Enjoy the Caribbean – Visit Bonaire
Bonaire is a tiny island off the coast of Northern Venezuela that became an official overseas territory of the Netherlands in 2010. As a travel destination, you can expect to share the beautiful beaches with hardly any other tourist. And it’s easy to find a nice resort or to rent one of the luxury Caribbean homes along the coast. The relaxed pace of life and nature combined with the relative lack of other visitors makes this one of the unspoilt parts of the Caribbean. This article describes the essentials about having a vacation in Bonaire.
Getting Into Bonaire:
There are a few direct flights from the United States, Canada, and the Netherlands each week to Bonaire and others from neighbouring islands in the Caribbean. Finding a boat or ferry to this island is more difficult. Despite being an overseas territory of the Netherlands, Bonaire has its own entry requirements. Most tourists will get a 30 to 60-day visa on arrival, but you should always double-check before you go.
This isn’t one of the cheapest places to visit in the Caribbean and you’re certainly paying for the isolation and lack of tourists. Accommodation is pricier compared to other islands and you can expect to be faced with quite high costs for organised tours and eating out. But, that shouldn’t stop you from choosing this island if you’re looking for some quiet relaxation as it does make a perfect vacation destination.
Now that we’ve covered the basics about how to get to and the expected costs of visiting Bonaire, let’s take a look at the most popular things to do on this island. Then, we’ll cover a few important travel tips to help you have the smoothest vacation possible.
The island is famous for water sports. Apart from the typical snorkelling in the warm waters, it’s also a well-known spot for scuba diving. Most of the diving spots are a short boat ride from the shore and you can easily hire someone to take you out to them. It’s also possible to join a scuba diving tour. Because of the Atlantic winds that give the island that refreshing breeze, windsurfing and kitesurfing are also very popular activities. You can rent equipment and take part or find an instructor to teach you if you can’t. Or, some people like to watch the experts whilst they themselves relax on the beach with a cold drink.
Sea fishing is another popular activity that attracts tourists from around the world. Several tour groups can arrange a fishing trip out into the Atlantic for the day and you can expect to catch large tropical fish. This is a unique experience and a highlight of many anglers when they visit Bonaire.
Environmental protection is a big part of life with more than 20% of the land and 100% of the water being classified as protected areas. This has been going on for decades and Bonaire takes conservation and sustainable tourism very seriously. As a tourist, you’ll be able to experience natural beauty at its best and see their efforts to preserve the coral reef.
But, at the same time, you also need to be aware of your actions and to make sure you’re a responsible tourist. Since large parts of the island are protected, certain laws and regulations apply. You’re not allowed to take part in certain activities, such as spearfishing, and it’s against the law to remove anything from its natural habitat. This includes shells. If you do and are caught, expect to be faced with large fines.
Other Things to Do:
You can rent a mountain bike and cycle around parts of the island on some of the trails. This is popular with some of the younger tourists and makes a unique way to get out and explore the island. You can also spend the day visiting the Washing Slagbaai National Park either independently or as part of an organised tour. Other popular things to do include visiting and seeing the iguanas and flamingos.
Important Things to Know:
The first is that you can drink the water in Bonaire. The seawater is distilled and purified with a large amount of processing. If you don’t want to drink the water from the tap, bottles are available.
The main languages people speak on this island are Dutch, Spanish and English. The locals have an accent but are easy to understand and you shouldn’t face any problems with communication.
Peak season is during the northern winter and spring, which corresponds to the start of the dry season. If you come during the rest of the year, the prices will be slightly lower whilst at the same time the tourist infrastructure dissolves. Finding tours during the low season can be quite challenging as operators fail to fill up their quota. You may end up paying slightly less for a place to stay but it’s more difficult to be a tourist. That being said, if you just want to relax on the beach and soak up the general atmosphere, you shouldn’t have any problems.
Be aware that international visitors are expected to pay a departure fee when they leave the country. This is quite high and can be a shock for some tourists. Check before you go to avoid any surprises.
Things to Remember:
Bonaire is an untouched Caribbean island off the coast of Venezuela. Ecological and sustainable tourism are taken very seriously and a trip here can be one of the most rewarding experiences for any visitor.