A morning snorkel in one of the hemisphere’s most pristine reefs. Afternoon in the capital of windsurfing. Dinner at the number one restaurant in the Caribbean.
It sounds like a bucket-list itinerary — but it’s just a regular day in Bonaire, the tiny Caribbean island that’s quietly become one of the most sought-after destinations in the region thanks to a vibrant mix of adventure, marine conservation and a booming culinary scene.
Indeed, Bonaire is seeing surging tourism arrivals, buoyed by an all-time high for arrivals last month, when the island reported 17,162 stay over visitors — a 23 percent increase over its previous best in December 2019, before the onset of the pandemic.
That included continued dominance from the European market, along with growing strength from America, which accounted for nearly one-third of all arrivals last month.
It is the result of a remarkably diverse tourism offering for an island with less than 20,000 people.
That includes a breathtaking undersea environment protected by decades of passionate marine conservation efforts; a culinary movement that includes one of only two outposts of a three-Michelin-star restaurant in the Caribbean, the Brass Boer (from the three-star Die Librije in Holland); a robust, varied hotel product ranging from tiny boutiques to dive hotels to luxury retreats; and a sense of adventure that ranges from world-class windsurfing on Lac Bay to the rugged frontier of Washington Slaagbai National Park.
It also includes a growing slate of popular festivals, including the highly anticipated return in June of Bonaire Rum Week, the Caribbean’s coolest new rum festival, a weeklong celebration of premium rum at tropical settings around the island. (For more, visit Bonaire Rum Week).
And then there are the hotels. Bonaire has never had a more exciting portfolio of places to stay than right now, from the ultra-cool Delfins Beach Resort to luxury leader Harbour Village to outstanding boutique resorts like Bellafonte Bonaire and Bamboo and even a top all-inclusive beach resort, Plaza, to name a few.
The continued buzz has put the rest of the region, particularly the Dutch Caribbean, on notice, as a destination that is attracting a dynamic mix of adventurers and divers and high-income travelers while maintaining its lack of pretentiousness and its carefree, happy-go-lucky vibe.
For more, visit Bonaire Island.