Bonaire

Bon Bini

It is truly our pleasure to welcome you to Bonaire. An island blessed with an unsurpassed natural beauty.

From the depths of our pristine waters to the height of our tallest peak, Brandaris, you will feel Bonaire’s magic wash over you from the moment you arrive and throughout the days as you become attuned to Bonaire’s unhurried pace. You will find that, here on Bonaire, there is a peaceful ambiance for daily life, without the hassle of traffic lights, hustle and bustle, or normal, day-to-day worries. Your only concern will be how to spend each new day you have on Bonaire. Nowhere else is vacationing as easy as on Bonaire, as our warm, friendly people welcome visitors from around the world.

Next to other activities as, kite surfing, windsurfing and snorkeling, Bonaire continues to reign supreme as “the” dive destination in the Caribbean. For the past 20 years, the Readers’ Choice Awards in Scuba Diving magazine have designated Bonaire as the #1 shore diving destination for the region. But that is only the beginning, as the island garners more accolades each year, such as Best Destination Overall and #1 for Marine and Macro Life. Trip Advisor awarded Bonaire as the #5 Caribbean Island for the Trip Advisor Traveller choice awards 2014.

Bonaire has a long history of nature preservation, and always seeks to find the delicate balance between environmental protection and growth, while maintaining nature and culture. Bonaire was one of the first Caribbean islands to collaborate with the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) to conserve our reefs. By commencing a program for cultivating new corals, specifically the stag horn and Elkhorn corals, Bonaire will be able to preserve the reef’s genetic diversity. In this way residents, visitors and future generations will be able to enjoy an enriched marine environment.

But conservation and preservation is not limited to the marine environment. Bonaire continues to pursue initiatives that will reduce the CO2 effects on our planet as we work towards fulfilling our promise to remain an ‘Eco-Friendly’ destination. Bonaire will continue to lead by example and strengthen its commitment to sustainable tourism practices.

We invite you to delve into the wonderful activities the island offers, both terrestrial and marine, which makes Bonaire a unique destination. We encourage you to explore, to enjoy, to become a part of Bonaire, absorbing our nature, our culture, and our cuisine. The warmth from the sunshine is here for all to enjoy while on Bonaire, but you will cherish the afterglow of the Bonairean people in your hearts forever. We assure you that “Once a Visitor Always a Friend”.

Next to other activities as, kite surfing, windsurfing and snorkeling, Bonaire continues to reign supreme as “the” dive destination in the Caribbean. For the past 20 years, the Readers’ Choice Awards in Scuba Diving magazine have designated Bonaire as the #1 shore diving destination for the region. But that is only the beginning, as the island garners more accolades each year, such as Best Destination Overall and #1 for Marine and Macro Life. Trip Advisor awarded Bonaire as the #5 Caribbean Island for the Trip Advisor Traveller choice awards 2014.

Bonaire’s underwater world

The entire coastline of Bonaire has been declared a marine sanctuary. It’s underwater world is home to an abundance of fish species.

Some fish found throughout Bonaire’s waters include colorful Parrot Fish of all varieties, Blue and Rainbow included.  Friendly Angel Fish, feisty Sergeant Majors, and beautiful Butterfly Fish dot the reef.  Scrawled File Fish swim by sporting electric blue stripes.  Grunts, Gobies and Groupers. Delight in schools of Blue Tangs and Jacks.  Camouflaging Frog Fish blend in so well, but are certainly present.

 

Sea Turtles, Eagle Rays and Sea Cucumbers

In addition, keep an eye out for Sea Turtles, Eagle Rays and Sea Cucumbers.  Get lucky and see a Whale Shark, Dolphin Pod or Manta Ray.  There is an abundance of life in the Caribbean Sea.  Bonaire’s waters have so much to explore! Bonaire has a narrow fringing reef, starting practically at the shoreline,

Beaches

Bonaire has over 22 beaches. On Bonaire and sister island Klein Bonaire, the sands of some beaches are soft and blindingly white, while others are coarser and darker due to the high content of crushed shells and coral. But that’s a fair trade for having such spectacular reefs right offshore! Beach condition is intrinsically tied to the health of those reefs. You can help by taking your plastics and trash back with you, leaving the shells where they lie (they might be a home for hermit crabs) and wearing eco-friendly sunscreen. You can also volunteer during the annual beach cleanups. Every little bit helps to keep the sands of time clean for future generations to enjoy.

