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 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.
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.
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.
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 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.
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.
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Snorkeling spots are part of a wild environment and their aspect can be significantly altered by weather, seasons, sea conditions, human impact and climate events (storms, hurricanes, seawater-warming episodes…). The consequences can be an alteration of the seabed (coral bleaching, coral destruction, and invasive seagrass), a poor underwater visibility, or a decrease of the sea life present in the area. Snorkeling Report makes every effort to ensure that all the information displayed on this website is accurate and up-to-date, but no guarantee is given that the underwater visibility and seabed aspect will be exactly as described on this page the day you will snorkel the spot. If you recently snorkeled this area and noticed some changes compared to the information contained on this page, please contact us.
The data contained in this website is for general information purposes only, and is not legal advice. It is intended to provide snorkelers with the information that will enable them to engage in safe and enjoyable snorkeling, and it is not meant as a substitute for swim level, physical condition, experience, or local knowledge. Remember that all marine activities, including snorkeling, are potentially dangerous, and that you enter the water at your own risk. You must take an individual weather, sea conditions and hazards assessment before entering the water. If snorkeling conditions are degraded, postpone your snorkeling or select an alternate site. Know and obey local laws and regulations, including regulated areas, protected species, wildlife interaction and dive flag laws.