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Venezuela Travel | Vacations & Hotels | Alborada Venezuela
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Bonaire is a small coral island only 20 miles long and 3-7 miles wide in the Netherlands Antilles. It is located 50 miles north of the coast of Venezuela and consists of the Caribbean island of Bonaire and the uninhabited islet of Klein Bonaire.
The island is ringed by a coral reef which is easily accessible from the shore along the Western and Southern sides. Its entire coastline has been declared a marine sanctuary, in order to preserve local fish life.
Cool, nutrient-rich ocean water rises from the deep to the surface near Bonaire. This water is rich in plankton and other nutrients, making the reefs near Bonaire some of the most spectacular in the world. This water is also cool which reduces rainfall, making Bonaire a dry, desert island.
The coral reef around uninhabited Klein Bonaire is particularly well-preserved, and it draws divers, snorkelers, and boaters to enjoy a submarine experience.
Flora & Fauna
Bonaire's flora consists of a variety of exotic native and imported species.
Throughout Bonaire's elevated northern end, visitors can see a desert landscape reminiscent of the American southwest. The interior has scant vegetation and a variety of cacti species including Candle and Prickley Pear are present. Numerous trees and bushes including Brasilwood, Divi Divi, Mesquite, Acacia and Calabash are found as well.
Bonaire has one of the largest Caribbean flamingo colonies in the Western Hemisphere. There are said to be over 15,000 flamingoes on the island, and they can be seen wading in Goto Meer Bay in the northwest, in the salt lake near Playa Grandi, and in Lac Bay on the southeast coast of Bonaire, feeding on algae which give them their striking rose-pink color. It is an impressive sight to witness the flamingoes rising from the water in the evening as they prepare to overnight in Venezuela.
Facts at a Glance
Visa and Documents
Citizens of most countries in the world do not need a visa for their entry to our island. However, effective January 1, 2005, some nations are required to have a visa for stays of up to 3 months (90 days) in the Dutch Caribbean. US and Canadian citizens must have a valid Passport and a return or ongoing ticket. A Birth Certificate with a picture ID is also acceptable for entry into Bonaire.
On the next link you can check the list of countries that need a visa to enter Bonaire.
Bonaire's census office reported that the population was 14,006 inhabitants as of December, 2006, which gives Bonaire Island a population density of 49 inhabitants per km².
The Netherlands Antilles government is based on a parliamentary democracy, and Parliament comprises a council of ministers and a prime minister. Bonaire, the second largest of all the Netherlands Antilles runs its internal affairs through an elected legislative council, an advisory council, and executive council, comprising elected members of the island council. A lieutenant governor, who is appointed by the queen, lives in Kralendijk and oversees local issues.
The seat of the Netherlands Antilles government lies in Willemstad, Curaçao. Bonaire and each of the other four islands within the association maintain control over internal affairs, but it is the central government based in Curaçao that regulates police affairs, post, telecommunications, aviation, public health, and education, among others.
Over the years, Bonaire has developed an economy based on tourism, oil transference, salt production, and some light industry such as apparel manufacture and rice processing. By far, the oldest surviving industry on the island lies in the salt. Salt pans cover 10% of Bonaire's surface, and the island produces 441,000 tons (400,000 metric tons) per year. This is the only spot today where salt is commercially produced. Bonaire also grows a variety of fruit and vegetables; in particular, it is a major producer and exporter of aloes.
Religion is an integral part of life of many Bonaire residents, as well as a strong part of the cultural history of Bonaire, and there are quite a number of churches of all types on the island. While at present all Bonairean churches are Christian, an Islamic mosque is being built.
On this link will find a list of the various place of worship on Bonaire.
Dutch is the official language. Papiamento (a mixture of Portuguese, African, Spanish, Dutch and English) is the commonly used lingua franca. English and Spanish are also widely spoken.
U.S. currency, travelers' checks and major credit cards are welcome everywhere. The local currency in the Netherlands Antilles is the NA or Guilder, and is pegged to the U.S. dollar. The NA Florin is fixed at the exchange rate of 1.77 to the dollar for cash and 1.78 for traveler's cheques; most stores and businesses exchange it at 1.75. Other currencies including Canadian Dollars, Deutsche Mark, English Pound Sterling, French Francs, Dutch Guilders, Venezuelan Bolivars and Aruba Florin can also be exchanged. You can spend dollars everywhere, but will likely receive your change in guilders.
Be sure to have your passport or positive ID when changing traveler's cheques at banks.
Safety & Security
The Netherlands Antilles have no indigenous extremist groups and have not experienced any terrorist incidents. Crime, including transnational crime such as drug trafficking, is common.
Visitors are encouraged to monitor media reports, and are reminded to maintain a high level of vigilance and take appropriate steps to increase their security awareness.
GMT - 4.
127 volts AC, 50Hz.
The Bonairean culture is reflected in the faces of her people. The real Bonairean culture is based on traditions that go back many generations and are chronicled in the songs and dances that are performed during holidays and festivals. It is also based on strong family ties and a general respect for nature and an understanding of an environment that originally was foreign to those first settlers and slaves that were forced to work the inhospitable, arid land.
The people of the island of Bonaire are very outgoing and friendly; they enjoy meeting and talking with island locals and island visitors. They are part of the past and are proud of what they have accomplished on an island that was abandoned hundreds of years ago and deemed useless by the Spanish. As for the future, Bonaireans welcome progress but have made a conscious decision to take time out and step back and to look at how it will impact their island and their lives. They have learned to balance their growth with the environment.
Food and water
Bonaire's seawater is distilled and purified to become one of the purest drinking waters in the world. Imported water is available as well.
Regarding food, Bonaire has a rich mixture of choices as there are over 70 different cultures to draw recipes from!
