Bonaire: The B in the ABC of the Caribbean
January 1, 1970
by Vels Bunt
Bonaire : The B-eautiful in the ABC islands of the Caribbean.
A little bit about Bonaire Island
Having the time to enjoy this fantastic Caribbean jewel I understand why the Dutch wanted to make sure it was a part of their kingdom, it is absolutely paradisiacal. Bonaire for a while belonged to the Spaniards, but the Dutch made sure to take it back. But before the Europeans, there where Indians in Bonaire, the Caiquetios who arrived by boats to Bonaire around a thousand years before the Europeans, and they were from Venezuela, what a happy coincidence for me, because that is also my country of origin. Bonaire is now officially a public body of the Netherlands, after the dissolution of the Netherlands Antilles in 2010.
Culture in Bonaire
This relatively small island has a delightful mixed culture, the language is Papiamentu, but you can also hear a lot of Dutch, Spanish and English around the island. You can see by its population, how cultures have found themselves in this spot and together created an enigmatic community with influence from Africa, Europe and Latin America, and the result is fascinating.
People go around smiling and greeting each other with a kind Bom dia (Good Day), referring to each other as Dushi, meaning sweetheart or baby, gives the sense that everyone on the island is part of this big loving family.
What to do in Bonaire
The crystal clear waters and the magnificent reefs makes the island the ultimate ‘divers paradise’, to me it is simply ‘paradise island’, there are many locations to visit, many different activities to engage in, from snorkeling, kayaking, diving, biking, kite surfing, sailing, swimming, horseback riding to dancing Merenge and enjoying a great gastronomic scene.
The island is relatively safe and easy to explore, by car, bike or any meaning of transportation you prefer. The island has an interesting population of donkeys, who run around free, reminded me a little bit of a herd of deer in the USA, they are not usually used as transportation animals, you can find them in the middle of the night, wandering around the suburbs and they are very docile, they got initially imported to help in the salt trading business around the 16th century, and then were set free to roam the island, thankfully now they have their own sanctuary that provides them with food and shelter to keep them from harm on the roads.
Another beautiful fauna to admire in Bonaire is its Flamingo population, that remains being an icon of the island in spite of the accidental oil reserve fire that happened in 2010, which corrupted their food supply.
Scenic places of Bonaire
One of the most impacting scenes in Bonaire is the Salt Mountains, or Salt Pyramids, like I prefer to call them, which are gigantic salt reserves, on the open, next to the road where anyone can see them. Not too far away from the Salt pyramids are the slaves houses, who are located near the shores, consisting on very simple structures of cabins where slaves used to sleep while they work during the week on the salt fields, nowadays, the structures get preserved for historical and touristic reasons.
My own Bonarian Story
On my first visit to Bonaire, we went out to explore the town, Kralendijk, the Dutch word for Coral Reef or Coral barrier, is the main town in Bonaire, followed by Rincon, a smaller less Dutch influenced town.
On the first days we arrived in Bonaire, we enjoyed some shopping and sightseeing around Kralendijk, I was with a very good friend of mine, and we being from a very dangerous city, in which we cannot for the most part walk around, decided to wander around and explore, without any map or guiding system, just enjoying the day and the fact that we could go wherever, being two girls alone and it was ok.
We met a couple of Argentineans who were very friendly and nice people, they offered us a tour of the island, and we went to Rincon, where we enjoyed a different Oceanic view, less calm ocean as in the other side of the island, Kralendijk faced the tamed, quiet ocean, while Rincon faces a more wavy open ocean, we took some photos, walk around the beach, then decided to head back to our hotel, where we had dinner and enjoyed the beginning of the night in the beach bar where after a few Heinekens, we started chatting with a group of girls that were there for a graduation party, and invited us to go to Cuba, which we at first denied, until they explained that it was actually a cool bar everyone in the island knew.
The night scene in Bonaire’s capital consists on simple bar hoping. The main places are well known and the community has a funny habit of visiting certain locals at certain times, sort of in a herd, from the beginning of the night, driven by the bars opening and closing hours. There are the beach shore restaurants to have a nice dinner in the open sky at the start of the evening. Later you can head to Little Havana, where you can enjoy a big selection of vinyl and Heineken beer. Karels and Cubas Company are the two other well known bars within walking distance with a great mix of people, music and flair. We did the pub crawl and ended up in Cuba’s. There I met people from Holland, Dominican Republic, Venezuela, Lebanon, USA and Austria. I got invited to a party and in the spirit of adventure I decided to go, this was a great decision since I met my future husband in that gathering.
We were in a big house facing the ocean, and we started chatting, at the time I had just begun to take German lessons, and when I found out he was from Austria I tried to practice my skills, which he found funny, we were having so much fun at the party I forgot to tell him that I was leaving the next day. Fortunately he found out about it and went to my home country and met my family, the rest is history.
In the spirit of love and adventure I highly recommend to visit this pearl of the Caribbean and find your own joy in experiencing the journey.
- Netherland Antilles
- Small Island
- Divers Paradise
- Paradise Island
- Gastronomic scene
- Beautiful Fauna
- Salt Reserves
- Coral Reef
- Oceanic view
- Beach Shore
- Little Havana
- Cuba Company
- Pub Crawl
- Spirit of Adventure
- Love and Adventure
- Pearl of the Caribbean
- ABC Islands