It’s such a shame that the small Caribbean island of Bonaire is often overlooked by vacationers. Find out all about Bonaire here!
Have you heard of the Caribbean Netherlands? They are Dutch-speaking islands located in the Caribbean Sea. Together with Aruba and Curacao, Bonaire forms the ABC island group, which forms part of the Leeward islands.
Where is Bonaire?
Bonaire lies about 100 miles off the northern coast of Venezuela in South America. It is just north of the equator, yet just below the Atlantic Hurricane belt. That means it is very rarely hit by hurricanes!
What is the climate like?
You may have heard that Caribbean islands are sunny and warm— Bonaire is no exception! This vibrant, green island enjoys sunny weather year round. Of course, it gets some rain too, mainly during November and December. The driest months are March to June. During this time, the island gets less than an inch of rainfall.
Do they speak English in Bonaire?
Many people do speak English in this island nation. However, you’ll find that most people speak Dutch and/or Papiamentu. The majority of the people who speak English do so for school, business, or work purposes. In addition, some people speak Spanish.
If you plan on visiting Bonaire, you need to know what kind of money they use there. If you’re from the United States, you’re in luck, because this country currently uses the US dollar. The dollar has been the official currency of the island since 2011. You can find plenty of ATMs around in case you need to take out cash. However, keep in mind that you may be charged foreign transaction fees by your bank and/or the bank you withdraw money from.
What is the island known for?
Like we mentioned above, Bonaire is known for being one of the few Caribbean islands that are virtually hurricane-free. In addition, it’s extremely popular among divers and snorkelers! That’s because it is practically surrounded by a coral reef.
The reef and waters surrounding the island were designated Bonaire National Marine Park in 1979. This world famous park has over 6,700 acres of thriving coral reefs, seagrass beds, and mangroves.
What are the top things to do in Bonaire?
We’re so glad you asked! Bonaire is an incredible vacation destination. While there, you can indulge in snorkeling, night diving with a UV light, kayaking, and swimming. In addition, here are some of the top activities to do in this amazing country:
Visit the beach
Bonaire has some of the best beaches in the Caribbean. Unlike some of the larger, more well-known Caribbean islands, here you’ll find a large selection of secluded beaches where few tourists go. Try 1000 steps beach for a unique experience and breathtaking views. Despite its strange name, there aren’t actually 1,000 steps. However, it might seem that way once you start climbing them. In reality, there are only 67.
Check out the butterfly garden
Bonaire’s wildlife isn’t limited to the sea. Check out the butterfly garden near Lac Cai, on the island’s southeastern side, to see incredible insect species that live in the Caribbean.
Head to Washington Slagbaai National Park to see an incredible variety of bird species as you hike under a gorgeous green canopy of trees. Over 200 species are known to inhabit the area.
Shop in Kralendijk
Kralendijk, the capital, is the perfect place to spend an afternoon shopping and dining. Stroll down its quaint streets filled with colorful Dutch houses, and grab a bite to eat. In addition, you can enjoy lively Carnival parades in February or March.
See the magnificent salt pyramids
Salt is this island nation’s most prized export. Bonaire’s Cargill facility alone can produce 400,000 tonnes of salt a year! In fact, its unique pink salt flats take up about one-tenth of the country’s surface area. These get their color from the salinity of the brine. The facility washes the salt crystals and stacks them into 50-foot tall pyramids! Then, they are exported to hundreds of countries all over the world.
Go flamingo spotting
Head to Goto Lake in the north or Pink Beach near the salt flats to see exotic pink flamingos feeding and nesting. Those two spots are known as the best places to see these majestic birds on the island. However, make sure you bring your binoculars, since the nesting areas are government protected. Visitors aren’t allowed to get too close to the birds.
Visit Rincon, a 16th-century Spanish town
Rincon is famous for being not only the oldest town in Bonaire, but also the oldest settlement in the ABC islands. Built in a deep valley, the town features sunny yellow buildings that stand out in sharp contrast to the green trees and cacti (yes, cacti) that dot the landscape.
While in Rincon, don’t miss Museo Chich’i Tan, a 130 year-old estate filled with historic information and artifacts.
See colorful parrots at Echo Conservation Centre
Just 30 minutes away from Kralendijk, there’s a conservation centre run by a non-profit organization dedicated to conserving the endangered yellow-shouldered Amazon parrot, among other endangered birds. Echo Conservation Centre is located in a dry forest, in which all kinds of unique animal species live. Take a guided tour to see a wide variety of amphibians, reptiles, and birds.
You can also volunteer to help with short-term or long-term conservation projects. These include everything from caring for rescued parrots, to planting trees, to building fences.
Where to stay in Bonaire
Trust us, there’s no better place to stay than in your own private villa! You’ll love having enough space for your entire family or group of friends. In addition, there’s nothing like waking up to a breathtaking ocean view in the morning. Browse through these incredible villas to find the perfect one for your needs!
Main image: Tif Martin, Vacation Soup
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