These three islands are collectively known as the Caribbean Netherlands, the Dutch Caribbean, The Netherlands Antilles or the BES islands. Although the small islands have a few scenic spots and lovely tranquil beaches the biggest draw here is what lies underneath the water. The vibrant reefs and protected marine parks are spectacular snorkeling and diving spots and some are very easily accessible and located near the shoreline. Here are the best and most beautiful places to visit in Bonaire, Saba, and St. Eustatius…
Lac Bay, Bonaire – a gorgeous beauty spot to explore in Bonaire
There is a reason why adventure lovers flock to Lac Bay in the Dutch municipality of Bonaire. The beach resembles many others in the Caribbean—pristine turquoise waters with white sand for lounging on.
However, Lac Bay is different due to its near-constant wind. The wind is always blowing strong enough to power the offshore wind turbines, but rarely strong enough to cause harm. That is why windsurfers and freestylers flock here. Come to try out windsurfing, watch the pros during the annual Forsa Bonaire PWA World Cup, or just relax on the beach.
Klein Bonaire, Bonaire – a small and scenic uninhabited islet
Klein Bonaire is a tiny islet just off the coast of Bonaire. The island has long since been abandoned by humans but it boasts a more unique population – several sea turtle colonies.
Located about half a mile off the coast of Bonaire proper, Klein Bonaire is the perfect day trip for nature lovers. You can get there via water taxi, chartered boat excursion, or with a kayak if you are feeling particularly adventurous. Once you get there, observe turtles and birds in their natural habitat or explore the islet’s many pristine coral reefs by snorkeling and scuba diving. This is the perfect natural getaway.
Sorobon Beach, Bonaire – a population destination in Bonaire
Just a little ways away from Lac Bay, Sorobon Beach is one of Bonaire’s most beautiful beaches. It has exceptionally calm waters thanks to an offshore reef that protects this inlet from strong winds and waves off of the Caribbean Sea. Thanks to the calm, shallow waters, beautiful sand, and amenities including shade-providing lanais, this is the perfect getaway for families.
Sorobon Beach is another popular destination for windsurfers, although not quite as renowned as Lac Bay. If you fall in love with the place, you can stay at Sorobon Beach Resort, a relaxing wellness resort located right by the beach.
Playa Chikitu, Bonaire – a gorgeous natural beach in Bonaire
Playa Chikitu is on the northern, windward side of Bonaire in Washington Slagbaai National Park, which is directly exposed to the Caribbean trade winds. This is not an idyllic swimming destination—in fact, swimming is forbidden thanks to the dangerous rip tides.
However, Playa Chikitu is worth a visit because of its wild natural beauty. The winds have sculpted Bonaire’s only true sand dunes into the coast. If visitors are lucky, they can even spot sea turtles nesting on the wild sands, between two rocky plateaus. Observe the wildlife or go for a walk on the dunes where you could find fossils.
Washington Slagbaai National Park, Bonaire – one of the best places to visit in Bonaire
Washington Slagbaai National Park is a natural reserve that occupies almost the entire northwestern tip of the island. Since 1969, this protected area has provided a safe home to the many magnificent species that call Bonaire home for at least part of the year, including parrots, flamingos, iguanas, and four species of sea turtles.
Visitors can learn about the history of the park, which was the site of two large plantations during the initial colonization, at the museum. There are also several hiking trails from which you can explore the park’s natural beauty.
Jibe City, Bonaire – an amazing location for windsurfing
Bonaire is a prime destination for windsurfing enthusiasts, and almost all of them pass through Jibe City at some point or another. Jibe City is a windsurf center located right by Lac Bay. It offers equipment rentals, lessons for beginners, and a social space for people interested in windsurfing to gather.
However, Jibe City is so much more than a windsurfing center, it is also a place for people to socialize in Bonaire. The venue offers yoga lessons several times a week. It also runs the HangOut Beach Bar, which offers Table BBQ on Thursday nights and a good time every night of the week.
Bari Reef, Bonaire – one of the most stunning destinations on the island
Bari Reef is one of the best places to visit in Bonaire, Saba, and St. Eustatius for snorkeling and diving. Located near Kralendijk town, Bari Reef is one of the top sites in the Caribbean for fish diversity. Divers have reported over 300 different species at the reef, so you are almost guaranteed a unique experience once you get into the water.
