Bonaire: Where Coral and Cactus Thrive, and the Sea Soothes the Soul

We watched the nearly transparent vertical rods called trumpetfish hunt on the backs of parrotfish, blending innocuously into the herbivorous host before darting off for a kill. We got to know and regularly visit a coral rock where a pair of octopus lurked, and watched us back, changing color before our eyes from red to green to gray. And every day we saw the same three parrotfish, vermilion and emerald giants, half as long as us, nipping at invisible food on the corals.

One day I floated lazily above a large Gorgonian coral with long, flexible strands shaped like snaky ferns. I hovered, half-hypnotized, as it swayed back and forth in sync with the water. A pair of French angel fish, resembling indigo dinner plates streaked with yellow, came within inches of my face, and stayed there, curious and unafraid. I gazed back, wondering lazily, like Alice nodding into her Wonderland, what they thought of this cumbersome giant trapped in plastic and without natural fins, alien visitor from the same planet.


Where to stay: We stayed in two different Airbnbs, both lovely and cheap, ranging from $69 to $89 per night, with kitchens and plunge pools.

Getting around: Car rental is better than scooter rental, as the roads are narrow and many are unpaved.

Where to eat:

We usually cooked at home to save money and shopped at the excellent grocery store Van den Tweel Supermarket Bonaire.

A fresh tuna dinner at the Hillside Apartments restaurant is served every Tuesday.

For a delicious wahoo fish dinner and a fun bar scene in Kralendijk, try It Rains Fishes Bar & Restaurant.

Blennies at Buddy Dive resort has a nice mojito and fab sunset views. For fancy dining, try Ingridientes next door in the same resort.


Nina Burleigh, Newsweek’s national politics correspondent, is the author, most recently, of “Golden Handcuffs: The Secret History of Trump’s Women.”


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