View Full Version : Kids and snorkeling from the beach

09-16-2013, 08:45 PM
Hi folks,
A bit of honest advice please. We've heard nothing but great things about Bonaire and how it is easy for kids to snorkel right from the beaches.Until today... a Work friend who is an experienced diver said she got pummeled( by coral/rocks/waves) trying to snorkel on most of the beaches, and would only recommend Bonaire if we intended to dive , not snorkel. Are the Bonaire beaches more suited for diving? I know Bonaire doesn't have classic beaches, and that is great, as we are active and want to be snorkeling, not laying on a beach towel.
We are a family of 4, two kids, 11 and 14, very strong swimmers (We live on the Tennessee river) and our goal was to find a place we could snorkel without being held hostage to dive boats, and charters, so we could snorkel at our leisure. I promise we aren't "Wussies" who freak if our kids get a bit banged up.


09-16-2013, 09:22 PM
Not sure what happened to your friend, but Bonaire has fantastic snorkeling from many sites with easy entry and exit. Just Google for images of "snorkeling Bonaire" and you'll see lots of photos of the typical Bonaire snorkeling experience.

We took our son to Bonaire for the first time when he was 12 years old. Whenever he wasn't diving with us, eating, or sleeping, he was in the ocean snorkeling on his own. IMHO the entire western shoreline between Belnem (south of Kralendijk) and Hato (north of Kralendijk) is pretty much suitable for snorkeling for kids that meet your description above. The exceptions are areas off limits for other reasons (i.e. near the cruise ship and cargo piers etc.) Of course weather events occasionally happen that might change this, but this is the rare exception rather than the rule.

09-16-2013, 09:24 PM
The snorkeling is great on Bonaire. As a diver or a snorkeler you have to be very careful getting in and out of the water and you also need hard sole booties. I both dive and snorkel and love to swim so Bonaire should be great for your family. What is nice about Bonaire is you can drive along the shore and jump in anywhere and snorkel. Exploring places is so much fun. The beaches on Bonaire are not sandy they are rocky so that is what makes the diving and snorkeling so great . When are you planning on visiting Bonaire ?

09-17-2013, 06:33 AM
most of the time the EAST side {wild side} of the island is not conducive to snorkeling.. but one look at the waves and you would know that.. perhaps these people went there ???? or perhaps there was a wind reversal when your friend was on island... there is sometimes a surge very close to the iron shore, better to snorkel off shore a bit... you should be fine if you use common sense :) stay alert for dive boats if you are snorkeling in the blue...

{thanks Mark for pointing my mistake out.. !!!! egad... ) I do up ^ really well :)

Paul P
09-17-2013, 10:24 AM

I go every year with my two kids, 13 and 11 now (we've been going for 4-5 years), and we snorkel several hours per day all over the island. I'm happy to chat live with you about this if you'd like, but can't figure out how to private message you. ModFreddie, can you advise us on that?

09-17-2013, 11:58 AM
to private message click on the persons name in the upper left hand corner of a post.. to PM mike you would click on Moon317 and that brings up more options, one of them being private messaging :)

09-17-2013, 07:04 PM
Thanks so much for the reply. Bonaire it is!!!!!!!!

09-17-2013, 07:06 PM
Thanks for the Info!! We arent going until Late June/Early July, but we are going!!

09-17-2013, 07:07 PM
Thanks Paul,
Sounds like we have the same kids!!
I appreciate the info,

george and judy
09-18-2013, 12:14 PM
If you stay at Divi you can snorkel right from one of their piers. We have done this for 20 years and still love it. Also, do not forget about going with Dee on the Woodwind. The snorkel is especially great for kids as Dee has 3 of her own and really can help them identify fish.

09-18-2013, 12:57 PM
Pink Beach on the south end is a nice place to snorkel, Old Blue (Tolo) on the north end as well

09-18-2013, 02:04 PM
I think 1000 steps has a lot of action in the shallows. The Wayaka sites in the park are a good option too.


09-24-2013, 05:14 AM
I think you will be fine given your expectations.

That said, shore entries can be a tricky -- especially those new to the ocean. (I would argue that shore entry with dive gear is harder than with snorkel gear and shore entries locally for me are more difficult but...)

My observations:
a) Wear appropriate footwear. It is not a good idea to try and do most shore entries barefoot. Think beefy dive booties (or even old tennis shoes) and open heeled fins. (yes, I did dive with someone who wore tevas out and changed into full foot fins so it can be done but booties are better!)
b) Look for low wave areas (most of the west side of the island).
c) Be cautious in areas where the current can be a bit of an issue (around the marina/eden beach area and the very southern tip). If there is a meaningful current, it almost always runs along shore so you can just drift and exit a bit further north or south. If that is not the plan, always start the snorkel swimming in to the current. Most of the time, I see no current and waves less than a 1 ft tall.
d) Watch for wave sets and time your entry or exit. ALWAYS keep an eye on the water -- never turn your back. When in the wave zone, take the waves side on (this greatly diminishes their power).
e) Scout out the entry for a few moments. Go out slowly (ideally with another person). Watch for holes and step downs. Watch out for pillars of coral (including fire coral!) as these can be in water only a few feet deep.
f) When entering or exiting, I have my mask on and have my fin straps held firmly in one hand (or over my wrist). If you happen to slip, I try and swim out if that is possible. I typically doff and don the fins in waist deep water.
g) Stand up when in less than waist deep water. (I sometimes snorkel in knee deep water but you need to be fairly careful...)
h) If you are staying at a place on the water, odds are they have a dock with stairs or a ladder. Hard to get any easier than that!

Generally speaking, I think shore based snorkeling is easy on Bonaire. But I have seen some goofy things in my time. People trying to walk out while wearing full foot fins. People snorkeling alongside a cement pier -- on the side that waves are hitting rather than on the leeward side. I have seen people walk in from the water without paying any attention to waves until they (surprise!) get hit in the back of the knees. I suspect your kids won't even get dinged up -- but if they do, that is also not a huge deal.

09-24-2013, 11:47 PM
If you stay at Divi you can snorkel right from one of their piers. We have done this for 20 years and still love it. Also, do not forget about going with Dee on the Woodwind. The snorkel is especially great for kids as Dee has 3 of her own and really can help them identify fish.

I second the Woodwind snorkel trip with Dee, we really enjoyed it.

Dive Biddie
12-09-2013, 09:22 PM
Maybe the friend of the original poster had kids that tried to stand up in the water all the time. Once you enter, keep feet up, and they will be fine.