I’m planning this article for a while now, but I don’t know where to start. There are so many things to be said about Bonaire and I can’t decide which ones to focus on.
Since you probably never heard about it before reading our blog, let me introduce Bonaire to you.
Located in the Southern Caribbean, Bonaire is actually a special municipality within Netherlands, same as two other islands (Sint Eustatius and Saba). So, in the heart of a tropical paradise, we are practically still in Europe :). And I am not totally joking here! I haven’t visited (yet) other islands in Central America, but when I mention that it is very different from home, people keep telling me it is the best resemblance I can get in this part of the world.
Together with the more famous and touristic Aruba and Curacao, Bonaire is part of the ABC islands. Close to the Venezuelan coast, this area of the Caribbeans is privileged, as it lies outside the Hurricane Belt. There are thousands of islands in the Caribbean region, but only few of them (mostly in the far southern side) are outside the hurricane risk. So you can safely visit Bonaire all year round! What I heard is that in the hurricane season it is not windy, which can make difficult to overcome the midday heat. We will see that in a few weeks!
Speaking of weather, Bonaire is the ideal location for sun & summer lovers. There is an average temperature of 29 degrees Celsius, with 76% humidity, constant throughout the year. There are only minor day-to-day variation. The same is applicable to day and night temperature where the difference is just 5-6 degrees. Honestly, for me it is a too warm, or maybe I’m not totally used yet. Luckily, there is always some wind, bringing a cooler perspective. It constantly blows from the east, which is why most of the beaches and settlements are located on the western coast. The eastern side is wild and rocky, with deep sea and large waves.
Less than 300 square km wide and with about 20 thousand people living there, Bonaire is a very small world to all of us coming from the big, crowded cities. But it is calmer and more peaceful. I remember being stuck in Cluj traffic for 45 minutes, while here crowded streets means 3-4 cars and about 2 minutes wait time. Despite the relatively small size, you need a car, or at least a scooter, otherwise it is very difficult to move around, as the distance between different objectives is significant.
The main characteristic in Bonaire is that everything is slow. You know how they say, “There is continental time, and there is island time”. Now I understand it, rush does not exist in the local vocabulary or it has a different meaning anyway! Life in essence is going on at a slower peace and deadlines are only relative. And I’m not talking just about bureaucracy in the public system. There is no commercial activity before 9 AM and at least one hour lunch break everywhere, restaurants are working 5 days per week, many of them 5 to 10 PM only, and the list can continue. Don’t get me wrong, it is great, but it takes a while to readjust from the big city life.
For such an isolated location, you can find pretty much everything you need here. But still, there might be temporary availability problems, due to supply frequency and the offer is not as extensive as we are used with. The main problem I found is with fresh products, with no or minimal processing. I miss going to a farmer’s market, even though I never enjoyed this activity before!
The society in Bonaire is very diverse and polyglot, combining different ethnic groups. Dutch is the official language and Papiamento, the local creole language is also recognised. But with a history of Spanish, Portuguese, French and British presence in the region and lots of tourists in the latest decades, everybody here speaks at least two languages. It is lovely to see kids playing in the park, trying to speak a mix of everything to make themselves understood. All skin and hair colours, they don’t even care about these details! If only us, adults, could keep the same attitude towards human diversity… we can always learn something from our kids!
Visited by hundreds of thousands of tourists each year and a stop in the routs of the Caribbean cruise ships, Bonaire natural beauty is still not yet spoiled by tourism. National Marine Park, Bonaire is a top destination for divers worldwide. I heard many tourists here saying they went diving in several different places around the world, but very few impressed them as much as Bonaire. And you can dive here from shore, but more on that soon… Even though diving is top on the list, the island has a lot more wild, natural beauties to be discovered.
There will come a series of articles related with Bonaire: nature, activities and local recommendations. Please let us know if you are interested in a certain subject or if you have specific questions about life on the island.