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Sea Glass Hunting in Bonaire

Many colors of sea glass found in Bonaire in the Caribbean
Sea Glass found on the Island of Bonaire

Is There Good Sea Glass in Bonaire?

You bet there is! Bonaire is the sea glass mecca of the Caribbean. If you’re up for climbing down a 50ft cliff and being battered by waves in a cave-like environment, then this is the adventure for you! And you will be well rewarded with beautiful sea glass for your efforts.

How to Find Sea Glass in Bonaire

I had seen the stunning sea glass from Bonaire on social media, and really wanted to go, but knew we wouldn’t be able to find or get to the spot on our own. We cruise frequently to the Dutch Caribbean on Holland America, and only had one day to make it happen. However, we were fortunate enough to be spending the entire day in Bonaire. I had heard from others that it was a long trek. I also knew that Capt Kyle was the foremost expert on sea glassing in Curacao and Bonaire. So, when he posted the name of his friend, Jenifer, who lived on Bonaire and was available for tours, we contacted her immediately.

What to Expect

We really had no idea what to expect on this trip, so my goal with this blog is to take you on the experience virtually. That way you’ll be prepared. You do NOT want to find yourself on the edge of the cliff and decide this isn’t for you. Because you’ll end up sitting in a hot car for 6 hours.

Getting to the Perfect Sea Glass Spot in Bonaire

Luckily Jenifer was available to take us on the day we would be in port. Part of her service is to pick her guests up at the pier if coming by ship, which was very helpful. It took us about an hour by car to get to the “spot.” So, plan accordingly.

Jenifer is just delightful. She is a great conversationalist and gave us a lot of information about Bonaire. She drove us along the coast which provided stunning views. It is a bumpy ride because not all the roads on Bonaire are well maintained. So, if you have back or neck problems, be aware that you’ll be jostled around quite a bit. The surroundings of the island are so beautiful, with cacti, hills, cliffs and of course that stunning Caribbean blue water. With so many points of interest to keep our attention, the time in the car passed quickly.

Preparing for the Climb

Once we arrived at our destination, we had to decide what to bring with us down the cliff. A friend who had been on this trek had sent me some pictures of the climb, so I had an idea of what to expect. We were expecting to have to snorkel to the location once we reached the bottom. However, that’s not quite accurate. Instead, you will wade through the water along the cliff wall and search for glass in areas against the wall and under the shallow water. But you can choose to snorkel in the deeper areas around the caves as the waves come in and recede (not an easy task).

We brought our masks and snorkels (fins are useless there). We also brought three bottles of water each. Jenifer had a large cooler of ice water in the back of the car, so we were able to top off our bottles. You will have to scale the cliff carrying whatever you bring on your backs, so pack light. I brought my mask, snorkel, towel, sunscreen, phone (for taking pictures), and several gallon-sized zip-lock bags. I brought my dive booties with me, so decided to put those on for the climb, leaving my sneakers in the car. That turned out to be a very good decision because even if you choose not to snorkel, you will get very wet.

Recommended Clothing

As far as clothing, we always wear long sleeve UPF Lycra shirts, and skin-diving Lycra long pants when we’re in the sun. But in this case, you’ll want to cover up, so you won’t get scraped on the rocks. I’d also recommend a hat because you’ll be spending a lot of time in the sun, much of it looking down. You can also bring gloves for climbing down the rocks. Some of them are quite sharp. My dive booties have fantastic grip and are much more stable than sneakers. I would HIGHLY recommend climbing in those. You’ll want some kind of footwear that DOES NOT slip at all. At some points you’ll be putting your foot on the side of a rough rock and must climb up (or down).

Scaling Down the Cliff

Climbing down a 50 foot cliff wall above the Caribbean Sea in Bonaire
“The Cliff”

We walked to the entry point through some thick brush with very long thorns (another reason for long sleeves and pants). The hat also protected my head from getting scratched by branches. Once we reached the top of the cliff (after a brief panic attack), I prepared myself for the treacherous climb down. Keep in mind that my husband and I are 56 and 59 years old, so not spring chickens. I had two total knee replacements 7 months before this trip, so they still weren’t 100%. My husband is strong and fit and I used to be very athletic, so I felt good about the climb.

Jenifer is ridiculously strong and agile, and was a huge help in assisting us down. She told us exactly where to place our feet while climbing. She indicated when a rock might be loose, and where to place our hands to get the best purchase.

Kyle did build a make-shift ladder near the top, to help make it down a 6 foot drop. Then we had to crawl on our hands and feet over a ledge and jump a 3 foot gap to another boulder. Sounds pretty manageable…unless you’ve had two knee replacements and can’t jump. I’m short, but have long legs, so I was able to stretch across and have my husband grab my hand as I got to the other side. You will also have to squeeze between narrow areas as you go down.

I found it to be an exhilarating experience and had a real sense of accomplishment when I reached the bottom.

Searching for Sea Glass

The sea glass beach in Bonaire
Our sea glass guide Jeni

Down on the bottom, it was magnificent. We were standing in between the cliff wall and these large rock formations that buffeting the waves from really slamming into us. The waves would gush through the gaps and holes and smash into the cliff walls in some places. In other places, there were some dry spots right up against the cliff wall. The water is gorgeous… clear and warm. It was just beautiful.

