There is no absolute clarity to whom the fame is due Bonaire to have discovered. Historians assume that either the Spaniard Alonzo de Ojeda or the Florentine Amerigo Vespucci as the first Europeans set foot on the island.
Both were in Spanish service and they took the three for Spain's crown in 1499 ABC islands in possession. The abbreviation “ABC” stands for Aruba, Bonaire and Healingcao. Since the conquerors found neither mineral resources nor other riches on the islands and these also did not seem suitable for agriculture, they were given the name "Islas Inútiles", which means something like "useless islands".
Picturesque landscape in the north of Bonaire
Bonaire, the second largest of the ABC islands at 288 square kilometers, is of volcanic origin. The surface is covered with limestone. Geographers rank Bonaire Lesser Antilles and thus South America too. That makes sense, because Bonaire and Venezuela are just 100 kilometers apart.
Bonaire - Iguana on limestone formation
Because of its natural salt flats, Bonaire was not as useless as it originally seemed to its explorers. From a Dutch point of view, the sea salt harvested on Bonaire was well suited for the preservation of food and also for ceramic and glass production. As a result, the Netherlands took over the island in 1636. This doesn't seem to have bothered the Spanish crown, since Bonaire was apparently still considered "useless". Later, towards the end of the 18th century, Bonaire was annexed to Great Britain for a transitional period. With the conclusion of the “Paris Peace”, the island fell back to the Netherlands.
Bonaire - Salt extracted from salt pans
Bonaire has been one since October 10, 2010 Special municipality in the Netherlands. The head of state is King Willem-Alexander. He is represented on site by a governor.
Visitors perceive the island as being divided into two parts. The northern part of the island appears green and hilly to them. This area has a species-rich fauna and flora. In contrast, the flat southern half is perceived as a cactus desert. In the south are also the natural salt pans from which the high-yield salt pans were developed.
Bonaire - 1000 Steps Dive Site
The length of Bonaire was determined to be 39 kilometers and the width varies between 4 and 11 kilometers. The small town with fewer than 10.000 inhabitants Kralendijk acts as the island capital. It is called at by around 170 cruise ships every year. - The one in the north also has city status Rincon. The small town was the first city to be founded on Bonaire and originally also the island's capital. The number of all island inhabitants is given as about 18.000 people.
Tourism and salt extraction are decisive for the regional economy. Bonaire has an international airport. The island is also a paradise for divers and snorkelers. With 80 designated dive sites, Bonaire is one of the ten most beautiful diving areas in the world.
Bonaire - snorkeler in the diving area
In connection with the establishment of the Bonaire Marine Park in 1971, strict rules were adopted to protect the underwater world. Another protected area is the one established in the northwest of the island Washington Slagbaai National Parkwith the gotomeer. The national park protects about 20 percent of the island's area.
Bonaire - The Gotomeer in the National Park
A curiosity: Although Bonaire is part of the Kingdom of the Netherlands, the US dollar has been the island's official currency since January 1, 2011.
About 300.000 guests come to the island on cruise ships during the season. We describe what you will see there under A day on Bonaire.