Bonaire is one of the several islands of the Netherlands Antilles of the Southern Caribbean, which makes it part of the Netherlands just like Aruba. Bonaire is considered one of the best shore diving locations in the world, with an accessible coral reef surrounding the island on two sides. With its easy reef access, the spot is ideal for snorkeling as well. The island is an ecological gem, with flamingo colonies, an excellent marine system and mangrove forests. The trade wind keeps things cool at night, perfect for opening the windows. I know what some of you are thinking. Netherlands = Amsterdam = Ganga, so it must be the same in Bonaire. Not so. Drug laws are much more serious on the island.
The official language of Bonaire is Dutch, though Papiamentu, Spanish, and English as widely spoken as well.
The Netherlands Antilles Guilder is the official currency of Bonaire. It is fixed at the exchange rate of 1.77 to the U.S. Dollar for cash and 1.78 for traveler’s checks. U.S. Dollars are widely accepted, but expect to receive your change in Guilders. Traveler’s checks and credit cards are widely accepted as well. To find out about the conversion rates, visit our currency converter.
A place to sleep does not come cheap in Bonaire, with room prices starting at over $100. Budget accommodations may be available, but I didn’t find a trace of them online.
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Food and Drinks
Bonaire offers more than 75 restaurants, so you’ll surely not run out of options.
Holidays and Events
Carnival is the big event of the year in January and February of each year. Beyond that, check out the official Bonaire Calendar.
- Pro Kids World Championship – July 27 to August 3, 2008
Getting There & Around
From the U.S., you can fly in on Air Jamaica, American Airlines, American Eagle (from Puerto Rico), Continental and Delta Air Lines. Alternately, you can fly in to Aruba and then take Dutch Antilles Express or Tiara Air from there to Bonaire. European visitors can go with KLM or Arkefly. And South American visitors can go via KLM out of Ecuador or Transaven from Venezuela. Varig and Avianca fly from Sao Paulo and Rio de Janeiro to Aruba, which connect with Dutch Antilles Express. Avianca also flies from Bogota to Curacao, from which connections to Bonaire can be made.
Taxis and rental cars are the popular ways to get around the island. It’s a little big for foot or bike.
There is a departure tax for all international destinations of $32 USD per person. You can take care of the tax using cash or debit/credit card (MC, Visa, Discover, Maestro, Kompa Leon all accepted, but American Express is not).
Electricity in Bonaire is uses 120-volt / 50-cycle, so U.S. visitors will need a converter.
Things to Do
You can visit the Donkey sanctuary (I’d love to have a t-shirt from there) and see the huge population of flamingos. Diving and snorkeling are popular activities, and windsurfing and kitesurfing opportunities exist as well.