Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail

Snorkeling, sailing & a Bonaire sunset with Compass Bonaire

Cover: Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


Generally, I’m not a fan of rules, but here’s a rule that I believe is a good one for everyone to follow – if you visit a Caribbean island you must take a sunset sail.

Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Gliding over the shimmering water as the sun sets is just a fabulous way to end an island day. Add to it, an afternoon snorkeling at Klein Bonaire, an open bar, and a delicious on-board BBQ dinner prepared by a former chef that welcomes you to his boat like an old friend, and you have one of the best snorkeling, dinner, sunset sails we’ve experienced.

Captain Wim and Compass Bonaire

I think to understand what makes Compass Bonaire a unique sailing experience takes a little understanding of the owner, Captain Wim.

Captain Wim, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Captain Wim, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Captain Wim told me this story while we were on board – and its a great one. Wim used to own a successful restaurant in the Netherlands and one day, he decided it was time for a change. So, he sold his restaurant and bought a boat in Bonaire. And, at that point, he didn’t sail.

Captain Wim, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Captain Wim, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Fast forward to now and Captain Wim expertly maneuvers his 44 foot Peterson sail boat across the waters of Bonaire, while entertaining his visitors, and it’s obvious that he delights in their enjoyment of the experience.

Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

With guests sipping beverages and sharing laughs, Captain Wim looked over at them, smiled, and told me that’s what it’s all about – making sure they have a wonderful time on their vacation.

Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

It would be hard not to. From the moment we boarded, a beverage was in our hand and faces were smiling by the time we pulled away from the dock.

Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Great food & drinks, beautiful sights, and an amazing array of creatures below and above the sea, including an osprey as we left the marina, were in store as we headed toward the open waters on our late afternoon adventure.

Osprey, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Osprey, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As we sailed along the western coast of Bonaire from south to north, we were treated to an afternoon view of the island, as well as snacks that began with a delicious brie appetizer. With a backdrop of casual conversations, Bonaire passed by us with its boats, beaches, colorful buildings and Dutch Caribbean charm.

Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Greg, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Greg, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Nearing the northern end of the island, we turned toward the west and headed to Klein Bonaire, an uninhabited island just off the coast of Bonaire known for fabulous diving and snorkeling. Captain Wim found a secluded spot for us to spend some time exploring Bonaire under the water.

Snorkeling at Klein Bonaire, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Snorkeling at Klein Bonaire, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

I’ll be honest, I’ve never really gotten snorkeling. Having been on numerous sailing cruises with snorkeling in the past, I’d do it on occasion and always ended up coming back to the boat to grab a beer. With some convincing to try it again, I thought, why not. Compass Bonaire provides all the gear, so I gave it a whirl.

Snorkeling at Klein Bonaire, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Snorkeling at Klein Bonaire, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Snorkeling at Klein Bonaire, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Snorkeling at Klein Bonaire, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

This was a different kind of snorkeling. Bonaire under the water is so magical. Parrotfish, Trumpetfish, Barracuda, Balloonfish, Lionfish, even Squid – we saw so many. And the coral! It was spectacular! Being led on a great snorkeling exploration was so different, with Emma identifying different fish as we found them. I am now a convert and I completely get it. Bonaire is amazing.

Snorkeling at Klein Bonaire, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Snorkeling at Klein Bonaire, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Snorkeling at Klein Bonaire, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Snorkeling at Klein Bonaire, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Snorkeling at Klein Bonaire, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Snorkeling at Klein Bonaire, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As we climbed back onto the boat, we were met with the fragrance of grilling and a splendid assortment of other dishes that Wim had prepared while we were swimming.

Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Wim’s former chef days were readily apparent with the fabulous spread he presented to us – and the peanut sauce was amazing. After an hour in the water on our adventure, the entire boat devoured the spectacular dinner.

Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As our dining drew to a close, so did the sun for the day, as the sky filled with golds and oranges.

Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

A lone freighter passed on the horizon and a calm filled the air, as everyone watched the beauty of the sun slipping below the horizon, leaving us in the afterglow of a day spent in one of the most beautiful spots on earth.

Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

As we headed back to the marina, everyone on board was happy and peaceful after a wonderful day in paradise.

Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Creating truly a memorable experience, the Compass Bonaire team delivers the highest level of hospitality and the sailing, snorkeling, and dinner sail is a superb experience.

Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Know before you go

Reservations. Compass Bonaire offers several different sailing tours or will customize one for your group. Give them a call at 00599 – 786 7757 or book online on the Compass Bonaire website.

Location. Compass Bonaire leaves from the Plaza Resort Marina. If you are using GPS on your phone, it may not get you to the correct place (we wound up on the wrong side of the marina).

What to bring. Bonaire is located very close to the equator and the sun is very strong. A high SPF sunscreen is recommended and should be reapplied often. Wear comfortable clothing and a swimsuit if you plan to snorkel. Bring a towel and, of course, a camera for catching that amazing sunset.


Disclaimer: Special thanks to Compass Bonaire for hosting us as their guests. The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.

Captain Wim, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Captain Wim, Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

 

Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire

Bonaire – More than just a diving island

Cover: Relaxing in Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Article by Kim Hull


The island of Bonaire is known for diving and, even though we’ve been to the Caribbean upwards of 30 or 40 times, we don’t dive so we’d never been to Bonaire. But, this year, we wanted to check it out and see what the island had to offer.

Known as one of the top spots in the world for diving, Bonaire is a paradise for those seeking to explore the colorful kaleidoscope that lives below the sea. For years, we’ve wondered if the “B” in the ABC islands (Aruba, Bonaire, Curacao) was worth a visit for non-divers.

The answer – if you like a relaxed island with 22 quiet beaches, turquoise waters, fabulous resorts, and so many activities you can’t fit them all in during your visit – then, yes, Bonaire is a true resort vacation destination – above and below the water.

A Bonaire resort vacation

Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

We believe that the perfect resort vacation should include a fabulous hotel, some beach time, a bit of island exploration, a few local activities, and, of course, some island flavors in the form of food and drinks. Here’s how we put our Bonaire resort vacation together.

Bonaire iguanas
Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Bonaire: Where to stay

Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Bonaire has a wide selection of hotel options, ranging from locations offering an intimate retreat to world-class resorts with full amenities. For our Bonaire resort vacation getaway, we stayed at the upper end of the luxury scale with a visit to the Harbour Village Beach Club.

Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Situated on a private beach of powder white sand, Harbour Village Beach Club is the definition of beach resort vacation with luxury rooms and suites, a great restaurant and bar overlooking the water, a spa, marina, an attentive staff, and a long, private beach.

Our stay at Harbor Village Resort was fabulous – learn more about Harbour Village Resort and check out the photos »

Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Bonaire: Things to do

Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Harbour Village Beach Club, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

While it was quite tempting to laze away under the blue skies and warm Caribbean sun, we also wanted to fully experience Bonaire while on the island, so we pulled ourselves out of our beach chairs and headed out for a few cool adventures.

There’s no shortage of things to do on Bonaire – hiking, biking, horseback riding, sailing, snorkeling, canoeing, and, of course, diving.

Swimming with horses at Rancho Washikemba

Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Neither of us had ever ridden a horse before (yeah, who would have figured), so we decided a first-time horse riding experience on a Caribbean island was a good place to start.

What a fabulous morning with the folks at Rancho Washikemba! Experiencing Bonaire on horseback, including a swim through Lagoon Bay while on your horse, was simply amazing. Learn more about horseback riding and swimming with horses in Bonaire with Rancho Washikemba »

Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Rancho Washikemba, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Watching the Bonaire sun set with Compass Bonaire

Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Always a fan of sailing, we next headed to Compass Bonaire for an afternoon sail and sunset dinner cruise.

Captain Wim and his crew entertain guests with an open bar, snorkeling, a delicious BBQ dinner and a beautiful Bonaire sunset. A sail with Compass Bonaire is not to be missed while visiting the island!

Learn more about Compass Bonaire’s snorkeling, sunset and dinner cruise »

Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Compass Bonaire Sunset Sail
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Exploring the island

After a leisurely breakfast, we set out on a drive to explore Bonaire.

To the north of the capital city of Kralendijk is a winding road along the coastline with numerous spots to park and take a short hike down to the water.

Bonaire
Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

The clear waters provide ample opportunity to view a vast assortment of the colorful fish in the warm Caribbean.

Bonaire fish
Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Bonaire fish
Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

At the northern end of the island is Washington Slagbaai National Park and Brandaris, the highest peak on Bonaire at 241m / 784 ft, which provides beautiful views of the island. With multiple trails for hiking and mountain biking, Washington Slagbaai National Park has a wide variety of terrain ranging from flat roads near the coast to steep, rugged hills. Not for the faint of heart or out-of-shape, the temperatures can get very hot in the exposed environment and require lots of water and sunscreen.

