Bonaire is a small island located in the southern Caribbean
known for its pioneering role in the preservation of
nature, in particular the preservation of the marine
environment, and for its excellent scuba diving, snorkeling,
and windsurfing, among other things. Kayak in the mangroves,
the gentle bay or venture out into the open ocean for
a real challenge. Enjoy the nature of the land cycling
or mountain biking.
There are a number of reasons people visit our island.
First timers generally have heard about the climate,
the water, the sun and what there is to do. When asked,
repeat visitors generally say that they did not have
enough time to do all they wanted to on their first
visit. If it is the third or fourth trip, the answer
is basically the same but with this addition "It
is the warmth and friendliness of the people" that
keeps visitors returning year after year.
When visiting, spend time touring the island. You'll
see salt flats, a beautiful "pink beach",
an old lighthouse, slave huts, Washington National Park,
a wildlife preserve and great spot for seeing animal
species unique to Bonaire, pink flamingos, beautiful
Parroquets, lorets, big blue lizards and three foot
iguanas. Lac Bay, on the windward side of the island,
has some of the best windsurfing in the world.
International Airport or Bonaire International Airport
(IATA: BON, ICAO: TNCB) is located at Kralendijk, Bonaire.
The Flamingo Airport is large enough to accommodate
most international wide-body airliners such as the Boeing
747, the Boeing 777, and the Airbus A340. A number of
airlines offer flights either into Bonaire or through
connecting flights from the USA, South America, Canada
Citizens from most countries do not need a visa to enter
Bonaire. U.S. and Canadian citizens need a passport.
All others also require a valid passport. A return or
continuing ticket is also required along with sufficient
means to support yourself during your stay. Maximum
stay: 14 days with the possibility of extending the
visit to 90 days. All others refer to the Embassy.
are required from the following: Afghanistan, Albania,
Algeria, Angola, Armenia, Azerbeidzjan, Bahrein, Bangladesh,
Belarus, Benin, Bhutan, Bosnia, Botswana, Burkina Faso,
Burundi, Cambodia, Cameroen, Cape Verdia, Central African,
Rep. China (Hong Kong SAR and BNO holders excluded),
Colombia, Comores, Congo-Brazzaville, Congo-Democrat
Republic, Cote dIviore, Cuba, Dominican Republic,
Djibouti, Egypt, Equatorial Guinea, Eritrea, Ethiopia,
Fiji, Gabon, Gambia, Georgia, Ghana, Guinea, Guinea-Bissau,
Haiti, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Iran, Jemen, Jordania,
Kazakhstan, Kenya, Kirgizia, Kiribati, Kuwait, Laos,
Lesotho, Libanon, Liberia, Libia, Macedonia, Madagascar,
Malawi, Maldives, Mali, Morocco, Peru, Philippines,
Qatar, Russian Federation, Rwanda, Salomon Islands,
Sao Tome & Principal, Saudi-Arabia, Seychelles,
Senegal, Servia & Montenegro, Sierra Leone, Soedan,
Somalia, South Africa, Sri Lanka, Swaziland, Syria,
Tadzjikistan, Taiwan, Tanzania, Thailand,Turkmenistan,
Togo, Tonga, Tsjaad, Tunesia, Turkey, Tuvalu, United
Arab Emirates, Vanuatu, Vietnam, West-Samao, Yugoslavia,
Zambia and Zimbabwe.
total days that one can stay on the island is 90 days!
The latter can be used in one period or during different
visits in one year.
from countries that either appear or do not appear on
the above list are required to request extension of
their stay after a 14 days period (2 weeks). For visitors
from countries other than those appearing above, visits
of up to 14 days (2 weeks) are allowed without any permit.
of the Netherlands, Belgium, Luxembourg, along with
any other countries with whom the Netherlands has reached
an agreement on visa requirements, are allowed to stay
up to 90 days (3 months), without having to apply for
a visit extension.
