About Bonaire

Bonaire was first inhabited over 2,000 years ago by Caquito indians. In 1499, the island was claimed by Spain but left undeveloped. The Dutch took possession in 1633 and Bonaire became a plantation island belonging to the Dutch West Indies Company and host to the first African slaves. By 1837, salt production was the island’s main industry, which was revitalized again in 1963.

Tourism, scuba diving, salt production, and oil trans shipment facilities are currently the island’s primary economic industries. Bonaire’s population is a mix of many cultures with over half of its residents having foreign nationalities.

Bonaire is known for it’s conservation practices and is home to one of the healthiest coral reefs in the Caribbean. It’s entire shoreline is under the management of the Bonaire National Marine Park. Five RAMSAR (critically important wetlands) sites have been designated in Bonaire and the island may soon be included in a World Heritage Site.


Click on the blue markers below to discover some interesting facts about Bonaire.

(Thanks to class of Fall 2011)

View Bonaire Map in a larger map



Bonaire & Klein Bonaire map

(click on map to enlarge)


Main city Kralendijk map

Things To Do

Bonaire is one of the top diving and snorkeling destinations in the Caribbean and is best known for its healthy reefs, calm waters, and diversity of reef organisms.

Lac Bai boasts steady trade winds and shallow, sandy areas that are excellent for learning how to windsurf. Other water sports include both ocean and sea kayaking as well as sailing and water skiing.

On land, activities include mountain biking, hiking, bird watching, and caving. Bonaire has several museums and many sites that are of cultural significance.

Bonaire’s night life is confined to the small town of Kralendijk. Bands come from all over the Caribbean as well as Venezuela, but be ready for late nights, as they don’t get started until well after ten in the evening. There are many cultural festivities throughout the year, but the most popular are Regatta and Carnival.

For more information, visit www.tourismbonaire.com