Bonaire is known for its love for nature.

It has become a tradition for many generations to understand the importance of nature and the unique position Bonaire has to conserve it.

It has become a tradition for many generations to understand the importance of nature and the unique position Bonaire has to conserve it. With this said, Bonaire developed a master plan to control the development of the island without harming its natural wonders.  

shore diving bonaire

Ramsar Sites

The Ramsar Convention is an international treaty that protects wetlands of great international importance with emphasis on the significance of waterfowl.  All Ramsar sites registered by the Dutch Caribbean lie within Bonaire:  Lac, Pekelmeer, Klein Bonaire, Gotomeer and Slagbaai Lagoon.

Bordered by globally endangered mangroves, numerous waterfowl breed and feed in the area of Lac.  The Flamingo Sanctuary at Pekelmeer is one of the most important breeding grounds for the Southern Caribbean Flamingo population.  Klein Bonaire, encircled by a great coral reef, offers flamingo feeding and turtle nesting areas.  Gotomeer, foraging site for hundreds of flamingos, contains the most important food source for flamingos: brine fly and larvae.  Slagbaai lagoon is a foraging and breeding site for flamingos and other birds like pelicans and herons.

bonair island

Flora

Bonaire’s flora consists of a variety of native and imported species and exotics. 

Throughout Bonaire’s elevated northern end, visitors can see a desert landscape reminiscent of the American southwest.  Varying cacti species including Candle and Prickley Pear are present.  Numerous trees and bushes including Brasilwood, Divi Divi, Mesquite Acacia and Calabash are found.  

Gardens throughout the island contain numerous flowering plants and trees. Bright orange Flamboyants, Bouganvilla, and Oleanders of all colors are seen.  In addition, Century Plants, Rock sage and Aloe appear in different places througout Bonaire.  For more information, Bonaire’s Washington Slagbaai National Park Museum has a display of local flora.

bonaire fish species

Fauna

Bonaire is home to many land creatures.  Some of the more commonly seen include iguanas, land snails and lizards of multiple varieties.  In addition, Bonaire has eight different bat species.  

Over 203 birds have been identified on the island (both permanent residents and occasional visitors).  Some are Bonaire’s own Lora (Yellow-shouldered parrot) and green Prikichis (parakeets).  Watch for brightly colored Orioles, Trupials, and Bananaquits.  A variety of sea birds are also present, Brown Pelicans, Osprey and Frigates.  The shy Flamingo also makes its home in Bonaire.    

Donkeys and goats are seen roaming throughout the island.  Visitors are encouraged not to harass the wildlife.  Feeding from cars makes animals accustomed to roadsides and they become in jeopardy of vehicles.  Drive safely and follow the speed limits.  

bonaire flamingo

Flamingos

The Flamingo, protected on Bonaire, is the island’s signature bird.  Bonaire is one of the only Flamingo breeding sites in the Southern Caribbean.  The Flamingo Reserve, nestled among the salt pans on Bonaire’s southern tip, is a special breeding ground for the birds. Admittance is prohibited to the reserve as flamingos are very sensitive to disturbances, but often time flamingos can be seen from the road.  Additionally, flamingos may be spotted at Goto Lake, Slagbaai, Playa Funchi and other saltpans.

A few Flamingo facts: Caribbean flamingos have the brightest coloration and are pink because of a diet rich in alpha and beta carotenoid pigments found in algae and insects.  Flamingos mainly lay one egg, and chicks are grey and white.  In order to fly, flamingos have to get a running start!  Did you know that flamingos have little or no sense of smell?

things to do bonaire

Stinapa

Stichting Nationale Parken (STINAPA), manages the protected Bonaire National Marine and Washington Slagbaai National Parks. Founded in 1962 as STINAPA Netherlands Antilles, the objective was to have a foundation actively protecting nature in the Netherlands Antilles. The first activities were concentrated on Bonaire. Efforts were made to safeguard the breeding grounds of the Caribbean flamingo and then to create the Washington Park in 1969 - the first sanctuary of the Netherlands Antilles. In 1979, funds were raised and Slagbaai plantation completed the park.

