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Aruba Neighbors - Bonaire


Bonaire is in the southern Caribbean, 50 miles north Venezuela, 30 miles east of Curacao, 86 miles east of Aruba. Covering an area of 112 square miles, Bonaire is the second largest of the ABC Islands. Shaped like a boomerang with its inner edge facing west, it is 24 miles long and three to seven miles wide. Rough seas driven by the constant trade winds that blow in from Africa batter Bonaire's north windward coast, while the waters on its protected leeward side are calm and well-suited for swimming, diving and other watersports.

Just outside the airport are Post Bonaire and the Plaza Resort, one of the island's two five-star resorts. Most other island accommodations are located within the concave section of the leeward coast, and no more than 10 minutes from Kralendijk by car. The semi-arid landscape of Bonaire's central region is reminiscent of the American southwest.

Several of the hotels north of Kralendijk are within easy walking distance of each other. Playa Lechi, one of the few beaches on the island, is at the Sunset Beach Hotel. Directly opposite the hotels, just half a mile offshore, lies Klein Bonaire. The white sandy beaches of this uninhabited 1,500-acre islet are popular for picnics and snorkeling. Many popular dive sites are in the waters surrounding the island. Thousands of years ago Bonaire was a steep coral mountain that rose out of the sea levels to decline. This is most evident in the island's hilly northern region, where steep coral cliffs run along the coast.

Greener and more fertile than the rest of the island, much of Bonaire's northern section is occupied by Washington-Slagbaai National Park, a 13,500-acre nature preserve home to 189 species of birds, innumerable lizards, cacti, the divi-divi tree and Bonaire's best snorkeling. Also in the park is Mt. Brandaris, a 714 feet, the highest point on the island. Gotomeer, a beautiful inland lake and favorite feeding ground of flamingos, Rincon, the oldest village on Bonaire; and the Indian caves at Boca Onima are also nearby.

The flat open landscape of the southern region, covered with sand dunes, salt flats and mangroves, provides a sharp contract with the north. Pink Beach, the longest expanse of beach on the island, and the Azko Nobel Salt Works, are on the leeward side.

Pekelmeer, the world's largest flamingo sanctuary, occupies the salt pans inland of the southern tip. Las Bay, a sheltered cove bordered by mangroves on the windward side, is a favorite destination of windsurfers, bird watchers and naturalists, who swim and sun on Sorobon Beach. Cai, a village on the northern edge of the bay, hosts a popular Sunday afternoon beach party, which is always a lot of fun.

Dutch Caribbean Airlines among others flies daily between Aruba and Bonaire. A round-trip ticket is US$109.

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