Learn to windsurf on Bonaire: Lac Bay is the best place in the World for Beginners

Learn to windsurf on Bonaire: Lac Bay is the best place in the World for Beginners

In our completely unbiased opinion, Bonaire is the best flat water windsurf destination in the world and best place for beginner windsurfers. Granted we haven’t explored every destination in the world but Bonaire has a LOT going for it. Why should you learn to windsurf on Bonaire?

  • Onshore wind: You can’t really get blown out to sea. Learning to windsurf here is safe for that reason. All you need to do is stay in the light turquoise water, which is shallow, and no matter where you are you can walk you and your equipment back to shore. It is so safe that none of the windsurf shops employ a boat to bring people back. It just isn’t necessary. The wind pushes you back to shore.
  • Shallow water: When you fall off of your windsurf gear, you just hop back on. You don’t have to swim to your gear. You don’t have to swallow salt water that is washing over your head. The shallow water also means you can talk to your instructor or fellow windsurfers while standing in the water. Because you don’t have to swim to your gear your learning curve is faster. You are less tired. You can try more times. It is safer. Learn to windsurf on Bonaire in absolutely ideal conditions.
  • Warm water: See above – if it’s warm you aren’t in any hurry to get out. Some people stay in the water for hours and hours.
  • Flat water: you can learn to windsurf in easy conditions, without waves washing over your head when you fall in.
  • Sandy bottom: You fall off your gear onto sand when you learn to windsurf on Bonaire. You may want to wear booties anyway in case you land on a shell but most locals and tourists windsurf barefoot.
  • No motor boats in Lac Bay: in most windsurf destinations you need to watch out for other boats, bigger boats, motor boats. This isn’t an issue in little Lac Bay.
  • No kite surfers. Kite surfing is a very popular sport on Bonaire but it is prohibited in Lac Bay. Windsurfers got there first – and when kiting became popular it became clear that Lac Bay was too small for kiters and windsurfers. So the kiters now sail at Atlantis Beach on the west coast of Bonaire. They have to deal with offshore wind. Learn to windsurf on Bonaire without the worry about running into a kiter’s lines.
  • World Class windsurf instruction: there aren’t many places in the world where your instructors are sometimes ranked among the top in the world. If they aren’t instructing you there’s always opportunity to meet world class and ranked windsurfers. They are here year round and they are at the same beach you are at.
  • Ease of equipment rental: When the wind is high and you are just learning, you’ll want a smaller sail and as the wind dies down, you may want to try a bigger sail. On Bonaire you won’t have to figure this out for yourself. The crew at the different windsurf locations will help you change your sail and board and offer recommendations based on the conditions they’re seeing that day. There is no cost to change your sail an unlimited number of times during the day. All the gear is ready and rigged for you. You just have to ask. Don’t forget to tip the crew who take care of you at Jibe City, Bonaire Windsurf Place or Dunkerbeck Pro Center.
  • Reliable wind: the island is windy almost all year round. September through November are the months with the least wind but even then conditions are OK for learning.
  • Tranquility: The peaceful feeling of being out on the water in Lac Bay is unmatched in all the world.

 

learn to windsurf bonaire    learn to windsurf bonaire

learn to windsurf bonaire    learn to windsurf bonaire

Tolo: Off-The-Beaten-Path Beach on Bonaire

Tolo: Off-The-Beaten-Path Beach on Bonaire

We thought we’d share a few photos from another gorgeous off the beaten path Bonaire beach. This one is the dive site called Tolo.

What makes this Bonaire beach a little more off-the-beaten-path than many others is that you have to commit to it! Once you continue past thousand steps on the road toward Tolo there’s literally no turning back. The Queen’s Highway becomes a one-way road at a certain point before arriving at Tolo. To get back to wherever it is that you came from you have to continue North toward the little town of Rincon and then double back. Really for anyone from anywhere that’s not Bonaire, this should not be a big deal. You are guaranteed to not encounter traffic – probably not a single other car for miles. But still, it’s hot and isolated and the two way road back towards civilization is kinda on the beautiful side making it hard to commit to getting back via the “back road.”

But Bonaire is for adventurers. And Tolo is worth it. The two little cement benches under the trees have been there as long as we’ve been visiting the island.  So if you don’t have chairs you know you’ll at least have a place to sit that’s not on thorns and with a bit of shade.

The only real novelty from previous years is the amount and density of the sea urchin population. If you plan to swim plan your entrance carefully. It is possible to dive, swim and snorkel here. There’s even quite a bit of open space for playing paddle ball or having a slightly larger group of people than at a smaller and thornier beach like Jeff Davis.

Tolo is the perfect off the beaten path Bonaire locale. Have a picnic, get some shade and get away from it all. If you are  exploring the Queen’s highway on a day trip we’d suggest a stop at Tolo after having a swim at Oil Slick Leap, checking out the little sandy beach at Jeff Davis, having a snorkel at Weber’s Joy and making the descent down to Thousand Steps.

