Bonaire is known primarily as a spectacular dive site, ringed by a series of offshore reefs. But Bonaire is also a landlubber’s destination, with a developing art and dining scene, and a slew of land-based activities. In the main town, Kralendijk, visit Cinnamon Art Gallery, founded by a trio of artists or any number of fine restaurants featuring French, Italian, Argentine and creative cuisines. Still, Bonaire is a long way from becoming an urban mecca. Here, the flamingo population rivals the human one, building size is strictly limited, and the circumference of the island is a protected marine park.
Stones marked with the names of dive sites can be seen from the coastal roads and a two minutes’ swim (literally) will reveal a reef teeming with marine life. Drive-through dive stations allow divers to refill their tanks before heading out to other alluring spots.
Amazing as the diving is, there’s much more to do on Bonaire. Sign up with the Mangrove Info and Kayak Center for a kayaking session through the pristine mangrove system – one of the few left in the world. Drive north up the west coast past a prime flamingo-viewing lake called Goto Mere. Spend a day in Washington-Slagbaai National Park amidst more than 13,000 acres of flora and fauna. See rock formations like Seru Bentana (Sky Window), and spot any number of birds and beasts at the Pos Mangel watering hole. The park has many beaches, some of which are very small.
Heading south down the east coast, visit the tiny village of Rincon. Catch the panorama from Seru Largu, a hilltop viewpoint. Drive south to the salt pans, signs of the salt industry that still thrives here. Just below the white mountains of salt rising from purple “lakes,” you’ll find the Flamingo Refuge. You can stand roadside and (very quietly) observe these elegant and shy creatures. Park yourself close by on Pink Beach, and at sunset you can see them lighting up the sky as they wing their way on their nightly trip to Venezuela.
AIRPORTS/GATEWAYS/FLYING TIMES: Airport: Flamingo International Airport. Located a short drive from Kralendijk, the capital. Gateways/Flying Times: Service is available from many cities in the U.S. on American Airlines/American Eagle (via San Juan), Delta Airlines from Atlanta and Continental from Houston and Newark. Learn more about how to get to Bonaire.
CLIMATE: Average temperature is 82 degrees F. Average annual rainfall is 22 inches.
DINING: Restaurants - Local. Seafood. Italian. Gourmet. International. Indonesian. Chinese. Fast Food. A service charge of 10-15% is added to bills in lieu of tips. Dress code is casual.
LANGUAGE: Dutch is the official language. Local Papiamentu, English and Spanish are widely spoken.
NIGHTLIFE: Dance Clubs. Dinner/Dances, Nightclubs. Pubs. Theaters. Cinemas. Live music. Karaoke.
SIGHTSEEING: The Flamingo Colonies near Goto-meer. Historic Dutch buildings, the slave huts at Rode Pan and the Solar Salt Works nearby. Arawak Indian cave paintings at Boca Omina. Museo di Boneiru Beach, Washington – Slagbaai National Park. The Bonaire Marine Park. Willemstoren Lighthouse, Dos Pos, Rincon, Klein Bonaire, Lac Bay.
FIND OUT MORE: Please visit www.tourismbonaire.com
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