From the depths of its pristine waters to the height of its tallest peak, Bonaire’s magic and unhurried pace is a welcome change. Winner of the Scuba Diving Readers’ Choice Awards for the 22nd consecutive year as the #1 shore diving destination for the region and the Best Overall Destination, as well as the #1 destination for marine and macro life, Bonaire promises plenty of underwater adventures for us to explore on our 15-day teen SCUBA and environmental community service program.
In this Dutch Caribbean paradise, we complete PADI SCUBA diving certification (or work on next level certifications). Once certified, we use our new underwater skills to help conservationists restore damaged reefs. We also assist a local youth group with conservation efforts on the island. When not below the water surface, we windsurf, sail, snorkel, and sea kayak. We explore nearly every inch of this tropical paradise, hiking though lush greenery to the top of Brandaris where we enjoy a 360-degree view of the turquoise coast.
Learn more about our teen summer scuba environmental community service program in Bonaire and how you can make a real, positive and lasting impression on the seascape. Click on the Description tab below.
Bonaire-Dutch Caribbean // You Don't Want to Miss...
#1 The Best SCUBA In The World
Bonaire's pristine reefs and diverse marine life are unique to the Caribbean. Protected and actively managed as a marine park for the past 30 years, it ranks among the top diving destinations in the world.
#2 The Pink Lake
The salt flats of Pekelmeer spread out in a great mosaic. The flats’ brilliant squares of color range from turquoise blue, where they have just been flooded, to pink pools filled with brine shrimp. In the distance, great flocks of flamingos sup on shrimp next to blindingly white mounds of salt.
We work with Stichting Nationale Parken Bonaire (STINAPA Bonaire), a non-governmental, not-for-profit foundation commissioned by the island government to manage the two protected areas of Bonaire.
#4 Glass-Bottom Trimaran
With an underwater observation deck that is 90% glass, we get an up-close look at underwater life – a unique opportunity to admire the beauty of the deep blue Caribbean Sea.
#5 Village Slave Colonies
In the late 1600s, African slaves were brought to Bonaire to tend crops and work in the salt flats. Their huts are built entirely of stone and serve as important reminders of the history of Bonaire and the entire Caribbean.
#6 Windsurfing Lac Bay!
Yes, the water really is this color! Lac Bay has long been known as one of the world’s finest windsurfing destinations. Its appeal comes from the perfect combination of wind, water, and land which together create shallow warm waters and quiet steady breezes.
#7 Mangrove Tunnels
This kayak and snorkel destination offers the best of marine life on Bonaire. We glide in our kayaks by mangrove trees in crystal-clear waters and paddle past bird habitats and fish spawning areas. We take a break to snorkel through channels filled with beautiful fish and jellies before heading back through the maze of mangroves.
This pristine 13,500-acre natural park covers almost one-fifth of the island and features hills with scenic vistas, vast saline plains, beaches, trees filled with exotic birds, wild donkeys, goats, and iguanas.
Donkeys have lived on Bonaire for hundreds of years, brought by the Spaniards in the 17th century to perform hard labor. Once modern transport made these animals less necessary to the island, they were left to their lot. Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire helps injured, ill, abused, and orphaned animals.
#10 Iguanas of Bonaire
Sun-loving iguanas roam freely about the island. While not considered an endangered species, iguana numbers are dropping at an alarming rate. A recently formed environmental NGO, the Iguana Preservation Society, has begun initiatives to protect the iguanas.
20-30 Community Service Hours
Coral restoration environmental community service, environmental conservation community service
A Certificate of Community Service indicating hours worked and a Presidential Volunteer Service Award will be issued upon successful completion of the program.
PADI Scuba: Open Water Diver Certification or work on next level certifications (Advanced Open Water)
Explore: Flamingo Sanctuary at Pekelmeer
Snorkel: Bonaire National Marine Park, Washington Slagbaai National Park
Sail: Glass-bottom trimaran sailing & snorkel excursion
Sea Kayak: Mangroves, Caribbean Sea
Eco Hike: Washington Slagbaai National Park
Windsurf: Lac Bac
Tuition (Airfare and baggage fees not included)
In Bonaire, we stay in a private home. Bedrooms will be divided by gender and participants will sleep slumber party style – in sleeping bags, rotating available beds nightly. Showers are available; however, we shower every three to four days to conserve resources and support sustainability. Bathrooms are flush toilets.
Kralendijk, Bonaire (BON)
Join in on the fun! Check out #BonBiniRLT for a behind-the-scenes look at photos from past participants and leaders.
