Yes, there's more to Bonaire than diving

KRALENDIJK, Bonaire -- Ask people what comes to mind when they think of Bonaire and they would probably say that it's a diver's paradise. And they would be right.

Goat-feeding However, even with all of its great diving, some of Bonaire's most memorable natural attractions lie beyond its beaches and underwater world. Protected, unharmed natural habitats provide locations for exploring, bird-watching, fishing and eco-touring.

The peaceful lagoon at Lac Bay, for example, is a great spot for windsurfing thanks to its clear, waist-deep waters with constant 15- to 25-knots-per-hour crosswinds Here, Ernst van Vliet's Windsurfing Bonaire operation features equipment for rent and classes for novices and experts alike. Production or custom boards can be rented by the hour, day or week, and Vliet even picks up customers at their hotel if they call in advance.

If parks are what your clients enjoy, the Washington-Slagbaai Park is worth a visit. Home to more than 190 species of birds, thousands of towering candle cacti, herds of goats, stray donkeys and lizards, the park features a varied terrain that includes steep hills with sweeping views of the island from atop.

Jeeps and cars can be taken through the park along two driving trails. Small, hidden beaches provide great places to picnic.

The entrance fee is $5 per person, and maps are available at the park entrance. The park is open daily from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., although entrance is prohibited after 3 p.m.

In addition to great bird-watching at the park, visitors can head to the island's salt ponds at Goto Meer or at the southern end of the island at the solar salt works to view the Caribbean Flamingo. During the last century, the number of nesting places for the Caribbean Flamingo dropped from 30 to four, and the bird's numbers quickly dwindled. To reverse this trend, Bonaire created a preserve within the salt works and, today, Bonaire's flamingo population during the breeding season swells to almost 10,000, nearly outnumbering the island's human population. Although admission to the solar sanctuary within the salt works requires a permit, the flamingos can be seen from the road. Every day at sunset, the entire flock flies 50 miles south to Venezuela for feeding.

The calm and clear waters that attract divers also are what make fishing popular on Bonaire. The catch varies by season -- November through February is best for marlin and sailfish; February, March and April for mahi mahi; March to late June for wahoo and amber jack, and June through September for yellowfish and bonito.

Bonaire's calm waters also are ideal for sea kayaking. On the windward side of the island, shops rent kayaks to explore Lac Bay, a lagoon that is a nursery for fish. On the leeward side of the island, several dive shops rent kayaks to visit the uninhabited offshore island, Klein Bonaire.

Off-road biking is another popular option on Bonaire, thanks to its more than 300 kilometers of trails. Local bike shops offer rentals, sales, repairs and guided tours.

For horseback riding buffs, Bonaire's best known area for riding is the Warahama Ranch, where a ride through the ranch grounds reveals domesticated and wild animals as well as indigenous plants. There also are two playgrounds for children.

Tourism Corp. of Bonaire, Phone: (800) BONAIRE

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