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Bonaire Facts

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Island name: Bonaire.

Country: Netherland Antilles (NT).

Nationality: Dutch Antillean.

Language: Papiamento is the native language. Almost everyone speaks English and Dutch. Papiamento 65.4% (a Spanish-Portuguese-Dutch-English dialect), English 15.9% (widely spoken), Dutch 7.3% (official), Spanish 6.1%, Creole 1.6%, other 1.9%, unspecified 1.8%.

Island's Capital: Kralendijk.

Nickname: Divers' Paradise

National flower: Captus Scrub

Dive sites: 89 (54 on shore)

Population: 18,500 people (2014).

Climate: The climate is tropical marine with little seasonal temperature variation. Temperature is moderated by constant trade winds from the Atlantic Ocean, with averages of 28°C (82°F). Bonaire sits outside the Caribbean hurricane belt. "Rainy" season lasts from the last week of October to the end of January, but it is still relatively dry. During rainy season, late night and early morning rains are common, usually clearing shortly after sunrise. Water temperatures average 26°C (80°F). 


Area: 294 sq km (114 sq. miles).

Coastline: 127 km.

Geographic coordinates: 12° 9' N, 68° 16' W.

Location: the island lies 30 miles from Curacao, 50 miles north of Venezuela, 86 miles east of Aruba.

Terrain: The southern portion of the island is flat with few hills, sparse vegetation and negligible natural resources other than white coral beaches and salt. The northern part of the island is a rugged and arid national park. The southern tip of the island is a series of giant water filled salt pans for sea salt production and an off limits flamingo sanctuary.

Tourist Information

Accommodations: Bonaire has some mainly dive resorts and private apartments. Booking in advance is necessary.

Activities: one of the finest scuba diving destinations in the world; snorkeling, windsurfing, sailing, cycling, kiteboarding, horseback riding, bird watching.

Average tourist arrivals: 136,000 (2016).

Crime: Bonaire has a reputation for being one of the safest islands in the Caribbean, however visitors should take normal precautions.

Ecology: Bonaire is fringed by a coral reef which is accessible to divers from the shore along the lee side of the island (facing west southwest). The entire coastline of the island was designated a marine sanctuary in 1979, an effort to preserve and protect the delicate coral reef and the marine life that depends on it.

Electricity: Bonaire's electricity (127 volts/50 cycles) is slightly different from North America's (110 volts/60 cycles). Most North American appliances function without a transformer but older ones may run warm or burn out if left plugged in for a long time. Warning: Electrical current used to feed or recharge finely calibrated diving equipment should be stabilized with a specially engineered electrical stabilizer. Every diving operation on the island has one of these as part of its standard equipment for visiting divers.

Entry Requirements: Citizens of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, along with any other countries with whom the Netherlands has reached an agreement on visa requirements, are allowed to stay up to 90 days (3 months), without having to apply for a visit extension. US and Canadian citizens must have a valid Passport and a return or ongoing ticket. A Birth Certificate with a picture ID is also acceptable.

Extension of stay: you can ask for an additional 3-month extension.

Sleep: Generally very good.

Telephone: the international: country code is 1-599.

Time: GMT-4.

WiFi: There are several spots where free WiFi is available.


Currency: US dollar

Cost of living: high.

Credit cards: Traveler's checks and credit cards are widely accepted, though American Express and Diners Club are not as popular as Visa and MasterCard, while Discover is gaining popularity.

Currency: Netherlands Antillean florin (NAf). The U.S. dollar is as widely accepted as the local currency. The exchange rate is 1.78 florins to US$1 (NAf 1 = 56¢). 

Tipping: Some restaurants add a 10% to 15% service charge automatically. Tip taxi drivers and dive masters 10 %.

Air Transport

Airport: Flamingo International, BON.

Departure Tax: International departure tax is US$ 20.- per person, payable upon departure. This is usually not included in your airline ticket but some tour companies may include it. Domestic departure tax is Nafl 10,00.

Flight Times: Frankfurt - 14 hours, 10 hours, New York - 5 hours, Miami - 2 1/2 hours, Curacao - 15 minutes, Aruba - 30 minutes, Caracas - 30 minutes.

Water Transport

Ferry Service: none. There is no ferry service of any kind between Bonaire and Aruba, Venezuela, or Curacao.

Ports and harbors: Kralendijk.


Ethnic groups: mixed black 85%, other 15% (includes Carib Amerindian, white, East Asian).

Government type: parliamentary. Bonaire is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of the Netherlands; full autonomy in internal affairs granted in 1954; Dutch Government responsible for defense and foreign affairs.

Legal system: parlimentary, based on Dutch civil law system with some English common law influence.

Literacy: 96.7 %.

Religions: Roman Catholic 72%, Pentecostal 4.9%, Protestant 3.5%, Seventh-Day Adventist 3.1%, Methodist 2.9%, Jehovah's Witnesses 1.7%, other Christian 4.2%, Jewish 1.3%, other or unspecified 1.2%, none 5.2%.


Agriculture-products: Poor soils and inadequate water supplies hamper the development of agriculture.

GDP per capita: US$ 21,600 (2014).

Industries: tourism, salt extraction.

Natural resources: salt.

Unemployment rate: 6.6 % (2010).