The culture of Bonaire is reflected in the faces of its people. The different features and hues tell the story of dozens of ethnic and racial influences: Indian, African, Asian, and European inhabitants all have contributed to who Bonaire is today. As the world’s premier location for SCUBA diving and snorkeling, this small island in the southern Caribbean hosts gentle bays and open ocean and is known for its role in preserving nature – particularly the marine environment.
With some of the best coastal reefs in the world serving as home to a variety of endangered marine turtles, this quiet destination has also experienced damage to its marine lands due to hurricanes, disease, and coral bleaching.
We work in partnership with the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) Bonaire, founded by CNN Hero Ken Nedimyer to advance our preservation work and diving skills in this ocean paradise.
First, we obtain our PADI SCUBA diving certification and learn free dive and snorkel techniques (earning an open water certification, building skills toward an advanced open water, or obtaining additional specialty certifications).
Our reef restoration project takes us to Bonaire National Marine Park (BNMP), an International Coral Reef Action Network demonstration site. BNMP is a model for conservancy in the Caribbean. It protects and cares for the marine environment while balancing commercial use in a responsible way. The area encompasses the entire coast of Bonaire.
We work with the CRF and local experts on water-based service projects relating to the re-population and protection of staghorn coral. For four days, our community service work includes assisting underwater to establish the new nursery: planting, harvesting, and mounting new coral to the reef.
Bonaire has a history of nature preservation and always seeks to find the delicate balance between environmental protection and growth while maintaining nature and culture. Taking advantage of a coastline bordered by mangroves, numerous waterfowl come to breed and feed on the island. The Flamingo Sanctuary at Pekelmeer is one of the most important breeding grounds for the Southern Caribbean Flamingo population.
Days that we do not spend underwater, we windsurf and sea-kayak the mangroves and gentle bays of the ocean. We head to Washington Slagbaai National Park for eco-hikes, and end our time with one last adventure: sailing Bonaire’s exotic reefs on a 37-foot trimaran.
There is plenty of time to explore, swim, and snorkel each day until the sun goes down, and we manage to get it all in before saying goodbye to this world famous diver’s paradise.
Arrival and Welcome (Day 1):
Arrive in Kralendijik and transfer to our home on the water's edge.
PADI Course (Days 2-5):
Work on open water course or next level certification depending on experience level. Spend the four days honing our diving skills and preparing for our service project.
Sea Kayak Adventure (Day 6):
Sea-kayak through the coastal mangroves of the island in search of wildlife hiding in the dense trees. Catch the sunset on the small island of Klein Bonaire.
Community Wildlife Service (Day 7):
Work with the local wildlife organization to help with parrot conservation on the island of Bonaire, a tropical symbol of a healthy environment.
Coral Reef Restoration (Days 8-11):
Spend four days helping the Coral Restoration Foundation grow, harvest, and transplant staghorn coral on the reef around the island. Work in a coral nursery, help harvest coral that is ready, and replant it on the reef. On day 11, take a relaxing late afternoon bike trip to the southern end of the island.
Wind Surfing Adventure (Day 12):
Learn to wind surf in one of the best places in the world, Lac Bay!
Eco Hike and Recreational Dive (Day 13):
Tour of the National Park with a naturalist ranger for an in-depth look at the ecology of the island. Recreational Dive.
Final Day (Day 14):
Spend our last day on a glass-bottom trimaran, sailing and snorkeling. Celebrate accomplishments with a final banquet at the house by the beach.
Homeward Bound (Day 15):
Say final goodbyes and board flights home.
The Road Less Traveled does not require any vaccinations or immunizations to travel with us, other than an up-to-date tetanus shot or booster (within the last nine years).
Please visit the CDC’s website to read more about recommended vaccinations for travel to Bonaire. The decision to get some, none, or all of the recommended vaccinations is a personal one, and should be discussed with your family doctor.
Please click below to view your program’s equipment and packing list!
Bonaire: Bon Bini Packing List - Coming soon!
For an emailed copy of this program’s day-to-day calendar, please call our office between 9 a.m. and 5 p.m. CST at 773-342-5200, and we’ll happily send you one!
General Travel Info
It is imperative that no one make any travel arrangements until RLT provides instructions for specific arrival and departure time windows. Those details are typically released in mid-spring.
Families are individually responsible for booking their own airfare to get their student from home to Kralendijk, Bonaire (BON) on the first day of the trip, and from Kralendijk, Bonaire (BON) to home on the last day of the trip.