Barbados and Bonaire are two completely different Caribbean islands and travelers will have vastly opposite experiences during a vacation.

In this article, we share a comprehensive comparison of Barbados to Bonaire to help you make a suitable decision for your next Caribbean vacation.

As a general rule, Barbados is better for travelers who are interested in a bustling nightlife atmosphere and visiting the iconic Harrison caves. Alternatively, Bonaire is perfect for a visitor who wants to enjoy unique Dutch cuisine and shore diving in a quiet and laid back environment.

Read on for further details and explanations on how these two beautiful Caribbean islands compare. This article is written by a Caribbean National who has extensive knowledge of both islands.

Barbados Vs Bonaire- Which Island Is Bigger

Barbados has the bigger landmass being 166 square miles. The highest point of elevation in Barbados is Mt Hillaby which stands at 1,120 feet. The island became a Republic on November 30th, 2021.

On the other hand, Bonaire is slightly smaller than Barbados at 111 square miles. The highest point of elevation is The Brandaris at 784 feet located at Washington Slagbaai National Park.

Barbados Vs Bonaire- Which Island Has The Better Nightlife

Barbados has the better nightlife of the two destinations. There are a broader range of restaurants, golf courses, clubs, casinos and other forms of entertainment especially on the South Coast.

Additionally, in Barbados, Oistins also provides a lively venue for visitors and locals to meet and relax on the beachfront every Friday evening.

On the other hand, Bonaire is a peaceful and laid back island. Generally, nightlife activities tend to be happy hour with live bands.

Some of the locations which are great spots for nightlife include Lucas Bar, Coco Beach Bonaire and Delfins Beach Resort.

Barbados Vs Bonaire: How Does The Weather Differ?

Bonaire has a longer dry season than Barbados and hence sunshine is almost always guaranteed during a visitor’s stay in Bonaire.

On a whole, the rainy season in Bonaire is much shorter than other Caribbean Islands. Annually, the rainy season begins in October and ends in January each year. Bonaire also has the advantage in that it is located outside of the hurricane belt.

Likewise, Barbados is also located outside of the hurricane belt. Despite this, it has not been spared of the effects of hurricanes.

The last storm that made landfall was Harvey in 2017. Tropical storm Gonzalo in July 2020 passed 12 miles to the southwest while hurricane Elsa passed south of the island in July 2nd, 2021.

Barbados Vs Bonaire- Does The Language Differ ?

The official language of both islands differs. English is the official language of Barbados while Dutch is the official language of Bonaire.

Papiamentu, English and Spanish are also spoken in Bonaire due to the multicultural nature of the island.

Barbados Vs Bonaire- Which Island Has The Better Cuisine

Barbados’s cuisine is primarily typical West Indian food. Its national dish is cou cou and flying fish.

Cou cou is made with corn flour which is allowed to simmer in coconut milk. One needs to ensure and stir consistently to avoid lumps. Fish is usually featured in many Barbadian dishes.

Alternatively, the cuisine is Bonaire is unique and differs from that of Barbados and the rest of the Eastern Caribbean Islands.

Pastechis is one of the favourites of locals and visitors alike and is a must try if you visit the island.

Additionally, Dutch snacks such as Frikandel and Bitterballen are unique to the Dutch Caribbean and you also should try them if you visit Bonaire.

If you love cheese, then Keshi Yena which is a traditional meal is one that you will enjoy. Cheese is added to leftovers to create a casserole which is baked.

In Bonaire, the main and popular fruit drink is Awa di lamunchi. This drink is also served on the Dutch Caribbean islands of Curacao and Aruba.

Barbados Vs Bonaire- Which Island Has The Better Beaches

If your priority is white sand beaches for sunbathing and relaxing, then Barbados is the ideal destination for you.

The award winning Crane Beach and Miami Beach are two of the main spots loved by both locals and foreigners alike.

Alternatively, if your priority is shore diving, then Bonaire is the better island for you. Corals and variety of fishes can be seen near the shore without taking a boat.

