In 1979 the islanders voted in a referendum to protect their environment and resist development. Bonaire is one of the Caribbean's least tourist-developed islands. There are no high-rise buildings, no chain hotels, no theme parks and no mass tourism. Only 5% of Bonaire's land area is developed. Bonaire set aside nearly 25% of the land, mainly the Washington Slagbaai National Park, which includes the northern coastline, for conservation purposes. The entire island of Klein Bonaire, close to the west coast, is a nature reserve. Being "undeveloped" means that visitors who want to explore and enjoy Bonaire's natural world can do so in peace and quiet. The resident creatures enjoy the tranquillity too. Bonaire has more to offer, if you want to do a little more than relax or dive.
The protection given to natural habitats allows many fascinating tropical creatures to thrive
Bonaire is famous for its natural diversity and abundance - both in the ocean and on land.
Bonaire's unspoilt natural world and tranquillity is a joy – for visitors and the local wildlife.
The Washington Slagbaai National Park is an exceptional area where the indigenous flora and fauna of Bonaire thrive, the focus for people who are interested on the natural world of this small tropical island. Slagbaai is an old plantation – one fifth of the entire island - which has been set aside as a wildlife sanctuary. The rugged terrain of the 13,500 acre Washington Slagbaai National Park is a wilderness style park where tropical birds, lizards, goats and iguanas etc., live in their natural habitat. Iguanas do particularly well - there are some very large ones in the park. You will see quite a few no matter where you are on Bonaire. The landscape is dominated by cactuses, trees and bushes, a variety of habitats for variety of creatures.
The park has a 33k (21 miles) and a 10k (6 miles) route. Bring something to eat & drink. This is a fairly rugged 3 – 4 hour drive, no saloon cars!
Bonaire is known for its birdlife, with over 170 species of birds, 80 of which are indigenous to the island, including the strikingly colourful trupials and hummingbirds, heron, osprey, frigate birds, cormorants, parrots and parakeets. Bonaire is famous for its flamingos, (you landed at Flamingo Airport). Tens of thousands feed and breed on Bonaire, and can be seen at Goto Meer (Lake Goto) in Washington Slagbaai National Park and the Pekelmeer Sanctuary in the south. The best time is sunset. Bonaire is one of only four breeding sites in the world for Pink Flamingos. They feed on brine shrimp in the salt pans in the south of Bonaire, and this gives them their pink colour. Bonaire's avian inhabitants have featured in the UK's Bird Watching magazine. click to read article. You might also like to click on the Gallery tab above for more images. The Slagbaai National Park will probably give you the best opportunity to see the any different species of birds that live or visit Bonaire.
Goto Meer - lake Goto - is a spectacularly beautiful lake, very picturesque , and there are lots of viewing points along the road. The lake is "home" to thousands of pink flamingos. Dusk is an especially good time to see the flamingos.
Bonaire's large mangrove forest is a fascinating part of the island's natural habitat. Mangroves are one of the least known and most endangered environments on our planet. Mangroves are recognised as vital to the world's eco-systems - as "nurseries" for marine life and for their extremely important role in the conservation of the coral reefs. A kayak trip is a great way of enjoying the wildlife that lives in this unspoilt natural environment. There are several guided tours – ask for details.
The most common road sign is "overstekende ezels" – "Donkeys crossing" . Donkeys are allowed to roam free, and from time to time, will block your path, and demand food. You are advised not to feed them, but . . . . . . There is a donkey sanctuary on Bonaire to care for these "descendants" of the donkeys brought to the island as pack animals for the salt industry.
The whole of the uninhabited island of Klein Bonaire is a nature reserve. It is short ride on the water taxi which goes back and forth every two hours. There are no facilities on Klein Bonaire - take water and a picnic.
Bonaire is fairly flat and small. Hiking or cycling is an excellent way to enjoy the wildlife and explore the island. Jeeps, bikes and motorbikes can be hired. There are over 300 kilometres of trails, coastal drives, unpaved back roads, and even goat paths, allowing you to explore all of Bonaire's amazing natural resources. Being able to enjoy the island - at your own pace - will let you make the most of your visit. Speed and distance are hard to quantify, you are on "island time". But wherever you are on Bonaire, you are no more than 15 minutes from your resort, and 5 minutes from the ocean Let us know if you would like to hire vehicles, or book any tours or excursions for your holiday.