Unveiling the Hidden Gem: Where the Heck is Bonaire and Why You Need to Dive Right In
by Stefanie Michaels
Bonaire is an island in the Caribbean Sea, located off the coast of Venezuela. It is a particular municipality of the Netherlands. Its slogan, “Bonaire – Divers Paradise,” for the island’s diving, snorkelling, and its clear waters with abundant marine life.
Bonaire is known for its clear turquoise waters, vibrant coral reefs, and is also home to the Washington Slagbaai National Park, boasting hiking trails and wildlife.
Bonaire has a rich culture and history, mixing Dutch, Spanish, and African influences, which is folds into the food and language. In fact, official languages of Bonaire are Dutch and Papiamentu—the Creole language widely spoken on the island, which melds Portuguese, Spanish, Dutch, and African languages. English is also widely spoken on the island, and many locals speak Spanish.
The official currency is the Netherlands Antillean guilder (ANG), but the US Dollar is widely accepted. The people who are native or reside in Bonaire are called Bonaireans or Bonairians.
The time it takes to get to the island from the United States varies depending on the departure location. If flying, the flight time from the east coast of the United States to Bonaire can be around 5-6 hours, and from the west coast can be approximately 8-9 hours, including a layover.
What are the eight things to see and do in Bonaire?
- Dive or snorkel in the clear waters around the island – the island is known for its abundant marine life and vibrant coral reefs.
- Visit Washington Slagbaai National Park – This park offers hiking trails, wildlife viewing, and beautiful beaches.
- Explore the island’s history and culture Their Museum is located in the capital city of Kralendijk. It showcases the island’s past and present.
- Take a boat tour to Klein Bonaire – This tiny uninhabited island just off the coast of Bonaire is a popular spot for snorkelling and diving.
- Visit the Donkey Sanctuary – this sanctuary is home to over 150 donkeys and offers visitors the opportunity to learn about the history of these animals on the island.
- Go windsurfing or kitesurfing – This isle is known for its steady trade winds, making it a popular spot for wind sports. Visit the Salt Flats – these large salt pans have been used for centuries and offer a unique glimpse into the island’s history.
- Take a sunset sail– many companies provide sunset sail, where you can relax and enjoy the beautiful sunset over the Caribbean.
- Eat like the locals- Bonaire’s local cuisine is a mix of Caribbean, African, and Dutch influences. Try the many local dishes, such as Keshi Yena, Stoba stew, Rundpoulet chicken dish, and Pastechi – a street food similar to an empanada, filled with meat and cheese.
Did you know?
Bonaire is home to one of the largest breeding populations of the endangered Caribbean flamingo? These beautiful birds are a beloved island symbol, and visitors can often see them in their natural habitat at the Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary. The island is one of only four breeding sites for this species in the Caribbean.
A little history:
Bonaire’s history dates back to pre-Columbian times when the Caquetio Indians inhabited the island. In the 16th century, the Spanish claimed the island, but the Dutch later took it over in 1636.
The island became an essential hub for the slave trade, and its economy was based mainly on salt production and fishing. In the 20th century, its economy shifted towards tourism, and the island is now known for its beautiful beaches, crystal-clear waters, and abundant marine life.
Today, it is a particular municipality in the Netherlands, and its unique blend of Caribbean and European influences make it a fascinating destination to explore.