A dry and windy Island yet bursting with colour, Bonaire is a gem of a destination. The Tourism Board and STINAPA (Stichting Nationale Parken Nederlandse Antillen) work hard to ensure a balance between nature and the many visitors to the Island.
It’s brightly painted buildings, the shimmering turquoise bay, the giant pyramids of salt standing between the strikingly pink waters, the vivid green and yellow lotikeets and the flocks of Coral pink flamingo’s all leave a lasting impression of colour.
Just 24 miles (39 km) long by 3-7 miles (5-11 km) wide, Bonaire lies 50 miles north of Venezuela and outside the hurricane belt. It’s easterly trade winds blow year round with the higher winds prevailing generally from mid-December through August.
The average yearly temperature is 82 F (28 C), sea temperature 80 F (27 C) and rainfall approximetaly 22 inches. The main languages are Papiamento, Dutch and Spanish.
The local currency is the US Dollar.
Bonaire was part of the Netherlands Antilles until the country’s dissolution on October 10, 2010, when the Island (including Klein Bonaire) became a special municipality within the Netherlands.
History and Culture
Believed to have arrived around 1300, Arawak Indians from Venezuela were the first inhabitants of the Island. Alonso di Ojeda and Amerigo Vespucci arrived in 1499 and claimed Boanire for Spain. The Dutch took possession in 1636. African slaves were brought to the Island in the late 1600’s to work on the plantations and harvesting the salt. Between 1799 and 1816 the Island was occupied on and off by various countries and individuals. The Island returned to the Dutch in 1816.
Salt production slowed with the abolition of slavery in 1863. However, in the 1960’s a US Company designed new solar slat works revitalising the industry.
Today salt production is a major industry on the Island along with tourism.
Flamingo airport was built in 1943 and today Bonaire is on the itinerary for many of the large cruise liners that travel around the Caribbean Sea.