Can I fly my drone in Bonaire?

I’m planning a summer trip to Bonaire for scuba diving and considering bringing my DJI Avata 2 drone along. However, I’m uncertain about the regulations regarding drone usage on the island, as I’ve encountered conflicting information online.

As you can see from their website, Bonaire is fully committed to conservation and the preservation of threatened and endangered species. Additionally, the buzzing of a drone or drones could obstruct that. That just leaves the areas of the island that are more populated, after which you approach the airport and any defense bases or installations. not to mention the fundamental avoid flying over or near people.

Flying a drone in Bonaire can be a bit tricky.

Here’s what I found after digging around online:

  • The Rules Seem Confusing: There isn’t a clear-cut “yes” or “no” answer. Bonaire’s tourism website says drones are generally not allowed [Tripadvisor forum about Bonaire drones]. However, some sources say recreational drone use might be okay, but there are restrictions [Eagle Pubs - Drone Regulations].

  • Restrictions Likely Apply: Even if recreational use is allowed, there are likely restrictions. For example, some areas might be no-fly zones, like national parks or flamingo nesting areas [ScubaBoard - Bonaire and drones]. You’d need to check for specific restrictions before flying.

  • Safety and Respect Matter: Even if you think you can fly legally, it’s important to be safe and respectful. This means keeping your drone away from people, and birds (especially flamingos!), and staying clear of airports or restricted airspace.

Here’s what I would do:

  • Contact Local Authorities: Before your trip, try contacting Bonaire’s aviation authority or tourism board directly. They should be able to give you the latest information on drone regulations.

  • Check for No-Fly Zones: Once you know the general rules, look for any designated no-fly zones in Bonaire. These might be marked with signs, or you might find them online.

  • Fly Safe and Consider Alternatives: If you do decide to fly, prioritize safety for people, wildlife, and your drone. Maybe stunning underwater photos are a better fit for Bonaire’s beauty!

By following these steps, you can avoid any unwanted trouble and ensure a smooth, drone-free (or responsible drone-filled) trip to Bonaire!

Bonaire falls under the same drone regulations as the Caribbean Netherlands. In a nutshell, drones for recreational use are allowed but with restrictions. I found conflicting info online too, so I can guarantee it’s best to check the official regulations before you fly. This way you can avoid any hassle and capture some epic aerial shots of your trip!

In Bonaire, drone regulations require you to register your drone with the Civil Aviation Authority and obtain a permit for recreational use, with additional permits needed for commercial activities. You must avoid no-fly zones, keep the drone below 400 feet, and maintain visual line of sight.

A friend of mine took his DJI Avata 2 to Bonaire last summer and found the authorities strict about these rules. After registering and securing the necessary permits, he captured stunning aerial footage of the coastline and dive sites, but emphasized the importance of adhering to no-fly zones around national parks and marine reserves to avoid fines and protect the environment.

One of my favorite places on Earth! I wasn’t into drones when I was there (2012 and 2017), so I can’t confirm anything about that. However, if you haven’t been before, here are some diving videos I shot back in 2012. It’s such an incredible island. Make sure to head north to Boca Slagbaai and also to the wild side of the island (the East side) for some even more amazing dives. The Hilma Hooker (wreck) was a fun dive as well. Good luck and have fun! If you have any other questions, feel free to ask.