You can always try local food. Around Bonaire you may see a sign, Aki ta Bende Kuminda Krioyo, or "local food sold here", there you will be well fed from a selection of sopi (soups), stoba (stews) or food that is hasa (fried). The portions are huge, very tasty, and economical. The local food is served pa bai kun'e (to go) from the Snacks or in a number of places, at sit down establishments.
When you order local food you have it served with rice, potato or funchi. Many people order it mitar mitar, which is half-and-half, with rice and potato or funchi. You can also ask for the pika siboyo, a sauce made with onions marinated in vinegar and hot peppers.
No vaccinations or preventative medications are mandatory for travelling to Bonaire. Yellow fever and Malaria are not a problem there.
In Bonaire you will find a main shopping avenue, a few mini malls and lots of interesting establishments tucked away just a bit off the main drag. Each store is unique and stocks merchandise that is competitively priced with goods from the United States and Europe.
Most stores are open Monday through Saturday from between 8 or 9 am until 12 noon when they close for one to two hours, then remain open until 6 PM.
Tipping is much the same as in the States. Some restaurants add a 10-15% service charge automatically, so if in doubt, ask. Taxis - generally a 10% tip is greatly appreciated. In dive shops, etc. 10% is also the norm.
Bonaire has a number of banks, all of which have ATM's located conveniently around the island. Banking hours are Monday through Friday 8 or 8:30 am until 3:30 or 4pm. Some are opened during the lunch hour.
Foreign and international licenses are accepted.
Bonaire has a 60-bed hospital, Hospital San Francisco (Kaya Soeur Bartola #2, Kralendijk), and a number of doctors. There is an ambulance plane on call for emergencies. A hyperbaric recompression chamber is located adjacent to the hospital and is run by a highly trained staff - admittance via the emergency room at the hospital. The emergency phone number for the ambulance is 114.
Getting Around by Road
Traffic drives on the right. Roads are reasonably good, although jeeps may be needed for extensive touring of the island.
Numerous car hire firms are located at hotels, the airport and Kralendijk. Reservations should be made in advance to get the best rates. Pick-ups and mini-vans are available for shore divers. Bikes, scooters and motorbikes can also be hired without any difficulty.
A national driving license is acceptable if held for at least two years, although drivers must be at least 21 years of age (minimum age varies according to hire company and type of car). Drivers under a certain age may also be restricted as to what type of car they may hire, and most cars are manual/standard transmission.
A good service exists on the island. Rates are government controlled.
Climate and Season
The climate is mostly sunshine hot throughout the year, but tempered by cooling trade winds, making Bonaire's climate about as perfect as it gets. The average temperature is 28°C (82°F) and the rainy season goes from October to February; a single day's rain can turn a brown Bonaire to vibrant green. Bonaire offers good conditions for diving all year round.
Lightweights with warmer top layers for evenings; showerproof clothing is advisable throughout the year.
Sports & Activities
Spend part or all of the day at one of Bonaire's fine horse ranches, or "kunukus," where group tours, private lessons and trail rides are available. Some of the kunukus offer accommodations and meals, and they are wonderful places to meet locals or just let the time pass by.
Drive or hike through the varied terrain of the island's 13,500 acre Washington Slagbaai National Park, a wildlife sanctuary where birds, lizards, goats and iguanas are found in their natural habitat.
Diving / Snorkeling
Bonaire's pristine reefs and diverse marine life are unique to the Caribbean. Divers and snorkelers can access the reefs easily, to snorkel or dive at any of the Marine Park's 80 sites. Bonaire's waters are exceptionally clear of silt, calm, and drivable year round, with visibility often averaging over 100 feet (30m), and frequently, up to 150 feet (55m).
Aside from being the most environmentally friendly mode of transportation, biking is an ideal way to see the island' s natural beauties. There are over 300 kilometers of trails, consisting of smooth coastal drives, unpaved back roads, and even goat paths, allowing you to explore all of Bonaire's amazing natural resources.
Consistent conditions make the shallow, calm waters of Lac Bay the epicenter of Bonaire's internationally-known windsurfing. On the island's leeward side, the calm offshore wind provides just the right sort of air to explore Klein Bonaire. Winds blow December through August at 15 - 25 knots, September through November at 12 - 18 knots.
Paddle the protected waters of Lac Bay, or head for the miles of flats and mangroves in the South (the island's nursery) where baby fish and wildlife can be viewed.
Bonaire is home to over 170 species of birds, 80 of which are indigenous to the Island. Spotting each species depends to some extent on migration patterns and the weather (in the dry season, for example, normally shy birds approach towns in search of water)
Wahoo, Tuna, Dorado, Blue Marlin, Amber Jack, Grouper, Sailfish and Snapper can be found off the coast of Bonaire. This abundance and variety of sport fish make the island home to some of the best deep-sea fishing. Bonaire is also one of the best kept secrets of bone-fishing enthusiasts.
Steady wind and calm seas make Bonaire ideal for sailing and yachting so try a day out on the water on one of Bonaire's charter yachts. Enjoy the luxurious combination of gliding swiftly and silently over the water while Bonaire's professional crews take care of your every wish from serving up delicious tropical drinks to identifying colorful fish, sea birds, or coral species on Bonaire's pristine coral reefs. Chase the elusive the "green flash" on a sunset sail, or visit the deserted offshore island of Klein Bonaire for some spectacular snorkeling. If getting wet is not your thing, take a glass bottom boat trip and view the incredible underwater world from topside.
Country code: 599.
Roaming agreements exist with some international mobile phone companies. Coverage is average.
There are Internet cafes in Kralendijk and varius Internet Access Centers around the island. WiFi is also available between Flamingo Airport, at the southern-most point of Bonaire, to Playa Lechi.