Walks on the Wild Side
This isn't your typical Caribbean walking tour. There are no rainforests, tropical gardens or waterfalls to discover on the island of Bonaire. Instead, cactus, century plants and tamarind trees dominate a rugged landscape that sees scant rainfall but thrives none the less. Iguanas sun on rock outcroppings, while bird songs fill the air. Precious flows of fresh water trickle from hidden sources, creating oases of green. Tradewinds gust around hilltops and swirl into valleys, bringing cooling hints of salt air. Those who know where to look will discover medicinal plants valued by native healers and uncover lost reminders of the island's plantation past.
- Best for: Everyone with a love of water and nature
- Best season to visit: Year-round, as it's below the hurricane belt
- Weather: 70s, sunny and dry in the winter, 80s in the summer, with occasional afternoon or evening showers
Hiking in Bonaire Overview
Most hiking routes in Bonaire are found in the central and northern part of the island, which has a greater variety of flora and fauna that the flat, arid south. The Gotomeer region and Washington Slagbaai National Park offer hills and wooded valleys that hide the island's only freshwater springs. Routes may follow dirt roads or winding single tracks.
Hiking in Bonaire Tips
Hiking with a local guide adds an extra dimension to a walk, as they will share insights on the island's cultural and natural history, and provide tales of island life. Guides also know the best routes and can lead you to hidden places usually visited only by the locals.
Best Places for Hiking in Bonaire
More than 200 species of birds take shelter in the thickets and forests of Bonaire's central and northern interior. The island's iconic pink flamingos can be seen at the salt ponds of Gotomeer, while parrots are found in the wooded valleys near Los Pos, and in groves of candelabra cactus. A stop at Seru Largu provides a panoramic view of the island, and a stop at the Aletta Goat Farm yields fresh-made cheeses and yogurts.
What to Pack for Hiking in Bonaire
Bring a brimmed hat for sun protection and sturdy shoes for the off-road terrain. Lightweight, long-sleeve shirts will provide both cooling and sun protection. Use a compact backpack for cameras and snacks. Bring plenty of water, because the sun and sea breezes can dehydrate quickly.
Captain Dons Habitat
See Packages & Learn More
See Packages & Learn More
Passport and/or Visa Requirements
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Entry Requirments: US and Canadian citizens must have a valid Passport, valid at least three months beyond the planned period of stay. No visa is required for stays shorter than 90 days.
Exit Requirments: The departure tax is USD $36.05 per person, which should be included in your international airline ticket taxes, so there should be nothing to pay at the airport. Domestic departure tax is $9.27 to Curacao, St. Maarten, Saba, St. Eustatius or Aruba and should also be included in your airline ticket taxes.
No vaccinations or preventative medications are required for travel to Bonaire. Check with the Centers for Disease Control on recommended vaccinations for travel at cdc.gov
Culture and Customs
Bonaire provides a low-key take on island life. Bonairean culture blends the traditions of Spain, Africa and the Netherlands. Locals who may initially display the discrete reserves of the Dutch quickly prove warm and accommodating of visitors. And despite decades of tourism, the service industry mentality does not dominate the cultural psyche. Cruise ships now call at the Kralendijk waterfront, but divers remain the main source of business for on-island resorts. Nightlife is more likely to mean a sunset dinner at the harbor followed by a stroll to an ice cream shop, or tall tales of underwater adventures shared at a waterfront tiki bar, with a reasonable bedtime in anticipation of tomorrow's adventures. And there are ample adventures to be found. Washington Slagbaai National Park covers the entire northern end of the island, creating an outdoor playground for hiking, mountain biking, birding and day trips to small surf-washed coves hidden within iron shore bluffs. The trade winds that cool the island also power kite boarders, and the sheltered waters of Lac Bay are home to Jibe City, one of the Caribbean's epicenters of windsurfing action. Blue water fishermen don't have to travel far to hook up with trophy catches, kayakers can find shelter in mangrove channels, and sailing charters provide a relaxing way to skim the coastline without venturing into open ocean. An experience unique to Bonaire are the cave snorkel trips that take swimmers into clear pools of fresh water hidden below the island's limestone substrate.
Electricity, Phone and Internet Access
Electricity is 127 volt, 50 cycle. Many dive shops offer stations for charging lights, strobes or delicate equipment.
Most hotels offer WiFi and some local restaurants and bars offer WiFi. Surf-it hotspots are available with a Surf-it prepaid card from Telbo. Calling Bonaire requires dialing 011-599-7 and 6 digit number. Be sure to check with your cell phone carrier to see if they offer an international plan or you will be subject to roaming charges.
Bonaire offers desalinated sea water which is purified and safe to drink. Bottled water is also available for purchase.
Language & Currency
There are 4 main languages spoken in Bonaire, Dutch is the official one used in government and legal transactions, while Papiamentu is used in daily exchanges and spoken by the locals. English and Spanish are also widely spoken.
As of January 1, 2011, the U.S. Dollar became the official currency of Bonaire. Credit cards are normally accepted in most restaurants, bars and stores. It is recommended you contact your credit card company before travel to make sure they know you will be using the card out of the country. ATMs are available which Cirrus, NYCE and other networks.
Bonaire is in the Atlantic Time Zone (AST) and does not observe Daylight Savings Time. Bonaire is 4 hours behind Greenwich Mean Time (-4 GMT).
Location, Size and Population
Bonaire is 24 miles long by 3-7 miles wide, approximately 111 square miles. The small island offshore, Klein Bonaire, which is uninhabited is 2.3 square miles. Bonaire is located just 30 miles from Curacao, 50 miles North of Venezuela and 80 miles East of Aruba. Bonaire is located in the Leeward Antilles in the Caribbean Sea and outside of the Hurricane Belt. The population of Bonaire is 18,900 (2016).