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This article was written on 06 Jul 2010, and is filled under To: Bonaire.

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Discover Bonaire

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Bonaire, an unspoiled treasure - scuba diving in Bonaire

Welcome to Bonaire, an unspoiled treasure widely regarded as one of the best places in the Caribbean for diving and snorkelling. Tourism is the economic mainstay, but Bonaire has been only gently touched by development and the government carefully regulates expansion to protect the island’s precious environment. Warm air, arid vistas, and the startling gleam of sun on water will leave you breathless for more.


History and culture

The first inhabitants of Bonaire were the Caiquetios, an Amerindian people related to the Arawaks who arrived here by boat a thousand years ago. Many Bonaireans claim that the name Bonaire comes from the French for “good air”, but since the French have never settled on the island, it seems more likely that the name comes from bonay, which means “low country” in Caiquetio.

Five centuries later, in 1499, Ojeda de Alonso and Amerigo Vespucci arrived here and claimed the island for Spain. The original inhabitants were enslaved and shipped off to other Caribbean islands. The Dutch took charge of the island in 1633, and using African slaves, built an important salt industry that is still contributing to the local economy today.

When oil was discovered in Venezuela in the early 20th century, Bonaire became home to a major refining operation. The island is part of the Netherlands Antilles and is governed from nearby Curaçao. Tourism is the island’s main business today.

Activities

Pristine waters, stunning coral reefs, and vibrant marine life make Bonaire a spectacular diving destination. Day sails are also popular and offer opportunities for good snorkelling. Several captains take you deep-sea fishing for wahoo, marlin, tuna, swordfish, and sailfish. Steady trade winds are ideal for windsurfing.

There are land-based activities as well, including mountain biking, horseback riding, and land sailing. The Washington-Slagbaai National Park is home to a variety of animal species, including pink flamingos, iguanas, lora parrots, wild donkeys, and feral goats. Bonaire isn’t exactly a party hot spot, but it does have some fine restaurants.

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