Sep 28, 2016

Bonaire: A Great Winter Getaway

Planning a winter getaway – think Bonaire. The Caribbean island of Bonaire is 50 miles north of Venezuela and 86 miles east of Aruba. The best thing is that it is out of the hurricane belt so any time of the year is a good time to visit. There is plenty of sunshine year round.  

1. Kralendijk: Bonaire’s capital, Kralendijk, is a port city.  The colorful city is small with a population of 4000 making for a great walkabout. The architecture has been well preserved. Start at the Visitor’s Center to pick up a free walking tour brochure. Visit Fort Orange, the quaint churches and Queen Wilhemina Park.  

2. History: The original inhabitants were the Caiquetios, a branch of the Arawak Indians. Rock paintings and petroglyphs from that time have survived in several of the island’s caves. Near the town of Rincon is the cultural center, Mangazina di Rei where slaves were given provisions.

3. Diving: Go out on a dive boat or enter from the shore where theaccess to the sea is clearly marked by bright yellow painted rocks that names the dive site.  The waters of Bonaire have been designated as a National Marine Park so divers and snorkelers need to purchase a permit tag.

4. Catching the wind: It is almost always windy on Bonaire making it a mecca for wind surfers and kite boarders.  The clear water of Lac Bay is the perfect place for beginners to learn and for freestylers who want to hone their skills. Kite boarding takes place on Atlantis Beach. Both locations offer equipment and skilled instructors.

5. Salt: On southern part of Bonaire it is impossible not to be amazed at the white mountains of salt and the rose-colored salt pans. The salt of Bonaire is a natural product made by the evaporation of seawater by the sunshine and wind. Nearby are replicas of the small huts for the slaves who at one time worked in the salt industry.

6. Donkeys: 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. 

 7. Birds: With over 200 species Bonarie is a bird-lover’s paradise. There are migrating birds, seabirds, shore birds, and land birds but the iconic symbol of Bonaire is the elegant pink flamingo. 
8. Shopping: There are several art shops in and around Kralendijk. Paintings depicting Bonaire scenes, or a stone painted yellow with the name of your favorite dive site, and a piece of driftwood art make great remembrances of Bonaire.  

9. Tours: Visitors can bike, hike, kayak, fish, go caving, have an off-road adventure, go horseback riding, repel, plus Segway tours, and a city tour in a luxurious tuk-tuk. ] Woodwind offers snorkeling and sunset tours. Many people rent a car and explore on their own. 
10. Wining and dining: Hotels and \restaurants offer international fare including the fresh fish of the day. Those who want to try something new should head to the historic village of Rincon where Posada Para Mira offers local fare such at goat stew. Cadushy Distillery uses the cactus that is found all over the island to make cactus liqueur in a variety of flavors.