Bonaire — Attractions
Languishing in the Caribbean Ocean not far from the coast of Venezuela, Bonaire has maintained an air of seclusion and visitors come here throughout the year to soak up the sunshine and sea. However, there is plenty to keep you entertained inland, with many interesting natural attractions, wildlife and cultural points of significance, namely the Bonaire Museum and Washington-Slagbaai National Park.
Washington-Slagbaai National Park
One Bonaire’s top attractions, this national park covers almost 20 percent of the land, or 5,643 hectares to be exact. It is a magnificent place to discover the island’s wildlife, from turtles to flamingos, and sublime landscapes, which include mangroves, sand dunes and forests. Launched in 1969, the park welcomes around 23,000 visitors every year and has an information desk close to the entrance to teach visitors about the heritage and culture of the island.
Address: Malmok, Bonaire
Located on the outskirts of the Kralendijk, the Bonaire Museum is set in a charming 130-year old villa. Exhibits include local sculptures, art and pottery that offer insight into the lives and culture of the community. Some of the impressive displays include paintings by local artist Winifred Dania. The museum was the first of its kind and is still the largest on the island. It also focuses on the study of plantation house architecture, which can be seen throughout the island.
Address: Kaya J Ree 7 Kralendijk
The Grotto of Lourdes
In 1958, local resident Emma Pourier visited Lourdes, the France-based holy place of worship to commemorate the 100th anniversary since the supposed apparition of the Virgin Mary. Upon her return to Bonaire, she convinced the local priest to create a shrine on the island to spread and enhance the Catholic religion. A suitable cave was found near the town of Rincon and the grotto was constructed. Today, both locals and visitors can enjoy a trip to the shrine for a peaceful moment of reflection in front of the statue.
Address: Rincon, Bonaire
The King’s Storehouse
Bonaire’s second oldest building, the Mangazina di Rei, or King’s Storehouse was initially used to house a large quantity of the island’s crops and largest export, salt. These days, the structure is slightly more glamorous, home to a botanical garden, museum and community center. The exhibits explore the anthropological and architectural history of the island and has numerous replicas of traditional stone houses which once formed Bonaire’s townscape.
Address: Rincon, Bonaire
Folklore states that Boka Onima was the arrival point of the first man to Bonaire. A practically impossible destination on which to land due to the surrounding cliffs and sloping beaches, the inlet primarily draws crowds today because of the nearby rock drawings. The age of these primitive works is yet to be determined, but it is believed to be the creation of the Caiqueto Indians whose art has also been found in caves on the South American mainland.
Address: East coast, Bonaire
A tropical oasis of nature and tranquility nestled in Bonaire’s beautiful flora, the Butterfly Garden exhibits a wide array of species native to the island and surrounding area, primarily Costa Rica. Located on the outskirts of Kralendijk, the farm is easily accessed from the capital and is open from Tuesday to Sunday. The Butterfly Garden is also home to a highly-regarded restaurant which serves up some great dishes while you relax in the shaded garden around a pond brimming with koi fish.
Address: Kaminda Lac 101, Kralendijk, Bonaire
Formed in 1993 to look after the island’s wounded and orphaned donkeys, the sanctuary now provides shelter to most of the population of Bonaire’s donkeys. The sanctuary is home to more than 400 animals, which is always increasing. Many donkeys are rescued and treated, where they are able to live out their years in peace and any money raised goes back into the upkeep of the facility. There is also a placid garden where visitors can relax and admire the native iguanas and turtles, or look out over the salt planes to catch a glance of a flamingo.
Phone: +599 95 607 607