Bonaire is an island in the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea. It is a part of the islands Bonaire, Sint Eustatius and Saba which is sometimes called Caribbean Netherlands. The island is 80 km from Venezuela. Kralendijk is the capital city.
Bonaire has a tropical maritime climate and fluctuating temperatures during the year are not typical for the island. The tourists can come here anytime. The wet season is from October to February and the rains occur usually in the morning and all the rest time the weather is normally sunny.
The official languages on the island are Papiamento and Dutch. The majority of the population are the Christians.
Bonaire is a destination for beach holidays. The coastline is predominantly municipal except a private nude beach resort Sorbon and an isolated beach belonging to the hotel Harbour Village.
A strong current and the waves on the Playa Chikitu Beach are perfect for surfing and windsurfing. Divers usually come to the Playa Funchi Beach. Playa Frans Beach and Boca Kokolishi Beach with their shallow lagoons are ideal for the tourists who want to run away from the noise and for the travelers with children. If you like snorkeling, head to the Boca Bartol Beach. The resorts in Bonaire have all you need for active holidays such as yachting, boat trip, water skiing, tennis and beach volleyball.
Excursions are arranged in the capital city. The tourists will see the architecture of the city, visit the ancient local settlement Rincon and uninhabited island Klein Bonaire where there are the ruins of the slaves’ huts.
The European citizens can take a direct flight from Amsterdam to Kralendijk by Arkefly. The citizens of other European Union countries will have to take a transit flight with a stop in Amsterdam, New York or Atlanta. KLM, Insel Air, United, AirBerlin, Cityjet and British Airways offer transit flights to Bonaire.
The most convenient way for the citizens from CIS countries to travel to Bonaire is through the USA or some European cities. In this case, they will have to male 1 or 2 stops. The flights offer Belavia, KLM, Austrian, Lufthansa, Insel Air, Aeroflot and Singapore Airlines.
Private boats and cruise ships arrive at the port of Kralendijk.
The residents of the EU can travel to Bonaire visa-free provided that their stay in the country will not exceed a month.
The citizens of CIS countries must obtain a visa in the Consulate or the Netherlands Embassy. The exception are the travelers with multi-entry Schengen visas. Such visas allow them to cross the border without any additional visa.
If a tourist obtained two and more Schengen visas within the last three years, he does not need to come personally for a visa. All the rest applicants have to come personally after making an online appointment.
The maximal time for processing the documents is 3 weeks.
A visa allows the tourists to stay in the country for 30 days.
The Customs legislation of Bonaire does not restrict import or export of national and foreign currency. All the sums exceeding 20.000 florins must be declared.
The tourists can import duty-free the following goods:
- a limited amount of tobacco and alcohol;
- clothes, shoes and accessories for personal use;
- gifts and other products the total sum of which should not exceed 100 florins.
It is strictly prohibited to import:
- leather products from Haiti;
- certain medications;
- silver coins and products from Suriname and the Netherlands.
It is strictly prohibited to export:
- objects found on the sea bottom;
- corals and sea shells.
The island cuisine abounds with various seafood and has a distinct Creole character. The locals use lobsters, shrimps, fish, crayfish and seaweed to cook their traditional dishes. Vegetables, greens and fruits are also very popular.
The foodies can treat themselves to a lamb stew with vegetables Cabrito Stoba, a beef dish Kami Stoba, a meat roll, Ayakas and roasted bird meat Galina.
When in comes to fish, you will be served a roasted snapper Piska kora, boiled shrimps with herbs, fish balls Krokeshi, pickled fish and fried whole wahoo Piska mula.
Gastronomy tourists should try an exotic cactus soup with pork or fish Hobi duchi, traditional meat or fish Callaloo with vegetables and herbs, soup Giombo with okra or soup with iguana meat.
The main dishes are typically served with rice Aros bruin, a grain dish Funshi, pumpkin or beans fritters Cala, pea fritters Moro and grain and pea porridge Tutu.
Those who have a sweet tooth will enjoy fresh and sugared fruits, coconut and guava cakes, caramel dessert Kesio, sweat flatbread Pan bati and various puddings.
No meal is not without mineral water, fresh fruit juices and refreshing drinks.
The tourists who have a good judge about alcoholic drinks should try locally produced beer Balashi and Amstel and home-made rums and liqueurs.
The official currency in Bonaire is Netherlands Antilles Florin (ANG) which is equivalent to 100 cents. In circulation are the coins from 5 to 50 cents and from 1 to 5 florins and bank notes from 10 to 500 florins. The local currency is non-convertible outside the islands.
On the resorts, the tourists can easily pay with US dollars.
Mainly, the currency is exchanged at banks however, the tourists can face problems exchanging bank notes of large denomination. The exchange offices outside the cities are not widespread. The ATMs normally give money in florins and you can exchange them for dollars only in the capital city.
In many facilities, you can pay with credit cards Visa, America Express, Kompa Leon and MasterCard. Such cards as DinersClub and EuroCard are accepted only in a few hotels and stores.
The traveler’s checks are accepted only in large cities and touristic areas. It’s better to use the cards and traveler’s checks in US dollars.
Details of interest
Sightseeing in Bonaire
The Bonaire National Marine Park is the main destination for all those who love nature, diving and snorkeling. The Park is the UNESCO candidate site. Water protected zone surrounds the island and it is a habitat of the largest number of species of fish in the Caribbean Sea. A narrow Reef Terrace is stretched along the northern part of the coast. There one can see soft and fire corals and also Buckhorn corals. The divers can watch lizardfish, angelfish, goatfish and flatfish.
In Bonaire, there are many destinations for ecological tourism. One of them is the Washington Slagbaai National Park on the northwest of Bonaire. It is located around the Mount Brandaris. This nature reserve is the habitat for over 100 species of birds and some unique plants. The Park was founded in 1969 and cover the total area of 13.000 acres.
To the northwest of Kralendijk, in the valley, there is a settlement Rincon, the oldest on the island. Here, the tourists will see traditional Dutch architecture of the colonial period.
An uninhabited small island Klein Bonaire is interesting by its natural monuments. The total area of the island is 600 ha and the height above the sea level is less than 1 meter. This island is under protection of the World Wildlife Fund. On the island, the tourists can see the ruins of the huts of the slaves.
The highest peak in Bonaire is the Mount Brandaris which is a popular destination for trekking. From the top of the mountain, a breathtaking view over the island opens.
If you stay in the capital city, visit Fort Orange built in the 19th century and the Bonaire Museum which is located in the former house of one of the local plantation owner in Kaya Sabana.
Do not miss a chance to visit a Butterfly Garden with the most beautiful butterflies from all over the world.
Souvenirs in Bonaire
In Bonaire, the tourists usually buy these souvenirs and gifts:
- local cigars and rum;
- fresco paintings and pictures depicting the island’s landscapes;
- traditional musical instruments;
- jewelry and bijouterie;
- magnets, bags and T-shirts;