Spotted Cleaner Shrimp
Bonaire is a leader in marine conservation and a paradise for scuba divers. Because the whole island
and also Klein-Bonaire is a Marine Park, the underwater-world is unspoiled. Bonaire's pristine
reefs and diverse marine life are unique to the Caribbean. It's the only Caribbean island where
plastic bags are not permitted, which is very praiseworthy. The island itself is relatively flat
and desert-like. The few sand beaches are not worth to mention. Beside bird watching the main
attraction is underwater. You can step off the shore and explore the underwater reefs from almost
everywhere. The short flight from Curacao in a small airplane offers great views. I highly
recommend Bonaire to every scuba diver. Diving prices are higher than on Curacao, but lower than on
most other Caribbean islands. The reef dive at Klein Bonaire was the best dive I ever did.
= STRIEWA =
Kralendijk is the
capital city and main port of Bonaire. The language spoken in the town
is Papiamentu, but Dutch and English are widely used. Koralendijk is
dutch and means "coral reef" or "coral dike". The population is about
Scuba Diving in the Marine Park
Bonaire's reef is well-protected and considered one of the most vibrant and healthy habitats of
its kind in the world. The Bonaire National Marine Park was established in 1979 and circles
almost the entire island. The preservation and care for Bonaire's reef system is why it is
considered one of the best scuba destinations. The preserve is home to a vast array of sea
creatures. The alert diver can find sea horses, octopus, giant blue parrot fish, groupers,
trumpet fish, giant angel fish and too many others to list here. There are over ninety dive sites
in Bonaire, the majority of which are accessible from the shore. Visibility is best between
February and April, but never drops below about 30 meters. The fringing reef lies close to the
shore, at usually no more than ten meters. Although boat dives are available from all dive
centres, most divers hire a vehicle to dive and snorkel in their own time and at their own pace.
The waters surrounding the island are rich in nutrients, giving rise to its fabulous marine
diversity. Over 300 different fish species flourish in the seas off Bonaire.
Klein Bonaire (Dutch for "Little Bonaire") is a small uninhabited
island 800 meter off the west coast. It can be reached by water taxi,
or, for divers, by practically all of the local dive operators. Klein
Bonaire is part of the Bonaire National Marine Park and offers
world-class diving in pristine, coral-rich waters. The only structures
on the island are some ruins of slave huts.
Bonaire has no endemic species of birds, however, there are a number of subspecies, or
geographical races that are restricted to just the islands of Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao.
The island boasts over 190 species including the Lora (Amazon parrot), which is now protected
against capture by international treaty. Bonaire's most famous bird is the pink flamingo.
Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary
The Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary in one of only four areas in the world where Flamingos breed.
Pekelmeer means "pink lake" in Dutch. Pools appear pink against the white salt flats because an
abundance of tiny rosy brine shrimp live in the water. The Sanctuary is located on the vast
saltpans at the southern end of the island and home to over ten thousand flamingoes. Tourists are
not allowed in the sanctuary, but the birds can be watched with binoculars from the road or
nearby Pink Beach. The Caribbean flamingo is the most colourful of all species of flamingos, due
mainly to the red carotenes in their diet. The refuge also attracts dozens of other species,
including osprey, cormorants, heron, frigate birds, and other marine birds.
Washington-Slagbaai National Park
This nature sanctuary in the Northwest part of the island was the first preserve in the
Netherlands Antilles. The name Washington goes back to the 1920s, when the Herrera family first
purchased the property and named it "America" and later changed it to Washington. It is a safe
habitat for the terrestrial native and endemic species of Bonaire. Parrots, flamingos, parakeets,
iguanas and many other species of birds and reptiles can be found in this reserve. The beaches
inside the park are an important nesting ground for all four species of sea turtles found in the
Caribbean. The park was once a divi-divi, aloe, charcoal, and goat plantation. It was sold to the
government at the end of the 1960s on the condition that the land remains in its natural state.
Mangrove Information Center
The Mangrove Information Center is a research and excursion center. Visitors to the center learn
about the mangroves, one of the most unknown and most endangered environments on our planet. The
Mangrove Information Center offers guided kayak and solar boat tours through the beautiful
mangrove forest of Lac Bay on Bonaire's western coastline. The center has a big aquarium for
Rincón is Bonaire's oldest village, founded by the first colonial rulers, the Spanish, in
the 16th century. It used to house slaves who worked on the salt flats. Today the town is famous
for its pastel-coloured homes. Rincon is located in the inland of Northwest Bonaire in a hilly
area which turns into the Washington-Slagbaai National Park.
These huts were constructed in 1850 during the slavery time. In the past Bonaire's main industry
was the production of sea salt. In the days of slavery, men and women were forced to work as
saltrakers in the salt evaporation pans of Bonaire's south shore. Slaves were housed in small
huts in cramped conditions close to salt pan harvesting sites.
Four Obelisks on Bonaire were used as navigational shore markers to guide ships coming in to
load. The obelisks were painted red, white, blue, and orange (the colours of the Dutch flag). The
red obelisk is near the slave huts, the white obelisk is near Pink Beach, the blue obelisk is
near the Salt Pier, the orange one is gone.
One of the oldest buildings of Bonaire is Fort Oranje, a small fortress with high walls situated
a short distance from the coast. Four big guns and a large garrison patrolled the fort from the
beginning of 17th century to defend Bonaire's main harbor. Thanks to this impressive power
it was never attacked. The fort was extensively modified during the end of the seventeenth
century. Until 1837, the fort was used by the commander of Bonaire. 1940 Dutch and German
citizens were transported to Bonaire and interned in a camp just south of the fort. After World
War II, this camp was converted into a hotel, which is now the Divi Bonaire. Fort Oranje houses
historical artefacts from Bonaire's past.
Bonaire Museum in Kralendijk is housed in a plantation mansion that has been restored to its
original splendour. The collection of this museum consists of a great number of archaeological
findings, including urns and prehistoric utensils. You can see antique furniture, household
items, agricultural tools, ship navigation devices, musical instruments, cannon bullets and
antique firearms. It has also a photo collection of old black and white photographs and more
recent colour photographs of Bonaire.
The Bonaire Butterfly Farm near Lac Cai is a butterfly-filled tropical garden surrounded by
numerous cactus trees and prickly bushes. The Farm shows butterflies that live in the area in and
around the Caribbean. Butterflies are not taken from the wild but bred for captivity.
Rooi Lamoenchi Reserve
The private Rooi Lamoenchi Reserve, east of Kralendijk, is a model of the past plantation life.
The cactus-flanked plantation building sits among aloe vera fields and dam remnants from
At about ten places on Bonaire you can find in and around caves a large number of historic Indian
rock paintings. The most interesting places can be found at Boka Onima, Spelonk and Cueba di
Trupials on a big Cactus
Spotted Moray Eel
Goldentail Moray Eel
Spotted Cleaner Shrimp