 8 AM to 5 PM. Although a truck or a four-wheel-drive vehicle is not mandatory, it is definitely recommended since the road can be rough. The entrance fee is $40.00 per person. A museum illustrating Bonaire’s past and its people is open at the entrance to the park. Cool drinks and a terraced area are also available at the entrance. Also, many visitors choose to make short hikes via the walking trails from this entrance instead of traversing through the entire park via a vehicle.

What activities are available on Bonaire?

View our recommended activity providers for your day in port. There are plenty of fun activities to choose for your day on Bonaire.

Can we take shells?

No. Taking shells is against local and international laws.

Need to learn more?

If you have a question that hasn’t been addressed here, feel free to email us via our contact form.

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