If you continue on through Rincon after stopping at Tolo, stop for a Bonairian style lunch at the non-touristy, off the beaten path Bonaire local restaurant Rose Inn.

queen's highway bonaire scenery; off the beaten path bonaire divi divi tree on bonaire at Tolo; off the beaten path Bonaire

tolo dive site off the beaten path bonaire sea urchin invasion bonaire 2018; off the beaten path bonaire

Jeff Davis Dive Site – The perfect off the beaten path beach day on Bonaire

Jeff Davis Dive Site – The perfect off the beaten path beach day on Bonaire

On arrival at the popular Thousand Steps for a little snorkeling one Friday afternoon we stumbled into about seven or eight cars in the “parking lot” – that’s a crowd on Bonaire! We put the car in reverse and drove back toward where we’d come from to choose a spot with a bit more privacy and elbow room – Jeff Davis Dive Site.

Our brief search took us about a half mile down the road to the dive site Jeff Davis. This special place is named for medical researcher, war veteran, and NASA scientist Dr. Jefferson Davis, an American medical doctor who pioneered the use of hyperbaric oxygen in the treatment of decompression sickness in divers.

What a beautiful spot to go for a swim, snorkel or just to take in the view. There was one couple at the beach – one scooter parked in the “parking lot” and an entire beach for our own private enjoyment. Amazing snorkeling, shocking crystal clear blue water and even some sand, unusual on Bonaire. This beach is the perfect off-the-beaten-path place to beach for the day.

The entrance into the sea is pretty rocky – you will need to step down a few steps on rocks – there is no ladder or any easy access. There is a small amount of shade in some thorny trees. No facilities nearby so water and snacks are a good idea.

Jeff Davis Dive site is marked by one of the iconic yellow stones that indicate all marked dive sites on the island of Bonaire. It’s located on the Queen’s Highway along the same road where you will find Thousand Steps, Weber’s Joy, Tolo and Karpata. This is a wonderful road for biking, running, walking or just going for a ride to check out Bonaire’s amazing scenery.

Tip: bring beach chairs  and watch for thorns on the ground!

   

Where to go on your first day on Bonaire? Bachelor’s Beach

Where to go on your first day on Bonaire? Bachelor’s Beach

Bachelor’s Beach Bonaire; it’s close to pretty much everything on Bonaire and is a no stress place to just stop and take in the crystal clear Caribbean Sea. It’s the perfect place to break in your new mask and snorkel.

Just landed? Want to take in some of that turquoise water but it’s already late afternoon? Here’s the perfect beach to go on your first day! Or any day…

Bachelor’s Beach is a quick ride from the airport or from Kralendijk or Belnem. The beach is not visible from the road – it’s looks like a little rocky parking lot with a couple of cement and thatched beach huts. Park your car or bike right there and take the ladder/steps down to the secluded sandy beach. If the tide is in there may not be any sand but swimming there is always gorgeous. If there’s no beach visible you can leave your things on the steps. Never crowded. Great place to snorkel – super easy, fun, zen away from it all but yet so close to it all.

Bachelors beach is located on the main oceanfront road – the same road as the airport – EEG blvd.  If you make a left turn leaving the airport it will be on your right just past the road to Sorobon. Two cute little huts with a thatched roof mark this location. The huts are basically in the parking lot for Bachelor’s beach and are for public use.

Bring towels, beach chair and definitely don’t forget to bring a mask and snorkel gear. Entrance into the water in any location on Bonaire is easier with a mask so that you can watch for coral and rocks as you get in. Bachelor’s beach is particularly sandy for a Bonaire beach, so the entry into the water is fairly easy. This is also a good spot for catching some small waves on a windy day.

bachelors beach bonaire   Bachelor's beach - drive up and go for a snorkel

 

 

Frequently asked Question:  Renting a car on Bonaire: is it necessary?

Frequently asked Question:  Renting a car on Bonaire: is it necessary?

I am asked the car question over and over again by first time visitors to the island: Can I get by for the week on bike or on foot? – If I’m not planning on scuba diving couldn’t I just enjoy laying on the beach by my apartment and not drive anywhere? – How about public transportation? – I don’t mind walking to get groceries… Is renting a car on Bonaire necessary?

The short answer to any variation on the renting a car on Bonaire question is YES. In our opinion, a car or pick-up truck is absolutely necessary to get the most out of your trip.

That said, if you are a dedicated, hard core biker looking to get lots of exercise during your vacation, you can definitely rent a bike for your trip and be more than happy. However, the roads have no shoulder and the trade winds regularly blow between 15 and 20 miles per hour. It is always hot outside, just getting groceries and lugging them back home becomes a chore.  Plus you won’t be able to pack your beach chairs… So we suggest renting a car on Bonaire.

