Next up on this trip was the beautiful island of Bonaire. Bonaire is the B on the Island Trio known as ABC – Aruba, Bonaire and Curaçao. These islands have a lot in common but the cruise traveler shouldn’t infer that if you ‘have seen one you have seen them all’.
The three islands are located off the coast of Venezuela and are all part of the Kingdom or Netherlands (or Holland, as many call this small European country) but all have very distinct aspects and completely different ambiance.
Bonaire is the smallest of the ABC trio and until recently the forgotten Island in the South Caribbean itineraries. Scarcely populated (around 19,000 inhabitants in an area 6 times the size of Manhattan) with a small capital with only 3,000 inhabitants, Bonaire’s natural wonders and laid-back ambiance are main tractions to enjoy and discover on a cruise in the Caribbean.
Scuba Diving and Snorkeling, beach activities, and a couple of usual cultural attractions and landmarks are the top highlights of Bonaire.
Due to the proximity of the cruise piers to Kralendijk, walking is undoubtedly the best way to explore this beautiful, small and quaint Caribbean capital. It is easy and affordable to travel farther in the Island, be it to spend the day on one of the many, small and secluded beaches, or to discover the island’s attractions. Most of the population working directly with tourists speak good English, are very helpful but not pushy.
For those interested in oceanic wonders, Bonaire is paradise underwater. All the waters surrounding the island, including the coral reef, sea-grass and mangroves are in fact a protected National Park. Scuba diving and snorkeling with local operators is, obviously a perfect way to do it.
Windsurfing at Jibe City, Kayaking, Kite-surfing, Sailing or Fishing are top activities to enjoy in Bonaire. With over 20 beaches in Bonaire, there is a handful of famous spots like the 1000 Steps Beach, No Name Beach in Kein Bonaire, Playa Palu di Mangel, Sorobon Beach or Te Amo Beach.
Besides the water-related activities, the cruise traveler has other options. Have in mind that most attractions are in a way scenic and/or ecologically oriented. The island is known for its salt production and a visit to the flat salt pans and ponds is included in many tours of Bonaire.
Flamingo spotting is another major attraction. The Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary is by the Salt Ponds and you may be able to spot them at a distance.
On the cultural side, a visit to Ricon (the oldest settlement of Bonaire) is a must do. This small village has a few landmarks not to be missed like the Gruta Lourdes (a pilgrimage site), the Catholic Church (opened in 1837) and the Protestant Church (opened in 1934), the Bonaire Heritage Foundation and the Cadushy Distillery, where the cruise traveler can taste the world’s only liqueur made from cactus.
Whatever you choose to see and do in Bonaire, it is easy and affordable to explore the Island on your own. With just a couple of streets to meander, Kralendijk is a jewel not to be missed. For those that wish to explore different sights and tractions, it is advisable to book a tour or an excursion.