The delightful, intimate Dutch island is an ideal getaway for visitors in pursuit of peace and nature, especially the peace and nature to be found below the surface of calm waters where divers can count on visibility of 100ft (30m).
Bonaire is one of the world’s premiere scuba-diving destinations. There are more than 80 marked sites attracting divers from all over the world. The multi-colored coral forests that start just 20ft (6m) from the shore and often lie only a few inches from the surface are bewitching - and strictly protected.
The island’s reefs are part of the Bonaire Marine Park, and there are tough laws to conserve all sea life - both the corals and the fish - in the offshore waters. Further out, the sea is rich in bonefish, tarpon, permit, snook and marlin. These can be fished. Ashore, beaches are white, pink, and perfect.
Bonaire’s passion for protecting the island’s ecology extends to the land, where a 13,500-acre (55 sq km) national park was created in 1969 to preserve more than 180 species of birds and unique flora and fauna.
There are 350 miles (560km) of nature trails, usually goat paths and unpaved roads, for hikers, cyclists and horseback riders to explore. You can see some of the island’s salt lakes, which were worked until the 1860s, and end up at flamingo-filled Goto Lake. It is thought there are 15,000 flamingoes on Bonaire - roughly one for every inhabitant. Tiny stone cabins near the beach are stark testimony to the time when slavery supplied the island with cheap labor.
In Bonaire, its 112-square miles (290 sq km) warmed by a perfect year-round climate, visitors can still see the Caribbean as it was 20 years ago. Its beaches, ideal for sunbathers, swimmers, divers and surfers, are uncrowded and unspoiled.
t does have its lively moments - such as Carnival Week in February. Hotels have their steel bands, and there is a handful of casinos as well as a couple of nightclubs and bars.
Yet it still has a predominantly mellow atmosphere and is always casual and quiet after dark. Bonaire`s capital, the Dutch-built port town of Kralendijk, still has only one main street. And that’s the way most islanders - and their visitors - want to keep it.