Where and what is a Bonaire?
Bonaire, Aruba and Curacao together make up the ABC islands. Bonaire, with only about 20,000 residents is by far the least populated of the three islands and the least well known. (and in our unbiased opinion, the best!) The ABC islands are some of the southernmost Caribbean islands. As such they are outside of the hurricane belt and considered good options for travel during Caribbean hurricane season.
How to Get to Bonaire
Note: during Covid times the following schedules are not quite the same but we are leaving them up in hopes things return to normal soon. Direct travel from the US resumes to Bonaire on December 1st 2020 via United airlines through Newark and Houston. American airlines will also offer direct flights beginning December 1st out of Miami. As of this writing in November 2020 Delta does not offer direct flights. We expect they will resume soon.
Getting to Bonaire is not always quick or easy but the effort and expense prove well worth it! Bonaire has a small airport that recently changed names from Flamingo International Airport to Bonaire International Airport or BIA. For research on flights to Bonaire use BON as the airport code for Flamingo International.
Direct flights to Bonaire on United Airlines leaving Newark and Houston on Saturdays:
- From Newark a United flight leaves for BON on Saturday Mornings around 9am and arrives in BON around 2:30pm during daylight savings time.
- From Houston a flight leaves for BON on Saturday Afternoons around 12:15pm and arrives in BON around 6:45pm during daylight savings time.
- Return flights back to the US leave BON for Houston Sundays at around 7:25am arriving at 10:30am in IAH. Alternatively they leave BON at 3:20 pm on Saturdays arriving back at EWR (Newark) at 3:15pm.
If you prefer to stay 8 nights rather than 7 look for flights through IAH or EWR on your way TO BON on a Saturday. Then connect through Houston on your return on Sunday.
Direct flights on Delta Airlines between Atlanta and Bonaire on Saturdays and Sundays:
- From Atlanta flights leave for BON on Saturdays AND Sundays in high season at 9:45am arriving BON at 1:30pm. In low season the Sunday flights stop.
- Return flights to Atlanta from BON on Delta are on Saturdays and Sundays at 4pm during daylight savings time. Expect to arrive in Atlanta at about 7pm
Direct flights on American Airlines between Miami and Bonaire on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays
- Direct round trip flights between Miami and BON on American Airlines are scheduled on Mondays, Fridays and Saturdays. American recently dropped a couple of weekly flights from their schedule (November 2019). Flights on an Airbus A319 with 128 seats leave Miami at 12:05pm arriving in BON at 3:15pm. They depart BON at 4:05pm arriving Miami at 7:15pm.
Jet Blue offers direct flights between JFK and Curacao on Tuesdays, Thursdays and Saturdays:
Once on Curacao take a “puddle jumper” to Bonaire. Between Curacao and Bonaire the flight is only about 40 minutes from the time you board to the time you land. Flying time of only about 20 minutes in the air makes it an easy hop over. Fly Aruba Air, Divi Divi, EZ air or Winair.
Another option, fly to Aruba and take an Aruba Air, Divi Divi or WinAir flight from Queen Beatrix Airport, AUA with a possible connection in Curacao. Quite a few options exist from various cities around the US to fly to Aruba. Aruba is a little farther away from Bonaire and the flight from Aruba to Bonaire could involve a stop in Curacao – so generally speaking Curacao is a better option if you can’t find a way to Bonaire direct on Delta, United or American.
Southwest Airlines can fly you to Aruba on the cheap and pretty much any day of the week.
But you’re going to have to put up with a few changes of plane if you’re coming from anywhere other than Ft. Lauderdale. (Your location to Fort Lauderdale and from there to Aruba and from there to Curacao on Insel Air, changing planes yet again for Curacao-Bonaire. This island-hopping option could work for travelers spending a few days on each of the ABC islands.
Southwest Airlines offers the following flights as of November 2019. Departure from Fort Lauderdale any day of the week including Sundays at 10am or Saturdays at 11am with arrival in Aruba at 1:50pm or 2:50pm on Saturdays. Flights depart AUA at 3:50pm arriving back in Fort Lauderdale at 6pm and on Saturdays the departure from Aruba is at 5:30pm with arrival back in FLL at 7:40pm.