Te Amo Beach and Lac Bay are some of the best spots for snorkeling on the island.

Barbados Vs Bonaire- Does The Currency Differ?

The official currency of both islands differs. The official currency used in Barbados is the Barbadian dollar.

USD $1 is equivalent to BBD$2 and is also pegged to the US Dollar. The Barbadian currency is managed by its own local central bank.

Bonaire became a special municipality of the Netherlands on October 10th, 2010. Despite this, the official currency of Bonaire the US dollars.

Barbados Vs Bonaire– Which Island Has Better Access To International Cities

Barbados has better access to international cities. There are several airlines from major cities in both the USA and Europe that provide direct and non-stop service to Barbados and in many cases these are daily flights from major cities.

Bonaire also has easy access to major international cities. However, the number of flights and range of airlines is much narrower. Being a part of the Netherlands KLM offers direct and non-stop flights to the Netherlands every week.

In addition with the introduction of American Airlines, there are now direct flights to Miami international. Barbados however has more connections via American Airlines into the island than Bonaire.

Through Insel Air, there is also easy access from Bonaire to South American countries such as Brazil and Colombia. Insel Air also offers flights to several USA cities many of which are via Curacao and Aruba.

Barbados Vs Bonaire- What Are The Unique Things To Do

Unique Things To Do In Barbados

Harrison Caves-, Barbados has a cave where you can enjoy a tour inside. There are stalactite and stalagmite formation. There is a bar and a gift shop on the property for added entertainment. Be sure and wear clothes that are comfortable and walk with a change of clothing if you want to go elsewhere. I was water soaked after my exciting tour of the cave.

UNESCO Heritage Site- Bridgetown and its Garrison have been designated as a UNESCO Heritage site due to its excellent architecture. These buildings were constructed in the 17th, 18th and 19th centuries and were well preserved until today. Some of the 30 sites and attractions include:-

  • Barbados Museum & Historical Society
  • National Heroes Gallery & Museum of Parliament
  • George Washington House & Museum

Sandy Lane Gold Cup- is one of the biggest horse racing event in the Eastern Caribbean. The race usually occurs every March at the Garrison Savannah which attracts jockeys, trainers and thoroughbred from other Caribbean islands and around the world.

Unique Things To Do In Bonaire

Washington Slagbaai Park– is a national reserve located at the northern part of the island. The park is over 40 years old and you pay about USD$25 to enter per person.

There are two routes- the short route and the long route. It is best to go with an SUV vehicle and be prepared to enjoy some scenes that look like pictures out of a magazine. It takes about 3 hours minimum to enjoy the park and its beauty.

Kitesurfing– due to the island’s unique location, the trade winds in Bonaire are ideal for kitesurfing almost every day of the year. Bonaire Kiteschool and Chogogo Kite are two of the main kitessurfing operators on the island.

Diving– Bonaire is one the best Caribbean islands for shore diving with Klein Bonaire being one of the favourite spots by divers. According to Tourism Bonaire, there are 85 official dive spots on Bonaire and Klein Bonaire of which 54 are shore dive sites.

Final Thoughts

On a whole, Barbados is an exceptional choice for a traveler who is seeking a more developed island with an interest in horse racing and enjoying white sand beaches. On the other hand, Bonaire is perfect for a visitor who wants to enjoy shore dives and kite surfing in a peaceful environment.

If you are contemplating traveling to the Barbados, Bonaire and the rest of the Caribbean, cruising is an affordable option to consider. An informative course by cruise specialist, Emma Cruises which you should check out titled How To Cruise For Less is valuable.

This course provides detail tips and techniques on how to save money while cruising onboard, onshore as well as the importance of insurance. So if you if you are considering a cruise for your next Caribbean vacation, check out How To Cruise For Less.

Need More Information?

Feel free to browse our website for more content on the Caribbean by using the search bar located at the top of this page. The following are some of our articles which we believe may be suitable for you.

Best Currency For Barbados (The Ultimate Guide)

What Are The Pros & Cons of Living In Bonaire

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