What to Know About Diving and Snorkeling at 1000 Steps Bonaire

1000 Steps Bonaire is one of the most popular beaches on the island of Bonaire. This secluded, pristine beach offers a rare combination of natural beauty, thriving coral reef, and world-class diving and snorkeling opportunities.

Renowned for its crystal-clear waters, pristine beaches, and remarkable marine life, this hidden gem is a great spot for SCUBA divers, snorkelers, and anyone who wants to immerse themselves in the unspoiled nature of Bonaire.

In this comprehensive guide, I’m sharing the unique allure of 1000 Steps Beach and everything you need to know about diving and snorkeling at one of Bonaire’s most beautiful beaches.

Standing at the top of the limestone staircase at 1000 Steps Bonaire (Thousand Steps Beach Bonaire)

About Thousand Steps Bonaire

Nestled on the island of Bonaire in the Caribbean Netherlands, 1000 Steps Beach (Thousand Steps Bonaire) is surrounded by dramatic cliffs and shrubby vegetation.

The beach itself is a basically a strip of white rocky shoreline flanked by dry cliffs on one side and electric blue water on the other. Shrubs and cacti are scattered around and there is very little (if any) shade, depending on the time of day.

Keep an eye out for local wildlife, such as iguanas and birds, hanging out in the vegetation along the cliffs!

One of the main draws of 1000 Steps Beach is the excellent snorkeling and scuba diving opportunities.

The beach is located on Bonaire’s western coast, which is known for its healthy coral reefs and diverse sea life. The clear waters and no currents make it an ideal spot for both beginners and experienced snorkelers and divers.

Iguana in the vegetation on the cliff at 1000 Steps Beach in Bonaire

Why is it called 1000 Steps?

Despite its name, Thousand Steps Beach actually features just 67 limestone steps leading down to a stretch of secluded, pristine shoreline. If you’re wondering how Thousand Steps Beach got its name, it’s because the only way to get down to the water is to hike those 67 stairs with all of your SCUBA diving gear.

A local told us carrying all of your dive gear quickly makes those 67 steps feel more like 1000, hence the name “Thousand Steps Beach.”

View of the Caribbean Sea from the top of the stairs at Thousand Steps Bonaire

How to get to 1000 Steps in Bonaire

1000 Steps Beach is situated along Bonaire’s west coast, roughly 6.8 miles (11.0 km) north west of Kralendijk, the island’s capital. The drive takes about 19 minutes.

The closest airport to 1000 Steps Beach is Flamingo International Airport (BON) near on Bonaire. From there, rent a car, taxi, or scooter to get to Thousand Steps Beach. See below for the Google Maps location.

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To get there from Kralendijk, take the scenic coastal road heading north to the Queen’s Highway. Keep an eye out for the sign indicating the entrance to 1000 Steps Beach just before you reach Radio Nederland Wereld Omroep.
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The correct spot is marked with two large yellow rocks at the top of the staircase on the left side of the road.
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Parking is available in designated parking spots near the side of the road.
Be careful not to pass it. The road turns into a 1-way road just after the parking area, so if you pass it you will have to circle all the way back around.
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From the top of the limestone staircase, you will have a jaw dropping view of the white rocky shoreline and the glittering turquoise sea. Walk down the limestone staircase to reach the beach below.
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Remember to wear sturdy shoes, as the steps can be uneven and slippery.

Scuba Diving at 1000 Steps Bonaire

For scuba divers, 1000 Steps Beach is a must-visit destination.

1000 Steps Beach is the most popular dive spot on Bonaire Island. The dive site, known as Thousand Steps, is known for its vibrant coral gardens and schools of fish, including vibrant parrotfish, trumpetfish, butterflyfish, angelfish and large schools of blue tangs and blue chromis. You might even spot a sea turtle or eagle ray near the reef drop-off if they’re lucky!

To SCUBA dive from shore at 1000 Steps Beach, you will have to lug your gear up and down the stairs. Luckily, that’s the hardest part because once you get down to the rocky beach, the water entry is easy and straightforward.

The beach is part of the Bonaire National Marine Park (BNMP), which means you’ll need to purchase a diving tag ($40) to access the dive site. You can buy a tag at local dive shops, hotels, or online at STINAPA Bonaire’s website.

