Just off the coast of Venezuela, this southern Caribbean gem welcomes visitors to its sunny shores. A municipality of the Netherlands, Bonaire has been under Dutch protection since 1636, after winning a war against the Spanish. However, Spanish was still the predominantly spoken language until the late 1800s. With a unique history and cultural tapestry, the island of Bonaire in the Leeward Antilles is a wonderful destination to see a different side of the Caribbean.
The shores of Bonaire are graced with sandy and rocky beaches alike, including Atlantis Beach, Flamingo Beach, Pink Beach and Boka Kokolishi. However, none is quite so as unique as 1000 Step Beach. With white sands and bleached bits of coral, the semi-hidden beach is any beach-goers dream. There are 67 historic steps (not 1000!), that lead down to the sand and water. Once at the ground level, you can enjoy the pristine snorkeling conditions, admire the surrounding limestone cliffs, and delight in the wildlife.
Geologically, Bonaire is a unique island. Rather than being the remnants of a volcanic explosion, or the tops of underwater mountains, the entire island is made up of coral reefs. Surrounding the island are even more coral reefs. Bonaire has a narrow fringing reef, starting practically at the shoreline, that extends to a maximum of 200 feet (60m) depth. in fact, the entire coastline of Bonaire has been declared a marine sanctuary as part of the Bonaire National Marine Park .
The Washington Slagbaai National Park is located in the northern end of Bonaire. It comprises of two former land plantations, Washington & Slagbaai, which once supplied salt, charcoal, aloe extract, divi-divi pods, and goats for export to Curaçao and Europe. The Washington National Park was initially founded in 1969 as the first Nature Sanctuary of the Netherlands Antilles. Ten years later, the Slagbaai land plantation was negotiated and added thereby creating the Washington Slagbaai National Park.
Many events throughout the Caribbean have been either postponed or cancelled due to the current COVID-19 pandemic. As countries have begun to adjust to the new normal, events have restarted on a smaller scale and in keeping with health and safety protocols.
Cultural Event ‘Nos Zjilea’
October 31, 2020
This event has a fusion of local arts & crafts, plants & vegetables and educational presentations. Enjoy the delicious food while listening to some of the best local musicians as they play live at cultural park Mangazina di Rei located at the east-entrance of Rincon.
Cancelled Events (October 2020)
Swim to Klien Bonaire 2020
Bonaire Sailing Regatta
In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic, several travel policies have been implemented including:
Passengers from Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and Switzerland are still permitted to fly to Bonaire. However, the Dutch government has issued an advisory that they recommend all non-essential travel be postponed
All island travel to and from Aruba, Curacao, Saba, St. Eustatius and Sint Maarten is restricted. Persons who wish to travel must receive personal permission from the Bonaire government. With this permission they may enter and then go into mandatory quarantine for 14 days.
Borders remain closed to all other air travel until November 1 when a new announcement will be made.
When you decide to make your travel arrangements to Bonaire, be prepared for a lengthy trip. While the Flamingo International Airport does accept international and regional flights, Bonaire is a relatively small island. Each major carrier, such as United Airlines, Delta, and American Airlines, only offer one or two direct flights to Bonaire from key hub airports. Check out Bonaire’s tourism website for a full and updated list of these flight plans.
Several cruise lines offer itineraries that include Bonaire. However, one of the most popular is Royal Caribbean, which is featured on many of their Southern Caribbean cruise itineraries.
For those who love the national bird of Bonaire, the stunning pink flamingo, head to the south of Bonaire to The Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary. Here, you can see flamingos in one of only four breeding grounds in the world. As you observe the stunning pink birds, you will also be able to see the famed Salt Pyramids in the distance, courtesy of Bonaire’s salt industry.
Donkeys were brought to Bonaire to be beasts of burden during the colonial era. Now, with little need for them, they now run wild. Luckily enough, the Donkey Sanctuary does all they can to take care of sick, injured, and orphaned donkeys. You can take a tour of the sanctuary and even feed the donkeys with carrots the sanctuary offers – they’re very used to people!
History lovers should head to Bonaire Museum. With preserved tools from pre-colonial times, colonial artifacts, and some natural artifacts like coral and fossils. The building of the museum is also a historic site, dating back to 1885!
For those who want to learn more, the Terramar Museum showcases exhibits that focus on specific periods of Bonaire’s history, such as shipbuilding, colonial agriculture, or the native populations. The museums also hosts rotating exhibits, so who knows what you might learn!
Bonaire is the diving capital of the Caribbean. If you have the certifications, plan to enjoy some wonderful SCUBA diving opportunities. Some popular options include the Bonaire National Marine Park and 1000 Steps Beach. If you don’t have the certifications, join a snorkeling expedition instead!
Those who want to help preserve the wildlife of Bonaire can donate to the Reef Renewal Bonaire. Their tireless work is to maintain and preserve the stunning natural reefs around the island, one of the area’s biggest attractions. Their work is felt across the reefs and waters to provide a healthy marine ecosystem for everyone.
Capital: Kralendijk Population: 20,100 Language: Dutch, Papiamento Currency: US Dollar Religion: Roman Catholic, Protestant National Bird: Caribbean Flamingo National Flower: Kibrahacha blossom National Dish: Stoba kabritu, a goat stew Motto: “A people of excellence, moulded by nature, nurtured by God.” The National Flag: A large blue triangle in the lower right corner, taking up half of the flag. There is a small yellow triangle in the top left corner. A large white strip separates the two triangles. In the white section, a black compass with a red, six-pointed star, sits on the left side of the flag. The blue represents the sea, the white represents peace and freedom, the yellow represents the sun and the national flower. The compass reflects the native Bonairean’s strong seafaring ability while the red compass represents the six settlements on the island and the survival power of the Bonaireans.
Half Moon Bay, Antigua
Stingray City, Antigua
17 Mile Beach, Barbuda
Nelson’s Dockyard National Park, Antigua
Dickenson Bay, Antigua
St. John’s, Antigua
Devil’s Bridge: Indian Town National Park, Antigua