Bonaire is the quiet sister of the “ABC Islands” (Aruba, Bonaire and Curacao) and enjoys the same sunny climate and breezy trade winds.
Famous for its coral reefs and underwater natural parks, Bonaire is a diver’s haven for both certified scuba divers as well as snorkelers who can access many reefs from the shore. On land, Bonaire is relatively undeveloped, and still maintains a laid-back island feel. In the southern region, sea salt is “farmed” in miles of salt flats, which also doubles as wildlife preserves for thousands of pink flamingoes. The island offers a number of eco-adventure options such as kayaking, hiking, horseback riding and windsurfing. Average temperature is 82°F year- round.1
Bonaire’s economy is mainly based on tourism, taking advantage of its warm, dry climate and natural environment. The island caters to scuba divers and snorkelers, as the surrounding coral reefs are well preserved and easily accessible from the shore. Bonaire has been widely recognized for many years in the diving community as one of the world’s best shore diving destinations.2
Bonaire’s Marine Park offers a total of 86 named dive sites, and is home to over 57 species of soft and stony coral and more than 350 recorded fish species.3 Most resorts and hotels have an on-site dive shop, and other accommodations are affiliated with a dive operation. The license plates carry the logo Divers Paradise (in English).
Lac Bay, in the southeastern part of the island, attracts wind surfers from around the world to Bonaire. The shallow Bay is on the windward side of the island, so trade winds are strong and constant. A barrier reef across the mouth of the bay allows windsurfers of all skill levels to select wave conditions they like. Lac Bay is one of the stops in the PWA Windsurfing Freestyle World Cup and has hosted the Prokids IFCA Championship. Five of the PWA’s ten highest ranked freestyle windsurfers are from Bonaire: Kiri Thode, Amado Vrieswijk, Bjorn Saragoza, Tonky Frans, and Taty Frans.4 In the northern end of Lac Bay is one of the best preserved mangrove forests in the Caribbean, which is popular for kayaking and snorkeling.5
Bonaire is also a port of call for more than fifteen cruise lines who make more than eighty calls per season at the island. The total passenger capacity for cruise ships in Bonaire is about 185,000.6
Tourism infrastructure in Bonaire is contemporary and offers a variety of types of accommodations including hotels, full-service resorts, a few small bed and breakfasts, and self-catering vacation rentals of all kinds. Other tourist activities include kite-boarding, mountain-biking, hiking, sailing, charter fishing, boating, and bird-watching.7 All-in-all tourist expenditures in Bonaire are estimated at $125 million per year.8