Flights from Amsterdam (connecting in Amsterdam from anywhere in Europe):
- The only flight options direct to Bonaire from Europe involve a stop at Amsterdam’s (Amazing) Schipol Airport.
- KLM flies daily between Amsterdam and Bonaire. A nice tip is that these flights make a triangular pattern, Amsterdam – Aruba – Bonaire but the direction of the triangle depends on the day of the week. Some days it’s Amsterdam – Bonaire – Aruba. So it is possible to schedule your entire trip without the stopover in Aruba in either direction if you pay careful attention when booking. Because this flight is super long to start with the extra couple of hours it takes with the added stop in Aruba is a nice thing to plan around! The stop in Aruba isn’t always apparent when you book as it may appear that there is not a layover.
- The only alternative direct flight from Amsterdam to Bonaire is TUI – formerly Arkefly. This is a charter company. You will only be able to research flights in the Dutch language on their website for flights between Bonaire and Amsterdam. They offer flights Tuesdays, Fridays and Saturdays direct to/from Amsterdam and are generally cheaper than KLM.
Flights from Toronto, Canada:
- SunWing Airlines, a Canadian low-cost air carrier based in Ontario, now offers non-stop service from Toronto to Bonaire on a Boeing 737-800 with a capacity of 189 seats. This seasonal service is now in it’s 3rd year. Service begins in December and ends when high season ends in April each year.
- Westjet Airlines, another Canadian low-cost carrier has non-stop service between Toronto and Curacao. From Curacao contact EZair or Divi Divi for a puddle jumper to Bonaire.
Direct flights between Aruba, Curacao and Bonaire: Island hopping – Puddle Jumpers
Although Aruba is smaller than Bonaire, numerous airlines serve Aruba (AUA) from cities all over the US as well as a few in Canada and Europe. Aruba Airlines now offers direct flights between Aruba and Bonaire making it possible to find our little slightly-more-difficult-to-get-to slice of paradise with a bit more ease. Flights are once or twice per day, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays and Sundays on a 50-seat Bombardier CRJ-200 jet. Round trip Bonaire/Aruba is approximately $195 including all taxes and fees for for adults, $147 for children 2 – 12 years old, and $20 for infants.
Divi Divi has fun little planes that seat 8 passengers. They offer 8 or 9 flights daily in each direction between Bonaire and Curacao and continuing flights on to Aruba and St. Maarten. A one way ticket is about $80 to Curacao. Flights start at 6:40am and end at 7:30pm. On Saturdays they offer flights between Curacao and Brazil.
Ezair is the newest airline to offer flights between Bonaire, Aruba and Curacao. As of this writing flights between Bonaire and Curacao are $85 each way, and between Bonaire and Aruba $135 – $150 each each way. We found most round-trip tickets including taxes and fees to be $280 round trip between AUA and BON as of December 2019. We also found flights BON-CUR round trip for $144 including all taxes and fees. Some of the puddle jumpers allow a carry on and free checked bag up to 50 pounds, some charge extra for all checked luggage.
WinAir, based at Juliana International Airport in Sint Maarten offers flights between Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao and St. Maarten. They have connections to other islands including Dominica, Guadaloupe, Haiti, Nevis, Saba, San Juan Puerto Rico, St. Barths, St. Eustatius, Tortola, Antigua, St. Thomas, St. Croix, St. Vincent, St. Kitts, Martinique and more. Connections. Note: the only direct flights WinAir offers to Bonaire connect Bonaire to Curacao. All other flights within the Caribbean require a layover in Curacao at minimum. All flights through SXM – St. Maarten should include a three hour minimum layover.
Insel Air, notorious for late, cancelled flights and poor customer service operated on Bonaire for about 12 years. In February of 2019 Insel air unsurprisingly went of business.
Enjoy your journey and see you soon.