prolong your visit, present the following documentation
in person at the immigration office at Kaya Libertador
Simon Bolivar #7 (behind Tourist Corporation Bonaire's
(in passport), if required
may be required to provide proof that you have the
financial resources to stay up to your new desired
date. This information may also be requested upon
entry into Bonaire, but is up to the discretion of
more information on visas or extending of your visit,
please call the Immigration Office of Bonaire, Phone:
Bonaire has no public transportation. You'll have to
choose between taxis, a rental car, moped or bicycle
to get around the island. Main roads are paved. Most
of Bonaire's unpaved roads are decent, but some areas,
including Washington/Slagbaai Park, become impassable
after rain. Local driving habits are casual: Occasionally
two drivers, traveling in opposite directions, stop
to have a "Bonaire meeting." You may also
find that the roads are sometimes blocked by goats or
Auto rental agencies are easy to find. US, Canadian,
and European driver licenses are valid for use on the
island. Be careful of the goats, donkeys and pedestrians
that roam the island's roads. All traffic keeps to the
right, and international highway signs are used. Speed
limit is 40 km per hour (25 mph) in town and 60 km to
80 km per hour (38-50 mph) in the countryside.
There are several banks downtown, all of which have
ATMs. Walk-up hours are generally Monday-Friday 8:30
am-4 pm. Most banks remain open during lunch.
Phone service on the island is generally good. International
calls, faxes, telegrams, telexes and other overseas
communications services are available (at considerably
less expensive rates than resorts charge) at TELBO,
Kaya Simon Bolivar 8. Phone 599-717-7000.
4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-4 GMT). Daylight
Saving Time is not observed.
Tip 15% in restaurants if a service charge hasn't already
been included in the bill. If a gratuity has been added,
it's customary to leave another 5% or so for your waitperson
if the service is good. Tip cabdrivers 10% and bellhops
US$1 per bag. If you go diving, tip the dive shop about
127 volts (with surges up to 140 volts), 50 cycles.
Some quick chargers and old-style hairdryers overheat,
although newer 50/60 appliances pose no problems.
What to Wear
Bonaire is generally an informal island. Still, courteous
visitors wear at least shorts, a shirt and sandals everywhere
except on beaches and at poolside.
Duty-free items (especially watches), T-shirts, jewelry,
local art and handicrafts are about all there is to
buy on Bonaire. Of these, the art may be the best choice:
In recent years, Bonaire artists have been busy creating
Most of the good shopping is on Kaya Grandi in Kralendijk.
Besides the usual trinket marts, there are several shops
carrying authentic local art. Check out the flamingo
memorabilia, painted driftwood and handmade jewelry
at Jenny's Souvenirs and Gifts, across from the post
Don't expect to bargain in Bonaire's shops, but feel
free to do so with the Venezuelan fruit vendors in the
market (you'll do better there if you speak Spanish).
Most stores accept and list prices in U.S. currency.
Prices are in guilders if the number is preceded by
"fl," in U.S. dollars if preceded by "$."
Bonaire is experiencing lots of growth, so new restaurants
open frequently -- and not all stay in business. If
you stroll along Kaya Grandi, Kaya J. N. E. Craane (the
waterfront road north of the piers) and Kaya L. D. Gerharts,
you'll pass many eateries serving Caribbean, Dutch,
Indonesian and U.S. foods. All are informal. Even the
more upscale restaurants are fairly casual on Bonaire:
Coats and ties are seldom worn -- usually just for weddings
and funerals. On the menus, you'll find mostly fish
and some vegetables and fruits -- most of it excellent
and well seasoned. Be sure to ask about the local fare:
soups and stews made with salted meat, goat, conch,
plantains, okra, cactus or the occasional iguana. (Many
restaurants serve local dishes, but they don't necessarily
list them on their menus.) Everyone should try a rijsttafel:
A kind of Indonesian buffet, it consists of rice accompanied
by 6-20 small meat, vegetable and fish side dishes.
Dutch cheeses, chocolate and coffee are also good, and
Dutch beer is widely available.
Activities and Attractions
When scuba divers dream, they dream of Bonaire. The
island is one of the finest dive spots on the planet.
It has crystal-clear water and colorful reefs that begin
almost as soon as you step into the sea. Underwater
visibility can reach 150 ft/45 m.
If you do not scuba dive but you can swim, you can still
enjoy the incredible underwater world of Bonaire. Snorkeling
is great entertainment for all member of the family
no matter what the age. Many operators offer special
snorkeling trips, or just find a nice beach, and enjoy.
With coral formations found so close to the shoreline
aroun Bonaire, you can enjoy the amazing varities of
colorful fish, without a tiring swim.
Visitors to Bonaire will soon find that not all the
activities are confined to just under or in the sea.
There are many more water-related activities that are
being discovered by today's active traveler. As a windsurfing
location, the island is becoming well known for our
steady tradewinds and protected areas with onshore winds.
