Located just north of Kralendijk on Bonaire’s west coast, at the limit of the no dive zone, Karpata boasts pristine azure waters and an fantastic display of coral, sponges, and reef fish. This popular scuba diving spot (one of the best on the island) is also suitable for advanced snorkelers, when sea condition permit.

Karpata water entrance - Snorkeling Bonaire

How to get there?

Karpata is the northernmost snorkeling spot on Bonaire, located just before entering the no-diving area. From Kralendijk, head north for 7 kilometers on the coastal road. As most of the diving and snorkeling spots on Bonaire, Karpata is marked with a yellow-painted roadside stone. A parking is located in front of the spot. On your way to Karpata, you will pass by 1000 Steps, which is another excellent snorkeling spot on the north coast of Bonaire. If you plan to snorkel both 1000 Steps and Karpata, start with exploring 1000 Steps, because the road is then one-way only to Karpata.

Water entrance

There is a concrete platform in the middle of the little beach. Sit down on the platform, wear your snorkeling equipment and enter the water, taking care not to hurt yourself. This spot is open and subject to surf, and is recommended only for advanced snorkelers. You should postpone your snorkeling session if the sea conditions are not good.

Karpata snorkeling map, Bonaire

Exploration

The area to explore covers the approximately 50 meters-wide area between the beach and the reef drop-off.

A few meter from the shore, you will spot elkhorn coral clusters, almost touching the surface of the water (↕2-4ft/0,5-1m). Some patches of this iconic building coral species, strictly protected, can also be observed on the drop-off. The shallow areas are the perfect place to observe the parrotfish, trunkfish and wrasse feeding on the seabed.

Elkhorn coral in Karpata

Swimming away from the shore, you will soon reach the drop-off. On this section of the coast, the drop-off is very steep, but the first dozen meter of it, not that deep (↕6-12ft/2-4m), can be enjoyed by snorkelers. The slope is covered by healthy hard coral, gorgonian, sponges and sea fan, forming a fascinating underwater landscape. Among the most colorful fish you should come across in Karpata are, among dozens of other species, blue tang, bluehead wrasse, Spanish hogfish and the elegant French angelfish.

Karpata is home to both hawksbill and green sea turtles, and you will have the best chance of spotting them when snorkeling the east side of the spot (on your left when you are facing the sea).

Karpata reef drop off

Restaurants and accommodation

Karpata is in a natural setting, with no restaurant or accommodation nearby. The closest amenities are in Rincon, a 10-minutes’ drive from the spot. Bring at least water with you.

  • Level required Advanced
  • Protected areaBonaire National Marine Park
  • Maximum depth12ft/4m on the reef flat, 20ft/6m on the reef drop-off
  • Water entranceTricky, from a concrete platform
  • LifeguardNo
  • Visitor numbersLow to medium
  • Access costsFree
  • Restaurants nearbyNo
  • Public toilets & showersNo

MAP Spot

These spots are only recommended to good swimmers, in good physical conditions, and with excellent snorkeling skills. These spots can experience currents, moderate waves, important depths, tight or narrow passages, or tricky water entrance, and can be located near hazardous areas (channels, boat traffic, strong currents…). The distance to swim to reach the most interesting snorkeling areas can be important - up to 500 meters. The “advanced” category includes drift snorkeling (transported by currents) and snorkeling off the coast.

This level only apply when the spot experiences optimal sea and/or weather conditions. It is not applicable if the sea and/or weather conditions deteriorate, in particular in the presence of rough sea, rain, strong wind, unusual current, large tides, waves and/or swell.You can find more details about the definition of our snorkeling levels on our snorkeling safety page.