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Travel Logs December 2015

Compulsive Traveler

Discover Bonaire

By Sandra Scott

With over 200 species Bonaire is a bird-lover’s paradise. The iconic symbol of Bonaire is the elegant pink flamingo. Bonaire is only one of four areas in the world where flamingos breed.

The Caribbean island of Bonaire north of Venezuela was part of  the Netherlands Antilles until 2010 when it became a special municipality within the Netherlands. 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 small, colorful city can be explored on foot. 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 Rincon is the newly upgraded cultural center, Mangazina di Rei (The Storehouse of the King) where slaves were given provisions.
  3. Diving: The island is surrounded by pristine reefs. Go out on a dive boat or enter from the shore where the access to the sea is clearly marked by bright yellow painted rocks. The waters of Bonaire have been designated as a National Marine Park so divers need to purchase a permit tag ($25 for scuba divers, $10 for snorkelers).
  4. Catching the wind: Bonaire is a mecca for wind surfers and kite boarders. Wind surfers should head to Lac Bay. Kite boarding takes place on Atlantis Beach. Newbies can be wind surfing after a few lessons whereas kite boarding requires more lessons. Both locations offer equipment and skilled instructors.
  5. Salt: The salt is a natural product of the sea water, sunshine and wind. Fragile looking windmills pump seawater into condenser ponds where the water evaporates until it reaches full saturation. The brine is then pumped into crystallizers where it remains for about a year during which the salty water turns green and then a beautiful rose. When the salt is ready to harvest it is piled in large mountains waiting to be transported worldwide. 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. A donkey sanctuary cares for sick, wounded and orphaned donkeys. Visitors are welcome to visit and interact with the donkeys for a nominal fee. The Special Care area is accessible by foot behind the visitor center.
  7. Birds: With over 200 species Bonaire is a bird-lover’s paradise. The iconic symbol of Bonaire is the elegant pink flamingo. Bonaire is only one of four areas in the world where flamingos breed. The best place to see them is Lake Gotomeer in the north and around the salt pans.
  8. Shopping: There are several art shops and a regularly scheduled art and craft market in Kralendijk. Visit the Salt Shop to buy Bonaire salt in a variety of packages great for gift-giving and for personal home use.
  9. Tours: There are tours for those who want to bike, hike, kayak, fish, go caving, have an off-road adventure, go horseback riding, and rappel. Woodwind offers snorkeling and sunset tours. Many people rent a car and explore on their own.
  10. Wining and dining: Restaurants offer international fare but for those who want to try something new should head to the historic village of Rincon. Cadushy Distillery makes cactus liqueur in a variety of flavors. Posada Para Mira, also in Rincon, is one place to sample local fare such as goat stew, conch soup and even iguana soup.

 

Sandra Scott travels the globe recording the top attractions at every destination.

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