An Off the Beaten Path Adventure
Bonaire, located south of Aruba and 50 miles east of Venezuela, it’s the B of the ABC islands of the Dutch Caribbean. Known for scuba diving, candy- colored Dutch architecture, and landscapes – varying from 30 feet tall prickly cactus’, to pink Flamingos roaming salt flats – makes Bonaire a unique destination for any traveler.
The waters surrounding Bonaire, and tiny nearby island Klein Bonaire, are both apart of the Bonaire National Marine
On a recent visit, I had the opportunity to sail on a magnificent Siamese junk, the Samur, to the unblemished oasis of Klein Bonaire. This 56-foot, intricately carved sailing vessel was hand-built in Thailand.
The red sails caught the wind as it cruised the surrounding ocean, transporting me back to a time when sailing ships ruled the seas. The uninhabited island greeting me with pristine powder white sand and exceptional reef snorkeling directly off the beach. Parrotfish, angelfish, octopus, and sea horses gracefully swam about, undisturbed by my presence.
On the southern end of Bonaire lies vast salt pans and shallow lagoons called the Pekelmeer. For centuries salt has been dried and harvested here. Nearby, American Flamingos can be spotted thanks to the conservation efforts of Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary, one of the four places in the world where they breed. Seeing and hearing hundreds of pink flamingos is a truly stirring sight.
With colorful buildings, downtown Kralendijk is a charming town with boutiques and restaurants. Locally made glass jewelry and bath salts from Bonaire’s famous salt flats can be purchased.
Looking to try something new? Taste the local fresh catch of the day, lionfish. An invasive species to the area, it’s often pan seared with herbs to bring about its mild flavor. If you’ve never tried drinking cactus, you can at the Cadushy Distillery, the maker of the world’s only cactus liqueur.
Bonaire has no rainy season and temperatures are consistently in the 70s and 80s. It’s quiet, laid back, and there are no high-rise hotels or flashy casinos. For where to stay, the Tourism Corporation Bonaire provides information on accommodation choices.
This island, dedicated to protecting its natural beauty and environment, must be visited to be truly appreciated. It’s one of my favorite places to kick back, relax, and explore the stunning reefs.
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