Bonaire is a small volcanic island in the southern Caribbean. Bonaire is a quiet island - no major commercial development - no crowds, no rush, no fuss. Most of the island is pristine – as nature intended. Visitors to Bonaire can enjoy the island in peace and quiet - and take time to appreciate the island's unspoilt natural world. There are guided tours and excursions and, on such a small island, this does not mean being stuck on a bus for long periods. Tours are always in small groups and a great way to enjoy the scenery. There are several other ways visitors can enjoy the natural world of the island - hiring a 4X4 or a scooter, hiking, horse riding, cycling are the most popular. There are hiking / cycling trails, old donkey tracks, which you can use to explore the island. Guided walking tours are also available. Bonaire is small and relatively flat – getting around is easy – so you can enjoy the scenery and the natural world comfortably.
Bonaire's unspoilt, rugged beauty contrasts with the sharp blue of the ocean.
The island's fascinating topography is a reminder of its volcanic origins.
The sea on the south west coast is calm - a magnificently beautiful light and dark blue.
The north east coast – "the Wildside" - is a breathtaking reminder of the power of the ocean.
In 1979, in a referendum, the islanders decided to protect their environment, and voted to resist development. Bonaire is one of the Caribbean's least tourist-developed islands. No high-rise buildings, no chain hotels, no theme parks, no nightclubs and no mass tourism. Only 5% of Bonaire's land area is developed. Bonaire set aside nearly 25% of the land, mostly in the Washington Slagbaai National Park for conservation purposes. The entire island of Klein Bonaire, which is close to the west coast, is a nature reserve.
Washington Slagbaai National Park 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. The Washington Park is an exceptional area and has all the flora and fauna that Bonaire has to offer. The landscape is dominated by cactuses, trees and bushes, inhabited by an unexpected variety of animals. Inside the park is Brandaris Hill, at 245 metres the highest point on the island. The park has a 33k (21 miles) and a 10k (6 miles) route. Bring something to eat & drink.
Due to its volcanic origins Bonaire has many geologically interesting features, which can be seen more easily on the Wildside. This coast faces the open ocean - the Caribbean Sea. Bonaire was formed by volcanic action and this coast has been sculptured by the pounding of the waves. The ocean has carved many small "bocas" or bays, some of which, eroded along the waterline, have formed natural "blow holes". When a large wave hits the shore, the water is forced through these blow holes, making a spectacular natural fountain. The most impressive of these is Boca Onima. The entire Wildside is evidence of the volcanic origins of Bonaire. Distinct layers of rock can clearly be seen - evidence of volcanic activity from different periods during the island's formation.
Seru Lagu is a 123 metres high hill, just north of Kralendijk the main town. The easy walk to the top, will give you fantastic views over the entire island – and beyond. Seru Largu means "large hill" and at the top there is a monument, a large cross. The area north of Sera Largu is a scenic, naturally pristine area. This area is called Hilltop – higher than the rest of the island - with some fantastic views. It is easy to see both coasts from here - lots of places to stop and enjoy the scenery. This is the area around Rincon the first settlement on Bonaire. Rincon is a village of 2000 inhabitants, an authentic islander's village, very few "tourist facilities", well worth a visit. Rincon means "Corner", because it is in the corner of the island.
A large, beautiful lake with 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 famous salt pans cover almost 10% of the island. Salt is the man export of the island and production dates back to 1636. The white "mountains" of salt dominate the landscape of the southern part of the island. The salt mountains and brightly coloured salt pans are a spectacular sight. The various pans are different stages of production. Crustaceans and bacteria thrive during the crystallisation process, giving the pans their striking colours - white, pink and blue. The "red" salt pans get their colour from the pink brine shrimp – which flamingos feed on, giving them their distinctive colour. You can see the salt mountains from almost everywhere on the island. Bonaire is one of the world's largest suppliers of salt – mainly for roads. Next time you are stuck behind a lorry salting icy roads – think Bonaire!
Bonaire's large mangrove forest is an interesting, and very important, part of the island's scenery – best viewed from a kayak ! Mangroves are now recognised as vital to the world's eco-systems – not least as "nurseries" for marine life and for their essential role in the conservation of the coral reefs. A kayak trip is a novel way of enjoying the scenery of this wonderful island. You will also get a magnificent view of Lac Bay.