Immediately upon planting our feet on the ground, we saw sea glass. However, we still weren’t at “the spot.” We had to hang our backpacks up on the rocks and trudge through knee deep water through the waves around the corner, following the cliff wall. There were several places along the 100 foot span of shore to look for sea glass. In some places the cliff wall receded into a cave-like system that you could crawl into to search.

Handling the Waves

The waves were VERY forceful because it was incredibly windy that day, and the wind was offshore, making the surf quite rough. The waves would slam into the outer rock formations, finding their way through the gaps and holes and then hit us with a great deal of force. I shot a couple of videos (link to video) to give you the idea. You must be steady on your feet and be prepared to get thoroughly soaked. Luckily the water was warm. There were a few places that you could get right up against the cliff wall and stay a little dryer.

Then if you wanted to go all-in, you could snorkel in the deeper areas in between the rocks. But you really need to be experienced to do this, because you must time the waves and stand up as they come in so that you’re not thrown against the back rock wall. Plus, the waves were so rough, that it kicked up the sand on the bottom making it difficult to see underwater with a mask. On our trip, it wasn’t worth the effort.

What Kind of Sea Glass Can You Find in Bonaire?

What sea glass looks like on the beach in Bonaire
Beautifully rounded sea glass on the beach

I spent most of my time sitting on the pebbled ground while waves washed over my legs, grabbing all the new glass that washed up. The amount of good-quality glass is unimaginable. Most of the glass was green (link to green glass) and white, with a few browns, but occasionally we found a real gem. I had never seen more shades of green! And they were ALL quite thick and round, indicating that they were very old. I didn’t see any thin shards or glass with broken edges.

I have never found a bright lime green piece of sea glass that was perfectly shaped and rounded…until now. It was incredible, and there were so many! There were also quite a few dark teals, which is hard to find. I did also find a few small blues and a couple of tiny turquoise pieces. There was quite a bit of bonfire glass in various solid colors and some multi-colored pieces.

I found 3 piece of glass that were an unusual color that I can only describe as “champagne.” One was a worn bottle stopper, and two others were perfectly round and thick. There were beautiful pale-yellow pieces as well as some incredible dark grays. And some black glass! The black sea glass, or pirate glass, as it’s also called, was the olive green and dark amber that is traditionally found in that very old glass. I have written a Black Sea Glass article and made a video on How to Identify Black Glass.

Finding Sea Glass Marbles on Bonaire

sea glass marbles from Bonaire

I was fortunate enough to find 11 marbles on this trip, and boy were they beauties! They were all cats-eyes, but in rare colors like red, orange, yellow and turquoise. Jenifer found one that had rainbow stripes in it! The marbles were unusual in that so many were tiny (peewee marbles). Only three of them were regular size, and one was a very large blue cat’s eye. Jenifer found one “shooter” marble that was huge! It was a perfect clear sphere. We also found several marble pieces that looked like multi-colored sea glass. I was quite surprised at how many marbles we all found.

I could go on and on, but suffice it to say that the sea glass was endless. I wish I could have stayed all week, but we had to get back before our ship left port. We ended up spending about 6 hours searching and got about 6-7 pounds between my husband and I.

Climbing back up the Cliff

Hand made ladder built by Capt Kyle
Capt Kyle’s helpful ladder

I knew that climbing back up would be easier for me because my knees are better going up than down. What I didn’t count on, was the weight of my pack with all the sea glass in it, and the way it would throw off my balance. Luckily Jeni and Bob helped take my pack when I had to make a difficult step or get over a big rock. Then I’d take it back. The ladder going up was SO helpful.

From the time we decided to leave, walk back through the water to the cliff bottom, scale the wall, walk the path back through the brush, down the road to the car, drive back to the ship, and get to our cabin was about 2 hours. So, if you’re coming by cruise ship, be mindful of that duration. Most of the time the ships don’t stay in port for that long. However, we were there from 7am to 7:30pm.

Overall Impression of the Experience

Our sea glass guide Jenifer with my husband, Bob and me in Bonaire.
Our guide Jenifer with my husband and me.

This trip was amazing! It was right up my alley and I’m so glad we went. I was also fortunate enough to have my husband join me. This is not the sort of adventure you want to attempt without support if you’re not in good physical condition. Aside from the cliff climbing, you will be battered by waves, and spend the day in the hot sun craning your neck down to look for glass. Most experienced sea glassers are familiar with the staring down at the ground part, but if you’re new to the hobby, be prepared for some physical exertion.

I found this trip to be truly unique and memorable. I have been sea glass hunting around the world for about 10 years and have braved Seaham Beach in the winter with driving winds and rain, in 34 degree temperatures, have slugged through the deep, soft sand of Spain for miles, getting battered by the cold Mediterranean waves, only to find a handful of art glass, but this trip was different than all of those. It has the stunning views of blue Caribbean water, warm weather, adventure, and the satisfying sense of accomplishment that only comes with having pushed oneself past perceived physical limitations.

Thank you, Jeni and Kyle, for making this trip possible. And for all you hunters out there, prepare yourselves for the sea glass adventure of a lifetime! To watch a short video of the experience, go to my YouTube Channel.

To contact Sea Glass by Jeni on Facebook for a tour.