If you just want to cycle a bit, explore the area at your own pace, there is a fairly extensive route over the paved roads on Bonaire. There is a route of about 50 kilometers that leads from Kralendijk to the Gotomeer, and over Rincon back to the main town of Playa-Kralendijk. And there is a route, also about 50 kilometers long, that leads from Flamingo Airport, through the salt mountains and the Pekelmeer over the southern tip, to Lac Bay. Both routes run for about 90% along the coast or saliñas (salt lakes) and thus offer spectacular views of Bonaire’s natural beauty. Both routes can be done very well with an e-bike, but also wonderfully with a scooter.
Cycling on Bonaire – the eight of Bonaire
The two Grand Tours are the most beautiful routes to drive. The routes run as it were in a figure of eight with Kralendijk as the ‘crossroads’. In general you can say that the southern route is mainly flat and windy and the northern route is a bit heavier because it goes through hilly area. The ever-present trade wind is on the one hand a formidable opponent to cycle against, on the other hand the breeze provides some cooling. With an e-bike you do not suffer from any headwind and much less trouble with the hills. If you do the southern route counterclockwise, you will have tailwind on the way back. You cycle the northern route in a clockwise direction. Just a real eight.
Grab the southern part of the island one day and the north the next. Stop regularly at scenic spots to take a picture, spot pink flamingos, sugar thieves or iguanas, chat with locals, go for a swim or just chill out! Here you can read all about the two most beautiful routes when you tour Bonaire with an e-bike!
The north route with beautiful views such as 1000 Steps and the Gotomeer
If you take the scenic tourist route north from Kralendijk, you immediately have the azure sea on your left and the dramatic karst and limestone formations on the right. You follow the coastal road north to Thousand Steps and Goto Lake. Here you cycle on the Queens Highway, the road along the diving spots on the north side of the island. Slightly ascending and descending you get beautiful views of the bright blue sea and if you are lucky you can see turtles swimming from the side. Along the way you will come across some places where you can go into the sea.
On the route you pass several coral stone walls, which mark the original plantation grounds. Eventually you will arrive at Landhuis Karpata – or Kas Grandi (the big house) as the locals call it. Note on the northern route that you have a bit of one-way traffic, which starts after Thousand Steps and goes up to the dilapidated mansion Karpata (nice to see). So you drive the northern route clockwise.
You can then choose to turn off for the shorter route to Rincon, via the Kaminda Karpata with a considerable climb (turn right at country house Karpata). Or – much more fun – you keep following the coastal road to the Gotomeer, where there are many flamingos. The route along the Gotomeer leads over hilly terrain, through beautiful landscapes and with a wide view of the salt lake. If you have time for a trip to the Gotomeer, you can go up the mountain via a steep footpath. Once at the top you look out on the south coast, Kralendijk and Klein Bonaire.
On the northern route you can catch your breath in Rincon. If you descend from the hills at ‘Dos Pos’ you can already see the village with the characteristic yellow church. Here you have a few local bars (or ‘snekkies’) in the center that are not to be missed. From Rincon you cycle through the valley to the northeast coast, possibly with a trip to Boka Onima and the Indian rock paintings, and then along the asphalt road straight through Bonaire back to the main town of Playa-Kralendijk. Those who still have time and energy, turn ‘off’ at Seru Largu to enjoy a great view over the entire island.
The south route with the slave huts, salt pans and flamingos
Unlike the mountainous north side of Bonaire, the south side is completely flat. Many salt flats and a large number of flamingos can be found in this part. The great thing about this route are the great color contrasts that you encounter during your bike ride. The clear blue sea water, the snow-white salt flats, the yellow slave huts, the green mangrove forest and the almost always crystal clear blue sky!
Must-sees when you go out are (as already mentioned) the Goto Lake and Thousand Steps, but the slave houses, the salt flats and Lac Bay are also among the favorite places on this Caribbean island. The southern route takes you past all three, and Lac Bay is certainly a nice stopping place to continue cycling afterwards. You can drive the southern route both counterclockwise and clockwise. When you drive south from Kralendijk past the airport (counterclockwise), the ring road through South Bonaire (EEG boulevard) starts there. You can follow this all the way to Lac Bay.
