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Think pristine reefs, 200-plus fish species and shimmering water that is so clear, visibility averages 100 feet. Bonaire, an island formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles but now ruled directly by the Dutch, sits in the middle of a liquid paradise 50 miles north of Venezuela and 44 miles east of Curaçao. And Bonaire Marine Park is diligent about protecting it. Snorkelers and divers reap the benefits. At Washington-Slagbaai National Park, the surf pounds against the shore, splashing water on everything in its path. It is a kaleidoscope of cliffs, cacti and jagged coastline. Lizards, stray donkeys, flamingos, pelicans, herons and about 185 ...

Think pristine reefs, 200-plus fish species and shimmering water that is so clear, visibility averages 100 feet. Bonaire, an island formerly part of the Netherlands Antilles but now ruled directly by the Dutch, sits in the middle of a liquid paradise 50 miles north of Venezuela and 44 miles east of Curaçao. And Bonaire Marine Park is diligent about protecting it. Snorkelers and divers reap the benefits. At Washington-Slagbaai National Park, the surf pounds against the shore, splashing water on everything in its path. It is a kaleidoscope of cliffs, cacti and jagged coastline. Lizards, stray donkeys, flamingos, pelicans, herons and about 185 other bird species call Washington-Slagbaai home. It is a haven for bird watchers. There is a flamingo sanctuary at the salt flats, the snow-like drifts on the south end of the island. On the opposite side of the road are slave huts, the meager, 19th century dwellings of those who worked the flats. Dutch colonial architecture, splashed with a palette of pastels, line the main drag of Bonaire's capital, Kralendijk, which is the island's major shopping area with chic boutiques, a market and Fort Oranje.

Roberta Sotonoff
About the Expert

Roberta Sotonoff is coauthor of Eyewitness Top 10 Chicago and has contributed to many other guidebooks, including Fodor's Chicago, Fodor's Caribbean, Fodor's Caribbean Ports of Call, and Thomas Cook Traveller's USA.

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Roberta Sotonoff for Triporati

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Facts at a Glance

  • Location: The Island Territory of Bonaire is one of five island areas or the Netherlands Antilles near the North coast of Venezuela.
  • Language: Dutch, Papiamentu
  • Currency: Netherlands Antillean Guilder
  • Research: Wikipedia
  • Weather: Rainfall | Daylight
  • Current Time:

Climate

  • Best Time to Visit:

    Anytime, because it is below the hurricane belt.