Hear about things to do on the Island of Bonaire as the Amateur Traveler talks to Eric Gietman, owner of the Cadushy Distillery, about his adopted home of Bonaire.
Eric says, “If you really like nature and friendly people and you’re looking for a safe destination where you can just drive around and explore the island, Bonaire is definitely a good destination to visit. That’s why we fell in love with the island. The people are so friendly, are so open. The island is safe. And so you can explore the island on your own. You rent a car and just drive around, and you will stop somewhere with a snack and have a drink and chat with the locals.”
“And then the landscape it’s a rugged nature. We call Bonaire the cactus capital of the Caribbean because we have so many cactuses on the island, probably more than any other island in the Caribbean. That makes a really different destination. A lot of people visit Bonaire for the first time, and then when they return, they say it feels like coming home. When you arrive on Bonaire, there’s tranquility on the island that is really difficult to grasp, but it’s really special, and a lot of people get stung by that Bonairian virus.”
Bonaire is well-known for its water sports like windsurfing, kit surfing, snorkeling, and of course, scuba. The people of Bonaire has been protecting the reef around Bonaire for decades. We talk about great places to enjoy these activities, but we also look at lesser-known things to do on Bonaire.
Eric starts us with a drive to the southern end of the island, where we will find the salt works, large salt flats, and the salt pier, where boats come to transport the salt. When there is not a boat at the salt pier, it is a popular spot for snorkeling and shallow-water diving. You can also find large numbers of flamingos in a sanctuary near the southern tip of the island.
As you come around to the southeastern part of the island, you have the large shallow lagoon of Lac Bay. This is where you will find the windsurfers enjoying the regular tradewinds that the island sees. You can also find a couple of the best beach bars on the island at Lac Cai. Just north of the lagoon are mangrove swamps that you can tour by kayak.
If you head north instead from the capital city of Kralendijk (aka Playa) you can take the tourist road past dive sites like 1000 steps to the beautiful Goto Lake. The northern part of the island is Washington-Slagbaai National Park which is known for its many cacti. Here you can hike Mount Brandaris, which is the high point of the island.
Don’t forget to stop in the oldest city on the island, which is Rincon. It was founded by the Spanish. While you are there, stop by Eric’s distillery to see what he can do with a cactus.
For the best beach on the island, Eric recommends… going off the island to the tiny island of Klein Bonaire. You can get there and back on a water taxi from Playa.
In 2022, the World Food Travel Association certified Bonaire as a Culinary Capital so take some time to explore the local food scene. You can try the iguana or help cull the local invasive species of lionfish or goats. From its food trucks to its high-end restaurants to its beach bars, there is casual enjoyable dining.
Enjoy the locals (even the wild donkeys). Enjoy the beautiful water and beaches. Plot your return to this island paradise.
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This episode is sponsored by the About the Journey Podcast. In Season 2, travel journalist Oneika Raymond takes us on a journey around North America to find out. This time around, she’s picked six cities and six entirely unique experiences. From a Black-owned bookstore in Washington, D.C., to the birthplace of the largest queer film festival.
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The Cadushy Distillery
The Salt Pyramids of Bonaire
21 Photos of Salt Pier: The Most Magical of Bonaire Diving – Angie Away
List of lighthouses in Bonaire
Lac Bay (Kralendijk)
Mangrove Info Center
Pekelmeer Flamingo Sanctuary
Yellow-shouldered amazon parrot
Bonaire Landsailing Adventures
Washington Slagbaai National Park
Cactus Blue Food truck
West Indian Cherry
Karpata Dive Site
Sebastian’s on the Beach
Donkey Sanctuary Bonaire
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