About Bonaire

Bonaire is the easternmost island of the ABC islands (Aruba, Curaçao and Bonaire) and is situated only 64 km north of Venezuela, 80 km from Curaçao and 138 km from Aruba. The capital of Bonaire, Kralendijk is small, pleasant and offers a touch of old-Dutch tradition, mixed with a Caribbean aura. Across the Bay of Kralendijk lies the uninhabited small island of Klein (Little) Bonaire.
 
The landscape of Bonaire is formed by the arid climate and the vegetation consists for a considerable part of different kinds of cacti. The south-west region is rather pleasant and has beaches and calm water, on the north coast the waves are rough and the coast is wild. The beach is covered with stones and rocks which have often been polished smooth by the force of the waves. The often strong trade winds have given the divi-divi trees their typical strange shape.
 

Historic spot

Bonaire was discovered by the Spaniards in 1499. The island was at the time inhabited by Arowak indians who named it “Bojnay”, meaning Low Lands.

Travel documents

You can visit the Netherlands Antilles with a valid Dutch passport. You don’t need a visa. Departure tax has to be paid at the airport.

Weather and climate

The tropical climate is mitigated by the trade wind. The temperature hovers around 27 degrees all year. Bonaire is seldom threatened by a hurricane.

Money

The monetary unit is the Antillean guilder (ANG)= 100 cents. You may also pay with American dollars. In almost all locations you can pay with bank or credit card. There are several ATM’s where you can get money.

Infrastructure

Bonaire can be reached by plane or boat. As a result of its location many cruise ships call at Bonaire, as well as at other islands like the Bahama’s etc. Between Bonaire and the other islands there is regular air service so that you can easily combine visits to several islands. In Bonaire it’s a good idea to rent a car. The roads are not all that bad, only after a downpour and in faraway places you may need a jeep or SUV. You can bicycle almost everywhere and you can rent motorcycles and quads.

Culture

In the Netherlands Antilles you will come across Dutchmen. Several of them are there on holiday or are pensionado’s from Holland who have found a new home in Bonaire. Yet you can’t say that Bonaire is much like Holland. Life is more relaxed, the sun shines, temperature is agreeable and the Bonairians are very kind. The religion in Bonaire is mainly Roman Catholic. The local language is Papiamentu, but Dutch, English and Spanish are widely spoken.

Nature

As a result of a volcanic eruptions which took place millions of years ago, Bonaire has a core of volcanic stone, surrounded by coral plateaus. The reefs in the sea are easily accessible from the island: you can do a shore dive just from the coast and admire the underwater spectacle which is one of the most beautiful in the world. Visibility under water is often more than 30 metres and the temperature averages 26 degrees. The waters around Bonaire are part of the Marine National Park, which implies that everything is done to protect marine life as carefully as possible. It is strictly forbidden to anchor a boat there or to collect coral. 80 dive sites are indicated very clearly, most of them are visible from the road along the coast. Washington Slagbaai National Park, situated in the north west of the island, is a nature preserve with birds, (181 different kinds) lizzards, goats and iguana’s, where you may hike or tour by car.

Food and drink

The restaurants serve mainly Caribbean dishes. You can also find restaurants with an international cuisine which serve anything from Dutch to French or Chinese and Indonesian meals. Prices in supermarkets in Bonaire are higher than in Holland. Especially articles from far-away countries are more expensive. Products imported from South America or grown on the island itself are much cheaper.

Tips for entertainment

Almost directly on the waterfront of Kralendijk are the most popular places of entertainment. Bonaire is, however, not a destination where you specially go for entertainment, because you can actually see all popular spots in one evening. You will probably meet the same people in the same places (and every evening), which is typical of the island. This has naturally a certain charm and may create a very amiable atmosphere. The several (dive-) resorts all have a bar and restaurant. Here you will find in principle mainly American (dive) tourists.

Recreation & sundries

Although Bonaire is pre-eminently known as a dive and snorkel location, you can also go windsurfing in Lac Bay or in the bay of Kralendijk. Kite boarding is another possibility.
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