Bonaire offers a wealth of places to explore. One significant difference between Bonaire and an island where tourists go exclusively to soak up sun and relax at one beach by their hotel is that most tourists on Bonaire actually come here to spend time exploring.  (they want to get at least a glimpse of the flamingos, turtles, pink lakes!) The majority of visitors will see a good number of the following places and attractions that are spread out geographically and definitely necessitate a car no matter where your lodging is located and even though the island itself feels so small:

  • Thousand Steps
  • Lac Bay
  • Lac Cai
  • The Donkey Sanctuary Safari Park
  • The Flamingo Sanctuary at Pekelmeer (breeding grounds for the Southern Caribbean Flamingo).
  • More bird and flamingo watching at Gotomeer and then even more at Slagbaai lagoon (breeding sites and foraging grounds for flamingos, pelicans and herons.
  • Klein Bonaire (the small uninhabited island reachable by water taxi with white sand beaches and excellent diving and snorkeling and most importantly a great place to see turtles)
  • Washington Slagbaai National Park with some of the most beautiful beaches on the entire island.
  • Caving and cave tours
  • Mangrove kayak tours
  • Downtown Kralendijk with it’s restaurants and shopping
  • The sleepy town of Rincon in the North
  • The Salt Factory with it’s pink ‘lakes’
  • The Slave Huts
  • Kite Surfing or lessons at Atlantis Beach
  • Windsurfing, lessons, or just watching in awe at Sorobon Beach (Jibe City, Bonaire Windsurf Place).
  • Snorkeling, Picnic or BBQ at Donkey Beach
  • Hiking up Mt. Slagbaai
  • Exploring off-the-beaten-path local restaurants like Mi Banana, Maiky Snack, El Fogon Latino, Rose Inn…
  • Restaurants that are not in Downtown Kralendijk like Spice Beach, Ingridients, Pasa Bon Pizza, Bistrot De Paris and many more.

The point is that these places are simply not within walking or biking distance of one another, especially with an average temperature in the 80’s, a LOT of sunshine when it ‘s sunny (most of the time!) and when it rains, a LOT of rain.  And, of course Bonaire is known for it’s trade winds, a very good thing keeping the island cool and comfortable. but not so good on a bike when there is so much to do and so many interesting places to explore and you can only move at a snail’s pace because the wind is so strong. Public transportation is pretty much non-existant on Bonaire.  It is, however, possible to hire taxi’s if you do not drive or feel uncomfortable driving in a foreign country. And you may be able to work out a deal with a local taxi driver to come get you multiple times during your trip.

Based on years of meeting tourists, watching travelers come and go and getting their opinions about the island, visitors seem happiest when they have more freedom to get around – and a car provides that freedom. On foot you can stay near the one beach at or near your accommodations. Lac Bay, one of the must see spots on the island would be so far off the beaten path without a car that you may not even make it that far in your entire time on the island. Thousand Steps, another must see beach and dive/snorkel spot is equally remote without a car. But it’s just a hop skip and jump in your rental car or pick-up truck, maybe even for a quick picnic lunch (bring your snorkel gear!) The donkey sanctuary “tour” is actually a loop of the safari park in your car. Likewise, the way the National Park is set up and because of it’s size and diversity, it’s best explored by car. (And by ‘car’ we really mean pick-up truck.) Even if you plan to do the hike up Mt. Slagbaai, you need a car to get not only to the national park itself (where Mt. Slagbaai is located), but once inside the park you will need to drive to the starting point of the hike. There’s plenty of adventure to be had on foot – but best to save your energy for the good stuff like the hike itself, or a long walk near thousand steps, or a walk into town at dinner time and along the boardwalk in downtown Kralendijk. It’s one thing to designate a day or two for biking, it’s another thing to not rent a car for your entire trip and risk missing out on so much.

Bonaire is known not only as Diver’s Paradise (right there on our license plates) but also as the “Home of Diving Freedom.” That freedom comes from the ease of diving anywhere you want any time you want. To do that renting a car on Bonaire is a must. No waiting for a dive boat, or being at the mercy of other tourists or dive operators running late. You pick your dive spot, load up tanks from your favorite dive operator and go. Scuba divers almost always rent pick-up trucks instead of renting a car on Bonaire so that tanks can easily be loaded into the cargo area in the back of the truck. Pick-up trucks also are more rugged for the harsh road conditions of the national park and visiting other off the beaten path locations like Lac Cai. If you are not scuba diving and do not plan to visit the national park, a smaller car will get you around the island just as well as a pick-up. In either case rent a car. You won’t be disappointed you did.

Defi Wind Caribbean – a new annual windsurf event on Bonaire

Defi Wind Caribbean – a new annual windsurf event on Bonaire

The 2nd annual Defi Wind Caribbean organized by Bjorn Dunkerbeck and Philippe Bru will take place June 17th to 21st 2017 with Sorobon Beach Resort organizing the event. The Defi Wind Bonaire includes competitive events for both windsurfers and kite surfers.

The 5th annual Sorobon Masters will start one day later. It is set to take place June 22nd – 25th 2017. Sorbon Masters has three different categories:  Slalom, Freestyle and Dunkerbeck Speed Challenge and will use Sorobon Beach Resort as it’s starting point.

Races are divided by category based on sex and age and there is a division for ‘rookies’ – you do not need to be a pro windsurfer or kiter to participate! Registration is between $175 and $225 per event depending on when you register (cheaper before June 3rd.) Registration for both events is going on now.

windsurf race on Lac Bay Bonaire 2016 DefiWind defi wind bonaire

*photo credit Marcus Seidel for all Defi Wind images on this post