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Bonaire Info

Red Obelisk
Coloured Obelisk near the Slave Huts

Caribbean flamingo at the flamingo sanctuary on Bonaire


Scuba Divers
Scuba Divers

Wooden Shipwreck
Wooden Shipwreck

Hawksbill Turtle
Hawksbill turtle swimming along tropical reef

Graysby (Epinephelus cruentatus) hiding in a Group of Sponges

Spotted Cleaner Shrimp
The spotted cleaner shrimp (Periclimenes yucatanicus) is common to the Caribbean Sea
Personal Impressions
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.



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 threethousand.

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
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.

Bird Watching
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 basic research.

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. 

Slave Huts
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.

Coloured Obelisks
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.

Fort Oranje
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
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.

Butterfly Farm
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 1908. 

Rock Paintings
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 Roshikiri.

Slave Huts
Yellow slave huts

Caribbean flamingo at the flamingo sanctuary on Bonaire

Royal Tern
Trupial on a big Cactus

Trupials on a big Cactus
Trupials on a big Cactus

Old Shipwreck 
Shipwreck Our Confidence

Spotted Moray Eel
Spotted Moray Eel

Goldentail Moray Eel
Goldentail Moray (Gymnothorax miliaris)

Spotted Cleaner Shrimp
The spotted cleaner shrimp (Periclimenes yucatanicus) is common to the Caribbean Sea