STINAPA manages the protected areas of Bonaire, communicates with Park visitors and cares for the preservation and conservation of nature on Bonaire in general. STINAPA is dedicated to the conservation of Bonaire’s natural and historical heritage through the sustainable use of its resources. See video >>

bonaire beach

Karko Project

STINAPA launched a Queen Conch Restoration Project in Lac in 2010. Lac is the largest bay in the Dutch Caribbean and is not only a critical habitat for Bonaire and the region, but also a RAMSAR site, recognized globally as wetlands of special significance. Lac is a nursery for reef fish and a feeding area for green sea turtle. Also it is an important resting and nesting place for numerous birds and marine invertebrates, including the Queen Conch or Karko. Earlier this shellfish  was found in large quantities, but due to overfishing, the population has diminished drastically. Therefore STINAPA started an outreach campaign focusing on the Queen Conch which engages every sector of the local community from schools and daycare centers to churches and the business sector. The slogan of the project was as follows: "Ban trese karko bek, Laga nan na pas pa mañan nos tin mas!" roughly translates to "Bring our conch back; Leave them alone so we can have more tomorrow!"

Coral Restoration Bonaire

Coral Restoration Project

Diving in unspoiled nature? Bonaire is known in the world for the way it protects its nature. That’s why in 2012 the Bonaire island council granted a permit to the Coral Restoration Foundation (CRF) to begin developing a coral nursery and reef restoration project in Bonaire.

The goal of the foundation is to restore degraded portion of the reef, in particular the shallow water population of staghorn and elkhorn corals around Bonaire and the adjacent island Klein Bonaire.

The main production nursery is situated on Klein Bonaire, where the coral is disturbed as little as possible and more nurseries are located in front of Buddy Dive Resort and Harbour Village which are used for training and demonstrations. The total nursery coral capacity is almost 7000 corals.

CRF works together with local businesses and dive operators, like Buddy Dive Resort and Great Adventures Bonaire to keep restoring the reef, promote awareness and involve and train tourists and local people as Coral Restoration divers.

bonaire dutch caribbean

Sustainability

So many buzzwords seem to be circulating these days when it comes to the environment, sustainable, carbon neutral, carbon footprint, balanced, offset, greenhouse emissions, eco-tourism. 

So how do we fit them into the scheme of things?
Bonaire is striving to become Carbon Neutral. Our goal is to become a tourism destination that is in balance. We will have our gas emissions (GHG) identified, measured, reduced where possible and 100 percent of the remaining emissions will be offset through high quality renewable energy, energy efficiency and or reforestation projects. This is the easiest way to describe how Bonaire will become a leading carbon neutral destination in the world.

Getting to Bonaire

Bonaire is accessible from Europe, Latin America, North America and the Caribbean. You can visit Bonaire by Air or by Cruise.

Traveling to Bonaire is possible through flying to Flamingo International Airport. The airport receives local as well as international carriers. For more information about the best travel connections see the details.

Latin America

Bonaire does not have direct flights from South America, however you can connect with Avianca, Copa Airlines, Gol, Lan Colombia, SBA, Aserca Airlines, Surinam Airways,  Insel Air via Curaçao or Aruba. Connection from Mexico directly to Bonaire is available via Houston with United Airlines. In addition, inter island carriers Insel Air and Divi Divi Air provide service to Bonaire. For complete routes and details please contact the airlines servicing Bonaire or your favorite booking agent.

North America

Direct flights from the USA are available with United Airlines from Newark and Houston. Delta Airlines has direct flights from Atlanta. It is also possible to fly via Aruba or Curaçao to Bonaire. For complete routes and details please contact the airlines servicing Bonaire or your favorite booking agent.

Europe

Direct flights from Europe come from Amsterdam with TUI or KLM they also serve as the gate way to other European Countries.

Caribbean

Inter-island carriers Insel Air and Divi Divi Air provide daily service to Bonaire connecting via Aruba or Curacao.

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