Bonaire
Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Thousands of donkeys roam freely on the island of Bonaire. Originally brought to the island by the Spaniards in the 17 century to perform labor, the donkeys must fare for themselves, which can be difficult with many facing starvation, dehydration and the threat of being hit by cars.

Bonaire wild donkeys
Bonaire wild donkeys
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

When driving in Bonaire, be sure and use caution as you may round a curve only to find a couple of donkeys standing in the road. If you stop and roll down the window, don’t be surprised if they stick their head in the car – many are very accustomed to people, others are much shyer and may run to hide.

Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire has rescued over 600 donkeys and a visit to the sanctuary, which is located south of the airport, is a great way to spend a few hours up close with the donkeys, along with iguanas and tortoises. The sanctuary is open daily and can be toured by car, scooter, bike or on foot.

Bonaire wild donkeys
Bonaire wild donkeys
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

In addition to donkeys, iguanas, goats, and other animals that call the island home can be seen scurrying across the road, so stay alert and keep your speed low when driving.

Bonaire iguanas
Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Bonaire iguanas
Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

On the east side of the island at Bara di Karta, several hiking and biking trails offer the chance to explore the rugged side of Bonaire. Like other trails on the island, the trails are very exposed and can take a toll in the hot sun, so early mornings with a good amount of water and sunscreen are a must.

Washikemba Hiking Trail, Bonaire
Washikemba Hiking Trail, Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Flamingos can be spotted around the island and, on the south side of the island, The Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary is one of only four areas in the world where flamingos breed.

Bonaire flamingos
Bonaire
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Near the salt pans, the water appears pink from the many brine shrimp in the water. The brine shrimp are the flamingo’s meal of choice and are what gives flamingos their pink color.

The Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary is home to thousand flamingos, but unfortunately, most of them cannot be seen from the road and the sanctuary is not open to the public. However, a few wandering flamingos may make their way to viewing distance on occasion.

Bonaire flamingos
Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Further down the road from the salt pans, are several groups of small, structures – one set yellow, one white, pinkish/red. We couldn’t figure out what these little buildings were for – they are near the sea turtle breeding beaches, so we thought maybe they’d built them for that.

When we returned to the hotel that evening, we asked the bartender, and he had one of the staff that had lived on the island his entire life tell us the history. The structures were slave houses. Five or ten people would call this “home” while they worked at the salt pans. Once a week, they would be allowed to walk to home to Rincon, about 35 km away, to see their families. The slaves, the majority of them government “owned”, were freed on 30 September 1862.

Bonaire slave huts
Bonaire slave huts
Photo: Kim Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Just a bit further down the road at the southern end of the island stands a beautiful lighthouse, Willemstoren, also known as Lacre Punt Light, which was built in 1837.

Willemstoren lighthouse, Bonaire
Willemstoren lighthouse, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media

Visiting Klein Bonaire

Klein Bonaire is an uninhabited island just off the west side of Bonaire and home to many snorkeling and diving sites. Klein Bonaire is about 800 meters / 1/2 mile from Bonaire at its closest point and can be accessed via boat, water taxi, sailing tours or kayak. As part of the Bonaire National Marine Park, Klein Bonaire is protected and subject to the park’s fees, rules, and usage regulations.

Bonaire
Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull, Cool Adventures © Chasing Light Media
Snorkeling at Klein Bonaire, Bonaire
Snorkeling at Klein Bonaire, Bonaire
Photo: Greg K. Hull © Chasing Light Media

Bonaire: Know before you go

Languages: The official language is Dutch. English and Spanish are widely spoken on the island.

Climate: Bonaire’s average temperature is 83º F /30º C, with the trade winds keeping it quite comfortable. The average water temperature is 80° F. Located so close to the equator, the sun is very strong and sunscreen with a high SPF should be worn and reapplied frequently.

Currency: The U.S. dollar is Bonaire’s official currency.

Electricity: 127 volt, 50 cycle.

Rental cars and driving: Multiple car rental companies are located at the airport. Driving in Bonaire is on the right side of the road.


Disclaimer: The content & opinions expressed are entirely our own. We received no compensation for this article. Reviews are opinion only and Chasing Light Media accepts no responsibility for how the information is used.