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General Information


Bonaire is one of the ABC-islands (Aruba, Bonaire, and Curacao) situated 86 miles (138 km) east of Aruba or 30 miles (48 km) east of Curacao, or 50 miles (80 km) north of Venezuela, in the Caribbean Sea. On October 10th, 2010, it became a special province of Holland when the Netherlands Antilles seized to exist. Bonaire is 24 miles (39 km) long by 3 - 7 miles (5 - 11 km) wide. The Caribbean climate is very pleasant with a year-round temperature of around 82°F (28°C) with an average water temperature of 80°F (27°C). It is a beautiful island situated outside of the hurricane belt where nature is still unspoiled. A relaxed, laid back atmosphere complements the Bonairean lifestyle, which is full of culinary, musical and cultural surprises.

The name "Bonaire" is thought to be derived from an Indian word meaning "low country" and indeed both the main island of Bonaire and the small, uninhabited satellite island of Klein (small) Bonaire are startlingly flat. Most of the southern end of the island is less than 2m (6') above sea level. The highest elevation on Bonaire - Brandaris in the Washington Slagbaai National Park - is a mere 238m (785').

Economically, the island depends primarily on tourism. Visitors can participate in a number of activities, such as scuba diving, snorkeling, sailing, surfing, sightseeing, island tours, caving, kayaking, cycling and much, much more.

Only about 5% of the total land area of the island is developed. Most of the island remains undeveloped and has been left to Mother Nature: cactus, thorny scrub, and windswept woodlands interspersed with "kunukus" (small holdings) growing "maishi" (corn) and raising goats and sheep.

Bonaireans are among the friendliest and most linguistically able of all Caribbean islanders, able to switch seamlessly between their native Papiamento and English, Dutch and Spanish. Religion is, and has always been, an important part of Bonairean life, and there are quite a number of churches of all types on the island.

Despite its small size, nature conservation is high on Bonaire’s agenda: more than 20% of the total land area of Bonaire and 100% of the waters surrounding Bonaire and Klein Bonaire are protected as Parks. The Washington Slagbaai National Park, which consists of two former plantations and covers a land area of 5,643 ha (just under 14,000 acres), was established in 1977. The Bonaire National Marine Park, which stretches from the high water mark to the 60m (200') depth contour all around Bonaire and Klein Bonaire, followed in 1979. STINAPA, the National Parks Foundation, manages both parks of Bonaire.

Although Bonaire is not a big island, you definitely need to rent a vehicle during your stay. A number of car rental companies will accommodate all your transportation needs!

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