Snorkelers can stay in the shallower waters near the dock, where many fish like to explore the diving equipment left behind. However, the real show starts when you get deeper. Divers can see reefs, tropical fish, and even sharks in the late afternoon.
Mount Scenery, Saba – the highest point on the island of Saba
Mount Scenery on the island of Saba is one of the Caribbean’s potentially active volcanoes. However, it’s in no imminent danger of erupting so it is perfectly safe to visit.
The prime draw for Mount Scenery is in its name—the scenery. The trail to the top is difficult and recommended only for experienced hikers, but it is worth it for the spectacular views of the island once you reach the summit (be sure that there are no clouds in the forecast before you go). Along the way, you hike through a tropical forest and get to experience local flora and fauna.
Tide Pools at Flat Point, Saba – a must-see destination in the Caribbean Netherlands
Tide Pools at Flat Point on the northern side of the island of Saba are a great place to experience the power of nature. The hike to reach the Tide Pools traverses lava flows and a volcanic landscape that sets the island of Saba apart from others in the Caribbean.
Once you reach the Tide Pools, you’ll see a series of spectacular tide pools formed by waves crashing over the rocky shore. Bring water shoes so that you can get up close to the tide pools and see the miniature ecosystems that form. This phenomenon only occurs at specific times of the day, so it is best to go with a local guide to avoid disappointment.
Wells Bay, Saba – a tranquil little beauty spot
Most of Saba island is covered with rock, which makes Wells Bay that much more unique. This thin strip of shore on the northwestern side of the island only appears during certain times during the northerly swell. When it is active, it offers the perfect base for swimming and snorkeling.
Once you get to Wells Bay, take in the stunning sites of waves crashing along the base of a cliff. You can also snorkel at ease knowing that the area is protected for snorkeling by the government. The reef is close to shore and because the island is not as developed as the rest of the Caribbean, you can see more wildlife.
Windwardside, Saba – a pretty village to visit on the island of Saba
Windwardside is the second-biggest village on the island of Saba. The buildings are precariously perched on the hillside. Visiting the village can be quite the leg workout since you have to climb up steep streets, but the picturesque surroundings make for great photo opportunities.
Windwardside is a great base for hikes up Mount Scenery or other explorations of the island. You can even learn more about the island’s history at the Saba Dutch Museum and stay in secluded villas and apartments.
Saba National Marine Park, Saba – a scenic destination to explore in the Netherlands Antilles
The government established Saba National Marine Park in 1987 to protect the landscape that is unique in the Caribbean because of how unspoiled it is. The protected area stretches around the entire island with designated sites for recreational and commercial use.
The marine park is one of the best places to dive in the entire Caribbean. For the reasonable price of just $3 per dive, you can explore the island’s many reefs, unique volcanic formations, and even a natural labyrinth in the Ladder Bay area. Just be sure to take a guide with you as is required by local regulations.
Boven National Park, St. Eustatius – enjoy breathtaking views from a stunning volcano
Boven National Park is part of a larger preservation system on St. Eustatius that also includes Quill. Boven is on the northwestern side of the island and earns its protected status because it is home to many species of unique birds.
Visitors to the rocky peninsula can spot red-billed tropicbirds, green-throated caribs, lesser Antillean bullfinches, and other species.
Zeelandia Beach, St. Eustatius – a beautiful beach in the Caribbean Netherlands
Zeelandia Beach is on the northern side of the island close to Boven National Park. The beach is the perfect place to take in the majesty of the waters that surround the island. Waves crash onto the cliffs that border the beach before breaking on the natural sandy shore.
Unfortunately, visitors to Zeelandia Beach can’t swim or snorkel because the currents are too dangerous. However, this is the perfect place to visit for nature lovers who want to observe the power of the waters and maybe catch a glimpse of nesting turtles.
Oranje Bay Oranjestad Beach, St. Eustatius – a great place to explore on the island
Oranjestad Beach in Oranje Bay is one of the best swimming spots on this rugged island, conveniently located near Lower Town. Visitors can swim in the clear blue waters or relax on the sand.
The shoreline offers excellent opportunities for exploration—you can walk through the ruins and beach comb, looking for the island’s famous blue beads.