About the 1000 Steps (Thousand Steps) dive site

  • Dive site name: 1000 Steps (Thousand Steps)
  • Dive level: All levels
  • Current: Little to none
  • Visibility: 10 – 30m. Average visibility 25m
  • Accessibility: Shore or boat
  • Fee: $40 nature tag required

The Thousand Steps dive site is characterized by a steep, terraced reef that starts just a short swim from shore and descends into the depths of the Caribbean Sea.

The dive site at Thousand Steps Beach is about 80 meters from the beach to the reef drop off. This site is great for all divers because the visibility is usually fantastic and there is little to no current.

1000 Steps shore is mostly rocky. However, there are a few sandy areas to the left of the beach for very easy entry into the water.

Upon entering the water, you will first encounter a shallow area of about 15 to 30 feet (5 to 9 meters), where the seabed turns from sand to sparse coral reef.

The reef becomes denser and more healthy as you venture further and approach a steep, terraced drop-off. The depth here ranges between 30 and 100 feet (9 to 30 meters). This is where you will witness the impressive biodiversity that inhabits the reef.

Schools of tropical fish and sea turtles weave through healthy patches of sea fans, colorful sponges, gorgonian trees, and staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis).

Keep your eyes peeled for sea turtles and eagle rays, which frequently hang out around the drop-off. The deeper parts of the reef also offer glimpses of larger pelagic species like barracudas, tarpons, and occasionally sharks.

Head to the east side of the reef to find large healthy stands of more staghorn coral. I have been diving all over the Caribbean and can safely say that the stands of stag horn coral in Bonaire are the best I have seen. Staghorn coral is critically endangered, so please do not touch it, kick it, or stir up sediment near it.

Remember to always follow safe diving practices, check sea conditions before you head out, and consider hiring a local dive guide if you’re unfamiliar with the area.

Healthy staghorn coral on the reef in Bonaire, Caribbean Neatherlands

Healthy staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) in Bonaire

Snorkeling at 1000 Steps Beach

The beaches calm waters and shallow corals make it the best snorkeling spot on Bonaire. Visibility is often excellent and a lot of the reef is in 10-30 feet of water. This makes it easy see to plenty of marine life gliding around coral heads just below the surface.

Some of the most common species you might encounter include parrotfish, sergeant majors, butterflyfish, and angelfish.

Make sure to bring your own snorkeling gear or rent from a dive shop back in town, as there are no rental facilities on-site. Additionally, be cautious when entering and exiting the water, as the shoreline is rocky and can be slippery.

The waters at 1000 Steps Bonaire are protected by the Bonaire National Marine Park, so all snorkelers, swimmers, windsurfers, etc. are required to pay the nature fee. The nature fee to snorkel in Bonaire National Marine Park is $40. You can get a nature fee tag online from STINAPA  Bonaire.

Whether you’re snorkeling or scuba diving, it’s important to remember to follow responsible diving practices to help protect the reef and marine life. This includes not touching or disturbing any marine life, avoiding contact with the reef, and not littering.

Snorkelers at Bonaire 1000 StepsSnorkelers at Bonaire 1000 Steps Beach

What to bring to Thousand Steps

Thousand Steps Beach Bonaire is pretty secluded and there are no rental facilities, bathrooms, or food stands on-site.

Here are some things you will want to bring with you:

Day Pack or Dry Bag – The hike down to 1000 Steps Bonaire isn’t very long. All you need is a day pack or dry bag to hold the items listed here.

Bathing Suit – this is a must if you plan on getting in the water. It’s easiest to put your suit under your clothes because there are no changing facilities once you get to the beach.

Travel Towel – A lightweight quick-dry towel comes in handy for sitting on the beach and drying off when you get out of the water.

Sneakers, Water Shoes, or Hiking Sandals – The stairs at Bonaire 1000 Steps are in good shape, so you don’t really need hiking boots. Sneakers or hiking sandals with good grip are just fine.

Snorkel, SCUBA Gear, Beach Essentials – There is nowhere to rent snorkel or SCUBA gear at 1000 Steps. You need to bring your own or rent it from a nearby dive shop and bring it with you. Bring your own beach essentials such as towels, chairs, coolers, etc., as there are no rental facilities on site.

Water Bottle – Bring plenty of water to stay hydrated because there is nowhere to get water at the beach.

Reef Safe Sunscreen – Thousand Steps Beach is almost completely exposed to the sun, so don’t forget to protect your skin with coral reef safe sunscreen.

