What’s New on the Dutch Caribbean Island of Bonaire
December 8, 2022
Street Eats Tours, a Summer Yoga Festival & More in 2023
Bustling with exciting new developments, from introducing after dark experiences and wellness events to the opening of a new boutique hotel and an eatery serving local favorites, Bonaire promises to trend among travelers looking to uncover unique spots in 2023.
Long known to divers as one of the Caribbean’s best kept secrets, Bonaire has begun to emerge as an island offering much more than protected reefs, crystal clear waters and a bucket list escape for underwater enthusiasts. Named a Culinary Capital by the World Food Travel Association in 2022, the growing food scene coupled with a developing tourism infrastructure including a streamlined entry tax portal and above water activities popular with visitors, such as land-sailing, windsurfing, biking and caving, have made this Dutch Caribbean island one to watch. Bonaire also recently launched its destination pledge, The Bonaire Bond, showcasing a continued commitment to preserving this precious piece of paradise while simultaneously attracting like-minded travelers. Sustainability has always been a part of the island’s ethos, but the destination felt a need to extend their commitment to visitors and in support of this initiative, will be adopting coral trees on behalf of all who sign the Bond through Earth Day 2023. As a result of a newsworthy year, the island was listed as one of the fastest growing Caribbean destinations in popularity according to ForwardKeys.
Looking forward, Bonaire will realize a variety of offerings rounding out this wonderful “off the beaten path” escape. New developments include:
Open since May 2022, Bagel & Bloom offers a high tea experience on site or at your location of choice.
The new go-to place for local food in Rincon, loved and frequented by (mostly) locals, Cactus Fence is open on Sunday for lunch only, and is a must try for staples like goat stew and salted fish.
The island’s award winning Cadushy Distillery has installed a new distillation plant in the old Cinelandia Theater to meet increased demand from exports of its products to Europe. In celebration of the production of its 100,000th bottle of Cadushy of Bonaire Liqueur, the Distillery has also released a Jubilee edition, only available at The Cadushy Distillery in Rincon.
Other recent openings include The Bonaire Coffee Bar open daily from 7 am -7 pm, Boertiek, the third F&B outlet on the island owned by Jonnie & Therese Boer at Delfins Beach Resort which serves up coffee, smoothies and sandwiches, and Meet and Eat, a cozy and funky courtyard restaurant and bar. Additionally, Ingridients, the beloved ocean view restaurant at Buddy Dive Resort, will now be open for lunch from noon to 3pm. The trendy Ocean Oasis Beach Club is now under the ownership of Pascal Beeren, a two-star Michelin chef known for his restaurant De Bokkedoorns in The Netherlands. Captain’s Table is another new restaurant that will open on the island in late 2022.
A brand new boutique hotel scheduled to open early 2023, the Belnem House Bonaire is a coastal property featuring contemporary and luxurious apartments, penthouses and suites with terraces and a shared pool.
Art Hotel Bonaire, a new 14-room hotel located in the heart of Kralendijk, features a colorful facade and Tostibar, an onsite restaurant serving European meals.
Courtyard Marriott Bonaire Dive Resort recently opened the WhatSup Water Sports Center and will offer boat tours, private watersports, wakeboard, waterski, towables, sea scooter snorkeling, stand up paddle and diving equipment.
Programming & Experiences
Dedicated to 7,000 years of history in Bonaire and the Caribbean, Terramar Museum is expanding and renewing its collection, focusing more on exhibits that appeal to locals as well as tourists, and adding workshops for children and adults to their offerings. The new collection is scheduled to be completed in 2023.
Home of the Muse, a new facility for workshops, creative retreats, masterclasses & open-air theater performances officially opened in August 2022.
The tour company, H20 Visions Bonaire, recently launched a ‘Snacks of Bonaire’ tour – a combination of island history and local lifestyle with visits to small open-air places for drinks and food in various Bonaire neighborhoods.
Bonaire Landsailing Adventures now offers weekly night sailing from 6pm – 10pm. Additionally, Bonaire Landsailing will be introducing a mentorship/internship program with the Bonairean youth, and building more combo tours to combine the landsailing experience with Cave Tours Bonaire and 4 Wheel Dive for a full day of fun.
New for the 2022-2023 season from Bonaire Bird Photography Tours is a full day’s birding in Washington-Slagbaai National Park including breakfast and a picnic lunch. Enjoy the expertise of a local guide for the day, who shows the best bird-watching spots in this birder’s paradise. Binoculars are provided.
Bee Caribe’s The Street Art & Street Food Tour is powered by emissions-free electric scooters by Green Bikes, but can also be done via car. The colorful self-guided tour allows participants to decide the pace of the route and where to eat while learning about the Street Colors Project as well as local food. Bee Caribe has also introduced an Island Escape Game Tour, inviting visitors to sight see while solving puzzles along the way that eventually lead gamers to a hidden location.
Additionally, Bonaire Kiteschool now offers guided wing foil lessons (for everyone) on Atlantis Beach, while Epic Tours has added two new catamaran tours including a Sail & Dive Catamaran Tour as well as a 4-Hour Snorkel & Grill tour. GoLokal Walking Tours Bonaire offers historic and cultural insights during a fun walking tour in colorful Kralendijk. AB Dive, now operating completely on solar panels, recently added to its fleet of rental cars and now offers a Sail & Dive experience including two guided dives, a barbeque sunset dinner and more.
Yoga and other ‘zen’ activities are now available at Bind, a new holistic wellness center.
In summer of 2022, the island hosted its first rum festival, and will bring Bonaire Rum Week back in June 2023.
Bonaire’s Inaugural Yoga Festival will also be held in June 2023 in collaboration with the island’s wellness partners, yoga centers and spas.
The 21st Annual Swim to Klein Bonaire , the uninhabited island located off of the main island, will return in September 2023 to fundraise for Jong Bonaire.
More Updates and Openings
Pascal van Empelen opened a new diving center, Scuba Elite, in late 2022.
Under newownership, Boutique Hotel Sonrisa Bonaire is renovating its suites to include new bathrooms and updated furniture. The restaurant was expanded to now welcome non guests for dinner. A professional diving washing facility (built according to STINAPA guidelines) where guests can clean their diving equipment was added, as well as air and nitrox diving tanks and a special selection of rental cars.
Additionally, Bonaire Oceanfront Apartments, located in the center of Kralendijk, recently renovated, including the look of its two-bedroom apartments.