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.
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
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