Other water sports include both ocean and sea kayaking
as well as sailing.
Bonaire is a great destination for fishing. Whether
you are inshore, fly fishing for bonefish, or headed
offshore for sailfish, marlin, tuna, tarpon, wahoo or
dorado, you will experience a fun and exciting day on
Bonaire's land-based attractions can't match its underwater
wonders (and the nightlife is very, very low-key), but
they can make for interesting sightseeing -- flamingos
and wild donkeys give the island a surreal quality.
Washington/Slagbaai National Park
Washington/Slagbaai National Park, in particular, is
an excellent place to admire the dry, desertlike landscape
-- it's strikingly different from the lush greenery
most associate with the Caribbean. This pristine 13,500
acre natural park offers an excellent introduction to
the landscape and vegetation of Bonaire. Covering almost
one-fifth of the island, the park offers hills with
scenic vistas, vast saline plains, beaches and trees
filled with exotic birds. Animal life includes wild
donkeys, goats and iguanas. There are also spots that
offer excellent snorkeling and diving. Depending on
the amount of time visitors have to explore, they can
choose different routes through the park. There are
two driving trails, the shorter, green route of 28 km
(17 miles), which takes about two hours to travel, and
the longer, yellow route of 45 km (28 miles), which
takes about four hours. These are rugged dirt roads,
and only four-wheel drive vehicles are recommended.
In the center of the park, there is also a walking trail
up to Brandaris, the highest hill of Bonaire which offers
a wonderful view of the island, and only takes about
three hours round trip. The park is open daily from
8 am to 5 pm except on official holidays.
Bonaire Museum (History)
The museum exhibits artifacts such as fishing gear,
musical instruments and models of the slave huts to
give visitors an understanding of Bonaire's earlier
life and customs.
Peckelmeer Lagoon (Wildlife)
Flamingos favor this lagoon as it is filled with brine
Historically, the saltpans have been a great industry
for Bonaire. In earlier times slaves harvested the salt,
but today the site is modernized and uses only environmentally
friendly means of production.
These waist-high stone huts housed slaves who mined
the salt flats in the 18th C. A salt obelisk stands
at the site, originally a marker for arriving ships.
Rincón is Bonaire's oldest settlement, founded
by the Spanish in the 15th C. Today it is a town coulored
by its many pastel cottages.
Onima (Prehistoric Cave)
The red petroglyphs adorning the walls of this limestone
cave were made by the Caiquetio Indians five centuries
Goto Meer (Wildlife)
This saltwater lake is home to the Bonaire's flamingo
population. They are especially abundant during the
breeding season between January and July.
Sorobon - Lac Baai (Boating - Water Sports)
Small peninsulas provide Lac Baai with smooth waters
but a steady wind, which makes it a good spot for both
beginner and more advanced windsurfers.
Other Topside Activities
Other topside activities that are being enjoyed by visitors
are cycling and nature tours through the "kunuku"
Bird watching has always been a rewarding past time
here. More and more visitors are enjoying the thrill
of catching glimpses of some of our almost two hundred
species of birds including our signature bird, the pink
Playa Funchi, on the west coast of the island, was the
harbor for Washington Plantation. The pier's stone foundations
are still visible. The water is so clear that visitors
standing on the low cliffs above the bay can see the
colorful coral and parrotfish below. The beach has no
current, so even small children can play in the water.
Boca Slagbaai, a little farther south, is ideal for
swimming because there is no coral on the right side
on the bay. The fine sand also makes Boca a good place
for sunbathing. Buildings dating back to 1868 still
stand on the beach, testifying to this harbor's historic
importance. They include the home of the manager of
Slagbaai plantation, a customs office and a warehouse
(magasina) for storing salt.
Playa Bengè is considered one of the finest snorkeling
spots on Bonaire. Swimming north from the center of
the beach, divers pass over a series of coral ridges
and alternating sand channels. Among the many fish in
this area are jewelfish, mahogany snappers, and large
Playa Chiquitu, on the east coast near the park's entrance,
is deceptive. The beach is beautiful, but the water
has a strong undertow. Swimming is highly discouraged.
There are several stables located on Bonaire for a unique
experience and a slower paced view of the countryside.
Rent a scooter or moped and tour the island. Discover
the landscapes, lighthouses, desrted beaches and more
at your liesure.
There are two casinos located on Bonaire. Try your luck!