Bonaire is a tiny, flat island in Caribbean Sea, often overlooked by travelers. Located next to Aruba, the Island is safely out of the hurricane band. As an island municipality of the Netherlands, Dutch and English are widely spoken together with the local Papiamentu.
The island offers 86 diving spots accessible directly from the beach. The Bonaire waters are home to 55 different types of corals and 370 types of fish.
Although the rainy season is from October to January, total precipitation is lower than on the other islands.
Apart from diving, tourists can try the salt flats, explore ancient rock art together with colonial buildings, as well as enjoy the flamingos’ natural park and the numerous beautiful beaches.
Bonaire was part of the Netherlands Antilles. As such, people from these islands are often related. This too enriches Bonaire’s culture making it an exciting place to visit.
Kralendijk – the capital of Bonaire
Kralendijk is where most of the Bonairians, around 18,000 live. Located 2 miles (3100 km.) from the Bonaire International Airport, the capital is where the tourists can meet with local artisans and local businesses and test the island’s atmosphere.
With tourism on the island of Bonaire reaching the pre-Covid 19 level, the local government is decided to further fund the business, the education, and the culture in order to attract more visits to the island. One way to do it is the newly established tourism tax – BonaireTax which replaces the accommodation and the transportation taxes.
Although Bonaire is still a relatively unknown Caribbean destination, it is already among the biggest cruise companies’ spots.
Numerous cultural events attract local and foreigners. Among them, existing and new carnivals, local artisans’ market, local Caribbean food festivals.
Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary
Bonaire is home to around 6,000 flamingos who choose Bonaire to breed. The Sanctuary acts and a natural reservation park. This is why the visitors are not allowed to approach the birds. They can observe them, with binoculars from a distance, at the designated spots.
The Pekelmeer flamingo sanctuary is one of four in the World to host and help the flamingos breed in a safe environment. This happens each year from January to June. After June, some of the birds remain on Bonaire while others migrate to Venezuela. The park is attainable by organized bus transportation but also by car.
For those choosing to use the car they’ve rented, remember, you are not allowed to approach the birds or to drive on paths different from the main ones.
Kleine Bonaire is a tiny, inhabited island west of the main island. It’s reachable by water taxi and is absolutely worth visiting!
As part of the Bonaire National Marine Park, the nature is preserved by the law. This isolated paradise is rich in aqua life. In its crystal clear waters people are diving and snorkeling. Kleine Bonaire is reachable only by water taxis. As part of a Natural Park, no food or refreshments are offered, no beach umbrellas, nor changing areas or beach shower in this place.
Tourists are allowed to bring their own food and drinks, as well as beach supplies like towel but are also asked to collect everything before leaving to the main island of Bonaire.
Bonaire is also famous for its mangrove ecosystem. They are protected in the Lac Bay National Park and those whishing to see them can do so by kayaking on the clear lake’s water between their roots.
Four are the mangrove’s types on Bonaire. An experienced guide will not only help tourists distinguish them but also will explain the complicated and unique way these beautiful trees communicate with each other.
To the numerous diving opportunities the island offers and the many Natural parks where people can observe the animals and the flora of Bonaire untouched since centuries, caves exploration must also be added.
Despite its small size, the island of Bonaire has 400 known caves, most of which are open for exploration by tourists.
Although they are relatively customized with leaders, they are not suitable yet for non-trained cave explorers. Those with poor or no experience are highly advised to hire a guide.
After all precautions taken, the cave explorations can be real fun! Caves on Bonaire offer a combination of descending into the dark rocks and swimming, and diving into the underground waters.
Next time you consider a trip to the Caribbean, do consider exploring Bonaire. The small island with so much to offer!