Bonaire On a BudgetAn island municipality of the Netherlands, Bonaire resides in the Caribbean, east of Central America and north of Venezuela. It is a part of the ABC Islands together with Aruba and Cura├žao, and is best known as a tropical vacation destination with many great dive spots, beaches, lagoons, and wildlife.
SightsBonaire's reef-lined coast is protected by the Bonaire National Marine Park which pays homage to the island's long history of marine preservation. Since it was established in 1979, the park has managed the use of the island's marine resources which includes over 6,000 acres of reefs, seagrasses, and mangroves - a prime location for diving. On the northern end of Bonaire, lies Washington Slagbaai National Park. Comprising of two former land plantations, the area covers just less than 14,000 acres of undeveloped nature for the public to enjoy.
Like any tropical getaway, Bonaire is also host to more than twenty-two beaches, all of varying size and quality. The beach of 1000 Steps, for example, gets its name from the limestone stairs you have to descend to get there (though, in reality, there are less than a hundred - so don't let the name scare you!). It is a white sand beach surrounded by limestone cliffs and a great spot for diving and snorkeling, especially for seeing turtles in the shallow waters. Atlantis Beach is known for kite boarders and tidal pools along its rocky shore, Boka Kokolishi is known for its black sands, and Boka Slagbaai has a rougher kind of sand with a great surrounding area for hiking. Other beaches include Cai, Chachacha, Eden Beach, and more.
RegionsKralendijk is the capital city and main port of the island, sporting a colorful Caribbean town center. Year round, visitors stroll down the streets enjoying the Caribbean architecture and atmosphere while shopping on the main street Kaya Grandi and the area around it. Seasonally, from November through April, cruise ships often dock in the North and South piers. There is also a market selling island-made products during this time, located on the Wilhelmina square.
ActivitiesBoth on land and at sea, Bonaire has plenty of opportunity to stay busy and have a blast. Dive into turquoise waters to find another world of color below. There are many prime sites around the island for scuba diving and snorkeling for those who hope to catch sight of some wildlife below the waves. At the surface, visitors can also experience the more lively side of the ocean with activities like windsurfing, kitesurfing, water skiing, wake boarding, sailing, boating, and more. Kayaking is also available, most popular on Lac Bay, a lagoon of calm waters which hosts a fish nursery and tunnels of mangroves.
Further inland, the island of Bonaire is also a playground for biking and hiking with over 300 kilometers of bike trails and steep hills for hikers determined to earn a stunning glimpse of the island's scenery from above. Below the trails and striking views, Bonaire also hosts a system of about 400 caves, some of which are open for guided tours. Other activities on the island include rappelling and rock climbing, horseback riding, golfing, and birdwatching.