Bonaire, a member of the Netherlands Antilles in the Caribbean, lies just north of Venezuela, right outside of the hurricane belt.
As the environmentalists of the Caribbean, Bonaireans were the first to make great strides in environmental protection. Laid back, casual, and calm, this small island has a tendency to make return visitors out of tourists who happen upon the natural beauty and relaxed lifestyle Bonaireans have worked to preserve. For official information, visit the Official Bonaire Web site.
|Currency||The official currency of Bonaire is the Netherlands Antillean Florin (Naf), sometimes called a guilder. U.S. dollars are widely accepted. The Naf is fixed to the dollar, with 1.78 Naf = $1(USD).|
|Electricity||Bonaire uses the same electrical current (110 volts) as North America, but with a different cycle (50 instead of 60), so adapters are necessary. Even with adapters, be careful of devices that may overheat.|
|GDP Per Capita||The average household income on Bonaire is about $11,400(USD).|
|Size||Bonaire is 111.2 square miles in area.|
|Language||The official language is Dutch, but islanders also speak Papiamento, English, and Spanish|
||Bonaire is home to approximately 16,541 permanent residents. The island also sees 50,400 tourists annually, with 52 percent hailing from the U.S.|
Travelers usually arrive via air, through Bonaire's Flamingo International Airport. Direct flights from North American are usually not available, so many travelers from the U.S. and Canada connect through Hato International Airport in Curaçao. Connecting flights are also available from Caribbean regional air carriers through the airports at San Juan, Santo Domingo, and Montego Bay, among others. Air Jamaica, American Eagle, Dutch Caribbean, and KLM often offer such connecting flights.
Taxis will take you to your final destination on Bonaire. Service to most hotels is generally less than $16(USD), but fares increase after dark and are doubled after midnight, so consider this when making arrival plans.
For U.S., U.K., and Canadian citizens, a valid, up-to-date Passport is required to enter the country. Citizens from all other countries, including those of the Caribbean, are required to have a valid passport, as well as other possible documentation. For more information, contact your local travel authority.
Bonaire is one of the driest islands in the Caribbean, experiencing minimal rainfall of about 22 inches per year. Temperatures are also relatively stable, ranging from 76 to 84 in January, and from 79 to 89 in July (all in degrees Fahrenheit). Additionally, Bonaire is located outside of the hurricane belt, which significantly reduces the risk of any major storms making landfall, and further reduces the threat of any side-effects that major storms may bring with them. For a month-to-month breakdown, visit our Caribbean Weather guide.
Bonaire is an isolated island, the kind of Caribbean country where birds outnumber people. Fiercely passionate about preserving the natural way of life, Bonaire's best tourism is its eco-tourism. In addition to its gorgeous beaches, the island, which sits atop a coral reef, offers some of the best snorkeling and bird watching. Only fifty miles north of Venezuela, the island is accessible to the mainland while still maintaining an attitude of isolation. The island itself is shaped something like a boomerang, with a hilly and bumpy north, and a flat, serene south.
Bonaire is among the safest destinations in the Caribbean, but adhering to common safety precautions is still advised. Keep an eye on your valuables, and lock your hotel room. These are good guidelines anywhere, regardless of the prevalence - or lack - of crime. The water on the island is distilled seawater, and thus is pure and safe to drink. The island's main hospital is in the capital of Kralendijk, and should it be necessary, a plane is on standby to carry passengers to Curaçao.
Bonaireans are extremely protective of the environment. As a people, they are not interested in development or building a booming tourist industry. Rather than catering to the mainstream demands of huge resorts and souvenir shops, Bonaire emphasizes natural tourism. Bonaireans themselves are active people who enjoy sailing, swimming, fishing, and other Caribbean water sports.
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