Reef squids © Dan Hershman
Meaning good air in French and nestled in deep in the
Caribbean, Bonaire forms part of the ABC chain of islands in the
Lesser Antilles (the others being Aruba and Curacao). With
crystalline turquoise waters brimming with coral reefs for miles in
every direction, this tiny island boasts the Bonaire National
Marine Park, widely regarded as one of the best offshore diving
destinations in the world.
Originally inhabited by the tall Caquieto Indians, the Spanish
first named the ABC islands 'las Islas de los Gigantes',
meaning 'the island of the giants' and Caquetios rock paintings can
be seen at Spelonk, Onima, Ceru Pungi, and Ceru Crita-Cabai.
Besides being one of the biggest scuba diving meccas in the world,
Bonaire is also famed for its Flamingo population, which is drawn
here by the abundance of shrimp found in the brackish waters.
Donkeys can also be seen roaming freely and the Donkey Sanctuary is
a major tourist attraction.
Colonised by the English and Dutch, the latter of which is still
prevalent today in the language and architecture, evidence of
Bonaire's oppressive past can still be seen in the saltpans in
Rincon where African slaves were put to work alongside Indians and
convicts in the 1600s.
The Caribbean is known a major thoroughfare for drug smuggling from
South America and visitors should be vigilant with their luggage.
There are no major health threats associated with visiting Bonaire,
but travellers should arm themselves with insect repellent and be
cautious of excessive exposure to the sun.
With a perfectly consistent tropical temperature, which is
moderated by Atlantic trade winds, Bonaire is the ideal playground
for lovers of all things aquatic. From scuba diving, snorkelling
and fishing to sea kayaking, wind surfing and kite boarding, this
little slice of tropical paradise will beautiful memories to be
relived for years for all who visit Bonaire.