This diminutive cluster of red tile roofs hugging the island's western coast is Bonaire's lively capital. Its Dutch colonial houses, the Museo Boneriano and Fort Oranje give a glimpse into the island's past, while the town's oceanfront promenade offers stunning sunset vistas and a fine prospect of Klein Bonaire. The main street is a browser's collection of dive shops, boutiques, arts and crafts galleries, restaurants and bars.
When the Spanish founded Bonaire's oldest town around the turn of the fifteenth century, they laid their foundations slightly inland to escape the roving eyes and ship-board cannons of passing buccaneers. Slaves from Africa, brought by the Spanish, were also housed here. Today the town is an entrancing collage of pastel cottages. The Saint Peter's Day celebration is held here June 28. Here is an excellent dedicated website about Rincón.
Bonaire Marine Park
A magnificent and pioneering effort in the preservation of the Caribbean's invaluable underwater ecology, Bonaire Marine Park today ranks among the world's premier destinations for both divers and snorkelers. We invite you to explore more of this magnificent park in our dive pages.
Lac Bay is a windsurfer's paradise, with steady winds and smooth, clear, and conveniently shallow waters. Although Lac Bay is located on the windward side of Bonaire, its encircling arms protect the waters within and create a range of conditions that are as ideal for beginners as for intrepid windsurfing virtuosi. Check out our windsurfing pages for more information.
Five centuries ago the limestone cave at Onima served as both shelter and artist's canvas for the island's Caiquetio inhabitants. The red-stained petroglyphs that adorn its walls remain undeciphered, offering visitors a glimpse of ancient Bonaire as mysterious as it is beautiful.
Goto Meer is a favorite among Bonaire's abundant (and skittish) flamingo population, which gathers on this salt lake to consume the brine shrimp, brine fly and larvae which endow these great birds with their rosy hue. Like Salina Slagbaai, another of the salt ponds of Bonaire's Washington-Slagbaai National Park, Goto Meer becomes a veritable sea of pink during the January-July breeding season.
Located on the sheltered leeward coast of Washington-Slagbaai National Park, Nukove is one of the island's most pleasant diving and snorkeling sites. Park visitors need only wade offshore to encounter brilliant, swirling schools of reef fish, including parrotfish and blue tangs . To relax, there is an intimate and inviting little white sand beach.
At Cabaje are found a number of picturesque and grimly fascinating stone huts. Waist-high, with small doors and no windows, these cramped quarters were built in the 18th century as housing for the slaves who harvested salt in the nearby flats. Also at Cabaje is a salt obelisk which was used as a marker for ships arriving to load the island's precious commodity.
Lac Bay Kai
Every Sunday afternoon local residents gather here for an informal social party-there's dancing, live music, outdoor food stalls, and children playing everywhere as their parents and grandparents chat and eat and dance. There is no better place on the island to meet Bonaire's residents. As the afternoon wanes, you may see a few families heading home with captured iguanas, all set to prepare a Sunday night soup.
Sorobon Beach with it's prominent position on Lac Bay, has some of the best protected windsurfing in the Caribbean.
The salt flats of Pekelmeer spread out in front of a visitor in great squares of brilliant color, ranging from the turquoise of newly-flooded areas and the livid pink of pools filled with brine shrimp to the blinding white of dried salt. Off to the side lie enormous mounds of dried and drying salt, and in the distance stand great flocks of flamingos, happily supping on the shrimp. Pekelmeer's deserted vistas are frequently more populated by birds -- including osprey, heron, frigate birds, cormorants, and other marine birds -- than by humans, making it an excellent spot for birdwatching.
Washington-Slagbaai National Park
This 13,500 acre park occupies asubstantial portion of the island's northern tip and is filled with the fascinating flora and fauna of semi-arid Bonaire. In its own way Washington-Slagbaai is as much a gem as Bonaire's more celebrated Marine Park, with more than a hundred species of birds, a startling variety and diversity of terrain and wildlife.
A meditative retreat in the countryside complete with
koi pond, birds and more than a dozen species of colorful Central American butterflies. A star attraction is the open-air KishiKishi lunch cafe with wonderful Caribbean dishes.
Kaminda Lac 101, Kralendijk
Open Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday 9 am- 4.30 pm
On Thursday open from 9 am -12.30 pm
Entrance fee US$12, Children US$8 (under 12), children under 4 are free
Entrance Fee includes
Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire
Originally brought by the Spanish for transportation and labor, donkeys have been part of the Bonaire landscape for over 500 years. The animals are now wild and live throughout the island. Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire helps provide food, water and medical services to those animals in need while providing a home to more than 400.
Kaya Ir. R. Statius van Eps (South of the airport
Open daily between 10am-5pm
Entrance fee US$7, Children $3.50 (under 12)
Klein Bonaire lies just off the western coast of the island, a smaller, pristine sister to Bonaire. It is surrounded by a multitude of outstanding dive sites and is a popular spot for picnicking and barbecues-in part because it is completely undeveloped. Klein Bonaire can be reached only by boat, and visitors should remember that they must bring with them all they need.
Photo on top via Flickr (cc) user Chika
Images by Mathis Weatherall