Bonaire Travel Guide
The middle island of the three that makes up the ABC archipelago, Bonaire is the least well-known of this trio. Despite this fact, there is much that is worth seeing and experiencing on this dry sunny isle in the Caribbean, so don’t pass it up simply because of the lack of buzz around this place.
From some of the best coral reefs in the region to an alcoholic drink made from cactus juice, there are more than a few things worth discovering in this surprising destination.
Currency: US Dollars
Languages: Dutch, Papiamento, English
What To Do
Those looking to work a little history into their visit in Bonaire will want to start their sightseeing by paying a visit to Fort Oranje. Built in 1639 to protect Dutch interests, it stood guard over this island for almost two hundred years.
It was decommissioned in 1837 without having fired any of its four guns once. Since then, it has served as the home for the fire brigade and the police. Nowadays, it serves as the primary courthouse for Bonaire.
Like other islands in the Caribbean, the island of Bonaire was home to an enslaved workforce up until the 19th century. Reminders of this era can be found in the form of Slave Huts, the most prominent of which can be found close to salt ponds where the popular mineral was harvested by unwilling labourers.
Simple structures built with remarkable consistency, it is a stark reminder of a time when some people were treated as commodities rather than human beings.
Visitors wanting to get a taste of Bonaire’s finest spirit will want to drop by the Cadushy Distillery at some point during their visit. A liqueur made from distilled cactus juice, it is a form of alcohol that is unique not only in the Caribbean, but in the Americas as well. After touring their facility, be sure to purchase a bottle to take home to your family and friends.
The waters off the shores of this island are filled with amazing snorkeling and diving opportunities, the best of which can be found within the bounds of Bonaire National Marine Park.
Home to just about every type of hard and soft coral that can be found in the Caribbean, there are up to 340 different species of fish that can be found here. With rangers diligently protecting this park from the sort of degradation found in other parts of the Caribbean, visitors can be assured of an amazing experience here.
Those looking for the best beaches in Bonaire should start by spending an afternoon at Bachelor’s Beach. Backed by a 10 foot cliff, this gorgeous but narrow beach is a popular place not just to swim, but to snorkel and windsurf as well.
If you are looking for a great locals scene, you’ll find it at Lac Cai Beach. Popular on Sunday afternoons, this beach faces a lagoon that has a gorgeous powder blue hue to it. After enjoying a fresh fish meal and a swim in the water, grab a kayak and head over to the other side, where mangroves await.
Those searching for the most beautiful beach in Bonaire will want to head to the offshore island of Klein Bonaire. Uninhabited and ringed by a spectacular white sand beach, it has the makings of a great day trip; just don’t forget to bring sun protection, as the lack of trees here means that shade is at a premium on this island.
What to Eat
If you are looking for a great appetizer to have during a meal in Bonaire, try ordering some Sopi Piska. Consisting of tomatoes, potatoes, pre-made vegetable soup, fresh cod, oysters and shrimp, it is the perfect way to start a meal out at a local restaurant here.
For the main course, be sure to have some Carni Stoba. A stew consisting of goat that is marinated with garlic and pepper for several hours before being cooked in fat at the bottom of a dutch oven with onions, tomatoes, bell peppers and various spices, the tender meat will melt in your mouth as you eat it.
Being located in the tropics, it comes as no surprise that one of the most popular desserts in Bonaire is ice cream. However, Ponce Crema ice cream is particularly popular, as it takes its flavor from a popular liqueur found around the island.
Popular in Trinidad, Venezuela and throughout the ABC islands, this treat has a bit of a kick to it, so take it easy on the number of scoops that you get.