Sunglasses – Protect your eyes from the Caribbean sun with a pair of polarized sunglasses.

Snacks – Pack a few drinks and snacks in your backpack. There are no restaurants or shops nearby to buy food or water.

Camera – 1000 Steps Bonaire is so picture perfect. You will want to have a camera with you, even if it’s just your phone. The GoPro Hero 11 is a great option because it’s small, lightweight, and waterproof to 33′. Don’t forget an underwater housing if you plan to dive deeper than that!

Snorkel or Dive Filters – Red is the first color you lose underwater. Enhance your underwater photos with a red filter for your GoPro. You can buy them individually for certain depths or as a pack of 3 to cover the spread.

1000 Steps snorkeling tips and recommendations

1000 Steps Bonaire is a great beach to snorkel, SCUBA dive, or just hang out for the day. Before you go, here are some tips and things to consider for visiting Thousand Steps Beach Bonaire:

  • Order your nature tag before you go. Everyone getting in the water in Bonaire National Marine Park needs to pay the nature fee, which costs $40 per year.  You can order your nature tag ahead of time from STINAPA Bonaire’s website.
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  • Practice Leave No Trace Principles to minimize your impact on the environment.
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  • Always SCUBA dive or snorkel with a buddy for safety.
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  • Arrive early to get a parking spot and enjoy the beach before it gets too crowded. 1000 Steps is one of the best beaches on Bonaire and parking is limited.
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  • There isn’t much of a current at 1000 Steps Beach. However, always be mindful of potential shifts in ocean currents and avoid venturing too far from shore. There are no lifeguards at Thousand Steps, so you enter the water at your own risk.
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  • Maintain a safe distance from coral formations and marine life to avoid injury or harm to the ecosystem.
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  • Combine your visit to Bonaire 1000 Steps with nearby attractions, such as Washington Slagbaai National Park or Gotomeer saltwater lagoon. Your $40 nature tag covers entry to Washington Slagbaai National Park.
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  • If you’re not an experienced SCUBA diver or snorkeler, consider hiring a local guide or boat dive to help you navigate the underwater world of 1000 Steps Beach safely and responsibly.

What to do nearby

  • Visit Washington Slagbaai National Park, which covers much of the northern part of Bonaire. The national park features a range of landscapes, from dry scrublands to lush green hillsides, as well as hiking trails, wildlife, and stunning vistas.
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  • Take the ferry near Harbour Village Marina to Klein Bonaire. Klein Bonaire is a small uninhabited island just off the coast of Bonaire with white sand beaches and crystal-clear waters. It’s the perfect spot for swimming, snorkeling, and diving.
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  • Catch sunset at Sorobon or Lac Bay. These are two of the island’s most beautiful beaches, with calm waters and soft sand perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and kiteboarding.
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  • Visit the salt pans and slave huts of Bonaire. They offer a glimpse into the island’s past as a center for salt production and a hub for the transatlantic slave trade.
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  • Check out more of Bonaire’s dive sites, like the Salt Pier and the Alice in Wonderland dive site. These sites offer opportunities to see sea turtles, eagle rays, and even dolphins.
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  • Enjoy the island’s delicious cuisine, which features a mix of African, Dutch, and South American influences. Local specialties include conch, iguana, goat stew, and freshly caught seafood. The best local restaurant near 1000 Steps Bonaire is Posada Para Mira. Their local stew is AMAZING. Unfortunately, they are not vegetarian or vegan friendly.

Local stew at Posada Para Mira Restaurant near Bonaire 1000 Steps

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Overall, 1000 Steps Beach in Bonaire is a beautiful and secluded destination that you must visit while you’re on Bonaire. With its clear waters, stunning coral reefs, and abundant marine life, it’s a popular spot for snorkelers and scuba divers. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing day on the beach or an underwater adventure, 1000 Steps Beach is definitely worth a visit.

Was this post helpful for planning your trip to 1000 Steps Beach in Bonaire? Let me know in the comments!

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Jackie - Adventure Travel Blogger and Author at The Adventures Atlas
( Adventure Travel Expert )

Hi, I’m Jackie! I’m a travel photographer and content creator based near the Adirondack Mountains of Upstate New York. I’m also a millennial who works full-time, yet I still find ways to travel frequently without breaking the bank, because traveling is what makes me feel most alive. Now I help fellow travelers who also work 9-5 and are looking for ways to travel more with limited PTO.

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