I always saw myself living on an island, barefootin’ long stretches of sand for hours on end. And then I moved to Bonaire. We are, what some may term, “sand challenged”. We don’t have the endless miles of beach that, say, nearby Aruba has. But then again, we don’t have urban clusters of multi-story hotels and hoards of tourists that accompany those primo Aruban strands.
On Bonaire, many of our beaches are covered with pieces of dead coral—difficult to walk on, uncomfortable to lie on, and not what many would expect from a tropical island. But if you take the time to search Bonaire’s shores, there are choice spots to dabble along the water’s edge, and your tan won’t fade from being in the shadow of a Hilton or a Marriott.
One spot is along the south end of Lac Bay called Sorobon Beach. This is a wind surfer’s paradise. Shallow waters, constant trade winds, and a wave-breaking exterior reef make for smooth sailing. Sorobon has a real surfer vibe, albeit one with a huge Dutch influence. It’s a tables-in-the-sand, flip-flop paradise. Tourists from Holland flock here to soak up the sun, drink Heineken beer at Jibe City or eat a croquette at The Beach Hut. It provides the Dutch with warm respite from the cold North Sea waters. The sand is soft. The bay is mellow. The party is on.
A short sail to Klein Bonaire takes me to the finest beach around, No Name. It is a kilometer long of fine white sand bordered by gin clear water. Day-trippers return on the last water taxi, called the Kantika Di Amor (Song of Love), around 4PM. After that, it is common to have the whole beach to yourself. A palm frond palapa provides shade. Walks here at sunset are simply stellar. Sea turtles chose No Name for nesting from June to December. Walking to the east end of No Name, the beach turns from sand to rock. At this point, there is a gap in the reef. Swim through this point and drift snorkel all the way back to the shade of the palapa.
Playa Chikitu is on the Wild Side of the island known for its strong winds and currents. This beach, located in the national park, is an awesome place to watch the sea’s raw power. White sand slopes steeply down to massive waves. The undertow here is unbelievably strong. It is difficult to even stand knee-deep in the water. Swimming is out of the question. But the sand is bountiful and the south end has massive boulders to explore. It’s a gas to see Neptune flexing his nautical mojo at this nearly always-deserted beach. Also in the national park is Wayaká Two. This is the ultimate snorkel site where large French angle fish greet you in ankle deep water. Further out is an extensive reef with thousands of fish. A steep cliff backs the beach so at high tide there is not much sand left above the water line. No matter. Just lime about and soak up the natural beauty of this place. The tide will soon roll out.
I end many beach daze at Donkey Beach. In the late afternoon it is prime time to watch the local island hoppers do their treetop flying. The Flamingo International Airport runway starts just behind the beach and the prop planes fly in directly overhead on their approach. Facing toward the water offers a grand view of islet Klein Bonaire. The sand at Donkey Beach is white and mixed with some dead coral, but it’s not really a problem. Nice reefs and gentle waters make this a good snorkel spot. Plus, I like the shade of the trees from the late day sun. That, with the constant, offshore breeze, makes Donkey a great place to chill.
These are my five well-known beaches on Bonaire. But there are others—hidden, diminutive coves of brilliant, white sand lapped by lazy, Windex-blue water where you will not see another human all day long. But I cannot reveal these gems here. They are too precious and need to retain anonymity in order to preserve their beauty. I know. I know. Life’s a beach. But what a way to live.