The island of Bonaire was first settled by Europeans in the 16th century as part of the Netherlands Antilles. Today, its 18,000 inhabitants retain ties with the Netherlands while also proudly fostering their Caribbean culture. Explore the island’s natural landscapes and meet with welcoming locals who bring credence to the island-nation's motto: "Once a visitor, always a friend."
The island's main city is Kralendijk, a coastal settlement of red-roofed colonial buildings. Explore the beachside promenade to find a range of restaurants, shops and historic sites. Visit the World War II monument and pay tribute to Bonairian soldiers. Admire the Pasanggrahan, a yellow palace home to the island-nation's parliament.
Drive north to Rincon, Bonaire's other major settlement, and discover the island's colonial history. Get insight into the slave culture of the 1500s at a restored plantation house, learn the African-style Simadan dance or admire cactus fences in the outdoor Real Rincon Museum.
Go to Bonaire's diverse wetlands and picturesque coast and see why conserving the environment is so important to this island. Explore Lac Bay on the south-eastern coast and try wind surfing or paragliding. Kayak through the mangroves or relax at Sorobon Beach, where resort restaurants serve meals by the sea.
Bonaire is a renowned diving and snorkeling location. Find the best snorkeling locations marked by yellow stones along the Bonairian coast. Klein Bonaire, a small uninhabited islet off Bonaire’s west coast, is another spectacular snorkeling destination that you can reach in 25 minutes by water taxi. Klein Bonaire is part of the Bonaire National Marine Park. To enter the marine park you must have a STINAPA Marine Park Tag, which can be purchased from dive centers and hotels.
Inland, spot wild goats around Lake Gotomeer or hike through the protected reserves of the Washington Slagbaai National Park. In Bonaire's south, take a tour of the salt production farms, one of the island's main industries, and witness a sea of pink plumage at the Flamingo Sanctuary.
To reach Bonaire, fly into the island’s international airport, which is a 15-minute taxi ride from Kralendijk where you can get around on foot. Travel further afield on a rented bike or scooter. As evening falls, try iguana soup in a restaurant along the beachside promenade and savour the sights, sounds and smells of this unique getaway.