The last stop from Kralendijk is the popular beach club Ocean Oasis. A little later you will pass the salt fields, the brine lake and the salt pier. At the entrance to the salt production site there is a wooden box where you can pick up a few large salt crystals as a tourist. Nice souvenir for home. Later you will come across Pink Beach, one of Bonaire’s larger sandy beaches with some palm trees, which is popular with swimmers and snorkelers. At the Pekelmeer you can still see a number of traditional slave huts. First the white slave huts and the kite beach, halfway down the road to the southernmost tip of Bonaire on the right. At the southernmost point you will find the yellow slave houses and the Willemstoren.
When you arrive at Lac Bay, you have three stops here next to each other: Sorobon Beach, Jibe City (recommended!) and Sebastians Beach. The ideal place to watch the brightly colored windsurfers on the shallow lagoon. The northern part of Lac Bay consists of a unique mangrove forest. On the way back it is best to take the winding road (Kaminda Sorobon) to Kralendijk. Along the way there is a good chance that you will encounter some donkeys and flamingos. You will then cycle back into Kralendijk via the mini golf course (known from Hans and Karin from Ik depart). So from Lac Bay not the Kaya IR. Randolph Statius van Eps, that is a long straight road. Unless you want to go past the donkey sanctuary.
Mountain biking on Bonaire
Mountain bikers can also enjoy themselves on Bonaire. The island is blessed with hundreds of miles of nature trails. Dusty dirt tracks meander across plains and through mountains, between rocks and cacti. Rough dirt tracks, goat trails, steep climbs and long descents, it’s all there. Especially in the northwest there are nice cycling routes, but fanatic mountain bikers can also indulge themselves in the east. Only if it has rained, it is better to skip a day, then there is a lot of mud.
Around Rincon there are several MTB routes that are very worthwhile. Take the Rincon-Sabadeco trail to Kralendijk for example. This dirt road starts behind ‘Grotto de Lourdes’ which is signposted in Rincon. Or the Kunuku trail between Dos Pos and Rincon. It is also recommended to cycle the cycling routes in the national park. You do have to buy an entrance ticket. But if you are a diver, you have already bought a dive tag and you can enter the park for free. Another nice round (10 km) is up the hill towards Seru Largu, a beautiful vantage point over the entire island.
Mountain bikers often leave just after sunrise. They often pick up their MTB in the afternoon and hand it in immediately after cycling. You rent from Scooters Bonaire namely a bicycle for 24 hours, so that’s fine. That bike is an MTB with tubeless tires (29″ tires, double bottle cage, bar ends), which is great if you go off-road.
Cycling tips Bonaire
- Get out early and stay ahead of the worst of the heat. Lubricate yourself well with (coral-friendly) sunscreen and wear sun-protective clothing and a cap. Take plenty of drinking water with you, and dive into the sea water halfway through the ride!
- There are several hundred kilometers of well-paved roads that span the entire island. Many of the roads run along the seafront, so be sure to pack a snorkel for a refreshing swim.
- The ground is quite rocky, so there is a great chance of a punctured bank. So always take a tire repair kit with you. Do you want to cycle without worries? Then take out a service package with your bike rental, then you will receive roadside assistance. Even with a flat tire.
- Bonaire has a different traffic rule with regard to traffic from the right, they have the American system. When you get to a T-junction, the one who goes straight ahead. So traffic from the right has no right of way. It seems difficult, but in practice it is very pleasant.
- There is almost no street lighting, so cycling is a daytime activity.
- It is best to set aside a whole day for a visit to Washington Slagbaai National Park. You can enter the protected nature reserve that covers the entire northern tip of Bonaire by car, but it is even more fun to explore the area by mountain bike.
Cycling yourself on Bonaire
There are few special bicycle paths on Bonaire, because the average Bonairean prefers to travel by car. You will therefore often have to share the asphalted road with motorized traffic. The traffic and roads may look a little daunting for cyclists, but you just need to get used to this. They honk quickly, but that is mainly to let you know that they are going to catch up with you. Because the driving speed is not high here (40 km/h in the village, 60 km/h outside) and there is little traffic outside the city, Bonaire is very suitable for cycling!
There are plenty of options on Bonaire to rent a bicycle or mountain bike. Rent an MTB or e-bike at Scooters Bonaire costs USD 22.50 for a day. Reservation is required, then the contract is printed and the bicycles are ready for the tenants. This also prevents disappointments. They have new Batavus e-bikes with a powerful battery and a mid-mounted motor. In the autumn there will also be electric MTBs.
Want to read more about Bonaire? We previously wrote an article about ‘the other Bonaire’ and about nature in Bonaire and what you as a tourist can do to help protect this nature. Do you have any questions for me? Reassure them!