Bonaire is a
very small Dutch island in the Southern Caribbean forming part of the Leeward
Antilles in the Lesser Antilles. It is 24 miles long and about 5 miles
wide. Together with Aruba and Curaçao,
Bonaire forms a group referred to as the ABC islands. The capital and cruise ship port is
Kralendijk. Bonaire is a special municipality of the Netherlands.
Languages spoken on the island include Dutch, English and Papiamento,
which is a blend of Dutch, Portuguese, African languages and
Spanish. There are about 16,000 permanent inhabitants on the island,
so tourism has a signficant impact.
Attractions in Bonaire:
Things to see and do:
Klein Bonaire & Bonaire Marine Park – a small uninhabited islet a short distance off shore from Kralendijk surrounded by a marine park with turtles, rays and lots of fish.
It can be reached by water taxi in 15 minutes. There must be lots of fish at the marine park, as I saw several Atlantic blue tangs and a blue parrot fish combing the shore where the cruise ship was docked.
Diving – Bonaire is rated along with the Great Barrier Reef as a premier dive site
Lac Bay – tour the mangrove lagoon
North Tour – visit the Gotomeer (Goto Lake) which has nesting flamingos in January and also visit
Rincon, the oldest town in Bonaire and once a slavery site for the Spanish.
Washington Slagbaai National Park – 13,500 acres at the northern tip of the island.
Klein Bonaire, great snorkeling and diving on this uninhabited islet
We went on a Bonaire bike trip arranged through Princess . I’d tried about 4 times to offer Viki the opportunity to back out of this choice but she was determined to get exercise biking.
The tour was run by a Dutch couple and had about 16 participants. They loaded us in to a medium sized van, stopped to pick up the bike trailer and then took us to the north edge of Kralendijk to begin the ride.
There are no traffic lights on the island and there are only 15,000 permanent residents.
We biked north along the coast on a small pleasant trail that ran right beside the water.
There were lots of birds and bird calls. We even saw some yellow chested Amazon parrots.
I was surprised though by the medium sized vans, full of tourists, that
also fit on the bike path. It wasn’t wide enough for two way traffic, so they all went the same direction.
Next we biked inland along Goto Lake. It was very picturesque.
The flamingos that nest there were
gone for the season, but we did see a few at a lake at the edge of
Kralendijk. The flamingos return in January from Venezuela to breed.
Venezuela is only about 20 miles from Bonaire.
After the lake, it seemed cruel punishment at the 9 mile mark to include a steep climb into the center of the island.
I nearly made it to the top of the hill, but had to walk the last few steps.
From there we coasted full speed downhill to the village of Rincon. In the village we were provided free cactus liquor called
Cadushy. After our bar break we took the van back to Kralendijk.
We stopped just outside of town at a small lake where 7 flamingos were feeding.
This tour is a good one for someone who wants exercise, small crowds, bird song and Caribbean breezes. Personally I try the Bonaire Marine Park if I were ever to return.
Another small Caribbean Island, the Dutch island
of Bonaire is 112 sq. miles (180 sq. km) and is a coral island with less
than 15,000 residents. Together with Aruba and Curaçao it forms a group referred to as the ABC islands in the Lesser Antilles near Venezuela.
The main port is Kralendijk. The island was first inhabited by the
Arawacks who were wiped out by the Caribes and they in turn were decimated
by the Spanish. I went snorkeling at Wind Sock Beach. Bonaire
has one of the best snorkeling and diving spots in the Caribbean.
Bonaire - Wind Sock Beach
There were high winds and waves that day and we had to hold arms to get
past the surf. Even though the clarity of the water was affected by
the weather, we saw lots of fish and varieties of coral. There are
salt flats at the south of the island and there is a desert area in the
middle of the island with donkeys running wild.