Bonaire’s Best Dive Resorts

Three top picks for divers who appreciate a touch of luxury


There’s a reason the license plates on the island of Bonaire proclaim: “Divers Paradise.” The colorful reefs that surround this quiet island are considered the best in the Caribbean. Getting to these spectacular coral gardens couldn’t be easier. The best reefs are located just yards off the western shore in calm water, adjacent to a collection of first-class resorts that provide everything a diver could want. Here are three of the best.

Plaza Beach Resort Bonaire

Sitting on one of Bonaire’s only white sand beaches, and boasting the island’s most extensive range of resort amenities, Plaza Bonaire is a destination that will please divers and beach lovers alike. Spacious rooms and suites overlook a lagoon and marina, and the expansive resort complex includes meeting and entertainment spaces, a fitness center, children’s activity center, on-site spa, sports courts and a range of water sport equipment such as kayaks, paddleboards and sailboats. An all-inclusive rate plan covers meals, beverages, activities, sports equipment and entertainment. Not to be missed is the resort’s weekly beach barbecue, which draws locals and visitors alike.

Bonaire Plaza Beach Restaurant

At Plaza Bonaire, the Coconut Crash Beach Bar is a favorite with both guests and island locals. Each week, the resort stages a beach party with live music and dancing on the sand. Photo: Plaza Bonaire

Also on site at Plaza Resort is Toucan Diving, which caters to divers of all experience levels, and is well suited to introducing youngsters and novices to the sport. Children as young as eight can take their first underwater breaths safely with the PADI Bubble Maker Program, while teens and adults can sample the underwater world with a Discover Scuba Diving class, or go on to earn a full certification. More experienced divers can upgrade their skills with a range of specialty programs such as digital underwater photography, night diving and enriched air diving. There is lively reef immediately off the resort beach, along with daily boat diving excursions.

Bonaire Plaza

Plaza Bonaire sits next to the island’s finest beach. Divers can wade in from shore and make a short swim to the drop off, where a coral covered slope leads to deeper blue water. Photo: Plaza Bonaire

Buddy Dive Resort

Though diving is the primary theme at this property, Buddy Dive is no spartan scuba lodge. The 11-building compound perches above turquoise shallows, offering spacious studios or one, two and three bedroom apartments, all with kitchens and living spaces that will accommodate anyone from solo travelers to extended groups of family and friends. The grounds include two swimming pools, two restaurants and an activity center. Downtown Kralendijk is a short walk away and the concierge can arrange a variety of on-island adventures and activities.

Buddy Dive Resort Bonaire

The pier at Buddy Dive is right next to the resort’s dive center, giving guests easy access to dive boats and the coral reefs that begin close to shore. Photo: Beth Watson/Buddy Dive

The dive center includes a retail shop stocking a range of equipment and accessories for sale or rent. Both shore and boat diving activities begin right outside the shop. Bonaire is known for the many shore dive sites that begin at parking areas along the coastal road. To support this activity, Buddy Dive has an onsite vehicle rental office, and a unique drive-through air station where divers can load fresh tanks right into their rental vehicle. Buddy Dive is also the home of the only PADI 5-star Career Development Center in the southern Caribbean, providing training all the way to instructor level.

Buddy Dive Resort Diving Bonaire

A diver is framed in the cargo booms of the Helma Hooker. This sunken freighter sits next to a reef on Bonaire’s western shore, just a short swim away from the beach. Photo: Beth Watson/Buddy Dive

Captain Don’s Habitat

This resort’s namesake founder was one of the Caribbean’s original scuba pioneers. It’s been four decades since the captain opened his original dive lodge near a prime reef a mile north of downtown Kralendijk, and it has remained a favorite ever since. The property has kept pace with the times, expanding to include deluxe ocean view rooms, detached one and two- bedroom garden villas and luxurious three-bedroom oceanfront suites with separate living rooms and kitchens. On-site Rum Runner’s restaurant is one of the islands best, with tables that perch feet from the Caribbean on a low bluff with spectacular sunset views.

Captain Dons Habitat

Captain Don’s Habitat perches on a low limestone cliff that overlooks the island’s calm western shore. Divers can plunge right into the clear water, or catch a boat to more distant reefs. Photo: Captain Don’s Habitat

The on-site dive center is both PADI and SDI five-star rated, and offers a wide range of specialty courses, including technical and deep dive training. Underwater explorations can begin right from the resort pier, and daily single and two-tank boat dives access sites up and down the coast and on nearby Klein Bonaire island. Captain Don was an early proponent of conservation, and instrumental in the creation of the Bonaire Marine Park. This ethos has lead to a number of eco-friendly practices at the resort.

Diving Captain Dons Habitat

The dock at Captain Don’s Habitat is the starting point for explorations of an extensive coral reef system that runs for several miles along Bonaire’s western shore. Photo: Captain Don’s Habitat