ISLAND BASICS
An Overview of Bonaire to Get You Started

 

Location     General Description   Geography

Language   Government              National Park

Climate       Currency                   Trivia

Location

  • 87 km (54 miles) from the coast of Venezuela; 52 km (32 miles) from the island of Curacao, Netherlands Antilles, and 129 km (80 miles) east of Aruba. Also, 60 km (37 miles) east of Islas Las Aves, which are uninhabited atolls.
  • Between 12 degrees 02' and 12 degrees 19' North and 68 degrees 12' and 68 degrees 25' West
  • Time zone: Atlantic

Language

  • Dutch (official)
  • Papiamentu (local)
  • Spanish (widely spoken, native language among many employees of resort industry)
  • English (widely spoken)

Climate

  • Average annual temperature 81 degrees F/27 degrees C
  • Almost constant tradewind breeze
  • Well out of Caribbean hurricane zone

General Description

  • Well known for its pristine coral reefs— Bonaire has gone to great measures to preserve this precious natural resource. The island is known worldwide for its excellent scuba diving and snorkeling.
  • Dry, semi-arid thorn-scrub habitat makes up the interior of the island. Much of the scrubby, wooded hills and valleys of the northwest part have been preserved as the Washington-Slagbaai National Park , some 3800 hectares (9300 acres) in size and managed by STINAPA, the Netherlands Antilles National Parks Foundation. Within the park lie rocky coasts, sandy beaches, inland bays, lagoons, and saliñas.
  • Coral limestone plains are the norm along the north and east coasts.
  • The southern tip of the island consists of a large, salt pan known as the Pekelmeer. It is here where flamingos gather by thousands, and shorebirds flock for feeding in the nonbreeding season.

Government

  • One of five islands in the Netherlands Antilles (others are Curaçao, Saba, Sint Eustatius, and Sint Maarten).
  • Capital of Netherlands Antilles is Willemstad, Curaçao.
  • Bonaire has its own elected legislative council, advisory council, and executive council, made up of elected members of the island council. A

    lieutenant governor, appointed by the queen, lives in Kralendijk.

  • The government of the Netherlands is responsible for defense and foreign affairs.

Currency

  • Guilder (also, called the florin); exchange rate with U.S. dollar typically 1.3 fl to $1
  • U.S. dollar widely accepted in Krelendijk, the capital city, and other more populated towns, but back-island shops will likely not be able to break large bills or give change in U.S. currency. Most major businesses can provide change in U.S. currency, but you may have to request it.
  • Travelers checks are readily accepted within the tourist industry and around Kralendijk.

Geography                 

  • 35 km long (22 miles)
  • 272 square kilometers (67,000 acres), including the small island of Klein Bonaire, located approximately 0.5 km (0.3 miles) off the southeastern coast.

National Park

  • Washington-Slagbaii National Park
  • Footpaths, walking and hiking trails, benches
  • Geography inside park includes rocky coasts, sandy beaches, inland bays, lagoons, and saliñas. Swimming allowed on designated beaches only—get map at headquarters upon arrival to park.
  • Four-wheel drive vehicle recommended

Our Favorite Island Trivia

  • Flamingos! Flamingos! Flamingos! Bonaire is one of the few places in the world where you can get great looks at this beautiful and unique bird.
  • You can become an Unofficial Ambassador of Bonaire: the tourism bureau bestows bronze (if you've visited 10 years), silver (16 to 20), and gold (21 or more years of visits) to long-time visitors to Bonaire .
  • There are webcams for under-the-sea views of Bonaire . The idea is a cool one, even if the images, from our experiences, seldom are. Located at http://www.bonairewebcams.com/
  • Airport: Flamingo Airport
  • Unemployment is low and so is the crime rate
  • Drive on the right-hand side of the road, like in the U.S.