Oct 25, 2015

Things to see in Bonaire

The Spanish brought the donkeys to the island to use as draft
animals. When they were no longer needed the donkeys were set free to roam the island. They did not fare well. In 1993 Dutch Nationals, Marina Melis, and her husband, Ed Koopman, established a donkey sanctuary on Bonaire for sick, wounded and orphaned donkeys. Currently there are about 600 donkeys under their care including newborns.  They provide food, drinking water,
medical care plus a free-roaming area.  Visitors are welcome to visit and interact with the donkeys for a nominal fee. The Special Care area is accessible by foot behind the visitor center but the highlight is feeding and interacting with the friendly animals on a drive through the sanctuary. This was one of our favorite stops on a drive-about on the southern part of the island.

The original inhabitants were the Caiquetios. Rock paintings and
petroglyphs from that time have survived in the island’s caves. The first Europeans were Spanish and then the Dutch. Control seesawed between them until 1816 when the Dutch took permanent control. To learn about the history and culture visit the newly upgraded cultural center in Rincon called Mangazina di Rei (The Storehouse of the King) where slaves were given provisions. The museum was closed for upgrading while we were there.  It is the best place to learn about the culture.  So sorry we missed it. 

Frommer’s rates Bonaire number one when it comes to scuba diving. The island is surrounded by reefs that are pristine and easily accessible. We don’t scuba but went out on the Divi’s dive boat and went snorkeling.  The waters of Bonaire have been designated as a National Marine Park so divers need to purchase a permit tag ($25 for scuba divers, $10 for Snorkelers).

It is almost always windy on Bonaire making it a mecca for wind
surfers and kite boarders.  John took some more kite boarding lessons. There is also a place for wind surfing Newbies can be wind surfing after a few lessons whereas kite boarding requires more lessons. Both locations offer equipment and skilled instructors.

Bonarie is a bird-lover’s paradise. The iconic symbol of Bonaire is the elegant pink flamingo. Bonaire is only one of four areas in the world where flamingos breed. The flamingos are shy so it is important to not get to close and disturb them. For picture taking a telephoto is a help. The best place to see them is Lake Gotomeer in the north and around the salt pans.  The breeding area is off limits. We saw flamingos but I was hoping to see a lot of them together.

In the evening we would sit at the end of Divi’s stone pier to watch sunset.  The sailboat, the Woodwind, offers snorkeling and sunset tours. One of my favorite evenings was taking their sunset cruise that included snorkeling and a great dinner.  

Hotels and most restaurants offer international fare including the fresh fish of the day.  There is even a Subway and KFC.  We like to try something new. In Rincon we visited the Cadushy Distillery where they use the cactus that is found all over the island to make cactus liqueur.  Posada Para Mira, also in Rincon, is one place to sample local fare such as goat stew. They also serve conch soup and, the more adventurous should try iguana soup.  It tastes like chicken but is very boney.