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Pocket Guide: Bonaire

Bonaire is a diver’s paradise. This Caribbean island is part of the so-called ABC islands, with Aruba and Curaçao, which lie in the east of Central America and to the north of Venezuela. Book a hotel in Bonaire to escape the crowds and the noise of its neighbouring islands and concentrate on what you came here to do: dive, dive and then, if your dive plan allows it, dive once again.

One of the appealing things about the fantastic range of dive sites here is that many are shore entry, dispensing with the need for a boat to reach them. So you literally have some of the world’s best diving right on your doorstep!

When you are not under the water there is some fine windsurfing beaches, wildlife, salt marshes, national parks and historical reminders of the slave trade to explore.

Where to Stay in Bonaire

Kralendijk – The capital of Bonaire contains its best restaurants, bars and hotels. It has a long seafront that is perfect for evening strolls and there are some charming examples of pastel-coloured colonial-era buildings.

Around Kralendijk – There are panoramic views all along the rocky seashore to enjoy here.

Rincon – Sleepy Rincon was a hideaway for the Spanish from the pirates who terrorised this area. The town today offers a bolthole for those who want somewhere quiet to relax in after their dives.

Lac Bay – Windsurfing is the name of the game here. Beginners should stick to the shallows and consider it a spectator sport in May and June when the big waves and the professionals roll in.

Washington-Slagbaai National Park – Cacti and birds dominate the northwest of the island, designated a National Park and perfect for a day of wildlife spotting.

Southern Bonaire – The flat and arid land here is largely given over to salt production and it’s a fascinating process to watch. Windmills remove the waters leaving behind vast plains of salt flats, pink-hued waters and tiny sea organisms.

How to Make the Most of Your Hotel in Bonaire

It is the dive sites that catch most people’s eyes here. The Bonaire National Marine Park contains abundant marine life and colourful corals. There are shipwrecks to explore and sea turtles, rays and the occasional dolphin pod or whale shark can be seen. When you do finally reach the surface again you can take the opportunity to see the island’s flamingos, explore its intriguing salt flats, discover its chilling reminders of the slave trade, get all Indiana Jones locating the island’s ancient rock art and admire the flora and fauna at the Washington-Slagbaai National Park.

Bonaire National Marine Park has 86 dive sites, so you are not likely to run out of things to do! Many of these are shore entry dives making them easy to access. If all that diving wears you out there are plenty of other things to do here: you can ride the waves at Lac Bay, spend an afternoon sea fishing, or try your hand at kiteboarding, sea kayaking and sailing.

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