Bonaire Netherl. Antilles
Bonaire is a small island, but filled with dynamic opportunities for diving and eco-adventures. But also if you simply want to enjoy the laid back way-of-life, slow pace, and tranquility, you are in the right place.
Located in the southern Caribbean, outside the hurricane belt and just over 500 miles from Miami or a nine-hour flight from Amsterdam, Bonaire is part of the Netherlands Antilles, along with its sister island, Curaçao, and close to Aruba, which are only respectively forty and eighty miles (64 and 129 kilometers) away.
Click here to enlarge the map with Bonaire marked red
Constantly rated as the top dive destination in the world and as a pioneer in preserving nature, Bonaire is indeed the dream for every diver. Over eighty dive sites, many of which are easily accessible by shore, truly make Bonaire the “shore diving capital” of the world. But this boomerang-shaped island, 24 miles (39 kilometers) long by five miles (8 kilometers) wide, also offers a variety of activities for those who do not dive.
The eastern mangroves, the “nursery of the reef”, are best discovered by kayak, while on the western part of the island, several caves are open for guided tours to explore this unknown and mystic side of Bonaire. Lac Bay in the south has near-perfect windsurfing conditions, making the area ideal for beginners and advanced windsurfers alike, whereas the hilly landscape in the north is every mountain biker’s dream. Klein Bonaire, a small deserted island a mile off Bonaire’s coast, is a well known turtle hatching area and its beaches and clear waters are ideal for snorkeling and sunbathing. Diving, kayaking, caving, snorkeling, mountain biking, wind- or kite-surfing, bird watching, hiking, or just relaxing and re-energizing from the real world’s stress: you name it and Bonaire will make it happen.
Constant trade winds from the east ensure a pleasant breeze over the 112-square mile (290 square kilometers) island. Although influenced by a dry climate, Bonaire has three distinctive land types. The central region is semi-arid, while the southern region is flat and wide open with a unique mangrove system and salt pans. The northern part is more green and hilly. With a height of 714 feet (218 meters), Brandaris is Bonaire’s highest point. An average annual rainfall of 22 inches (56 cm), an almost constant water temperature of 80 degrees Fahrenheit (27 degrees Celsius), and a slightly higher air temperature of 82 degrees Fahrenheit (28 degrees Celsius), makes Bonaire a pleasant environment in which to vacation.
Bonaire’s population is a rich mixture of several cultures and goes back to around 1000 AD, the era of the Awarak Indians, when the Caiquetios sailed across from what is now Venezuela. Traces of their culture still can be found on various archaeological sites. Today’s population is a direct result of slavery. Slaves were brought from Africa in the early 1600s. Historical landmarks from this dark period in the Dutch history are still visible on the island. Most eye-catching and impressive are, of course, the slave huts on the southern tip of the island. Although defined by diversity, Bonaire’s rich culture is heavily influenced by African elements. Songs and dances of the slaves, created to deal with their inhumane treatment, are kept alive by the people of Bonaire. African styles have been successfully mixed with cultural influences of the island’s occupants, such as the Spaniards and the Dutch. Friendliness and an almost pleasant shyness are the best ways to describe the persons behind the smiles for which Bonaireans are so famous.
While Dutch and Papiamento are the official languages, English is widely spoken by the majority on the island. The Antillean Florin, also called the Guilder, is the official currency and has a fixed ex-change rate against the US Dollar, which makes dollars widely accepted in shops, bars, restaurants, and hotels.
There is no public transportation system on the island and renting a car is highly recommended. Taxis are available at the airport or can be arranged by your hotel as well.
For many years, Bonaire’s government has played a leading role in preserving and protecting the nature on the island, both under and above the water. Most significant and well known, of course, is the Bonaire National Marine Park, initiated over thirty years ago at a time when marine parks were unknown. At the moment, the island is still a part of the Netherlands Antilles. However, Bonaire soon will have direct and special ties with The Netherlands itself, and thus guarantee even more than the island already enjoys: good education, justice, and a stable financial structure that serves the wellbeing of both Bonaire’s population and its visitors.
© Buddy Dive Resort
As of 2010, the Netherlands Antilles no longer exist; it was formerly a constituent state of the Kingdom of the Netherlands. The term is still used to describe the various islands in the Caribbean that were formerly Dutch colonial possessions. The Netherlands Antilles ceased to exsist on October 10, 2010.
The Netherlands Antilles consisted of the following islands:
 Lesser Antilles
 Leeward Islands
Sint Eustatius ***
Sint Maarten **
*Now a constituent state of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (since 1986)
**Now a constituent state of the Kingdom of the Netherlands (since 2010)
***Now a public body ("special municipality") fully integrated in the Netherlands (since 2010)