Warm (78 to 84 degrees), clear (visibility up to 150 feet) water, with a pristine undersea landscape (the most diverse fish population in the West Indies) … what’s not to like? The Marine Park extends completely around the island, but some of the best scuba sites are at Klein Bonaire, an islet less than a mile offshore. A favorite with photographers is Carl’s Hill, a sheer wall close to shore that is a colorful collage of corals and sponges, with schools of blue tangs as accents.
For a look at the bird that inspired generations of lawn decorations, go to Goto Meer Lake, in Washington Slagbaai National Park or the Pekel Meer Sanctuary, where clouds of orange-pink flamingos flock around salt ponds during the January-July breeding season. Bring a telephoto lens (flamingos are notoriously shy and skittish) and a bird guide – the island is also home to more than 170 other bird species.
Hardcore fat-tire fans may point their knobbies to the unpaved roads of the hilly, desert-like northern interior, but more casual cruisers will appreciate the network of biking trails that generally follow the shoreline. Explore the northwestern coast, where you can bike past the Goto Meer flamingo haven, or take a challenging dirt road to secluded Nukove Beach and super snorkeling at remote Playa Frans.